A Response On Roman Catholicism

Here is a brief response to Bryan, and a somewhat longer response to Taylor. First Bryan.

Truth is not really what I’m talking about. I’m talking about authority. Here is a quotation from Lumen Gentium that argues precisely what I said the RCC is arguing for:

And therefore his definitions, of themselves, and not from the consent of the Church, are justly styled irreformable, since they are pronounced with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, promised to him in blessed Peter, and therefore they need no approval of others, nor do they allow an appeal to any other judgment. For then the Roman Pontiff is not pronouncing judgment as a private person, but as the supreme teacher of the universal Church, in whom the charism of infallibility of the Church itself is individually present, he is expounding or defending a doctrine of Catholic faith. The infallibility promised to the Church resides also in the body of Bishops, when that body exercises the supreme magisterium with the successor of Peter. To these definitions the assent of the Church can never be wanting, on account of the activity of that same Holy Spirit, by which the whole flock of Christ is preserved and progresses in unity of faith. (I have removed the footnotes; the passage comes from paragraph 25).

This is saying that even the Bible cannot be a final court of appeal against an official ex cathedra statement from the Pope or from the supreme magisterium. They have infallibility. This is claiming infallibility for the words of mere men, and putting their words on a par with Scripture. It doesn’t matter if that isn’t what they think they are doing, that is what they are doing. On an ex cathedra matter, there is no court of appeal beyond the Pope, not even Scripture. To say that this paragraph says otherwise is to deny the plain meaning of the text. And this paragraph is cited in section 891 of the Catechism, which says the same thing. In fact, the Catechism even claims that “this infallibility extends as far as the deposit of divine Revelation itself” (then it references Lumen Gentium 25). That phrase is explained by another section of paragraph 25 of LG:

And this infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer willed His Church to be endowed in defining doctrine of faith and morals, extends as far as the deposit of Revelation extends, which must be religiously guarded and faithfully expounded.

As to the intercession from dead saints, I agree that it depends on the prior question of the canon. A subject for a different post.

As to transubstantiation, the Catechism clearly states that the substance of the bread and wine change into the substance of Christ’s body and blood (see paragraphs 1374-1377). The substance of the bread and wine are therefore transformed. But the form of bread and wine remain. How is this not saying that the substance has changed, but the accidents of bread and wine (the outer form) remain? In which you have the substance of Christ taking the place of bread and wine, and yet the accidents of bread and wine remaining. As I have said, this is a misappropriation of Aristotle’s categories. And Aquinas, in question 75, most certainly does assert that the substance changes into Christ’s body and blood, while the accidents of bread and wine remain (see especially article 6, where he responds to the objections levelled against that doctrine: it should be noted that the objections come first, and then follow his response to those objections). Therefore, my original comment stands.

As to the death of Christians, I do not believe that a non-believer would be freed from sin at death, because his soul is not raised from death to life. Only those whose souls have been raised from death to life (see this progression in Ephesians 2 especially) will have the guarantee that their sin nature will die at their death. So, Bryan’s comment does not follow, because he is forgetting the requirement of the prior resurrection of the soul.

Now, on to Taylor’s comments. First of all, the difference between the words “inspired” and “infallible” is not relevant to my argument in the slightest. If they claim infallibility, then they are setting up the words of men as on a par with Scripture, regardless of whether or not they regard the human words as inspired or not. Secondly, the three verses have everything to do with “Scripture alone,” because they claim that the words of Scripture are sufficient for the Christian to be well-equipped. This is the doctrine that Taylor does not understand. Is the church helpful? Sure. Is the church necessary for the Christian to be a member of it? Sure. Does this necessity mean that Scripture is not sufficient? No. Scripture alone is the infallible rule of faith and practice. 1 Thessalonians 2:13 draws a contrast between the words of men and the words of God. This means that the words of men do not effective work in a person to believe, as the end of the verse says. Only the Word of God does that. One is reminded of the words of Isaiah: “they teach as doctrines and commandments the words of men.” This is a stinging rebuke. No word of man has the authority that the word of God has. 1 John 5:9 indicates that the word of God is greater than the word of men. Period. There can be no parity. There can be no claim of infallibility on the part of any man, acting in any capacity whatsoever.

On the issue of Mary as Mediatrix, Lumen Gentium (paragraphs 60, 62, quoted in Catechism 970) does say what Taylor says about the position of Mary: it’s still wrong. Those who are dead cannot intercede on behalf of the living. That is why it is so important for us to see that Christ is alive. He can intercede for us, because He’s alive. As Hebrews says (I’m sure he had a smile on his face when he wrote this), the Old Testament priests were many, because death prevented them from continuing in office, Heb. 7:23. Yes, death would be a substantial disqualification from ministry. But if they could still intercede on our behalf, then they could still be priests.

On justification, of course the Roman Catholic church teaches a repeatable justification: this is because it is conflated with sanctification. But justification does occur at baptism. My words did not imply that that was the only time it happened in Catholic teaching. One cannot say everything every time one issues a summary. But Catholics do teach that one is justified at baptism, and so my words were not a lie of any sort.

On 1 Corinthians 6:11, of course justification is associated with washing: the blood of Christ cleanses us from the guilt of our sin, and that happens in justification. The verb, however, does not mean baptism in and of itself. Paul could have said “you were baptized.” Instead, he says “you were washed.” There is nothing in the context to indicate baptism. And the use of three terms does not mean that they should be conflated. The aorist use of these verbs does not help Taylor’s position, since they do NOT indicate a process. Paul is emphatically contrasting the previous state of his readers with the subsequent state. That change was marked by three verbs that describe different aspects of that change. So Paul is NOT talking about progressive sanctification here. By the way, Calvin can treat sanctification before justification too, as he in fact does in the Institutes. What’s the point? The beginning of sanctification occurs at the same point in time as justification. But they are distinct, because works play no part in justification, and yet are the distinctive fruit of sanctification. I do not think that Taylor has done justice to the careful exegesis of this passage. I will treat the remaining questions in another post.

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124 Comments

  1. Bryan Cross said,

    June 29, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    Lane,

    This is saying that even the Bible cannot be a final court of appeal against an official ex cathedra statement from the Pope or from the supreme magisterium. This is claiming infallibility for the words of mere men, and putting their words on a par with Scripture.

    From a sola scriptura point of view I can see why you think it says that, but that’s not what it is saying. Catholic theology makes a distinction between the authority of the divine revelation, and interpretive authority. Lumen Gentium, like Tertullian, is saying that our interpretation of the Bible does not have equal or greater authority than the interpretation of the Magisterium when it speaks with its full authority. To pit interpretive authority against (or in competition with) the authority of revelation is to beg the question by assuming that there is no genuine distinction between the two types of authority.

    Regarding transubstantiation, I agree with everything you say here (in describing the doctrine of transubstantiation). But, nothing you say here shows that it is a “a misappropriation of Aristotle’s categories.” In order to show that it is a “misappropriation”, you would need to establish the standard for right appropriation, and then show how the Catholic doctrine deviates from that standard.

    Regarding purgatory, you think that the perfection of sanctification takes places instantly at death, whereas we think it usually takes time. In itself, that’s not a huge difference. But working out that difference would require a thread of its own.

    Scripture alone is the infallible rule of faith and practice.

    That’s the theological assumption that you are bringing to Scripture, because Scripture itself in no place teaches that it alone is the infallible rule of faith and practice. It doesn’t even tell us its own canon. 1 Thess 2:13 does indeed draw a distinction between the word of men and the word of God. But you are assuming that this distinction is exhaustive, because you are assuming that that there is no such thing as interpretive authority. Give that there is such a thing as interpretive authority, then we come to the “word of God” through the interpretive authority which Christ has established, which is itself neither mere opinion nor the divine Word.

    One is reminded of the words of Isaiah: “they teach as doctrines and commandments the words of men.” This is a stinging rebuke. No word of man has the authority that the word of God has. 1 John 5:9 indicates that the word of God is greater than the word of men. Period. There can be no parity. There can be no claim of infallibility on the part of any man, acting in any capacity whatsoever.

    Again, your argument is based on a false dichotomy, as I explained above (i.e. either it is the “word of God” or it is mere opinion). You’re argument begs the question by assuming at the outset that there is no such thing as interpretive authority. And therefore, every word is either the word of God or the mere opinion of men.

    Paul could have said “you were baptized.” Instead, he says “you were washed.” There is nothing in the context to indicate baptism.

    Lane, surely you’re not following solo scriptura. Could you name just one Church father who did not take that to be referring to baptism?

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  2. Louis said,

    June 29, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    Bryan,

    Could you please help me to understand the difference between “interpretation” and revelation as you define it? It sounds to me like a distinction without a difference — particularly when the Catholic Church has “interpreted” things that seemingly have no actual connection with the biblical text.

  3. steve hays said,

    June 29, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    Bryan Cross said,

    “The Catholic Church does not believe or teach that tradition and the pope ‘have equal authority’ to Scripture.”

    That’s ambiguous. An institution may deny the implications of what it teaches, but the implications remain.

    “Don’t assume that for the Catholic Church, every ‘infallible’ thing has equal authority.”

    On the face of it, that’s an arbitrary disjunction.

    “Catholics also believe this. Mary’s intercession is not because we need her intercession (or that of anyone else besides Christ), but because Christ has graciously given departed saints the opportunity to participate through their intercession in the salvific work He is doing now in the world.”

    This is doubletalk. On the one hand, we don’t need it. On the other hand, we have the cult of the saints. But if the cult of the saints is unnecessary, then why not dispense with it?

    “Just because two statements are true, it does not mean that they are equally authoritative. Authority is not reducible to truth; that would be Kantian. Since infallibility means (at least in Catholic theology) “protected from error”, therefore it only means that the result is true. It does not, in itself, determine the degree of authority the statement has.”

    If the pope claims to be speaking the truth, and his claim is true, then its incumbent on the listener to believe what he says, and act accordingly. That’s authority.

    Is he alluding to 2 Macc. 12:43–45? Even if, for the sake of argument, we accept the canonicity of that document, it’s talking about prayers which the living make on behalf of the dead, not prayers which the dead make on behalf of the living.

    “From a sola scriptura point of view I can see why you think it says that, but that’s not what it is saying. Catholic theology makes a distinction between the authority of the divine revelation, and interpretive authority. Lumen Gentium, like Tertullian, is saying that our interpretation of the Bible does not have equal or greater authority than the interpretation of the Magisterium when it speaks with its full authority. To pit interpretive authority against (or in competition with) the authority of revelation is to beg the question by assuming that there is no genuine distinction between the two types of authority.”

    Of course, if the only access to the revelatory authority of the Bible is via the interpretive authority of the Magisterium, then the authority of the Magisterium is functionally equivalent to the authority of the Bible. You can never appeal directly to Scripture to keep the Magisterium in check since the Magisterium is, itself, the checkpoint. Scripture must pass through the Magisterium, not vice versa.

    “Regarding purgatory, you think that the perfection of sanctification takes places instantly at death, whereas we think it usually takes time. In itself, that’s not a huge difference.”

    There’s a huge difference. For one thing, purgatory is as much or more about justification than it is about sanctification. Temporal punishment for the temporal debt of venial sin. The treasury of merit.

    “But you are assuming that this distinction is exhaustive, because you are assuming that that there is no such thing as interpretive authority. Give that there is such a thing as interpretive authority, then we come to the ‘word of God’ through the interpretive authority which Christ has established, which is itself neither mere opinion nor the divine Word.”

    i) Of course, the Bible itself it the embodiment of interpretive authority. The NT interprets the OT. NT writers interpret the significance of Jesus’ mission.

    ii) Beyond that, what we need is not so much an authoritative interpretation, but a true interpretation.

    Finally, who appointed Bryan to be a spokesman for Catholic dogma? He’s not even a priest, much less a bishop. He has no license to teach Catholic theology?

    Remember when Hans Kung lost his license to teach Catholic theology? Not everyone is authorized to speak for Catholicism. Did Bryan receive the imprimatur or nihil obstat?

    Taylor Marshall said,

    “Here Lane fuses the terms ‘infallible’ and ‘inspired’. The Catholic Church does not teach the Pope or Councils are ‘inspired’ but we do believe that the Popes and Councils are “infallible” when declaring matters touching faith and morals. If Lane is going to challenge the Church, he needs to present things a bit more clearly.”

    http://cantuar.blogspot.com/2009/06/calvinism-vs-catholicism-response-to.html

    While we’re on the subject of clarity, I think some logical clarity is also in order. As a simple point of logic, how does Taylor think popes and councils can sometimes be infallible unless they are inspired? Wouldn’t inspiration be a necessary precondition to secure infallibility?

    “Mary in particular is the holiest of all the saints…”

    That’s an intriguing claim. Even on Catholic grounds, what makes Mary the holiest of the saints? If you grant the Immaculate Conception, then she was holier than any other mortal. But in heaven, aren’t all the saints sinless and impeccable?

    “The first is found in John 3:5 which connects regeneration to the waters of baptism. The other is Titus 3:5 where Saint Paul speaks of ‘the washing of regeneration’ – yet another baptismal passage. Thus, if we were to go by ‘Scripture alone’ the balance falls toward a baptismal interpretation of the term ‘regeneration’.”

    That takes for granted that Jn 3:5 and Tit 3:5 denote baptism. He assumes what he needs to prove.

    “If Christ says, ‘my body is true food and blood is true drink’ (Jn 6:55), then you better believe Him.”

    You’d better believe what he meant. But what does it mean? He’s assuming it denotes the Eucharist–which begs the question.

    “If on the night before He died for you, He institute a sacrament and said that it is His body and blood, then you better believe Him.”

    But, of course, Catholics don’t regard it as a simple identity statement. If it were a simple identity statement, then the communion elements would transform into Jesus. Right before your eyes! A bearded man about 5-6 feet tall, with bones, guts, fingernails, &c. If the communion wine is the blood of Christ, then what is the blood type of the communion wine? Can a phlebotomist test it?

    “If all of the Church Fathers devotedly beheld the mystery and took care not only of the Eucharist, but also the vessels that touched the Eucharist, then think again. We are walking on sacred ground.”

    Why? Did Jesus appoint the church fathers?

  4. June 29, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    I’m curious…why invoke saints anyway when we can go directly to Christ. Even if the Catholic argument is true, there is still the question of why?

  5. Sean said,

    June 29, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    Steve Goddard.

    Do you ever ask people to pray for you?

    Why?

  6. David Gadbois said,

    June 29, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    Steve said Of course, if the only access to the revelatory authority of the Bible is via the interpretive authority of the Magisterium, then the authority of the Magisterium is functionally equivalent to the authority of the Bible. You can never appeal directly to Scripture to keep the Magisterium in check since the Magisterium is, itself, the checkpoint. Scripture must pass through the Magisterium, not vice versa.

    This is a good point to remember when one is forced to deal with Romanist epistemological shell games. James White accurately and succinctly describes this as sola ecclesia. If the Church both defines the content of Scripture (canon) as well as (infallibly and authoritatively) the meaning of Scripture (interpretation), then you have a functional sola ecclesia.

  7. Jeremy said,

    June 29, 2009 at 7:58 pm

    sola ecclesia. – If that were the case, then we wouldn’t need a bible. I find the magisterium to be helpful – otherwise you are almost stuck interpreting the bible with the lens of our contemporary age. You do realize that the time the NT was first written down, there was no Bible? People had to write it down and put it the Bible together. They did that 2000 years ago – in a different age and time, in a culture with different customs and ways of looking at the world.

    why invoke saints anyway when we can go directly to Christ. Even if the Catholic argument is true, there is still the question of why?
    Because they are alive in the Communion of Saints. They are not dead. They are alive and in heaven with Jesus. It’s helpful to remind ourselves that it is not just ‘Me and Jesus’ but ‘Me with all of the Saints through Jesus to God the Father’.

  8. steve hays said,

    June 30, 2009 at 6:44 am

    Jeremy said,

    “I find the magisterium to be helpful – otherwise you are almost stuck interpreting the bible with the lens of our contemporary age.”

    i) Uh, no, the point of grammatico-historical exegesis is to interpret the text with a view to original intent.

    ii) Conversely, contemporary Catholic theology is heavily influenced by modernity.

    “You do realize that the time the NT was first written down, there was no Bible?”

    You do realize the Jews would be very surprised to hear that. So would Jesus and the Apostles, who frequently quoted the OT.

    “People had to write it down and put it the Bible together.”

    Orality and textuality coexisted. For example, Paul the preacher was also Paul the letter writer.

    “They did that 2000 years ago – in a different age and time, in a culture with different customs and ways of looking at the world.”

    Or course, you could say the same thing about the church fathers or medieval popes.

  9. johnbugay said,

    June 30, 2009 at 7:15 am

    Sean #5: Do you ever ask people to pray for you?

    Not dead people. (a) there is an OT prohibition against such. (b) even if there weren’t, how do you know anyone hears you. (c) what is the method of communication when I ask my living brother to pray for me? vs. what is the method of communication called when communicating with a dead person?

  10. Jeremy said,

    June 30, 2009 at 7:16 am

    Mr. Hayes,
    I pretty much agree with everything you said. One clarification, I did not mean that the Torah didn’t exist, I was referring to the new testament scripture – and the fact that canon of scripture had not been defined.

  11. Sean said,

    June 30, 2009 at 7:52 am

    John,

    So the saints are dead?

  12. Sean said,

    June 30, 2009 at 7:53 am

    From the Nicene Creed:

    “I believe…in the communion of saints…”

  13. greenbaggins said,

    June 30, 2009 at 7:58 am

    Sean, the saints are dead in whatever sense we use when we want to say that their souls are separated from their bodies. Of course their souls are not dead. The souls of the faithful can never die eternally. But there is no indication in the Scriptures (at least not in the Scriptures that everyone, Protestant and Catholic, agree are Scriptures) that the saints intercede for us after their deaths.

  14. Sean said,

    June 30, 2009 at 8:50 am

    greenbaggins,

    Not that the ‘Communion of Saints’ is based on scriptural proof texts but what about Rev. 5:8? Or the ‘cloud of witnesses’ in Hebrews 12?

    And, not to take this down a deuterocanon rabbit trail but if our scriptures, including Maccabeus which the fathers quoted as scripture, make clearer examples, we cannot discard them because post reformation protestants reject them.

    What do you think the “Communion of Saints” actually means? More importantly, what did the Fathers at Nicaea mean?

    Here is a contemporary of the great council:

    “Then we commemorate also those who have fallen asleep before us, first Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Martyrs, that at their prayers and intercessions God would receive our petition. Then on behalf also of the Holy Fathers and Bishops who have fallen asleep before us, and in a word of all who in past years have fallen asleep among us, believing that it will be a very great benefit to the souls, for whom the supplication is put up, while that holy and most awful sacrifice is set forth.”
    Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, 23:9 (A.D. 350).

  15. June 30, 2009 at 9:05 am

    I responded regarding the issue of infallibility and inspiration here on my blog:

    http://cantuar.blogspot.com/2009/06/does-infallibility-entail-divine.html

  16. steve hays said,

    June 30, 2009 at 9:40 am

    Taylor Marshall said,

    “Infallibility is not ‘on par’ with divinely inspired Scripture. From a Protestant point-of-view, I can see Lane’s point, but generally speaking infallibility does not entail inspiration. To use an example, God could have granted the gift of infallibility to the Apostle Paul as he preached one Sunday morning in the city of Corinth. This does not require that the words of Paul’s sermon that day were therefore the inspired Word of God.”

    http://cantuar.blogspot.com/2009/06/does-infallibility-entail-divine.html

    Three problems, of which I’ll mention two for now and return to the third:

    i) To use a circumlocution like “the gift of infallibility” merely camouflages the issue. Infallibility is the effect of a cause. What causes that result (infallibility) if not inspiration?

    ii) Why should we accept his claim that if Paul preached an infallible sermon, that doesn’t count as the inspired word of God? Marshall merely asserts that disjunction. But his disjunction is far from self-evident. Where’s the supporting argument?

    “The gift of infallibility does not entail that the message spoken is divine revelation (the Word of God). God could technically give a mathematician the gift of infallibility with regard to his doctoral dissertation about a geometric proof. There would be no error in the dissertation, yet the dissertation would not be the ‘Word of God’ simply because the brilliant treatise was infallible and contained no error. According to Lane’s logic, the infallible geometric proof would be ‘on par’ with Scripture since it is infallible. This conclusion is incorrect. Hence, infallibility does not entail inspiration.”

    i) This brings us to a third problem: an equivocation of terms. From what I can tell, Marshall is using “inspiration” as synonymous with “inscripturation.” Thus, a speech or writing is not inspired unless it’s Scripture. But if that’s what he means, why should we accept it?

    It suffers from a level confusion. The fact that Scripture is inspired writing doesn’t mean that every inspired writing is ipso facto Scripture. Inspiration is a necessary rather than sufficient condition of inscripturation.

    The fact that we have 13 inspired letters by St. Paul doesn’t mean St. Paul only wrote 13 inspired letters. Rather, these represent the subset of inspired letters which God chose to preserve for posterity. If more Pauline letters survived, they, too, would be Scripture. They, too, would be canonical. But God, in his providence, chose not to preserve them.

    ii) If, on the other hand, Marshall doesn’t use “inspiration” as a synonym for “inscripturation,” then why drive a wedge between an infallible sermon and an inspired sermon?

  17. johnbugay said,

    June 30, 2009 at 9:42 am

    Sean: the word “witnesses” more appropriately is translated “martyrs”. They don’t “witness” us; they provided a witness for the faith.

    Scripture condemns any attempt to contact the deceased (Deuteronomy 18:10-12, Isaiah 8:19, 19:3).

    The evidence from the earliest patristic sources is against the practice as well. Tertullian, Origen, and Cyprian wrote treatises on the subject of prayer without encouraging prayers to the dead. Instead, they either state or imply that prayer is to be offered only to God.

    Origen in particular is emphatic on the point (Against Celsus, 5:4-5, 5:11, 8:26; On Prayer, 10). He said, for example,

    …we judge it improper to pray to those beings who themselves offer up prayers to God, seeing even they themselves would prefer that we should send up our requests to the God to whom they pray, rather than send them downwards to themselves, or apportion our power of prayer beetween God and them….

    Origen wrote prior to Cyril of Jerusalem. The later popularity of the practice is a departure from what the Bible teaches and what the earliest patristic Christians believed.

    The earliest Christians prayed to Jesus. In Matthew 21:16, Jesus identifies Himself as the object of the prayer of Psalm 8:2. Jesus is referred to as the one who chose the apostles in Acts 1:2 and as Lord in Acts 1:21, so the prayer to the Lord to choose another apostle in Acts 1:24-25 seems to be a prayer to Jesus. Hebrews 1:8-12 identifies Jesus as the object of some prayers in the Psalms. See, also, Acts 7:59, 1 Corinthians 1:2, 16:22, and Revelation 22:20.

  18. David Gadbois said,

    June 30, 2009 at 10:15 am

    Sean asked What do you think the “Communion of Saints” actually means? More importantly, what did the Fathers at Nicaea mean?

    Actually, that’s not particularly important, seeing as how we confess the “communion of saints” in the Apostle’s Creed, which pre-dated Nicea.

  19. Sean said,

    June 30, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    John,

    I think you know that the question of prohibition about ‘divining’ with the deceased isn’t related to the question of petitioning the saints to pray for us. Surely as well read as you are you would know the Catholic and Orthodox response to that charge.

    Further, if you want to base what you accept as an authentic development on which doctrines appear the very earliest in the history of the church than prepare yourself to jettison sola scriptura and sola fide.

  20. johnbugay said,

    June 30, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    Sean — Speaking to the dead is forbidden. And, perhaps you’ll care to explain why I need to “to jettison sola scriptura and sola fide.”

  21. Sean said,

    June 30, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    John,

    As already discussed, the saints are not dead.

    You need to jettison those theological novums (according to Alistair McGrath) for the same reason that you cited for rejecting the communion of the saints in your 9:42 AM comment.

  22. johnbugay said,

    June 30, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    Sean: Quoting Lane: Sean, the saints are dead in whatever sense we use when we want to say that their souls are separated from their bodies. Of course their souls are not dead. The souls of the faithful can never die eternally. But there is no indication in the Scriptures (at least not in the Scriptures that everyone, Protestant and Catholic, agree are Scriptures) that the saints intercede for us after their deaths.

    If you want a further example consider Saul in 1 Sam 28. There he tries to speak to Samuel in the realm of the dead and he is condemned for it.

    Sola Scriptura is highly consistent with the way Jesus and the New Testament writers read the OT. And as for Sola Fide, it only became a “novum” because the medieval church forgot it. It is thoroughly Scriptural.

    By the way, McGrath (as he is wont to do) has re-written that volume on Justification, and has added that your “theological novum” objection “has little theological significance” today, so you’ll have to take that particular comment out of your spit-gun if you want to stay up with the latest.

  23. Sean said,

    June 30, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    John,

    What do you say to Jesus who talked to ‘dead’ people at the transfiguration?

  24. Andrew Preslar said,

    June 30, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    Steve,

    You raise an interesting point. Thanks. It is not easy (for me) to see the difference between inspiration and infallibility, although I take it that there is in fact a difference. Here is my very fallible attempt to articulate the difference:

    Inspiration may be distinguished from infallibility in three ways:

    1 and 2. From its secondary (instrumental) and final causes.

    The cause of an inspired utterance is the Holy Spirit of God operating through an individual human being speaking to the Church for the purpose of revealing God to man.

    The cause of an infallible utterance is the Holy Spirit of God operating through the visible Church speaking as the Church for the purpose of explicating what has been revealed by God to man.

    3. From its content.

    As is indicated above, an inspired utterance is a revelation from God. As such, it need not be either materially or formally contained in the deposit of faith received up to that time.

    An infallible utterance merely explicates the deposit of faith, and must be at least formally contained therein.

    Now, this doesn’t go as far as I would like, especially with respect to secondary (in this case instrumental) causality. But its the best I can do for now.

    Finally, allow me to anticipate a possible misunderstanding:

    Papal statements ex cathedra are, in one sense, the utterances of an individual, but in another sense they are the voice of the Church qua Church, as represented by her senior pastor on earth. So these would be infallible statements, in the sense described above, the Church speaking as the Church (expressing her mind concerning the revelation of God), not inspired utterances to the Church (i.e. the revelation of God).

    The basic distinction is that between the revelation of God, which is essentially Christ Jesus (Hebrews 1:1-4), and the apprehension and exposition of the revelation of God, which is essentially to have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16) and the mandate to express that mind (Matthew 28:18-20).

    The gift of infallibility is predicated of the Church on the basis of her having, qua Church, the mind of Christ.

  25. johnbugay said,

    June 30, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    That was an extraordinary one time event, where Moses and Elijah appeared to Christ; he did not pray to them or ask them to intercede for him. This whole story is told from the disciples’ point of view, primarily as a revelation to them of who Jesus really is. Moses and Elijah were expected to return to inaugurate the Messianic age, so that their appearance here proclaims Jesus as the Messiah.. And of course, the voice of God affirms that Jesus is his Son, and so the disciples must listen to him.

  26. Sean said,

    June 30, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    John,

    A timely article as a rejoinder to your “novum” argument.

  27. June 30, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    [...] 30, 2009 by Andrew Preslar These thoughts are prompted by some comments made over at Green Baggins, which is hands down the best blog name that I have ever seen. (Even The Barking Toad(TM) is a [...]

  28. johnbugay said,

    June 30, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    Sean, that article really is a protest against a straw man. Nobody says that you must “embrace the doctrine of justification as Luther understood it” or not be a true Christian.

    Just so the readers here don’t have to click on the link, here’s the objection:

    … but, again, the principal thing has to do with the seemingly unavoidable – and in truth unacceptable – conclusion that there just wasn’t any Church for a very long time until Luther came round in the 16th century:

    Nobody here will define “the church” the way you define it. The Catholic Church is not a true Christian Church because of how it conceives itself, officially. This is not to say that there was no genuine “church,” nor that people who genuinely believe in Christ are not saved.

    I’ve responded directly to you, six times in this thread now. Every premise you’ve put up has been soundly answered. You ignore the answer, you ignore that your objection has been proved to be a bad one, but nevertheless, you jump to something else.

    What’s your next totally unrelated question going to be?

  29. June 30, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    Sean:

    Thanks for commenting on my question. My concern is perhaps more practical. It seems that we only have so many hours a day. I’ve yet to meet a person who says they pray enough (I sure don’t). So, why spend time asking various saints to pray when you can simply ask the One who is in authority?

    On a side note, my catholic friends seem to invoke the saints when there is a specific thing that the saint is incharge of. For example, a co-worker misplaced her keys and invoked the saint of lost items (don’t remember which one that was). My impression is that Catholics understand the invoking of saints as somehow helping them in a tangable way rather than praying for them. Maybe this is just a common theological misunderstanding…like indulgences were in the 16th C.?

  30. Sean said,

    June 30, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    John.

    This isn’t a battle where we are just trying to ‘refute’ one another. This is supposed to be, in my mind, an exercise in the pursuit of truth. I am not going to engage in table pounding nor am I out to ‘win.’ If you want to claim victory than by all means you can claim it and hang your hat on it.

    The article that I cited is directly related to the contention that the doctrinal novum of ‘sola fide’ is of ‘little theological significance.’

    Having clarified that point…

    I’ve tried to dialog with you in various blogs for some time. During that time I’ve been called some pretty nasty things by you. In these discussions I don’t sense that we have the same goal. Therefore unless we can agree to a spirit of charity, I am done with dialoging with you.

    Can we do that?

    If not, grace and peace. You’ll be in my prayers.

  31. Sean said,

    June 30, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    Steve,

    There are traditional ‘patron’ saints of various causes. I am sure you’ve heard that before. For example, I have friends that are adopting a child from China. St. Thomas More is the patron of adoption so in my daily prayers I might ask St. Thomas More to pray for their adoption.

    In the rest of your question I sense this idea that asking a saint to pray for you is less effective than praying directly to God. This is not what the Church teaches. Therefore, while we pray directly to God as well we believe that having the saints is a great benefit. So, its not like we rob Peter to pay Paul in the prayer department.

  32. johnbugay said,

    June 30, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    Sean The article that I cited is directly related to the contention that the doctrinal novum of ’sola fide’ is of ‘little theological significance.’Having clarified that point…

    The article didn’t even address it. I cited the writer’s main point. It had nothing to do with the reasons McGrath gave.

    I am done with dialoging with you.

    I can only hope.

  33. Todd said,

    June 30, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    Sean,

    How do you know departed souls can hear the prayers of people all around the world?

  34. Andrew Preslar said,

    June 30, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    My bad. In comment #24, where I wrote “materially” and “formally,” I should have written “explicitly” or “implicitly.” The former terms are generally used in discussions of the sufficiency of Scripture, whereas Steve is specifically bringing the issue of authority.

  35. Sean said,

    June 30, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    Todd.

    By faith. But without trying to sound ‘cheeky’, you ask the same question that the atheist asks the Christian, “How can God here everybody at once?”

    Or course the saints are not God but the point remains that we accept that our prayers are heard on faith whether they are ‘direct’ or with the saints.

  36. steve hays said,

    June 30, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    Put another way, if Marshall Taylor limits inspiration to inscripturation, then the spoken word can never be inspired–only the written word. In that case, OT prophets never spoke the word of God. Apostles never spoke the word of God.

    How does Marshall justify such an arbitrary disjunction? Certainly the Bible explicitly describes many OT prophets as speaking the word of the Lord. And surely Apostles don’t operate at a lesser level. That’s what makes both groups divine spokesmen.

  37. ReformedSinner said,

    June 30, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    #29 Sean,

    Interesting. So you rather pray to man than God. You rather pray to a “saint” then the God Himself.

    I hope you don’t interpret my post as a smear, but I’m really trying to understand Roman Catholic mentality. This is like one has access to a pot of gold, but rather settles for silver instead.

    Can you explain to me why you would rather pray to man when you have direct access to God?

  38. Sean said,

    June 30, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    ReformedSinner.

    I believe that #29 addresses your question (see discussion how the saints are a benefit and do not lesson access to God) ALso, we do not believe that asking the saints to pray for us is anymore ‘silver’ than asking your pastor or friends to pray for you.

    I still receive my former PCA church’s pray list. In it, it asks for the members to pray for people. This a good and pious practice. Having people pray with you or for you does not diminish your prayer to God. Paul commands us to pray for one another at least two dozen times in the epistles.

  39. Sean said,

    June 30, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    Reformed Sinner.

    Just saw this from Augustine and I think it also addresses your question.

    “As to our paying honor to the memory of the martyrs, and the accusation of Faustus, that we worship them instead of idols, I should not care to answer such a charge, were it not for the sake of showing how Faustus, in his desire to cast reproach on us, has overstepped the Manichaean inventions, and has fallen heedlessly into a popular notion found in Pagan poetry, although he is so anxious to be distinguished from the Pagans. For in saying that we have turned the idols into martyrs, be speaks of our worshipping them with similar rites, and appeasing the shades of the departed with wine and food…It is true that Christians pay religious honor to the memory of the martyrs, both to excite us to imitate them and to obtain a share in their merits, and the assistance of their prayers. But we build altars not to any martyr, but to the God of martyrs, although it is to the memory of the martyrs. No one officiating at the altar in the saints’ burying-place ever says, We bring an offering to thee, O Peter! or O Paul! or O Cyprian! The offering is made to God, who gave the crown of martyrdom, while it is in memory of those thus crowned. The emotion is increased by the associations of the place, and. love is excited both towards those who are our examples, and towards Him by whose help we may follow such examples. We regard the martyrs with the same affectionate intimacy that we feel towards holy men of God in this life, when we know that their hearts are prepared to endure the same suffering for the truth of the gospel. There is more devotion in our feeling towards the martyrs, because we know that their conflict is over; and we can speak with greater confidence in praise of those already victors in heaven, than of those still combating here.” Augustine, Against Faustus, 20:21 (A.D. 400).

  40. Ron Henzel said,

    June 30, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    Sean,

    McGrath never said that justification by faith alone (i.e., sola fide) was a theological novum. Rather, he said that the Protestant distinction between justification and regeneration was a theological novum:

    The significance of the Protestant distinction between iustificatio and regeneratio is that a fundamental discontinuity has been introduced into the western theological tradition where none had existed before. Despite the astonishing theological diversity of the late medieval period, a consensus relating to the nature of justification was maintained throughout. The Protestant understanding of the nature of justification represents a theological novum, whereas its understanding of its mode does not.

    [Iustitia Dei: A History of the Christian Doctrine of Justification, (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1986; 1989), 184. All the italics are McGrath's. The page number is the same in the 2nd ed.]

    In the 3rd edition McGrath backpedals a little bit by inserting the following after the first sentence quoted above:

    There is no doubt that a small number of medieval writers, such as Duns Scotus, explored the conceptual possibilities of separating these notions; yet despite such notional analysis, justification was not conceptually detached from the process of regeneration.

    [Iustitia Dei, 3rd ed., (2005), 215.]

    In any case, McGrath seems determined enough that people not misunderstand his main point here that he repeats it a couple of pages later: “The Reformation understanding of the nature of justification—as opposed to its mode —must therefore be regarded as a genuine theological novum” (1st and 2nd eds., 186-187; 3rd ed., 217). And yet—alas!—people who either have not read McGrath, do not understand McGrath, or deliberately misrepresent him, continue to spread the myth that you have repeated here.

    It should also be noted that McGrath had earlier explained how the medieval understanding of justification developed from a peculiar view of the etymology of the Latin word iustificare instead of the proper understanding of the New Testament Greek word δικαιοσύνη (1st and 2nd eds., 40ff.; in the 3rd ed. see 46ff., although this section has been extensively rewritten). It would thus appear that the medieval understanding of justification was a fifth century theological novum.

  41. Sean said,

    June 30, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    Ron.

    Point taken on the McGrath quote and sorry if I wasn’t clear. However, the real rub with the justification/sanctification debate lies with that ‘novum’…namely, the separated ‘imputed’ righteousness from the infused sanctification. This is how Luther can say that we are justified by ‘faith alone’ and leave out the bit about sanctification until later. And also why Trent rejected Luther’s articulation of ‘faith alone.’ If we do not separate justification and sanctification than there really wouldn’t be a debate. (I realize that is a simplistic summary).

    You reference ‘the medieval understanding’ of justification as if that understanding itself was by itself on an island in church history. What you call ‘the medieval understanding’ is the orthodox understanding reaching back to Augustine.

    It would thus appear that the medieval understanding of justification was a fifth century theological novum.

    Trent’s articulation is in point of fact no different than Augustine’s articulation and is iterated in many places besides way before the medieval era. Therefore, it was not a novum.

  42. Ron Henzel said,

    June 30, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    Sean,

    I still remember being shocked when, shortly after I came to saving faith in an evangelical church, but while I was still attending the Roman Catholic church (in which I grew up), I read the following in my Catholic Bible:

    For there is only one God, and there is only one mediator between God and humanity, himself a human being, Christ Jesus.

    [1 Timothy 2:5, Jerusalem Bible]

    Although I did not read Calvin’s remarks on this verse until years later, I was amazed at how closely they paralleled my initial reaction to both this verse and the unsatisfying explanations I heard from my then-fellow Catholics, although obviously in a more thorough and informed manner. He wrote:

    There are others who think themselves more acute, and who lay down this distinction, that Christ is the only Mediator of redemption, while they pronounce the saints to be mediators of intercession. But the folly of these interpreters is reproved by the scope of the passage, in which the Apostle speaks expressly about prayer. The Holy Spirit commands us to pray for all, because our only Mediator admits all to come to him; just as by his death he reconciled all to the Father. And yet they who thus, with daring sacrilege, strip Christ of his honor, wish to be regarded as Christians.

    But it is objected that this has the appearance of contradiction; for in this very passage Paul enjoins us to intercede for others, while, in the Epistle to the Romans, he declares that intercession belongs to Christ alone. I reply, the intercessions of the saints, by which they aid each other in their addresses to God, do not contradict the doctrine, that all have but one Intercessor; for no man’s prayers are heard either in behalf of himself, or in behalf of another, unless he rely on Christ as his advocate. When we intercede for one another, this is so far from setting aside the intercession of Christ, as belonging to him alone, that the chief reliance is given, and the chief reference made, to that very intercession.

    Some person will perhaps think, that it will, therefore, be easy for us to come to an agreement with the Papists, if they place below the only intercession of Christ, all that they ascribe to the saints. This is not the case; for the reason why they transfer to the saints the office of interceding is, that they imagine that otherwise we are destitute of an advocate. It is a common opinion among them, that we need intercessors, because in ourselves we are unworthy of appearing in the presence of God. By speaking in this manner, they deprive Christ of his honor. Besides, it is a shocking blasphemy, to ascribe to saints such excellence as would procure for us the favor of God: and all the prophets, and apostles, and martyrs, and even the angels themselves—are so far from making any pretension to this, that they too have need of the same intercession as ourselves.

    Again, it is a mere dream, originating in their own brain, that the dead intercede for us; and, therefore, to found our prayers on this is altogether to withdraw our trust from calling upon God. But Paul lays down, as the rule for calling on God in a proper manner, faith grounded on the word of God. (Romans 10:17.) Justly, therefore, everything that men contrive, in the exercise of their own thoughts, without the authority of the word of God, is rejected by us.

    [Calvin, Commentary on the First Epistle to Timothy, William Pringle, trans., (Albany, OR, USA, AGES Software, 1998), 44-45. See also the Torrance and Torrance ed., vol. 10, 211-212.]

  43. Sean said,

    June 30, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    Ron.

    That there is one mediator between God and Man is Catholic dogma.

    Grace and Peace.

  44. Sean said,

    June 30, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    ^ That mediator being Christ Jesus of course….

  45. David Gadbois said,

    June 30, 2009 at 5:33 pm

    I still receive my former PCA church’s pray list. In it, it asks for the members to pray for people. This a good and pious practice. Having people pray with you or for you does not diminish your prayer to God. Paul commands us to pray for one another at least two dozen times in the epistles.

    Funny, but when I have people pray with or for me I don’t imagine that I am ‘obtaining a share in their merits’ as part of the process.

    There is far more at work here in the RC doctrine of prayers to the saints than a simple plea for others to pray for me as a matter of normal fellowship. The defense that the former practice is innocent because it is no different than the latter is clearly false and, really, dishonest. If the two were really comparable, the RC practice would not be limited to prayers to only dead saints, nor limited to only canonized saints. Nor would this be a devotional practice nor an element of worship. None of that is true of normal requests to living saints to pray for us (or do you bring offerings to your fellow parishoners when you have a simple prayer request?).

  46. David Gadbois said,

    June 30, 2009 at 5:40 pm

    Sean said That there is one mediator between God and Man is Catholic dogma.

    What we are wondering is how the RC doctrine of prayers to the saints is consistent with such a pious-sounding statement. Formally affirming this is not enough.

  47. June 30, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    Steve Hays,

    Let me remind you that I am a Catholic Christian submitted to the magisterium of the Holy Catholic Church. It is a matter of our divinely revealed faith that inspiration is limited to Scripture. We believe that Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture are inspired.

    I point this out because you have made a straw-man argument based on my supposed “arbitrary disjunction” (sic) whereby I supposedly “limit inspiration to inscripturation”.

    Fight that concept all you want, but you are not landing blows against the chest of the Holy Catholic Church.

    The Calvinist rejection of papal infallibility rests on the logical error that infallibility requires inspiration.

    Clearly God can prevent a Pope from teaching error (i.e. grant the gift of infallibility) without also causing the Pope to speak the very Word of God as would the prophet Isaiah. To say otherwise is simply to limit God by what He can or cannot do.

  48. Sean said,

    June 30, 2009 at 6:06 pm

    David Gadbois.

    I was not under the impression that I was supposed to offer a treatise on the intercession of the saints previously. If asked, perhaps with a little grace I will be able to do so. I was only replying to one specific objection previously, namely that we should only pray ‘directly’ to God and that asking somebody to pray for you is ‘indirect.’

  49. Bryan Cross said,

    June 30, 2009 at 6:24 pm

    Louis,

    In comment #2 you wrote:

    Could you please help me to understand the difference between “interpretation” and revelation as you define it? It sounds to me like a distinction without a difference

    If there were no difference between interpretation and revelation, then the WCF would be revelation. And so would every sermon. The fact of conflicting interpretations of the same revelation shows that interpretation and revelation are not the same thing, because if interpretation were revelation, then it would never be possible for interpretations of the same revelation to conflict with each other. But obviously there are conflicting interpretations of the same revelation. Therefore, interpretation and revelation are not the same thing, even though revelation is rightly understood through or by the correct interpretation (so obviously they are not unrelated).

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  50. Ron Henzel said,

    June 30, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    Sean,

    You wrote:

    Point taken on the McGrath quote and sorry if I wasn’t clear.

    Thank you for acknowledging my point. Not that I’m trying beat a dead horse here, but I hope you also agree that this was not an issue of clarity but rather of accuracy. When I first came to faith in Christ just before leaving the Catholic church, I was quite defensive of what I perceived to be misrepresentations of Catholicism among Protestants, and I proceeded to challenge and correct them. However, now that I’ve been a Protestant for more than 30 years I have seen many misrepresentations of Protestantism among Catholics, ranging from what various Protestants believe to what individual Protestant authorities (such as McGrath) have actually said. The first condition for mutual understanding and good will, as I see it, is the willingness to represent the opposite side’s statements as accurately as possible.

    You wrote:

    However, the real rub with the justification/sanctification debate lies with that ‘novum’…namely, the separated ‘imputed’ righteousness from the infused sanctification.

    Alright, let’s back up and take a closer look at this. When Protestants—especially Reformed Protestants—distinguish between justification (imputed righteousness) and sanctification (infused righteousness) they are not separating them. Calvin was quite emphatic on this point. Justification cannot be separated from sanctification, although it must be distinguished from it.

    You wrote:

    This is how Luther can say that we are justified by ‘faith alone’ and leave out the bit about sanctification until later.

    I think Luther has gotten a bad rap on this score. Perhaps he was not as clear as Cavlin, but in dealing with justifying faith he did, after all, write in 1536:

    Works are necessary to salvation, but they do not cause salvation, because faith alone gives life. On account of the hypocrites we must say that good works are necessary to salvation. It is necessary to work. Nevertheless, it does not follow that works save on that account, unless we understand necessity very clearly as the necessity that there must be an inward and outward salvation or righteousness. Works save outwardly, that is, they show evidence that we are righteous and that there is faith in a man which saves inwardly, as Paul says, “Man believes with his heart and so is justified, and he confesses with his lips and so is saved” [Rom. 10:10]. Outward salvation shows faith to be present, just as fruit shows a tree to be good.

    Therefore, faith alone justifies, alone saves, and leads to the kingdom, contrary to the opinion of the hypocrites. But we should give evidence of it and show it through works, because fruits are produced by the tree and works testify that perfect faith is present in us.

    [Martin Luther, Luther's Works, Vol. 34: Career of the Reformer IV, J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, and H. T. Lehmann, eds., (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1960; 1999), 165, 190.]

    You wrote:

    And also why Trent rejected Luther’s articulation of ‘faith alone.’ If we do not separate justification and sanctification than there really wouldn’t be a debate. (I realize that is a simplistic summary).

    Again, we’re back to the matter of accuracy, which in this case I believe can only be obtained through full disclosure. Trent did not merely reject “Luther’s articulation of ‘faith alone.'” In the 32nd canon of its sixth session (January 13, 1547) it also anathematized those who denied that the justified essentially merit eternal life:

    If any one saith, that the good works of one that is justified are in such a manner the gifts of God, that they are not also the good merits of him that is justified; or, that the said justified, by the good works which he performs through the grace of God and the merit of Jesus Christ, whose living member he is, does not truly merit increase of grace, eternal life, and the attainment of that eternal life,—if so be, however, that he depart in grace,—and also an increase of glory: let him be anathema.

    ["The Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent," in Philip Schaff and David Schaff, eds., The Creeds of Christendom, Vol. 2, (Grand Rapids, MI, USA: Baker Book House, reprinted 1985), 117-118.]

    The Reformers were not simply fighting to distinguish between justification and sanctification. They were fighting against works-righteousness, the concept that works merit eternal life.

    You wrote:

    You reference ‘the medieval understanding’ of justification as if that understanding itself was by itself on an island in church history. What you call ‘the medieval understanding’ is the orthodox understanding reaching back to Augustine.

    “Orthodox” in the sense that it was generally accepted as such, but I believe that it was (and is) clearly not the biblical understanding. And this, of course, brings us back to the matter of the interpretation of Scripture, and whether one accepts the intrinsic authority of Scripture and the sovereign power of its Author, the Holy Spirit, to open people’s eyes to its meaning, or whether one insists upon an authority extrinsic to Scripture (viz., a particular church hierarchy or magisterium) to decide what it means. For the past 33 years I have gone with the former as opposed to the latter.

    You quoted me in italics and then replied as follows:

    It would thus appear that the medieval understanding of justification was a fifth century theological novum.

    Trent’s articulation is in point of fact no different than Augustine’s articulation and is iterated in many places besides way before the medieval era. Therefore, it was not a novum.

    I grant you that once something gets to be a thousand years old it is no longer a novum, but that misses my point. My point was that in the fifth century, when the medieval view was contrived—at that point in history when the church was already four centuries old—it was a novum. If it can be shown (as I believe it can) that a new view of justification appeared 400 years after the apostles, I do not see how it could have been anything but a novum in its own day.

  51. Ron Henzel said,

    June 30, 2009 at 6:28 pm

    Sean,

    Regarding your comments 40 and 41: you completely missed the point.

    χάρις καὶ εἰρήνη

  52. David Gadbois said,

    June 30, 2009 at 6:33 pm

    Taylor said It is a matter of our divinely revealed faith that inspiration is limited to Scripture. We believe that Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture are inspired.

    These two sentences are contradictory unless one conceives of Sacred Tradition as a subset of Sacred Scripture.

    Clearly God can prevent a Pope from teaching error (i.e. grant the gift of infallibility) without also causing the Pope to speak the very Word of God as would the prophet Isaiah. To say otherwise is simply to limit God by what He can or cannot do.

    Steve’s point is not that it is beyond God’s power, but that it is simply an incoherent supposition.

    From the Catholic Encyclopedia:

    Inspiration signifies a special positive Divine influence and assistance by reason of which the human agent is not merely preserved from liability to error but is so guided and controlled that what he says or writes is truly the word of God, that God Himself is the principal author of the inspired utterance; but infallibility merely implies exemption from liability to error. God is not the author of a merely infallible, as He is of an inspired, utterance; the former remains a merely human document.

    The problem is that if God has preserved a teaching or document from even the possibility of error, then this is no longer merely a human document – God is clearly the co-author of any speech or document that He effects with such miraculous perfection outside of normal providence.

  53. Sean said,

    June 30, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    Ron.

    I sincerely appreciate your experiences and your point of view. I’ve only been Catholic for three years so I am about 27 years behind you from a conversion standpoint.

    Here is the issue that is presented:

    When Protestants—especially Reformed Protestants—distinguish between justification (imputed righteousness) and sanctification (infused righteousness) they are not separating them

    If that were the case than we have nothing to debate (or at least less to debate). The doctrine of “faith alone” is wrong because it forces a divorce from works that scripture does not allow. If you state that works (with the cooperation of grace) move to sanctify is (by God’s grace) and that sanctification is not apart from justification than we agree! I believe that the joint statement on declaration between the Catholic Church and the Lutherans admitted that ‘initial justification’ is by ‘faith alone’ because as a matter of necessity, faith must come before works.

    Regarding posts 40 and 41. I did get the point and responded with the official Catholic dogma on the charge that there is more than one mediator between man and God.

    Regarding the 4th century…I get that you are saying that it was in the 4th century that the gospel got corrupted? Can you give a precise date?

  54. Ron Henzel said,

    June 30, 2009 at 7:27 pm

    David,

    To add to what you’ve written in comment 49: in its “Decree Concerning the Canonical Scriptures” from the Council of Trent’s fourth session, the Catholic hierarchy declared “saving truth and moral discipline … are contained in the written books, and the unwritten traditions…” It then specifies with regard to “the written books” (viz., the New Testament), that they came “from the mouth of Christ himself, or from the Apostles themselves, the Holy Ghost dictating [Spiritu Sancto dictante].” It further specifies with regard “the said traditions” that the Synod of Trent receives and venerates them “as having been dictated, either by Christ’s own word of mouth, or by the Holy Ghost [tanqum vel oretenus a Christo vel a Spiritu Sancto dictatas], and preserved in the Catholic Church by a continuous succession [continua successione]” (“The Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent,” in ibid., 80).

    By inserting the phrase “continuous succession,” the Tridentine bishops made it clear that the oral tradition, which is just as much “dictated” by God as the Scriptures, is deposited specifically with the ecclesiastical hierarchy, and not in the broader sense of the church as the body of the all the faithful.

    In its next decree, the “Decree Concerning the Edition, and the Use, of the Sacred Books,” it warns that “…no one, relying on his own skill, shall…presume to interpret the said sacred Scripture contrary to that sense which holy mother Church,—whose it is to judge the true sense and interpretation of the holy Scriptures,—hath held and doth hold…” (Ibid., 83.) Again, the “holy mother Church” here is not the body of all the faithful, but the church hierarchy. In itself, this implies an infallible hierarchy, which would seem to leave the door open to conciliarism. But the church would shut and lock that door in the 19th century.

    All of this was repeated in the second chapter from the third session of the “Dogmatic Decrees of the Vatican Council” (ibid., 240-242) in 1870, which would finally erase any potential misunderstandings about conciliarism by adding in the fourth chapter of its “First Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of Christ” from its fourth session, “…that the Roman Pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedra, that is, when in discharge of the office of pastor and doctor of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme Apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine regarding faith and morals to be held by the universal Church, by the divine assistance [per assistentiam divinam] promised him in blessed Peter, is possessed of that infallibility with which the divine Redeemer willed that his Church should be endowed for defining doctrine regarding faith and morals; and that therefore such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are irreformable of themselves [irreformabiles esse], and not from the consent of the Church” (ibid., 270-271).

    One has to wonder how being “possessed of infallibility” in doctrinal pronouncements by “divine assistance” differs in any essential way from the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. I see no practical difference.

  55. Kevin said,

    June 30, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    Bryan, Taylor, et al…

    I don’t know what is prompting the prevalence of these kinds of posts on Reformed sites of late, but I suspect that your excellent work at Called to Communion has something to do with it. Thanks, and keep it up.

    And thank you for your patient and gracious manner of responding as you have here on these recent posts, as well.

    Blessings and peace.

    KB

  56. Albert Scharbach said,

    June 30, 2009 at 8:26 pm

    Lane,

    I was one of your classmates at WTS, and now a Roman Catholic.

    If this discussion proves anything, it is that Reformed-Catholic dialogue cannot be oversimplified. A brief grid with doctrine-refutation-prooftext cannot fairly deal with the the issues that were raised.

    When you look at Catholic doctrine, you look at it from a Reformed perspective (of course). Naturally, Catholic doctrines do not fit neatly in a Reformed system, and it is easy to show that. But Catholic doctrine is consistent within its own system. You cannot have honest and effective dialogue unless you take the time to understand Catholicism as a whole. And because Catholic teaching has been developing for some 2000 years, it does take time to get one’s arms around it.

    I shared your perspective while a WTS student, and it has taken me years to be able to receive the Catholic faith for what it really is.

    This is not to blame you for not appreciating Catholicism as a whole. Catholics often misrepresent evangelicals, too. As one refers to the other, it is like a rugby player telling a football player that he tackles the wrong way. There are different rules to the game.

    But the question is, which theological system is right? There are many competing systems among those who claim sola scriptura, and some 500,000 denominations. How many theological disputes among Reformed Christians become bitter and split churches? You can often find godly and very intelligent Scripture scholars on both sides of many of these Protestant debates. So again, which interpretive system is right?

    Furthermore, heresies have a way of resurfacing unless they can be dealt with definitively. That is major reason why we believe God gave the Church the gift of infallibility. It is for the sake of unity, and so the faithful can be sure of one place where they are theologically safe. And so the Catholic can be grateful for the words you quoted from Lumen Gentium: “the whole flock of Christ is preserved and progresses in unity of faith.” This is how I’ve found that the whole deposit of Revelation can be “religiously guarded and faithfully expounded.”

    Thank you for providing the format for some helpful discussion, Lane. Blessings to you.

  57. Ron Henzel said,

    June 30, 2009 at 8:27 pm

    Sean,

    You wrote:

    Here is the issue that is presented:

    When Protestants—especially Reformed Protestants—distinguish between justification (imputed righteousness) and sanctification (infused righteousness) they are not separating them

    If that were the case than we have nothing to debate (or at least less to debate).

    It is the case. So why are you debating?

    The doctrine of “faith alone” is wrong because it forces a divorce from works that scripture does not allow.

    Actually, according to Ephesians 2:8-10 and many other Scriptures, it is a divorce that Scripture insists upon. But since it seems to me that you do not understand the relationship between justification and sanctification in traditional Protestant theology, I do not have a great deal of confidence that you understand what we mean when we refer to justification by faith alone.

    If you state that works (with the cooperation of grace) move to sanctify is (by God’s grace) and that sanctification is not apart from justification than we agree!

    I agree that sanctification cannot be separated from justification, although the two must be distinguished. They must be distinguished in this way: only justification puts us in a right relationship with God; sanctification does not and cannot put us in such a relationship, but rather it is the inevitable and confirming fruit of that relationship.

    On the other hand, I emphatically disagree that our works have a sanctifying effect upon us. Only the Holy Spirit has such an effect on us. Even our best works, although produced by the Spirit, are still tainted by sin, and still in need of cleansing by the blood of Christ. Of course, this view is explicitly anathematized in canons 24, 25, and 26 of Trent’s “Decree on Justification” (sixth session), but it is nevertheless biblical.

    You wrote:

    I believe that the joint statement on declaration between the Catholic Church and the Lutherans admitted that ‘initial justification’ is by ‘faith alone’ because as a matter of necessity, faith must come before works.

    I’m not sure to what place you are referring to in The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification here. I haven’t found any reference to “initial justification” in the document. Although the word “initial” itself is not in the document, you may be thinking of the concept of “initial grace,” a traditional Catholic term which is found in the Catholic Catechism and may be behind some of the statements in the Joint Declaration.

    You wrote:

    Regarding posts 40 and 41. I did get the point and responded with the official Catholic dogma on the charge that there is more than one mediator between man and God.

    Then why pray to a dead person who is not a mediator between you and God?

    Regarding the 4th century…I get that you are saying that it was in the 4th century that the gospel got corrupted? Can you give a precise date?

    A precise date? How precise would it have to be? McGrath would appear to date it at the beginning of the fifth century. He wrote:

    The general tendency among Latin-speaking theologians was to follow Augustin of Hippo…in interpreting iustificare [to justify] as iustum facere [to make right]. Augustine’s etymological speculations have been the object of derision for some considerable time—for example his impossible derivation of the name Mercurius from medius currens. His explanation of the origins of the term iustificare is, however, quite plausible, for it involves the acceptable assumption that -ficare is the unstressed form of facere. While this may be an acceptable interpretion of iustificare considered in isolation, it is not an acceptable interpretation of the verb considered as a Latin equivalent of δικαιοῦν.

    [McGrath, ibid., 2nd ed., 14. Italics his.]

    McGrath then goes on to indicate that the Greek word usually translated “to justify” “has the primary sense of being considered or estimated as righteous, whereas the Latin verb denotes being righteous…” (ibid., 15, italics his).

    I’m afraid that’s about as precise as I can get.

  58. Sean said,

    June 30, 2009 at 9:26 pm

    Ron,

    It is the case. So why are you debating?

    Scripture does not allow the ‘separation’ that Luther employed. For as the soul cannot be divorced from the body, faith cannot be divorced from works (James 2).

    I do actually understand the separation between justification and sanctification in Reformed theology. I simply reject it because it is unbiblical and contrary to the apostolic Tradition. Not only does Paul not separate faith from works of faith but James explicitly says it is impossible. (Although Paul does separate faith from ‘works of the Law.’)

    My point about faith coming before works and thus our initial justification can be said to be by faith alone. Trent says: But when the Apostle says that man is justified by faith and freely (Rom. 3:24; 5:1), these words are to be understood in that sense in which the uninterrupted unanimity of the Catholic Church has held and expressed them, namely, that we are therefore said to be justified by faith, because faith is the beginning of human salvation, the foundation and root of all justification, without which it is impossible to please God (Heb 11:6) and to come to the fellowship of His sons; and we are therefore said to be justified gratuitously, because none of those things that precede justification, whether faith or works, merit the grace of justification. For grace, it is not now by works, otherwise, as the Apostle says, grace is no more grace (Rom. 11:6)

    Do you agree with that?

    You said: Then why pray to a dead person who is not a mediator between you and God.

    This begs the question. Christ, by his blood and work on the cross is the soul mediator between God and Man. But this does not mean that the saints, and the elect, do not cooperate subordinately to the work of God. The intercession of fellow Christians, which is what the saints in heaven are, does not interfere with Christ’s unique mediatorship because in the four verses immediately preceding 1 Timothy 2:5, Paul says that Christians should interceed: “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way. This is good, and pleasing to God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:1–4). Therefore, intercessory prayers offered by Christians on behalf of others is something “good and pleasing to God,” not something infringing on Christ’s role as mediator.

    Does McGrath provide any evidence of ‘faith alone’ as described by Luther before the 4th century?

  59. David Gadbois said,

    July 1, 2009 at 1:46 am

    Sean said Scripture does not allow the ’separation’ that Luther employed. For as the soul cannot be divorced from the body, faith cannot be divorced from works (James 2).

    This sort of laziness is unsurprising, seeing as how you’ve outsourced exegetical work to the Magisterium. No need to seriously engage Scripture anymore.

    Before we get to that – I note that you’ve once again employed the term ‘separation’ to misrepresent the Protestant position. Ron already corrected you on this, and yet you still persist in this flat misrepresentation. Making a distinction between two things (what Ron meant by ‘divorcing’ two things) is not the same thing as separating two things. Indeed, the whole body/spirit parallel James 2 makes assumes this very thing – faith and works are distinct (they are not the same thing) but inseparable *in the person* just as the body and spirit are distinct yet inseparable *in the person*. You’ll have to at least represent our position right if you want to continue a meaningful critique.

    James 2 says “For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.” This only establishes that there is a relation of dependence. You can’t have one without the other. But that is leagues away from saying or even implying that faith and works are both co-instrumental in justification.

    My point about faith coming before works and thus our initial justification can be said to be by faith alone.

    This is a non-exegetical circumvention of the biblical texts that speak about justification by faith alone. The Bible does not teach a distinction between initial and subsequent justification, nor does it teach that the legal ground of our justification shifts between the start of the Christian life and the end. It can’t be that Christ’s merits are sufficient for initial justification, but then need to be supplanted with a mixture of our own works afterwards. Why is the person and work of Christ a sufficient legal basis for our right standing before God one day, but the next day it is not?

    Does McGrath provide any evidence of ‘faith alone’ as described by Luther before the 4th century?

    I don’t know what McGrath said, but the earliest occurrence I know of, concerning an articulation of a belief in justification by faith alone, is found in I Clement:

    1Clem 32:4
    And so we, having been called through His will in Christ Jesus, are
    not justified through ourselves or through our own wisdom or
    understanding or piety or works which we wrought in holiness of
    heart, but through faith, whereby the Almighty God justified all men
    that have been from the beginning; to whom be the glory for ever and
    ever. Amen.

  60. Ron Henzel said,

    July 1, 2009 at 4:10 am

    Sean,

    You wrote:

    Scripture does not allow the ’separation’ that Luther employed. For as the soul cannot be divorced from the body, faith cannot be divorced from works (James 2).

    And David replied:

    Ron already corrected you on this, and yet you still persist in this flat misrepresentation. Making a distinction between two things (what Ron meant by ‘divorcing’ two things) is not the same thing as separating two things.

    Yes, it’s as though you’re totally ignoring both my statements and the documentation I have brought in to support them on this point. I could multiply quotations from Luther to continue to demonstrate the inaccuracy of your “separation” thesis. He was very clear:

    I have no idea how to change what I have consistently taught about this until now, namely, that we receive a different, new, clean heart through faith (as St. Peter says). …

    After such faith, renewal, and forgiveness of sin, good works follow…

    [Martin Luther, The Schmalkald Articles, William R. Russell, trans., (Minneapolis, MN, USA: Fortress Press, 1995), 32.]

    One of the preeminent Luther scholars of the 20th century wrote:

    Naturally, at times Luther stated that where works are absent one may conclude that faith is dead. In the Thesis Concerning Faith and Law (1535), he said: “If good works do not follow, it is certain that this faith in Christ does not dwell in our heart, but that dead faith.” … Thus he stated in The Disputation Concerning Justification: “True faith is not idle. We can, therefore, ascertain and recognize those who have true faith from the effect or from what follows.”

    [Bernhard Lohse, Martin Luther's Theology: Its Historical and Development, Roy A. Harrisville, trans. and ed., (Minneapolis, MN, USA: Fortress Press, 1999), 265.]

    But if you won’t take Luther’s word for it, or Lohse’s word for it, or my word for it, why can’t you at least acknowledge what the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification between the Lutheran World Federation and the Roman Catholic church acknowledges? In paragraph 22, which is found in section 4.2, “Justification as Forgiveness of Sins and Making Righteous,” it reads:

    We confess together that God forgives sin by grace and at the same time frees human beings from sin’s enslaving power and imparts the gift of new life in Christ. When persons come by faith to share in Christ, God no longer imputes to them their sin and through the Holy Spirit effects in them an active love. These two aspects of God’s gracious action are not to be separated…

    [Emphasis mine.]

    This issue is not separation. The issue is the nature of justification—viz., specifically, that while it is inseparable from sanctification, it is nevertheless distinct from it because it plays a different role in salvation.

    In the case of your quotation from chapter 8 of Trent’s sixth session (which I’ve had bookmarked in my copy for quite some time now), I assume from your emphasis that you want me to especially consider the portion that reads: “because faith is the beginning of human salvation, the foundation and root of all justification, without which it is impossible to please God.” And, of course that is perhaps the part that is most problematic for Protestant students of the Apostle Paul, since it limits the role of faith to the beginning of salvation, leaving the door open for, and in fact requiring meritorious works later on in the Tridentine system. The fact that nothing has changed here is clearly seen in §2010 of the recent official catechism:

    Since the initiative belongs to God in the order of grace, no one can merit the initial grace of forgiveness and justification, at the beginning of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life.

    [Catechism of the Catholic Church, (New York, NY, USA: Doubleday, 1997), 541-542. The italics is in the original text.]

    So when you ask, “Do you agree with that?” my only response can be, “You’re kidding, right?”

    You wrote:

    You said: Then why pray to a dead person who is not a mediator between you and God.

    This begs the question. Christ, by his blood and work on the cross is the soul mediator between God and Man. But this does not mean that the saints, and the elect, do not cooperate subordinately to the work of God. The intercession of fellow Christians, which is what the saints in heaven are, does not interfere with Christ’s unique mediatorship because in the four verses immediately preceding 1 Timothy 2:5, Paul says that Christians should interceed [...] Therefore, intercessory prayers offered by Christians on behalf of others is something “good and pleasing to God,” not something infringing on Christ’s role as mediator.

    OK, let’s get real here. I think that you and I, as well as every honest Roman Catholic knows, that in actual practice, when people pray to dead saints, they do not merely ask those saints to pray for them. They certainly do that, but they do so much more. To cite just one example (and if you remain a Catholic for more than a few days, you’ll find the examples are endless): the web site of the St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, a parish run by Benedictine priests in Picayune, Mississippi includes, among many others, a page devoted to the “Litany of Saint Anthony of Padua,” which includes the following petitions to St. Anthony:

    From the snares of the devil, St. Anthony deliver us.
    From thunder, lightning and storms, St. Anthony deliver us.
    From all evil of body and soul, St. Anthony deliver us.
    Through your intercession, St. Anthony protect us.
    Throughout the course of life, St. Anthony protect us.

    Look, you’re talking to someone who was raised in the Catholic church, attended Catholic school for three years and CCD classes past confirmation, who received every sacrament the church had to offer except marriage, holy orders, and extreme unction, who remains close to his Catholic family, and who actually reads the documents of the Catholic church and its doctors. This is not just asking a dead saint to pray for you! He is being petitioned for deliverance and protection. If this does not qualify as mediation between God and man—and even assigning virtually God-like powers to dead saints!—I have no idea what does.

    You wrote:

    Does McGrath provide any evidence of ‘faith alone’ as described by Luther before the 4th century?

    McGrath virtually jumps straight from the New Testament to Augustine, claiming that, “Justification was simply not a theological issue in the pre-Augustinian tradition” (ibid., 1st and 2nd eds., 19). He only seems interested in studying more systematic treatments of justification rather than the kind of occasional references to it that we find prior to Augustine.

    But this does not mean that there is not an abundance of evidence. David has already cited 1 Clement 32:4, and Thomas C. Oden supplies a whole lot more in his The Justification Reader, (Grand Rapids, MI, USA and Cambridge, UK: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2002).

    The following observations made by Charles Hodge are worth noting at this point:

    From the nature of the case, if justification is by faith, it must be by faith alone. Luther’s version, therefore, allein durch den glauben [by faith alone], is fully justified by the context. The Romanists, indeed, made a great outcry against that version as a gross perversion of Scripture, although Catholic translators before the time of Luther had given the same translation. So in the Nuremberg Bible, 1483, “Nur durch den glauben.” And the Italian Bibles of Geneva, 1476, and of Venice, 1538, per sola fede. The Fathers also often use the expression, “man is justified by faith alone;” so that Erasmus, De Ratione Concionandi [On the Method of Preaching], Lib. III., says, “Vox sola, tot clamoribus lapidata hoc sæculo in Luthero, reverenter in Patribus auditur.” ["The word alone, which has been received with such a shower of stones when uttered in our times by Luther, is yet reverently listened to when spoken by the Fathers."]

    [Charles Hodge, Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, (Grand Rapids, MI, USA: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, reprinted 1993), 100.]

  61. steve hays said,

    July 1, 2009 at 5:10 am

    Here are two statements which I believe the church of Rome would classify as infallible, ex cathedra pronouncements. How does the functional authority of these papal pronouncements differ from the inspired claims of Scripture?

    Ineffabilis Deus

    Wherefore, in humility and fasting, we unceasingly offered our private prayers as well as the public prayers of the Church to God the Father through his Son, that he would deign to direct and strengthen our mind by the power of the Holy Spirit. In like manner did we implore the help of the entire heavenly host as we ardently invoked the Paraclete. Accordingly, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, for the honor of the Holy and undivided Trinity, for the glory and adornment of the Virgin Mother of God, for the exaltation of the Catholic Faith, and for the furtherance of the Catholic religion, by the authority of Jesus Christ our Lord, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own: “We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful.”

    Hence, if anyone shall dare — which God forbid! — to think otherwise than as has been defined by us, let him know and understand that he is condemned by his own judgment; that he has suffered shipwreck in the faith; that he has separated from the unity of the Church; and that, furthermore, by his own action he incurs the penalties established by law if he should are to express in words or writing or by any other outward means the errors he think in his heart.

    http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Pius09/p9ineff.htm

    MUNIFICENTISSIMUS DEUS

    For which reason, after we have poured forth prayers of supplication again and again to God, and have invoked the light of the Spirit of Truth, for the glory of Almighty God who has lavished his special affection upon the Virgin Mary, for the honor of her Son, the immortal King of the Ages and the Victor over sin and death, for the increase of the glory of that same august Mother, and for the joy and exultation of the entire Church; by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.

    Hence if anyone, which God forbid, should dare willfully to deny or to call into doubt that which we have defined, let him know that he has fallen away completely from the divine and Catholic Faith.
    In order that this, our definition of the bodily Assumption of the Virgin Mary into heaven may be brought to the attention of the universal Church, we desire that this, our Apostolic Letter, should stand for perpetual remembrance, commanding that written copies of it, or even printed copies, signed by the hand of any public notary and bearing the seal of a person constituted in ecclesiastical dignity, should be accorded by all men the same reception they would give to this present letter, were it tendered or shown.

    It is forbidden to any man to change this, our declaration, pronouncement, and definition or, by rash attempt, to oppose and counter it. If any man should presume to make such an attempt, let him know that he will incur the wrath of Almighty God and of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul.

    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/pius_xii/apost_constitutions/documents/hf_p-xii_apc_19501101_munificentissimus-deus_en.html

  62. steve hays said,

    July 1, 2009 at 5:31 am

    Taylor Marshall said,

    “Let me remind you that I am a Catholic Christian submitted to the magisterium of the Holy Catholic Church. It is a matter of our divinely revealed faith that inspiration is limited to Scripture. We believe that Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture are inspired. I point this out because you have made a straw-man argument based on my supposed ‘arbitrary disjunction’ (sic) whereby I supposedly ‘limit inspiration to inscripturation’. Fight that concept all you want, but you are not landing blows against the chest of the Holy Catholic Church.”

    I said you created an arbitrary disjunction. You respond by stating that your Catholic faith requires you to affirm that disjunction. But even if this were an article of faith, that in no way refutes the charge. It would simply elevate the arbitrary disjunction to the level of dogma. You’ve given us a personal faith-statement. What’s the argumentative force of that autobiographical statement?

    “The Calvinist rejection of papal infallibility rests on the logical error that infallibility requires inspiration.”

    i) Although I’m a Calvinist, I didn’t critique your position on Calvinist grounds. Rather, I critiqued your position on internal grounds. I answered you on your own terms.

    ii) Moreover, telling us that you affirm this disjunction because your church requires you to affirm it is not a logical argument, but an argument from authority.

    “Clearly God can prevent a Pope from teaching error (i.e. grant the gift of infallibility) without also causing the Pope to speak the very Word of God as would the prophet Isaiah. To say otherwise is simply to limit God by what He can or cannot do.”

    i) And why should we classify divine prevention of error as something other than inspiration? Perhaps you’re trying to distinguish negative inspiration (prevention from error) from positive inspiration (causing the speaker to utter the words of God), but it’s still divine inspiration.

    ii) Moreover, you’re also concealing the authoritative force of infallible, ex cathedra statements.

  63. Sean said,

    July 1, 2009 at 6:30 am

    Ron and David.

    One cannot say ‘there is no separation between faith and works’ and on the other hand say ‘it is by faith only.’ You can call it only an attempt to ‘distinguish’ but the reality is that it is a divorce. If all Luther was doing was ‘distinguishing’ faith from works than he was about 1300 years late to that party. One only read countless works before him to know that the orthodox faith knew that faith and works were not the exact same thing. They are distinguished…as the soul is distinguished from the body.

    David. Telling me that my exegesis is lazy because I reference the epistle of James, which is the clearest text in Holy Scripture on the question of faith and works isn’t fair. I know that you disagree with the orthodox interpretation of the epistle of James but that does not mean that it is wrong for me to cite it here. The words ‘faith alone’ only appear in the bible one time and the phrase is preceded by the word ‘not.’

    Indeed, the whole body/spirit parallel James 2 makes assumes this very thing – faith and works are distinct (they are not the same thing) but inseparable *in the person* just as the body and spirit are distinct yet inseparable *in the person*.

    David. Exactly.

    This only establishes that there is a relation of dependence. You can’t have one without the other. But that is leagues away from saying or even implying that faith and works are both co-instrumental in justification.

    That is what it must be saying for Luther’s position. Its forced into saying that. However this exegesis is not orthodox. Its no mystery why it is that Luther wrote so negatively about the epistle of James.

    David. Lets look at the Clement quote in context:

    Seeing, therefore, that we are the portion of the Holy One, let us do all those things which pertain to holiness, avoiding all evil-speaking, all abominable and impure embraces, together with all drunkenness, seeking after change, all abominable lusts, detestable adultery, and execrable pride. “For God,” saith the Scripture, “resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble.” Let us cleave, then, to those to whom grace has been given by God. Let us clothe ourselves with concord and humility, ever exercising self control, standing far off from all whispering and evil speaking, being justified by our works, and not by our words. For the Scripture saith, “He that speaketh much, shall also hear much in answer. And does he that is ready in speech deem himself righteous? Blessed is he that is born of woman, who liveth but a short time: be not given to much speaking.” Let our praise be in God, and not of ourselves; for God hateth those that commend themselves. Let testimony to our good deeds be borne by others, as it was in the case of our righteous forefathers. Boldness, and arrogance, and audacity belong to those that are accursed of God; but moderation, humility, and meekness to such as are blessed by Him.

    CHAP. XXX. Also see Chapter CHAP. XXXIV. Your citation is in a context about trying to accomplish justification ‘of ourselves’ which is not Catholic soteriology. Therefore, Clement I does not teach ‘faith alone.’

    Ron. I have no issue with Luther teaching that faith without works is dead. Maybe thats why I have not addressed your citations on that fact. I grant that Luther held that works follow faith. But works following faith is not the same thing as works being separate from faith in our justification. (Call in distinguished if you will but it is a separation.)

    And, of course that is perhaps the part that is most problematic for Protestant students of the Apostle Paul, since it limits the role of faith to the beginning of salvation

    Come on. I think you know that Catholic soteriology does not teach that faith ends at justification.

    I gotta come back to this later, God willing.

  64. Louis said,

    July 1, 2009 at 7:17 am

    Bryan, (re: #46),

    Thanks. I understand the difference between interpretation and revelation as those words are normally understood. What I don’t understand is the way you were using those terms in your first post.

    The way I see it, there is revelation, which is authoritative because it is the Word of God; and then there is interpretation, which is man’s attempt to understand or explain the Word of God, and which does not have the same authority.

    My question is, that if you give the pronouncements of the Catholic Church the same authority as the Word itself, which you apparently do, then isn’t it misleading to claim that it is only “interpretive” authority? It doesn’t get any more authoritative than absolute, binding, infallible authority, no matter what you call it. It’s kind of the ole “if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck” issue.

    I’m also asking whether this idea of “interpretive authority” is particularly misleading, in that some of what the Catholic Church teaches does not seem to have much of an actual connection to God’s revelation in scripture. That is, it’s not really an “interpretation” at all, in the sense of being a fair or legitimate reading of what’s in the text. Rather, it seems to be a separate source of authority in itself.

    Louis

  65. Sean said,

    July 1, 2009 at 7:45 am

    Ron.

    Please note that my insistence that Luther ‘separated’ faith from works is not an attempt to ignore what you are saying. I can grant that you say that he claimed only to ‘distinguish’ between the two. However, practically and ontologically speaking, Luther’s formulation does divorce the soul from the body as it were. Luther defined justification with a one time imputation which does not include the grace infused in us to perform works of faith, love and charity. This violates scripture and orthodoxy.

    I also grant that Luther taught that works follow true faith. But this isn’t the question is it? The question is whether or not we are justified by ‘faith alone’ apart from works. Not whether works follow faith.

    Also, I think you know that Catholic soteriology does not teach that faith stops and works take over or something. Catholic soteriology is summarized by the scriptures that speak of ‘faith working through love.’

    Concerning saints and the petition of the saints. It isn’t fair to isolate a litany that you find offensive and address it in a vacuum. Behind the litany or the prayer is the Catholic understanding of the church. Namely, that the church in heaven constitutes the ‘church triumphant’ and that we participate in the same heavenly liturgy here in the church ‘militant.’ In other words, the Catholic teaching on the roll of saints is not forfeited with a phrase in prayer that petitions X saint to ‘watch over us’ or something.

    On 1st Clement…I encourage you to read the entire letter in context. Maybe you already have? Because preceding the passage David cited, Clement expressly says that with the aid of grace our ‘good works’ make us righteous. What he is arguing in the passage that David quoted is that we cannot obtain this righteousness apart from God. I can provide exact quotes if you want but better to read the whole letter.

    David.

    There really isn’t any way to respond to your charge that citing the Epistle of James in the context of this discussion is ‘lazy.’ James is holy scripture. James 2 is the clearest text in the scriptures that we have on the question of faith and works. James does not say that he is only establishing a form of dependence. He says that we are ‘not justified by faith only.’ This interpretation is the orthodox one.

  66. Bryan Cross said,

    July 1, 2009 at 8:13 am

    Louis,

    Thanks for your gracious approach. I appreciate that.

    I understand the difference between interpretation and revelation as those words are normally understood. What I don’t understand is the way you were using those terms in your first post.

    Ok. Let’s see if I can clarify that below.

    The way I see it, there is revelation, which is authoritative because it is the Word of God; and then there is interpretation, which is man’s attempt to understand or explain the Word of God, and which does not have the same authority.

    Catholics believe that with respect to authority there are two kinds of interpretation. One is private interpretation. That’s what I do when I’m reading the Bible on my own. Another is authoritative interpretation. That’s what the Church does when she speaks with her full authority about some doctrine, say, the Trinity. The revelation itself has the greatest authority. Beneath it is the authority of the Church’s interpretation. Beneath that (and having no authority), is my own private interpretation.

    My question is, that if you give the pronouncements of the Catholic Church the same authority as the Word itself, which you apparently do, then isn’t it misleading to claim that it is only “interpretive” authority?

    Hopefully, given what I said just above, it is clear that we don’t “give the pronouncements of the Catholic Church the same authority as the Word itself”, just as we don’t believe that the Apostles are equal in authority to Christ Himself. Christ has *greater* authority than the Apostles, of course. But that doesn’t mean that when the Apostles were preaching and teaching they had *no* authority, or that they only had authority when what they were saying was divinely inspired.

    It doesn’t get any more authoritative than absolute, binding, infallible authority, no matter what you call it. It’s kind of the ole “if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck” issue.

    Catholics recognize a hierarchy of authorities, similar to what the centurion in Scripture says in Matt 8:9 and Luke 7:8, and found clearly in the epistles of St. Ignatius of Antioch. The authority of someone lower in the hierarchy does not subvert the higher authority, but depends upon it, without reducing to it.

    I’m also asking whether this idea of “interpretive authority” is particularly misleading, in that some of what the Catholic Church teaches does not seem to have much of an actual connection to God’s revelation in scripture. That is, it’s not really an “interpretation” at all, in the sense of being a fair or legitimate reading of what’s in the text. Rather, it seems to be a separate source of authority in itself.

    That’s a fair question, and I understand why it would appear that way to you. There is a very significant difference, hard to underestimate, between reading Scripture through the Tradition, and reading Scripture in a Scripture-alone-is-sufficient sense of sola scriptura. Those who read Scripture apart from the Tradition look at those who read Scripture through Tradition, and think, “How in the world are you getting that out of the text?” So, your question pushes back to a deeper point of disagreement, which is sola scriptura itself, at least as understood in the Scripture-is-sufficient sense. That’s a larger discussion. I’m willing to talk about it, and we will be talking about at on Called to Communion at some point. But, for now, at least perhaps I’ve laid out the point of disagreement. A helpful book on this subject is Keith Mathison’s The Shape of Sola Scriptura. He’s also got an article on this subject in Modern Reformation, “Solo Scriptura: The Difference a Vowel Makes” (Modern Reformation, March/April Vol. 16 No. 2 2007 Pages 25-29). He argues for a distinction between solo scriptura and sola scriptura.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  67. Louis said,

    July 1, 2009 at 8:44 am

    Bryan,

    Thanks again for taking the time to respond. I will check the resources you suggested. If you have any others that you would recommend, particularly on Catholic theology as a whole, I would appreciate it.

    Louis

  68. johnbugay said,

    July 1, 2009 at 10:18 am

    Bryan — I’m looking forward to your response to Steve Hays (#3)

  69. Bryan Cross said,

    July 1, 2009 at 10:25 am

    John,

    Is there one thing in particular there (in comment #3) that you would like me to address? (I think it is more fruitful to focus on one question at a time, instead of addressing many different questions at the same time.)

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  70. johnbugay said,

    July 1, 2009 at 10:29 am

    Bryan — How about the difference between authoritative interpretation and true interpretation.

  71. Richard said,

    July 1, 2009 at 10:50 am

    May I quickly reference CCC 85 & 86:

    “The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone. Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ.” This means that the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome.

    “Yet this Magisterium is not superior to the Word of God, but is its servant. It teaches only what has been handed on to it. At the divine command and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it listens to this devotedly, guards it with dedication and expounds it faithfully. All that it proposes for belief as being divinely revealed is drawn from this single deposit of faith.”

    The quotes are from Dei Verbum which is really quite helpful.

  72. Bryan Cross said,

    July 1, 2009 at 11:10 am

    John,

    Ok, I think you are referring to Steve’s statement (in #3):

    If the pope claims to be speaking the truth, and his claim is true, then its incumbent on the listener to believe what he says, and act accordingly. That’s authority.

    Catholics do not believe that authority is identical to truth. Authority is moral power to which submission and obedience is due from those entrusted to it. “When I submit (so long as I agree), the one to whom I submit is me.” In other words, reducing authority to truth (or agreement by those under authority that the authority is speaking the truth), conceptually eliminates authority. That doesn’t entail that every authority has equal authority. As Christians, we obey the rightful ruler of our country, but only under God’s greater authority. If the president asks us to do something that violates the natural law, or would require disobeying God (as revealed through Jesus Christ), we must serve God rather than men, because God is greater in authority than any creature. But, that doesn’t entail that we must submit to the government only when we agree with the civil law or only when we agree that it is good for our country. We might think some laws are bad, but, so long as they do not require us to violate the natural law or the divine law, we must submit to them, because of their authority.

    Also, we do not believe that the authority of the Magisterium is equivalent in kind to the authority of a university professor. The latter is academic authority, and is based on a level of expertise. It rightly elicits a certain and proper deference (short of obedience) when they speak or write on a subject which they have publicly demonstrated themselves to know more thoroughly than do the rest of us. But Magisterial authority is not academic authority. It rightly elicits submission and obedience in the areas of faith and morals, not because it is demonstrated to our satisfaction proficiency in these areas, but because it has been given the authority by Christ or His successors to speak on behalf of Christ, as His representative, to all the Church and all the world.

    So a true interpretation [of Scripture] is not authoritative because the interpretation is true, but because what is contained in the true interpretation is authoritative. An authoritative interpretation [of Scripture] is authoritative not because it is true (though it is true), but because of the authority given by Christ to the Magisterium to which is due submission of mind and will regarding what is the true and authentic interpretation of Scripture. An authoritative interpretation is authoritative both as an interpretation and in regards to its content. A true interpretation is only authoritative with regard to its content.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  73. johnbugay said,

    July 1, 2009 at 11:15 am

    Richard: I don’t want to try to speak for Steve, but he has asked this question a number of times. Here it is in response to this:

    “But you are assuming that this distinction is exhaustive, because you are assuming that that there is no such thing as interpretive authority. Give that there is such a thing as interpretive authority, then we come to the ‘word of God’ through the interpretive authority which Christ has established, which is itself neither mere opinion nor the divine Word.”

    To which Steve responded,

    i) Of course, the Bible itself it the embodiment of interpretive authority. The NT interprets the OT. NT writers interpret the significance of Jesus’ mission.

    ii) Beyond that, what we need is not so much an authoritative interpretation, but a true interpretation.

    Where does Dei Verbum fit into this?

    In fact, it prompts another question. It says, ““Yet this Magisterium is not superior to the Word of God, but is its servant. It teaches only what has been handed on to it.”

    Go and look at the language from Ineffabilis Deus and Munificentissimus Deus from his post #61 just above.

    Here is the question: “How does the functional authority of these papal pronouncements differ from the inspired claims of Scripture? ”

    That is, Bryan, and in fact, Dei Verbum want to say, “the Magisterium is the servant of the Word of God.”

    But the question, in what way is it a “servant” when it’s making demands of people that are functionally equivalent to the demands that Scripture makes?

  74. Bryan Cross said,

    July 1, 2009 at 11:16 am

    Correction to one sentence in #72:

    This:

    An authoritative interpretation [of Scripture] is authoritative not because it is true (though it is true), but because of the authority given by Christ to the Magisterium to which is due submission of mind and will regarding what is the true and authentic interpretation of Scripture.

    Should read:

    An authoritative interpretation [of Scripture] is authoritative not only because it is true (though it is true), but also because of the authority given by Christ to the Magisterium to which is due submission of mind and will regarding what is the true and authentic interpretation of Scripture.

  75. Bryan Cross said,

    July 1, 2009 at 11:21 am

    John,

    But the question, in what way is [the Magisterium] a “servant” when it’s making demands of people that are functionally equivalent to the demands that Scripture makes?

    In the same way that the Apostles in the first ten to fifteen years of the Church (before any Scripture was written), when exercising their authority over the Church as His appointed representatives, and yet not speaking inspired Scripture, were the servants of Christ without being identical to Christ.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  76. David Gadbois said,

    July 1, 2009 at 11:25 am

    Sean said One cannot say ‘there is no separation between faith and works’ and on the other hand say ‘it is by faith only.’ You can call it only an attempt to ‘distinguish’ but the reality is that it is a divorce.

    You are making a simple category confusion. The former statement is a statement about what elements are necessarily present in the Christian man, the latter is a statement about what element is operative or instrumental in justification.

    The words ‘faith alone’ only appear in the bible one time and the phrase is preceded by the word ‘not.’

    That is a separate issue. Your original point was regarding James 2:28, the body/spirit parallel to the faith/works relationship.

    If you want to talk about James 2:24, fine. Again, do some real exegesis. Pointing out that the phrase ‘not by faith alone’ exists is only half an argument.

    Regarding 2:24, the Protestant scheme has no problem accepting the truth that we cannot *demonstrate* our righteousness by faith alone. This sense of δικαιουται is within the semantic range (check any lexicon), and need not (indeed cannot) carry the same meaning as Paul’s use of the dikaio word group (which means to be reckoned righteous by God). And this demonstrative sense fits well with the immediate context (‘show me your faith…’).

    That is what it must be saying for Luther’s position. Its forced into saying that. However this exegesis is not orthodox.

    It does your case no good to substitute assertion for actual argument. What elements of the grammar of the text actually establish a relationship beyond simple dependence. Saying ‘X without Y is nullified/dead’ is not the same thing as saying ‘X and Y are both cooperative in doing Z’.

    David. Lets look at the Clement quote in context:

    As with James, you aren’t alert to the semantic range of the dikaio word group. You can’t simply assume that the meaning of the word is the same in two different contexts, 2 chapters apart. Context determines the meaning.

    In 30:3, the contrast is between being justified by works vs. being justified by words in the context of a discussion on avoiding pride. So the demonstrative sense of ‘justify’ here is the more natural meaning – rather than being boastful and trying to demonstrate or exhibit righteousness by mere words and boasting, one should let true good deeds speak for themselves and let the good deeds prove one to be righteous.

    In chapter 31-32, the discussion is concerning the Gospel promises given to the patriarchs and by extension to all Christians. This section is introduced in 31:1:

    Let us therefore cleave unto His blessing, and let us see what are
    the ways of blessing. Let us study the records of the things that
    have happened from the beginning.

    After surveying the blessings given to the patriarchs, he concludes in 32:4 that we are all justified in the same way in Christ Jesus. So this passage is indisputably using the soteriological sense of ‘justify.’

    Your citation is in a context about trying to accomplish justification ‘of ourselves’ which is not Catholic soteriology. Therefore, Clement I does not teach ‘faith alone.’

    Where does the text refer to accomplishing justification ‘of ourselves’?

    This still doesn’t deal with Clement’s rather direct statement that excludes even works ‘which we wrought in holiness of heart’. You can’t just dismiss this by saying he was only refering to Pharasaical good deeds. It includes even the ‘righteous doing which [the Patriarchs] wrought’ (32:3).

    What he is arguing in the passage that David quoted is that we cannot obtain this righteousness apart from God.

    This is hand-waving, not exegesis.

  77. johnbugay said,

    July 1, 2009 at 11:38 am

    Bryan: On another discussion board, I used this as my signature:

    And the sphere of a creature’s knowledge, be it that of an infant, or of a man, or of a philosopher, or of a prophet, or of saint or archangel in heaven, will float as a point of light athwart the bosom of that God who is the infinite Abyss for ever; From A.A. Hodge, Evangelical Theology, God-His Nature And Relation to the Universe, pg 16.

    Do you understand what this quote is saying?

  78. Bryan Cross said,

    July 1, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    John,

    I generally don’t engage rhetorical or patronizing questions. If you want to make a point from that quotation, I’m listening.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  79. johnbugay said,

    July 1, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    I want to know if you contest that statement. It’s not meant to be patronizing in any way.

  80. Bryan Cross said,

    July 1, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    John,

    Contesting and understanding are quite different. In order to determine whether I “contest” the statement, I’d have to read it in its full context.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  81. johnbugay said,

    July 1, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    My point would be, just what kind of authority did Christ give the Apostles? Assuming you don’t contest Hodge’s statement, what kind of authority could Christ have given the apostles, vis-a-vis the written Word of God?

  82. Bryan Cross said,

    July 1, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    John,

    My point would be, just what kind of authority did Christ give the Apostles?

    I explained that already in the previous thread in this comment, where I explained the three-fold authority Christ gave to the Apostles.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  83. Louis said,

    July 1, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    Bryan,

    You said that an authoritative interpretation of scripture is due “submission of mind and will.” In light of Acts 17:11, if the Catholic Church says something, would it not be noble and proper for me to search the scriptures to see if these things are so?

  84. Sean said,

    July 1, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    David.

    Well, you are right that a lot hinges on a proper understanding of the ‘diakioo’ word group. Here is a Protestant lexicon which gives all the instances of the use of the word in the New Testament. Examining each occurrence and how it is used, we see that “diakioo” has a range of meaning. There are instances where it seems to mean only a legal declaration. But there are also instances where it seems to mean much more than just a legal declaration.

    Take for example Romans 6: 7. ‘Dikaioo’ appears in this passage but is usually translated as ‘freed’ in English. This is because the context makes it seem that the meaning is more about a transformation of the inner person than just a declaration. It is this ‘transformational’ justification that is read in James.

    There are also passages where Paul says that we are justified by faith apart from works of the law (Romans 3:28). This is interesting in that Paul also tells us why the law could not justify us. In Gal 3: 21 he writes, “21For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law.” Also see Rom 5:18 “justification that brings life.” For Paul, justification ‘imparts life.’ For Paul, justification ‘brings life.’ It is not merely a declaration.

    Thus, the Catholic definition of justification which entails an inner transformation of the soul is clearly the way the Bible describes justification in the context of salvation.

    Speaking of assertions…

    The former statement is a statement about what elements are necessarily present in the Christian man, the latter is a statement about what element is operative or instrumental in justification.

    That is an assertion.

    Here is a link to 1 Clement.

    Where does the text refer to accomplishing justification ‘of ourselves’?

    Here is chapter 32:

    ‘Whosoever will candidly consider each particular, will recognise the greatness of the gifts which were given by him. For from him have sprung the priests and all the Levites who minister at the altar of God. From him also was descended our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh. Romans 9:5 From him arose ings, princes, and rulers of the race of Judah. Nor are his other tribes in small glory, inasmuch as God had promised, Your seed shall be as the stars of heaven. All these, therefore, were highly honoured, and made great, not for their own sake, or for their own works, or for the righteousness which they wrought, but through the operation of His will. And we, too, being called by His will in Christ Jesus, are not justified by ourselves, nor by our own wisdom, or understanding, or godliness, or works which we have wrought in holiness of heart; but by that faith through which, from the beginning, Almighty God has justified all men; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.’

  85. Bryan Cross said,

    July 1, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    Louis,

    First, there are two different ways of searching the Scriptures. One is “I won’t believe what you say until I determine for myself that this is in Scripture.” Another is fides quaerens intellectum (faith seeking understanding). The former is not noble when the speaker is divinely authorized. But the latter is noble when the speaker is divinely authorized.

    Second, stating that something is referred to in Scripture, is not the same thing as giving an authoritative interpretation of Scripture. The Bereans were searching the Scriptures primarily to see whether it contained the claims St. Paul said it contained, not to verify or falsify his interpretation of those claims.

    Third, the practice of Jewish non-Christians being evangelized by a Christian should not be taken as normative for Christians already incorporated into the Church. Non-Christians would not yet have recognized St. Paul’s authority as an Apostle, since they did not yet recognize Jesus as the Son of God. But those persons already incorporated into the Church recognize the authority of the Apostles and their successors.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  86. Louis said,

    July 1, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    Certainly I search in faith in God and His Word, seeking understanding. I think, though, that you are suggesting that I start with faith not only in Christ, but in the Catholic Church. Is this correct?

  87. Ron Henzel said,

    July 1, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    Sean,

    In comment 65, you wrote:

    I also grant that Luther taught that works follow true faith. But this isn’t the question is it? The question is whether or not we are justified by ‘faith alone’ apart from works. Not whether works follow faith.

    For the record, it is the question you yourself raised in comment 41 when you wrote:

    However, the real rub with the justification/sanctification debate lies with that ‘novum’…namely, the separated ‘imputed’ righteousness from the infused sanctification.

    [Emphasis mine.]

    To review: you claimed (comment 21) during a discussion of sola fide sola Scriptura that John was peddling “theological novums,” and you referenced McGrath, who to my knowledge has only used that term in a work on justification (so it could not have included sola Scriptura). I replied (40) by stating that McGrath never applied the term novum to sola fide, but rather to the distinction between justification and sanctification. Then you came back (41) with your remark that “the rub with the justification/sanctification debate lies with that ‘novum,’” and if you go back and re-read the comments you and I have exchanged between 40 and 65 I think you’ll be forced to admit that, yes, in addition to a brief discussion on prayers to the saints, the question of whether works follow faith in Reformation soteriology was in fact the primary thing we’ve been discussing (see especially your comments 41, 53, and 58, and my replies to them). It seems pretty clear to me the reason you’ve stayed with it for as long as you have is because you believe that if you undermine the Protestant distinction between justification and sanctification you also undermine sola fide, and that now that you see that strategy has not worked you want to say that it’s “not the question.” I think that is disingenuous.

    Now, perhaps the actual occasion of you refocusing on sola fide itself now was my citation of Hodge, which you have completely ignored, despite its direct relevance to that topic, since it answers your question of whether Luther’s formula “faith alone” was used in the church prior to the fourth century with a resounding “Yes!”

    And now you seem to be trying to sidetrack the issue by citing the familiar medieval formula of fides caritate formata (cf. Trent’s Canons and Decrees, 6th session, canon 11), implying that I believe that Catholic soteriology teaches “that faith stops and works take over or something.” That would be replacing a God-centered monergism with a man-centered monergism. I think most of us Reformed folks here know that Catholic soteriology is synergistic, and therefore semi-Pelagian.

    You wrote:

    Concerning saints and the petition of the saints. It isn’t fair to isolate a litany that you find offensive and address it in a vacuum. Behind the litany or the prayer is the Catholic understanding of the church. Namely, that the church in heaven constitutes the ‘church triumphant’ and that we participate in the same heavenly liturgy here in the church ‘militant.’ In other words, the Catholic teaching on the roll of saints is not forfeited with a phrase in prayer that petitions X saint to ‘watch over us’ or something.

    First of all, as I already explained, the litany I cited is far from unique. You’ll find this kind of thing everywhere in Catholic piety, and nearly always accompanied by an episcopal nihil obstat and imprimatur.

    Secondly, your appeal to the relationship between the church militant and triumphant offers nothing that resolves the issue of Catholics petitioning dead saints for things that come from God alone through Christ alone.

    You wrote:

    On 1st Clement…I encourage you to read the entire letter in context. Maybe you already have? Because preceding the passage David cited, Clement expressly says that with the aid of grace our ‘good works’ make us righteous. What he is arguing in the passage that David quoted is that we cannot obtain this righteousness apart from God. I can provide exact quotes if you want but better to read the whole letter.

    First Clement is actually one of my favorite books among the Apostolic Fathers. I’ll assume you’re referring specifically here to chapters 30 and 31. In 30:3, Clement wrote:

    Let us therefore join with those to whom grace is given by God. Let us clothe ourselves in concord, being humble and self-controlled, keeping ourselves far from all backbiting and slander, being justified by works and not by words.

    [Michael W. Holmes, The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations, 2nd. ed., (Grand Rapids, MI, USA: Baker Books, 1999), 61, 63.]

    The Greek text of which reads:

    κολληθῶμεν οὖν ἐκείνοις, οἷς ἡ χάρις ἀπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ δέδοται· ἐνδυσώμεθα τὴν ὁμόνοιαν ταπεινοφρονοῦντες, ἐγκρατευόμενοι, ἀπὸ παντὸς ψιθυρισμοῦ καὶ καταλαλιᾶς πόρρω ἑαυτοὺς ποιοῦντες, ἔργοις δικαιούμενοι, μὴ λόγοις.

    [Ibid., 60, 62]

    I especially like the phrase, “being justified by works and not by words” (ἔργοις δικαιούμενοι, μὴ λόγοις). Notice that the distinction here is not between being justified by works and being justified by faith, but between being justified by works and being justified by words. It is quite clear here that Clement was referring to iustitia coram hominibus (righteousness before man) rather than iustitia coram Deo (righteousness before God), and that he was sensitive to this usage of δικαιόω (and its noun form, δικαιοσύνη), which usage we also find in James 2.

    This is confirmed by Clement’s statement in 30.7: “Let the testimony to our good deeds be given by others, as it was given to our fathers who were righteous,” and he then goes on to say in 31.2: “Why was our father Abraham blessed? Was it not because he attained [or did or made; Greek: ποιήσας] righteousness and truth through faith?”

    The translation of the final word in the question οὐχὶ δικαιοσύνην καὶ ἀλήθειαν διὰ πίστεως ποιήσας; is a bit problematic. Ποιήσας is the participle aorist active nominative masculine singular of ποιέω, “I do,” or “I make,” but it can often mean “I get” or “I gain” (cf. BAGD I.1.e., 682), as Holmes interprets it here, which seems to make more sense than J.B. Lightfoot’s rendering, “Was it not because he wrought righteousness and truth through faith?” In any case, it clearly cannot mean, as you put it, “that with the aid of grace our ‘good works’ make us righteous.” That is nowhere in the picture.

  88. Bryan Cross said,

    July 1, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    Louis,

    Regarding #86, the late Fr. Richard Neuhaus once wrote:

    “[T]here are two kinds of Christians: those whom I would call ecclesiological Christians, and those for whom being a Christian is primarily, if not exclusively, a matter of individual decision. There are those for whom the act of faith in Christ and the act of faith in the Church is one act of faith. And those for whom the act of faith in Christ is the act of faith, and the act of faith in the Church, if there is one, is secondary, or tertiary, or somewhere down the line.” (“That They May Be One”, Touchstone, July/August 2003)

    If you put yourself in the time period of the first generation of Christians it is easier to understand what it means to be an ecclesiological Christian. In order to put faith in Christ you would have needed to trust the Apostles, who were the Magisterium of the Church at that time.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  89. johnbugay said,

    July 1, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    So Bryan, regarding your answer to me in comment #82:

    So when the Magisterium of the Church exercises its teaching authority and declares some doctrine (e.g. Nicea 325), it is not adding to the deposit of faith, but unfolding and clarifying it. In doing so, the Magisterium is not divinely inspired; no new revelation is being given. The Nicene Creed, for example, is not divinely inspired. But because God protects the Magisterium from error when it defines a doctrine to be believed by all the faithful, the Nicene Creed is without error. And because the Magisterium has the authority (given to it by Christ) to make definitive decisions regarding the content of the deposit of faith entrusted to it, therefore to deny any dogma so taught by the Magisterium is ipso facto, heresy. (This is why it is heretical to deny any part of the Nicene Creed.)

    One of the primary tasks of the Magisterium is to give the authoritative interpretation of the deposit of faith. “The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone. Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ.” (Dei Verbum, 10)

    It seems then as if an “interpretations” of the Magisterium (and the popes), such as the ones that Steve provided in comment #61, — those that become “de fide dogma” — because it is part of Catholic dogma, is functionally equivalent (in authority) to what we might call a “perspicuous” statement in the Word of God, such as the ten commandments or Jesus’s teachings in the Gospels or Paul’s direct commands to do this or do that. Or are you saying there are degrees of authority even within the “de fide dogma” of the Catholic church?

  90. Ron Henzel said,

    July 1, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    Bryan,

    In comment 85, you wrote:

    First, there are two different ways of searching the Scriptures. One is “I won’t believe what you say until I determine for myself that this is in Scripture.” Another is fides quaerens intellectum (faith seeking understanding). The former is not noble when the speaker is divinely authorized. But the latter is noble when the speaker is divinely authorized.

    So, then, is the former noble when the speaker is not divinely authorized? And is the latter not noble when the speaker is not divinely authorized? Can you present examples of such cases (hypothetical or otherwise)?

    But are you not essentially arguing for implicit faith here?

    You wrote:

    Second, stating that something is referred to in Scripture, is not the same thing as giving an authoritative interpretation of Scripture.

    Which seems, perhaps, so obvious as to be unnecessary to state, but then you wrote:

    The Bereans were searching the Scriptures primarily to see whether it contained the claims St. Paul said it contained, not to verify or falsify his interpretation of those claims.

    Pardon my independent Protestant attitude here, but the text does not support this assertion. It says that the Bereans were more noble than the Thessalonians because “they received the word with all eagerness,examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so [καθ' ἡμέραν ἀνακρίνοντες τὰς γραφὰς εἰ ἔχοι ταῦτα οὕτως]” (Acts 17:11, ESV). There is no distinction here between finding the claims and checking Paul’s interpretation of them. There is no reason to assume that they did not do both.

    And why would it be alright to challenge Paul’s authority by raising the question of whether he’s lying about the existence of the claims, but not alright to challenge his authority to interpret those claims? Are we not back to the assertion of implicit faith again? Are we not expecting the Bereans to say, “Well, if those claims are in Scripture, they must mean what Paul says they mean! He is, after all, an apostle. At least that’s what he says. So he must understand what they mean better than we can.”

    Would this not be a classic specimen of implicit faith? If so, are you not saying that part of the apostolic message itself was, essentially: “Check your brains at the door; it does not matter what you think the text means. Just believe what we say.” Is this not, in fact, the opposite of the method we find Paul employing in Acts?

    You wrote:

    Third, the practice of Jewish non-Christians being evangelized by a Christian should not be taken as normative for Christians already incorporated into the Church. Non-Christians would not yet have recognized St. Paul’s authority as an Apostle, since they did not yet recognize Jesus as the Son of God. But those persons already incorporated into the Church recognize the authority of the Apostles and their successors.

    I do not see how your second and third sentences here in any way support the contention you make in your first sentence. You contend that “the practice of Jewish non-Christians being evangelized by a Christian should not be taken as normative for Christians already incorporated into the Church,” but your next two sentences fail to answer the question, “Why not?” It also raises a question: “Are not all Christians not already incorporated into the Church?” And if you, for some reason, answer, “No,” then: “Does that mean that evangelizing Jewish non-Christians is normative for Christians not yet incorporated into the church?”

    You second sentence is an exercise in tautology: “Non-Christians would not yet have recognized St. Paul’s authority as an Apostle, since they did not yet recognize Jesus as the Son of God.” By very definition non-Christians are people who (a) do not recognize the authority of any apostle, and (b) do not recognize Jesus as the Son of God. If it has point relating to your first sentence, it does not make it with any degree of clarity. Your third sentence, “But those persons already incorporated into the Church recognize the authority of the Apostles and their successors,” simply helps to draw more attention to the problem.

  91. Sean said,

    July 1, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    Ron,

    Part of the problem is that I am trying to address at least two different people at the same time both of whom are asking several different questions at a time. I extend the benefit of the doubt towards you if you seem to miss my point and I’d ask that you offer the same rather than accuse me of ignoring something or being disengenious. Just because I do not respond to every sentence you write does not mean that I am ignoring it.

    If you can provide just one concise treatise on justifcation prior to *AD 400 that is the same as Luther’s than I would love to see it. I am not talking about a church father uttering ‘faith’ and ‘alone’ side by side either.

    I am asking for you to find what Luther couldn’t find: “Ever since I came to an understanding of Paul, I have not been able to think well of any doctor. They have become of little value to me. At first, I devoured, not merely read, Augustine. But when the door was opened for me in Paul, so that I understood what justification by faith is, it was all over with Augustine.”

    Why would that be if Luther’s ‘faith alone’ is so obviously in the fathers?

    And again:

    Behold what great darkness is in the books of the Fathers concerning faith; yet if the article of justification be darkened, it is impossible to smother the grossest errors of mankind. St Jerome, indeed, wrote upon Matthew, upon the Epistles to the Galatians and Titus; but, alas! very coldly. Ambrose wrote six books upon the first book of Moses, but they are very poor. Augustine wrote nothing to the purpose concerning faith … I can find no exposition upon the Epistles to the Romans and Galatians, wherein anything is taught pure and aright. O what a happy time have we now, in regard to the purity of doctrine.

    *I pick that date because we mentioned it earlier. Pick any date really.

    Catholic soteriology is semi-pelagian.

    Semi-Pelagianism was anathmatized in AD 529 at the second Council of Orange by the Holy Catholic Church. (See canons 5, 10, and 18) and again in 1546 by the Council of Trent (Decree on Justification, Chapters. 5, 6, 8, and 13).

    Secondly, your appeal to the relationship between the church militant and triumphant offers nothing that resolves the issue of Catholics petitioning dead saints for things that come from God alone through Christ alone.

    I believe its important because this is the definition of the ‘communion of the saints.’ If we are the Church with them than it is not a violation of Christ’s mediatorship for them to intercede for us.

  92. Ron Henzel said,

    July 1, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    Bryan,

    In comment 88, you wrote:

    If you put yourself in the time period of the first generation of Christians it is easier to understand what it means to be an ecclesiological Christian. In order to put faith in Christ you would have needed to trust the Apostles, who were the Magisterium of the Church at that time.

    I’m sorry, but this analysis does not mesh with a straightforward reading of the New Testament.

    This is ultimately not a discussion about faith, but a discussion about authority. The Roman Catholic church does not merely ask us to put our faith in it, but to put our faith in it implicitly, which ultimately constitutes not simply an appeal to faith but an explicit claim to final authority in matters of faith and morals. But Jesus Himself did not speak on His own authority, but rather depended on the confirming works of the Father (John 14:10-11). And the Apostles did not speak on their own authority, but depended upon the authority of the Holy Spirit Who confirmed their message with miraculous signs (Hebrew 2:3-4).

    The first century Christians knew nothing of apostles who assumed the posture of the Catholic magisterium. The early church did not make the apostles the object of faith. Instead, they responded to apostles who called upon them to imitate their own faith in Christ.

    It goes without saying that if you have faith in the message you therefore have faith in the messenger. But it does not always follow that you have faith in the message because you have faith in the messenger. In the case of the apostles, especially, it is quite clear that people needed more than their individual trustworthiness. Who, after all, would have put their trust in anything Peter said about Jesus if they knew that he had denied the Lord three times? And even though Pentecost gave him and the other apostles the boldness they had been lacking, it was still crucial that “God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will” (Heb. 2:4, ESV). That was the authority that the early church could see, and they knew it was not inherent in the apostles themselves.

  93. David Gadbois said,

    July 1, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    Sean said Speaking of assertions…

    [quoting me]‘The former statement is a statement about what elements are necessarily present in the Christian man, the latter is a statement about what element is operative or instrumental in justification.’

    That is an assertion.

    Sean, there is a difference between an unargued assertion in the course of an argument and a statement of one’s own position. The above is a statement of the Protestant position. You are welcome to disagree with it, but it is the Protestant position that faith and works are inseparable in the born-again Christian while being separate in the agency of justification. Please tell us how those two position statements are logically contradictory.

    For Paul, justification ‘imparts life.’ For Paul, justification ‘brings life.’ It is not merely a declaration. Thus, the Catholic definition of justification which entails an inner transformation of the soul is clearly the way the Bible describes justification in the context of salvation.

    The phrase ‘brings life’ probably just means eternal life, and need not imply inner transformation.

    But even if we understand it as meaning sanctification or inward transformation, you won’t find any Protestants who don’t think that justification imparts or brings life in this sense. What justification entails and effects it not equivalent to what justification *is*. Saying ‘A imparts or brings B’ does not mean A is B, or even that B is a subset of A. The legal declaration of justification is what brings about our sanctification (‘life). The relation is causal, not an identity.

    Take for example Romans 6: 7. ‘Dikaioo’ appears in this passage but is usually translated as ‘freed’ in English. This is because the context makes it seem that the meaning is more about a transformation of the inner person than just a declaration.

    Right, but this doesn’t mean one can lump sanctification in with justification. That would be a word-concept fallacy. While a single word can point to numerous differing concepts, that doesn’t justify the blurring or mixing together of those differing concepts. That Paul uses the dikaio term to describe being set free from sin does not mean that this can be mixed with the ‘justification’ he referred to back in chapters 3-4.

    Here is a link to 1 Clement.

    But the problem is that the Patriarchs’ good works were truly holy works, as the result of Spirit-wrought grace, not as attempts at self-justification. And yet Clement excludes those works. He couldn’t have been more thorough in excluding works of any kind.

    Yes, Clement makes reference to excluding ‘our own works’, but this is precisely what the RCC believes justifies us. Even if the works are enabled by grace and by the Spirit, they are still our own works, whether you would label them that or not. You believe that we are justified by ourselves, just not all by ourselves, alone. It is hard to believe Clement would have found either thought acceptable, much less can you actually prove he taught such a distinction.

    You will have a place along with the tax collector, in Luke 18, who likewise thought that his own righteousness and good deeds would justify him, so long as he thanked and credited God for enabling his intrinsic righteousness.

  94. Ron Henzel said,

    July 1, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    Sean,

    Regarding your comment 91: it would really help if you supplied references with your citations. I have the American Edition of Luther’s Works on CD-ROM, but I was only able to locate your first quotation in Luther’s Table Talk. I have no idea where you’re getting the second quote from.

    Here’s the problem: often when Luther refers to either justification or faith he has the doctrine of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to the believer specifically in mind. It is understandable that, having believed he found that teaching clearly in Paul, he would be disappointed in finding it missing from the church fathers, including Augustine. But this does not mean that he denied that Augustine understood the basics of justification by faith alone. In fact, he specifically credited Augustine with helping him to understand how Romans 1:17 taught that doctrine, as, for example when he said:

    None of the sophists was able to expound the passage, ‘He who through faith is righteous shall live’ [Rom. 1:17], for they interpreted ‘righteous’ and ‘righteousness’ differently. Except only for Augustine, there was great blindness among the fathers. After the Holy Scriptures, Augustine should especially be read, for he had keen judgment. However, if we turn from the Bible to the commentaries of the fathers, our study will be bottomless.

    ["Table Talk No. 4567: The Church Fathers and Biblical Interpretation, May 7, 1539," in Martin Luther, Luther's Works, Vol. 54, J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, eds. (Philadelphia, PA, USA: Fortress Press, 1967; 1999), 352. Emphasis mine.]

    As for your reference to the Second Council of Orange: McGrath points out that this document had gotten lost somewhere in the Vatican library during the Reformation and was unknown to the Tridentine bishops, which explains why they were able to violate it so flagrantly. Trent condemned full-blown Pelagianism rather than semi-Pelagianism.

    Your affirmation that the Church Triumphant intercedes for us avoids the point I have made more than once now: Catholics do not merely ask dead saints to intercede for them, but to protect them, deliver them, and do all sorts of things for them that should only be asked of God.

  95. greenbaggins said,

    July 1, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    In Fernando Inciarte’s book _First Principles, Substance, and Action_, he notes that accidents do not have any existence of their own, according to Aristotle’s categories (pp. 128-129, available here: http://books.google.com/books?id=Nqad7shqqSIC&pg=PA105&lpg=PA105&dq=aquinas+on+aristotle+substance&source=bl&ots=2B7kqKgauF&sig=hB7JZApZfRxfuMGHBFHs7gNPB0M&hl=en&ei=YdxLSuaLGIPANd60ycUG&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1.

    If accidents don’t even “exist” without the substance, then it is impossible for the substance of one thing to be attached to the accidents of another thing.

  96. Bryan Cross said,

    July 1, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    Lane,

    The Catholic position is that after consecration, the accidents are not “attached” to (i.e. do not inhere in), any substance. The Council of Constance taught that the Body and Blood of Christ cannot be bearers of the accidents of bread and wine; nor can any other substance. The Roman Catechism refers to this teaching as “the perpetual and constant teaching of the Catholic Church.”

    So your “misappropriation of Aristotle” charge is really to the notion that after consecration the accidents exist without inhering in a substance. Normally, accidents do not normally exist without inhering in a substance. But, the Eucharist is a supernatural miracle. God is surely capable of sustaining those accidents, even though they are not inhering in a substance as accidents normally do.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  97. Ron Henzel said,

    July 1, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    Bryan,

    You’re saying that the Roman Catechism claims that the specific Aristotelian formulation of transubstantiation in terms of substance and accidents has been “the perpetual and constant teaching of the Catholic Church”?

  98. Sean said,

    July 1, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    David.

    What I have related here is not merely my assertions but the Catholic position. Your assertion is unique because it does not represent ‘the Protestant position’ but rather the position from the many in Protestantism that you subscribe to. If there really were a ‘Protestant Position’ things would be a bit easier.

    Right, but this doesn’t mean one can lump sanctification in with justification. That would be a word-concept fallacy.

    So, on the one hand you say that they cannot and are not separated. On the other hand you accuse us of ‘lumping’ them together???

    1 Clement is a fully orthodox Catholic expression. Nothing in it contradicts Catholic soteriology.

    Ron.

    As for your reference to the Second Council of Orange: McGrath points out that this document had gotten lost somewhere in the Vatican library during the Reformation and was unknown to the Tridentine bishops, which explains why they were able to violate it so flagrantly

    Where did Trent violate 2nd Orange? I am at a loss on that having recently read both.

    It isn’t the issue of what Luther accepts from Augustine. It is the issue of what he denies from Augustine.

  99. steve hays said,

    July 1, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    Bryan Cross said,

    “Catholics do not believe that authority is identical to truth. Authority is moral power to which submission and obedience is due from those entrusted to it.…An authoritative interpretation [of Scripture] is authoritative not because it is true (though it is true), but because of the authority given by Christ to the Magisterium to which is due submission of mind and will regarding what is the true and authentic interpretation of Scripture.”

    Bryan apparently takes the position that truth creates no obligation to believe the truth. We have no duty to believe something is true because it is true.

    Rather, any duty to believe the truth, and act accordingly, is extrinsic to the truth. Over and above the truth itself there must be some “authority” which creates the obligation.

    Thus, believing the same truth could be obligatory or non-obligatory depending on the presence or absence an external authority which obliges me (or not) to believe the truth.

    If, on Tuesday, an authority obliges me to believe Jn 3:16, then I’m duty-bound to believe Jn 3:16.

    If, on Wednesday, no authority obliges me to believe Jn 3:16, then I’m at liberty to disbelieve Jn 3:16.

    The mere veracity of Jn 3:16 creates no inherent obligation to believe it or act accordingly.

    That’s a fascinating form of moral relativism.

  100. Bryan Cross said,

    July 1, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    Steve,

    Bryan apparently takes the position that truth creates no obligation to believe the truth. We have no duty to believe something is true because it is true.

    That’s not what I said, nor what my statements entailed. If you want to be taken seriously, try to avoid such obvious strawmen.

    Of course we have an obligation to believe the truth insofar as we are aware of its truth. This is why it is part of Catholic belief that we must always follow our conscience. But we also have a duty to inform our conscience, because our conscience can be wrong. Everything I said about authority is fully compatible with our natural obligation to affirm what we know to be true (and not to deny what we know to be true) and to do what we know to be right (and not to do what we know to be wrong).

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  101. steve hays said,

    July 1, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    Bryan Cross said,

    “That’s not what I said, nor what my statements entailed. If you want to be taken seriously, try to avoid such obvious strawmen.”

    Calling something a strawman is not the same thing as showing that something’s a strawman. If you want to be taken seriously, try to avoid resorting to empty accusations in lieu of arguments.

    “Of course we have an obligation to believe the truth insofar as we are aware of its truth. This is why it is part of Catholic belief that we must always follow our conscience. But we also have a duty to inform our conscience, because our conscience can be wrong. Everything I said about authority is fully compatible with our natural obligation to affirm what we know to be true (and not to deny what we know to be true) and to do what we know to be right (and not to do what we know to be wrong).”

    Given your concession regarding a natural obligation to believe the truth, go back and explain why a true interpretation is inadequate. Why the further need for an authoritative interpretation, over and above a true interpretation?

  102. Bryan Cross said,

    July 1, 2009 at 5:35 pm

    Steve,

    When someone claims that you have constructed a straw man of his position, and you don’t see how it is strawman, the proper response is not “You haven’t shown that it is strawman”, but “How is it a straw man?”

    In order to begin to engage in rational dialogue, we first have to share the same rules of rational discourse. If we don’t, then there’s no point, because a truth-pursuing rational dialogue requires a shared recognition of how to go about it.

    I’m willing to dialogue with you, but first we’d have to get on the same page regarding the rules of rational discourse. Lane’s blog is probably not the best place to work that out.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  103. Bryan Cross said,

    July 1, 2009 at 5:46 pm

    Ron,

    (From #97)

    You’re saying that the Roman Catechism claims that the specific Aristotelian formulation of transubstantiation in terms of substance and accidents has been “the perpetual and constant teaching of the Catholic Church”?

    No, the Roman Catechism is referring to the traditional Catholic position which is a middle position between two errors. One error is that at consecration the bread and wine remain bread and wine, without any substantial change. The other error is that the accidents of the elements become properties of Christ’s physical body; that is the Capharnaite error that St. Augustine criticized.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  104. David Gadbois said,

    July 1, 2009 at 5:52 pm

    Sean said What I have related here is not merely my assertions but the Catholic position. Your assertion is unique because it does not represent ‘the Protestant position’ but rather the position from the many in Protestantism that you subscribe to. If there really were a ‘Protestant Position’ things would be a bit easier.

    Cute, but if things are really so hard I’d suggest you simply read the confessions of reformational (Lutheran, Continental Reformed, and Presbyterian) churches. Their testimony on this topic is unanimous. If you had perused, say, the WCF when you were in the PCA, you’d know this.

    So, on the one hand you say that they cannot and are not separated. On the other hand you accuse us of ‘lumping’ them together???

    Saying that two things are not separated is not the same thing as saying they overlap in identity (i.e. ‘mixed’ or ‘lumped’ together). Again, the very body/spirit parallel James makes with the faith/works relation illustrates this. The body and spirit are not separated *in the person*, but they are distinct and do not overlap or mix as to their definition and essence. Just as faith and works are not separated *in the Christian person*, yet remain distinct without overlap in identity.

    1 Clement is a fully orthodox Catholic expression. Nothing in it contradicts Catholic soteriology.

    There is no shame in not wanting to continue a conversation or certain line of argument, but this is the equivalent of plugging your ears and shouting ‘I’m the winners, I’m the winner’. If you aren’t going to offer a rebuttal, just move on and save us the unargued assertions that you aren’t willing to defend.

  105. Sean said,

    July 1, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    David.

    I often hear the charge, ‘Oh, you never understood reformed theology in the first place. If you had you certainly would not have become Catholic!’ I’ve even seen it levied against former Reformed clergymen and seminarians. I guess that qualifies as an argument of sorts but it doesn’t get us anywhere.

    I haven’t shut my ears and shouted “I am the winner.” My point is that your paradigm provides the lens by which you read “1 Clement” (And James and Paul etc) and so what you read is filtered by certain presuppositions. Not that this is a bad thing by itself. I do that too. The question is, why do you accept your presuppositions and why do I accept mine? Is there a difference?

    I mean, I can exegete 1 Clement for you if you want. Do you need me to draw out how the letter does not conflict with Trent? Is that what you want? If I exegete it will you concede that I am right? Or will you disagree with my exegesis? My guess is that you would disagree with my exegesis. You would pick the interpretation that you agree with which would not been mine.

  106. steve hays said,

    July 1, 2009 at 6:45 pm

    “[Taylor Marshall] For the Catholic Church ‘there is no court of appeal beyond the magisterium.’ That is 100% correct. I would also add that for magisterial Protestantism there simply is not a true ‘court of appeal’ at all, since everyone has their own interpretation of Scripture – even the pastors who take exceptions to their magisterial confessional documents.”

    i) That’s a concession to Lane’s original argument.

    ii) Since he can’t deny the force of Lane’s argument in reference to Catholicism, the only thing Marshall can do is try to turn tables on Lane.

    iii) However, Marshall is blurring a fundamental distinction between standards and the application of standards. In Catholicism, the Magisterium sets the standard. While Scripture is technically the de jure standard, the Magisterium is the de facto standard.

    As such, Scripture is in no position to correct the Magisterium. The result is ecclesiastical totalitarianism.

    In classic Protestantism, by contrast, Scripture remains the standard. Even though individuals or entire denominations may misapply Scripture, Scripture remains the criterion–which is why it also remains possible to demonstrate their misapplication of Scripture.

    Hence, Marshall’s argument from analogy is invalidated by a basic equivocation.

    iv) Finally, it’s not as if errant individuals or errant denominations are getting away with anything in the long run. If they willfully misapply Scripture, they are ultimately answerable to God.

    But, in Catholicism, where the Magisterium is the voice of God, that avenue is also cut off.

  107. David Gadbois said,

    July 2, 2009 at 4:01 am

    Sean said I mean, I can exegete 1 Clement for you if you want. Do you need me to draw out how the letter does not conflict with Trent? Is that what you want? If I exegete it will you concede that I am right? Or will you disagree with my exegesis? My guess is that you would disagree with my exegesis. You would pick the interpretation that you agree with which would not been mine.

    Well, if we aren’t going to exegete relevant texts, then what’s the point of this conversation?

    I’ll agree or disagree with your exegesis based on its merits. Historical-grammatical interpretation is not a practice loaded with distinctly Protestant presuppositions.

  108. Sean said,

    July 2, 2009 at 6:43 am

    David.

    I’ll begin a full exegesis of the 1 Clement (is that what you want?) and post it online. Making note to tip you off on when its up.

    In the meantime, the following does a fair job of providing a snap shot of Clement’s major thesis on Justification:

    “We are not justified through ourselves, neither through our own wisdom or understanding or piety or works we have done in holiness of heart, but through FAITH.”

    What does Pope Clement mean by faith? How about all of his statement in context? POPE Clement of Rome, The First Epistle of Clement, Chapters 30-34, found in Philip Schaff and Henry Wace ed., ed. Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson, Anti-Nicene Fathers (Hereafter initialed as ANF), Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., Peabody, Massachusetts, 1994, Vol. 1, pp. 13-14:

    CHAP. XXX.–LET US DO THOSE THINGS THAT PLEASE GOD, AND FLEE FROM THOSE HE HATES, THAT WE MAY BE BLESSED.

    Seeing, therefore, that we are the portion of the Holy One, let us do all those things which pertain to holiness, avoiding all evil-speaking, all abominable and impure embraces, together with all drunkenness, seeking after change,(3) all abominable lusts, detestable adultery, and execrable pride. “For God,” saith [the Scripture], “resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble.”(4) Let us cleave, then, to those to whom grace has been given by God. LET US CLOTHE OURSELVES WITH CONCORD AND HUMILITY, EVER EXERCISING SELF-CONTROL, STANDING FAR OFF FROM ALL WHISPERING AND EVIL-SPEAKING, BEING JUSTIFIED BY OUR WORKS, AND NOT OUR WORDS. For [the Scripture] saith, “He that speaketh much, shall also hear much in answer. And does he that is ready in speech deem himself righteous? Blessed is he that is born of woman, who liveth but a short time: be not given to much speaking.”(5) Let our praise be in God, and not of ourselves; for God hateth those that commend themselves. Let testimony to our good deeds be borne by others, as it was in the case of our righteous forefathers. Boldness, and arrogance, and audacity belong to those that are accursed of God; but moderation, humility, and meekness to such as are blessed by Him.

    CHAP. XXXI.–LET US SEE BY WHAT MEANS WE MAY OBTAIN THE DIVINE BLESSING.
    Let us cleave then to His blessing, and consider what are the means(6) of possessing it. Let us think(7) over the things which have taken place from the beginning. For what reason was our father Abraham blessed? was it not BECAUSE HE WROUGHT RIGHTEOUSNESS AND TRUTH THROUGH FAITH?(8) Isaac, with perfect confidence, as if knowing what was to happen,(9) cheerfully yielded himself as a sacrifice.(10) Jacob, through reason(11) of his brother, went forth with humility from his own land, and came to Laban and served him; and there was given to him the sceptre of the twelve tribes of Israel.

    CHAP. XXXII
    Whosoever will candidly consider each particular, will recognize the greatness of the gifts which were given by him.(12) For from him have sprung the priests and all the Levites who minister at the altar of God. From him also [was descended] our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh. From him [arose] kings, princes, and rulers of the race of Judah. Nor are his other tribes in small glory, inasmuch as God had promised, “Thy seed shall be as the stars of heaven.” All these, therefore, were highly honoured, and made great, not for their own sake, or for their own works, or for the righteousness which they wrought, but through the operation of His will. And we, too, being called by His will in Christ Jesus, are not justified by ourselves, nor by our own wisdom, or understanding, or godliness, or works which we have wrought in holiness of heart; but by that faith through which, from the beginning, Almighty God has justified all men. Amen

    CHAP. XXXIII.–BUT LET US NOT OWE UP THE PRACTICE OF GOOD WORKS AND LOVE. GOD HIMSELF IS AN EXAMPLE TO US OF GOOD WORKS.
    What shall we do, then, brethren? Shall we become slothful in well-doing, and cease from the practice of love? God forbid that any such course should be followed by us! But rather let us hasten with all energy and readiness of mind to perform every good work. For the Creator and Lord of all Himself rejoices in His works. For by His infinitely great power He established the heavens, and by His incomprehensible wisdom He adorned them. He also divided the earth from the water which surrounds it, and fixed it upon the immovable foundation of His own will. The animals also which are upon it He commanded by His own word(16) into existence. So likewise, when He had formed the sea, and the living creatures which are in it, He enclosed them [within their proper bounds] by His own power. Above all,(17) with His holy and undefiled hands He formed man, the most excellent [of His creatures], and truly great through the understanding given him–the express likeness of His own image. For thus says God: “Let us make man in Our image, and after Our likeness. So God made man; male and female He created them.”[1] Having thus finished all these things, He approved them, and blessed them, and said, “Increase and multiply.”(2) We see,(3) then, HOW ALL RIGHTEOUS MEN HAVE BEEN DORNED WITH GOOD WORKS, and how the Lord Himself, adorning Himself with His works, rejoiced. Having therefore such an example, let us without delay accede to His will, and LET US WORK THE WORK OF RIGHTEOUSNESS with our whole strength.

    CHAP. XXXIV.–GREAT IS THE REWARD OF GOOD WORKS WITH GOD. JOINED TOGETHER IN HARMONY, LET US IMPLORE THAT REWARD FROM HIM.
    The good servant(4) receives the bread of his labour with confidence; the lazy and slothful cannot look his employer in the face. It is requisite, therefore, that we be prompt in the practice of well-doing; for of Him are all things. And thus He forewarns us: “Behold, the Lord [cometh], and His reward is before His face, TO RENDER TO EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS WORK.”(5) He exhorts us, therefore, with our whole heart to attend to this,(6) that we be not lazy or slothful in any good work. Let our boasting and our confidence be in Him. Let us submit ourselves to His will.

    Preceding this section, Clement also wrote of Rahab’s justification:

    Chapter 12.-The Rewards of Faith and Hospitality. Rahab.
    On account of her faith and hospitality, Rahab the harlot was saved. Chapter 48 says:
    Let us therefore, with all haste, put an end to this [state of things]; and let us fall down before the Lord, and beseech Him with tears, that He would mercifully be reconciled to us, and restore us to our former seemly and holy practice of brotherly love. For [such conduct] is the gate of righteousness, which is set open for the attainment of life, as it is written, “Open to me the gates of righteousness; I will go in by them, and will praise the Lord: this is the gate of the Lord: the righteous shall enter in by it.” Although, therefore, many gates have been set open, yet this gate of righteousness is that gate in Christ by which blessed are all they that have entered in and have directed their way in holiness and righteousness, doing all things without disorder.

    Chapter 50 says:
    Blessed are we, beloved, if we keep the commandments of God in the harmony of love; that so through love our sins may be forgiven us.

    Conclusion – So we see that Clement’s quote (the one quote used by sola fideists) that you took was totally out of context. When he made the quote that you noted, we see that surrounding it before and after was the necessity of works done in God’s grace for salvation. *He was in the quote contrasting a self-righteous holiness to the holiness that must be done in God’s grace*. The one that did not justify, is when one tries to justify himself, relies on his own wisdom, holiness, etc. One indeed who works on one’s own power is condemned by Trent, canon 1, justification. That is what Clement was condemning, and saying that does not avail before God. He specifically speaks of justification by works in Chapter 30. Notice though that those works are done in grace, as he specifically says in that same chapter. In Chapter 31 he says Abraham was blessed (and the context is speaking of justification), because of the act of offering Isaac on the altar. In chapter 34, Clement says that in justification it is requisite to our actions to be well-doing. He gives us two choices. To be a faithful servant, we labor (in grace of course) and we get the reward of heaven. However, if we are a slothful servant, and don’t labor for God, we are sent to hell. Clement is obviously referring to Mt. 24:45-51. The slothful servant gets what? weeping and gnashing of teeth. That is hell. Why, because he didn’t work. Then Clement says, he forewarns us he renders accoring to our works (Rom. 2:6, Mt. 16:27). If faith alone, he wouldn’t forewarn us (because our justification would be absolutely assured), and we would not fear damnation. In Chapter 48 he speaks of those can attain salvation only those who direct their ways in holiness. Thus, that direction in holiness is a cause of justification. In Chapter 50 he notes that we must keep the commandments and that love (not faith alone) forgives sins. Clement notes that works are what must be judged before God to achieve salvation, and not even a hint of forensic justification, or Sola Fide.

    * This is what I was saying all along…hence in your quote the reference to ‘own’ is made over and over again.

    Source

    The claiming of 1 Clement as a proto Lutheran is a new one David. One that Luther himself didn’t make. This is because the whole idea is based on a singular snap shot and a 20th century proof text reading ‘into’ the text that violates the whole and is forced to ignore the fact that Clement is speaking of one’s “OWN” efforts and attempts at holiness.

  109. Sean said,

    July 2, 2009 at 6:46 am

    David I’ll try to get one up and let you. Obviously the combox isn’t the best place for a full blown study.

    In the meantime, this brief blurb does a good job of providing the greater context of the one passage that you are quoting.

  110. Sean said,

    July 2, 2009 at 7:24 am

    Here is a start.

  111. greenbaggins said,

    July 2, 2009 at 7:35 am

    Bryan, you say this: “The Catholic position is that after consecration, the accidents are not “attached” to (i.e. do not inhere in), any substance. The Council of Constance taught that the Body and Blood of Christ cannot be bearers of the accidents of bread and wine; nor can any other substance.”

    Are you actually saying that there is no connection at all between the accidents of the bread and wine, and the substance of Christ’s body, after consecration? The Council of Constance may have said that (source please?), but that is directly opposed to Aquinas’ teaching on the subject, who clearly taught that the accidents of bread and wine REMAIN, while the substance CHANGES (see question 75). Is it just me, or am I practically the only one here citing original sources? I haven’t seen Bryan or Taylor cite one single original source chapter and verse. And they claim to say that *this* is Catholic teaching, regardless of whether it agrees with the Catechism, Aquinas, or Trent.

  112. Bryan Cross said,

    July 2, 2009 at 7:55 am

    Lane,

    The Council of Constance may have said that (source please?), but that is directly opposed to Aquinas’ teaching on the subject,

    Not at all. Saying that the accidents remain after the consecration is not the same thing as saying that they inhere in the newly present Substance. Their remaining after the consecration is perfectly compatible with their not inhering in a substance after the consecration. Aquinas’s position is identical to that of the Council of Constance. (It is the eighth session of the Council of Constance.) In fact, Aquinas himself says both things. In Q.75 a.5, he says that the accidents remain after the consecration. In Q. 77 a.1, he says that after the consecration the accidents do not inhere in a substance. So the Council of Constance says exactly what Aquinas says on this subject.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  113. greenbaggins said,

    July 2, 2009 at 8:21 am

    Of course, as I forgot to mention, I did not say that they inhered. I meant that there was some connection between the accidents of bread and wine which remain, and the substance that changed into Christ’s body and blood, acc. to the Catholic position. What is the exact nature of that connection?

  114. Bryan Cross said,

    July 2, 2009 at 8:41 am

    Lane,

    The Church has offered no definitive ruling on the positive nature or type of the relation between the remaining accidents and the sacramental substance. She has only excluded inhering as the type of relation. (At Constance.) So your question “What is the exact nature of that connection?” has not been officially answered, though different Catholic theologians have offered various answers. Scotists and Thomists have given different answers. But those are theological opinions, not doctrine.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  115. July 2, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    In an effort to make this exchange fully ecumenical, being the token Orthodox I thought I’d jump in with some corrections and general comments.

    John Bugay in #17 cites Origen as earlier than Cyril of J and Nicea on forbidding prayer to saints. The citation is from Contra Celsus. But this isn’t the only place Origen speaks of the topic. As it will become clear, Origen in Contra Celsus uses prayer in a restricted sense as only appropriately directed only to God. Elsewhere though Origen makes it clear than prayer in a wider sense can and should be legitimately directed to saints.

    In his work, On Prayer, X, he writes,
    “…it is not improper to address these to saints, and two of them, I mean intercession and thanksgiving, not only to saints but also to men, but supplications only to saints, as for instance to some Paul or Peter, that they may aid us, making us worthy to obtain the power granted unto them for the forgiveness of sins.”

    The material from Contra Celsus does therefore not give Origen’s full view of things. And given John’s mention that Origen is far earlier than Cyril, this pushes the evidence for the practice back far earlier.

    As to the citation of the Litany for St. Anthony to aid, help, save, etc. to be fair, both Catholic (Bellermine De Sanc. Deat. 1.17 and Catechism of Trent 4.6. 3-4) and Orthodox sources (Macarius, Bernardakis and Kyriakos’ catechisms) make it clear that these terms are to be taken in a derivative sense and not an absolute or non-derivative sense. As Bellermine notes, “…we understand ‘save me and have mercy on me by praying for me…”

    As to dead persons abilities, from the Orthodox side, we think that they are not humanly capable of doing such things, but then we don’t think the saints do such things by mere human power, given their saturation and deificaiton by the divine energies or powers. It takes nothing away from God but rather confirms his power in seeing that he shares his glory with his saints. So saints are not merely intelligent, but divinely so.

    As to the other issues, it should be noted that infallibility and the papacy are not co-extensive. It is possible for the church to be divinely empowered with infallibility without the papacy. So the question is more general than some seem to be assuming. Even if the papal account were false, that would still leave the question untouched.

    If truth were all that mattered then what need is there to think that the Scriptures are infallible or even God, if they are all and only true?

    As for soteriological matters, to claim that Catholic soteriology is semi-Pelagian due to its synergism in justification isn’t accurate and creates all kinds of problems. Augustine advocates synergism in justification in Spirit and the Letter, 45, and Sermon 158, 4, among other places and it would be strange to see Augustine as a semi-Pelagian. That is, all semi-pelagians think human activity is included in justification, but not everyone who thinks that human activity is included in justification is a semi-Pelagian. Noting that Trent includes human activity in justification isn’t sufficient to convict it of semi-Pelagianism any more than Augustine. As to Orange, to be fair, the synod was unknown to both parties till the time of Trent and Trent was aware of the text. (See Pelikan, Halverson, et al.) Trent in any case condemns semi-pelagianism when it condemns the notion that the initiation of faith is by human power apart from grace or that the graced motion is merely external.

    To say that works done under the power of grace are “still our own works” is not tantamount to saying that they are *only* our works. To be fair, Catholicism doesn’t accept the underlying metaphysical assumptions that drive the kind of taxonomy that classifies actions such that one act can’t be done simultaneously and wholly by more than one participant. And that is just to say that Rome doesn’t assume a form of nominalistic taxonomic practice.

    The issue as Rome sees it is between nature and grace where the latter doesn’t wipe out or render entirely passive at all points the former. Hence with Augustine they affirm that human activity is included in our justification. The works are entirely God’s and entirely our own. To say that Augustine didn’t deny the basics of justification by faith alone when justification denies that the declaration is ungrounded in the state of the soul is either to concede that that point is not essential to sola fide, in which case the Reformation was about nothing essential or to say that Augustine explicitly contradicted himself to the end of his life. Such statements conflate sola fide with sola gratia. What is required is a demonstration to show that sola gratia entails sola fide, otherwise, one cannot justify sola fide by an appeal to Augustinian premptive motion and sola fide has to be defended on other grounds than Augustinianism.

    As to James, the body/soul analogy is not how two things can co-exist under one designation. James indicates that one renders the other genuine or living. As the soul makes the body alive, so works make faith alive. To say that a genuine faith will cause good works get’s James causal relation backward.

    As for McGrath, to say that for the Reformers the declaration of justice is not grounded in and derived from the state of the soul is a theological innovation *is* to say that the two things are not merely distinct, but separate regarding source and causation. Whether you wish to say that sanctification and justification are distinct and contiguous or you wish to say that justification causes sanctification makes no difference, since the key is whether the declaration is grounded in the state of the soul or not and the Reformers say it isn’t and Rome and the Orthodox say it is. This is the whole point of seeing faith as not contributing anything of itself as a virtue to justification other than as a formal or instrumental cause. It is a conduit and not meriting favor before God. That move just isn’t in the preceding Augustinian tradition. (See Carlson, Justification in Earlier Medieval Theology) The key point and the essence of the doctrine then is an innovation. If it wasn’t people wouldn’t appeal to doctrinal development to justify it.

    All of the soteriological issues are fundamentally Christological and I’d suggest people start comparing their Christologied by paying careful attention to say WCF 8.2, works like Muller’s Christ and the Decree and serious work on Chalcedonian Christology. The work of Christ in his humanity, is that “distinguished” in that the two natural and volitional activities are contiguous or that one causes the other or some other relation? Is Christ a human and divine person acting or a divine person acting humanly? Are the meritorious works of Christ simultaneously and wholly human and divine rather than a 50/50 deal? If so, why can’t it be the case that our good works born of grace can be seen in such a manner without it being an all or nothing deal?

  116. David Gadbois said,

    July 2, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    I’ll begin a full exegesis of the 1 Clement (is that what you want?) and post it online. Making note to tip you off on when its up.

    No, you just need to exegete the relevant citation of I Clement regarding justification. No need to do the whole letter.

    And your extended citations just clutter the combox up. The text is available at a number of sites online, so there is no need to reproduce it here.

    It also is not clear how the capitalized sections of the text you have highlighted support your case. For instance, how does the fact that ‘ ALL RIGHTEOUS MEN HAVE BEEN DORNED WITH GOOD WORKS’ threaten the Protestant belief? I sense that either you still do not understand or will not accurately represent the Protestant position.

    You also highlighted 30:4, but both Ron and I already exegeted that section and you have provided no rebuttal for it.

    Preceding this section, Clement also wrote of Rahab’s justification:

    This is just flat wrong. It doesn’t mention justification, but rather the fact that Rahab was ‘saved’. Those are not equivalent terms. In this context, ‘saved’ just means being saved from the destruction Israel was to inflict on Jericho (vs. 5-6).

    He was in the quote contrasting a self-righteous holiness to the holiness that must be done in God’s grace

    Then, for the third time, I ask you again, how can this be when he excludes even the good works of the Patriarchs (32:3) in the immediate context, who certainly performed good works in God’s grace.

    Other than your attempts to find Clement teaching justification by works elsewhere (which I address both above and below), you haven’t provided any exegetical evidence that Clement’s reference to the exclusion of good works is limited only to self-righteous good works. Pointing to terms like ‘ours’, ‘own’, and ‘ourselves’ doesn’t help your case – whether the works are done by grace or done self-righteously, they are still our own works. Where is the evidence that Clement actually made the distinction?

    And, again, how would that put you in any better position than the Pharisee in Luke 18 who was not justified?

    He specifically speaks of justification by works in Chapter 30.

    Again, Ron and I already corrected you on this. We are awaiting rebuttal.

    In Chapter 31 he says Abraham was blessed (and the context is speaking of justification), because of the act of offering Isaac on the altar.

    You aren’t reading very carefully. The only mention ot the offering of Isaac is 31:3 – ‘Isaac, with perfect confidence, as if knowing what was to happen, cheerfully yielded himself as a sacrifice.’

    In chapter 34, Clement says that in justification it is requisite to our actions to be well-doing.

    There is no mention of justification in chapter 34. And the fact that God rewards our good deeds is no surprise to Protestants. The Westminster Confession of Faith 33.1, for example, doesn’t see any tension between sola fide and that fact that ‘all persons, that have lived upon earth, shall appear before the tribunal of Christ, to give an account of their thoughts, words, and deeds; and to receive according to what they have done in the body, whether good or evil.‘ In other words, justification is not the only ‘reward’ the Scriptures speak of.

    In Chapter 48 he speaks of those can attain salvation only those who direct their ways in holiness.

    I fully agree. But 1. salvation (‘entering the gates of holiness’), generally speaking, is not equivalent to justification. Salvation includes repentance and sanctification. 2. This is logically different from saying that ‘directing one’s way in holiness’ *causes* justification. That works are a *condition* does not make works a cause (of either salvation or justification). Not all conditions are causes.

    In Chapter 50 he notes that we must keep the commandments and that love (not faith alone) forgives sins.

    I assume you are referring to 50:4, but the phrase ‘our sins may through love be forgiven us’ is referring to God’s love, not our love (although both are present in this context). Gregg’s version of the epistle actually has ‘through the love of God’, and Lightfoot’s Greek version suggests “through God’s love” in the footnote, noting that ‘There is the same transition from the believer’s love to God’s love in [Chapter] 49.’ The following two verses also point to God’s love being the referent.

  117. steve hays said,

    July 2, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    Perry Robinson said,

    “If truth were all that mattered then what need is there to think that the Scriptures are infallible or even God, if they are all and only true?”

    i) I assume Perry has some other word in mind besides “God.” Did he mean “good”?

    ii) More to the point, the purpose of infallibility is to secure truth, is it not? Does infallibility have some purpose over and above securing the truth of the statement?

    iii) As long as, say, Jn 3:16 is true, isn’t that what matters? And, of course, inspiration secures the veracity of that statement.

    God makes true statements. God is true to his word. God keeps his promises–as well as his threats.

  118. July 2, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    Steve,

    No, I meant God. Why think that God needs to be infallible if he says all and only true propositions?

    2. Doesn’t the truth-maker secure a propositions truth and nothing else? If the truth-maker does all the work, what work is left over for infallibility?

    3. Inspiration doesn’t “secure” the truth of any verse, does it, if the truth maker is what makes the proposition true? Doesn’t inspiration merely denote the source of the propositions as persons who put forward all and only true propositions?

    And of course infallibility has a normative feature or aspect, which is why mere truth telling on the part of the church and/or God would be inadequate. And that is what Bryan was right to point out.

    As I have said before, the entire matter is really about the nature of the church and ultimately Christology. We don’t agree over Christology and so we don’t agree in ecclesiology.

  119. steve hays said,

    July 2, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    “…this truth and discipline are contained in the written books, and the unwritten traditions which, received by the Apostles from the mouth of Christ himself, or from the Apostles themselves, the Holy Ghost dictating, have come down even unto us, transmitted as it were from hand to hand; (the Synod) following the examples of the orthodox Fathers, receives and venerates with an equal affection of piety, and reverence, all the books both of the Old and of the New Testament–seeing that one God is the author of both –as also the said traditions, as well those appertaining to faith as to morals, as having been dictated, either by Christ’s own word of mouth, or by the Holy Ghost, and preserved in the Catholic Church by a continuous succession.”

    http://history.hanover.edu/texts/trent/ct04.html

    Doesn’t this Tridentine formulation go out of its way to treat Scripture and Sacred Tradition as equally inspired and authoritative?

  120. steve hays said,

    July 2, 2009 at 5:23 pm

    Let’s focus on the wording of the Tridentine statement I quoted. It applies the dictation theory of inspiration to tradition and Scripture alike.

    What does the dictation theory envision? It depicts the Holy Spirit dictating words to a scribe or stenographer. The resultant transcription would be the very word of God. The scribe or stenographer is just a mouthpiece of God. His words are simply a transcription of God’s words. Nothing more or less.

    Even if we treat the dictation theory as, in some measure, a picturesque metaphor, Trent deliberately applies the same imagery to the way in which God inspires Scripture and tradition alike.

    Moreover, it exhorts us have the very same attitude towards Scripture and tradition alike.

    Seems to me that this corroborates Lane’s original contention. One could hardly express the matter in stronger terms.

  121. johnbugay said,

    July 2, 2009 at 6:37 pm

    Steve — Bryan made the following “clarification” in the other thread

    http://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2009/06/26/an-examination-of-roman-catholicism/#comment-66325

    To clarify my first comment:

    The Catholic Church does not believe or teach that tradition and the pope “have equal authority” to Scripture.

    Here I was speaking of ‘tradition’ as referring to the decrees of popes and councils (e.g. Nicene Creed). I was not speaking of the Apostolic Tradition, which is the word of God. In Catholic theology the word of God given to the Apostles is both written (i.e. the New Testament) and unwritten. The unwritten Apostolic Tradition, since it is also the word of God, is no less authoritative than is the written Apostolic Tradition.

    Of course, now, thanks to “development,” that statement from Trent may easily not be “authoritative” anymore.

  122. steve hays said,

    July 3, 2009 at 7:29 am

    Perry,

    1. Keep in mind the context of my remarks. One commenter drove a wedge between inspiration and infallibility. Another commenter drove a wedge between truth and authority. So I was responding to those paired disjunctions. You, however, are pairing them off in a different relation: truth/infallibility. That’s not the issue I was targeting.

    2. My point is that, in reference the inspiration/infallibility pairing, infallibility requires some form of inspiration.

    I don’t have a problem linking inspiration with truth in the sense that if something is not merely true, but infallibly true, then it must be inspired inasmuch as inspiration would be the factor which prevents it from being false.

    Back to your specific comments:

    3. “Why think that God needs to be infallible if he says all and only true propositions?”

    Well, if he only speaks the truth, then, at one level, that’s sufficient.

    However, it’s unclear why a fallible speaker would only speak the truth. Infallibility accounts the result. He only speaks the truth because he’s infallible.

    4. “Doesn’t the truth-maker secure a propositions truth and nothing else? If the truth-maker does all the work, what work is left over for infallibility?”

    Given that a statement is true, there’s a necessary relation between the truth and the truthmaker (on truthmaker theory). But its not necessary that a statement to be true. For a statement to be necessarily true (i.e. infallible), there needs to be some additional factor. In the case of a human speaker, that would be inspiration.

    The truthmaker grounds the truth of the statement, it doesn’t secure (i.e. guarantee) the truth of the statement.

    5. “Inspiration doesn’t ‘secure’ the truth of any verse, does it, if the truth maker is what makes the proposition true?”

    I didn’t claim (or deny) that truth is what makes a true statement true. That wasn’t the point at issue.

    There is a tautological sense in which that’s the case, as far as it goes. But it trades on the ambiguities of what “makes” something to be the case. More than one factor can “make” something to be the case.

    Again, remember the context of my remarks, which had reference to Bryan’s disjunction between true interpretations and authoritative ones.

    In reference to that exchange, the point at issue was not what makes an interpretation true, but why, over and above a true interpretation, we need the interpretation to be authoritative.

    The question of what makes a statement true has reference to an exchange with a different commenter, who drove a wedge between inspiration and infallibility. An infallible statement is not merely true, but cannot be false. That raises the question of what “makes” it impervious to error.

    6. “Doesn’t inspiration merely denote the source of the propositions as persons who put forward all and only true propositions?”

    But that’s distinct from the function of a truthmaker theory, is it not? Take the proposition that “In the beginning, God made the heavens and the earth.”

    What makes that statement true? In terms of truthmaker theory, what grounds the truth of that statement is the historical event it describes. It’s true because, in fact, that’s exactly what happened.

    In that sense, the source of truth is the historical event.

    But that’s not the only issue. There is also the issue of what puts the speaker in a position to know and truthfully speak that statement. Truthmaker theory doesn’t answer that question, does it?

    7. “And of course infallibility has a normative feature or aspect, which is why mere truth telling on the part of the church and/or God would be inadequate. And that is what Bryan was right to point out.”

    That’s just a tendentious assertion on your part. Why is “mere truth” non-normative?

    Moreover, even Bryan had to admit that we have natural obligation to believe the truth. So even by his reckoning, “mere truth-telling” has a normative aspect.

    8. “As I have said before, the entire matter is really about the nature of the church and ultimately Christology.”

    Yes, I realize that you wish to divert all debates into debates over the fine points of Eastern Orthodox Christology. I’m not taking that detour.

  123. Jason Engwer said,

    July 3, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    Perry Robinson wrote:

    “Elsewhere though Origen makes it clear than prayer in a wider sense can and should be legitimately directed to saints. In his work, On Prayer, X, he writes, ‘…it is not improper to address these to saints, and two of them, I mean intercession and thanksgiving, not only to saints but also to men, but supplications only to saints, as for instance to some Paul or Peter, that they may aid us, making us worthy to obtain the power granted unto them for the forgiveness of sins.'”

    Your characterization and quotation of Origen are misleading. The distinction you’re making isn’t suggested in Against Celsus, and here’s a fuller quotation of his comments in his treatise On Prayer:

    “Now request and intercession and thanksgiving, it is not out of place to offer even to men—the two latter, intercession and thanksgiving, not only to saintly men but also to others. But request to saints alone, should some Paul or Peter appear, to benefit us by making us worthy to obtain the authority which has been given to them to forgive sins—with this addition indeed that, even should a man not be a saint and we have wronged him, we are permitted our becoming conscious of our sin against him to make request even of such, that he extend pardon to us who have wronged him.” (10)

    He seems to be addressing relations on earth, if somebody like Paul or Peter “appears”. And he doesn’t limit his comments to saints, but is addressing all men. It would be unreasonable to draw the conclusion that Origen is advocating attempts to contact deceased saints, like Paul and Peter after their death, if those deceased saints don’t first appear to us on earth. If you want us to think that Origen was advocating attempts to contact deceased saints who haven’t appeared to us, you should explain why.

    Later in the same chapter of his treatise, Origen argues that the proper recipients of prayer can be discerned by means of the examples given in scripture. There are no examples of praying to the deceased in scripture, and Origen never advocates the practice in any of his many comments on related subjects. He often discusses deceased saints and angels, including their relation to our prayers, but he never encourages attempts to contact those saints and angels in the form of what we today commonly call prayer to the deceased and angels. Just as the lack of such prayers in scripture would be unexpected if the people of Biblical times believed in praying to saints and angels, the lack of reference to such prayers in Origen’s many comments on related issues is unlikely if he believed in the practice.

    In his treatise Against Celsus, Origen uses a wide variety of terms, not just terms like “pray” and “prayer”, when addressing such issues. He comments that angels are involved in bringing our prayers to God and bringing God’s blessings to us (Against Celsus, 5:4), but goes on to say that we shouldn’t “invoke” angels (5:5). He says that it’s sufficient to imitate the angels’ devotion to God without invoking them (5:5). Angels and other created beings are aware of our prayers to God and our moral character, for example, and they pray with us, but we shouldn’t “propitiate” or “invoke” them (8:64). He repeatedly refers to the fact that only God sees our thoughts (7:51; On Prayer, 10), commenting that Christians for that reason pray only to God (4:26).

    While we could reconcile such comments with prayers to the dead and angels by adding qualifiers Origen doesn’t mention, why do so? Given how often he discusses deceased saints and angels, including their relationship with our prayers (the role of angels in presenting our prayers to God, etc.), it seems unlikely that he would never advocate what we today call prayer to the saints and angels if he believed in the practice.

  124. michial said,

    July 8, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    Keep up the great posts. As a Protestant on the fence these are very helpful to me.


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