Whitaker on the Canon, Part 1

I thought it was fascinating that Whitaker did not first treat of the authority of Scripture in his book. Instead, he argues about the canon. There is a very good reason for this particular order. And that is that one cannot really speak about the authority of the canon unless the canon is defined first. Which books have (potentially in the argument) authority and which do not?

Whitaker starts off defining canon this way: “The books of scripture are called canonical, because they contain the standard and rule of our faith and morals. For the scripture is in the church what the law is in a state.” (emphasis original, p. 27). The canon is the rule of faith and practice. He quotes Augustine (I will be seeking to track down patristic quotations and give them in both translation and original whenever possible, though I will not be exhaustive in this: only what I deem the more important quotations will I track down), saying “whatever belongs to faith and moral life may be found in the scriptures” (p. 28). Although it is not mentioned here, the quotation comes from De Doctrina Christiana, which has been translated recently by Edmund Hill in the New City Press version as Teaching Christianity. There, it reads “The fact is, after all, that in the passages that are put plainly in scripture is to be found everything that that touches upon faith, and good morals, that is to say hope and charity, which we dealt with in the previous book.” This is available in the original Latin series Patrologia Latinae on Google books here, and the quotation in Latin is on page 42. Augustine goes on to say (quoting Hill’s version): “instances from the plainer passages are used to cast light on the more obscure utterances, and the testimony of some undoubted judgments is used to remove uncertainties from those that are more doubtful” (ibid.). Here we actually see the sufficiency of Scripture, as well as the perspicuity of Scripture. For Augustine clearly states here that everything that touches upon faith and good morals is found plainly in scripture (of course Augustine does not believe that all passages in scripture are clear: but then, neither do any Protestants of whom I am aware). Further, we see the rule of scripture interpreting scripture here as well, where the more clear scriptures shed light on the less clear. He goes on to note that a good memory is of the greatest value, therefore, in rightly interpreting scripture.

If the fathers are right about the importance of the canon, then the question becomes one of which books are canonical. Here the Romanists and the Protestants differ on the matter of six books in particular: Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Sirach (also called Ecclesiasticus). That the Romanists still have this difference with Protestants is clear from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, p. 40 (section IV 120), although there it is clear that Baruch is regarded as canonical as well. According to Whitaker (29), the Jesuits interpreted Trent to include Baruch, the Hymn of the Three Children, Susannah, Bel and the Dragon, and the additions to Esther. However, these are not explicitly mentioned in Trent or the Catechism, except Baruch (see Session IV of the Council of Trent).

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416 Comments

  1. Tim Prussic said,

    May 26, 2010 at 7:10 pm

    It might be something of side discussion at this point, but some words regarding the church’s task in identifying the canonical book would probably be useful. I think there’s some good ol’ confusion both among Protestants and among Roman Catholics on this issue.

  2. Paige Britton said,

    May 26, 2010 at 9:11 pm

    The question of the canon also raises the question of the authority of the church over Scripture, doesn’t it? (As in, does the church get to decide what is canonical, or does the church merely affirm what has always been canonical?)

    Whitaker cites the “anathema” of Trent against those who reject the kit & caboodle of the Catholic canon. Is this anathema still in effect today, or has it been modified (or dropped) in subsequent statements?

  3. May 27, 2010 at 1:06 am

    I’m sure they’ll be along soon enough, but the standard Catholic response to quotes from the fathers about the sufficiency of Scripture is to say something like, “Yes, the fathers believed in the material sufficiency of Scripture, and so do we. But that’s different from saying that the fathers did not also believe that the Catholic church alone had the authority to interpret the Scriptures.”

    In other words, they say that the fathers (and the Catholic Church today) affirm Scripture’s material sufficiency, but deny its formal sufficiency.

  4. John Bugay said,

    May 27, 2010 at 1:10 am

    some words regarding the church’s task in identifying the canonical book would probably be useful.

    Carson and Moo, Introduction to the New Testament, provide an excellent discussion of pseudepigraphy and pseudonymity on pages 337-350. Identifying works as pseudepigraphical was a key to whether or not they could be considered canonical. This does not touch on the issue of the deuterocanonicals. But for a thorough treatment of that dicussion, including “The Canon of the Jews,” the use of the Septuagint, Jerome and Augustine, see Volume 2 of the Webster/King “Holy Scripture” series.

  5. Paige Britton said,

    May 27, 2010 at 6:30 am

    Hey, Lane, could you put the Google link to Whitaker’s book in each of your Whitaker posts? (I keep having to scroll down to find it, and your posts are arriving thick and fast these days!)

    Thanks!!

  6. Sean said,

    May 27, 2010 at 7:23 am

    Jason’s summary of how I would respond is pretty accurate.

    Here are some patristic sources which drive it home:

    ’But beyond these (Scriptural) sayings, let us look at the very tradition, teaching, and faith of the Catholic Church from the beginning which the Lord gave, the Apostles preached, and the Fathers kept. Upon this the Church is founded, and he who should fall away from it would not be a Christian, and should no longer be so called.’
    Athanasius (To Serapion 1:28)

    And,

    ’Of the dogmas and kergymas preserved in the Church, some we possess from written teaching and others we receive from the tradition of the Apostles, handed on to us in mystery. In respect to piety both are of the same force. No one will contradict any of these, no one, at any rate, who is even moderately versed in matters ecclesiastical. Indeed, were we to try to reject unwritten customs as having no great authority, we would unwittingly injure the Gospel in its vitals; or rather, we would reduce kergyma to a mere term.’
    Basil (Holy Spirit 27:66)

    And the fathers knew that scripture would be twisted and interpreted not within the tradition of the Church:

    “Those, therefore, who desert the preaching of the Church, call in question the knowledge of the holy presbyters, not taking into consideration of how much greater consequence is a religious man, even in a private station, than a blasphemous and impudent sophist. Now, such are all the heretics, and those who imagine that they have hit upon something more beyond the truth, so that by following those things already mentioned, proceeding on their way variously, in harmoniously, and foolishly, not keeping always to the same opinions with regard to the same things, as blind men are led by the blind, they shall deservedly fall into the ditch of ignorance lying in their path, ever seeking and never finding out the truth. It behooves us, therefore, to avoid their doctrines, and to take careful heed lest we suffer any injury from them; but to flee to the Church, and be brought up in her bosom, and be nourished with the Lord’s Scriptures.” Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 5,20:2 (A.D. 180).

    And,

    “Now the cause, in all the points previously enumerated, of the false opinions, and of the impious statements or ignorant assertions about God, appears to be nothing else than the not understanding the Scripture according to its spiritual meaning, but the interpretation of it agreeably to the mere letter. And therefore, to those who believe that the sacred books are not the compositions of men, but that they were composed by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, agreeably to the will of the Father of all things through Jesus Christ, and that they have come down to us, we must point out the ways (of interpreting them) which appear (correct) to us, who cling to the standard of the heavenly Church of Jesus Christ according to the succession of the apostles.” Origen, First Principles, 4,1:9 (A.D. 230).

    Lastly, this is not something that only Catholics notice:

    “Several publications by evangelicals have argued that the doctrine of sola scriptura was practiced, though implicitly, in the hermeneutical thinking of the early church. Such an argument is using a very specific agenda for the reappropriation of the early church: reading the ancient Fathers through the leans of post-Reformational Protestantis…Scripture can never stand completely independent of the ancient consensus of the church’s teaching without serious hermeneutical difficulties…the real question, as the patristic age discovered, is, Which tradition will we use to interpret the Bible?”
    D. H. Williams, Retrieving the Tradition & Renewing Evangelicalism

    And,

    “The divine Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, as opposed to human writings; and the oral tradition or living faith of the catholic church from the apostles down, as opposed tothe varying opinions of heretical sects—together form one infallible source and rule of faith. Both are vehicles of the same substance: the saving revelation of God in Christ; with this difference in form and office, that the church tradition determines the canon, furnishes the key and true interpretation of the Scriptures, and guards them against heretical abuse.”
    Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church

  7. Reed Here said,

    May 27, 2010 at 8:56 am

    Sean: the problem is that we believe that your church is the one who “twisted and interpreted not within the tradition of the Church.” Not saying this to be perjorative, but just to observe that this does not advance anything.

    After all, was not Calvin known for arguing that your fathers during his era wrongly interpreted the tradition handed down by the fathers? Not saying he was right in this, but that the issue is not resolved by your quotes.

  8. rfwhite said,

    May 27, 2010 at 10:51 am

    This statement in the lead post caught my eye: “And that is that one cannot really speak about the authority of the canon unless the canon is defined first.”

    I’d suggest we need to be more careful and precise. To speak of “the canon” at all, in this context, is to speak of that which is authoritative for the faith and practice of the church universal. What you are anticipating, I expect, is Whitaker’s discussion of the relation of the canon to the church. Before he gets to that question, he chooses to focus on the extent of the canon — the identity of the books received by the church. In other words, to hearken back to his opening citation in this chapter, what is the referent of Christ’s expression “the scriptures” in John 5.39? It is intriguing, to me at least, that Whitaker chooses to discuss the extent of the canon before he discusses the relation of canon and church.

  9. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    May 27, 2010 at 11:00 am

    I thought these two recent posts over at Beggars All had wonderful material about the issue of canon:

    (1) http://beggarsallreformation.blogspot.com/2010/05/carries-semi-authoritative-catholic.html

    Excerpt: “If we look at some of the canon discussions that occurred at the Council of Trent both before and after the February 15th vote in 1546 (which according to Catholic historian Hubert Jedin “committed the Council to the wider canon”), we will get a glimpse into some of the uncertainty around the canon. … after describing the vote on Feb 15th, Jedin goes back to summarize the discussions that occurred in prior meetings leading up to the vote and the final implication:

    “This question was not only a matter of controversy between Catholics and Protestants: it was also the subject of a lively discussion even between Catholic theologians. St Jerome, that great authority in all scriptural questions, had accepted the Jewish canon of the Old Testament. Thc books of Judith, Esther, Tobias, Machabees, Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus, which the majority of the Fathers, on the authority of the Septuagint, treated as canonical, Jerome described as apocryphal, that is, as not included in the canon though suitable for the edification of the faithful…

    (2) http://beggarsallreformation.blogspot.com/2010/05/apocrypha-luther-via-catholic-answers.html

    Excerpt: “Recently on Catholic Answers Fr. Sebastian Walshe addressed the topic Can Doctrine Develop? Fr. Walshe explained that previous to Trent’s infallible declaration, there was uncertainty about which books were canonical. Fr. Walshe also briefly discussed the Apocrypha. Walshe admits there was indeed controversy in the church as to its status. It simply isn’t the case that the church unanimously accepted these books early on and that Luther removed them.Walshe also says that Thomas Aquinas was not certain if the books of Maccabees should be considered part of canonical Scripture. That is, Aquinas didn’t know one way or the other if the books of Maccabees were part of the canon because the church had yet to determine the status of these books. In fact, there were quite a number of people previous to Luther that doubted the full canonicity of the Apocrypha. Even one of the best Roman Catholic contemporaries of Luther, Cardinal Cajetan, held a similar view as Luther did on the status of the Apocrypha. There was even a group of very well respected Roman Catholic scholars at Trent that argued against including the Apocrypha as fully canonical.

  10. greenbaggins said,

    May 27, 2010 at 11:10 am

    Tim and Jason, all in good time on both of those points. We are not going to be able to say everything in every post. I would caution us here that the case has to be made step by step. Whitaker gets to both points in abundance.

    Paige, done. And I will try to remember to include it in all future posts as well.

  11. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 27, 2010 at 11:17 am

    Whitaker goes to the crux of the matter:

    So that the argument of our opponents runs thus: these councils and these fathers affirm these books to belong to the sacred canon; therefore, these books are canonical. In order to make this argument valid, we must take as our medium this proposition: whatsoever these councils and these fathers determine is to be received without dispute. We may then add to it, But these councils and these fathers receive these books as canonical; therefore these books are truly canonical and divine: otherwise there will be no consequence in the reasoning. Now let us answer somewhat more clearly and distinctly.

    In the first place, we deny the major proposition of this syllogism. “VVe must not concede that whatever those councils determine, and whatever those fathers affirm, is always true: for it is the special prerogative of scripture, that it never errs. Therefore, it is manifest that nothing can be concluded from these testimonies which hath the force of a certain and necessary argument. — 39-40.

    The issue, as Paige points out, is whether the church creates the canon or recognizes the canon.

    If the church creates the canon, the argument

    (1) These councils and these fathers affirm these books to belong to the sacred canon
    (2) Therefore, these books are canonical.

    is analytic: the ontological ground of canonicity is the declaration of the church.

    But if the church recognizes the canon, the argument

    (1) These councils and these fathers affirm these books to belong to the sacred canon
    (2) Therefore, these books are canonical.

    is synthetic, requiring the additional premise

    (1a) And the council and fathers are infallible identifiers of the books belonging to the canon.

    In this case, the ontological ground of the canon is its authorship by the HS, and the epistemological ground of the canon is its recognition by the church.

    I don’t see how we could seriously argue the first; yet this seems to be the RC position.

    If on the other hand the RC position is the second, then we have to ask, “How do we know that the church is the infallible determiner of canonical books?”

    And that goes to the rest of Whitaker’s argument.

  12. Phil Derksen said,

    May 27, 2010 at 11:39 am

    RE: “[Either] the church ‘creates’ the canon or ‘recognizes’ the canon.”

    Yet in either case, doesn’t deciding what the proper criteria is in terms of correctly identifying the canon (e.g. apostolic origin, breadth of acceptance) ultimately rest with the visible church?

  13. louis said,

    May 27, 2010 at 11:52 am

    “The issue, as Paige points out, is whether the church creates the canon or recognizes the canon….. I don’t see how we could seriously argue the first; yet this seems to be the RC position.”

    I don’t think that is the papist’s position. According to Vatican I:

    “The complete book of the old and new testaments… the church holds to be sacred and canonical not because she subsequently approved them by her authority after they had been composed by unaided human skill, nor simply because they contain revelation without error, but because, being written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author, and were as such committed to the church.” (Ch.2).

    That sounds like your second scenario to me.

  14. louis said,

    May 27, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    Of course, every statement of the Roman church is subject to a labyrinth of qualifications and interpretations, so that ultimately it can mean anything that is to their advantage at the time. Indeed, the ground often shifts in the middle of an argument. One has to keep all that in mind.

  15. Paige Britton said,

    May 27, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    Phil wrote:
    Yet in either case, doesn’t deciding what the proper criteria is in terms of correctly identifying the canon (e.g. apostolic origin, breadth of acceptance) ultimately rest with the visible church?

    Yes, real (visible) people had to do the identifying. Though my vague sense of history is that creating the “official list” had more to do with identifying what was NOT canonical than looking around for the canonical books (they were already there).

    Isn’t the “infallibility of the church” clause the sticking point here? If we cannot claim an infallible visible church / magisterium, where do we get off claiming an infallible canon?

  16. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 27, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    Louis, I agree with your analysis. It certainly seems like Vat I is putting forward a synthetic view of the canon. The epistemological basis for canonicity is the testimony of the church. The question then is, On what ground do we know that the testimony of the church is infallible?

    Phil: Yet in either case, doesn’t deciding what the proper criteria is in terms of correctly identifying the canon (e.g. apostolic origin, breadth of acceptance) ultimately rest with the visible church?

    I think that’s unavoidable, no? But the first case would be much stronger than the second. It’s the difference between “truth is what I say it is” and “I know the truth.”

  17. johnbugay said,

    May 27, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    This section on “Attempts at Closing the Canon in the East” may be brought to a close by calling attention to a most astonishing conciliar decision taken by the Trullan Synod held near the end of the seventh century. In 691 and 692 this council of the Eastern bishops met in the domed room (trullus) of the Emperor Justinian II’s palace at Constantinople in order to pass disciplinary canons by way of completing the work of the Fifth (533) and Sixth (680) General Councils. By one of its first decrees it determined the series of authorities which were to make law in the Church. Among these were the eighty five so-called Apostolic Canons (reproduced in the Appendix of this book), then the decrees of a certain number of Synods, notably those of Laodicea and Carthage; and finally a great number of Fathers, including, among others, Athanasius and Amphilochius. The Council thereby sanctioned implicitly, so far as the list of Biblical books is concerned, quite incongruous and contradictory opinions. Thus, as we have seen earlier, the Synod of Carthage and Athanasius recognized the minor Catholic Epistles and the Book of Revelation, while the Synod of Laodicea and the eighty-fifth Apostolic Canon omitted them. Furthermore, this same Canon includes as canonical the two Epistles of Clement which the other authorities did not receive. Such an extraordinary situation can be accounted for only on the supposition that the members of the Council had not even read the texts thus sanctioned.

    In view of the confusion implicit in the pronouncement made on the canon at the Trullan Synod, it is not surprising that the later history of the Bible in the East continues to exhibit uncertainty and vacillation. According to a tabulation made by Westcott, in the tenth century no fewer than six different lists of the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments were received in the Greek Church.

    (Metzger, “The Canon of the New Testament,” pgs 216-217)

    True, this is not Rome. But Perry Robinson may stop by, and on top of that, by the 10th century, we had that much-vaunted “unified” church. (This is just “fleshing out” the process of the Church giving us the canon. It’s important to look at the details.)

  18. D. T. King said,

    May 27, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    Of course, every statement of the Roman church is subject to a labyrinth of qualifications and interpretations, so that ultimately it can mean anything that is to their advantage at the time. Indeed, the ground often shifts in the middle of an argument. One has to keep all that in mind.

    Precisely, there is no official pronouncement of the Roman communion that is not subject to the death of a thousand qualifications. The Council of Trullo, which is regarded as part of the Quinisext Council (also regarded as “ecumenical” by Romanists and EOs alike), approved four different canonical lists. Thus the following Eastern Orthodox theologians observed…

    Demetrios J. Constantelos: The early church as a whole did not take a definite position for or against the Deuterocanonicals. Church leaders and ecclesiastical writers of both the Greek east and Latin west were not in full agreement. Some preferred the Hebrew canon, while others accepted the longer canon that included the Deuterocanonicals. The ambivalence of ecumenical and local synods (Nicea, 325 CE; Rome, 382; Laodicea, 365; Hippo, 393) was resolved by the Trullan Synod (692). It adopted deliberations of councils that had favored the shorter list, and decisions of other synods that had advocated the longer list. See his article “Eastern Orthodoxy and the Bible” in Bruce M. Metzger and Michael D. Coogan, eds., The Oxford Companion to the Bible (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993), p. 174.

    John Meyendorff: The Christian East took a longer time than the West in settling on an agreed canon of Scripture. The principal hesitations concerned the books of the Old Testament which are not contained in the Hebrew canon (“shorter” canon) and the Book of the Revelation in the New Testament. Fourth-century conciliar and patristic authorities in the East differ in their attitude concerning the exact authority of Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Esther, Judith, and Tobit. Athanasius in his famous Paschal Letter 39 excludes them from Scripture proper, but considers them useful for catechumens, an opinion which he shares with Cyril of Jerusalem. Canon 60 of the council of Laodicea—whether authentic or not—also reflects the tradition of a “shorter” canon. But the Quinisext Council (692) endorses the authority of the Apostolic Canon 85, which admits some books of the “longer” canon, including even 3 Maccabees, but omits Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus as “admirable,” yet fails to include them in the canon. Therefore, in spite of the fact that Byzantine patristic and ecclesiastical tradition almost exclusively uses the Septuagint as the standard Biblical text, and that parts of the “longer” canon—especially Wisdom—are of frequent liturgical use, Byzantine theologians remain faithful to a “Hebrew” criterion for Old Testament literature, which excludes texts originally composed in Greek. Modern Orthodox theology is consistent with this unresolved polarity when it distinguishes between “canonical” and “deuterocanonical” literature of the Old Testament, applying the first term only to the books of the “shorter” canon. John Meyendorff, Byzantine Theology: Historical Trends and Doctrinal Themes, 2nd rev. ed. (New York: Fordham University Press, 1983), p. 7.

    John Meyendorff: This system of internal priorities within the canon of Scriptures is further shown in two facts in the history of the scriptural canon in the Eastern half of the Christian world. The first fact is that the final settlement of the canon did not take place until 692, and that uncertainty as to the boundaries of written revelation was not, for many centuries, considered a major problem in doing theology. The second fact is that, when the settlement took place, a measure of uncertainty remained as to the exact status of the “longer canon” of the Old Testament; books like Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus—which were not a part of the Hebrew canon, but only of the Septuagint, and which are called Apocrypha in the West—were still recognized by some in the eighth century as “admissible,” though they were not included in the canon. Even today, Orthodox theologians refer to them as deuterocanonical books. They are considered part of Scripture and are read in church liturgically, but occupy something of a marginal place in the canon.
    This rather detached Orthodox attitude toward the problem of the scriptural canon shows clearly that for them the Christian faith and experience can in no way be compatible with the notion of Scriptura sola. See his chapter “Doing Theology in an Eastern Orthodox Perspective” in Daniel B. Clendenin, ed., Eastern Orthodox Theology: A Contemporary Reader (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1995), p. 82.

    Notice in the second quote above that the Council of Trullo accepted 3 Maccabees as canonical, which was rejected by Trent as canonical – just another example of disparity in such “infallible” pronouncements on the canon.

    Demetrios J. Constantelos has been candid enough to note that “The canonicity of the Deuterocanonical books is still a disputed topic in Orthodox biblical theology.” See his article “Eastern Orthodoxy and the Bible” in Bruce M. Metzger and Michael D. Coogan, eds., The Oxford Companion to the Bible (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993), p. 175.

  19. Phil Derksen said,

    May 27, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    Paige,

    Thanks for the comments.

    I guess I still don’t really see a material distinction when a particular group within church history has considered any and all existing books which may have been identified as “possibly” being canonical at that given point in time, and then making an “official” determination which ones WILL or WILL NOT be deemed canonical.

    In other words, there still has to be a humanly agreed upon (or discerned) criteria by which the decision to include OR exclude a particular work is based upon. Of course this would seem to hold equally true for RC’s and Protestants alike. Nor do I think that this question is an easy one to answer.

    Thoughts anyone?

  20. Phil Derksen said,

    May 27, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    Jeff #16,

    Yes I do agree that the first approach is superior to the second, as you have defined them. Yet it still doesn’t seem capable of resolving all of the issues that inevitably arise from the common question.

  21. Phil Derksen said,

    May 27, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    RE:#20: Whoops, I meant to say “the second approach is superior to the first, as you have defined them.”

  22. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 27, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    Phil (#19,20):

    For my part, I bite the bullet and accept that our recognition of canonical books is theoretically errant, in the same way that the moon might theoretically be made of green cheese.

    The same issue, BTW, applies to determining the text of those canonical books, as the textual apparati of UBS4 and BHK bear witness.

    The only alternative to fallible human opinion is infallible human opinion. Down that path lies the Magisterium, or “King James Only”ism, or Montanism.

  23. Paige Britton said,

    May 27, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    In our situation, in the absence of an infallible magisterium, our knowledge of the canon (as well as our interpretation of the Scriptures) is going to have be sufficient, not exhaustive. That is, we are going to have to rely on the data we are given, not direct guidance via an earthly source with a special chrism of infallibility.

    So we investigate the moon and find it is made of rock — and we investigate the pedigree of the biblical books, and find either that they were the ones Jesus was reading (Tanak), or the ones written by apostles or their close associates.

    (I think that authorship was always the most important NT criterion — Luther got into a pickle going by internal clues, though these are important, too.)

  24. louis said,

    May 27, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    “In our situation, in the absence of an infallible magisterium….”

    Not to be picky, but that’s actually everybody’s situation.

  25. Reed Here said,

    May 27, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    Louis: I think that’s what Paige meant. Read it as a universal “our”.

  26. John Bugay said,

    May 27, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    I think that’s what Paige meant. Read it as a universal “our”.

    We could always ask her to clarify. It’s also possible to read this as, “our [Presbyterian] situation … ” Because one side in this discussion does think it has an infallble magisterium, which provides “direct guidance” that we Presbyterians don’t have. [And so we investigate....] Paige seems to be too kind to simply be rejecting the other side of the argument.

  27. Paige Britton said,

    May 27, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    You are too kind.

    I meant “in the Protestant situation.” (But of course I think this is everybody’s metaphysical situation. ;)

  28. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 28, 2010 at 8:21 am

    Sean (#6): I’m in the process of digesting your post, and I’m unable to find the Ad Serapion containing the citation you provide. The letter to Serapion I’m looking at is a history of the death of Arius.

    A couple of preliminary thoughts.

    (1) Your quote from Schaff needs to be understood properly. Schaff, the historian, is presenting the view of the early church, not his own view, in the quote above. This is clear by examining the quote in context.

    Likewise, Schaff draws a distinction between the view of the early church and the view of Rome concerning tradition.

    The church view respecting the sources of Christian theology and the rule of faith and practice remains as it was in the previous period, except that it is further developed in particulars.1289 The divine Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, as opposed to human writings; and the oral tradition or living faith of the catholic church from the apostles down, as opposed to the varying opinions of heretical sects together form the one infallible source and rule of faith. Both are vehicles of the same substance: the saving revelation of God in Christ; with this difference in form and office, that the church tradition determines the canon, furnishes the key to the true interpretation of the Scriptures, and guards them against heretical abuse. The relation of the two in the mind of the ancient church may be illustrated by the relation between the supreme law of a country (such as the Roman law, the Code Napoleon, the common law of England, the Constitution of the United States) and the courts which expound the law, and decide between conflicting interpretations. Athanasius, for example, “the father of orthodoxy,” always bases his conclusions upon Scripture, and appeals to the authority of tradition only in proof that he rightly understands and expounds the sacred books. The catholic faith, says he, is that which the Lord gave, the apostles preached, and the fathers have preserved; upon this the church is founded, and he who departs from this faith can no longer be called a Christian.1290

    The sum of doctrinal tradition was contained in what is called the Apostles’ Creed, which at first bore various forms, but after the beginning of the fourth century assumed the Roman form now commonly used. In the Greek church its place was supplied after the year 325 by the Nicene Creed, which more fully expresses the doctrine of the deity of Christ. Neither of these symbols goes beyond the substance of the teaching of the apostles; neither contains any doctrine specifically Greek or Roman.

    The old catholic doctrine of Scripture and tradition, therefore, nearly as it approaches the Roman, must not be entirely confounded with it. It makes the two identical as to substance, while the Roman church rests upon tradition for many doctrines and usages, like the doctrines of the seven sacraments, of the mass, of purgatory, of the papacy, and of the immaculate conception, which have no foundation in Scripture. Against this the evangelical church protests, and asserts the perfection and sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures as the record of divine revelation; while it does not deny the value of tradition, or of the consciousness of the church, in the interpretation of Scripture, and regulates public teaching by symbolical books. — Schaff, History, vol. 3.18.

    So Schaff is probably best seen as a hostile witness to your cause (unsurprisingly, given his ecclesial affiliations).

    The core problems that will need to be carefully addressed are

    (1) Can we legitimately extend the views of Athanasius and Basil, which applied to Church tradition as it was known at the time, to Church tradition as it is today?

    We find Ath. and Basil contending for core Christological doctrines which are attested equally in Scripture and tradition. These doctrines are not disputed by (historic) Protestants.

    By contrast, the matters of tradition that separate Protestants and Catholics today are doctrines concerning Mary, and the precise meaning and mechanism of justification, and transubstantiation, and papal infallibility and dominance, and so on. These are matters that go outside of, or are barely connected to, Scripture and rest much more heavily on tradition alone; and have no clear attestation in the earliest tradition.

    We may not uncritically assume that Basil’s argument re; tradition is applicable to the current situation.

    And in fact, there is evidence that it might not be. Here is Basil again:

    In answer to the objection that the doxology in the form “with the Spirit” has no written authority, we maintain that if there is no other instance of that which is unwritten, then this must not be received. But if the greater number of our mysteries are admitted into our constitution without written authority, then, in company with the many others, let us receive this one. For I hold it apostolic to abide also by the unwritten traditions. “I praise you,” it is said, “that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances as I delivered them to you;” and “Hold fast the traditions which ye have been taught whether by word, or our Epistle.” One of these traditions is the practice which is now before us, which they who ordained from the beginning, rooted firmly in the churches, delivering it to their successors, and its use through long custom advances pace by pace with time.

    We notice that Basil’s definition of “tradition” is limited to those things which have a long custom of usage. This is certainly not so with papal infallibility or perpetual virginity!

    (2) We must also determine the exact normative status of Basil and Athanasius. It would be circular to assume their normativity.

  29. Tom Riello said,

    May 28, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    Paige and others,

    “In our situation, in the absence of an infallible magisterium, our knowledge of the canon (as well as our interpretation of the Scriptures) is going to have be sufficient, not exhaustive.” This leads very well into Sproul’s famous, “fallible collection of infallible books.”

    This is why Dr. Mike Liccione can say very credibly, “If Protestantism of whatever form is true, then there can be no principled distinction between faith and opinion, and therefore no principled way to distinguish between that which is held by faith–i.e., de fide doctrines–and that which is held by opinion–i.e., interpretations of the sources. Given as much, the essence of my argument against Protestantism is that it precludes knowing when one is assenting to a proposition as a true expression of divine revelation rather than human opinion. The difference between a liberal and a conservative Protestant is that the former recognizes and embraces this consequence while the latter has not.”

  30. johnbugay said,

    May 28, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    If Protestantism of whatever form is true, then …

    Who among the logicians on the Protestant side thinks this is the wrong way to characterize this?

    I’ve heard this argument on the most simplistic level: “Henry VIII had six wives, therefore Rome is infallible.”

    The right way to look at this is “if the Roman story teaching about itself was incorrect, then …”

    Because if, as I’ve claimed, the papacy was not a fraudulent usurpation of power (as Protestants think it is, and as then-Cardinal Ratziner denied in his 1990 work, “Called to Communion”, pg 72), then whatever Protestantism has become is just simply what it is.

    But if the papacy is what it says it is, then why are we subjected to these backward kinds of arguments?

    Any comments on this?

  31. Paige Britton said,

    May 28, 2010 at 7:05 pm

    Tom,
    I’m not sure I follow all of Mike Liccione’s argument, but he seems to be saying that the problem of epistemic certainty is the Achilles’ heel of Protestantism. Since we [ordinary humans] can’t ever tell apart God’s propositions from our personal interpretations of them, Protestantism is a wash.

    But if Protestantism (of any form) is true, then what’s the big deal? If God has set up the universe this way, then we walk by faith that we can know sufficiently, if not exhaustively, as we read the Scriptures. We expect to “see through a glass darkly.” Language communicates, and God gifts us with teachers, and we expect we (and they) will get things wrong sometimes. But we also expect that, given texts and tools and teachers, we can avail ourselves of some reliable checks and balances to our own foggy and prideful notions of how things “ought” to be.

    Just pointing out that it’s a difficult task for Protestants to read the Bible responsibly doesn’t make the Catholic system true.

    I don’t know how many Prots would echo Sproul’s famous (infamous?) quote about the canon (which I have never heard). But given that we don’t believe in the infallibility of councils or popes, it would seem to be at least honest to say that we are relying on the reasonable certainty of apostolic authorship, but not on the complete certainty of a magisterial pronouncement.

    pax,
    pb

  32. ljdibiase said,

    May 28, 2010 at 7:25 pm

    The quote from Liccione is nonsense. He’s mixing concepts of faith, opinion, knowing, and truth; and then spreading those out between the believing subject and the object beheld. By definition one has “faith” that what it believes is a “true expression of divine revelation.” That’s what it means to have faith. How does a papist “know” the pope is infallible? Is that just the papist’s opinion?

  33. May 28, 2010 at 7:30 pm

    Paige,

    It would seem that the primary motivation for these kinds of arguments is a philosophical preference for certainty beyond what humans normally enjoy when interpreting controversial and/or difficult religious texts. But, as you’ve rightly indicated, if this is the way God has created the universe, we have to deal with it on its own terms. Philosophical preferences are just that–preferences–until they can be demonstrated as truths. I wonder how Liccione would go about demonstrating his preference.

    I’m also not sure how these kinds of epistemological certainty arguments aren’t subject to an infinite regress. If humanity is somehow unable or diminished in its capacity to appropriately interpret Scripture, why would this damaged or diminished interpretive capacity be able to rightly interpret the appointed, infallible interpreter of Scripture? Even if this infallible interpreter can, as might be argued, issue corrections and clarifications as needed, that doesn’t change the fact that we have no reason to believe we’ll be able to faithfully and accurately understand what it has said at any point, corrections and clarifications issued or not.

  34. Sean said,

    May 28, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    Jeff Cagle,

    #28.

    I believe there are several Athanasius letters to Serapion. I quoted from one of them which is cited in a collection edited by Khaled Anatolios called “Athanasius.”

    Page 277 is where paragraph 28 starts.

    Here is Google Books link.

    I don’t have time to respond to the rest of your comment right now but I will this evening or tomorrow.

  35. Tom Riello said,

    May 28, 2010 at 8:16 pm

    Paige,

    Mike would agree, as would any Catholic, that this does not prove the Catholic claim true. What it does do, however, is prove Mike’s point true that Protestantism cannot, intrinsic to its own principles and own criteria, make a principled distinction between faith and opinion. Everything is up for grabs and on the table within Protestantism.

    My thoughts on the matter are, I do not think God intended this for His Church, for He is not a God of chaos but of order and that He has given us a Church that we can trust to hear His voice and know what He calls us towards.

  36. D. T. King said,

    May 28, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    Page 277 is where paragraph 28 starts.

    No, it begins on p. 227 of that publication, but this should be interesting.

  37. ljdibiase said,

    May 28, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    “Protestantism cannot, intrinsic to its own principles and own criteria, make a principled distinction between faith and opinion.”

    Do you have faith that the pope is infallible? Or is that your opinion? In your case, what is the principled distinction between the two?

  38. Andrew McCallum said,

    May 28, 2010 at 11:55 pm

    Mike’s point true that Protestantism cannot, intrinsic to its own principles and own criteria, make a principled distinction between faith and opinion.

    Tom,

    I’ve interacted with Mike quite a bit on this and related issues on the CTC website and I don’t think he makes his case. The problem is this – both Catholics and Protestants have writings which they believe to be infallible and those which are part of the faith but are not infallible (in the RCC systems this would be sententia fidei proxima and other pronouncements of lesser theological certainty). The Protestants do not say that the words of men, even those of an ecumenical council, are infallible. The words of even such a collection of men could be in error. So we are accused of not being able to distinguish faith from opinion here. But the Catholic runs into the very same dilemma as he moves from de fide to non-de fide pronouncements. Do you see what I’m getting at? Protestants move from infallible to non-infallible once they go from Scriptures to statements of men about the Scriptures. The Catholics move from infallible to non-infallible once they go from de fide to sententia fidei proxima statements. But both Protestant and Catholic face the same challenge, the difference is that they move from infallible to fallible at different points.

    The Catholics think they have solved the problem of interpretation of Scripture by positing a tradition which speaks infallibly (as the RCC qualifies this), but she has really just pushed the problem back one step. Now the question for the Catholic is who interprets this “infallible” tradition and how can you distinguish between faith and mere opinion when you move from infallible to non-infallible pronouncements?

  39. Richard said,

    May 29, 2010 at 4:43 am

    Hi, I would be interested in some interaction with James A. Sanders’ “The Bible as Canon”. :)

  40. Paige Britton said,

    May 29, 2010 at 6:28 am

    Tom,
    Thank you for “your thoughts” on this. But your words just confirm what I keep hearing, which others like Matthew have pointed out: much of your argument is based on how you think things “ought” to be. You have accepted and keep promoting the Catholic preference for having a source of absolute certainty on earth, so that anything less is deemed unworthy of God himself. (I know that your acceptance of Catholic doctrine and church hierarchy is based on more than just this preference, but this judgment call on what is good or bad re. epistemology is part of the package.)

    I have also heard the thought put like this by other Catholics: “Would Christ have abandoned his church to uncertainty after his ascension? Or would he have made sure that his bride was kept from all error until the consummation? Why, of COURSE he would have set things up to protect the church from fallibility! Anything less would mean the bridegroom doesn’t love us!”

    Well, maybe — but maybe not. Whichever way God has set up the universe — whether with an infallible interpreter left to us on earth, or with only an infallible Bible read by fallible believers — that way is best. God gets to decide “best” and “worst,” not us.

    And yes, I realize that you guys don’t think you are proving your system to us simply by pointing out our interpretive dilemmas and difficulties. Yet you use this idea of “of course we all know which way is best!” and “your way sure stinks!” as the beginnings of a bridge across the moat. If we give in to this idea that “complete certainty is best, and anything less is unworthy of God!” then we finish the bridge for you. (And here I am thinking of persons I know who have skipped the rest of the thinking that has to happen at this point because they have so quickly bought the line that “certainty is best!”)

    Truth is best. Which system is true? If the Prots have got it right, then God’s “best” for us is something other than access to complete certainty in the Not-Yet time.

    (I’m glad to continue a dialogue here, but I will be leaving town in a few hours and won’t have access to GB till late Monday. So don’t think I am ignoring you if I don’t respond for a while.)

  41. May 29, 2010 at 9:50 am

    Jeff Cagle #`12

    To say that the church creates the canon seems to rest on an ambiguity. Are we speaking of the formal canon or the material canon? If the former, even Protestants believe the church creates the list of books it considers to be canonical. If the latter, then no one thinks this is so.

    To use recognition trades on a similar ambiguity. Is it an ultimately normative recognition or a pen ultimately normative one? Is the formal canon revisable for Whitaker, why or why not?

    As for your analytic and synthetic division, this assumes that there are such things to be had. A la Quine, it is far from clear that that distinction is coherent. A priori and a posteriori might be better candiates.
    As for your “green cheese” remark, given that on your view the church blew it for a good thousand years, I think that renders Protestant error on the canon far more probable than the moon’s caseus composition.

  42. James Dean said,

    May 29, 2010 at 9:57 am

    D.T.King (re: 18)

    On what galaxy is the Quinisext Council accepted by Catholics as ecumenical?

  43. May 29, 2010 at 10:16 am

    John Bugay #17

    It is true that Trullo and 2nd Nicea confirm canonical lists (lists of church rules) that are not isomorphic. It doesn’t follow from that that those who did so didn’t read the text as Metzger claims. He needs to prove, rather than assert that that is the only way for affirmation to take place. It isn’t. Church canons are revisable and so when a council affirms groups of them, it may take one to supersede another in a collection. In a hierarchy of authority, lower judgments can be trumped. We have explicit examples of this taking place.

    Second, if one list is shorter and another longer, these aren’t necessarily contradictory since they can be complimentary in the same way that Gospel accounts of who was present where and when aren’t contradictory but complimentary. This of course is more relevant in cases of numbering since it occurred that in some cases the numbering of some books is different over time. 1st and 2nd kings were often considered one book and Jeremiah often included Baruch and other texts.

    Third in cases where one source explicitly excludes a text whereas another source includes it, we have to think about the respective places of authority in the hierarchy. If one trumps the other, then its obvious which one is to be held.

    As for what Orthodox theologians say, they may be theologians in the academic sense of the word, but given that we aren’t free a la Turretin to make claims and inferences drawn from divines as to the doctrine of the Reformed church, I don’t see why the Reformed would feel free to do so here. What various academic Orthodox theologians may say is only as good as the arguments that they have for those positions. Simply citing them is idle.

    As Meyendorff notes, Revelation took a good while longer to be accepted in the East, and it is the only NT book not cited or used in the Divine Liturgy. Are we to likewise infer from its late inclusion that it is uninspired as you judge the case to be with the Deuterocanonicals?

    Athanasius may exclude them, but then he turns around and cites Wisdom as inspired scripture in a number of places. Clearly, Athanasius is working with a different notion of inspiration. And it is quite appropriate that a formal canon for the whole church was built up over time, since a canon is a list given by a particular bishop, which is why there were so many canons. (Which is really funny when you think about Presbyterians making a formal canon.) And yes, the Orthodox accept 3rd Maccabees.

    In all of this, what I think is missed is that the historical data cuts both ways. The data doesn’t support the hypothesis that there existed a formal protestant canon from the earliest times. That is a creation of 16th century Protestant divines. It seems very hard to claim then that the early church worked with sola scriptura and citing constituent parts of that doctrine in various patristic sources won’t ground that claim just so long as all conceptual parts of that doctrine are not articulated together or necessary parts of it are left aside.

  44. Tom Riello said,

    May 29, 2010 at 11:25 am

    Andrew,

    No I don’t see your point. You yourself admit the same, when you distinguish between de fide and non-de fide. De Fide pronouncements are infallible. Protestantism cannot make any De Fide pronouncements on anything.

  45. ljdibiase said,

    May 29, 2010 at 11:52 am

    The problem with your position, Tom, is that the “De Fide pronouncements” of the Roman church in fact are not infallible. And you cannot even believe they are infallible, unless you exercise your fallible judgement to do so.

  46. May 29, 2010 at 11:58 am

    James Dean,

    Trullo (aka Quinisext) is ammended to the 6th council in terms of canons and so bears ecumencial weight. Perhaps, on a charitable reading, this is what David King meant. If he meant it was an ecumenical council all by itself, then that is an obvious mistake.

  47. May 29, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    ljdibiase,

    Two things to keep in mind. Conditions for a statement to be known are different than conditions for a statement to be normative. Since infalliblity (or its lack) aren’t part of the conditions on knowledge, it follows that one can know (fallibly) that such and so statement is ultimately normative (infallible). There is no obvious contradiction here. If you think there is, you’ll need to make that argument.

  48. louis said,

    May 29, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    “If you think there is….”

    What makes you think I think there is?

  49. D. T. King said,

    May 29, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    D.T.King (re: 18)

    On what galaxy is the Quinisext Council accepted by Catholics as ecumenical?

    In the same galaxy that Rome “claims” among others to accept the first 7 “ecumenical” councils of which the Quinisext is part of the sixth. But I am most willing to stand corrected in the recognition that Rome attempts to operate in a galaxy all its own. I offer you my gratitude for calling this to my attention.

  50. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 29, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    Paige, Tom, and others:

    We have to be careful not to engage in the mistake that many students make when they first learn of Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle. When they first learn that the product of uncertainties in position and momentum has a lower bound, they say, “So we CANT KNOW ANYTHING??!?!?!?!”

    And of course, that’s silly. We get into our cars knowing that they will not turn into winged unicorn-slugs. (Yeech) Heisenberg rules out mathematical certainty, but not pragmatic confidence. The lower bound of uncertainty still allows for a pragmatic knowledge that functions quite well.

    Likewise: the Protestant position is that the Word of God is infallible, but the word of man is not. Ever.

    That doesn’t mean we can’t know anything. It just means that our knowledge is qualified by a degree of uncertainty. In many cases, it is a small degree of uncertainty. At some point, our knowledge is confident enough and important enough that we are willing to go to the stake for it.

    But at no point do we have mathematical certainty.

    (Sometimes I think that people who talk about certainty don’t really grasp the radical nature of mathematical certainty. It means absolutely zero percent chance of error.)

    What did Paul say? “If Jesus is not raised from the dead, our faith is in vain.” He had every confidence was that Jesus was raised from the dead, enough confidence to endure beatings and stonings and shipwrecks. But that certainty didn’t prevent him from logically considering the alternative.

    Likewise here: I have every confidence that the Bible (39OT + 27NT) is the Word of God, enough that (in extremis) I would go to the stake for it. But I don’t have mathematical certainty. It could be that I’m just a brain in a vat.

    And the same is true for the RC position, isn’t it? The ex cathedra pronouncements are infallible — but the list of such pronouncements is not infallibly known, so there’s one source of error.

    And then interpreting those infallible pronouncements is yet another source of error. Bryan has argued that the living nature of the magisterium reduces the error because there is a feedback loop. And he’s right: feedback reduces error. But it doesn’t eliminate error. There’s always the possibility that Sean or Tom or Bryan has misunderstood Vatican I or Vatican II or Trent.

    And then there’s always the possibility, isn’t there, that the RC position is simply mistaken. That possibility might be small in Sean and Tom’s view, but the possibility is not mathematically zero.

    We could engage in a formal proof of that fact, talking about induction and deduction, but I think everyone gets the gist.

    So from where I sit, arguments of the form “If we don’t believe X, then we lose certainty of belief” are automatically out of court. We lost “certainty of belief” (in the mathematical sense) the moment that we were creatures instead of the omniscient Creator.

  51. May 29, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    Paige,

    I have also heard the thought put like this by other Catholics: “Would Christ have abandoned his church to uncertainty after his ascension? Or would he have made sure that his bride was kept from all error until the consummation? Why, of COURSE he would have set things up to protect the church from fallibility! Anything less would mean the bridegroom doesn’t love us!”

    Well, maybe — but maybe not.

    I’m curious (and this can be answered by anyone, not just Paige):

    If Catholicism had an identical soteriology to the Westminster Confession, would you be: (A) equally against it, (B) much less against it than you are, or (C) surprisingly open to it?

    And why?

  52. louis said,

    May 29, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    Jeff,

    Thank you for introducing common sense and sanity into this discussion. I would only add one thing to what you said:

    “The ex cathedra pronouncements are infallible — but the list of such pronouncements is not infallibly known, so there’s one source of error.”

    Determining that ex cathedra pronouncements are even in theory infallible at all, is also made by a fallible judgement. It doesn’t mean that judgement is wrong, but it’s fallible. All the awesome certainty that supposedly stems from having an “infallible” magisterium is only as strong as that weakest link.

  53. May 29, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    Jeff: GREAT comments.

    Louis: Wouldn’t the Catholic just respond by saying that it is equally our fallible judgment by which we accept Jesus as divine or the Bible as inspired? I don’t see how your position helps us at all.

  54. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 29, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    Sean (#34):

    Thanks for the link. The same kind of issue arises here for Athanasius as for Basil. Let’s take a look at what A calls the tradition of the church:

    Moreover, aside from these scriptural utterances, let us also consider the tradition and teaching and faith of the Catholic Church from the beginning, that which the Lord has given, the apostles preached, and the fathers guarded. This is the foundation on which the Church is established, and the one who strays from it is not a Christian and should no longer be called so: The Trinity is holy and perfect, confessed as God in Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, having nothing foreign or extrinsic mingled with it, nor compounded of creator and created, but is wholly Creator and Maker. It is identical with itself and indivisible in nature, and its activity is one.…The Catholic Church does not think of less than these three [persons of the Trinity], lest it fall in with Sabellius and with the present-day Jews who follow Caiaphas, nor does it invent any more than these three, lest it be dragged into the polytheism of the Greeks. Let them learn that this is indeed the faith of the Church by considering [the teaching of the Lord].Letters to Serapion on the Holy Spirit, 227-228, emph. added.

    Since obviously the teachings on Mary and transubstantiation and papal infallibility are absent here, one must ask: is it legitimate to extend Athanasius’ conception of the tradition of the Church over into the modern tradition of the RC church?

    If so, then why? If not, then A must be stricken from the list of witnesses.

  55. louis said,

    May 29, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    “Wouldn’t the Catholic just respond by saying that it is equally our fallible judgment by which we accept Jesus as divine or the Bible as inspired? I don’t see how your position helps us at all.”

    Yes, that is my point. They are in the exact same position we are in.

  56. louis said,

    May 29, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    Although, to amend my remarks, I don’t think they would actually say that. They would claim greater certainty.

  57. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 29, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    Perry (#41):

    To say that the church creates the canon seems to rest on an ambiguity. Are we speaking of the formal canon or the material canon? If the former, even Protestants believe the church creates the list of books it considers to be canonical. If the latter, then no one thinks this is so.

    I was mistaken in believing that the RC position was that the material canon is created by the church. I accept Louis’ correction on this point.

    My error arose from observing how the argument “the church created the canon” is used in arguments.

    To use recognition trades on a similar ambiguity. Is it an ultimately normative recognition or a penultimately normative one? Is the formal canon revisable for Whitaker, why or why not?

    Yes, there is a similar ambiguity, but to insist on recognition at least places the argument in the right ball court. If the Catholic position is that the Church has (infallibly) recognized which books are written by the Spirit, then at least we’re talking apples and apples. So I’d much prefer “the church recognizes the canon” to “the church creates the canon.”

    I think you’re asking, is the church’s past decision subject to revision, or is it absolute and final?

    I can’t answer for Whitaker. He appears to consider the canon a settled question, and argues against the apocrypha on the grounds of their unsettled status (in the minds of such as Jerome and Augustine and others).

    As for your analytic and synthetic division, this assumes that there are such things to be had. A la Quine, it is far from clear that that distinction is coherent.

    I appreciate your point; still and all, Quine does not eliminate the analytic/synthetic distinction so much as blur it.

    A priori and a posteriori might be better candiates.

    I could go for that instead.

    As for your “green cheese” remark, given that on your view the church blew it for a good thousand years, I think that renders Protestant error on the canon far more probable than the moon’s caseus composition.

    Or EO, or RCC. The point was not that the probability is the exact same number, but rather that it is sufficiently remote so as to be a non-issue pragmatically.

    Let’s consider what we’re really talking about here. The canon consists of two parts:

    (1) An affirmation that certain books are written of the HS and are free from error.

    (2) A denial that other books are so composed.

    The set of books in the Protestant canon are affirmed by all parties to be written of the HS and free from error. The only issue, really, is the proper status of the “apocrypha.”

    So on that latter question, we might rate a larger degree of uncertainty. But on the former, the 39OT+27NT, there is no real practical doubt. A Protestant may confidently pick up his Bible without worrying whether something inside is spurious.

    And with modern translations, I would say that extends as well to textual variations. Any more, anything of doubtful authenticity is well-marked.

  58. May 29, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    Jeff Cagle #50,

    A few thing about Heisenberg. What the principle licenses is knowledge about position or velocity, but not both. It doesn’t imply that either are indeterminate. I think that is what you’d need though to make the comparison here apt.

    Given that the axioms of mathematics are products of conceptual development and selection, as Plato argued against the Pythagoreans, mathematical “certainty” is itself contingent and so, not really certain…at all. It doesn’t hang in mid air as a self sustaining thing, realism or no realism. Mathematical certainty is something of an misnomer.

    You speak of “pragmatic knowledge” but what I think you mean is knowledge regarding practical things. To my knowledge (pun!) in epistemology there is no such animal as the former. If one fulfills the conditions on knowledge with respect to seeing a zebra and not a mule, then one does so, just as they do in cases of particle physics. If you know, you know, if not, then not. Certainty as such has nothing to do with the conditions on knowledge. And if it doesn’t, then assurance doesn’t have much to do with knowledge probably either.
    Furthermore, the comparison doesn’t seem apt. Knowledge of the truths reveled by God don’t seem anywhere near in importance and import to whether my car will in fact start or not. In fact, they, the former, seem superior to questions about who I should marry or if I should or not. It is also not apt in so far as practical problems are capable of empirical demonstration and the building of representational models to show how they work and how they are in fact repeatable. Such is not so with the kinds of theological matters at hand. All of that is par for the course in reading Bahnsen or other presupps in critiquing evidentialist apologetics.

    As for the Protestant position, that may be true, but non-Protestant positions can say as much since, they don’t take the word of the church to be that of mere men.

    Since knowledge doesn’t entail or imply certainty, then its presence or lack doesn’t qualify knowledge in any intrinsic way. You write that our knowledge may be “confident enough” but knowing isn’t confident, agents are. And confidence doesn’t tell me whether one has fulfilled the conditions on knowledge or not. If I have confidence, does that meant I have justified true belief plus whatever the fourth condition happens to be or no? It doesn’t seem so either way. It is therefore irrelevant.

    As for the brain in a vat, you could be a brain in a vat, but the bible still be such and so and you still know it. Here I think you’ve crossed some wires. Skepticism doesn’t imply or claim that you are in fact a brain in a vat, but rather that it is a hypothesis that is picked out equally well by the jusstificatory inferences. And that teaches us an important lesson, namely that epistemic justification probably isn’t inferential at all but some other kind of relation than inferential.

    It maybe true that for non-Protestant views their infallible statements are not infallibly known, but given that the conditions on knowledge don’t entail or imply infallibility, I can’t see how that is relevant. Certainly, having a non-revisable formal theological set of statements seems superior in terms of normativity than having one that is practically and in principle revisable over time. Moreover, the non-Protestant view doesn’t claim that they are infallibly known, which not only would be a levels confusion, but a category mistake, since the a statement being infallible is relative to metaphysics and knowing about is the category of epistemology. The question, what is necessary for a statement to be infallible is different than what is necessary for knowing about it.

    If it is possible for a non-Protestant view to be wrong, we’d need to know on which metaphysical view of the world this possibility is grounded since possibility is a function of metaphysics. In what kind of world is logic possible for example? Consequently, it seems to me to be question begging since you’d need to presuppose some view of the world that is the non-Protestant one to open the requisite modal space to make this kind of theory neutral judgment. There isn’t any to be had. Its like asking Van Til if it is possible for God not to exist. The answer is simple, zero. And the answer is so in part since on his metaphysic, its not possible.

    I grant that the arguments in the form of, if we don’t believe X, then we loose certainty, are precluded, but this is because they are bad arguments and not because of our epistemic conditions. Transcendental reasoning in the form of A is a necessary condition for B. B is apparent, but A is not. We affirm B, and so we must affirm A also, seem more appropriate here. If protestants take the doctrines as they have reconstructed them from scripture to be more than knowing about practical things and rather about things of ultimate significance (eternity in hell is a long time after all), then it seems Protestants are going to have to be far more humble in their claims and perhaps not claim to know at all, but merely to believe and so follow Hume here. Proportion the belief to the evidence. After all, if my car doesn’t in fact start, that is a problem, but if I go to hell for heresy, that is far more substantial.
    Lastly, while it is possible for one to wrongly interpret infallible statements, the question is, relative to what paradigm do we gauge the possibility or probability of that? On a Protestant view, it seems far more likely, given the claim that they are committed to, namely that the church and even reformation bodies (Lutherans for example) have botched lots of important things for century upon century. On a non-Protestant view of things, the probabilities come out quite differently.

  59. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 29, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    Re: #57: No, I’m wrong about Quine (it’s been a while since I read him — should’ve checked my sources first). He does indeed reject the A/S distinction. What he does not reject is the possibility of logical reasoning, which is what I had in mind.

  60. May 29, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    Jeff Cagle #51

    Thanks for the reply.

    If Whitaker does think that the canon is a settled question, I can’t see how he is entitled to that position. If the judgments of the church are fallible and revisable, I can’t see why the formal canon is privileged with respect to future revision. Can you?

    As for the unsettled position, Jerome and Augustine reflect mainly western views and that’s fine, but Revelation was unsettled in the East for a long time. Why not conclude that it is non-canonical as well?

    Re: Quine, if “analytic” statements necessarily have empirical content, then the classical notion of analyticity is wrong. Hence there is no blurring but wholesale revision going on. Kant and Hume were probably right here and Descartes and Leibniz wrong.

    Well on the Orthodox or Catholic views, I don’t think the probability of error is as high since on their views the church is something fundamentally different than it is on a Protestant view. In fact, on the latter, the chance isn’t remote since according to the Protestant view, the pre-reformation church erred on lots of things, the formal canon included. If they did that in the space of 1500 years, it seems far more probable than remote that the Reformers and successors made some serious mistakes given that they are only men too.

    As for the substantial agreement, I am not convinced that the notion of inspiration is the same between models so that there is material disagreement. And further that there is not agreement on why the narrower list is to be accepted. Consequently, from my perspective, I think the “practical doubt” would or ought to be much higher on the shorter canon given Protestant principles. The question is therefore not what in practice people do doubt, but whether they should or not. Practice only tells us biographical information and as such isn’t very useful.

  61. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 29, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    What the [Heisenberg] principle licenses is knowledge about position or velocity, but not both. It doesn’t imply that either are indeterminate.

    No, that’s incorrect (sorry).

    (delta) x (delta) p >= h-bar/2

    implies that neither may be zero. So both x and p are indeterminate, with uncertainties that are inversely related to one another.

    You speak of “pragmatic knowledge” but what I think you mean is knowledge regarding practical things. To my knowledge (pun!) in epistemology there is no such animal as the former.

    I’m pretty sure that Pragmatists would demur. Though I am not a pure pragmatist, I’m willing to adopt the idea that large classes of things are known pragmatically: that we create models and test them.

    As to the rest, I’m having a hard time following. You seem to agree with me that arguments in the form “If we don’t believe X, then we lose certainty” are bad, which was my central point. It may be that we could agree to leave it there.

    But you seem to also be arguing that certainty is not a feature of knowledge, and that seems very odd. You attribute certainty to the knowing agent rather than the thing known; but if an experiment determines the concentration of lead in water to be 5+/-1 ppb, it’s unclear to me why we would attribute the uncertainty there to the individual who reads it, rather than to the measurement itself.

    So perhaps you could clarify? Or perhaps we could leave it.

    If it is possible for a non-Protestant view to be wrong, we’d need to know on which metaphysical view of the world this possibility is grounded since possibility is a function of metaphysics. In what kind of world is logic possible for example? Consequently, it seems to me to be question begging since you’d need to presuppose some view of the world that is the non-Protestant one to open the requisite modal space to make this kind of theory neutral judgment.

    What I like is that you ask the easy questions. :)

    I would rather approach it from a different position. It seems impossible to simultaneously sort out the metaphysical questions AND the truth claims of RCC and EO and Protestant positions AND determine the canon all at once, since the number of contingencies is mind-blowing (at least for me).

    Instead: could we focus on simpler arguments concerning why we should or should not accept the apocrypha as canon? I realize that’s a less foundational approach, but I can’t imagine engaging in a full-blown discussion of metaphysical views.

    AND

    In any event, one’s metaphysical views are determined, or highly shaped, by one’s view and reading of Scripture (and tradition). There is a large circularity involved. To my mind, the issues of Scripture and tradition are, to an extent, more central than issues of metaphysics.

    So: if you’re willing, why should a Protestant accept the apocrypha as Scriptural?

  62. andrew said,

    May 29, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    I would appreciate it if some of the folks here could clarify the problem. For despite being a Protestant, I have some difficulty understanding our posisition, and also the importance of it. I know this is relativle basic, but …

    i) Is it fair to say the question being disccussed is ‘how do I know what books are to be treated as inspired by God’?

    ii) I fail to see how there can be any answer other than that I recognise what the church recognises. I know the WCOF talks about the inner witness of the Spirit, but I have no idea what this is supposed to mean. Am I supposed to get certain feelings in my belly when reading a particular book? Or could the Confession be decsribing the process which leads me to recognise the canon (without being the basis of recognition)?

    iii) Why is it damaging to a Protestant to look to the church? Even if one granted her an infallible judgement in this area, that would hardly entail granting her infallible interpretation of the recognised books.

    iv) Especially for our catholic commentators – does Rome believe that her here canon was officially and ecumenically recognised prior Trent.

    v) Assuming there is no historical decision answering iv), doesn’t the Protestant canon do okay appealing to the church? After all, every branch of Christendom recognises the NT, and if it is true (I realise this is contested) that the Protestant and Jewish canons are the same, then we have the testimony of the church on our side (as long as one accepts conintuity between Old and New Testaments).

  63. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 29, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    If Whitaker does think that the canon is a settled question, I can’t see how he is entitled to that position. If the judgments of the church are fallible and revisable, I can’t see why the formal canon is privileged with respect to future revision. Can you?

    Well, let’s create a model here that approximates Whitaker’s and mine. Let’s suppose that

    (1) The Church universal is the bride of Christ, and
    (2) That God has provided His word to guide and nourish the church
    (3) That God guides the Church in the truth through the HS, but
    (4) That guidance is, because of the noetic effects of sin, not infallible in the same sense as the Word of (2).

    On this model, the judgment of the church is normative NOT because it is infallible, but because it is superior to the judgment of individuals (much as a cluster of measurements reduces random errors). The judgment of the church could of course be subject to bias error; but it is still vastly superior to individual judgment.

    Now, from Whitaker’s point of view, when Jesus says “Search the Scriptures” — W places a lot of weight on this command — He was presupposing that the Scriptures were known.

    So in order for the canon to be revised, one of the following would have to obtain:

    (1) Jesus never said it (not possible from an RC point of view)
    (2) Jesus was commanding something whose referent was incompletely known (not possible for W; theoretically possible for me),
    (3) The judgment of the early church was different from what Jesus was talking about (which W rejects on the ground that the early fathers held the apocrypha to be lesser to Scripture), or
    (4) W is misunderstanding Jesus.

    Of those four, only (3) and (4) are in contention; and W feels justified in rejecting (3) for various factors, including the judgments of the early church.

    So I would say that W is reasonably justified in considering the canon settled on this ground: if there were another canonical book, it is highly likely that it would already have surfaced.

  64. May 29, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    Jeff Cagle,

    To my understanding, there is more than one interpretation of the HP. I don’t take the one that implies indeterminacy in terms of the state of the world from it. If I am wrong here, I think my argument in the main is untouched in any case.

    You are right that pragmatists would disagree with my take, which is just to say that I am not a Pragmatist in terms of epistemology and from what I can tell, neither were the Reformers or the men who constructed Reformed confessions. I don’t think an anti-realist epistemology here helps your position in any case. If knowledge is constituted not in terms of objects but models that have an appropriate level of utility, then if Protestant position picks out reality or not will be irrelevant if it “works.” I don’t think Protestants would wish to concede as much. Consequently, I assumed a realistic epistemological position.

    When you say that large things are known pragmatically, I think you are equivocating here. Do you mean things are known that are useful or that they are known because they are useful? If the latter, which is pragmatism, then when you speak of other things known that are not useful, such as scriptural teachings, then what constitutes knowledge is another matter entirely. Hence to know means something different in different circumstances. I don’t think that is helpful at all. You need to go the whole way (one way or the other) and cut it all off.

    More to the point, Euclidean geometry is quite useful, but it is false. Two straight parallel lines in space and time can meet. Euclid is wrong since space is curved, but its quite useful. Usefulness doesn’t imply truthfulness. Consequently, “testing” doesn’t really help since scientific descriptions can be useful and still false.

    I agree the arguments you picked out as bad are bad, but I don’t think the non-Protestant positions at their best put forward those kinds of arguments, so they are not relevant, anymore than Jack Chick is relevant to Protestant arguments.

    Certainty in the sphere of epistemology is not relevant and so here I am not taking about the fixity in location of an object. I would not be certain then in the latter sense, but the object would. It would, in the older usage of the term, be “objective.” If I thought that knowledge was a two place relation like say Plato or Aristotle and that the object was produced in my mind as form, I might think that knowing produced a state of stability of soul in terms of certainty as Plato thought, but I don’t and I don’t think you do either and I know the Reformers didn’t.

    In casual usage most people speak of being certain relative to knowledge as if this confers something on belief to transmute it into knowledge. I can’t see that this is so. If I know, then I know, if not, then not and JTB + whatever the fourth condition is sans Gettier isn’t this popularly denoted psychological disposition of ‘certainty.” That is, popular talk is confused. Consequently, your lead concentration example doesn’t take into account this popular usage since there the certainty is the fixity and the ascertaining of particle location and not my knowing about it. Further, it assumes that I think that scientific demonstrations on the current or dominant scientific understanding confirm or disconfirm anything. I don’t.

    If I thought your approach was possible I would engage it, but since I reject incrementalism in science and other areas, I reject it here. Facts don’t confirm theories. It is true that we can’t sort out metaphysical questions and the others at the same time. The other questions are intrinsically connected to the metaphysics so that we can’t answer the former, without begging the question, as Van Til pointed out in other venues and I tried to point out in my previous remarks. It may be possible though to address the question of which metaphysical view of the world is right and which ones are wrong to enable us to answer to other questions. We’d need then to think about if Protestant and non-Protestant views of the world in fact differ. I think people assume that they don’t and I think they are wrong. There is no neutral ground, even though there may be common ground. It is just that someone is a squatter and requires eviction through a lesson in epistemological self consciousness. Van Til tried to do this with Calvinism I should note, so I am not pushing anything here that the Reformed in principle should object to.
    I agree that the reading of tradition and scripture help shape ones metaphysical views, but that doesn’t preclude the priority of the latter over the former. It only distinguishes the order of knowing from being and highlights their complimentary nature and more specifically tells us that the metaphysical views are not always at the level of conscious operation, but we knew this already in terms of say how an atheist reads scripture. Why is it true with the atheist, but not with anyone else?

  65. Andrew McCallum said,

    May 29, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    No I don’t see your point. You yourself admit the same, when you distinguish between de fide and non-de fide. De Fide pronouncements are infallible. Protestantism cannot make any De Fide pronouncements on anything.

    I’m of course using terminology which we don’t utilize, but we can say that we know the Scriptures to be infallible and so we can state that the pnonouncements in them are de fide. As we move from what the Scriptures say to what groups of men say about the Scriptures we can no longer say that they are infallible or of de fide.status to use the RCC terminology. Now the Catholics itersperse pronoucments by groups of men (as the RCC outlines these statements) in between the Scriptures and those statements which do not have de fide status. So at some point the Catholic theologian moves from infallible to fallible just as the Protestant theologian does. But we move from infallible to fallible at different points. Has the Catholic Church solved anything by positing this infallible tradition that interprets the infallible Scriptures? Not that we can see.

  66. Andrew McCallum said,

    May 29, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    Sorry – #65 above was meant for Tom Riello in response to his #44 and the first paragrpah is Tom’s comment.

  67. Andrew McCallum said,

    May 29, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    In #63 Andrew asks some questions:

    ) Is it fair to say the question being disccussed is ‘how do I know what books are to be treated as inspired by God’?

    Yes. There are a number of side issues which have come out of the question, but this is what was initially posed as the central question by the author.

    ii) I fail to see how there can be any answer other than that I recognise what the church recognises. I know the WCOF talks about the inner witness of the Spirit, but I have no idea what this is supposed to mean. Am I supposed to get certain feelings in my belly when reading a particular book? Or could the Confession be decsribing the process which leads me to recognise the canon (without being the basis of recognition)?

    The Confession is describing the process by which the Church came to know what books were part of the canon. We as individuals are affirming that God was working through the Church in this work.

    iii) Why is it damaging to a Protestant to look to the church? Even if one granted her an infallible judgement in this area, that would hardly entail granting her infallible interpretation of the recognised books.

    We are looking to the Church, but we are looking to the Church as an instrument that God used. The RCC wants to say that the Church defined the canon, but we see no evidence for such a claim. The Church was fallible but God was infallible and so an infallible God worked through a fallible Church to reconize the canon which we affirm today.

    iv) Especially for our catholic commentators – does Rome believe that her here canon was officially and ecumenically recognised prior Trent.

    I will let the Catholics comment here.

    v) Assuming there is no historical decision answering iv), doesn’t the Protestant canon do okay appealing to the church? After all, every branch of Christendom recognises the NT, and if it is true (I realise this is contested) that the Protestant and Jewish canons are the same, then we have the testimony of the church on our side (as long as one accepts conintuity between Old and New Testaments).

    The Protestant canon does just fine appealing to the Church. The Protocanonicals were from the fourth century universally affired as being the Word of God. However, the status of hte Apocrypha/Deuteros continued to be debated up until Trent. There were few in the Medieval Church that unequivocally affirmed their canonicity.

  68. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 29, 2010 at 6:40 pm

    Perry (#64):

    You are right that pragmatists would disagree with my take, which is just to say that I am not a Pragmatist in terms of epistemology and from what I can tell, neither were the Reformers or the men who constructed Reformed confessions.

    I definitely agree there. But that’s part of my point: metaphysical and epistemological theories may come and go, but the Scripture does not; it is more robust than a realist/anti-realist theory, or an Aristotelian or Cartesian or a Kantian theory.

    That’s why I would prefer to talk about the question, Why should a Protestant accept the apocrypha? (or, Why should the EO church reject the apocrypha?), on the understanding that we don’t have to first align our metaphysical theories to have a conversation.

    I don’t think an anti-realist epistemology here helps your position in any case. If knowledge is constituted not in terms of objects but models that have an appropriate level of utility, then if Protestant position picks out reality or not will be irrelevant if it “works.” I don’t think Protestants would wish to concede as much. Consequently, I assumed a realistic epistemological position.

    One reason that I am not a thorough-going pragmatist is the thorny question of what “works” might mean. In the end, Rorty’s position fails to answer the most pragmatic questions of all: Does God Exist? and How Do We Know Him?

    But in any event, taking a realist stance still places a burden on one to say, “Here’s my procedure for determining reality.” And that leads one to say, “There are some things I consider to be true, unless X is false” and “There are other things I consider likely to be true” and “There are other things I have no clue about.”

    That is, even a realist can reasonably construct a spectrum of certainty about her beliefs.

    So for example: You hold the canon to be the 53OT+27NT books (or additions to books). How do you know?

    Well, you have grounds (1), (2), and (3), whatever those may be.

    But those grounds, unless you have infallible knowledge of them … not claiming that, right? … are subject to some possibility of error. And so on.

    So in the end, you could, in principle, compute the probability that you are wrong:

    1 – (1-P((1)))(1-P((2)))(1-P((3)))

    and there’s your certainty or uncertainty.

    That’s independent of a realist or anti-realist view of the world.

    More to the point, Euclidean geometry is quite useful, but it is false. Two straight parallel lines in space and time can meet. Euclid is wrong since space is curved, but its quite useful. Usefulness doesn’t imply truthfulness.

    That’s a fundamental misunderstanding. Neither Euclidean nor Riemannian nor Lobachevskian geometry is “true” — they are simply axiomatic systems. Any physical situation that obeys the axioms of the particular geometry will exhibit all of the properties of that geometry.

    This is true, again, for both realist and anti-realist versions of epistemology. What is false is the claim

    P: Space-time exhibits Euclidean geometry.

    (which is probably what you had in mind, right?)

  69. Sean said,

    May 29, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    Jeff,

    Thanks for the conversation.

    When I quoted Athanasius originally I was not arguing that within Athanasius letter is contained the fullness of the Catholic faith. Thus when you say:

    Since obviously the teachings on Mary and transubstantiation and papal infallibility are absent here, one must ask: is it legitimate to extend Athanasius’ conception of the tradition of the Church over into the modern tradition of the RC church?

    I answer that I was not trying to show that Athanasius was teaching the Catholic dogmas on Mary, papal infallibility or transubstantiation in that letter.

    My point in citing him (and the others) is to demonstrate that scripture is not understood by the ECFs to be ‘formally sufficient.’ The emphasis is that the ECFs did not divorce scripture from the Church and where the Church made dogmatic pronounces about doctrine they submitted to those doctrines because those pronouncements came from the Church and not just because they agreed with them.

    Thus, Athanasius can say, “But the word of the Lord which came through the ecumenical Synod at Nicaea, abides for ever.” (To the Bishops of Africa, 2) and Augustine can say, “What the custom of the Church has always held, what this argument has failed to prove false, and what a plenary Council has confirmed, this we follow!” (On Baptism against the Donatist, 4:10).

    Concerning Schaff you quote him saying:

    It makes the two identical as to substance, while the Roman church rests upon tradition for many doctrines and usages, like the doctrines of the seven sacraments, of the mass, of purgatory, of the papacy, and of the immaculate conception, which have no foundation in Scripture.

    Clearly that those Catholic doctrines ‘have no foundation in Scripture’ is his opinion. For many fathers, these doctrines indeed have a strong foundation in Scripture.

    You then wrote:

    By contrast, the matters of tradition that separate Protestants and Catholics today are doctrines concerning Mary, and the precise meaning and mechanism of justification, and transubstantiation, and papal infallibility and dominance, and so on. These are matters that go outside of, or are barely connected to, Scripture and rest much more heavily on tradition alone; and have no clear attestation in the earliest tradition.

    We may not uncritically assume that Basil’s argument re; tradition is applicable to the current situation.

    What do you define as the ‘earliest tradition?’

    Many of the doctrines that you outlined have a much earlier and stronger attestation in the ECFs than Reformed doctrines such as justification by imputation alone and sola scriptura. I would point out for example, Athanasius calling Mary ‘Ever-Virgin’ in ‘Orations against the Arian.’

    I would also point to examples of Athanasius clearly articulating a view very similar to, if not identical to, transubstantiation here:

    “You will see the Levites bringing the loaves and a cup of wine, and placing them on the table. So long as the prayers and invocations have not yet been made, it is mere bread and a mere cup. But when the great and wonderous prayers have been recited, then the bread becomes the body and the cup the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ….When the great prayers and holy supplications are sent up, the Word descends on the bread and the cup, and it becomes His body.”

    Sermon to the Newly Baptized, PG 26, 1325

    You said:

    We notice that Basil’s definition of “tradition” is limited to those things which have a long custom of usage. This is certainly not so with papal infallibility or perpetual virginity!

    Basil had this to say about Mary:

    “The friends of Christ do not tolerate hearing that the Mother of God ever ceased to be a virgin”

    (Homily In Sanctum Christi Generationem)

    I have at least demonstrated that the perpetual virginity of Mary clearly meets Basil’s definition of tradition as he taught it explicitly.

    The other issues you raise and whether they are A) scriptural and B) attested to in tradition – is a great discussion and one I wouldn’t mind having but I think that it would be better to take one at a time.

  70. May 29, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    Jeff Cagle,

    I don’t know what 1. means or would pick out for Whitaker in terms of a historical society of people.

    As for 4, given that the biblical writers also suffered from the noetic effects of sin, that can’t be of itself a sufficient reason to that the church’s judgments can’t be infallible. In any case, it would still be the case given 1-4 that the canon is not “settled.”

    On your and W’s model the judgment of the church may be normative, but it is pen ultimately so, which is why the formal canon is not in principle settled. Further, if the judgment of the church is “vastly superior” to the judgment of individuals” I think this renders the Reformation material claims less plausible since the judgment of the church was “vastly superior” to the judgment of Luther, Zwingli and Calvin, especially given that Calvin for example was a layman all his life.

    I grant that Jesus says for his opponents to search the Scriptures. I am not sure how we get from that statement to the conclusion that they agreed on the canon or even how agreement implies truth. Even if the Jews were all agreed on the canon it doesn’t follow that Jewish tradition was correct. Even on Protestant principles or rather especially, human tradition, Jewish or Christian is not only capable of error, but prone to it. In fact it seems that what was taken as canonical varied to some degree or another and had more to do with projections of political power by Jewish rulers than by any theological criteria. In any case, I don’t think one can get from Jesus’ statement to the conclusion that W or you claim. It is perfectly possible for Jesus to chide his opponents and to tell them to search the scriptures without agreeing with them on what the limits of Scripture in fact were, let alone how to interpret them. This is especially true given the fact that all of the Scriptures are about Jesus so that searching any of them would support his claims even if his opponents left some out or included more than he thought. Furthermore, there are a number of canonical works that Jesus never cites so that if he knew them to be inspired, he gives us no reason in the Gospels to think that he did. In which case on that basis, the Protestant canon ought to be revised to an even narrower OT canon. That is just to say that the principle is insufficient.

    Now if 2 is possible, then W’s case is significantly weakened here. In any case, given the use and variety of inclusion the LXX by the early church, which included more or less works of the apocrypha, it seems plausible to explain why some fathers rejected some deuterocanonicals while accepting others. To my knowledge, there isn’t a major patristic figure who rejects them all wholesale. It is a matter of more or less. I could be mistaken, but that is how things seem to me. Furthermore, if W were correct about what Jesus meant or what was entailed by his remarks, it seems strange that the early church fairly uniformly didn’t know what Jesus and his Jewish opponents seemed to know, especially given that the Apostles and the 70 were all Jews. It seems they did a fairly good job of communicating the centrality of things like the resurrection, incarnation, baptism and the eucharist but somehow they couldn’t see fit to transmit a uniform canon.
    I can’t see how W can see the canon is settled since Jesus referring to the “Scriptures” doesn’t of itself pick out the Protestant canon and even if it did, this presupposes that the works in which that saying occurs is canonical as well. That is a product of human tradition as well. Where are the noetic effects of sin there I wonder? How can human judgment produce a settled judgment, particularly one upon which my eternal salvation may rest?

  71. May 29, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    Jeff Cagle,

    I suspect I have a different take on the coming and going of metaphysical views of the world. I think they do not come and go so much as wax and wane. There is nothing really new in the history of ideas or perhaps in a very few exceptions. Further, “robust” is something of a philosophical fudge word. I don’t know what you mean by that. Do you? I know what it means to say that Realism is more metaphysically “robust” than say anti-Realism, namely in a Quinean sense of jungles and deserts. The former commits you to more entities where as the latter commits you to a larger language or descriptive apparatus. One trades metaphysical exuberance for linguistic extravagance and vice versa.

    In any case, it doesn’t follow that the doctrines of Scripture do not entail specific metaphysical claims and hence they do not float free of metaphysical commitments, ones that I take to be incompatible to Pragmatism. If you don’t, I suppose that is something that we can argue about.

    If you wish to talk about why should a Protestant accept the apocrypha apart from metaphysical commitments, then why bring up pragmatism at all, since pragmatism implies a specific metaphysical view too? I think this just makes my point that your position entails and turns on a metaphysic.

    Second, my question is not why a Protestant should accept the apocrypha, but why they should accept Ruth? I can’t see a principled difference between say Sirach and Ruth on Protestant principles.

    If you are not a thorough going pragmatist, I am not sure what your partial endorsement of pragmatism entails, given that the idea is that what is “true” are models that are useful to our purposes? If Rorty or Peirce’s pragmatism fails to answer the most pragmatic question, then doesn’t this undermine pragmatism in totality?

    What is likely or not is a function of one’s metaphysical outlook. In any case, as I noted previously, I take certainty to be irrelevant to questions relevant to the conditions on knowledge. Can you cash out for me where exactly in terms of conditions on knowledge you take certainty of the agent to play a role? JTB + C? Do I have to be certain to know?

    You ask how I know that the Orthodox canon is correct. I can answer that, but I thought the discussion was Whitaker and perhaps yourself in terms of knowing and giving a normative judgment that could close the canon and not Orthodox theology per se. Even if I don’t know, it doesn’t follow that Whitaker’s account holds water.

    My judgment with respect to knowing X is fallible. That is true. But my judgments, contra pragmatism, that X is such and so, are irrelevant for X being what it is. (This can’t come up on pragmatic grounds.) Consequently, even if my judgment about the Orthodox church is revisable, it doesn’t follow that the church’s judgment on the canon is revisable. This is so since revisability and error don’t imply that my first judgment for it being so is necessarily false. Its like conflating evolution with progress. My judgment may change, but not always for the better or rather the true. The same is true for semper reformada. If the church more or less included works that were uninspired, I can’t see why Protestants couldn’t just as easily have excluded some books that were or included some books that weren’t. They did all that Reforming in those conditions and didn’t make a major theological error? Where again are the noetic effects of sin? Greater minds than theirs made some doozies. For myself, I don’t find, having read Whitaker and Goode’s works, among others, their arguments for the criteria of canonicity to capture either the necessary or sufficient conditions for canonicity. If you do, pick them out for me please.

    Computing the probability of my error will turn in part on what constitutes probability and what kind of world I live in. Do I live in a world where the Calvinst view of Original Sin is correct or one in which the Orthodox view is? Probability doesn’t float free of the nature of the world. Further, computing the probability either way won’t tell me if I have fulfilled the conditions on knowledge or not. Make the probable outcome as grim as you like and that won’t tell me if I in fact know or have made an error. So I can’t see how this is relevant. As I said, certainty, spectrum or not is not relevant to the conditions on knowledge. I mean, do you really think say Gettier counter examples turn in any sense on certainty or the lack thereof? How about the New Evil Demon problem?

    I am not sure how we move form axiomatic systems to their lack of truth value. Up till Kant or so it was thought that Euclidean geometry picked out the nature of the world. Modern physics (a long with other advances in Mathematics) has shown that this is false. If Euclid were right, modern physics would be wrong. The same goes for Newtonian physics, which was falsified by Relativity theory. Newton was wrong about the fundamental nature of the physical world-the mass of an object is relative to its velocity. So even while Newtonian physics “works” with large objects and is useful, strictly speaking, its false. Things don’t work for those reasons.

    As for obedience, acting consistently with, doesn’t amount to obedience. Secondly, two parallel straight lines in space can meet. Can they in Euclidean geometry? Inversely, the same goes for a two sided enclosed plain figure. That is, your statement was a conditional and only good for those statements that fulfill the antecedent and not for those that don’t.

  72. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 29, 2010 at 9:54 pm

    Sean (#69):

    My point in citing him (and the others) is to demonstrate that scripture is not understood by the ECFs to be ‘formally sufficient.’

    OK, but I don’t see how Athanasius helps your case. A. affirms that the doctrine of the Trinity is part of the tradition of the church, which no-one can deny and be a Christian.

    A denial of formal sufficiency would have to take the form

    (1) The following doctrine is true, but
    (2) It is only taught implicitly in Scripture and
    (3) It therefore requires the church to interpret Scripture to understand it.

    This is miles away from what either Athanasius or Basil is saying.

    Both, by contrast, are affirming that the doctrine of the Trinity is clearly taught in Scripture AND additionally is taught in the tradition.

    Meanwhile, the doctrine of perpetual virginity has a clear source: the protoevangelium of James. To paraphrase Irenaeus, if it were part of the tradition of the church, it would have been written down by the apostles, instead of having all of this misleading talk about brothers and “no relations until he took her as wife.”

    Here is Irenaeus:

    When, however, they are confuted from the Scriptures, they turn round and accuse these same Scriptures, as if they were not correct, nor of authority, and that they are ambiguous, and that the truth cannot be extracted from them by those who are ignorant of tradition. — Adv. Her. 3.2.1

    It is within the power of all, therefore, in every Church, who may wish to see the truth, to contemplate clearly the tradition of the apostles manifested throughout the whole world; and we are in a position to reckon up those who were by the apostles instituted bishops in the Churches, and the succession of these men to our own times; those who neither taught nor knew of anything like what these rave about. For if the apostles had known hidden mysteries, which they were in the habit of imparting to “the perfect” apart and privily from the rest, they would have delivered them especially to those to whom they were also committing the Churches themselves. For they were desirous that these men should be very perfect and blameless in all things, whom also they were leaving behind as their successors, delivering up their own place of government to these men; which men, if they discharged their functions honestly, would be a great boon [to the Church], but if they should fall away, the direst calamity. — Adv. Her. 3.3.1

    Irenaeus is no friend to extra-Scriptural tradition (as opposed to co-Scriptural tradition).

    So we have to ask a simple question: if it is necessary to believe in PV to be saved, why didn’t Paul say so? Why isn’t it in the Gospels? Nothing about it at all in Scriptures.

    There is a huge gaping difference between “The Scriptures teach the Trinity, and the tradition confirms this” and “The Scriptures say nothing of perpetual virginity, but it shows up suddenly in the tradition a hundred years later in a document of spurious authorship; nevertheless because the church accepts it as a tradition, it must be true and a matter of salvation.”

    All of it rests on the tenuous notion that everything that goes by the name of “tradition” is necessarily the apostolic tradition. That presupposes that the church cannot err in identifying genuine tradition. How would one know this? It isn’t in the Scripture. History doesn’t verify that the church has a spotless track record in identifying genuine apostolic tradition.

    There seems no reason to believe it at all.

    What I’m suggesting is that the RCC has erred not merely in the understanding of Scripture, but in the understanding of the role of tradition in the Fathers. It has illegitimately extended the notion of tradition to include later beliefs without genuine pedigree, which have paper-thin or non-existent support in Scripture.

    You said that the church fathers found plenty of support in Scripture for PV, but here’s the current state of the question: link. No Scriptural support at all; merely arguments against the Protestant reading. The same is true going back to Jerome, whose arguments against Helvidius consist entirely of trying to show that “know” doesn’t always mean “know” and “until” doesn’t always mean “until” — in other words, no positive support at all. His core argument is that sexual intercourse is defilement:

    You [Helvidius] have set on fire the temple of the Lord’s body, you have defiled the sanctuary of the Holy Spirit from which you are determined to make a team of four brethren and a heap of sisters come forth.

    That would simply be a normal matter of disagreement, except for the small fact that the RCC insists on dogmatizing these kinds of traditions.

    The situation is even worse with papal infallibility, so much so that the EO church rejects infallibility as a legitimate part of the tradition.

    If the RCC stayed with the early church fathers in defining salvation in terms of Christology and faith, we would have little to disagree about; instead, it raises its own traditions of men to an equal level with Scripture.

  73. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 29, 2010 at 10:28 pm

    Perry (#70-71):

    Thanks for the interactions. There may be so many different points of engagement that it would be impossible to satisfy them all.

    First, I am definitely not a thorough-going pragmatist. In my view, truth is seeing things the way God sees them. On the one hand, this a realist view — there is a true, genuine, reality to which our thoughts do or do not correspond. On the other, this entails a strong strand methodological pragmatism: absent direct revelation, our knowledge of reality is arrived at by means of models, reasoning, and experimentation. We do not elevate our own discovered knowledge to the level of absolute truth, lest we mistakenly grant omniscience to ourselves.

    Unlike Quine, I hold this to be a proper method because of our creation imago dei. Unlike Rorty, I do not view our method to be the creation of reality, but its apprehension. Unlike Kant, I do not believe that the noumenal realm minds its own business, but has intruded in the form of the Scriptures and the Word made flesh.

    So much for me. What about you?

    As far as Whitaker goes, I think his argument would be that the canon is really the intersection of those sets of books deemed canonical by the church at large. That was the point about the universal church: we should look to the commonly accepted books as canonical.

    I do have to ask, “What’s the prize?” In Whitaker’s case, his central question is, “What does it mean to search the Scriptures?” So he wishes to identify those works which should be searched.

    You certainly don’t deny that Whitaker’s list consists entirely of works that should be searched.

    So in your view, what additional is gained by including the Apocrypha? For example, what doctrines of the EO church rely for their support on passages found in Bel and the Dragon?

    The point I was making about geometries is this: When Euclid devised his geometry, he (erroneously) believed he was accurately describing the world. He was incorrect; but that does not make his geometry false. It simply makes it not applicable to space-time.

    In situations that do obey Euclidean axioms — for example, in computer games — the parallel postulate really does hold.

    An axiomatic system is neither true nor false; it is simply applicable or inapplicable to a given situation in which the axioms of the system are true or false.

    And in fact, Riemannian geometry is not perfectly applicable to space-time either. In RG, each dimension is infinitely subdividable; in the “real world”, we cannot infinitely subdivide x, y, and z. So there we go again: imperfect models.

  74. Sean said,

    May 29, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    Jeff.

    Essentially you are insisting that certain Catholic doctrines have no foundation in scripture and therefore cannot be ‘tradition.’

    I disagree about PV and scripture. Scripture typologically identifies Mary as the Ark of the new covenant. The scriptural case for that is very strong. Hence the early witness in the fathers to Mary being the ‘ark.’ The Ark was set aside as a holy vessel. No man could touch it. If Mary is the ‘ark’ what man could touch her?

    Your not accepting the scriptural basis does not mean that one does not exist.

    You said:

    A denial of formal sufficiency would have to take the form

    (1) The following doctrine is true, but
    (2) It is only taught implicitly in Scripture and
    (3) It therefore requires the church to interpret Scripture to understand it.

    I don’t believe that all doctrines are only taught implicitly in Scripture.

    I also ask you to prove that the ECFs believed that scripture is ‘formally sufficient.’ To do this you would need to demonstrate that the ECFs believed that scripture was so clear that no authority (church) is needed to interpret it.

    You said:

    Both, by contrast, are affirming that the doctrine of the Trinity is clearly taught in Scripture AND additionally is taught in the tradition.

    And we believe that all the doctrines you have issue with are taught in Scripture AND additionally in tradition.

    You have quoted church fathers in support of your view and I’ve shown that those same church fathers held to some of the particular Catholic beliefs that you say are not scriptural nor traditional. Why did they hold those views? Why did Athanasius and Basil and Jerome believe in the PV? Did they forget about scripture?

    In your Irenaeus quote he is talking about heretics who have no authority.

    Irenaeus also says in the same work,

    “Those, therefore, who desert the preaching of the Church, call in question the knowledge of the holy presbyters, not taking into consideration of how much greater consequence is a religious man, even in a private station, than a blasphemous and impudent sophist. Now, such are all the heretics, and those who imagine that they have hit upon something more beyond the truth, so that by following those things already mentioned, proceeding on their way variously, in harmoniously, and foolishly, not keeping always to the same opinions with regard to the same things, as blind men are led by the blind, they shall deservedly fall into the ditch of ignorance lying in their path, ever seeking and never finding out the truth. It behooves us, therefore, to avoid their doctrines, and to take careful heed lest we suffer any injury from them; but to flee to the Church, and be brought up in her bosom, and be nourished with the Lord’s Scriptures.”

    Against Heresies

    On the one side there are heretics who have not the succession of the apostles and thus no authority. On the other hand, there is the Church that Christ founded.

    To demonstrate that Irenaeus taught that scripture is formally sufficient you would need to demonstrate that Irenaeus taught that the Church is not necessary to define doctrine.

    You speak of co-scriptural tradition? Do you only follow doctrines that you believe are scriptural AND attested to in tradition? If so, can you demonstrate that the denial of baptismal regeneration is co-scriptural tradition?

    In order to do so you need to demonstrate that tradition denies that baptism is regenerational.

    You see, you say that the PV is not scriptural. I say it is. I’ve proven that it is traditional (using the same ECFs you cited). Thus, PV is co-scriptural and not ‘extra-scriptural.’

    So we have to ask a simple question: if it is necessary to believe in PV to be saved, why didn’t Paul say so? Why isn’t it in the Gospels? Nothing about it at all in Scriptures.

    This presupposes ‘sola scriptura.’

    That presupposes that the church cannot err in identifying genuine tradition. How would one know this?

    By faith and belief that the Holy Spirit will not (and never has) abandoned the Church.

    It isn’t in the Scripture.

    It is in scripture that Christ founded His Church and promised that the gates of hell will never prevail against it. Paul calls this church the ‘pillar and foundation of truth.’

    History doesn’t verify that the church has a spotless track record in identifying genuine apostolic tradition.

    How do you know that? Name the doctrines that the Catholic Church has gotten wrong in its identifying them as apostolic tradition.

    The situation is even worse with papal infallibility, so much so that the EO church rejects infallibility as a legitimate part of the tradition.

    Why aren’t you EO if you believe that they are right about apostolic tradition?

  75. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 30, 2010 at 7:16 pm

    Sean (#74):

    There’s a lot here, so bear with me if I don’t hit the main points.

    Essentially you are insisting that certain Catholic doctrines have no foundation in scripture and therefore cannot be ‘tradition.’

    Yes, that’s essentially it. To be precise, I am saying that certain Catholic doctrines are not clearly attested in Scripture and are therefore NOT part of the “tradition” of which Irenaeus, Athanasius, and the rest are speaking.

    That is to say, I am claiming that genuine tradition has the following marks:

    (1) A clear pedigree in the church fathers, and
    (2) Is a restatement of clear teaching of Scripture.

    That is to say that “tradition” in the early fathers was *always* intended to be co-Scriptural, confirming that the genuine interpretation had been reached. It was never intended to be extra-Scriptural, making normative a teaching that is outside of the Scriptures.

    Here are some doctrines that do not meet these criteria, in my view:

    * The perpetual virginity, immaculate conception, sinlessness, and assumption of Mary.
    * The infallibility of ex-cathedra papal pronouncements AND the status of pope as head of the church.
    * The practice of granting indulgences (and indeed, the doctrine of purgatory at its root).
    * Transubstantiation.

    To be clear on the stakes: I don’t ask you to defend all of these here, as that would clearly be too much. At the same time, each of these doctrines is an obstacle to me in accepting the idea of infallible magisterial authority, since failure on any one point would puncture infallibility.

    So that’s where I am.

    JRC: A denial of formal sufficiency would have to take the form

    (1) The following doctrine is true, but
    (2) It is only taught implicitly in Scripture and
    (3) It therefore requires the church to interpret Scripture to understand it.

    Sean: I don’t believe that all doctrines are only taught implicitly in Scripture.

    Yes, I realize that. I don’t believe for an instant that the RCC teaches that *all* doctrines are implicit; merely that *some* are implicit. Fortunately for you, you need only produce *one* doctrine that fits that form in order to establish that Ath. (or anyone else) denied formal sufficiency. But here, he does not.

    Sean: I also ask you to prove that the ECFs believed that scripture is ‘formally sufficient.’ To do this you would need to demonstrate that the ECFs believed that scripture was so clear that no authority (church) is needed to interpret it.

    I’m not sure I’ll take up your challenge. Not be a professional “Protestant apologist”, I have doubts about the categories of “formal and material sufficiency.” It seems to me that those two buckets don’t capture all possible views, and in particular are anachronistic when applied to the fathers.

    I don’t claim that Scripture contains all information necessary to interpret itself in every particular, which is my understanding of “formal sufficiency.” That’s not the Protestant doctrine of perspecuity.

    Rather, I claim that (1) Scripture is clear enough *on salvation* that all that is needed for salvation can be read by ordinary means, and (2) the proper method of interpreting Scripture is appeal to clearer passages.

    I believe that (1) and (2) properly describes the method of the fathers, and that papal infallibility does not.

    So I don’t know what label you would apply to this view — how about “perspicuity”? — but I’m happy to attempt to demonstrate that the fathers treated Scripture as perspicuous on matters of salvific import.

  76. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 30, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    Sean (#74):

    Do you only follow doctrines that you believe are scriptural AND attested to in tradition?

    No, the criterion is “good and necessary inference.” The presence of affirmation in the tradition functions as confirming evidence that the reasoning is sound.

    JRC: So we have to ask a simple question: if it is necessary to believe in PV to be saved, why didn’t Paul say so? Why isn’t it in the Gospels? Nothing about it at all in Scriptures.

    Sean: This presupposes ‘sola scriptura.’

    Rather, it presupposes that tradition should be co-Scriptural and not extra-Scriptural. Additionally, I do believe in sola scriptura, but weaker assumptions will suffice here.

    JRC: That presupposes that the church cannot err in identifying genuine tradition. How would one know this?

    Sean: By faith and belief that the Holy Spirit will not (and never has) abandoned the Church.

    Additional assumptions are needed here. You have, so far

    (1) The HS has not abandoned the church, so
    (2) ????
    (3) The church cannot err in identifying tradition.

    How do you get from there to here?

    It is in scripture that Christ founded His Church and promised that the gates of hell will never prevail against it. Paul calls this church the ‘pillar and foundation of truth.’

    I agree with both of these. The problem, I fear, is that you read more out of both of these statements than I do. The church might well be tossed about by winds of doctrine, and troubled by false teachers, and lose its way for a time; and yet be victorious in the end. Christ’s guarantee of winning the war is not a guarantee of winning every battle, or of never losing her way.

    Likewise, just because God has established the church as the “pillar and foundation of the truth”, does not mean that the church will always function properly in her job.

    To put my dearest card on the table: I’m not troubled so much by the fact that the RC church and I disagree. I can be wrong, for one thing; and doctrinal differences do not diminish Jesus himself, for another. Being wrong can be a part of God’s providence in sanctifying us.

    Instead, I am troubled by the contra-Scriptural approach to authority taken by the RC church.

    Jesus gave a method for identifying false teachers: by their fruits you shall know them.

    John gave an additional method: anyone who confesses that Jesus is God come in the flesh is of God.

    The Bereans were praised for testing Paul’s teaching against the Scriptures.

    Paul teaches about the functioning of genuine authority: kind, patient, holding to sound doctrine, and so on.

    By contrast, Rome identifies authority in this way: whoever has received the sacramental gift is the authority, regardless of behavior or doctrine. None of those tests above is considered valid; in fact, testing doctrine against Scripture is scorned: “The heretics appeal to the Scriptures!”

    Jesus and Paul defined faith in this way: Believing in Jesus. Rome defines faith in this way: believing all of the teachings of the church.

    In my mind’s eye, I picture an older brother driving the car, with the younger siblings in the back seat saying, “You made a wrong turn 500 years ago. Check the GPS.” And the response is, “I’m the father and if you don’t like the way I’m driving, you’re out of the car.”

    Rome’s approach to authority has strayed far, far away from Christocentric, servant leadership and into Magisterio-centric, demanding and commanding leadership, and usurping the titles of “head of the church” and “Father” for the pope, instead of reserving them for Christ and God the Father, as Paul and Jesus taught.

    It is an abusive approach to authority. Rome anathematizes anyone who rejects the authority of Rome.

    I must admit, the last century has shown great improvement (IMO) in the approach to papal authority. But in general, the popes have, since at least the 9th century, jockeyed for power and demanded belief and obedience from the church.

    Jesus warned us to look out for this and to consider such to be false teachers. I believe him.

    Luther was an overspoken man at times, and his portrayal of Leo X as antichrist was over the top. Still and all, in the fundamental point he was correct: Leo as “representative of Christ on earth” was acting exactly the opposite of Christ.

    To my mind, even if a “sacramental chain” exists, the existence of even one false pope breaks that chain. There’s no argument that can be advanced for an unbroken chain — except this one:

    (1) The HS won’t let the church fail
    (2) ????
    (3) So the chain remains unbroken.

    Of all of my objections to Roman Catholicism, this one is the core: RC “authority” is prima facie NOT Biblical authority.

    Thanks for listening to the sharp criticism.

  77. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 30, 2010 at 8:43 pm

    Sean: I disagree about PV and scripture. Scripture typologically identifies Mary as the Ark of the new covenant. The scriptural case for that is very strong.

    Are you making an argument consistent with the Tradition of the Church, which includes Aquinas Summa Theologica, in which he clearly states that only the literal sense is valid for argumentation?

    Thus in Holy Writ no confusion results, for all the senses are founded on one — the literal — from which alone can any argument be drawn, and not from those intended in allegory, as Augustine says (Epis. 48). Nevertheless, nothing of Holy Scripture perishes on account of this, since nothing necessary to faith is contained under the spiritual sense which is not elsewhere put forward by the Scripture in its literal sense. ST 1.1.10

    I don’t think I should be accepting an argument from typology as representative of tradition, do you?

  78. D. T. King said,

    May 30, 2010 at 8:51 pm

    I would like to respond to more of these assertions, but for now just a quick note on Basil and the PV of Mary. The difference between Basil’s view of the PV and that of Rome’s is that, while Basil did affirm it as a pious belief, he refused to elevate it to the realm of dogma as Rome has. In fact, he denied its necessity as a dogmatic tenet of faith.

    Basil of Caesarea (Ad 329-379): For “he did not know her” —it says—“until she gave birth to a Son, her firstborn (Mt 1:25). But this could make one suppose that Mary, after having offered in all purity her own service in giving birth to the Lord, by virtue of the intervention of the Holy Spirit, did not subsequently refrain from normal conjugal relations.
    That would not have affected the teaching of our religion at all, because Mary’s virginity was necessary until the service of the Incarnation, and what happened afterward need not be investigated in order to affect the doctrine of the mystery.
    But since lovers of Christ do not allow themselves to hear that the Mother of God ceased at a given moment to be a virgin, we consider their testimony to be sufficient. For translation, see Luigi Gambero, Mary and the Fathers of the Church: The Blessed Virgin Mary in Patristic Thought, Thomas Buffer, translator, (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1999), p. 146.
    Greek Text: «Οὐκ ἐγίνωσκε γὰρ αὐτὴν, φησὶν, ἕως οὗ ἔτεκε τὸν υἱὸν αὑτῆς τὸν πρωτότοκον.» Τοῦτο δὲ ἤδη ὑπόνοιαν παρέχει, ὅτι μετὰ τὸ καθαρῶς ὑπηρετήσασθαι τῇ γεννήσει τοῦ Κυρίου τῇ ἐπιτελεσθείσῃ διὰ τοῦ Πνεύματος τοῦ ἁγίου, τὰ νενομισμένα τοῦ γάμου ἔργα μὴ ἀπαρνησαμένης τῆς Μαρίας. Ἡμεῖς δὲ, εἰ καὶ μηδὲν τῷ τῆς εὐσεβείας παραλυμαίνεται λόγῳ (μέχρι γὰρ τῆς κατὰ τὴν οἰκονομίαν ὑπηρεσίας ἀναγκαία ἡ παρθενία, τὸ δʼ ἐφεξῆς ἀπολυπραγμόνητον τῷ λόγῳ τοῦ μυστηρίου), ὅμως διὰ τὸ μὴ καταδέχεσθαι τῶν φιλοχρίστων τὴν ἀκοὴν, ὅτι ποτὲ ἐπαύσατο εἶναι παρθένος ἡ Θεοτόκος, ἐκείνας ἡγούμεθα τὰς μαρτυρίας αὐτάρ κεις. Homilia in sanctam Christi generationem, §5, PG 31:1468.

    Roman Mariologist Juniper Carol makes the same observation regarding Basil…

    Juniper B. Carol, O.F.M.: “The author [Basil] also focuses his attention on the possibility of conjugal relations between Mary and St. Joseph after the birth of Christ; he rejects this possibility, but not by appealing to dogmatic belief; he has no consciousness of any obligation from this angle, and even generously admits that there is no such obligation; faith, he candidly admits, demands only that we believe in the permanence of Mary’s virginity up to (and including) the incarnation; after the virginal conception there is no obligation imposed by faith.” See Juniper B. Carol, O.F.M., ed., Mariology (Milwaukee: Bruce, 1955), Vol. 2, pp. 276-277.

    Carol goes on to state of Basil’s position: “For, it is evident from this discourse that in a region of the Greek world, apparently Asia Minor, an important Churchman, without any doubt the Archbishop of Caesarea, St. Basil, did not hold the perpetual virginity of Mary as a dogmatic truth, nor did his metropolitan Churches. Juniper B. Carol, O.F.M., ed., Mariology (Milwaukee: Bruce, 1955), Vol. 2, p. 277.

  79. John said,

    May 31, 2010 at 5:54 am

    Here we go again with misrepresenting the fathers. This time Augustine is the victim being represented as if he is some kind of sola scripture proponent, when anyone who knows better knows he isn’t.

  80. Sean said,

    May 31, 2010 at 8:48 am

    Jeff,

    Fair enough: that you don’t believe Catholic doctrines are biblical. But that is an entirely different question to whether the ECFs taught that scripture was ‘formally sufficient’ in the Reformed sense. It was to this question in particular that Jason originally commented on in # 3 and I expounded on in # 6.

    DT King,

    It very well might be the case, and it is in the case of Basil, that the PV was not immediately understood as dogma but this does not preclude the doctrine from being understood as a dogma of the church at a later date. The hypostatic union, for example, was thought by many ECFs not to be ‘dogmatic’ until it was defined as such. Many doctrines were not universally known to be dogmatic in their nascent form.

  81. May 31, 2010 at 10:36 am

    Jeff Cagle,

    You are quite right that there are number of points of engagement. Since concepts are intrinsically connected, usually a well thought out conversation leads to all kinds of different matters.

    In answer to your philosophical query, in summary form, I am a realist and endorse a version of the correspondence theory of truth as say argued for by people like Richard Fumerton. I agree with say Locke that we do not know the essence of things, but disagree that what we know are nominal essences. So while knowledge may be a three place relation, I reject the Ockhamistic move of rejecting an intelligible species. I just think intelligible species are something different than what Ockham or his realistic opponents thought they were. That said, I do not think that science tells us the way the world is apart from a model. That is, I reject theoretical incrementalism and rather think that theories are underdetermined by facts.

    I suppose I disagree with you regarding Kant since I take Kant to be more Humean than what is the popular mythology regarding his views. For Kant, the categories and intuitions are not “hard wired” psychological dispositions but rather achievements we’ve made over time. The noumenal is not so much a thing, but an undetermined experience or appearance, one that isn’t brought under any of the rules of understanding. It is amorphous or indeterminate. It is a mistake I think to take Kant as reifying the noumenal. Of course, I reject Kant’s views since they presuppose a Nestorian Christology, which is why much the subsequent biblical interpretative methodologies and Christologies (from “above” and “below”) are also implicitly Nestorian.

    In any case, my point was that investigating the other issues can’t be done without presupposing a specific metaphysical backdrop and I think your quasi reliance on pragmatism and such establishes the point. Your specific reconstructive view of human knowledge is more nominalistic and mine is more realistic or so it seems to me. In any case, there isn’t any neutral common ground to discuss any of the issues, no matter how small or large.

    As for Whitaker, I don’t know what he means or could coherently mean by “the church at large.” Where is, historically speaking, the “church at large?” Where are its judgments made known? The same could be said with respect to the “universal church.” Given that even on a Calvinistic ecclesiology and soteriology the membership in the Reformed churches is not co-extensive with the elect and that the judgment of the elect in recognizing inspired works isn’t infallible itself, even if we then limited the “universal church” to the Reformed I am not sure how we could come up with the Protestant canon on that ground.

    More to the point, “commonly accepted books” will be far narrower than I think the Protestant canon. Some early canonical lists leave out some Pauline works and certainly Hebrews and Petrine works and Revelation. Some of those include parts of the apocrypha in the OT for example, but not all of it. What is “commonly accepted” seems to be fluid over time. So unless he has a reason to select this judgment at that period over this other one, I am still not clear on how either he has an adequate basis for canonical inclusion or how he can take the canon as settled. How do we get from, commonly accepted by the “universal church” to a correct collection of all and only inspired works? How is common acceptance either necessary or sufficient?

    As for the “prize” I would think that would be the questions under discussion regarding Whitaker’s views on canonicity in terms of either being true or false and by extension those of the Reformed, in so far as he represents the Reformed position.

    I do not deny on my principles that Whitaker’s list consists entirely of works that should be searched, but that just indicates that I think I know on my own principles that said works are inspired and canonical. It doesn’t imply that Whitaker is licensed to think that they are, which is what is under discussion. It is akin to my agreement with my atheist neighbor that murder is wrong, we just disagree on why it is so and what constitutes murder. Him asking me how I know it is so is not germane to his previous claim to know that it is so.

    As for your query about Bel and the Dragon, I don’t think that what appears to be the implicit principle here is helpful to your case. The principle seems to be for canonical inclusion that an inspired work has to amount to some theological gain in doctrine. In which case, your own canon will be smaller that it is. If the theological content of works is redundant, then we can exclude it. Of course, then we’d need a meta-criteria to know which work we should pick first. Which do we accept first, 1st and 2nd Kings or 1st and 2nd Chronicles? More to the point, what doctrines does the Reformed church rely on for their support out of say Ruth? The Song of Songs? 3rd John? Does the deity of Christ (or any other doctrine) rest exclusively on the book of Revelation? So I don’t see how we get from the idea that the Fathers don’t rely on a given book for doctrines that said work isn’t inspired. Use as inspired may imply in part that a said work is inspired, but non-use doesn’t imply non-inspiration either or so it seems to me. I think a more apt question would be if they use it in the Divine Liturgy.

    More positively, there is significant material for various doctrines across the apocrypha, doctrines like the resurrection of the flesh, the value of martyrdom, messianic prophecies, the creation of humanity, creation ex nihilo, invocation of the saints, veneration of relics and such.
    As for geometries, I think your view that say Euclidean geometry can’t be false is the product of a later view of what constitutes mathematics that was in reaction to its falsification as it was originally and for centuries propounded. So it is true that on a more formalistic view, such systems don’t map reality, but that is an advance over what they were constructed to do.
    As I noted that obedience isn’t an apt term. In the cases you mention, computer games, there is no obedience in a prescriptive sense, but mere consistency. More to the point, even if you were correct here, the axioms won’t tell us if they are true or not. Hence as I noted the contingency, contra Pythagoras, of Mathematics.

  82. D. T. King said,

    May 31, 2010 at 10:54 am

    It very well might be the case, and it is in the case of Basil, that the PV was not immediately understood as dogma but this does not preclude the doctrine from being understood as a dogma of the church at a later date. The hypostatic union, for example, was thought by many ECFs not to be ‘dogmatic’ until it was defined as such. Many doctrines were not universally known to be dogmatic in their nascent form.

    The two examples are not analogous. There has been no meaningful development with respect to the PV beyond its “nascent” form. Moreover, one can be utterly ignorant of the term “hypostatic union” (as many professing Christians are today) and still understand that Christ was both fully God and fully man in one person.

    But here is Basil stating explicitly that what happened after the incarnation, concerning Mary’s virginity, does not affect the mystery of the incarnation, “That would not have affected the teaching of our religion at all.”

  83. Sean said,

    May 31, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    Jeff.

    # 77.

    This thread was pointed out to me by somebody today which responds to your #77. Thomas Aquinas actually typologically identified Mary as the Ark as well.

  84. steve hays said,

    May 31, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    THAT WAS THEN:

    Perry Robinson said,
    June 30, 2008 at 11:03 am

    And I wouldn’t think that a theory of inspiration would turn on a specific theory of truth like correspondence theory. I don’t see why a deflationary account wouldn’t do just as well.

    http://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2008/06/25/a-word-from-dr-richard-b-gaffin-jr/#comment-52384

    Perry Robinson said,
    July 2, 2008 at 8:26 pm

    Prophetic statements can be true without correspondence. I don’t see any reason why they can’t be seen as true on deflationary accounts. Truth is the way things are, but it isn’t at all obvious that “the way things are” entails a congruence relation or correlation between two entities… I can agree that the historical events are the way Paul’s statements say they are, but that doesn’t necessarily imply a Correspondence Theory of truth and some “matching” relation.

    http://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2008/06/25/a-word-from-dr-richard-b-gaffin-jr/#comment-52512

    THIS IS NOW:

    Perry Robinson said,
    May 31, 2010 at 10:36 am

    In answer to your philosophical query, in summary form, I am a realist and endorse a version of the correspondence theory of truth as say argued for by people like Richard Fumerton.

    http://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2010/05/26/whitaker-on-the-canon-part-1/#comment-74956

  85. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 31, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    Sean: The PV was not immediately understood as dogma but this does not preclude the doctrine from being understood as a dogma of the church at a later date.

    Actually, it places the dogma of the church in an interesting position. One of the following must be false:

    (1) The dogma of the church has remained faithful to the tradition passed down from the apostles without modifying its substance.

    (2) Basil believed that PV was not a part of the dogma of the church.

    (3) One must believe the dogma of the church to be a part of the church.

    (4) Basil was a part of the church.

    For either the dogma has changed the tradition of the apostles, or else Basil disbelieved some part of that tradition. For clearly he did not believe that PV was dogmatic. Was he a schismatic?

    The underlying point here is that there is a tendency to give the early fathers a “pass” on their doctrine on the grounds that the tradition was not yet developed and made precise. But this ground undermines the case that the current dogma is nothing more than apostolic tradition. Either dogma has gone beyond the tradition (and therefore cannot claim “tradition” for its epistemological ground); or else the early fathers did not recognize parts of the tradition as dogma.

    The situation is far worse with Tertullian, who denied PV altogether in Contra Marcion, a work accepted by the RCC. Basil merely denied the dogmatic status of PV; Tertullian denied the doctrine altogether.

  86. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 31, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    Sean (#83):

    Interesting point. I agree with your poster that Aquinas sees in Ps. 131.8 as a reference to Mary.

    Still and all: what are we to make of this? It is equally clear that Aquinas rejects arguments from pure allegory.

    So it might be the case that Aquinas is here inconsistent. Or, that Aquinas somehow sees Ps. 131.8 as typifying something taught in a more literal sense elsewhere.

    How do you put the two together?

  87. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 31, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    That would be Ps. 132.8 in the English versions.

  88. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 31, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    Sean (#83, 85):

    What do you make of the fact that Thomas does not appeal to the “ark” typology in his discussion of PV?

    Is it possible that (a) Aquinas believed in the ark typology, but (b) did not appeal to as an argument?

  89. Sean said,

    May 31, 2010 at 6:29 pm

    Jeff.

    The underlying point here is that there is a tendency to give the early fathers a “pass” on their doctrine on the grounds that the tradition was not yet developed and made precise.

    In a very real sense (and obvious historical sense) one can accept a doctrine and not believe it is dogma especially before it is ever understood to be dogma. The question is, does the Church have the authority to define doctrines from among the non-doctrines?

    Have you read Newman’s Development of Doctrine?

    The situation is far worse with Tertullian, who denied PV altogether in Contra Marcion, a work accepted by the RCC. Basil merely denied the dogmatic status of PV; Tertullian denied the doctrine altogether.

    Tertullian is definitely in the minority as far as the PV is concerned. But, I would ask you if you think that Tertullian’s expression of orthodoxy is more valid that Basils or Athanasius’ or Augustines on the matter. And if you give assent to Tertullian are you willing to concede other theological matters to Tertullian? Even when he comes down strongly on the Catholic view?

  90. Sean said,

    May 31, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    Jeff.

    # 88.

    Not sure why he did not invoke the typology of the Ark in his discussion about the PV…but if you notice, he does reference another symbolical/typological theme here:

    (Ezekiel 44:2): “This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall pass through it; because the Lord the God of Israel hath entered in by it.”

    I believe the earliest reference to this passage in regards to Mary is from Ambrose:

    “Who is this gate (Ezekiel 44:1-4), if not Mary? Is it not closed because she is a virgin? Mary is the gate through which Christ entered this world, when He was brought forth in the virginal birth and the manner of His birth did not break the seals of virginity.”

    Ambrose

    Augustine carried that theme as well.

    Further, if you notice the link I provided, St. Thomas does invoke the typological ark motif in his defense of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary:

    For we believe that after death she was raised up and borne to heaven. Psalm 131:8: Arise, O “Lord, into thy resting place, thou and the ark of thy majesty.”

  91. Paige Britton said,

    May 31, 2010 at 7:03 pm

    Jason, #51:
    You asked, “If Catholicism had an identical soteriology to the Westminster Confession, would you be: (A) equally against it, (B) much less against it than you are, or (C) surprisingly open to it?

    I would have to answer A, because the Catholic system posits a different access to God (via an infallible magisterium) than I can see in Scripture, not to mention making dogmatic various extra-biblical traditions (as per Jeff’s list).

    We do already have doctrinal agreement on many things. But even if there were a complete reversal of the anathema against JBFA, we would still be working with different versions of reality, because of magisterial infallibility.

  92. D. T. King said,

    May 31, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    A note concerning Differences between Whitaker’s day and our own

    One thing to bear in mind as one reads Whitaker is the difference between the appeal to historical witnesses in his day, and the use of the same sources in our day, particularly in the years following Newman’s An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, and his conversion to Rome. In short, the development of doctrine is now used to defend virtually everything the Roman communion has defined as dogma, so that the appeal to patristic evidence works in only one direction for Roman disputants, i.e., to claim them when they regard them as a serving their contentions, and to dismiss and/or explain them away when they do not. This is why Newman concluded regarding Vincent’s canon, quod ubique, quod simper, quo dab omnibus creditum est . . . “It does not seem possible, then, to avoid the conclusion that, whatever be the proper key for harmonizing the records and documents of the early and later Church, and true as the dictum of Vincentius must be considered in the abstract, and possible as its application might be in his own age, when he might almost ask the primitive centuries for their testimony, it is hardly available now, or effective of any satisfactory result. The solution it offers is as difficult as the original problem.” An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine (New York: Longmans, Green and Co., LTD., 1927), p. 27.

    Before his conversion to Rome, Newman made the following observation concerning his own disputes with members of the Roman communion….

    John Henry Newman: Here, however, we are concerned with the Romanists. For instance: if some passage from one of the Fathers contradicts their present doctrine, and it is then objected that what even one early writer directly contradicted in his day was not Catholic at the time he contradicted it, they unhesitatingly condemn the passage as unsound and mistaken. And then follows the question, is the writer in question to be credited as reporting the current views of his age, or had he the hardihood though he knew them well, to contradict, yet without saying he contradicted them? and this can only be decided by the circumstances of the case, which an ingenious disputant may easily turn this way or that. They proceed in the same way, though a number of authorities may be produced; one is misinterpreted, another is put out of sight, a third is admitted but undervalued. This is not said by way of accusation here, though of course it is a heavy charge against the Romanists; nor with the admission that their attempts are successful, for, after all, words have a distinct meaning in spite of sophistry, and there is a true and a false in every matter. I am but showing how Romanists reconcile their abstract reverence for Antiquity with their Romanism,—with their creed, and their notion of the Church’s infallibility in declaring it; how small their success is, and how great their unfairness, is another question. Whatever judgment we form either of their conduct or its issue, such is the fact, that they extol the Fathers as a whole, and disparage them individually; they call them one by one Doctors of the Church, yet they explain away one by one their arguments, judgments, and testimony. They refuse to combine their separate and coincident statements; they take each by himself, and settle with the first before they go to the next. And thus their boasted reliance on the Fathers comes, at length, to this,—to identify Catholicity with the decrees of Councils, and to admit those Councils only which the Pope has confirmed. John Henry Newman, Lectures on the Prophetical Office of the Church: Viewed Relatively to Romanism and Popular Protestantism, 2nd ed. (London: Gilbert & Rivington, 1838), pp. 69-71.

    The reason Whitaker so excelled in his day—indeed the reason why Bellarmine hung a portrait in his study, and when asked why he did so Bellarmine replied, ‘Quod quamvis hereticus erat et adversarius, erat tamen doctus adversarius’ (that though he was a heretic and his adversary, yet he was a learned adversary)—is because these disputes, in his day, were held before Rome ‘by and large’ was converted to this theory of development which Newman popularized (I say “popularized” because there were others before him who toyed with it, e.g., Johann Möhler). Vittorio Subilia made the interesting observation that this “gave rise to the remark that it was not Newman who had been converted to Catholicism, but Catholicism that had been converted to Newman.” See Vittorio Subilia, The Problem of Catholicism, trans. Reginald Kissack (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1964), pp. 33-34. At least in Whitaker’s day there was a greater concern on the part of Roman disputants, though even then they were inconsistent, to give more serious regard to those whom they claimed for their witnesses in the ancient church.

    Now, to be sure, he was no friend of Newman, but the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, Henry Edward Manning (1808-1892) gave expression to what I call ‘sola Roma with a vengeance.’ He wrote:

    “It was the charge of the Reformers that the Catholic doctrines were not primitive, and their pretension was to revert to antiquity. But the appeal to antiquity is both a treason and a heresy. It is a treason because it rejects the Divine voice of the Church at this hour, and a heresy because it denies that voice to be Divine. How can we know what antiquity was except through the Church? No individual, no number of individuals can go back through eighteen hundred years to reach the doctrines of antiquity. We may say with the woman of Samaria, ‘Sir, the well is deep, and thou hast nothing to draw with.’ No individual mind now has contact with the revelation of the Pentecost, except through the Church. Historical evidence and biblical criticism are human after all, and amount to no more than opinion, probability, human judgment, human tradition.
    It is not enough that the fountain of our faith be Divine. It is necessary that the channel be divinely constituted and preserved. But in the second chapter we have seen that the Church contains the fountain of faith in itself, and is not only the channel divinely created and sustained, but the very presence of the spring-head of the water of life, ever fresh and ever flowing in all ages of the world. I may say in strict truth that the Church has no antiquity. It rests upon its own supernatural and perpetual consciousness. Its past is present with it, for both are one to a mind which is immutable. Primitive and modern are predicates, not of truth, but of ourselves. The Church is always primitive and always modern at one and the same time; and alone can expound its own mind, as an individual can declare his own thoughts. ‘For what man knoweth the things of a man, but the spirit of a man that is in him? So the things also that are of God no man knoweth, but the Spirit of God.’ The only Divine evidence to us of what was primitive is the witness and voice of the Church at this hour. Henry Edward Manning, The Temporal Mission of the Holy Ghost: Or Reason and Revelation (New York: J.P. Kenedy & Sons, originally written 1865, reprinted with no date), pp. 227-228.

    It is my settled position that when the dust settles at the end of the day, our contemporary Roman disputants actually share Manning’s sentiments. They have opted for what has come to be described as living tradition. While speaking of the difficulty of the Unanimous patristic consent as a reliable locus theologicus in Catholic theology, Cardinal Yves M.-J. Congar observed: “Application of the principle is difficult, at least at a certain level. In regard to individual texts of Scripture total patristic consensus is unnecessary: quite often, that which is appealed to as sufficient for dogmatic points does not go beyond what is encountered in the interpretation of many texts. But it does sometimes happen that some Fathers understood a passage in a way which does not agree with later Church teaching. One example: the interpretation of Peter’s confession in Matthew 16.16-19. Except at Rome, this passage was not applied by the Fathers to the papal primacy; they worked out exegesis at the level of their own ecclesiasiological thought, more anthropological and spiritual than judicial. . . . Historical documentation is at the factual level; it must leave room for a judgement made not in the light of the documentary evidence alone, but of the Church’s faith.” Yves M.-J. Congar, Tradition and Traditions: An Historical and a Theological Essay (London: Burns & Oats, 1966), pp. 398-399.

    And Cardinal Congar goes on to insist that “It is the Church, not the Fathers, the consensus of the Church in submission to its Saviour which is the sufficient rule of our Christianity.” Yves M.-J. Congar, Tradition and Traditions: An Historical and a Theological Essay (London: Burns & Oats, 1966), p. 399.

    The ecumenical spirit of many within Romanism today has passed beyond the Tridentine position of viewing Protestants as heretics (under its anathemas, as was the case with Bellarmine vs. Whitaker) to viewing us as “separated brethren.” However, the anathemas of Trent have never been rescinded.

  93. D. T. King said,

    May 31, 2010 at 7:23 pm

    Pardon the typo please, the misspelling of ecclesiasiological in the Congar quote above, to ecclesiological.

  94. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 31, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    Sean (#90):

    Duly noted. So to make this clear, we need now to understand exactly what Aquinas is saying when he rejects allegory as argument. Clearly, even in ST 1.10, he is not rejecting allegory (and type) altogether; but he seems to be rejecting it as the basis for argument. So how would you put these together? What is Aquinas saying, and is it consistent with his appeals to type?

    For my part, I think a simple example would make a case that type should not be received on its own as argument, without clearer teaching to serve as control.

    Let us take for the sake of argument that the Ark of the Covenant is a type of Mary. What conclusions can we draw from this?

    (1) The Ark is a type of Mary
    (2) ???
    (3) Mary was a virgin.

    We might try to fill in (2) with

    “The Ark could not be touched; therefore, Mary could not be touched.”

    But this isn’t quite right, for the Ark could not be physically touched, and we don’t imagine, do we, that anyone who came into contact with Mary died?

    So “touched” has to be re-interpreted as sexual contact to make the analogy work. But what justifies this reinterpretation? Ah yes, tradition. But that’s not clear teaching of Scripture anymore. Tradition is acting here extra-Scripturally, adding additional premises.

    So what happens in understanding allegory is that some parallel must be drawn, but not in a literal fashion. And there really is no control over this allegorical method. What is to prevent someone from drawing some conclusion from the fact that the ark was covered with gold, or carried the tablets of the Law?

    And in fact, this is precisely what happened in early medieval interpretation: analogies were drawn with no controls.

    So I read Aquinas as pushing back in some way or another against allegorical excess. Do you agree?

    With regard to Tertullian, you mistake my intent. The point is not that T was right or wrong in denying PV (any more than I was saying earlier that the EO has got the tradition right). Rather, it is to say that here appears to be a plain contradiction:

    (1) On the one hand, Tertullian’s Against Marcion is held to be a work of a church father.

    (2) On the other, T denies in it the Perpetual Virginity of Mary.

    (3) So on this basis, we would have to argue that either T was not a genuine church father, or else that PV is not a part of the apostolic tradition that one must believe to be saved.

    And yet you argue “none of the above”: that Tertullian is excepted from the necessity of believing PV because of “doctrinal development.”

    Well, if you want to say that PV is a doctrine that developed later, after Tertullian, then I can appreciate that view. But it completely abandons the position that PV was a part of the apostolic tradition.

    My point about Tertullian is this: I don’t see how we can simultaneously believe that PV is apostolic tradition AND that it developed over time.

    Either the Magisterium has added beliefs to the tradition, or else it hasn’t; and if not, then Tertullian cannot be exempt.

  95. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 31, 2010 at 9:25 pm

    Sean, in #74 you asked

    Name the doctrines that the Catholic Church has gotten wrong in its identifying them as apostolic tradition.

    We could focus on errors of fact first. There are several documents that are now known to be forgeries that were accepted by popes as genuine, and were made the basis for doctrines or other pronouncements.

    Obviously the Donation of Constantine comes to mind. But also Aquinas appeals to pseudo-Chrysostom in his discussion of PV, wrongly believing it to be Chrysostom. And PV itself was, and continues to be defended, on the basis of the Protoevangelium of James, listed by CathEn as a part of the tradition of the fathers — and yet is known not to be written by James. In fact, it was condemned by Pope Gelasius, but his condemnation was apparently unheeded.

    If the magisterium is unable to protect itself from these errors of fact, what confidence may we have that it can protect itself from errors of inference?

    Luther protested that if the Pope is able to remit the punishment of sin in purgatory, he ought out of charity remit all of it.

    I would protest that if the Pope is able to exercise the gift of knowledge, he ought to exercise it at all times, so as not to be taken in by these frauds.

    We come back to the argument:

    (1) The Holy Spirit will not abandon the church.
    (2) ?????
    (3) The church cannot err in identifying tradition.

    And yet, it has so erred. Certain documents have been received as tradition, which were not.

    So what fills in (2) that could rescue the argument for you?

  96. Sean said,

    May 31, 2010 at 9:27 pm

    Jeff.

    My point about Tertullian is this: I don’t see how we can simultaneously believe that PV is apostolic tradition AND that it developed over time.

    That is precisely it. For it to be apostolic tradition, it is not necessary that every church father taught it. It is not the Catholic claim that every church father was always in agreement about everything.

    It isn’t as if you can identify one church father who dissented on the PV against the scores that affirmed it and say, “Golly, the PV obviously wasn’t apostolic tradition.” For one thing, a dissenting church father on a given issue does not de facto render the issue in his direction (or make it non-apostolic.) For another thing, the approach in using the ECFs this way is purely ad hoc. Reformed apologists will claim Tertullian as orthodox here because he does think that Mary remained a virgin while at the same time ignoring him when he says things that are utterly opposed to their theology. Lastly, if we take a look at the ECFs in this way against Reformed particulars we would have dozens of ECFs dissenting against sola fide, sola scirptura, marriage/holy orders/unction/confirmation/confession not sacraments, the eucharist not being the body and blood of Jesus etc.

    So, finding a dissenter in the ECF record is not the way to figure out which doctrines are genuine developments and which are aberrations.

    So I read Aquinas as pushing back in some way or another against allegorical excess. Do you agree?

    No. I completely disagree. St. Thomas Aquinas, doctor of the church, referred to the typological meanings of scripture many times and even in reference to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

    Let us take for the sake of argument that the Ark of the Covenant is a type of Mary. What conclusions can we draw from this?

    (1) The Ark is a type of Mary
    (2) ???
    (3) Mary was a virgin.

    We might try to fill in (2) with

    Here is what Augustine said:

    “It is written (Ezekiel 44, 2): ‘This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall pass through it. Because the Lord the God of Israel hath entered in by it…’ What means this closed gate in the house of the Lord, except that Mary is to be ever inviolate? What does it mean that ‘no man shall pass through it,’ save that Joseph shall not know her? And what is this – ‘The Lord alone enters in and goeth out by it,’ except that the Holy Ghost shall impregnate her, and that the Lord of Angels shall be born of her? And what means this – ‘It shall be shut for evermore,’ but that Mary is a Virgin before His birth, a Virgin in His birth, and a Virgin after His birth.” – Saint Augustine (ca AD 430)

  97. Sean said,

    May 31, 2010 at 9:31 pm

    Sorry…was reading two things at one…the Augustine quote is obviously about Ezekiel 44, 2 and not the ark per se.

  98. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 31, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    Sean (#96):

    For it to be apostolic tradition, it is not necessary that every church father taught it. It is not the Catholic claim that every church father was always in agreement about everything.

    That wasn’t the point. It is understood that the church fathers were not unanimous.

    The point was, they were the fathers, the doctors of the church, who yet in some cases denied doctrines that, supposedly, are necessary for salvation. This is logically impossible.

    It would be one thing if Tertullian dissented on the marriage of priests, or some other “non-infallible” teaching. But he dissents on a doctrine which is, supposedly, incompatible with being a Christian.

    So we have an incompatible set of propositions:

    (1) PV is infallible church dogma, necessary for salvation.

    (2) Tertullian denied PV.

    (3) Tertullian was in a state of grace when he wrote Contra Marcion.

    Choose any two of three.

  99. D. T. King said,

    May 31, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    The contention for a typological connection between the ark of the covenant and Mary is a dead end road for a Roman disputant to press. The communion of Rome does not require that connection as dogma, and even some of its own scholars have rejected it…

    Roman scholar Raymond Brown, S.S.: “[I]t is totally a guess to assume from the verb episkiazein that Luke thinks of Mary as the Tabernacle or the Ark of the Covenant overshadowed by or containing the divine presence. To be precise, in the OT the cherubim rather than God are said to overshadow the Ark; moreover, the Ark and Tabernacle are not the only places overshadowed by divine presence.” See his commentary The Birth of the Messiah: A Commentary on the Infancy Narratives in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke (New York: Doubleday, 1993), p. 328. He goes on to note: “This resemblance has been seized upon to defend the (dubious) thesis already mentioned (§ 11, E3) that Luke thinks of Mary as the Ark of the Covenant.” (p. 344).

    Irenaeus identifies the ark as a type of Christ, not Mary…

    Irenaeus (c. 130-c. 200): As therefore seventy tongues are indicated by number, and from dispersion the tongues are gathered into one by means of their interpretation; so is that ark declared a type of the body of Christ, which is both pure and immaculate. For as that ark was gilded with pure gold both within and without, so also is the body of Christ pure and resplendent, being adorned within by the Word, and shielded on the outside by the Spirit, in order that from both [materials] the splendour of the natures might be exhibited together. ANF: Vol. I, Fragments from the Lost Writings of Irenaeus, 48.

    In sermon 53.7, Augustine identifies “the ark of the covenant” explicitly as a type of God… “You are seeking well, you see, because you are seeking with the heart. It talks about God’s countenance, about God’s arm, about God’s hands, about God’s feet, about God’s footstool, about God’s seat; but don’t think about human limbs. If you want to be the temple of truth, smash the idol of falsehood. God’s hands mean God’s power, God’s face is God’s knowledge, God’s feet are God’s presence. God’s seat, if you wish it so, is you. Or perhaps you will have the audacity to deny that Christ is God? “No,” you say. You also grant that Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God? See 1 Cor 1:24. “I do,” you say. Then listen: “The soul of the just is the seat of wisdom.” Where does God have his seat, if not where he lives? Where does he live, if not in his temple? For the temple of God is holy, which is what you are (1 Cor 3:17).
    So mind how you receive God. God is spirit; and it is necessary to worship God in spirit and truth (Jn 2:24). Now, if you agree, let the ark of the covenant enter your heart, while Dagon crashes down.

  100. Brad B said,

    May 31, 2010 at 11:08 pm

    Now it would seem that a higher authority is needed to settle the incompatibility, too bad there’s no where to go for the RC since he has set the church as his ultimate authority and it has to affirm logically incompatible propositions, or else logic has failed. This is a rock and a hard place.

  101. Tim Prussic said,

    June 1, 2010 at 12:40 am

    Ladies and gents: I’ve just posted the second part of my critique of Tim Troutman’s article on Holy Orders. Come give ‘er a look-see:

    http://wp.me/pVf8p-4x

  102. Sean said,

    June 1, 2010 at 7:07 am

    Jeff,

    Technically speaking, eventually Tertullian did end up with the Motanists, although I don’t know if his view on the PV had anything to do with it.

    You also need to be careful when you say that ‘believing ‘x’ is necessary for salvation.’ The PV was defined at the Lateran Council of 649, although not an ecumenical council. At any rate, prior to a dogma being defined by the church people can dissent from the dogma and not be under any ecclesial penalty.

    DT King,

    Are you prepared to let Raymond Brown by your guide on all theological and historical questions or are you content only when you use him as an ‘authority’ to score points? Further, typologically a type can point to several realities-not just one.

  103. Jeff Cagle said,

    June 1, 2010 at 7:47 am

    Sean (#102):

    At any rate, prior to a dogma being defined by the church people can dissent from the dogma and not be under any ecclesial penalty.

    This raises two big, interrelated problems.

    (1) On what ground are dogmas defined? Athanasius argued that Arius’ beliefs were incompatible with faith. Arius was a heretic *prior* to Nicea; it was just that Nicea recognized this fact. If in fact Lateran 649 *recognized* that PV is necessary for salvation, then it was necessary for salvation at all times. If on the other hand it was not necessary for salvation, then Lateran 649 erred in saying

    “If anyone does not in accord with the Holy Fathers acknowledge the holy and ever virgin and immaculate Mary as really and truly the Mother of God, inasmuch as she, in the fullness of time, and without seed, conceived by the Holy Spirit, God the Word Himself, who before all time was born of God the Father, and without loss of integrity brought Him forth, and after His birth preserved her virginity inviolate, let him be condemned.”

    (2) Does the church recognize the apostolic tradition, or does she create it?

    The argument for the authority of the church is that it preserves the apostolic tradition. Assuming that PV is a part of that tradition, then Lateran 649 was simply making explicit what had always been true.

    If so, then Tertullian gets no pass. He was rejecting the apostolic tradition.

    If on the other hand, PV was not a part of that tradition, then Rome’s claim falls to the ground.

    You’ve appealed to the notion of doctrinal development to defend the idea that a teaching could be dogmatic at one time, but not dogmatic prior to that time.

    Certainly, in the case of some Christological doctrines, this could make sense. Comprehending Jesus the God-man is difficult, and it makes sense that the stipulation of clarifying terms like homoousion could make more explicit what was always in the tradition.

    But in the case of virginity, there’s no “development” possible. Lateran 649 added nothing new to our understanding of what it means to be virgin. It simply declared that one must believe that Mary’s virginity was preserved for all time.

    This declaration is either a priori, making explicit what was true for all time and already in the apostolic tradition — in which case, Contra Marcion is a heretical work.

    Or, it is a posteriori, creating a new teaching — in which case, RC dogma contains elements which are not genuine apostolic tradition.

  104. louis said,

    June 1, 2010 at 8:02 am

    Jeff, (re 102), you seem like a bright guy. Can it be that you really don’t understand Romanism?

  105. D. T. King said,

    June 1, 2010 at 8:54 am

    Are you prepared to let Raymond Brown by your guide on all theological and historical questions or are you content only…

    Non sequitur.

  106. Jeff Cagle said,

    June 1, 2010 at 9:38 am

    Louis, were you directing your comment to Sean (#102) or to me? And what did you mean?

  107. Dean B said,

    June 1, 2010 at 10:07 am

    Jason, #51:

    You asked, “If Catholicism had an identical soteriology to the Westminster Confession, would you be: (A) equally against it, (B) much less against it than you are, or (C) surprisingly open to it?

    It is my understanding that Seventh Day Adventist reject Rome’s teaching about JBFA; however, most orthodox Christians recognize them as a cult. I think soteriology is a key element in Christianity, but Christian orthodoxy includes more than just soteriology.

  108. Paige Britton said,

    June 1, 2010 at 10:49 am

    (Jason, I answered you as well at #91!) :)

  109. Sean said,

    June 1, 2010 at 10:52 am

    Jeff.

    # 102

    Allow me to quote the catechism of the Catholic Church:

    CCC 2089: “Heresy is the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same; apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith; schism is the refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.”

    You said:

    (1) On what ground are dogmas defined? Athanasius argued that Arius’ beliefs were incompatible with faith. Arius was a heretic *prior* to Nicea; it was just that Nicea recognized this fact.

    A heretic is not someone who is mistaken but someone who obstinately persists in an error contrary to the Church. He could not have done so until he was corrected.

    You said:

    If in fact Lateran 649 *recognized* that PV is necessary for salvation, then it was necessary for salvation at all times. If on the other hand it was not necessary for salvation, then Lateran 649 erred in saying

    Your understanding is of how the Catholic Church defines ‘heresy’ is false. Let the Church speak for herself. She canonized St. Thomas Aquinas who denied the Immaculate Conception. Yet he was not a heretic because he did not obstinately persist in error. He made an error in judgment before the Church had definitively pronounced the dogma. If he were alive now and refused the Church – then he would be a heretic.

    You said:

    Assuming that PV is a part of that tradition, then Lateran 649 was simply making explicit what had always been true.

    Yes it was always true, and always held by (nearly all of) the faithful throughout all of history (including the first Protestants). But it was not defined as a binding doctrine. It is possible to be mistaken on parts of the faith and yet not be guilty of heresy because you are no obstinately refusing the Church teaching. Rather, because of ignorance or faulty reason or lack of faith, the person in question may have made a mistake. How late did the Church condemn slavery? How many martyrs of our faith believed in slavery and held slaves? Were they heretics?

    You said:

    If so, then Tertullian gets no pass. He was rejecting the apostolic tradition.

    Tertullian was an eventual heretic on account of Montanism. His views on PV are of little consequence.

    If on the other hand, PV was not a part of that tradition, then Rome’s claim falls to the ground.

    Yes.

    You said:

    But in the case of virginity, there’s no “development” possible. Lateran 649 added nothing new to our understanding of what it means to be virgin. It simply declared that one must believe that Mary’s virginity was preserved for all time.

    Heresy is not a misappropriation of development of doctrine; it’s an act of defiance against revelation. If a thing is not definitively revealed – one cannot be in defiance against it even if it is true and even if it is held by the Church in general (which PV certainly was).

    You said:

    This declaration is either a priori, making explicit what was true for all time and already in the apostolic tradition — in which case, Contra Marcion is a heretical work.

    By the time Contra Marcion was published, Tertullian was already leaning towards the Montanist heresy. However, a doctrinal mistake on an as yet non-dogmatic teaching in no way constitutes an entire work as “heretical.”

    What you are doing is assuming that ‘heresy’ means “any false belief about the faith” which is a Protestant definition not the Catholic definition.

    According to the Catholic definition, the Church is not contradicting herself. According to the Protestant definition she is – but why the heck would we apply a Protestant definition to the Catholic Church? Instead, we use her own definitions to see if she is consistent.

  110. June 1, 2010 at 10:57 am

    The Scriptures are not merely called the canon because they “contain” the rule and measure of our faith but because the listing of the books themselves are a “fallible” canon. Canonization is and always will be fallible. The universal acceptance of canonical books is providentially guided and since Protestants all agree on the 66 books, 39 OT and 27 NT, the “canon” or measure of faith is the 66 books.

    Charlie

  111. Jeff Cagle said,

    June 1, 2010 at 11:18 am

    Sean, I appreciate the fact that you are distinguishing between refusal to accept the church’s authority and belief in a false teaching.

    In so doing, however, you are illustrating what I meant with the “driving elder brother” analogy.

    On the one hand, you are saying that doctrine is a matter of Truth: dogmas are defined because they are (1) true, and (2) necessary to believe in order to be Christian.

    On the other, you are also arguing that the problem with heresy is not the belief itself, but the obstinate refusal to accept the authority of the church.

    In other words, dogma X is not necessary to believe until the church says it is.

    This cuts dogma loose from any objective footing. The reason that Athanasius objected to Arius is that Arius’s Christ could not be a savior. Arius’ doctrine itself was objectively pernicious, an attack on the faith.

    You’ve turned this on its head. On your account, PV is necessary to believe because the Church has said so; and it was not necessary to believe until the Church said so. The doctrine of PV is only necessary relative to the authority of Rome.

    This is no way to run a doctrinal system. If beliefs are true, then they do not depend on the authority of the Church to cause them to be true. If beliefs are contrary to belief in Jesus, then they do not depend on the Church to make them so.

    This goes all the way back to #11: Does the church create truth or recognize truth?

    You have said that the church recognizes truth. But you argue as if it creates it. This is like the elder brother in the car: “What I say is true, IS true — because I’m in charge.”

    The larger problem here is that argument from authority is actually a logical fallacy. There is no necessary connection between “X is an authority” and “Whatever X says is true.” When we lose sight of that, we become inconsistent in our argumentation: the belief that The Church recognizes truth slips over into the belief that The Church creates truth. We begin to believe that argument from Church authority carries a priori.

    Again, I must emphasize: if denial of PV is in fact pernicious to one’s faith, then it was pernicious when Tertullian denied it. If it is not in fact pernicious, then the Church had no business dogmatizing it.

  112. louis said,

    June 1, 2010 at 11:23 am

    Jeff,

    Sorry, I was talking to you. No matter, it appears that Sean is now setting you straight. lol.

  113. June 1, 2010 at 11:28 am

    The point of a confession of faith, including the canon or listing of Scriptures, is agreement on what we believe is true. The Scriptures are self-authenticating even if they are fallibly listed. The distinction between inspired Scriptures and a fallible listing is an important one. The distinction between a valid confessional interpretation of Scripture (sola fide) and re-inventing everything in lone ranger fashion is likewise a valuable distinction.

    The church does not have the authority to inspire Scripture or even to infallibly interpret it. But the church is a secondary authority not to be taken lightly. The Reformed confessions of faith are fallible but they are no less authoritative because of that fact. Insomuch as we are in agreement with Scripture, our doctrine is binding and normative. The church does not define doctrine. Scripture does.

    Charlie

  114. D. T. King said,

    June 1, 2010 at 11:31 am

    Your understanding is of how the Catholic Church defines ‘heresy’ is false. Let the Church speak for herself….

    Question, did Pope Liberius speak for the “Catholic” Church of his day?

  115. June 1, 2010 at 11:35 am

    Sean,

    DT King,

    Are you prepared to let Raymond Brown by your guide on all theological and historical questions or are you content only when you use him as an ‘authority’ to score points?

    Why does DTK have to agree with everything Brown says in order to quote him, but you don’t have to agree with everything Tertullian says to quote him?

    If we cherry-pick, then so do you when you quote ECFs but then say, “Well, we don’t believe everything every one of them said.” What it sounds like is that you quote them when they agree with you, and distance yourself from them when they don’t.

  116. johnbugay said,

    June 1, 2010 at 11:41 am

    Jeff, #111 — I have appreciated the process of watching you think through and explain how the Catholic Church operates — it is especially telling that “the Church” can have faulty input — mistranslated Scriptures, etc — and yet through divine protection and promises, it still, magically, presto-changeo, arrives at precisely the correct dogma.

    (You should see the one about Genesis 3:15 and Mary’s “Immaculate Foot”. But that’s for another time.)

    In book three of his “Institutes,” Turretin identified the same phenomenon you just described here, in this post: “The Church” has the authority to create the doctrines and dogmas. They define truth. That’s the practical upshot of what they say. And that’s the foundation for the kind of security that “the Roman Catholic Faith” offers to guys like these Called to Communion guys. (Of course, it is “the Roman Catholic Faith” as they interpret it. As you can see, someone like Sean can reject the work of any number of leading Roman Catholic theologians, just with the power of his own understanding.)

  117. Jeff Cagle said,

    June 1, 2010 at 11:43 am

    What you are doing is assuming that ‘heresy’ means “any false belief about the faith” which is a Protestant definition not the Catholic definition.

    I am assuming that “heresy” means a belief that is incompatible with being a Christian. That’s what anathema entails: “Let him be condemned.”

  118. June 1, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    Paige/Dean,

    I had asked whether, if Rome’s soteriology matched the WCF, we all would be any more open to it than we are, and you both indicated “no.”

    I expected as much. As long as our position is that they have anathematized the gospel, then it seems like all this pope talk is just an exercise. They need to deal with this, because even if they convince us that the pope is the head of the church, we’ll just respond by saying that the head of the church doesn’t know the gospel (or at least doesn’t articulate it properly).

    Another hypothetical, then: If you became convinced that Rome is right about authority, would you just submit to and adopt its soteriology? In other words, if their being right about justification wouldn’t make you submit to the pope, would their being right about the pope make you submit to them on justification?

    I’m just trying to gauge whether there are two completely distinct objections (sola fide and sola scriptura) or one interrelated objection.

  119. Sean said,

    June 1, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    Jason,

    My poorly argued point in asking DT King that was to show that the work of Raymond Brown does not render Marian typology of the ark “a dead end road for a Roman disputant to press.”

    Raymond Brown is no authority for me and I know that Raymond Brown is also no authority for DT King.

    Jeff.

    Give me some time to work on a response to your #111.

  120. D. T. King said,

    June 1, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    Raymond Brown is no authority for me and I know that Raymond Brown is also no authority for DT King.

    That was never the point. The point was that your pressing the typological connection between the ark of the covenant and Mary is not dogmatically required for submission to the Roman magisterium.

    Now, then, I ask again, did Pope Liberius speak for the “Catholic” Church of his day?

  121. Dean B said,

    June 1, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    Jason #118

    You wrote: Another hypothetical, then: If you became convinced that Rome is right about authority, would you just submit to and adopt its soteriology?

    Even if the pope was an angel from heaven and wrong on soteriology I would not submit to his teachings (Gal 1:8).

  122. Paige Britton said,

    June 1, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    Jason #118,
    Woah, experiencing some vertigo here — did you mean accept the infallibility of the pope AND deny the doctrines of grace?

    Well, if God has truly located infallibility in the pope, then God is boss, and I would have to submit, wouldn’t I? No matter how much havoc this would wreak with my sanity. And people do become convinced that this is the way it is; what’s the saying — if the pope calls it “black,” it’s black, even though your eyes say “white”?

    For my part, I hope that I would die before I ever submitted my reason and my conscience to another human being, no matter how convincing their argument. I’m with Dean on Gal. 1:8.

  123. johnbugay said,

    June 1, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    Jason 118: Another hypothetical, then: If you became convinced that Rome is right about authority, would you just submit to and adopt its soteriology? In other words, if their being right about justification wouldn’t make you submit to the pope, would their being right about the pope make you submit to them on justification?

    I’m just trying to gauge whether there are two completely distinct objections (sola fide and sola scriptura) or one interrelated objection.

    Dean B and Paige — I think you are missing the question here. Rome “being right about the pope” — as others on this thread have discovered, Rome’s view of its own authority means that Rome gets to define what the doctrines are. It would then mean that Rome’s definition of justification would be the right one (because its understanding of this doctrine would be “properly interpreted,” whereas, yours would be wrong.

    So what Jason is saying is, if you accepted Rome’s definition of the papacy, then you would de-facto need to accept whatever it defined about justification. (Whatever you thought the Scriptures actually said on that point.)

  124. Jeff Cagle said,

    June 1, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    Sean (#119):

    Absolutely. And though I’ve been doing the full-court-press, my objections should not be taken in the spirit of “I’ve got it all figured out.” This is simply where I am, as God has led so far, in reacting to the claim that Rome’s authority is the basis for belief. Let me sum up, and then I’ll leave it for a while.

    At core, argument from authority is a deductive fallacy, though it has some inductive value (if A is an authority and B is not, A is more likely to be correct, all things being equal). Thus, I view “sacramental authority” as a non-starter as an ontological basis for belief. The only proper ontological basis is and should be “correspondence with reality” — that is, with the way God sees things.

    The line of reasoning I’ve walked down here, starting with #11, has been an attempt to put flesh on why arguments from authority should not be treated as valid. The reason is that, at some point, it might be the case that reality intrudes on the authority. And if that authority is committed to the notion of his own infallibility, he will respond to the cognitive dissonance by shifting over from an a posteriori argument (“My judgment is correct — see how often I’ve been right?”) into an a priori argument (“I am right because I am the authority.”).

    And in fact, that’s what Rome has done. Think about what you must vow in order to become a member of the RCC: that you believe everything the Church teaches. Since you may not necessarily know everything that the church has taught, or what it may teach in the future, you are making an open-ended commitment to engage in the fallacy of accepting an argument from authority.

  125. johnbugay said,

    June 1, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    And so, to clarify, he’s asking, are you rejecting Rome’s authority because you reject their concept of justification, or are you rejecting their authority because you reject their authority?

  126. Sean said,

    June 1, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    Jeff.

    # 124.

    Earlier in the thread you admitted that you were not seasoned apologist as respect to some patristic evidence I was offering…in the same vein I admit that I am not your equal as respect to the the philosophical arguments you are making.

    I do want to quickly comment on some of the arguements you made in # 111 though:

    Your claim that “this cuts dogma loose from any objective footing” is false. When God speaks, and we cannot independently verify that what God says is true, this does not cut God’s statement loose from any objective footing. Likewise, our inability to independently verify the truth of a defined dogma of the Church does not entail that that this dogma has no objective footing.

    Your claim, “If beliefs are true, then they do not depend on the authority of the Church to cause them to be true.” is true and your claim that “If beliefs are contrary to belief in Jesus, then they do not depend on the Church to make them so.” is also true.

    They do not depend upon the Church to make them materially heretical, but they do depend on the Church to make them formally heretical.

    Your question: “Does the church create truth or recognize truth?” leaves out a third option: “Does the Church authoritatively declare truth?”

    Your claim that the “argument from authority is actually a logical fallacy,” without qualification, entails atheism. St. Thomas addresses this in Summa Theologica I Q.1 a.8 objection 2 (and the reply to that objection). In the reply to that objection St. Thomas says, “for although the argument from authority based on human reason is the weakest, yet the argument from authority based on divine revelation is the strongest.” And that is why argument from the declaration of the divinely authorized Church is the strongest.

    Some of the objections you raise are discussed in this thread by Bryan on Called to Commuion.

  127. Bryan Cross said,

    June 1, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    Jeff,

    The notion that the “the argument from authority is a deductive fallacy” entails atheism, if not qualified. When God speaks, we are obliged to believe what He says, on the basis of His authority, whether or not we can verify its truth for ourselves. This is why St. Thomas says in Summa Theologica I Q.1 a.8 ad 2:

    “for although the argument from authority based on human reason is the weakest, yet the argument from authority based on divine revelation is the strongest.”

    To deny that, is to claim that there is no higher authority than human reason. And that’s atheism.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  128. Sean said,

    June 1, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    # 127 and # 126.

    See. Great minds think alike!

    (Actually Bryan helped me).

  129. Paige Britton said,

    June 1, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    John B. –
    yeah, I get the question — it’s just a mind-bender to imagine it, that’s all. But I did say (#122) that if God had set up the pope as infallible (which I’m consciously conflating with authority here) then God is boss, and I’d have to submit, regardless of what my reason tells me (because, as you said, that would mean the pope has the final say on earth about doctrine).

    It’s just that coming from my present perspective, I can’t imagine doing this without serious damage to my psyche. So that sentiment got mixed into my answer.

    And yes, I reject their authority (AND their doctrine of j) because I reject their authority.

    pax,
    pb

  130. johnbugay said,

    June 1, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    Paige — well, things are coming together here, because Bryan (127) will soon be equating your rejection of papal authority (on the strength of wanting to prevent “serious damage to your psyche”) to a form of atheism, rejection of what he would call “authority based on divine revelation”.

  131. Jeff Cagle said,

    June 1, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    Bryan (#127):

    I had to smile when I read this because I was chewing on the same thoughts during afternoon carpool duty also: “But we do accept God’s authority in matters epistemological.”

    So at least our conversation is having the salutary effect of focusing our mutual attention on some issues.

    God’s epistemological authority, His right to be believed, is grounded the nature of truth: “seeing things as God sees them.” On this understanding, God is uniquely in the position of issuing logically valid arguments from authority (which amount to: Declarations of What Is).

    At the same time, we also hold God to be omniscient and incapable of lying or changing His mind; thus, His Declarations of What Is have theoretically 0 probability of being overturned by subsequent facts. Omniscience entails that God will not have His authority challenged by reality (if such were possible).

    But now, what are we to say about Papal authority? It is not grounded in the fact that “truth is seeing things the way the Pope sees them.” So an argument from Papal authority is not a priori valid. If it is to be a reliable argument at all, it must be inductively so, and argued for on that basis.

    Sean (#126) or Bryan or others, it would help the conversation if you could carefully define this:

    Your question: “Does the church create truth or recognize truth?” leaves out a third option: “Does the Church authoritatively declare truth?”

    What is this third option, exactly? If the Church is not recognizing truth (seeing things as God sees them) or creating truth (causing God to see things the way she sees them — you can see why I might object to this), then what exactly is she doing?

    And now I really will stop and listen for a bit.

  132. Bryan Cross said,

    June 1, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    Jeff, (re: #131)

    You wrote:

    So an argument from Papal authority is not a priori valid. If it is to be a reliable argument at all, it must be inductively so, and argued for on that basis.

    An argument from divine authority is not a priori sound. We first have to know that God exists, that God is trustworthy and truthful, and that the being in question is God, is spoken by God or is authorized by God. That’s true whether we are talking about God the Father, or the incarnate Son, or the Holy Spirit, or Scripture itself, or the Apostles preaching and teaching with divine authority. The Catholic Encyclopedia article on fideism explains this:

    As against these views, it must be noted that authority, even the authority of God, cannot be the supreme criterion of certitude, and an act of faith cannot be the primary form of human knowledge. This authority, indeed, in order to be a motive of assent, must be previously acknowledged as being certainly valid; before we believe in a proposition as revealed by God, we must first know with certitude that God exists, that He reveals such and such a proposition, and that His teaching is worthy of assent, all of which questions can and must be ultimately decided only by an act of intellectual assent based on objective evidence. Thus, fideism not only denies intellectual knowledge, but logically ruins faith itself.

    The Bible itself is neither God nor omnipotent, but it has divine authority because the words contained in it are God-breathed. Similarly (though obviously with important differences), Christ gave divine authority to His Apostles (e.g. “whatever you bind …” “If you forgive anyone’s sins …” etc.,). They do not need to be omniscient by nature, in order to speak and teach with the divine authority that binds our conscience. And similarly, their divinely authorized successors also do not need to be omniscient by nature in order to speak and teach with the divine authority that binds our conscience.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  133. Paige Britton said,

    June 1, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    John –
    Well, I didn’t say I “reject papal authority in order to prevent serious damage to my psyche, ” only that my psyche would be seriously damaged if it turned out I MUST believe white was black (because the pope says so).

    I reject papal authority because I have no “visitors’ booth to the universe” that tells me that God really did set things up with magisterial infallibility. The only infallible source I have to teach me God’s point of view is the Bible, and that particular claim is not coming through loud and clear from the only resource I would trust.

    pb

  134. Zrim said,

    June 1, 2010 at 10:43 pm

    John B.,

    Re 130, instead of atheism, my money is on charging some form of autonomous rationalism (i.e. “there is no principled distinction between solo scriptura and sola scriptura, and thus no difference between faith an opinion, and thus Protestantism affords us as many formulae as there are formulaters, thus every individual is his own pope”).

    Even so, for my part, I’m instead more inclined to say that there are Protestant presuppositions and Catholic ones. The Protestant is driven by scriptura and the Catholic by ecclesia. It is not hard to see how one ends up in either Geneva or Rome depending on his presuppositions. In one, scriptura(and necessarily the gospel, as in the formal principle of the Reformation leads to the material) defines the church, and in the other ecclesia leads to Rome and the church defines the gospel. Much as I’d like to return the “autonomous rationalism” favor with “ecclesial deism,” it seems to me better to lay out the respective presuppositions and simply say that the Catholic set is, at best not Protestant (nor Radical, ahem), and at worst in grave error.

  135. Reed Here said,

    June 2, 2010 at 6:46 am

    Zrim: very good.

  136. D. T. King said,

    June 2, 2010 at 9:05 am

    It is not hard to see how one ends up in either Geneva or Rome depending on his presuppositions. In one, scriptura(and necessarily the gospel, as in the formal principle of the Reformation leads to the material) defines the church, and in the other ecclesia leads to Rome and the church defines the gospel.

    Interesting observation, to be sure. When I began my investigation of the ECFs some 15 years ago, I read everything I could beg, buy, or barter. I suppose we all have our interests, church history and patristics are mine. Most of the Augustinian corpus has been translated, and New City Press is in the process of providing new translations of all of his works. But of all the works of Augustine that have been translated, there is one work, De Unitate Ecclesiae that has never been fully translated into English; and although New City Press plans to do so, it has been postponed for some five years now due (I’m told) to the prolonged illness of the translator. May the Lord be pleased to give him the health to finish. But in his controversy with the Donatists, Augustine wrote this work to refute their schism from the Church Catholic. Notice how Augustine does not lodge his argument in an appeal to apostolic succession in this particular work, in fact he bids his adversaries not to look in the direction of human testimonies. Over and over, he argues with the Donatists that the church is to be found in and defined by the Scriptures. Obviously, Augustine did not share the skeptical pessimism of our present day opponents with respect to the testimony of Holy Scripture. Of Augustine’s writings and this one in particular, Johann Joseph Ignaz von Döllinger observed: “St. Augustine has written more on the Church, its unity and authority, than all the other Fathers put together. Yet, from all his numerous works, filling ten folios, only one sentence, in one letter, can be quoted, where he says that the principality of the Apostolic Chair has always been in Rome,—which could, of course, be said then with equal truth of Antioch, Jerusalem and Alexandria. Any reader of his Pastoral Letter to the separated Donatists on the Unity of the Church, must find it inexplicable, on the Jesuit theory, that in these seventy-five chapters there is not a single word on the necessity of communion with Rome as the centre of unity. He urges all sorts of arguments to show that the Donatists are bound to return to the Church, but of the Papal Chair, as one of them, he knows nothing. See Janus, The Pope and the Council, trans. from the German, 2nd ed. (London: Rivingtons, 1869), pp. 88-89.

    I suppose, perhaps, that not many of my Reformed brethren have had the opportunity of reading the following list of citations from this particular work of Augustine, collated and organized in this manner, but where translations have been provided, I have arranged them in the following order in which they appear in this single work of Augustine. I think that when one can read them in this way, it gives something of a feel for the flow of this ancient African bishop’s argument. Bear in mind that this is how Augustine argued to call the Donatists back to the unity of the Church. And again, as Döllinger noted, never once does he posit that unity in the papal chair of Rome, or in its succession of bishops. There is an obvious difference in the modus operandi that Augustine employed in this work, and how our Roman disputants proceed with their contentions. Moreover, he does not ground his argument in the teaching authority of the church, but in Holy Scripture itself.

    Augustine (354-430): Let us not hear, You [i.e., the Donatists] say this, I say that; but let us hear Thus saith the Lord. There are the Dominical books, whose authority we both acknowledge, we both yield to, we both obey; there let us seek the Church, there let us discuss the question between us. For trans., see William Goode, The Divine Rule of Faith and Practice, 2nd ed., (London: John Henry Jackson, 1853), Vol. 3, p 164.
    Latin text: Sed, ut dicere coeperam, non audiamus, Haec dicis, haec dico; sed audiamus, Haec dicit Dominus. Sunt certe Libri dominici, quorum auctoritati utrique consentimus, utrique cedimus utrique servimus: ibi quaeramus Ecclesiam, ibi discutiamus causam nostram. De Unitate Ecclesiae, Caput III, §5, PL 43:394.

    Augustine (354-430): Therefore let those testimonies which we mutually bring against each other, from any other quarter than the divine canonical books, be put out of sight. For trans., see William Goode, The Divine Rule of Faith and Practice, 2nd ed., (London: John Henry Jackson, 1853), Vol. 3, p. 164.
    Latin text: Auferantur ergo illa de medio, quae adversus nos invicem, non ex divinis canonicis Libris, sed aliunde recitamus. De Unitate Ecclesiae, Caput III, §5, PL 43:395.

    Augustine (354-430): I would not have the holy Church demonstrated by human testimonies, but by divine oracles. For trans., see William Goode, The Divine Rule of Faith and Practice, 2nd ed., (London: John Henry Jackson, 1853), Vol. 3, pp. 164-165.
    Latin text: Quia nolo humanis documentis, sed divinis oraculis sanctam Ecclesiam demonstrari. De Unitate Ecclesiae, Caput III, §6, PL 43:395.

    Augustine (354-430): Whoever dissents from the sacred Scriptures, even if they are found in all places in which the church is designated, are not the church. For trans., See Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, 3 Vols., trans. George Musgrave Giger and ed. James T. Dennison (Phillipsburg: reprinted by Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1992), Vol. 3, pp. 109-110.
    Latin text: Quicumque de ipso capite, ab Scripturis sanctis dissentiunt, etiamsi in omnibus locis inveniantur in quibus Ecclesia designata est, non sunt in Ecclesia. De Unitate Ecclesiae, Caput IV, §7, PL 43:395-396.

    Augustine (354-430): We adhere to this Church; against those divine declarations we admit no human cavils. For trans., see William Goode, The Divine Rule of Faith and Practice, 2nd ed., (London: John Henry Jackson, 1853), Vol. 3, p. 165.
    Latin text: Nos hanc Ecclesiam tenemus, contra istas divinas voces nullas humanas criminationes admittimus. De Unitate Ecclesiae, Caput XI, §28, PL 43:410.

    Augustine (354-430): I have the most manifest voice of my pastor commending to me, and without any hesitation setting forth the church, I will impute it to myself, if I shall wish to be seduced by the words of men and to wander from his flock, which is the church itself, since he specially admonished me saying, “My sheep hear my voice and follow me”; listen to his voice clear and open and heard; who does not follow, how will he dare to call himself his sheep? Let no one say to me, What hath Donatus said, what hath Parmenian said, or Pontius, or any of them. For we must not allow even Catholic bishops, if at any time, perchance, they are in error, to hold any opinion contrary to the Canonical Scriptures of God. Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, trans. George Musgrave Giger, ed. James T. Dennison, Jr., (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 1992),Vol. 3, pp. 91-92 and William Goode, The Divine Rule of Faith and Practice, 2nd ed., (London: John Henry Jackson, 1853), Vol. 3, p. 165.
    Latin text: Habeo manifestissimam vocem pastoris mei, commendantis mihi et sine ullis ambagibus exprimentis Ecclesiam: mihi imputabo si ab ejus grege, quod est ipsa Ecclesia, per verba hominum seduci atque aberrare voluero; cum me praesertim admonuerit dicens, Quae sunt oves meae, vocem meam audiunt et sequuntur me. Ecce vox ejus clara et aperta: hac audita qui eum non sequitur, quomodo se ovem ejus dicere audebit? Nemo mihi dicat: O quid dixit Donatus, o quid dixit Parmenianus, aut Pontius, aut quilibet illorum! Quia nec catholicis episcopis consentiendum est, sicubi forte falluntur, ut contra canonicas Dei Scripturas aliquid sentiant. De Unitate Ecclesiae, Caput XI, §28, PL 43:410-411.

    Augustine (354-430): All such matters, therefore, being put out of sight, let them show their Church, if they can; not in the discourses and reports of Africans, not in the councils of their own bishops, not in the writings of any controversialists, not in fallacious signs and miracles, for even against these we are rendered by the word of the Lord prepared and cautious, but in the ordinances of the Law, in the predictions of the Prophets, in the songs of the Psalms, in the words of the very Shepherd himself, in the preachings and labours of the Evangelists, that is, in all the canonical authorities of sacred books. Nor so as to collect together and rehearse those things that are spoken obscurely, or ambiguously, or figuratively, such as each can interpret as he likes, according to his own views. For such testimonies cannot be rightly understood and expounded, unless those things that are most clearly spoken are first held by a firm faith. For trans., see William Goode, The Divine Rule of Faith and Practice, 2nd ed., (London: John Henry Jackson, 1853), Vol. 3, p. 165.
    Latin text: Remotis ergo omnibus talibus Ecclesiam suam demonstrent, si possunt, non in sermonibus et rumoribus Afrorum, non in conciliis episcoporum suorum, non in litteris quorumlibet disputatorum, non in signis et prodigiis fallacibus, quia etiam contra ista verbo Domini praeparati et cauti redditi sumus: sed in praescripto Legis, in Prophetarum praedictis, in Psalmorum cantibus, in ipsius unius Pastoris vocibus, in Evangelistarum praedicationibus et laboribus, hoc est, in omnibus canonicis sanctorum Librorum auctoritatibus. Nec ita, ut ea colligant et commemorent, quae obscure vel ambigue vel figurate dicta sunt, quae quisque sicut voluerit, interpretetur secundum sensum suum. Talia enim recte intelligi exponique non possunt, nisi prius ea, quae apertissime dicta sunt, firma fide teneantur. De Unitate Ecclesiae, Caput XVIII, §47, PL 43:427-428.

    Augustine (354-430): We ought to find the Church, as the Head of the Church, in the Holy Canonical Scriptures, not to inquire for it in the various reports, and opinions, and deeds, and words, and visions of men. For trans., see William Goode, The Divine Rule of Faith and Practice, 2nd ed., (London: John Henry Jackson, 1853), Vol. 3, p. 165.
    Latin text: Ecclesia, quam sicut ipsum caput in Scripturis sanctis canonicis debemus agnoscere, non in variis hominum rumoribus, et opinionibus, et factis, et dictis, et visis inquirere. De Unitate Ecclesiae, Caput XIX, §49, PL 43:429.

    Augustine (354-430): For we do not say that we ought to be believed because we are in the Church of Christ, or because that Church to which we belong, was commended to us by Optatus, Ambrose, or other innumerable Bishops of our communion; or because miracles are everywhere wrought in it. . . . These things are indeed to be approved, because they are done in the Catholic Church, but it is not thence proved to be the Catholic Church, because such things are done in it. Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, when He rose from the dead, and offered His body to be touched as well as seen by His disciples, lest there should be any fallacy in it, thought it proper to convince them, rather by the testimony of the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms, showing how all things were fulfilled which had been foretold; and so He commanded His Church, saying, that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His Name, among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. This He testified was written in the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms; this we hold, as commended from His mouth. These are the documents, these the foundations, these the strong grounds of our cause. We read in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 17:11), of some believers, that they daily searched the Scriptures if these things were so. What Scriptures? but the canonical books of the Law and the Prophets; to which are added the Gospels, the Apostolical Epistles, the Acts of the Apostles, and the Revelation of St. John, Search, then, all these, and bring forth something manifest, by which you may prove the Church to have remained only in Africa, or come out of Africa in order that it might be fulfilled which the Lord said, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” For translation, see Charles Hastings Collette, Saint Augustine: A Sketch of His Life and Writings, A.D. 387-430 (London: W. H. Allen & Co., 1883), pp. 48-49.
    Latin text: quia nec nos propterea dicimus nobis credi oportere quod in Ecclesia Christi sumus, quia ipsam quam tenemus, commendavit Milevitanus Optatus, vel Mediolanensis Ambrosius, vel alii innumerabiles nostrae communionis episcopi; aut quia nostrorum collegarum conciliis ipsa praedicata est; aut quia per totum orbem in locis sanctis, quae frequentat nostra communio, tanta mirabilia vel exauditionum, . . . Quaecumque talia in Catholica fiunt, ideo sunt approbanda, quia in Catholica fiunt; non ideo ipsa manifestatur Catholica, quia haec in ea fiunt. Ipse Dominus Jesus cum resurrexisset a mortuis, et discipulorum oculis videndum, manibusque tangendum corpus suum offerret, ne quid tamen fallaciae se pati arbitrarentur, magis eos testimoniis Legis et Prophetarum et Psalmorum confirmandos esse judicavit, ostendens ea de se impleta, quae fuerant tanto ante praedicta. Sic et Ecclesiam suam commendavit dicens: Praedicari in nomine suo poenitentiam, et remissionem peccatorum per omnes gentes, incipientibus ab Jerusalem. Hoc in Lege, et Prophetis, et Psalmis esse scriptum ipse testatus est: hoc ejus ore commendatum tenemus. Haec sunt causae nostrae documenta, haec fundamenta, haec firmamenta. Legimus in Actibus Apostolorum dictum de quibusdam credentibus, quod quotidie scrutarentur Scripturas, an haec ita se haberent: quas utique Scripturas, nisi canonicas Legis et Prophetarum? Huc accesserunt Evangelia, apostolicae Epistolae, Actus Apostolorum, Apocalypsis Joannis. Scrutamini haec omnia, et eruite aliquid manifestum, quo demonstretis Ecclesiam vel in sola Africa remansisse, vel ex Africa futurum esse ut impleatur quod Dominus dicit: Praedicabitur hoc Evangelium regni in universo orbe in testimonium omnibus gentibus; et tunc veniet finis (Matth. XXIV, 14). De Unitate Ecclesiae, Caput XIX, §47-51, PL 43:430.

  137. June 2, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    “And similarly, their divinely authorized successors also do not need to be omniscient by nature in order to speak and teach with the divine authority that binds our conscience.”

    When one speaks with “divine authority” he is merely speaking God’s words. Yet some, it would possibly seem, would have us believe that such authority is to be indexed to the immediate messenger and not the One from whom it ultimately comes. Yet if the authority of the message becomes in any way a function of the speaker, then the exact words repeated by someone not “divinely authorized” becomes what, no longer binding?

    Ron

  138. Bryan Cross said,

    June 2, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    Ron, (#137)

    Yet if the authority of the message becomes in any way a function of the speaker, then the exact words repeated by someone not “divinely authorized” becomes what, no longer binding?

    No, that wouldn’t follow. The authority that statements possess on account of the authority of their speaker does not entail that if those statements are re-spoken by someone not having authority, those statements lose their authority. All other things being equal, the statements retain their authority, even if re-speaking them were unauthorized, i.e. if the re-speakers did not have authority. But if the re-speakers are authorized, then the re-speaking is also authorized.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  139. June 2, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    Fine, then let’s make it abundantly clear that this matter has nothing to do with any sort of alleged succession, which seems to often get the emphasis.

    Ron

  140. June 2, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    Lest I be misunderstood let me elaborate. The statement, if authoritative, retains that quality no matter who speaks it, but the authority comes *only* from God. If such were not the case, then please disclose what additional authoritative force can be added to the original Source, namely Christ? Is Christ lacking? I’m not asking who you think that authority is, but rather what authoritative force is added upon God’s sanctions? In other words, the impetus for both trusting and trembling is respectively faith in and fear of God. What authority does any man have other than declaring God’s promises, censures, etc. Who is ministering for whom after all?

    Ron

  141. Tom Riello said,

    June 2, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    D.T. King,

    “I think that when one can read them in this way, it gives something of a feel for the flow of this ancient African bishop’s argument.”

    I remember some years ago telling the late Father Neuhaus that Augustine, if he entered a Catholic Church, would be appalled by the poor preaching in the average Catholic Church. The late Father leaned back, pondered, and said, “That may be so. But if Augustine showed up at your church, he would ask, ‘who is your Bishop’.”

    Let’s concede, for the sake of argument, that Augustine does not help prove the Catholic claim. You just matter of factly call Augustine the ancient African Bishop yet, if I may ask, might Augustine ask you, “Who is your Bishop?”

  142. greenbaggins said,

    June 2, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    Tom, if I may, it might be a bit premature to ask the ecclesiastical question right at this point. The question does in fact need to be asked. However, the original topic of this post is the canon.

  143. D. T. King said,

    June 2, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    Specifically, My fellow presbyters on my session, in my presbytery, and other Presbyters in the Orthodox Presbyterian church, are my bishops (plural), and generally other presbyters in other Reformed denominations, although I am subject immediately to my session and my presbytery.

    On this matter, I am in agreement with Jerome…

    Jerome (347-420): In both epistles commandment is given that only monogamists should, be chosen for the clerical office whether as bishops or as presbyters. Indeed with the ancients these names were synonymous, one alluding to the office, the other to the age of the clergy. NPNF2: Vol. VI, The Letters of St. Jerome, Letter 69 – To Oceanus, §3.

    This is simply one of many examples of such an affirmation in Jerome. In fact, in his commentary on Titus, he declares that the monarchical bishop is an accretion to the primitive apostolic tradition…

    Jerome (347-420): A presbyter, therefore, is the same as a bishop, and before dissensions were introduced into religion by the instigation of the devil, and it was said among the peoples, ‘I am of Paul, I am of Apollos, and I of Cephas,’ Churches were governed by a common council of presbyters; afterwards, when everyone thought that those whom he had baptised were his own, and not Christ’s, it was decreed in the whole world that one chosen out of the presbyters should be placed over the rest, and to whom all care of the Church should belong, that the seeds of schisms might be plucked up. Whosoever thinks that there is no proof from Scripture, but that this is my opinion, that a presbyter and bishop are the same, and that one is a title of age, the other of office, let him read the words of the apostle to the Philippians, saying, ‘Paul and Timotheus, servants of Christ to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi with the bishops and deacons.’ John Harrison, Whose Are the Fathers? (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1867), p.488. See also Karl Von Hase, Handbook to the Controversy with Rome, trans. A. W. Streane, Vol. 1, 2nd ed. rev. (London: The Religious Tract Society, 1909), p. 164. Cited also by Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Vol. 2, ed. John T. McNeill and trans. Ford Lewis Battles (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, reprinted 1977), IV.4.2, pp. 1069-1070.
    Latin text: Idem est ergo presbyter qui et episcopus, et antequam diaboli instinctu, studia in religione fierent, et diceretur in populis: Ego sum Pauli, ego Apollo, ego autem Cephae, communi presbyterorum consilio, Ecclesiae gubernabantur. Postquam vero unusquisque eos quos baptizaverat suos putabat esse, non Christi, in toto orbe decretum est, ut unus de presbyteris electus superponeretur caeteris, ad quem omnis Ecclesiae cura pertineret, et schismatum semina tollerentur. Putet aliquis non Scripturarum, sed nostram esse sententiam, episcopum et presbyterum unum esse, et aliud aetatis, aliud esse nomen officii: relegat Apostoli ad Philippenses verba dicentis: Paulus et Timothaeus servi Jesu Christi, omnibus sanctis in Christo Jesu, qui sunt Philippis, cum episcopis et diaconis, gratia vobis et pax, et reliqua. Commentariorum In Epistolam Ad Titum, PL 26:562-563.

    Jerome (347-420): Therefore, as we have shown, among the ancients presbyters were the same as bishops; but by degrees, that the plants of dissension might be rooted up, all responsibility was transferred to one person.
    Therefore, as the presbyters know that it is by the custom of the Church that they are to be subject to him who is placed over them so let the bishops know that they are above presbyters rather by custom than by Divine appointment, and ought to rule the Church in common
    , following the example of Moses, who, when he alone had power to preside over the people Israel, chose seventy, with the assistance of whom he might judge the people. We see therefore what kind of presbyter or bishop should be ordained. John Harrison, Whose Are the Fathers? (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1867), p.488. See also Karl Von Hase, Handbook to the Controversy with Rome, trans. A. W. Streane, Vol. 1, 2nd ed. rev. (London: The Religious Tract Society, 1909), p. 164.
    Latin text: Haec propterea, ut ostenderemus apud veteres eosdem fuisse presbyteros quos et episcopos: paulatim vero ut dissensionum plantaria evellerentur, ad unum omnem sollicitudinem esse delatam. Sicut ergo presbyteri sciunt se ex Ecclesiae consuetudine ei qui sibi praepositus fuerit, esse subjectos: ita episcopi noverint se magis consuetudine, quam dispositionis Dominicae veritate, presbyteris esse majores, et in commune debere Ecclesiam regere, imitantes Moysen, qui cum haberet in potestate solum praeesse populo Israel, septuaginta elegit, cum quibus populum judicaret. Videamus igitur qualis presbyter, sive episcopus ordinandus sit. Commentariorum In Epistolam Ad Titum, PL 26:563.

  144. greenbaggins said,

    June 2, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    Oh, well, if Rev. King is going to present such excellent evidence on behalf of the traditional Presbyterian position on polity, who am I to stand in his way? :-)

  145. D. T. King said,

    June 2, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    My apologies for answering a question off topic.

  146. Sean said,

    June 2, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    greenbaggins,

    In that case than we should ask why invoking Augustine as an authority on the canon helps the Protestant canon when Augustine reckoned deuterocanonical books as scripture.

    “Now the whole canon of Scripture on which we say this judgment is to be exercised, is contained in the following books:–Five books of Moses, that is, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; one book of Joshua the son of Nun; one of Judges; one short book called Ruth, which seems rather to belong to the beginning of Kings; next, four books of Kings, and two of Chronicles –these last not following one another, but running parallel, so to speak, and going over the same ground. The books now mentioned are history, which contains a connected narrative of the times, and follows the order of the events. There are other books which seem to follow no regular order, and are connected neither with the order of the preceding books nor with one another, such as Job, and Tobias, and Esther, and Judith, and the two books of Maccabees, and the two of Ezra,(ie. Ezra & Nehemiah) which last look more like a sequel to the continuous regular history which terminates with the books of Kings and Chronicles. Next are the Prophets, in which there is one book of the Psalms of David; and three books of Solomon, viz., Proverbs, Song of Songs, and Ecclesiastes. For two books, one called Wisdom and the other Ecclesiasticus, are ascribed to Solomon from a certain resemblance of style, but the most likely opinion is that they were written by Jesus the son of Sirach. Still they are to be reckoned among the prophetical books, since they have attained recognition as being authoritative. The remainder are the books which are strictly called the Prophets: twelve separate books of the prophets which are connected with one another, and having never been disjoined, are reckoned as one book; the names of these prophets are as follows:–Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi; then there are the four greater prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezekiel. The authority of the Old Testament is contained within the limits of these forty-four books.”

    Augustine, On Christian Doctrine, II:8

  147. D. T. King said,

    June 2, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    In that case than we should ask why invoking Augustine as an authority on the canon helps the Protestant canon when Augustine reckoned deuterocanonical books as scripture.

    I’ll be happy to respond to this question when you first answer my question that I am asking for the third time now . . . did Pope Liberius speak for the Catholic Church of his day?

  148. greenbaggins said,

    June 2, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    Sean, Whitaker has already answered this on page 45.

  149. Sean said,

    June 2, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    DT King.

    What does Pope Liberius have to do with the canon of scripture?

    In any event, I am not a scholar on Pope Liberius and do not know more than what the Catholic Encylopedia says: It should be carefully noted that the question of the fall of Liberius is one that has been and can be freely debated among Catholics. No one pretends that, if Liberius signed the most Arian formulae in exile, he did it freely; so that no question of his infallibility is involved. It is admitted on all sides that his noble attitude of resistance before his exile and during his exile was not belied by any act of his after his return, that he was in no way sullied when so many failed at the Council of Rimini, and that he acted vigorously for the healing of orthodoxy throughout the West from the grievous wound. If he really consorted with heretics, condemned Athanasius, or even denied the Son of God, it was a momentary human weakness which no more compromises the papacy than does that of St. Peter.

  150. D. T. King said,

    June 2, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    I’m asking you, did he or did he not speak for the Catholic church of his day. It doesn’t matter what the Catholic Encylopedia says (as Romanists are fond of reminding me, the CE is not infallible) when it comes to the matter of whether a pope speaks for the church catholic – does he or does he not in his day?

  151. Sean said,

    June 2, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    David T King,

    You need to define what you mean by ‘speak of the Catholic church.’

    I honestly know very little about him but if he signed an Arian formulae under duress and/or denied Jesus than it was his own weakness and sin and not teaching on faith and morals for the whole church. You know, kind of like when St. Peter denied Jesus three times.

    Greenbaggins.

    I am going to follow up on Whitaker’s take on Augustine’s canon in detail on Called to Communion. In general, he ascribes to Augustine a view that since his listing is seperated into sections that he must have given less weight to the dueterocanon. The problem is that he lists ALONG with the deuterocanon books that Whitaker believes are canonical. Further, Whitaker mereley begs the question this his church is ‘more glorious’ and that if Augustine were alive he would see the Reformed churches and side with them.

  152. D. T. King said,

    June 2, 2010 at 3:45 pm

    OK, in this context, earlier you asserted of heretics…

    They do not depend upon the Church to make them materially heretical, but they do depend on the Church to make them formally heretical.

    So I ask, does the pope speak in this way for the church catholic?

  153. D. T. King said,

    June 2, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    If I know so little, then please educate me.

  154. Bryan Cross said,

    June 2, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    Ron (#140),

    If such were not the case, then please disclose what additional authoritative force can be added to the original Source, namely Christ? Is Christ lacking?

    This has to do with participation. Take for example, our very existence. Our existence is real, but there is not now more being than there was ‘before’ God created (though of course there are more beings). That’s because, as St. Paul explains, “in Him we live, and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28) Our being is a participated being; it comes from God, but is neither God nor independent of God. This avoids pantheism on the one hand, and atheism and deism on the other hand.

    Or take causation. There are two errors with respect to God and creaturely causation. One error is a form of deism: i.e. when we act, we alone are the cause. The other error is occasionalism: i.e. when ‘we’ act, God alone acts. Occasionalism makes creaturely causation an illusion. The orthodox position holds together God as primary cause and creatures as genuine secondary causes, for every creaturely act. (The WCF gets this right.) God is the source of creature’s causal powers, yet not in a way that nullifies their actual causal efficacy, but rather in a way that makes genuine secondary causation possible.

    Similarly, there are two errors with respect to authority. One error denies divine authority. That would be the equivalent (with respect to authority) of deism or atheism. But the other error treats God as the only authority. That would be the equivalent (with respect to authority) of occasionalism. The correct position is, once again, the middle position. All authority comes from God. But God gives a real participation in His divine authority to certain men. He does this in a natural way in natural societies, as we see when Jesus says to Pilate, “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above” (John 19:11). And St. Paul says, “For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.” Even in natural societies, all authority comes ultimately and fundamentally from God; no political authorities have their authority ultimately from any other source than from God.

    Likewise, in the supernatural society which is the Church, all authority comes from God. But just because all authority comes from God, that doesn’t entail that in the Church, only God has authority. St. Paul speaks of this when he refers to the authority that Jesus gave to the Apostles for building up the Church (2 Cor 10:8, 13:10); he notes that “as apostles of Christ we might have asserted our authority.” (1 Thess 2:6), and he enjoins Titus to exercise this authority (Titus 2:15). In other words, in the Church there is a real participation in divine authority, by those whom God authorizes. They truly exercise divine authority, by divine authorization. They are not God, but neither is God alone the only authority.

    So, if a believer in, say, the church at Ephesus, were to ask regarding St. Paul’s authority as an Apostle, “What additional authoritative force can be added to the original Source, namely Christ?” the question presupposes that Christ cannot authorize anyone, i.e. that no one can participate in divine authority so as to exercise divine authority by divine authorization. The question presupposes that any authority St. Paul had would have to be some additional authority above and beyond the authority of Christ. But, if divine authority is something that can be participated in, by God’s gratuitous bestowal, then that presupposition is not true. St. Paul’s authority, in that case, is Christ’s authority, the very authority Christ bestowed upon Him, not an additional authority other than Christ’s.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  155. greenbaggins said,

    June 2, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    Beware of truncating Whitaker’s argument, Sean. For even Whitaker says that Augustine regarded these books as “canonical,” but in what sense “canonical?” Whitaker argues that Augustine’s definition of “canonical” is broader than Jerome’s (p. 46). Therefore, to say that Whitaker only argues that a separate listing into sections relegates some to less canonical status is not actually Whitaker’s argument.

  156. Sean said,

    June 2, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    David T King,

    Here is what was said and how I answered:

    Jeff Cagle: “If beliefs are contrary to belief in Jesus, then they do not depend on the Church to make them so.”

    Me: “This is also true. They do not depend upon the Church to make them materially heretical, but they do depend on the Church to make them formally heretical.”

    The Pope, when speaking Ex Cathedra can define a belief formally heretical.

    Is that what you are asking?

    By the way, I said that I know very little about Pope Liberius..not that you know little.

  157. Sean said,

    June 2, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    Greenbaggins,

    I hope to treat Whitaker’s argument about Augustine in a more complete way. Thanks for refering me to that section.

  158. greenbaggins said,

    June 2, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    I look forward to it, Sean. By the way, I should tell you, Sean, that I would be willing to have something of an inter-blog debate between you guys at CTC and GB here. I, for my part, intend to focus attention on the logical arguments, and will seek to avoid contentious language and terms of opprobrium. Therefore, I intend to seek the very best arguments of the Roman Catholic position, and then seek to answer them, much like Whitaker sought to do. If you guys will commit to the same, we could have some very profitable discussions and debates, I would think. Let me know what you think of this.

  159. D. T. King said,

    June 2, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    OK, thank you…

    So, according to your formula (ex cathedra, though that’s pretty anachronistic), but since the pope can speak for the church, let’s hear what he wrote in his own language. Please notice how Liberius describes himself (and below, Jerome as well) as the “bishop of Rome” rather then the head of the Catholic church. Apparently he doesn’t perceive himself to be the head of all Christendom. Now then, some make the argument that Liberius succumbed to duress, i.e., pressure brought to bear on him by bishops from without his see. But, if he was really the head of the whole church catholic in his day, how could there have been any such pressure brought to bear from without, if he indeed held juridical primacy over the whole church? And if he was the head of the whole church catholic, why was there even a need for a Council of Nicaea to convene, when he could have acted alone to adjudicate the Arian controversy? Moreover, it is often argued that papal infallibility is suppose to protect the pope from heresy. If that is true, why didn’t papal infallibility protect Liberius from the pressure of duress?

    You see, the reality is that the whole unbiblical, ahistorical dogma of papal infallibility is so constructed that there is no scenario, which could be presented, that could possibly falsify it. That’s the point. It has so many conditions to it that it dies the death of a thousand qualifications.

    At any rate, forget for a moment that Liberius signed an Arian creed, he also officially condemned Athanasius, the most staunch defender of the Nicene creed in that day, and in the second quote below he claims the support of “the whole body of presbyters of the church of Rome” as his “witness.”

    From Liberius, bishop of Rome to the Eastern bishops: To our very dear brethren and all our fellow-bishops established throughout the East, I, Liberius bishop of Rome, send greeting of eternal salvation.
    Eager for your peace and unanimity of the churches after I had received your Charities’ letter about Athanasius and the rest addressed to bishop Julius of blessed memory, I followed the tradition of my predecessors and sent Lucius, Paul and Helianus, presbyters of Rome on my staff, to the aforesaid Athanasius in Alexandria, asking that he come to Rome so that the matter arising from ecclesiastical discipline in regard to him might be decided upon in his presence. I sent Athanasius a letter, through the aforesaid presbyters, in which it was stated that if he did not come, he was to know that he was a stranger to communion with the church of Rome. Consequently, I have followed your Charities’ letter, which you have sent us about the reputation of the aforesaid Athanasius, and you are to know by this letter I have sent to your united selves, that I am at peace with all of you and with all the bishops of the Catholic Church, but that the aforesaid Athanasius is estranged from my communion and that of the church of Rome and from association in Church letters. See Lionel R. Wickham, Hilary of Poitiers: Conflicts of Conscience and Law in the Fourth-century Church, Liber II Ad Constantium, section 8 (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1997), p. 70.

    From Liberius in exile to Ursacius, Valens and Germinius: 1. Because I know you to be sons of peace, lovers of concord and harmony in the Catholic Church, I address you, very dear lords and brothers, by this letter. I have not been forced by any necessity, as God is my witness, but to do it for the good of the peace and concord which has prior place to martyrdom. Your wise selves are to know that Athanasius, who was the bishop of Alexandria, was condemned by me, before I wrote to the court of the holy Emperor, in accordance with the letter of the Eastern bishops, that he separated from communion with the church of Rome; as the whole body of presbyters of the church of Rome is witness. The sole reason for my appearing slower in writing letters about his reputation to our Eastern brothers and fellow-bishops, was in order that my legates, whom I had sent from Rome to the Court, or the bishops who had been deported, might both together, if possible, be recalled from exile.
    2. But I want you to know this also: I asked my brother Fortunatianus to take to the most clement Emperor my letter to the Eastern bishops, in order that they too might know that I was separated from communion with Athanasius along with them. I believe his Piety will receive that letter with pleasure for the good of peace, and a copy of it I have also sent to the Emperor’s trusty eunuch Hilary. Your Charities will perceive that I have done these things in a spirit of friendship and integrity. Which is why I address you in this letter and adjure you by God almighty and his son Jesus Christ our Lord and God, to see fit to travel to the most clement Emperor Constantius Augustus and ask him to order my return to the church divinely entrusted to me, for the sake of the peace and concord in which his Piety ever rejoices, in order that the church of Rome may undergo no distress in his days. But you ought by this letter of mine to know, very dear brothers, that I am at peace with you in a spirit of calm and honesty. Great will be the comfort you secure on the day of retribution, if through you has been restored the peace of the Roman church. I want our brothers and fellow bishops Epictetus and Auxentius also, to learn through you that I am at peace, and have ecclesastical[sic] communion, with them. I think they will be pleased to receive this news. But anyone who dissents from our peace and concord which, God willing, has been established throughout the world, is to know that he is separated from our communion. See Lionel R. Wickham, Hilary of Poitiers: Conflicts of Conscience and Law in the Fourth-century Church, Liber II Ad Constantium, section 8 (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1997), pp. 78-79. Cf. also Migne, PL 10:686ff.

    Interestingly enough, interspersed with the text above, the ancient catholic bishop, Hilary of Poitiers (c 315-367), now regarded by the communion of Rome as one of the lesser doctors of the church, stated . . . “Saint Hilary anathematizes him: I anathematize you, Liberius, and your associates . . . Anathema to you, prevaricating Liberius, twice and thrice!” I guess that’s quite a blow to the much lauded unity of the early church, I mean two ancient orthodox bishops, anathematizing other orthodox bishops. There’s an object lesson for you on unity in the ancient church, sorta wreaks of imperfection, doesn’t it?

    Liberius declares he holds communion with the above named Arians.

    Jerome (347-420): Liberius was ordained the 34th bishop of the Roman church, and when he was driven into exile for the faith, all the clergy took an oath that they would not recognize any other bishop. But when Felix was put in his place by the Arians, a great many foreswore themselves; but at the end of the year they were banished, and Felix too; for Liberius, giving in to the irksomeness of exile and subscribing to the heretical and false doctrine, made a triumphal entry into Rome. E. Giles, ed., Documents Illustrating Papal Authority: A.D. 96-454 (Westport: Hyperion Press, reprinted 1982), p. 151.
    Latin text: LIBERIUS XXXIV Romanae Ecclesiae ordinatur episcopus, quo in exsilium ob fidem truso, omnes clerici juraverunt, ut nullum alium susciperent. Verum cum Felix ab Arianis fuisset in sacerdotium substitutus, plurimi pejeraverunt, et post annum cum Felice ejecti sunt: quia Liberius taedio victus exsilii, et in haereticam pravitatem subscribens, Romam quasi victor intraverat. S. Hieronymi Chronicon, Ad Ann. 352, PL 27:684-685.

  160. D. T. King said,

    June 2, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    Ok, I posted something as a response, but it doesn’t seem to be coming up, and it’s telling me I duplicated it.

  161. D. T. King said,

    June 2, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    There it is. :)

  162. greenbaggins said,

    June 2, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    Sorry, David. For some reason my spam filter caught that one. But I rescued it. Please note that sometimes this happens, and I have no idea why. But it doesn’t mean that your comment is gone.

  163. Tom Riello said,

    June 2, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    Lane,

    First off, my apologies for asking a question off topic. Second, I echo your words, and am grateful to God for your irenic tone in seeking the truth in love.

  164. D. T. King said,

    June 2, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    Thanks Lane!

    Moreover, I’m content to let Whitaker answer the question that SP asked of me, unless he still desires for me to respond to it. But Whitaker handles it well.

  165. Sean said,

    June 2, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    David T King,

    I really no almost nothing about Pope Liberius.

    I do know that the formula for ‘ex cathedra’ is not ‘my formula’ but the one promulgated by the first Vatican Council.

    As the Catholic Encycolopedia article explains, the modern judgement of Liberius is mixed. Maybe one day I’ll be able to study his relationship with Athanasius in more detail and be able to formulate an understanding.

  166. Sean said,

    June 2, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    Pardon my bad spelling (No=Know) obviously.

  167. D. T. King said,

    June 2, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    Sean,

    I can appreciate that you have little knowledge of Liberius, my own is by no means exhaustive, but I do think it’s important for you to give yourself to a study of the Scriptures and of church history. I am, and remain, a student myself.

    No need to apologize for the misspelling, happens to everyone in these exchanges.

  168. June 2, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    Mr. Cross,

    I’m not going going on bunny trails these days. This will be my last word on the matter, plain and simple As a parent I am permitted before God to apply sanctions to rules I invent. In that sense a parent has liberties that a minister does not. It is because the role of ecclesiastical authorities is strictly ministerial and declarative that they may not bind the consciences of parishioners with rules and regulations that cannot be derived from Scripture, the only remaining deposit of God’s special revelation. Accordingly, when a church judicatory remits and withholds sin, it does so as God’s ministers, according to God’s word, and always in God’s name. God makes declarations through the channel of ecclesiastical courts, and God does not own pronouncements made in error. Yet if an ecclesiastical court had intrinsic authority, then God would be bound to punish innocent people who were allegedly “condemned” by improper verdicts.

    God would find my children guilty for not obeying extra-biblical house rules that do not require sin. God does not find Martin Luther guilty for his position at Worms. Again, a parent may make rules that go beyond Scripture; ministers may not – hence Luther’s liberty to go against the magisterium. Although all authority other than God’s is derived, there are restraints that God places upon his servants, especially ministers – his ministers. Sadly, Rome has cast off all such restraint. Accordingly, she, when true to her councils, does not minister in God’s name. She “ministers” in her own. Praise God for the judgment and the final vindication of truth.

    So long.

    Ron

  169. Bryan Cross said,

    June 2, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    Ron, (#168)

    I’m not sure which ecclesiastical authority told you that ecclesiastical authority is strictly ministerial and declarative and that they may not bind the consciences of parishioners with anything that the parishioner himself cannot derive from Scripture. But even so, that wasn’t the question I was answering in #154. Nor was I addressing any question about Rome. I was merely answering your question (from #140) about whether when divine authority is exercised by human beings, some additional authoritative force is being added to divine authority.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  170. D. T. King said,

    June 2, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    I’m not sure which ecclesiastical authority told you that ecclesiastical authority is strictly ministerial and declarative . . .

    If you were ever in a Reformed church, then you should know the answer to this question…

    From the OPC BCO, but the same language is in the PCA BCO as well…

    All church power is only ministerial and declarative, for the Holy Scriptures are the only infallible rule of faith and practice. No church judicatory may presume to bind the conscience by making laws on the basis of its own authority; all its decisions should be founded upon the Word of God. “God alone is Lord of the conscience, and hath left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men, which are, in anything, contrary to his Word; or beside it, if matters of faith, or worship” (Confession of Faith, XX, 2).

  171. Bryan Cross said,

    June 2, 2010 at 6:20 pm

    David (re: #170),

    The only basis for the ‘authority’ of the BCOs of the PCA and OPC is your agreement with their interpretation of Scripture. I wasn’t referring to that kind of ecclesiastical ‘authority.’ Anyone can drum up that kind of ecclesiastical ‘authority’ by rounding up a group of like-minded interpreters, forming a denomination, and publishing a BCO. I’m speaking of ecclesiastical authority that does not have its basis in my agreement with its interpretation of Scripture, but in Christ’s authorization. So far as I know, no ecclesiastical authority has ever ruled that ecclesiastical authority is strictly ministerial and declarative and that they may not bind the consciences of parishioners.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  172. D. T. King said,

    June 2, 2010 at 6:24 pm

    I think you speak so ambiguous that one rarely understands anything you offer. Besides, that’s the answer and I’m not looking for your comments about what you think anyone can “drum up.”

  173. John said,

    June 2, 2010 at 6:45 pm

    It seems to me the above quotes from Augustine misrepresent his position, as if he was going to purely argue his case from scripture and thought nothing of a special divine authority that the catholic church had. Here is from letter 185 of Augustine:

    “For they prefer to the testimonies of Holy Writ their own contentions, because, in the case of Cæcilianus, formerly a bishop of the Church of Carthage, against whom they brought charges which they were and are unable to substantiate, they separated themselves from the Catholic Church—that is, from the unity of all nations. Although, even if the charges had been true which were brought by them against Cæcilianus, and could at length be proved to us, yet, though we might pronounce an anathema upon him even in the grave, we are still bound not for the sake of any man to leave the Church, which rests for its foundation on divine witness, and is not the figment of litigious opinions, seeing that it is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man. For we cannot allow that if Cæcilianus had erred,— a supposition which I make without prejudice to his integrity—Christ should therefore have forfeited His inheritance. It is easy for a man to believe of his fellow-men either what is true or what is false; but it marks abandoned impudence to desire to condemn the communion of the whole world on account of charges alleged against a man, of which you cannot establish the truth in the face of the world.”

    As far as I see, what he is saying is that Holy Scripture testifies by divine witness of the existence of the catholic church. “the Church, which rests for its foundation on divine witness” which is “the unity of all nations”. When he says ” it is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man”, he is not just talking about scripture, he is talking about the church that scripture testifies to, and concerning the church he cannot abide by the idea that “Christ should therefore have forfeited His inheritance”, by abandoning the church.

    Augustine is not going to be emphasising apostolic succession in this controversy, since the Donatists had a plausible claim to succession. Its other aspects of the church that concern him here.

    Surely nobody here is going to seriously argue that Augustine didn’t teach the importance of apostolic succession. After all, one of the theological understandings of apostolic succession is so named after Augustine.

    “There are many other things which most properly can keep me in [the Catholic Church’s] bosom. The unanimity of peoples and nations keeps me here. Her authority, inaugurated in miracles, nourished by hope, augmented by love, and confirmed by her age, keeps me here. The succession of priests, from the very see of the apostle Peter, to whom the Lord, after his resurrection, gave the charge of feeding his sheep, up to the present episcopate, keeps me here. And last, the very name Catholic, which, not without reason, belongs to this Church alone, in the face of so many heretics, so much so that, although all heretics want to be called ‘Catholic,’ when a stranger inquires where the Catholic Church meets, none of the heretics would dare to point out his own basilica or house” (Against the Letter of Mani Called “The Foundation” 4:5 [A.D. 397]).

  174. June 2, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    Using Augustine as representative of the ECFs, it appears that, since he says a bunch of very Protestant-sounding things as well as a lot of Catholic-sounding things, our options are:

    1). Augustine was schizophrenic

    or,

    2) Augustine somehow was able to believe that the Scriptures have a unique authority (as well as a certain perspicuity), and that they should be appealed to in order to settle doctrinal disputes, in such a way as not to do violence to apostolic succession.

    The question for us Protestants is how to account for the apostolic succession bit, and for the Catholics, it’s how do you account for the unique authority and perspicuity of Scripture parts?

    Or we can just take the easy route and say that Augustine’s not one of us.

  175. D. T. King said,

    June 2, 2010 at 8:04 pm

    It seems to me the above quotes from Augustine misrepresent his position, as if he was going to purely argue his case from scripture and thought nothing of a special divine authority that the catholic church had. Here is from letter 185 of Augustine:

    Thanks for sharing.

  176. D. T. King said,

    June 2, 2010 at 8:15 pm

    Augustine somehow was able to believe that the Scriptures have a unique authority (as well as a certain perspicuity), and that they should be appealed to in order to settle doctrinal disputes, in such a way as not to do violence to apostolic succession.

    Agreed, and there are, to be sure, many passages in Augustine where he states explicitly that doctrinal differences are to be adjudicated by Holy Scripture. And with respect to Rome, the African church often defended their autonomy, and even told Pope Zosimus on one occasion, essentially, to take a hike when he tried to reverse their condemnation of Pelagius and his disciple.

    But I fear that I am taking us too far from the thread. This is surely not my blog, and I am uncertain about the limits – I wish to respect them.

  177. June 2, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    “So far as I know, no ecclesiastical authority has ever ruled that ecclesiastical authority is strictly ministerial and declarative and that they may not bind the consciences of parishioners…”

    DTK showed that the PCA and OPC adhere to such strictures. Accordingly, Mr. Cross’ comment was either made in ignorance, or else he does not accept those denominations as having ecclesiastical authority. That would make Mr. Cross either uninformed or not an ecumenical catholic – yet he poses himself as both.

    Ron

  178. Wayne Sparkman said,

    June 2, 2010 at 11:28 pm

    It’s late and I need a laugh.

    Bryan said,

    “Anyone can drum up that kind of ecclesiastical ‘authority’ by rounding up a group of like-minded interpreters, forming a denomination, and publishing a BCO.”

    To which I reply, “Oh, I don’t know. It’s not as easy as it looks.”

  179. Bryan Cross said,

    June 3, 2010 at 1:13 am

    David (re: #176),

    the African church often defended their autonomy, and even told Pope Zosimus on one occasion, essentially, to take a hike when he tried to reverse their condemnation of Pelagius and his disciple.

    That’s not exactly accurate. When Pelagius’ disciple Celestius was condemned (and excommunicated) at a local council in 411, Celestius appealed the decision to the bishop of Rome, but then did not show up for the examination at Rome; instead he fled Africa. (He showed up in Rome six years later, seeking at that time to have his appeal heard.) In 415 at the assembly under Bishop John of Jerusalem, the bishop examined Pelagius, and agreed with the council’s recommendation that brethren and letters should be sent to Pope Innocent, “for all to follow what he [i.e. Pope Innocent] should decide.”

    In 416 when Orosius returned to Hippo with letters from Heros and Lazarus explaining the harm Pelagius was doing in Palestine, the African bishops convened a council in Carthage in June of that year, and sent a letter to Pope Innocent asking him to anathematize Pelagius and Celestius, “so that to the statutes of our littleness might be added the authority of the Apostolic See.” They added, “the error itself and impiety which has now many assertors in divers places, ought to be anathematized by the authority of the Apostolic See also.” That same year (416), the council at Milevis (attended by sixty-one bishops, including St. Augustine) also wrote Pope Innocent about this matter, saying, “Since God has by a special gift of His grace set you in the Apostolic See, and has given such a one as yourself to our times, so that it could rather be imputed to us as a fault of negligence if we failed to unfold to your Reverence whatever is to be suggested for the Church … we beseech you to apply your pastoral diligence to the great peril of the weak members of Christ.” They believed that their decision was only authoritative locally (in Africa) while that of the Apostolic See was universal. Five African bishops, among whom St. Augustine was one, sent a letter to Pope Innocent saying, “we wish [our judgments] to be approved by you whether our stream, though small, flows from the same head of water as your abundant river, and to be consoled by your answer in the common participation of the same grace.” Implied in their statement is the idea that if the Apostolic See approves of their judgment, this will show that they are in line with the universal Church.

    In his reply (January, 417) Pope Innocent commends them for “preserving the example of ancient tradition, and being mindful of ecclesiastical discipline” by “consulting us before passing sentence.” He writes:

    “For you decided that it was proper to refer to our judgment, knowing what is due to the Apostolic See, since all we who are set in this place desire to follow the Apostles from whom the very episcopate and whole authority of this name is derived. Following in his steps, we know how to condemn the evil and to approve the good. So also, you have by your sacerdotal office preserved the customs of the Fathers, and have not spurned that which they decreed by a divine and not human sentence, that whatsoever is done, even though it be in distant provinces, should not be ended without being brought to the knowledge of this See, that by its authority the whole just pronouncement should be strengthened, and that from it all other [particular] Churches (like waters flowing from their natal source and flowing through the different regions of the world, the pure streams of one incorrupt head), should receive what they ought to enjoin, whom they ought to wash, and whom that water, worthy of pure bodies, should avoid as defiled with uncleansable filth.”

    In reply to the request from the council at Milevis, Pope Innocent writes, “It is therefore with due care and propriety that you consult the secrets [arcana] of the Apostolic office, that office, I mean, to which belongs, besides the things which are without, the care of all the Churches, as to what opinion you should hold in this anxious question, following thus the ancient rule which you know has been observed with me by the whole world. But this subject I dismiss, for I do not think it is unknown to your prudence; for else, why did you confirm it with your action, if you were not aware that responses ever flow from the Apostolic fountain to all provinces for those who ask them?” He then gives his decision:

    “We judge by the authority of the Apostolic power [apostolici uigoris auctoritate] that Pelagius and Celestius be deprived of ecclesiastical communion until they return to the faith out of the snares of the devil.”

    Innocent died on March 12, 417, and Pope Zosimus was elected to take his place. Shortly thereafter, St. Augustine wrote to St. Paulinus of Nola, warning him about the doctrines of Pelagius. St. Augustine explained what had been sent to the Apostolic See, writing, “We also wrote to Pope Innocent, of blessed memory, a private letter, besides the [proceedings] of the Councils, wherein we described the case at greater length. To all of these he [i.e. Pope Innocent] answered in the manner which was the right and duty of the bishop of the Apostolic See.” St. Augustine believed that Pope Innocent’s authoritative decision removed all doubt about the heretical nature of the Pelagian doctrines. (Four years later, in his Contra Julian, St. Augustine speaks of Celestius seeming to be Catholic “when he [i.e. Celestius] answered that he consented to the letters of Pope Innocent, of blessed memory, by which all doubt about this matter was removed.”)

    Celestius, having been ejected from Constantinople, arrived in Rome right after the election of Pope Zosimus, seeking to have his appeal heard, the one he had made six years earlier. Pope Zosimus agreed to hear it. St. Augustine writes about the examination of Celestius in Rome before Pope Zosimus, at which point, when Celestius was asked about his doctrine of grace, he [i.e. Celestius] said: “If any questions have arisen beyond that which is of faith, about which there should be contention among many, I have not decided these matters with definite authority as the originator of any dogma, but what I have received from the fountain of the Prophets and Apostles, we offer to be approved by the judgment of your Apostleship; in order that if by chance any error of ignorance has crept in upon us being but men, it may be corrected by your decision.” He promised to “condemn what that See [i.e. the Holy See] should condemn.” So Pope Zosimus wanted to release him from excommunication, on the hope that he would be true to his promise. But he decided to delay for two months rescinding the excommunication, until word could be heard back from the bishops of Africa. Writing to the African bishops, he says, “In addition there is the authority of the Apostolic See, to which the decrees of the Fathers have in honour of St. Peter sanctioned a particular reverence. We must pray, therefore, and pray incessantly, that by the continued grace and unceasing assistance of God, from this fountain the peace of the faith and of Catholic brotherhood may be sent into the whole world.”

    Pelagius likewise, at this time sent a letter to Pope Innocent (whom Pelagius did not know had already died) “containing his complete apology” and a profession of faith. His letter concludes with the claim (again, insincere, it turns out) of unreserved submission to the decision of the Holy See. At the end of his letter Pelagius writes:

    This is the faith, most blessed Pope, which we have learned in the Catholic Church, which we have ever held and hold. If we have by chance set down aught in it unskillfully or without due caution, we desire to be corrected by you, who hold both the faith and the See of Peter. If, however, this confession of ours is approved by the judgment of your apostleship, then, whosoever desires to blacken me will prove not me to be a heretic, but himself unskillful, or else ill-willed, or even not a Catholic.

    Celestius, it turns out, was not being sincere. He had promised to submit to the Pope, but he had refused to condemn certain [Pelagian] errors. This is the point that the bishops of Africa would appeal to, in their letter back to Pope Zosimus. They urged Pope Zosimus to see that Celestius was only feigning submission. When the African bishops received Pope Zosimus’ letter around the beginning of November (417), they immediately wrote back asking him to extend the two month period for rescinding the excommunication, so that they could send him a full report. These bishops then called a council (214 bishops), meeting in December 417 – January 418. They requested that the sentence against Pelagius and Celestius, which had been “published by the venerable Bishop Innocent from the See of Blessed Peter remain firm, until they confess that by the grace of God … ” They requested that Celestius openly anathematize each of the [Pelagian] doctrines. From Africa, Paulinus wrote to Pope Zosimus, saying,

    I beseech justice of your blessedness, Lord Zosimus, venerable Pope. The true faith is never disturbed, and above all in the Apostolic Church, in which teachers of false faith are as truly punished as they are easily discovered. … so that in them may be that true faith which the Apostles taught, and which the Roman Church holds together with all the doctors of the Catholic faith. And if like the other heresiarchs (who long since judged by the Apostolic See or by the Fathers, and expelled from the bosom of the Catholic Church, are given over to eternal death) these also, who are or shall be discovered, remain in their perfidy, let them be delivered to the spiritual sword to be destroyed; even as now Pelagius and Celestius, who were condemned by the predecessor of your blessedness, Pope Innocent, of blessed memory, if they cast off the true faith, and remain in their perverse doctrine. … Let that which could no longer be hid, but has been publicly brought to light, be now cut off by your Holiness with the spiritual sword, that the flock of the Lord, which you govern as a good Shepherd with anxious solicitude, may no longer be torn by this wild beast’s teeth.

    When Pope Zosimus received this letter (around March of 418) and the reply of the African bishops, it had been six months since he wrote them. He wrote back (about March 18):

    “Although the tradition of the Fathers has attributed to the Apostolic See so great authority that none would dare to contest its judgment, and has preserved this ever in its canons and rules, and current ecclesiastical discipline in its laws still pays the reverence which it ought to the name of Peter, from which it has itself its origin, for canonical antiquity willed that this apostle should have such power by (or above) the decisions of all; and by the promise of Christ our God, that he should loose the bound and bind the loosed, and an equal condition of power has been given to those who with his consent have received the heritage of his See. For he himself has care over all the Churches …. Since then Peter is the head of so great an authority, and has confirmed the suffrages of our forefathers since his time, so that the Roman Church is confirmed by all laws and disciplines, divine or human; whose place we rule, and the power of whose name we inherit, as you are not ignorant, my brethren, but you know it well, and as bishops you are bound to know it; yet though such was our authority that none could reconsider our decision, yet we have done nothing which we did not of our own accord refer to your cognizance by letter, giving this much to our brotherhood, in order that by taking counsel in common, not because we did not know what ought to be done, or because we might do something which might displease you as being contrary to the good of the Church, but we desired to treat together with you of a man who was accused before you (as you yourself wrote), and who came to our See asserting that he was innocent, not refusing judgment on his original appeal ….”

    When Celestius was called before Pope Zosimus again (after Pope Zosimus had received this reply from the bishops of Africa), Celestius fled from Rome. And for this reason, he was condemned by Pope Zosimus, who then sent copies of the condemnation (tractoria) to all the Churches. Pope Zosimus likewise condemned Pelagius, and included this in what he sent to the Churches, as St. Augustine explains:

    He [Pelagius] seemed for a time to say what was in accord with the Catholic faith, but he was unable to deceive that See [i.e. the Apostolic See] to the end. For after the rescripts of the African Council, in which province his pestilent doctrines had crept, but which it had not so widely pervaded, other writings of his were made public by the care of faithful brethren in the city of Rome, where he had lived a very long time, and had first been occupied with these conversations and disputes. These were attached by Pope Zosimus, to be anathematized, to his letters which he wrote to be carried throughout the Catholic world.

    In this tractoria that Pope Zosimus sent to all the Churches, he says, “The sacred See of Peter thus addresses the whole world.” After Pope Zosimus’ condemnation of Celestius and Pelagius, the Emperor Honorious expelled Celestius and Pelagius from Rome on April 30, 418. Julian (the Pelagian bishop) did not accept it, and was deposed.

    In response to Pope Zosimus’s condemnation of Celestius and Pelagius, the African bishops (again in council around August, 418) wrote back to Pope Zosimus, praising him for his decision. St. Augustine, in a letter to Bishop Optatus, wrote that Pelagius and Celestius “by the vigilance of Episcopal councils, by the help of the Saviour who guards His Church, have been condemned in the whole Christian world by two venerable bishops of the Apostolic See, Pope Innocent and Pope Zosimus.” He quotes a passages from Pope Zosimus’s tractoria and says, “In these words of the Apostolic See, so ancient and founded, so certain and clear is the Catholic faith, that it would be a sin for a Christian to doubt it.” Pope Zosimus died at the end of that year.

    The African bishops were not pleased with Pope Zosimus’ initial proposal to rescind Celestius’s excommunication, but they never told him anything close to “take a hike.” They always understood that the Apostolic See was the locus of Apostolic authority, and that is why they believed it was crucial for Pope Innocent, and then Pope Zosimus, to condemn the Pelagian heresy.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  180. John Bugay said,

    June 3, 2010 at 5:31 am

    Bryan Cross — They always understood that the Apostolic See was the locus of Apostolic authority,

    One might expect such a one-sided portrayal from you. Here’s what Klaus Schatz says of the incident:

    In reality, of course, the causa was by no means settled, for under Zosimus, the next pope, the Pelagians succeeded in obtaining a hearing at Rome and defending their orthodoxy. Augustine did not wait for Rome’s decision; in 418 he called another council at Carthage that solemnly condemned particular Pelagian doctrines. The decree was simply communicated to Rome, and the pope [impotently, one might say] confirmed the council’s decisions.

    The African Church was even more determined to defend its jurisdictional autonomy. Councils at Carthage in 419 and 424 forbade any appeals to Rome. The background of these actions was the case of a priest named Apiarius, who had been excommunicated by his own bishop and then received a favorable judgment at Rome (probably because the authorities there were ignorant of the situation). The North Africans reacted by providing a court of appeal even for ordinary presbyters from their own bishop’s verdict to the North African council at Carthage. That appeared to satisfy the requirements of justice. In turn, they took a firm stand against Roman intervention, where people acting at a distance were almost certain to make wrong decisions, if only because it was impossible to bring the witnesses necessary for such a judicial proceeding from North Africa to Rome. Moreover, it was unthinkable that God would give the spirit of right judgment to a single individual, the Roman bishop, an withold it from an entire council of bishops. Therefore the North African Bishops forbade any “ultra-marine” appeals. In contrast to [the council of] Sardica, they applied this prohibition even to bishops. This particular decision had been preceded by a similar case involving a bishop who had fallen out with his congregation but was protected by Rome; at that, even Augustine of Hippo threatened to resign. From now on, the only court of appeal was to be the North African council at Carthage. This case was to be brought up repeatedly in [the] future as an example of resistance by the episcopate of a national Church against Roman centralism. (Klaus Schatz, “Papal Primacy, From its Origins to Present,” The Liturgical Press, pgs. 36-37.)

    Schatz goes on to say that one weakening factor was “the period of Vandal domination,” which greatly weakened the North African church. And not long afterward came the conquests of Islam.

    Innocent’s statement was yet another example of “Rome is in charge because Rome says Rome is in charge.” And here, we have yet another case of the forces of evil once again assisting the papacy in its quest for domination. It usurped power whenever it could, from whomever it could. And this passed for “faithful development.”

  181. Sean said,

    June 3, 2010 at 7:08 am

    John,

    Augustine believed that the bishop of Rome was Peter’s successor.

    “I am held in the communion of the Catholic Church by…and by the succession of bishops from the very seat of Peter, to whom the Lord, after His resurrection commended His sheep to be fed up to the present episcopate.”
    Augustine, Against the Letter of Mani, 5

    “Carthage was also near the countries over the sea, and distinguished by illustrious renown, so that it had a bishop of more than ordinary influence, who could afford to disregard a number of conspiring enemies because he saw himself joined by letters of communion to the Roman Church, in which the supremacy of an apostolic chair has always flourished.”
    Augustine, To Glorius et.al, Epistle 43:7

    “The chair of the Roman Church, in which Peter sat, and in which Anastasius sits today.”
    Augustine, Against the Letters of Petillian, 2:51

    Augustine also argued against the Donists by showing that they had no bishop in the succession of the bishops of Rome. Why would Augustine, an African bishop, bother with using the succession of a different See in combating heresy?

    “For if the lineal succession of bishops is to be taken into account, with how much more certainty and benefit to the Church do we reckon back till we reach Peter himself, to whom, as bearing in a figure the whole Church, the Lord said: ‘Upon this rock will I build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it !’ The successor of Peter was Linus, and his successors in unbroken continuity were these: — Clement, Anacletus, Evaristus, Alexander, Sixtus, Telesphorus, Iginus, Anicetus, Pius, Soter, Eleutherius, Victor, Zephirinus, Calixtus, Urbanus, Pontianus, Antherus, Fabianus, Cornelius, Lucius, Stephanus, Xystus, Dionysius, Felix, Eutychianus, Gaius, Marcellinus, Marcellus, Eusebius, Miltiades, Sylvester, Marcus, Julius, Liberius, Damasus, and Siricius, whose successor is the present Bishop Anastasius. In this order of succession no Donatist bishop is found. But, reversing the natural course of things, the Donatists sent to Rome from Africa an ordained bishop, who, putting himself at the head of a few Africans in the great metropolis, gave some notoriety to the name of “mountain men,” or Cutzupits, by which they were known.”
    Augustine, To Generosus, Epistle 53:2

    Lastly, contra Reformed theology, Augustine calls ordination and sacrament:

    “In like manner as if there take place an ordination of clergy in order to form a congregation of people, although the congregation of people follow not, yet there remains in the ordained persons the Sacrament of Ordination; and if, for any fault, any be removed from his office, he will not be without the Sacrament of the Lord once for all set upon him, albeit continuing unto condemnation.”

    Augustine, On the Good of Marriage, 24:32

    So, these things which are affirmed by Augustine are unavoidable.

  182. John Bugay said,

    June 3, 2010 at 7:22 am

    Whatever Augustine believed about Peter, some of it can safely be said to have been “pious fictions”:

    http://heidelblog.wordpress.com/2010/05/26/eamon-duffy-on-the-origins-of-the-papacy/

    It will take very much study to sort all of that out.

    Then, there is the fact that later in his life he thought through what he actually thought about Matt 16:18, and he was clearly in the camp of those who believed that Christ was the Rock.

    And further, it didn’t stop him from forbidding his own people from appealing to Rome. That “court final appeal” is one of the things currently propping up some perceived necessity for a “petrine ministry” in the church.

    Augustine clearly wanted no parts of the kind of “papacy” that you are suggesting.

  183. Sean said,

    June 3, 2010 at 7:34 am

    John,

    Let me know the next time the general assembly of your PCA presbytery sends letters to the successor of Peter seeking support for doctrinal disputes like the African bishops did to Zosimus and Innocent.

  184. John Bugay said,

    June 3, 2010 at 7:37 am

    Sean, I’m sure they stand with Augustine and totally reject any notion of appealing to Rome.

  185. D. T. King said,

    June 3, 2010 at 7:42 am

    Lane,

    I see that Mr. Cross believes he has the liberty to go far off the topic on a comment I made in passing, do I have the liberty to respond to this? I have to be out of the office today, but I will most cheerfully do so of granted the permission.

    I know that on the CTC blog, this sort of thing isn’t permitted there.

  186. greenbaggins said,

    June 3, 2010 at 7:52 am

    Well, it’s a sticky kind of thing, David. Bryan has been for quite a while one of the few Roman Catholic commenters on this blog, and I’ve let him pretty much say whatever he wants to say. Now, the situation is changing a bit, and we have a few more RCC commenters, mostly from CTC. I would say this, David, if you wish to respond to Bryan this time, go ahead. But I would encourage all to restrain themselves to the point of the original post.

  187. D. T. King said,

    June 3, 2010 at 8:21 am

    Lane,

    One more question, are you going to permit Cross to post on this subject again after I get the one reply?

  188. greenbaggins said,

    June 3, 2010 at 8:34 am

    I don’t think Bryan will need to respond after he has posted so much. I think it would be fine for you to have the final word on this rabbit-trail.

  189. Sean said,

    June 3, 2010 at 8:35 am

    John,

    If you continuing reading the very next pages of Schatz’s work that you quoted in # 180 he argues,

    “When threatened with heresies the Church learns that it draws its life from recollection of its apostolic origins. It realizes that tie to its origins in a twofold manner: through the canon of sacred Scripture, which is thus clearly distinguished from the ‘inauthentic writings, and through the continuity and ‘apostolic succession’ of office, primarily that of bishops. But in this not all churches are equally important. The ‘apostolic’ churches have the greatest importance, because the connection to the origins is somehow more tangible.
    In a further process, the Church learns through experience of schisms that it needs an enduring center of unity. But because the Church cannot ‘create’ its essential elements, but lives its life as a Church founded by Jesus and endowed with certain gives and traditions, it cannot produce such a center of unity out of nothing. It must seek within its apostolic traditions for such a point of unity. An artificially created center of unity devised for practical reasons could, of course, have a certain usefulness as an administrative clearinghouse and center for arbitration of disputes, but in times of real crises when the faith is in danger there is no guarantee that the Church can maintain itself in truth purely by relying on such a manufactured office of unity[...] The Church must therefore seek within its own tradition to see whether it does not possess at least the elements of such a center.
    In the course of that search it discovers the Roman church, which has an advantage over all the other ‘apostolic’ churches in its ties to the beginning by the fact that it is associated with Peter and Paul, and therefore has a potentior principalitas.[...] Now the Church understands that the words of Jesus to Peter had significance for the entire Church as well. The Petrine office is thus the link between two elements: the apostolic (the Church’s attachment to its origins because it descends from Peter) and the catholic (the Church’s universality in space because it serves present and enduring unity).”

    Petrine Primacy 36-38

    Schatz says that Petrine primacy is of apostolic origin and not artificially manufactured.

  190. Sean said,

    June 3, 2010 at 8:51 am

    Lane,

    In the spirit of the original post and subsequent exchanges about keeping thread on topic, I for one won’t continue discussion unless it pertains to the canon.

    Cheerio,

    Sean

  191. John Bugay said,

    June 3, 2010 at 9:59 am

    Sean — the difference, in case you hadn’t noticed, was that in the selection I provided, Schatz is giving history, which very well represents not only Augustine’s opinion, but that of the whole North African church, which at that time, was supposedly under the jurisdiction of Rome. Though it obviously was not.

    In your selection, it is Schatz’s own opinion. So not only have you tried to change the subject again. But in adopting Schatz’s opinion, you have also changed your mind and accepted his conclusions from earlier in his book. Namely, that there was “no notion of any enduring ‘petrine’ office” in the typical Roman proof texts. (pg 1)

    You should note, too, that “the need for an enduring center of unity” is NOT among some of the historical defenses of the papacy, which has claimed to have jurisdiction from day one. Schatz is doing some wishful thinking, in trying to come up with some justification for a primacy. He, and “the Church,” are still looking for this.

    So in essence, you have just admitted the very thing I have been saying all along: Rome is backtracking on its story, because the history does not support its historical contentions.

  192. D. T. King said,

    June 3, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    On my comment in passing, Mr. Cross wrote…

    That’s not exactly accurate. When Pelagius’ disciple Celestius was condemned (and excommunicated) at a local council in 411, Celestius appealed the decision to the bishop of Rome, but then did not show up for the examination at Rome; instead he fled Africa. (He showed up in Rome six years later, seeking at that time to have his appeal heard.) In 415 at the assembly under Bishop John of Jerusalem, the bishop examined Pelagius, and agreed with the council’s recommendation that brethren and letters should be sent to Pope Innocent, “for all to follow what he [i.e. Pope Innocent] should decide.”

    All of this is really irrelevant to the time line, i.e., the occasion to which I called attention. Pope Zosmus wasn’t even the pope at this time. It may make for an interesting observation, but it’s not even germane to the remark I made in passing. The fact is that Celetius did appear before Zosimus in 417 to be examined by him, and openly confessed his denial of original sin to Zosimus, and the latter didn’t have enough theological acumen to see through the open unorthodoxy of Celetius, which I intend to prove below.

    Chronology of events first…

    Summer of 416 – Two African Councils (Carthage & Milevis) condemn Pelagian doctrine as heresy.
    Rescripts of the African councils are sent to Rome in order to inform Rome of their decision, desiring to have its decision joined to theirs, but not to seek its approval.
    Jan 417 – Pope Innocent affirms Pelagian doctrine as heresy.
    Mar 417 – Pope Innocent dies.
    Shortly thereafter pope Zosimus readmits Pelagius & Caelestius into communion, i.e., reverses the decision of his predecessor (So much for “Roma locuta est…” Pelagius & Caelestius had not repented of their heresy as I shall demonstrate below.
    Sept 417 – Augustine preaches Sermo 131, making reference to the Councils of Carthage & Milevis, and to the reports from the Apostolic See, informing them of Innocent’s action in condemning Pelagian doctrine as heresy.
    Sept 417 – the same month Augustine preaches this sermon, Zosimus sends off two letters to the Africans accusing them of having mistreat Celestius and Pelagius.
    418 – Augustine calls for a council in response to Zosimus

    Klaus Schatz, S.J.: In the case of North Africa it is interesting to note the attitude of a self-confident and organizationally intact Church toward Rome. The saying of Bishop Augustine of Hippo (396-430), Roma locuta, causa finite (“Rome has spoken, the matter is settled”) was quoted repeatedly. However, the quotation is really a bold reshaping of the words of that Church Father taken quite out of context.
    Concretely the issue was the teaching of Pelagius, an ascetic from Britain who lived in Rome. Pelagius took a stand against permissive and minimalist Christianity that shrank from the moral seriousness of Christian discipleship and used human incapacity and trust in grace alone to excuse personal sloth. He therefore emphasized an ethical Christianity of works and moral challenge for which grace was primarily an incentive to action; human beings remain capable of choosing between good and evil by their own power. This teaching was condemned by two North African councils in Carthage and Mileve in 416. But since Pelagius lived in Rome, and Rome was the center of the Pelagian movement, it seemed appropriate to inform Pope Innocent I of the decision. Ultimately, the struggle against Pelagianism could only be carried on with the cooperation of Rome. The pope finally responded in 417, accepting the decisions of the two councils. Augustine then wrote: “In this matter, two councils have already sent letters to the apostolic see, and from thence rescripts have come back. The matter is settled (causa finita est); if only the heresy would cease!”
    Both the context of this statement and its continuity with the rest of Augustine’s thought permit no interpretation other than that Rome’s verdict alone is not decisive; rather, it disposes of all doubt after all that has preceded it. This is because there remains no other ecclesiastical authority of any consequence to which the Pelagians can appeal, and in particular the very authority from which they could most readily have expected a favorable decision, namely Rome, has clearly ruled against them!
    In general, Augustine attributes a relatively substantial weight of authority to the Roman church in questions of faith but does not consider that it has a superior teaching office. It has auctoritas but not potestas over the Church in North Africa. The very councils mentioned above give a clear picture of the way the Africans, including Augustine, regarded Rome’s teaching authority. They sent their records to Rome not to obtain formal confirmation, but because they acknowledged that the Roman church, with its traditions, had a greater auctoritas in matters of faith; therefore they desired to have a Roman decision united with their own. Klaus Schatz, S.J., Papal Primacy: From Its Origins to the Present, trans. John A. Otto and Linda M. Maloney (Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1996), p. 34-35.

    Klaus Schatz, S.J.: Nevertheless, Pope Innocent’s answer clearly indicates the difference between Roman and African opinions in this matter, for he interprets the African bishops’ inquiry as a request for approval.
    In reality, of course, the causa was by no means settled, for under Zosimus, the next pope, the Pelagians succeeded in obtaining a hearing at Rome and defending their orthodoxy. Augustine did not wait for Rome’s decision; in 418 he called another council at Carthage that solemnly condemned particular Pelagian doctrines. Klaus Schatz, S.J., Papal Primacy: From Its Origins to the Present, trans. John A. Otto and Linda M. Maloney (Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1996), p. 35.

    In 418, Augustine called for a Council at Carthage to convene which condemned Pelagian doctrines, after pope Zosimus accused the Africans of unfairly judging Pelagius and Caelestius. See Klaus Schatz, S.J., Papal Primacy: From Its Origins to the Present, trans. John A. Otto and Linda M. Maloney (Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1996), p. 35.

    Historian J. E. Merdinger: With pressure from the Africans, Pelagius was accused of heresy in 415 and brought to trial in the Palestinian city of Diospolis. His benign and evasive remarks won him an easy acquittal. Alarmed at the turn of events, Augustine and Aurelius decided to judge the matter on their own territory: in 416, they scheduled two councils to be held simultaneously, one in Numidia, the other at Carthage. Both assemblies decisively condemned Pelagianism as a movement that denied providential grace and made human beings responsible for their own salvation. To add weight to their decision, the Africans wrote to Innocent, the bishop of Rome, urging him to denounce the Pelagians as well. Innocent did so in January 417 and added that the Apostolic See should always be consulted on such important matters. A few short weeks later, Zosimus, a man who possessed neither the theological expertise nor the diplomatic acumen of his illustrious predecessor, ascended to the papal throne. If, as it would appear, Zosimus was Greek, it is likely that he spent his formative years far from Rome and the Apostolic See. Perhaps this might help explain his blunted sense of papal gravitas and tradition.

    Zosimus entered the fray sometime in 417 at the behest of Caelestius. He granted the young man a hearing at the basilica of San Clemente and was taken in by Caelestius’ agreeable manner and great respect for the Apostolic See. Caelestius himself had a captive audience; he played on the pope’s sympathy and theological naivete. The upshot was that Zosimus refused to censure him. In Magnum Pondus, a letter directed to Aurelius of Carthage immediately afterward, the pope had this to say: “It is a sign of a broad-minded person to have great difficulty believing such dastardly things [about a person]….In the case we have before us, we have found nothing over-hasty and immature. We recommend that Your Holiness acquaint yourself with our report on Caelestius’ unconditional faith.” Zosimus called for a two-month interval before any final judgment should be pronounced on the matter. The Africans, he declared, must send convincing evidence to Rome of Caelestius’ heresy; otherwise, the earnest visitor would be declared innocent. Of their double councils the pope had nothing good to say: their investigation of the matter had been “inept” and “destructive” of ecclesiastical unity. He admonished the Africans to acquit themselves honorably by carefully reconsidering the merits of Caelestius’ case. “I urge you to do so as much by the authority of the Apostolic Seat as by the mutual concord that exists between our two churches,” he pointedly remarked in closing.

    Back at Hippo, Augustine was fuming. Reading over Zosimus’ directive from San Clemente together with Caelestius’ statements, he could see through the entire charade. The pope had neglected to inquire rigorously into the Pelagian’s understanding of grace; he had been content to accept superficial responses. From Augustine’s point of view, Caelestius and Pelagius were still more culpable, for deceiving the gullible pontiff. A second letter from Zosimus to the Africans, Postquam a nobis written in September 417, did nothing to dispel Augustine’s worries. Pelagius had written to the pope once again, thoroughly convincing him of his orthodoxy, and Zosimus had ordered Pelagius’ letters to be read aloud at the papal court in order that everyone could be apprised of his orthodoxy. To the Africans Zosimus ebulliently exclaimed: “Would that some of you, dearest brethren, could have been present at the reading of the letters. What was the joy of the holy men who were present; what was the admiration of each of them! Some of them could scarcely restrain themselves from tears and weeping that such men of absolutely correct faith could have been suspected. Was there a single place in which the grace of God or his aid was omitted?” At the end of his letter, however, the pope lambasted the Africans as “whirlwinds” and “storms of the church” and accused them of judging Pelagius and Caelestius wholly unfairly.

    Something was amiss, though. True, Zosimus was no intellectual and could not be expected to appreciate the finer points of the debate. Even so, a superficial understanding sufficed for some of the essentials. Where is there scope for God’s grace, if as Pelagius maintained, human beings can obtain salvation simply by using their rational faculties and leading a Christlike life? What is the necessity for baptism if people are not born with the stain of original sin on their souls? Fundamental concepts were st stake and could not be dismissed lightly. Why was Zosimus treating Pelagius and Caelestius so leniently? Two possibilities present themselves. First of all, Zosimus may truly have been quite unschooled in theology; the enormity of the Pelagian controversy may have eluded him completely. Or he may have decided that the brief statements of faith that Pelagius and Caelestius had submitted to him were orthodox and that all other opinions put forth by them or by the Africans were speculative at best. Whatever his motives were, the pontiff chose to treat the Pelagians with deference and in so doing incurred the wrath of the Africans.

    To counteract their vehemence, Zosimus then resorted to a tactic commonly employed when arguments leads to impasse: he pulled rank. In Quamuis partum, written in March 418, he deliberately flaunted his apostolic authority and claimed that no one should dispute his judgment. Such is the authority of Peter and the venerable decrees of the church that all questions concerning human and divine laws, as well as all disciplinary matters, must be referred to Rome for ultimate resolution.This was high-flown language indeed and, as far as the Africans were concerned, totally unacceptable.

    For all his rhetoric, though, Zosimus betrayed signs of insecurity. He knew well the opinions of the Africans carried great weight in Christian circles and that his own blusterings might come to naught. In Quamuis partum he admits that he has made no further pronouncements on the case since he last wrote to the Africans, “not because we do not know what ought to be done…act in accordance with their recommendations, however. Nowhere does he commit himself to resolving the Pelagian question jointly with the Africans. In fact, just before he insists that the two churches should discuss the matter, he reiterates Rome’s absolute preeminence: “So great is our authority that no decision of ours can be subjected to review.” Quamuis partum is an odd letter, and the only way to account for its oddness is to look to its author. Zosimus was trying to control a situation over which he had very little control. He ultimately resorted to intimidation, but his threats were clumsy and, worse still for him, virtually meaningless to his opponents. In late April 418, Quamuis partum duly arrived at Carthage, but it hardly seemed to matter. The Africans already had their next move planned.

    Not only had Aurelius scheduled a plenary council for May 1, 418, as a public forum for condemning Pelagius’ ideas; with Augustine and others, he had also embarked on a more clandestine venture. Unbeknownst to Zosimus, they wrote to the emperor himself and asked him to take action against the Pelagians. They had learned such tactics during the hard-fought Donatist controversy. It is impossible now to reconstruct the details of their mission, but it is certain that the Africans were instrumental in the promulgation of the imperial edict of April 30, 418, which banished Pelagius and his supporters from Rome. Honorius’ pronouncement came as a devastating blow to the movement; his mandate was severe and uncompromising. Peter Brown does not hesitate to call it “the most depressing edict in the Later Roman Empire.” Zosimus was taken completely by surprise; the very men whom he had pronounced orthodox and received into communion were now suddenly enemies of the state. Moreover, precisely one day after the edict’s publication, the Africans massed in Carthage to condemn Pelagianism in their own terms.

    May 1, 418, has gone down in ecclesiastical annals as one of the decisive moments in the history of the African church. What Honorius had accomplished on the civil side, the Africans now completed on the theological side. Ruthlessly, they exposed Pelagianism for what it was: a system that exalted human effort rather than God’s grace and ultimately threatened the very existence of the earthly church and ministry. In nine canons, the fathers anathematized the most noxious errors of the heresy. Subtleties overlooked by most Christians were now exposed in clear terms; no one privy to the African acta could fail to comprehend the dangers posed by the Pelagian doctrine.

    As soon as the council ended, Aurelius sent a copy of the proceedings to the Apostolic See, together with a tersely worded cover letter. In the letter, the Africans upheld the condemnation pronounced against Caelestius and Pelagius at the double councils of 416 and bluntly informed Zosimus that they were supporting his predecessor’s judgment in the matter, not his. “We decree that the judgment against Pelagius and Caelestius issued by the venerable Bishop Innocent from the see of the most blessed Peter shall hold good until they (Pelagius and Caelestius) both distinctly and explicitly acknowledge that the grace of God is needed in every act, both for the perception and for the performance of what is right.” Until the two recusants admitted that every act and every will to act must be preceded by grace, the Africans refused to readmit them to communion. [My note - hence my comment, the Africans “told Pope Zosimus on one occasion, essentially, to take a hike when he tried to reverse their condemnation of Pelagius and his disciple.”]

    With the emperor and the Africans aligned against him, what other choice did Zosimus have but to conform? Not long after the plenary council dispersed, he issued his Epistola tractoria, a long discussion condemning the Pelagian movement but—as might be expected—offered clemency to those who would recant. Even in defeat, the wily pope would not allow himself to be completely bested. Unfortunately, the Epistola tractoria has not been preserved; its contents can only be pieced together from passing comments by Augustine and Prosper of Aquitaine. Had a copy survived, it might provide additional clues to Zosimus’ reaction to defeat and his subsequent behavior toward the Africans. In light of the foregoing evidence, though, it is clear that he was humiliated by the Africans in the Pelagian controversy; he probably welcomed the chance to wreak vengeance on them when Apiarius [reference to another case/controversy - my note] came calling in 418. J. E. Merdinger, Rome and the African Church in the Time of Augustine (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997), pp. 127-130.

    Now, here at the end, I want to elaborate a bit more on Pope Zosimus’ lack of theological acumen… Below is a copy of the language of Celestius (a disciple of Pelagius), who wasn’t going to take the African condemnation of his views lying down, and upon coming to Rome presents his “confession of faith” to Zosimus. This “confession of faith” is an obvious affirmation of the Pelagian heresy, and I am only citing the pertinent part…

    Celetius confession of faith presented to Zosimus: We did not say that infants therefore must be baptized for the remission of sins in order that we might seem to affirm original sin, which is very alien from catholic sentiment. But because sin is not born with a man, it is subsequently committed by the man; for it is shown to be a fault, not of nature, but of the will. See E. Giles, Papal Authority (Westport: Hyperion Press, Inc., reprint 1982), pp. 205-206.

    This is an obvious confession of heretical notions, and Giles comments (p. 206), “In spite of the preamble of deference to the Pope, no one denies that this document is heretical, for it openly repudiates original sin.”

    Then after his examination of Celetius (Sept. 417), Pope Zosimus then writes to the Africans, and among other things states: “The priest Celestius came to us for examination, asking to be acquitted of those charges which he had been wrongfully accused to the apostolic see. …In the present case we have decided nothing hurriedly or immaturely, but we make known to your holinesses our examination upon the unfettered faith of Celestius…(Giles, p. 206-207).

    Later that same month Zosimus writes to the Africans again and says: “After the presbyter Celestius had been heard by us and had professed plainly the sentiments of the faith, and had confirmed the statements of his libellus with repeated protestations, we wrote fully of him to your charity.
    And now, behold, we have received a letter from Praylius, bishop of Jerusalem, . . . who intervenes most earnestly in the cause of Pelagius. The same Pelagius has also sent a letter of his own, containing his complete purgation, and he has appended a confession of faith, which he holds and what he condemns, without any deceit, so that all difficulties of interpretation may cease. These were publicly read; all their contents correspond with what Celestius had produced previously, and were in the3 same sense and tenor. Would that any of you, dear brothers, could have been present at the reading of the holy men present! How they wondered! Scarcely could any refrain even from tears: that such men had been able to dishonour unfettered faith. Is there any place where the grace or help of God is left out?
    See! Pelagius and Celestius appear before the apostolic see by their letters and confessions. …
    . . . May you judge that those whom false judges were condemning are recognized as having never been torn away from our body and from catholic truth. . . . Therefore we send for your delight copies of the writings sent by Pelagius. We do not doubt that the reading of them will bring to you joy in the Lord concerning his unfettered faith” (Giles, pp. 208-209).

    This brought anything but joy to the North African church, and that’s when Augustine called for a Council at Carthage to convene which condemned Pelagian doctrines, after pope Zosimus accused the Africans of unfairly judging Pelagius and Caelestius. See Klaus Schatz, S.J., Papal Primacy: From Its Origins to the Present, trans. John A. Otto and Linda M. Maloney (Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1996), p. 35.

    I offer this additional note that the Jesuit historian observes transpired in the aftermath of these events…

    Klaus Schatz, S.J.: The African Church was even more determined to defend its jurisdictional autonomy. Councils at Carthage in 419 and 424 forbade any appeals to Rome. The background of these actions was the case of a priest named Apiarius, who had been excommunicated by his own bishop and then received a favorable judgment at Rome (probably because the authorities there were ignorant of the situation). The North Africans reacted by providing a court of appeal even for their own bishop’s verdict to the North African council at Carthage. That appeared to satisfy the requirements of justice. In turn they took a firm stand against Roman intervention, where people acting at a distance were almost certain to make wrong decisions, if only because it was impossible to bring the witnesses necessary for such a judicial proceeding from North Africa to Rome. Moreover, it was unthinkable that God would give the spirit of right judgment to a single individual, the Roman bishop, and withhold it from an entire council of bishops. Therefore the North African bishops forbade any “ultramarine” [across the sea - my note] appeals….This case was brought up repeatedly in future as an example of resistance by the episcopate of a national Church against Roman centralism. Klaus Schatz, S.J., Papal Primacy: From Its Origins to the Present, trans. John A. Otto and Linda M. Maloney (Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1996), pp. 35-36.

    Brethren, I offer to you my gratitude for bearing with me, and permitting me to post these “off topic” comments. I wrote this somewhat in haste, so please pardon any spelling and/or other such defects. But these are areas of history that few of us on the Reformed side of these issues ever investigate, but which we need to know when involved in Roman polemics.

  193. Sean said,

    June 3, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    DT King,

    We all agree that these issues from the past should be investigated. There are clearly different views on the history of what happened and how it happened. The following two links go into great lengths to examine relevent extant data.

    Here and
    Here

    Needless to say, the conclusions drawn there (which are also the conclusions of much scholarship), are differrent than the conclusions that you draw.

    It also is worth admitting that Augustine in the end praised Zoismus for his protecting of the orthodox faith.

    “He deceived the judgment of the Palestinians; therefore he was acquitted there. But the Church of Rome, where you know that he is well known, he could by no means deceive, although he tried his best; but, as I said, he could not succeed. For the Blessed Pope Zosimus called to mind what his predecessor, worthy of imitation, had thought of his acts. He attended likewise to the opinion felt by that Roman faith which is worthy of being proclaimed in the Lord (praedicanda in Domino Romanorum fides); he saw their common zeal inflamed in concord against his error on behalf of Catholic truth. Pelagius had long lived amongst them, and his doctrines could not be unknown; and they well enough knew Celestius to be his disciple, so as to be able to give a most fanciful and firm testimony to the fact.”

    Further on he spoke of the manner in which Pelagius tried to deceive the “episcopal judgment of the Apostolic See” (The Roman Church)

    “He (Pelagius) seemed for a time to say what was in accord with the Catholic faith [viz. in his letter and libellus], but he was unable to deceive that See to the end. For after the rescripts of the African Council, into which province his pestilent doctrines had crept, but which it had not so widely pervaded, other writings of his were made public by the care of faithful brethren in the city of Rome, where he had lived a very long time, and had first been occupied with these conversations and disputes. These were attached by Pope Zosimus, to be anathematized, to his letters which he wrote to be carried throughout the Catholic world”

    It is all interesting. At the end of the day, Pelagianism is still a heresy.

    Pip pip.

  194. D. T. King said,

    June 3, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    SP

    Zosimus couldn’t recognize Pelagian heresy when it was slapping him in the face, as his own words I cited above prove. He simply did what the Africans, with the help of the emperor, forced him to do. Of course, the Africans commended him afterwards – they wanted to be as charitable as possible.

  195. Sean said,

    June 3, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    DT King.

    That may be but some scholarship suggests that it was more a matter of Pelagius attmepting to deceive Zoismus about his orthodoxy.

    Augustine’s statement, “He (Pelagius) seemed for a time to say what was in accord with the Catholic faith [viz. in his letter and libellus], but he was unable to deceive that See to the end.”

    In any event, I think it is also helpful to remember the logistical constraints that were in place back then that do not exist today. No phone calls. No email. Imagine what it took for information to travel from Africa to Rome…accurately.

    Its a shame that Zoismus’ final letter was lost. It might shed valuable light on the debate.

  196. D. T. King said,

    June 3, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    All you have to do is read the “confession of faith” of Celetius that I cited. His confession, which Zosimus read, said: We did not say that infants therefore must be baptized for the remission of sins in order that we might seem to affirm original sin, which is very alien from catholic sentiment. But because sin is not born with a man, it is subsequently committed by the man; for it is shown to be a fault, not of nature, but of the will. See E. Giles, Papal Authority (Westport: Hyperion Press, Inc., reprint 1982), pp. 205-206.

    What is deceptive about that? It is an open confession of the Pelagian heresy.

  197. greenbaggins said,

    June 3, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    Sean, any further comments on number 158?

  198. Sean said,

    June 3, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    DT King.

    Is Celestius’ confession of faith that he gave to Zosimus available?

    Augustine does say this about Celestius’ confession that was given to Zoismus:

    “In the libellus which he gave at Rome when he had explained his faith from the Trinity to the Resurrection (about all of which no one had asked him, and as to which no question had been raised), when he arrived at the crucial question he said: ‘If any questions have arisen beyond that which is of faith, about which there should be contention among many, I have not decided these matters with definite authority as the originator of any dogma, but what I have received from the fountain of the Prophets and Apostles, we offer to be approved by the judgment of your Apostleship; in order that if by chance any error of ignorance has crept in upon us being but men, it may be corrected by your decision.‘ Here you see that in this introduction he takes care that, if any error should be found, he may seem to have erred not in faith, but in questions which are beyond the faith.”

    (De pecc orig xxiii,26)

    It seems that Celestius admitted private judgement and a willingness to be corrected.

    Hence Augustine could further say,

    “This opinion of Pelagius was afraid or ashamed to bring out to you; but his disciple without any dissimulation was neither afraid nor ashamed to publish it openly before the Apostolic See. But the very merciful prelate of the See, when he saw him carried headlong with such presumption like a madman, until he might come to himself, if that were possible, preferred binding bit by bit by question and answer to striking him with a severe sentence, which would thrust him down that precipice over which he seemed to be already hanging. I do not say ‘had fallen,’ but ‘seemed to be hanging'; for earlier in the same libellus he had promised before speaking of such questions: ‘If by chance, being but men, some error should creep in, let it be corrected by your decision.’ So the venerable Pope Zosimus holding to this preparatory statement, urged the man inflated with false doctrine, to condemn what he was accused of by the deacon Paulinus, and to give his assent to the letters of the Apostolic See which had emanated from his predecessor of holy memory. He refused to condemn what the deacon objected, but he dared not resist the letters of Blessed Pope Innocent, nay, he promised to ‘condemn whatever that See should condemn.’ Thus gently treated, as if a madman, that he might be pacified, he was still not thought fit to be released from the bonds of excommunication. But a delay of two months was decided, that an answer might be received from Africa, and so an opportunity of coming to his senses was given him by a medicinal gentleness in his sentence. For, indeed, he would be cured, if he would lay aside his obstinate vanity, and attend to what he promised, and would read those letters [of St. Innocent], to which he professed to consent.”

    De pecc orig vi-vii, 6-8

    Cited from the link I provided earlier:

    “Quidquid interea lenius actum est cum Caelestio, seruata dumtaxat antiquissimae et robustissimae fidei firmitate, correctionis fuit clementissima suasio, non approbatio exitiosissimae prauitatis” says St. Augustine, and he absolutely denies that any approbation of the denial of original sin can be found either in the acts of the trial of Celestius or in the letters of the Pope to Africa.

  199. Sean said,

    June 3, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    Lane.

    #158.

    Can you send an email to me via contact us at Called to Communion?

    Here.

    I’d be happy to discuss.

    By the way, noticed from your bio that you went to St. Olaf and played piano. I know a guy from my highschool that was doing piano (or organ) at St. Olaf during that time .

  200. greenbaggins said,

    June 3, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    Sent it to Webmaster, Sean. I hope that was the right place. Who did you know at St. Olaf? I probably know him.

  201. D. T. King said,

    June 3, 2010 at 7:13 pm

    Is Celestius’ confession of faith that he gave to Zosimus available?

    I quoted and referenced it above. But, here’s the Latin original of the pertinent portion…

    Coelestius adjungit et dicit: In remissionem autem peccatorum baptizandos infantes non idcirco diximus, ut peccatum ex traduce firmare videamur: quod longe a catholico sensu alienum est. Quia peccatum non cum homine nascitur, quod postmodum exercetur ab homine: quia non naturae delictum, sed voluntatis esse monstratur. Et illud ergo confiteri congruum, ne diversa Baptismatis genera facere videamur; et hoc praemunire, necessarium est, ne per mysterii occasionem, ad Creatoris injuriam malum, antequam fiat ab homine, tradi dicatur homini per naturam, etc. Sed multum misericors memoratae (Romanae) Sedis antistes , ubi eum vidit ferri tanta praesumptione praecipitem, tanquam furentem, donec si fieri posset, resipisceret, maluit eum sensim suis interrogationibus et illius responsionibus colligare, quam districta feriendo sententia in illud abruptum, quo jam propendere videbatur, impellere. Ideo autem non dixi aperte, ceciderat; sed, propendere videbatur; quia superius in eodem libello suo de hujusmodi quaestionibus locuturus ante praedixerat: Si forte ut hominibus quispiam ignorantiae error obrepsit, vestra sententia corrigatur. Augustinus, in libro de Peccato Originali, n. 26, et nn. 5, 7., PL 45:1718.

    But here are Augustine’s own comments, where he himself affirms what I’ve been saying.

    Augustine (354-430): Coelestius, indeed, maintained this erroneous doctrine with less restraint. To such an extent did he push his freedom as actually to refuse, when on trial before the bishops at Carthage, to condemn those who say, “That Adam’s sin injured only Adam himself, and not the human race; and that infants at their birth are in the same state that Adam was in before his transgression.” In the written statement, too, which he presented to the most blessed Pope Zosimus at Rome, he declared with especial plainness, “that original sin binds no single infant.” NPNF1: Vol. V, A Treatise on the Grace of Christ and Original Sin, Book Two, Chapter 2.
    Augustine (354-430): Coelestius, indeed, maintained this erroneous doctrine with less restraint. To such an extent did he push his freedom as actually to refuse, when on trial before the bishops at Carthage, to condemn those who say, “That Adam’s sin injured only Adam himself, and not the human race; and that infants at their birth are in the same state that Adam was in before his transgression.” In the written statement, too, which he presented to the most blessed Pope Zosimus at Rome, he declared with especial plainness, “that original sin binds no single infant.” NPNF1: Vol. V, A Treatise on the Grace of Christ and Original Sin, Book Two, Chapter 2.
    Latin text: Et Coelestius quidem in hoc exstitit errore liberior, usque adeo, ut neque in episcopali judicio apud Carthaginem damnare voluerit eos qui dicunt, »Quod peccatum Adae ipsum solum laeserit, et non genus humanum; et quod infantes qui nascuntur, in eo statu sint, in quo Adam fuit ante praevaricationem.« Et in urbe Roma in libello suo, quem beatissimo papae Zosimo dedit, id asseveravit expressius, »quod parvulorum neminem obstringat originale peccatum.« De gestis enim ecclesiasticis Carthaginensibus haec ejus verba descripsimus. De Gratia Christi et De Peccato Originali, Liber Secundus, Caput II, §2, PL 44:385.

  202. D. T. King said,

    June 3, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    apologies for the duplication of the Augustine quote.

  203. D. T. King said,

    June 3, 2010 at 7:23 pm

    Moral of the story? Be careful how one relies on http://www.bringyou.to/apologetics , one might just be led astray.

  204. Sean said,

    June 4, 2010 at 9:10 am

    DT King.

    Here is the extant letter of Augustine that you quoted in #202.

    What you have cited…”In the written statement, too, which he presented to the most blessed Pope Zosimus at Rome, he declared with especial plainness, “that original sin binds no single infant….” is in chapter 2.

    You inference (and purpose behind your original statement to Bryan which started this rabbit trail), I presume is to somehow implicate Zosimus in Pelagius’ heresy or at least to show that he didn’t understand that Pelagianism is heretical or that he did not understand original sin. Is that about right?

    The problem from taking that view from Augustine’s word is that Augustine later, in the same work says this about Zosimus and his treatment of Cœlestius.

    The bishop, however, who presides over this See, upon seeing him hurrying headlong in so great presumption like a madman, chose in his great compassion, with a view to the man’s repentance, if it might be, rather to bind him tightly by eliciting from him answers to questions proposed by himself, than by the stroke of a severe condemnation to drive him over the precipice, down which he seemed to be even now ready to fall. I say advisedly, down which he seemed to be ready to fall, rather than over which he had actually fallen, because he had already in this same book of his forecast the subject with an intended reference to questions of this sort in the following words: If it should so happen that any error of ignorance has stolen over us human beings, let it be corrected by your decisive sentence.

    Chapter Seven

    Notice how Augustine says that Zosimus’ treatment was predicated on Cœlestius’ repentant attitude …’if we are ignorant…correct us.’

    In chapter 8 Augustine explains that Cœlestius again agreed to “promise that he would condemn all the points which the Apostolic See condemned.” As a result Augustine reports, “Thus the man was treated with gentle remedies, as a delirious patient who required rest; but, at the same time, he was not regarded as being yet ready to be released from the restraints of excommunication.

    Augustine then goes onto say that they waited two months to receive further letters from Africa.

    In chapter 9 Augustine reports that ultimately Pelagius deceived the council in Palestine, but was unable to deceive the Church at Rome.

    Augustine continues to argue throughout the letter that both Pelagius and Cœlestius were able to ‘deceive’ Palestine through being ambiguous and deceitful and that they tried to do the same in Rome.

    In chapter 24 Augustine says, In order to procure the condemnation of these opinions, Pope Zosimus, as you may read, annexed them to his letter, which he wrote for publication throughout the catholic world.

    He then goes onto to expound on the errors of Pelagianism. Interesting in chapter 44 he produces a striking defense of baptismal regeneration (unrelated topic…I know).

    In summary, nowhere does Augustine accuse Zosimus of what you are accusing him of here.

    Augustine plainly says that the heretics were deceitful and tried to trick the Apostolic See but where unsuccessful. He also plainly says that the reason why Cœlestius was not immediately condemned was that Cœlestius agreed to be corrected where he was in error (although ultimately he did not).

  205. June 4, 2010 at 10:38 am

    Bryan has been for quite a while one of the few Roman Catholic commenters on this blog,. . .

    I would be willing to add myself to that small list, if it could be clarified what the “official” stand of this blog is with regard to Catholicism. I have a policy of not interacting with anti-Catholics: i.e., those who classify Catholic theology outside of Christianity in a way that sets it apart from Protestantism, so that the Catholic who consistently follows his Church’s teachings in all respects is thought to be little better than a Jehovah’s Witness, Mormon, or any other heretic (and these “cults” deny the Trinity, which we, of course, do not do: since Protestants pretty much derived their own trinitarianism and Christology from us in the first place: Nicaea, Chalcedon, etc.).

    Basically, the important question, for the sake of dialogue and ecumenism, insofar as possible without violation of anyone’s principles, is whether Catholicism as a whole is to be regarded as a Christian entity or not. It is entirely possible to take such a position within a Reformed framework, as, e.g., Charles Hodge did, and as many Reformed Protestants today do (the ECT agreements, etc.).

    I took this stand as a matter of principle and of stewardship and time-management. Interactions with anti-Catholics for over ten years online were entirely unfruitful and usually entailed personal hostility on the part of my opponents: a thing that always kills dialogue. Socrates held that good, constructive dialogue was only possible if folks understood the views of their opponents, had some measure of respect for them (including recognizing things in common), and preferably if those in a dialogue were actually friends or at least not hostile to each other.

    Upon looking over your posts, it looks like this is NOT an anti-Catholic site (I saw none of the immediate identifiers or clues that are virtually always present on such sites), but I may be mistaken, and so wanted clarification.

    If I do participate (as I would like to, if possible without violating my own parameters), it needs to be understood that I will not spend time interacting with individual anti-Catholics who do comment here (I know of one in particular, and I am sure there must be more). This is not due to rudeness or inability or fear, but, again, stewardship and time-management, and avoidance of the Pauline “vain disputation.” I have about 700 posted dialogues on my blog: many with anti-Catholics.

    My interest lies in Protestants who regard Catholicism as a Christian theological system, albeit with many serious flaws, as they see it. It’s fine if someone has an honest disagreement with Catholicism. It is the recourse to denying that orthodox Catholics are Christians and brothers in Christ that I think is ridiculous and indeed, intellectually suicidal, once we examine all of the questionable premises involved and the ludicrous notion of Church history that is necessarily entailed by such a view.

    Thank you for “hearing me out.” I eagerly look forward to your reply (or replies, as it were).

  206. D. T. King said,

    June 4, 2010 at 10:42 am

    In summary, nowhere does Augustine accuse Zosimus of what you are accusing him of here.

    I think the point has been made, I’m content to move on and let you interpret history as you desire. I can’t say I am surprised. But I do think this is an object lesson for we who are Reformed to see how historical facts are interpreted by members of the Roman communion. Never accept their interpretation of historical facts as they offer them – study, investigate them for yourselves.

  207. greenbaggins said,

    June 4, 2010 at 10:47 am

    Dave, the definition of “Christian” here is very slippery and difficult. If all you mean is that we accept Catholic baptisms as valid, then yes I do. If you mean that I have to view Catholic doctrine as basically non-heretical, then no I don’t. I view Catholicism as apostate. That doesn’t mean that I hate Catholic people (I have a dear Catholic friend who was my roommate in college), or that I would be rude to them. Anyone who believes that they get to heaven partly on the basis of their own works, even if grace is involved, is not a Christian in the stricter sense of the term. So, it depends on how you define the word “Christian.” Many people I deeply respect hold the views that you call “ridiculous” and “intellectually suicidal.” I wonder why you would use such rhetoric, if indeed you are interested in unity. As I said, though, firm Romanists are welcome to comment on my blog, and I try to keep the rhetoric to a minimum, and instead concentrate on substance. I don’t have any idea where this places me in your reckoning.

  208. Sean said,

    June 4, 2010 at 10:48 am

    DT King.

    I agree that we should all investigate and study history and recommend it to Catholics and Protestants all the time. I am simply in this instance willing to let Augustine’s word about Zosimus stand for themselves and not read into him a motivation that may or not be there and in doing so label somebody else a heretic. (A person who would later issue a letter to the entire Church repudiating that same heresy).

    At least we agree that Pelagianism is heresy and we are not arguing that!

    I do thank you for raising the Liberius issue earlier, being that I am unfamiliar with it.

  209. greenbaggins said,

    June 4, 2010 at 10:59 am

    P.S., Dave, all true Catholics should regard someone like me as apostate, as well. So it should go both ways, if Catholics are to take Trent seriously. After all, it pronounces an anathema on me for believing that a person is justified by faith alone without my works playing any part whatsoever. I wouldn’t regard any Catholic as having a personal vendetta against me just because their church’s official position is that I am condemned. So, it’s mirror image both ways, in my opinion.

  210. June 4, 2010 at 11:13 am

    Hello,

    Dave, the definition of “Christian” here is very slippery and difficult.

    Where would you derive your definition? I’m curious.

    If all you mean is that we accept Catholic baptisms as valid, then yes I do.

    So did John Calvin, so that is not unexpected.

    If you mean that I have to view Catholic doctrine as basically non-heretical, then no I don’t.

    That’s beside the point. It is not deeming certain aspects as heretical that is the problem (we do that with all strains of Protestantism, too), but a classification out of Christianity altogether..

    I view Catholicism as apostate.

    From what? Christianity? This is what I am trying to determine. Can one believe in Catholic soteriology and be saved in doing so, or must one deny it and become a Protestant to have any chance of being saved?

    That doesn’t mean that I hate Catholic people (I have a dear Catholic friend who was my roommate in college), or that I would be rude to them.

    I accept your word. I disagree with folks all the time as an apologist, and have no personal hostility towards them whatever. In fact, I went to a meeting with eleven atheists recently and spoke Christian truth to them, and we got along fine.

    Anyone who believes that they get to heaven partly on the basis of their own works, even if grace is involved, is not a Christian in the stricter sense of the term.

    Catholics deny Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagianism. We believe in an organic unity between faith and works, just as taught in the book of James, and as taught by Luther and Calvin, though they formally separated sanctification from justification as categories. It is incorrect to assert that Catholics believe in “works-salvation” or to deny that we believe in sola gratia. The Tridentine canons on Justification (particularly 1-3) make that clear.

    So, it depends on how you define the word “Christian.”

    My nutshell definition is: one who is a trinitarian, accepts the gospel (defined by the Bible itself) and the saving work of Jesus Christ on the cross on his behalf, and accepts the Nicene Creed. What’s yours?

    Many people I deeply respect hold the views that you call “ridiculous” and “intellectually suicidal.” I wonder why you would use such rhetoric, if indeed you are interested in unity.

    I was simply making my own views clear, so there is no misunderstanding. I understand that this might offend some, but of course it is also offensive for Catholics to be characterized as we are by many who hold anti-Catholic views. I need not go through the laundry list. In fact, “Romanism” itself is usually regarded as an outdated, pejorative term, and you use it yourself. It is understood in most circles that folks ought to be called what they call themselves. We call ourselves “Catholics.” We are happy to call you “Reformed” or “Calvinists” or “Protestants” or whatever you like. There must be a certain leeway in titles, for the sake of courtesy and respect.

    As I said, though, firm Romanists are welcome to comment on my blog, and I try to keep the rhetoric to a minimum, and instead concentrate on substance. I don’t have any idea where this places me in your reckoning.

    Your further replies will help me to better understand where you are coming from. Thanks.

  211. June 4, 2010 at 11:31 am

    P.S., Dave, all true Catholics should regard someone like me as apostate, as well.

    That’s not true. We regard Protestants as fellow Christians and part of the Body of Christ. Vatican II makes this abundantly clear. In one of my papers I extensively cite the Decree on Ecumenism, where this is made crystal clear:

    http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2007/03/how-catholics-view-protestants.html

    So it should go both ways, if Catholics are to take Trent seriously. After all, it pronounces an anathema on me for believing that a person is justified by faith alone without my works playing any part whatsoever.

    No; it is not pronouncing an anathema on you personally (in fact, it never names Luther or Calvin or any Protestant group, as I recall). It is condemning a bare, antinomian faith alone of a sort that was renounced by Luther and Calvin (and the most thoughtful Reformed minds today), who do not disparage the necessary role of good works in a Christian’s life at all.

    The “Trent anathema” issue is complex, and often highly misunderstood. Trent has to be understood in light of subsequent development in Catholic thought. Many things have improved in Protestant-Catholic relations over 450 years.

    I wouldn’t regard any Catholic as having a personal vendetta against me just because their church’s official position is that I am condemned.

    Again, personal vendettas have nothing to do with it. I have many, many close Protestant friends and we get along fine. But too often, in practice (all of us being sinners), folks’ theology make them hostile and un charitable and they take the lowest possible view of the integrity of those who differ. You and I may not do that, but many do, and this is part of the reason that I no longer bother interacting with anti-Catholics. My experience has been what it has been. I can’t change that. Paul commands me to avoid the fruitless dispute and vain controversy and I take that very seriously.

    So, it’s mirror image both ways, in my opinion.

    Again, I respectfully disagree. Official Catholic teaching holds that Protestants are fellow Christians and separated brethren, whereas official confessional Reformed teaching often classifies us as “antichrist” and Pelagian, idolatrous, semi-pagan, etc. The Lutheran confessions (in at least one place) literally equate the Mass with “Baal-worship.” Many Protestants do not follow those characterizations today, of course, but they are in the documents. But Vatican II has clarified what we think of Protestants. It is not a “mirror image” at all. But the majority of Protestants today are not anti-Catholics in the sense of denying that Catholicism is Christian.

  212. greenbaggins said,

    June 4, 2010 at 11:56 am

    Dave, we can agree on many things: the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed for starters. I will cheerfully admit also that you and I have much more in common that I would have with Mormons and JW’s. As a result, if you wish to dialogue with me, I am more than willing. For myself, you can expect respect, lack of rhetorical flourish (done in order to belittle opponents), and a desire to stick to the logical points. However, if you’re waiting for an admission that Catholics are Christians, that won’t come from me, because of the ambiguity of the word.

    I cannot agree with your interpretation of Trent. Pope Leo X excommunicated Martin Luther for his doctrine of justification. If all Trent did was reject something that Luther also rejected, then Leo had no need of excommunicating Luther. To say now that all it does is reject an antinomian version of justification does not do justice to the historical situation. If Vatican II wants to change relations with Lutheranism (and one can certainly argue that it does), then it should *retract* Trent, not redefine it.

  213. June 4, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    Protestants pretty much derived their own trinitarianism and Christology from us in the first place: Nicaea, Chalcedon, etc.).

    No, that was us at Nicaea and Chalcedon. You guys were at the Inquisition, though.

  214. June 4, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    That was a joke.

  215. June 4, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    Thanks for your reply. I am enjoying our exchanges, and I appreciate your gentlemanly demeanor.

    First of all, how could one who accepts the Nicene and Apostles’ Creed not be a Christian? I think that is something you should ask yourself.If those do not help clarify who is and who is not a Christian, what in the world does? This is the very purpose of creeds and confessions: to determine in a concise manner who is within and outside of the fold.

    I don’t see how you can argue on the one hand, that “Christianity” is an “ambiguous” and slippery term, and on the other hand, be reluctant to apply it to Catholics. If it is so difficult to define, wouldn’t it make more sense to extend it in charity to Catholics: a case you find difficult and complex, rather than refuse to outright call Catholics Christians (in the doctrinal, creedal, confessional sense)?

    That makes little sense to me. I would say that it is fundamental in all rational discussions (and I think we can readily agree on this) to define terms: especially ones that are central. In this case, one must define “Christian.” It is surprising to me that you would stress the “ambiguity” of the very word “Christian.” Clearly, you regard yourself as one, so you must have a reason to do that (or so I strongly presume). Yet you wonder if Catholics are, and lean against proclaiming that they are.

    I don’t think that is coherent. Without a clear, concise definition from the outset, I don’t see how you could even withhold a judgment with regard to Catholics. You should, I submit, remain strictly neutral at worst, until you nail down the meaning of “Christian.” The thing to do is define “Christianity” and then go from there and figure out who fits into the category.

    For myself, it is quite clear, and always has been, as an evangelical cult researcher in the early 80s and now as a Catholic. Those who deny trinitarianism and the deity of Christ are not Christians. Period. Pelagians are not. Those who worship someone other than God are not. Catholics are, by all these criterion.

    I’ll get to the Trent / anathema issue in a moment.

  216. June 4, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    You guys were at the Inquisition, though.

    And you guys were (usually) at the Witch Hunts and at all the hangings and drawing and quarterings that went on in England for a few hundred years (the crimes being a mere presence at a Mass; supposedly high treason): many hundreds of victims there.

    This is partially a “joke” too, though dead serious at bottom. In any event, it is a matter of historical record. Dredging up past sins goes nowhere because they occur in every camp.

    Both Luther and Calvin approved of drowning Anabaptists. They wold have sooner agreed to execute many Baptists here (and Luther thought Zwingli was damned precisely because he denied the Real Presence in the Eucharist), for espousing adult baptism, than they would have agreed to execute me, as a Catholic. Catholics were usually merely banished.

  217. June 4, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    I don’t mean to, by the way, divert the topic at hand. I was simply asking some clarifying questions of the blog host, and it has become a discussion in itself. I did cite one statement about the scarcity of Catholics here and was trying to explain one reason why that might be, and to perhaps find a way that I could participate myself, and thus add one Catholic to the list of contributors!

    I get very few Protestants to comment (regularly) on my blog, too. It is just the way things usually are: folks are reluctant to be vastly outnumbered in any given venue. They prefer to be among others who are basically of the same belief. And that is only natural and to be expected.

  218. John Bugay said,

    June 4, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    witch hunts …. many hundreds of victims there.

    Keep your sense of proportion, though. The same famous Oxford reference work from which Catholic apologists draw your “33,000 denominations” number lists the Roman Catholic Church as among the greatest “persecutors,” nearly 5 million over the centuries, just behind Communist China and the Soviet Union.

    Too, Luther and Calvin were products of their time, which was largely medieval, when “hangings and drawings and quarterings” were still very much real living memories from those inquisition days.

  219. June 4, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    Please give an exact reference for the “5 million” figure. Thanks. I find it very difficult to believe. Neither Catholics nor Protestants killed anywhere near that number, as far as I know. Mao killed 60-70 million; Stalin about 30-40 million, I believe.

    As for 33,000, I renounced that number years ago (about eight), having been convinced of the faulty criteria used, by Eric Svendsen. I usually say, now, “hundreds of Protestant denominations.” And the paper about that remains on my site. It matters little how many there actually are, since according to the Bible, there is only one Church and one faith, and no denominations whatever. So even two supposed competing “churches” is most unbiblical and a scandal.

  220. Sean said,

    June 4, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    The same famous Oxford reference work from which Catholic apologists draw your “33,000 denominations” number lists the Roman Catholic Church as among the greatest “persecutors,”

    No…you are mixed up. that was you guys. We were the guys at Nicea and Chalcedon.

    :/

  221. June 4, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    “hangings and drawings and quarterings” were still very much real living memories from those inquisition days.

    Again, as a point of fact: drawing and quartering (complete with tearing out a person’s heart, like the ancient Aztecs did in their human sacrifice rituals) was an “English power play thing” — not really an “Inquisition” thing per se. For example, William Wallace (“Braveheart”) was drawn and quartered for treason against the king of England (as was shown in that movie). That had nothing to do with the “Inquisition”: let alone Catholicism. It was the particularly brutal mindset of English royalty, that was later employed by Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, when they wished to suppress the will of the vast majority of the English people who wished to remain Catholic. The brutality shown against the Irish (mostly Catholic) — mostly after the 16th century, and largely by the Puritans — was another instance of the same thing. That can hardly have been Catholic, since it was directed against Catholics, just as Henry VIII’s persecutions were.

    Give it up. Cynical mentions of the Inquisition prove nothing. Historic Protestants are no more “clean” in this regard than Catholics are, and far more hypocritical, because Luther started out decrying the lack of tolerance. As soon as he had power, he persecuted, too, and so did Calvin and Zwingli and (most of all) the English Protestants. The only ones who didn’t do so were the Anabaptists, and even they had a small radical, violent component.

    I have a whole web page thoroughly documenting historic Protestant intolerance and persecution, because I grew very tired and weary of always hearing about the Inquisition and Crusades, but never about Protestant sins along the same lines. I always oppose double standards and assert historical truths as far as I can ascertain them.

  222. John Bugay said,

    June 4, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    Dave Armstrong — Kudos to you for having given up the 33,000 number. Maybe as a token of your good will you could persuade some of your fellow Catholics to see things your way.

    Regarding the persecutions, see here:

    http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php?itemid=2235

    Scroll down to “persecutors and their victims”. You’ll see Roman Catholicism at #5 on the list, actually (kudos for you for being lower than I thought) on having created only 4,951,000 martyrs.

    I did not say Protestants were “clean”. I said they were shaped by their times, which, in turn, were shaped in huge part by the Roman Catholic hierarchy.

    So long as you are asserting historical truths, keep in mind that the Roman Catholic Church had centuries to do its deeds before there was one Protestant. If you can keep that straight, it will go a long way toward helping the discussion along.

  223. Sean said,

    June 4, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    John,

    Don’t you think the Presbyterians should be responsible for all the sins of the early church since the early church was really just Presbyterian (wink)?

    Or is the following an admission that the Church was the Roman Catholic Church all along after all until the Reformation?

    So long as you are asserting historical truths, keep in mind that the Roman Catholic Church had centuries to do its deeds before there was one Protestant.

    ?

  224. Sean said,

    June 4, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    Further, by that logic, the JWs can brag that their total number of victims is exactly ZERO.

    Does that make JW more true than Protestantism?

  225. June 4, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    Excellent, Shawn. :-)

  226. June 4, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    Sorry; “Sean” rather . . .

  227. John Bugay said,

    June 4, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    Sean — since you asked, there is and always has been “one true church”. No doubt the presbyterian arm of the body was responsible for the clear thinking in those early councils. (Heaven knows there was some unclear thinking.)

    The “Roman” part was the cancerous mutation that eventually caused the inquistion, etc. Most of the really serious sins. The Reformation came along and tried to excise that cancer, and got some of it, but didn’t quite make it. Cancer can be a very persistent thing, you know.

  228. June 4, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    Regarding the persecutions, see here:

    http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php?itemid=2235

    Scroll down to “persecutors and their victims”. You’ll see Roman Catholicism at #5 on the list, actually (kudos for you for being lower than I thought) on having created only 4,951,000 martyrs.

    It is an absurd, grotesquely inflated figure, arbitrarily pulled out of a hat. I submit that no serious historian can be found who would support this. Where do they even purport to get it from? It is doubly absurd in that it ignores all the Protestant persecutions, as if Lutherans, Calvinists, Anglicans, and Zwinglians never killed anyone or hurt a flea. Instead, we get the wicked Catholics, “quasi-Christians,” and “other Christians” (whoever in the world they are supposed to be: have they no names?). It’s completely ludicrous.

    Even James White, your source, (wisely) states, “My point is not to defend this source’s claim at this point.” He knows (or seems to know) it is ridiculous. But he has to get in the sweeping prejudicial remark: “He is willing to throw his integrity under the bus in the face of overwhelming documentation and respond with laughter and mockery. It is the way of the Catholic Convert, evidently.”

    I’m not interested in the “your dad’s uglier than mine” arguments, which never go anywhere or accomplish anything, but rather, in the definition of “Christian”: my initial query and discussion with the blog host (that is still in process). I have merely clarified a few basic historical facts that you seem to have mixed up.

    Claiming that “millions” were killed is precisely one of the ridiculous myths that helped me to decide to no longer debate theology with anti-Catholics. It’s futile. It’s a waste of time. I’ll do little exchanges like this one, but not an entire dialogue on theology.

  229. John Bugay said,

    June 4, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    Well, Dave, it is the Oxford World Christian Encyclopedia, so your protest of ludicrosity is a bit weak. If you were to read the article, Dr. White does not have an issue with the source; he has an issue with the lack of integrity of those who use the source.

    And as far as proportionality, you’ll see, far down the list, that “other Christians” (which would include the Lutherans, etc., who you seem to be intent on mentioning, at 220,000. So that’s what, 4.5% of the total? Heck, Catholics are eager to say “that’s nothing” when talking about the sexual abuse scandal.

    I have not mixed up anything. I have merely provided some proportion, backed up with some legitimate numbers, to one aspect of the “exchange” that didn’t come out quite straight the first time.

  230. June 4, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    As an example of how absurdly inflated the “murdered” figures are, see, e.g., the Wikipedia article on the Spanish Inquisition (section on “Death Tolls”):

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_Inquisition#Death_tolls

    Using actual records from the time (I know: what a novelty to actually document something from a primary source!), one arrives at a minimum total of 1,050 killed between 1540-1700 in Spain, Sicily, and Mexico.

    The article on the Roman Inquisition (1542-c. 1860), cited Italian historian Andrea Del Col who estimated “that out of 62,000 cases judged by Inquisition in Italy after 1542 around 2% (ca. 1250) ended with death sentence.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_Inquisition

    Likewise, the article on “Medieval Inquisition” states:

    “The inquisitors generally preferred not to hand over heretics to the secular arm for execution if they could persuade the heretic to repent: Ecclesia non novit sanguinem. For example, Bernard Gui, a famous inquisitor working in the area of Carcassonne (in modern France), executed 42 people out of over 900 guilty verdicts in fifteen years of office. Execution was to admit defeat, that the Church was unable to save a soul from heresy, which was the goal of the inquisition.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medieval_Inquisition

    Other treatments derived from serious historians, not polemicists and propagandists with an ax to grind, yield similar results, for sure: in the low thousands, not multiple millions.

    Another helpful article is “How many people died from the Inquisition?” at Answers.com. It states:

    “The number of people who died in the various inquisitions across Europe are difficult to determine, but the number of victims can be numbered in the thousands, not the millions as a previous respondent stated. The entire populations of Europe would have been wiped out if inquisitors had killed in those numbers! Even though the Spanish Inquisition lasted for hundreds of years the Inquisition was held primarily in small areas in France, Spain and Italy.

    “For example, the Spanish Inquisition, assuredly the most vigorous and corrupt of the various inquisitorial bodies that existed in Europe, held 49,000 trials between 1560-1700 and executed between 3 and 5,000 people.

    “I suggest that the read Edward Peter’s Inquisition for the most up to date analysis of the topic, including the myths that have arisen surrounding the inquisitions.

    “The Spanish Inquisition was state ministry, not papal organization. Blaming Popes for deeds of Spanish Inquisition is incorrect. However kings of Spain used Dominicans (catholic order) as judges etc. because clergy (especially mentioned monks) were generally far more educated than ordinal people. . . .

    “As for how many deaths may be attributed to the various inquisitorial bodies, I’m not certain who the previous contributor refers to when he states that “those who thoroughly study the inquisition” agree that the death toll was in the millions, but he or she is quite wrong on multiple levels. I am unaware of any modern historian who would accept such ridiculous numbers and it has nothing to do with whether or not they are Christian. Again, for a general treatment of the various inquisitions, read Edward Peters’ Inquisition, and for a more specialized treatment turn to Richard Kieckhefer’s Repression of Heresy in Medieval Germany.”

    [several typos corrected]

    http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_many_people_died_from_the_Inquisition

    Myths abound in this area (as in Most Things Catholic), which is why I took it upon myself to collect many serious articles about the topic, on one of my web pages, to correct the record:

    Inquisition, Crusades, and “Catholic Scandals” (first section):

    http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2006/11/inquisition-crusades-catholic-scandals.html

  231. June 4, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    Well, Dave, it is the Oxford World Christian Encyclopedia, so your protest of ludicrosity is a bit weak.

    I don’t care what it is. This source has the responsibility to back up its claims with serious historiographical documentation and the latest research, just as anything else does. Having “Oxford” in its title doesn’t change that fact. Just as it is silly regarding numbers of denominations and how they are determined, so it is with regard to numbers of persons killed in historic persecutions, and who did it. You haven’t given me any reason to overthrow my understanding of the numbers, but merely fluff and rhetoric.

    You can continue to argue like this if you like, but understand that anyone with even a passing knowledge of medieval history will quickly question your credibility if you do so. It’s your life and your intellectual reputation, my friend. I’m actually trying to spare you some embarrassment in the future . . .

  232. June 4, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    Sean,

    No…you are mixed up. that was you guys. We were the guys at Nicea and Chalcedon.

    Umm, excuse me? Our church is invisible, and only appears visibly at the moments in history we approve of. So regarding the Nicene Creed, you’re welcome. But when it comes to witch trials and Anabaptist drownings, that was a bunch of visible people, NOT members of the invisible church.

    So there.

  233. johnbugay said,

    June 4, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    Dave Armstrong: I’ll accept your trashing of Oxford for what it’s worth.

    Jason — it does seem as if you are getting the hang of this.

  234. June 4, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    I’ll accept your trashing of Oxford for what it’s worth.

    I see. So now demanding a minimum of documentation for what is an immediately questionable claim, is “trashing”? You still have given me no reason whatever to accept your claim that 5 million or so were killed by Catholics.

  235. June 4, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    But when it comes to witch trials and Anabaptist drownings, that was a bunch of visible people, NOT members of the invisible church.

    Therefore, Luther, Calvin, Melanchthon, Bucer, Bullinger, Oecolampadius, Zwingli, Cranmer, Latimer, Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, and the later English Puritans like Cromwell who butchered the Irish, were all outside of the invisible church.

    Very curious reasoning indeed . . .

  236. June 4, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    John,

    Jason — it does seem as if you are getting the hang of this.

    You mean sarcasm and irony? Oh, I’ve been doing that for years (but I’ll take a compliment from you any way I can get one!).

  237. johnbugay said,

    June 4, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    Dave Armstrong — you’re the one who came in to a very civil discussion, and in responding to a joke, you brought up witch hunts and things like that.

    I should not have to provide any further documentation when it is “Oxford” on the label. The image is a bitmap, clearly not altered, and Dr. James White is an extremely reliable source.

  238. Sean said,

    June 4, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    John,

    If the Oxford dictionary is trustworthy why don’t accept its accounting of 33K protestant denominations?

  239. June 4, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    Exactly, Sean. Good grief . . . Let all note that John Bugay has refused to offer solid historiographical documentation for the alleged fact that Catholics killed nearly five million people. He accepts this source merely because it was published at Oxford and has that word in its title.

    And this is all the more astonishing given the fact that he writes regularly for a blog that prides itself (not always accurately, I might add) on minute historical accuracy, and constantly, relentlessly chides Catholics for actually or supposedly botching historical facts (especially regarding Martin Luther) and citing things out of context. One would hope he could achieve a minimum of historical accuracy when discussing the Inquisition(s) and not fall prey to this silliness.

  240. June 4, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    Kudos to you for having given up the 33,000 number.

    Note also the high irony and humor here. I immediately (in 2002) gave up a figure from a particular source when reason and the facts (produced by someone — Eric Svendsen — who was a severe critic of mine) warranted and demanded it.

    But John Bugay refuses to give up his figure of “4,951,000” supposedly killed by the Inquisition, obtained from the very same source, merely because “Oxford” is in its title, and (as we all know), one need not “provide any further documentation” when that hallowed word is on the label (as if Oxford has always been a bastion of pro-Christian sentiment and is never guilty of any bias against any form of Christianity).

    I agree that, by and large, stuff out of Oxford is fairly good scholarship (I use, for example, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church from my own library all the time), but to make this a principle in order to avoid the obvious responsibility of backing up one’s (highly dubious) numerical claims with solid, reputable historiographical research, is beyond absurd.

  241. johnbugay said,

    June 4, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    I told you guys, it wasn’t the reference work itself, it was how it was being used. It was the integrity of those using it. See #229

  242. June 4, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    Getting back to my original query and discussion with the gracious host of this site (before the sidetrack of the Inquisition and historic Catholic wickedness, real or alleged), I promised to post on the Tridentine anathemas and related issues:

    I dealt with this in a paper of mine: The Catholic Understanding of the “Anathemas” of Trent and Excommunication:

    http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2007/01/catholic-understanding-of-anathemas-of.html

    First of all, I corrected the common misunderstanding that “anathema” means “damned.” This is untrue. The Catholic Church does not make pronouncements on the eternal destiny of individuals, including Luther, Calvin et al (I believe this even includes Judas). In fact, in one of my fictional dialogues I portrayed Martin Luther quite favorably as now in heaven (and I am as orthodox a Catholic as they come). Calvinists are the ones who proclaim folks to be damned; not us (even though Calvin stated more than once that it is not known for sure who can be said to be of the elect or not).

    The late Fr. Richard John Neuhaus explained:

    “Did the council fathers at Trent misunderstand what the Reformers meant by sola fide? Most scholars, whether Catholic or Protestant, agree that they did not understand the Reformers, especially Luther and Calvin, adequately. And there is slight disagreement, perhaps no disagreement, that the Reformers, especially Luther, could have expressed themselves more clearly, carefully, and consistently. Then too, keep in mind that, apart from Luther and Calvin, there were many who claimed to be advancing the reformation under the slogan of sola fide and who were advocating precisely what Trent thought that slogan meant. Crusial to the condemnation are the words “If anyone shall say . . . ” (Si qui dixerit). Trent did not condemn anyone by name. The council condemned anyone who taught what it understood by the formula “justification by faith alone.” There were in the sixteenth century very considerable differences, also among Protestants, as to what was meant by key terms such as justification, faith, will, and grace. That there were misunderstandings is hardly surprising.

    “. . . the Catholic Church, knowing that all theological formulations fall short of expressing the fullness of truth, trusts the continuing guidance of the Spirit in a course of doctrinal development toward the ever more adequate articulation of God’s Word relative to the questions posed by the time . . . it is historically and theologically judged that the council fathers at Trent were right in condemning what they understood by “justification by faith alone.” In the intervening years, and especially in the theological dialogues of the last thirty years, Reformation Christians have made a convincing case that what they mean by sola fide is not what Trent condemned.”

    (from: Evangelical and Catholics Together: Toward a Common Mission, edited by Charles Colson and Richard John Neuhaus, Dallas: Word Publishing, 1995, Neuhaus’ chapter, “The Catholic Difference,” 175-227; quote from 209-210)

    More to come . . .

  243. June 4, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    Still citing from my above-mentioned paper (those who are interested in this topic and in Catholic-Protestant relations and ecumenism (and soteriology in general) might want to read the whole thing):

    I went on to cite at length fellow Catholic apologist and friend Jimmy Akin’s superb article, “Justification by Faith Alone”:

    http://www.cin.org/users/james/files/faith_al.htm

    “Many Protestants today realize that Catholics adhere to the idea of salvation sola gratia (by grace alone), but fewer are aware that Catholics also do not have to condemn the formula of justification sola fide (by faith alone), provided this phrase is properly understood . . . Whether a Catholic will condemn the idea of justification by faith alone depends on what sense the term “faith” is being used in. If it is being used to refer to unformed faith then a Catholic rejects the idea of justification by faith alone (which is the point James is making in James 2:19, as every non-antinomian Evangelical agrees; one is not justified by intellectual belief alone).

    “However, if the term “faith” is being used to refer to faith formed by charity then the Catholic does not have to condemn the idea of justification by faith alone. . . .

    “. . . a document written a few years ago under the auspices of the (Catholic) German Conference of Bishops and the bishops of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany (the Lutheran church). The purpose of the document, titled The Condemnations of the Reformation Era: Do They Still Divide?, was to determine which of the sixteenth-century Catholic and Protestant condemnations are still applicable to the other party. Thus the joint committee which drafted the document went over the condemnations from Trent and assessed which of them no longer applied to Lutherans and the condemnations of the Augsburg Confession and the Smalcald Articles, etc., and assesses which of them are not applicable to Catholics.

    When it came to the issue of justification by faith alone, the document concluded:

    “[T]oday the difference about our interpretation of faith is no longer a reason for mutual condemnation . . . even though in the Reformation period it was seen as a profound antithesis of ultimate and decisive force. By this we mean the confrontation between the formulas ‘by faith alone,’ on the one hand, and ‘faith, hope, and love,’ on the other.

    “We may follow Cardinal Willebrand and say: ‘In Luther’s sense the word ‘faith’ by no means intends to exclude either works or love or even hope. We may quite justly say that Luther’s concept of faith, if we take it in its fullest sense, surely means nothing other than what we in the Catholic Church term love’ (1970, at the General Assembly of the World Lutheran Federation in Evian).

    If we take all this to heart, we may say the following: If we translate from one language to another, then Protestant talk about justification through faith corresponds to Catholic talk about justification through grace; and on the other hand, Protestant doctrine understands substantially under the one word ‘faith’ what Catholic doctrine (following 1 Cor. 13:13) sums up in the triad of ‘faith, hope, and love.’ But in this case the mutual rejections in this question can be viewed as no longer applicable today

    “According to [Lutheran] Protestant interpretation, the faith that clings unconditionally to God’s promise in Word and Sacrament is sufficient for righteousness before God, so that the renewal of the human being, without which there can be no faith, does not in itself make any contribution to justification. Catholic doctrine knows itself to be at one with the Protestant concern in emphasizing that the renewal of the human being does not ‘contribute’ to justification, and is certainly not a contribution to which he could make any appeal before God. Nevertheless it feels compelled to stress the renewal of the human being through justifying grace, for the sake of acknowledging God’s newly creating power; although this renewal in faith, hope, and love is certainly nothing but a response to God’s unfathomable grace. Only if we observe this distinction can we say

    “In addition to concluding that canons 9 and 12 of the Decree on Justification did not apply to modern Protestants, the document also concluded that canons 1-13, 16, 24, and 32 do not apply to modern Protestants (or at least modern Lutherans).”

    During the drafting of this document, the Protestant participants asked what kind of authority it would have in the Catholic Church, and the response given by Cardinal Ratzinger (who was the Catholic corresponding head of the joint commission) was that it would have considerable authority. The German Conference of Bishops is well-known in the Catholic Church for being very cautious and orthodox and thus the document would carry a great deal of weight even outside of Germany, where the Protestant Reformation started.

    Furthermore, the Catholic head of the joint commission was Ratzinger himself [now Pope Benedict XVI], who is also the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome, which is the body charged by the pope with protecting the purity of Catholic doctrine. Next to the pope himself, the head of the CDF is the man most responsible for protecting orthodox Catholic teaching, and the head of the CDF happened to be the Catholic official with ultimate oversight over the drafting of the document.”

    * * * * *

    More to come . . .

  244. johnbugay said,

    June 4, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    Dave Armstrong — The “common misunderstanding” that “anathema” means “damned” perhaps got started because of the intention of putting one outside of the church was effectively to strip him of the only source of the means of grace, and hence, with a high degree of probability, to die in a state of mortal sin. It was a death wish. (This one falls under the “death by 1000 qualifications).

    It’s true that someone could always “repent,” but why in the world would Luther, Calvin et al want to go begging on their knees to Rome after the truth that they had discovered?

    <It is historically and theologically judged that the council fathers at Trent were right in condemning what they understood by “justification by faith alone.”

    Who makes this judgment? This is more casuistry. Neuhaus was saying in his article that “the council fathers at Trent” misunderstood what the Reformers were saying, and excusing them that way. The folks here though are quite certain that the actual statement of “justification by faith alone” was what was condemned, and are quite disappointed that the “one true church” anathematized the one true Gospel.

  245. reedhere said,

    June 4, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    Guys: straying off topic. Please, a few more comments and bring it back home.

  246. June 4, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    Continuing the citing my paper, and in turn, the one by Jimmy Akin:

    ———–

    Before the joint commission met, Cardinal Ratzinger and Lutheran Bishop Eduard Lohse (head of the Lutheran church in Germany) issued a letter expressing the purpose of the document, stating:

    “[O]ur common witness is counteracted by judgments passed by one church on the other during the sixteenth century, judgments which found their way into the Confession of the Lutheran and Reformed churches and into the doctrinal decisions of the Council of Trent. According to the general conviction, these so-called condemnations no longer apply to our partner today. But this must not remain a merely private persuasion. It must be established in binding form.”

    I say this as a preface to noting that the commission concluded that canon 9 of Trent’s Decree on Justification is not applicable to modern Protestants (or at least those who say saving faith is Galatians 5 faith). This is important because canon 9 is the one dealing with the “faith alone” formula (and the one R.C. Sproul is continually hopping up and down about). It states:

    “If anyone says that the sinner is justified by faith alone, so as to understand that nothing else is required to cooperate in the attainment of the grace of justification . . . let him be anathema.”

    The reason this is not applicable to modern Protestants is that Protestants (at least the good ones) do not hold the view being condemned in this canon. Like all Catholic documents of the period, it uses the term “faith” in the sense of intellectual belief in whatever God says. Thus the position being condemned is the idea that we are justified by intellectual assent alone (as per James 2). We might rephrase the canon:

    “If anyone says that the sinner is justified by intellectual assent alone, so as to understand that nothing besides intellectual assent is required to cooperate in the attainment of the grace of justification . . . let him be anathema.”

    And every non-antinomian Protestant would agree with this, since in addition to intellectual assent one must also repent, trust, etc.

    So Trent does not condemn the (better) Protestant understanding of faith alone. In fact, the canon allows the formula to be used so long as it is not used so as to understand that nothing besides intellectual assent is required. The canon only condemns “sola fide” if it is used “so as to understand that nothing else [besides intellectual assent] is required” to attain justification. Thus Trent is only condemning one interpretation of the sola fide formula and not the formula itself.

    * * * * *

    Along these lines, I myself have written several papers trying to illustrate the common soteriological ground between Catholics and Protestants: a thing vastly misunderstood, sadly, on both sides of the dispute.

  247. June 4, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    Hi reedhere,

    I’m done with the Inquisition stuff (good riddance!). The last few posts of mine above were a direct reply to a (rather complex) question asked by one of the hosts (“greenbaggins”) on this thread: about the Tridentine anathemas and their application to Protestants today. Since he asked it in this combox (and brought it up), I assumed it was proper to offer a reply here.

    I’m a real stickler for staying on topic on my own blog. I have no problem with that whatever. The problem Catholics perpetually have in overwhelmingly Protestant environments is the casual bringing up of hot-button issues like the Inquisition. We naturally feel (esp. apologist-types like myself) that we have to offer some sort of reply. And often the replies are far more complex and involved than the one-line initial potshot or slogan (as is too often the case).

    The inquisition was brought up in this thread initially by a Protestant contributor (not myself). It was a “joke”: yet there is much mythology about that topic, as I think the subsequent discussion illustrated very well. And perhaps our Protestant friends may understand that jokes about the Inquisition are not particularly funny to us, seeing all the massive misinformation that floats about concerning it.

  248. johnbugay said,

    June 4, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    “The [Joint Declaration] suffers from the same maladies as other similar ecumenical documents—a lack of theological precision.”

    J.V. Fesko, “Justification: Understanding the Classic Reformed Doctrine,” pg 365

    Thanks Reed.

  249. June 4, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    That may well be the case in any given instance. It is a very difficult field. However, it was stated above in this thread that Catholics have anathematized all Protestants or all who adhere to sola fide. That is simply not the case, as I have explained. It’s not just myself saying this. The discussion noted above was spearheaded by the present pope, and this is his own interpretation of what the Tridentine anathemas mean, and how they apply (or don’t apply). That is highly significant.

    The pope certainly is a more authoritative interpreter of Trent (some of the doctrines he himself upholds as pope) than Protestants who come to it with a very negative inclination from the outset, just as y’all would expect some renowned Reformed theologian to understand his own theology better than I would.

    I should think this is a positive thing. I love ecumenism because it brings Christians together, rather than separating them. There is so much misinformation and cynicism on both sides that such efforts are often doomed before they even begin. People refuse to accept that there is common ground.

    I disagreed with a professed Catholic on my own blog today, too, who stated that Lutheranism was another religion. I said that this was untrue and contrary to Vatican II, that he is bound to accept as a Catholic, and that Lutherans are fellow Christians. So I dispute with Catholics who don’t accept their own Church’s teaching, and with Protestants who think the differences are greater than they actually are.

  250. June 4, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    Neuhaus was saying in his article that “the council fathers at Trent” misunderstood what the Reformers were saying, and excusing them that way.

    Just as Protestants (then and now) misunderstood Catholic teachings. This is the human condition: especially in times of great controversy and change.

    The Lutherans falsely portrayed the Catholic Mass, saying it was “Baal-worship” as if that had anything at all to do with it.

    I have shown, I think, howt John Calvin misinterpreted and misunderstood Tridentine soteriology:

    http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2007/02/1-corinthians-39-and-john-calvins.html

    It’s extremely common in Protestant circles. And Catholics just as often misunderstand Protestant teachings (especially in light of the fact that there are so many varieties of them). Having been in both camps, I try to be a bridge and clear these myths up as best I can.

  251. johnbugay said,

    June 4, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    Good luck here suggesting that Calvin misunderstood Trent.

  252. June 4, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    But the bishops at Trent didn’t necessarily misunderstand Protestant faith alone totally. They were opposing antinomian distortions of it that were rampant by that time, just as Luther and Calvin themselves did. The mistake perhaps (a quite understandable one in that environment) was in painting with too broad of a brush.

    What was condemned was not Lutheranism or Calvinism by name, but false views such as an antinomian bare assent masquerading as true biblical faith: something both Catholics and (most) Calvinists vehemently deny: as seen in the debates over Lordship salvation in our times.

    You guys continue to fight amongst yourselves about what sola fide truly means, yet you expect us to have gotten it perfectly right in the emotionally-charged 16th century? The earliest Protestants anathematized, and (more than that) damned and killed each other from the get-go, and you expect us to understand all the finest points of the myriad Protestant theologies, right from the outset of Protestantism? Luther condemned antinomian distortions of his teachings (and I’m sure Calvin did the same), just as Catholics condemned the same sort of false doctrines.

    So again, there is an encouraging, heartening common ground to be found here, if only folks are willing to do that and get past all the historic myths and lies on both sides about the “other” guys.

    This is why I came here in the first place: to see if constructive discussion can be had. I think it can be with those here who aren’t already anti-Catholic.

  253. June 4, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    Good luck here suggesting that Calvin misunderstood Trent.

    Many, many Protestants make the same mistake that Calvin did, insofar as they claim that Trent denied Grace Alone and the gospel or asserted Pelagianism (or even semi-Pelagianism). A lot of it stems from an unbiblical “either/or” reasoning.

    There are mountains of disinformation. I know: I’ve been dealing with it for almost 20 years now, as a former Protestant Catholic apologist.

  254. June 4, 2010 at 6:35 pm

    Paige Britton asked in #2 above:

    The question of the canon also raises the question of the authority of the church over Scripture, doesn’t it? (As in, does the church get to decide what is canonical, or does the church merely affirm what has always been canonical?)

    Louis hinted at the correct reply in #13. Our position is the latter, not the former. The Catholic Church does not claim that it is “superior” to the Bible; only that an authoritative Christian tradition and institutional Church was necessary to establish and proclaim the canon of Scripture. It merely acknowledges what is already (by its very nature) Scripture, or inspired revelation from God; it doesn’t make it so.

    It is historical facts that there were many disputes in the early Church about various biblical books.

    Sometimes it is claimed that this was something “new” in Vatican II. But the council echoed an earlier statement from Vatican I – which in turn was not far from similar expressions in the Council of Trent (1545-1563).

    The exact relationship of Scripture, Church, and Tradition in Catholic thinking is commonly misunderstood; it is often referred to as the “three-legged stool” of Catholic authority. We believe in faith that the three don’t and won’t conflict. They are viewed as pieces of a whole, just as Protestants (like Catholics) believe in faith that the Bible doesn’t contradict itself, and is a harmonious, coherent whole, all the while devoting entire books to supposed “Bible difficulties” that present a challenge to many readers and believers.

    It doesn’t follow at all that Catholics are placing Church above Scripture, in simply pointing out that human authority was needed in order to determine the canon. An analogy or comparison might be in order, to further explain this. It is also true that the Bible must be properly interpreted. Protestants, to their credit, place a huge emphasis on learning to study the Bible wisely and intelligently (the sciences of exegesis and hermeneutics). Just because learning and study are needed to correctly read the Bible and to attain to truth in theology, doesn’t mean that, therefore, the Bible did not already contain truth, or that human interpretation is “higher” than “God-breathed” biblical inspiration.

    Likewise, it was necessary for human church councils to decide on the specific books that were to be included in the biblical canon. This doesn’t imply in the least that the councils (let alone the Church) are above Scripture. Both the Bible and theological truth remain what they are at all times. But God is able to (and indeed does) protect human beings from error insofar as they make binding claims about the biblical canon. Catholics believe that God (the Holy Spirit: John 14-16) willed to protect the Church from error, and that He is certainly capable of doing so, because He can do anything.

    First Vatican Council (1870):

    “These the Church holds to be sacred and canonical; not because, having been carefully composed by mere human industry, they were afterward approved by her authority; not because they contain revelation, with no admixture of error; but because, having been written by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, they have God for their author, and have been delivered as such to the Church herself.”

    (Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith, chapter II; emphasis added)

    Second Vatican Council (1962-1965):

    “The divinely-revealed realities which are contained and presented in the text of sacred Scripture, have been written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. For Holy Mother Church relying on the faith of the apostolic age, accepts as sacred and canonical the books of the Old and New Testaments, whole and entire, with all their parts, on the grounds that they were written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (cf. Jn. 20:31; 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:19-21; 3:15-16), they have God as their author, and have been handed on as such to the Church herself.”

    (Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation [Dei Verbum], Chapter III, 11; emphasis added)

  255. June 4, 2010 at 6:46 pm

    I still await clarification from greenbaggins (going way back to #212 and #215) on what exactly he thinks “Christianity” is, and how he can conclude that Catholics are apostates before first figuring out the definition of the thing we supposedly left: on the logical principle that one cannot know if x is a species of y or not without first determining the precise nature of y.

    In other words, if one claims that something is outside the parameters of something, one must first have a clear grasp of the thing that is the category in question; otherwise (given the proclaimed “ambiguity”) it makes sense only to hold an agnostic position, not an exclusionary one.

  256. johnbugay said,

    June 4, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    Dave Armstrong: Oxford stands behind its work:

    http://books.google.com/books?id=v_KAsBggupkC&pg=PA12&dq=oxford+world+christian+encyclopedia&cd=1#v=onepage&q=oxford%20world%20christian%20encyclopedia&f=false

    By the way, telling your readers that “Bugay has refused to back up his ridiculous claims. He has been nailed on this, and I think he knows it, so he is avoiding, rather than retracting or admitting he doesn’t know what he is talking about…” is not a good way to win friends.

  257. June 4, 2010 at 7:01 pm

    greenbaggins wrote:

    Pope Leo X excommunicated Martin Luther for his doctrine of justification. If all Trent did was reject something that Luther also rejected, then Leo had no need of excommunicating Luther.

    You neglect to see that there were far more considerations and factors in play here than only the issue of justification. Luther had in fact departed from at least 50 Catholic doctrines and practices by 1520, before he was excommunicated. I have documented this from the three great treatises of 1520 alone:

    50 Ways In Which Luther Had Departed From Catholic Orthodoxy or Established Practice by 1520 (and Why He Was Excommunicated)

    http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2006/03/50-ways-in-which-luther-had-departed.html

    Luther had, for example, also rejected papal and conciliar infallibility and asserted Scripture alone by that point (thus logically ruling out apostolic succession as well). All these positions were radical innovations. The consensus of patristic and medieval scholars of all stripes (despite the polar opposite opinions of some in this thread who are NOT patristic scholars) is that the fathers and medievals did not believe in sola Scriptura as Luther and subsequent Protestants understood the notion.

    It is rather easy to understand (and accept), I think, that any institution has the right to expel from its ranks those who no longer believe in its teachings. Protestants do the same for far less reason than we had with Luther. The analogy I always use is a scenario whereby I went into a staunch confessionally, traditionally Reformed seminary and denied all five tenets of TULIP, yet asked to be retained on staff as a teacher. That would never do. I’d be booted out (literally) virtually as soon as the words came out of my mouth.

    At the Synod of Dort, the Arminians were in fact expelled from Reformed-dom in rather unsavory terms, for denying TULIP. Yet on the other hand it is thought to be the height of outrage that we excommunicated Luther for consciously having denied at least 50 of our beliefs (far beyond merely soteriology), as if that is not the most predictable, sensible thing in the world to do.

    He was no longer a Catholic. Period. End of story. We did not bring that about. He did, by his own free choice. Things aren’t endlessly malleable, as if Catholic theology and tradition were a wax nose, to be molded at whim by anyone (including a pugnacious Augustinian monk known to be prone to rhetorical, emotional, and scrupulous extremes). We had an established theological tradition just as y’all did and do. And we have parameters for orthodoxy just as y’all do.

  258. June 4, 2010 at 7:09 pm

    . . . is not a good way to win friends.

    Telling the truth sometimes makes it hard to be friends with some folks. I continue to have no reason to believe otherwise, unless you inform me of one.

    This latest URL of yours proves nothing; it merely begs the question at hand: whether mere association with Oxford is sufficient to prove that a particular claim made in a book published by said university is true or not. I am demanding (quite reasonably so) documentation from scholars (all non-Catholic ones if you wish) directly familiar with the Inquisition and the Middle Ages, for the absurd nearly 5 million figure of casualties from the Inquisition that you wish to stand by.

    Imagine what you buddy at the blog you are now writing for would say if I claimed that some claim about Martin Luther were true simply because it was published in a book put out by Oxford University. I would be laughed and mocked to scorn over there (I have, anyway, for speaking “controversial” historical truths, on many occasions). But you can do it when it comes to Catholicism.

    We’re supposed to stop talking about this topic.

  259. Paige Britton said,

    June 4, 2010 at 7:13 pm

    Dave,
    If the Catholic church merely affirms what has always been canonical, does this mean that the Apocryphal books have “always” been canonical (and “authored by God”) just like the rest of the OT & NT?
    Thanks,
    Paige B.

  260. June 4, 2010 at 7:25 pm

    Of course, since from our perspective (in line with the Septuagint and the early Church), we regard them as canonical along with the rest. What is truly Scripture is so inherently, being God-breathed. We all agree on that. We disagree on certain books.

    My argument would be to say that Church authority has to necessarily settle that, since the Bible itself does not, and that this has always been a thorny question for Protestants to deal with, since they don’t like binding, infallible Church authority, and a fallible collection of infallible biblical books just don’t cut it.

    How refreshing to be challenged on-topic rather than off-topic! LOL

  261. Paige Britton said,

    June 4, 2010 at 8:44 pm

    My argument would be to say that Church authority has to necessarily settle that…

    …Which is why I raised the original question about church authority in relation to the canon. Maybe there are some good reasons why Protestants reject the Apocryphal books (or at least reasons we think are pretty good). Whitaker gets into these in Ch. 4 of the work Lane has coaxed us to read (there is a link to the Google version at the beginning of the post that heads this thread). But the discussion always spins back around to how God set up the universe — fallible ministers, or infallible magisterium?

    That “fallible collection of infallible biblical books” line sounds laughable, but if, as we believe (with Luther, that heretic!), we’re in a “fallible minister” universe, then even the wisest of councils can’t give us what Jeff Cagle calls “mathematical certainty,” whether about the canon or about doctrine. But if this is the case, we should expect sufficient certainty in these areas, so that “fallible” does not necessarily always equal “wrong.” So I’ll bite the bullet and accept the “fallible collection of infallible books.”

    pax,
    Paige B.

  262. Andrew McCallum said,

    June 4, 2010 at 10:38 pm

    Dave Armstrong,

    Way back about 50 posts or so you were asking about whether we believed Catholics were Christians and Lane responded that the term “Christian” is “slippery and difficult.” I would agree with that comment but would also add that the term “Catholic” is slippery and difficult as well. All of us Reformed folks know lots Catholics who are faithful to their religion as best as they know how, but still come to very different conclusions on theological and practical matters. I remember watching a documentary where some film makers were interviewing folks coming out of a Catholic church. They asked them about their hope for salvation. One of the first interviewees said that she trusted in God’s grace and that Christ’s sacrifice alone was sufficient. But the others talked about trying to be good and keep the Ten Commandments and so on. So my take away here, while of course not knowing these folk’s hearts, is that the first interviewee was likely a Christian and the others probably were not. They may all have been faithful Catholics as best as they had learned to be, but it seemed to me that the light of the gospel had only been impressed upon one of them.

    A Christian in Scripture was first called so by those in Antioch who observed that this sect followed the teachings of Christ. But what does it mean to follow Christ? The somewhat different answers to this question underly the point that Lane made about definitions of the term “Christian” being rather difficult.

    My impression is that most of the Catholics that frequent blogs such as this one are Thomists and thus do believe that salvation is by grace alone. But before Trent and even after Trent not all Catholics were Thomists. I would say there are relatively few in the Catholic world who even care about such distinctions and for those really serious Catholics, Thomism is not the only option open to them.

    Personally I don’t like the term “Romanists” and “Papists” and I don’t use them. I do use the term “Roman Catholic Church” or RCC for short. I think this is apt and descriptive term, although I know my Catholic friends don’t particularly like it.

    Cheers…

  263. June 4, 2010 at 11:34 pm

    That “fallible collection of infallible biblical books” line sounds laughable.

    I agree. It was popularized by R. C. Sproul (in case anyone was unaware of that).

  264. June 4, 2010 at 11:42 pm

    Protestants can play games with epistemology and “mathematical certainty” if they like. I’ve heard those tired arguments a hundred times. That was never what Christianity was about, anyway, because it is a religion that requires faith, not mathematics or philosophy.

    The fact remains that without strong, binding Church authority, the canon question would have gone on being controversial for a long time, quite possibly up to our present day. It is a question of knowing what the Bible IS in the first place, which is a necessary precursor for sola Scriptura to be able to be practiced at all (to even attempt to practice it).

    Sproul recognizes the conundrum for what it is. One has to have infallible binding authority in order to get to a place where sola Scriptura (the belief that holds that only Scripture is the final, infallible authority) can get off the ground: even theoretically. But since the original premise is directly, expressly contradictory to the new one built upon it, we see that the whole procedure is viciously circular.

    I’ve never seen a decent Protestant argument that resolves this, and I don’t expect to see it here. Perhaps someone will give me a big surprise. I won’t hold my breath.

  265. June 5, 2010 at 12:09 am

    Hi Andrew,

    Way back about 50 posts or so you were asking about whether we believed Catholics were Christians and Lane responded that the term “Christian” is “slippery and difficult.” I would agree with that comment

    We’re back to my original counter-reply which has not yet received an answer. You and Lane both say the word “Christian[ity]” is ambiguous, yet I highly doubt that either of you despair about whether you are included in the category. So it isn’t ambiguous when you think of yourselves or your tradition.

    Nor is it when Lane claimed that Catholics are apostate and that he hesitates to describe the system as “Christian.” This is plainly incoherent. The definition must be nailed down first. It’s not that difficult at all, really. But to say one isn’t sure what it is, yet at the same time, be “sure” that Catholics can’t be classified therein without hesitation, just won’t do. It is internally incoherent. And I think it illustrates that many Protestants have not properly thought the issue through, to have such uncertainty on a basic definitional issue. Nothing personal at all; I’m simply discussing ideas and theology.

    I’ve thought about these issues myself for almost thirty years, because in the early 80s I specialized in cult research (particularly regarding JWs). We had to be very clear what was Christian and what was not.

    but would also add that the term “Catholic” is slippery and difficult as well. All of us Reformed folks know lots Catholics who are faithful to their religion as best as they know how, but still come to very different conclusions on theological and practical matters. I remember watching a documentary where some film makers were interviewing folks coming out of a Catholic church. They asked them about their hope for salvation. One of the first interviewees said that she trusted in God’s grace and that Christ’s sacrifice alone was sufficient. But the others talked about trying to be good and keep the Ten Commandments and so on. So my take away here, while of course not knowing these folk’s hearts, is that the first interviewee was likely a Christian and the others probably were not. They may all have been faithful Catholics as best as they had learned to be, but it seemed to me that the light of the gospel had only been impressed upon one of them.

    But this is completely irrelevant. The nature and content of Catholic theology is not determined by interviewing often relatively uneducated Catholics or an old Catholic lady in purple tennis shoes (anymore than it is determined by interviewing the usual 80% or so proportion of even evangelical and Calvinist churches, who never crack a Bible study), but by consulting Catholic dogmatic sources. It’s as easy as going to the Catechism.

    Why would anyone think that determining a group’s beliefs was a matter of head count rather than official sources? I think this is fashionable because in fact there are very many Catholics ignorant of their own theology (why that is is another long discussion). But there are also plenty of Protestants ignorant of their theology (one of many variant Protestant theologies) as well. It proves nothing. All it proves is the level of ignorance that obtains in the typical common member of a group and that the teachings of said group have not been properly passed down.

    On the other hand, saying that works have something to do with salvation, insofar as they exhibit genuine faith (per James and many many Pauline passages that I would be happy to produce if someone doubts this), and in a non-Pelagian fashion, is quite biblical. The problem is that it becomes a very subtle discussion, to make all the proper distinctions and draw all the fine lines, in both Catholic and Protestant theology. As we would expect, then, many relatively uneducated, unsophisticated Christians of all stripes (even many sophisticated, educated ones) get these distinctions wrong and incorrectly understand. And so the average uneducated Catholic will tend to think they are saved by works and discount faith, while the average evangelical or Calvinist Protestant will tend to go to the other extreme and adopt a radical faith alone that has no place for works (even though Luther and Calvin expressly eschewed such a notion).

    The basic gospel is communicated literally in every Catholic Mass, as I have shown in one of my papers. If someone doesn’t “hear” it, it is because of their own inattention and apathy, not because it isn’t there to be heard and received and appropriated in their own lives.

    A Christian in Scripture was first called so by those in Antioch who observed that this sect followed the teachings of Christ. But what does it mean to follow Christ?

    It has both a devotional / relational and doctrinal component. The Christian devotes his life to Christ and resolves to follow His teachings and way of life. But the Christian must also have correct theology on the “non-negotiables” (back to the Nicene Creed, etc.). One can’t simply say that they are following Christ without the doctrinal component. Any Mormon or Moonie or Christian Scientists says that, but they follow a different Christ.

    Nor can or should one express a perfectly orthodox theology (in whatever framework) while being cold and unloving and ignoring the ethical / moral aspects of our Lord Jesus Christ’s teaching. We know that such a person would be rejected by God on the Last Day, because we have express biblical teaching that this is the case.

    The somewhat different answers to this question underly the point that Lane made about definitions of the term “Christian” being rather difficult.

    I don’t think it is; I think the definition has these different components that I have outlined, and that many Protestants (and Catholics) are confused by that and confuse the two and don’t nail it down. They simply need to ponder it and think it through. I think if that were done, with informed participants on both sides of the debate, that much could be accomplished.

    My impression is that most of the Catholics that frequent blogs such as this one are Thomists and thus do believe that salvation is by grace alone.

    Both Thomists and Molinists (I am in the latter camp: as a “Congruist”) believe in Grace Alone, because the latter is dogmatically asserted in Trent, and both are equally bound to it. Questions of predestination are distinct, and we are allowed to have some disagreement on that in Catholic dogmatic theology.

    But before Trent and even after Trent not all Catholics were Thomists. I would say there are relatively few in the Catholic world who even care about such distinctions and for those really serious Catholics, Thomism is not the only option open to them.

    One can always find ignorance in any camp, just as one can always find sin. To me that is totally uninteresting and irrelevant to the questions at hand. It’s a piece of sociological analysis (my major in college) and not theological analysis. I’m all for sociology and understanding all those things better (I love surveys and demographics), but (with all due respect) it is beside the present point (“what is a Christian?”).

  266. June 5, 2010 at 1:12 am

    Thanks very much, Andrew, for your comments and their irenic tone. I enjoyed interacting with them, and I hope I didn’t state anything that would offend you (or anyone else). It was assuredly not my intention. I’m just talkin’ theology.

  267. Jeff Cagle said,

    June 5, 2010 at 9:14 am

    Dave A (#250):

    Just as Protestants (then and now) misunderstood Catholic teachings. This is the human condition: especially in times of great controversy and change.

    The difference, however, is that Protestants do not claim infallibility for their doctrinal pronouncements. Calvin might have been wrong, and my faith will not have been in vain.

    By contrast, Trent cannot have been wrong in your view. Thus, if it now appears that Trent was incorrect, your only possible move is to reinterpret Trent so that it doesn’t apply to Luther and Calvin.

    I’m not a Reformation history scholar, nor a betting man, but I would bet a beer that the Roman Catholic church in the 17th century understood that the canons of the 6th Session were directed against mainstream Protestants and not merely antionomian extremists.

    (my wife and I *do* bet Rita’s water ices with each other. Oddly enough, the net payout is always 0).

  268. Jeff Cagle said,

    June 5, 2010 at 9:30 am

    Re #257:

    GB: Pope Leo X excommunicated Martin Luther for his doctrine of justification. If all Trent did was reject something that Luther also rejected, then Leo had no need of excommunicating Luther.

    DA: You neglect to see that there were far more considerations and factors in play here than only the issue of justification.

    Leo X: In virtue of our pastoral office committed to us by the divine favor we can under no circumstances tolerate or overlook any longer the pernicious poison of the above errors without disgrace to the Christian religion and injury to orthodox faith. Some of these errors we have decided to include in the present document; their substance is as follows:

    15. Great is the error of those who approach the sacrament of the Eucharist relying on this, that they have confessed, that they are not conscious of any mortal sin, that they have sent their prayers on ahead and made preparations; all these eat and drink judgment to themselves. But if they believe and trust that they will attain grace, then this faith alone makes them pure and worthy.


    19. Indulgences are of no avail to those who truly gain them, for the remission of the penalty due to actual sin in the sight of divine justice.


    31. In every good work the just man sins.

    33. That heretics be burned is against the will of the Spirit.
    ….
    Exsurge Domine

    Nevertheless, Dave, it is true that Luther was excommunicated for his doctrine of justification: specifically as we see above, for teaching that man is simul iustus et peccator, and that man’s penalty for sin is remitted along with the guilt (so that indulgences are of no weight).

    I threw #33 in as an aside: we note that even the pope errs here in his judgment that “burning heretics is against the will of the Spirit” is an error.

  269. rfwhite said,

    June 5, 2010 at 9:44 am

    263 Dave A // 261 Paige B: with regard to the phrase “fallible collection of infallible books,” two questions occur to me.

    One, what must the nature of the church’s authority be for its recognition of the canon to be infallible?

    Two, does infallibility apply to the component parts of the canon only or does it extend to the collection as a whole also?

  270. Jeff Cagle said,

    June 5, 2010 at 9:45 am

    Re #259ff:

    Paige: If the Catholic church merely affirms what has always been canonical, does this mean that the Apocryphal books have “always” been canonical (and “authored by God”) just like the rest of the OT & NT?

    Dave A: Of course, since from our perspective (in line with the Septuagint and the early Church), we regard them as canonical along with the rest. What is truly Scripture is so inherently, being God-breathed. We all agree on that. We disagree on certain books.

    My argument would be to say that Church authority has to necessarily settle that, since the Bible itself does not, and that this has always been a thorny question for Protestants to deal with, since they don’t like binding, infallible Church authority, and a fallible collection of infallible biblical books just don’t cut it.

    Dave A: Protestants can play games with epistemology and “mathematical certainty” if they like. I’ve heard those tired arguments a hundred times. That was never what Christianity was about, anyway, because it is a religion that requires faith, not mathematics or philosophy.

    Since I was the author of the “mathematical certainty” quote, let me assure you that playing games is not on the table. The issue of certainty began with a conversation with Bryan Cross. His challenge was to identify the ontological ground of knowledge. He asserted that only two bases are possible: sacramental authority, or one’s own agreement with an alleged authority; and that in the latter case, the individual is the true authority.

    As that conversation has developed (and it is by no means resolved), this central question has arisen:

    Does the church create truth or recognize truth?

    Sean’s response (#126):

    Your question, “Does the church create truth or recognize truth?” leaves out a third option: “Does the Church authoritatively declare truth?”

    And so now the question on the table is, What does that third option mean? What is the difference between authoritatively declaring truth and either recognizing truth (as scientists attempt to do) or creating truth (as baseball umpires do).

    In relationship to the canon, that’s what Paige is getting at. What is the difference between “infallibly recognizing the canon” and “infallibly authoritatively declaring the canon”?

    If none, if there is no real third option, then our conversation can be greatly simplified. If there is, then what is it?

    I don’t view this at all as a game, but as the central question surrounding RC authority: how can the RCC make the claims that it does about authority, without usurping God’s own authority?

    In relation to the canon, How can the RCC authoritatively declare that certain books are God-breathed and authoritative, without undercutting their authority by playing the king-maker?

  271. June 5, 2010 at 9:49 am

    Thus, if it now appears that Trent was incorrect, your only possible move is to reinterpret Trent so that it doesn’t apply to Luther and Calvin.

    You miss the point. Trent (to my knowledge; I’m pretty sure about this) never named Calvin or Luther, or even Calvinism or Lutheranism. If it had done so, and had condemned them by name and misrepresented them in particulars (as the Catholic Church routinely is misrepresented in Protestant confessional documents) then you would have a point. That would have been a documentable and established factual error.

    What it condemned (e.g., a truly bare assent of faith, and/or antinomianism) was indeed false, and mainstream magisterial Protestantism agrees that it is (since Luther and Calvin condemned the same extremes that occurred among those who claimed to be their legatees or who broke away from them. It was correct in what it condemned. That’s not an error; rather, it is a question of what exactly was intended to be covered by any given particular condemnation.

    The error, therefore, lies in your logically flawed analysis, not in Trent. :-)

    I haven’t studied the matter personally, but I have heard many times that, e.g., a great many of Luther’s 95 Theses were perfectly orthodox by existing Catholic standards.

  272. Andrew McCallum said,

    June 5, 2010 at 9:54 am

    Dave,

    No offense taken, I take it that you are just giving us your straightforward impressions of what I say.

    In #205, you asked about the official stance of of this site on Catholicism. I’m not the owner nor a moderator, so I cannot comment here. I was just chipping in on a comment or two that Lane made. You said that you did not want to interact with those who you deemed to be “anti-Catholic” and I understand this and certainly don’t blame you. I think that you will find most all of the Protestants who interact here are fair-minded and careful in the way they interact.

    So my response to you in #262 could be summarized in a sentence to say that we are not going to assume that someone is a Christian just because they are a member in good standing in the RCC, but we are not going to deny that there are many Catholics who are truly Christian. Now I’m sure there are some Reformed folks who may interact here that disagree with the last statement, but I think it is generally true of most of the Reformed folks who come here.

    You need to understand that we are not generally going to try to differentiate between Catholics who do hold to official RCC theology and those who don’t. Someone is “Catholic” if they are a member in good standing of the Catholic Church. But worldwide this allows for a massive breadth of belief systems. So when you ask us what we think of a given Catholic we are not going to answer you without some further qualification. And even for the conservative Catholics who can spout Ott and Denzinger and so on, the fact that they possess a certain body of knowledge does not make them a Christian. Again, we would need more information.

    One other thing to note that I have often reminded the conservative Catholics who post her and other such loops is that outside of these Internet forums we rarely meet conservatives like them. Catholicism is what it is, not what the conservatives would like it to be. And the conservatives such as yourself are a relatively rare bread from what we can see. Do you understand what I’m getting at? We generally are not going to analyze the “official” theology of Rome to see who is in accord with it and who is not. We are going to assume that someone is Catholic if they are a member in good standing of the RCC.

  273. June 5, 2010 at 10:03 am

    Another way to look at it is as follows:

    Suppose as a hypothetical,that I create an “infallible” document wherein I state, among many other things: “those who deny that 2+2=4 are hereby anathematized as dunces and arithmetically-challenged.”

    That is the statement in the document, and it is undeniably true in terms of its mathematical accuracy.

    Suppose also that I as the author mistakenly believe that this state of affairs (mathematical duncehood) is true of PCA, CRC, and OPC Reformed Protestants, and also of Wisconsin Synod Lutherans and the Podunk Storefront Fundamentalist Church at 245 Elm Street in Ashtabula and those in Joel Osteen’s mega-relevant,with-it, hyper-trendy church.

    The latter is an error of fact. But (here’s the bottom line) it is not stated in the infallible document. Therefore, to implicate the infallible document as not infallible because of something not in the document itself is irrelevant; a non sequitur in the fullest sense of that word.

    This is exactly what a few of you are attempting to do with Trent. I have explained the logic of it and how the Catholic Church (including the pope himself) interprets the matter. Like I said, it should be an encouraging thing to you, that the dreaded anathemas are not as sweeping as you had supposed. But instead, you want to hang on to the old tired divisions and timeworn rhetoric of nearly 500 years. You can’t accept the report even of a Catholic pope, about what an ecumenical Catholic council entails with regard to Protestantism.

    People do understand things better as time goes on. This is an instance of that. It is not required to believe that every Catholic alive in the 16th century (including the bishops at Trent) had exhaustively accurate knowledge of every jot and tittle of every Protestant sect of the time. Nor is this necessary in order for the dogmatic statements of Trent to be true.

    They could very well have been wrong about what applied to whom. But this has no bearing on the truth or falsity of doctrinal statements in the infallible Tridentine documents, as shown above, by analogy.

  274. June 5, 2010 at 10:24 am

    Lots to reply to, but I am immensely enjoying the exchanges and challenges. Thanks to the hosts for allowing me the privilege and pleasure of interacting with the many thoughtful folks here. I appreciate the opportunity very much.

    Hi Jeff,

    Re: #268:

    You haven’t overthrown my original contention at all. I claimed that many more issues were in play with Luther and his excommunication besides
    justification. You even helped bolster my point by providing a few examples. How this disproves what I stated is, I confess, a great mystery to me.

    I threw #33 in as an aside: we note that even the pope errs here in his judgment that “burning heretics is against the will of the Spirit” is an error.

    Every heretic who is damned in the end will be burned with the express consent of the Holy Spirit for eternity, no? Calvinists (unlike Catholics and Arminians and Wesleyans and Orthodox) even assert that this was decreed by God from eternity before the damned person had any say in the matter at all. So I wouldn’t be so quick to make this point.

    The issue (pondered beyond mere provocation and polemics and a “gotcha” mentality) is how heresy is to be dealt with and/or punished in this life also. The medievals thought that danger to souls was at least as dangerous and harmful to society as danger to their physical bodies or emotional well-being. They have a certain point.

    I am a passionate believer in complete religious tolerance, and the Catholic Church has taken that course in Vatican II. We all pretty much agree on that now. If we wish to go back to the previous time and those practices, then all I ask is that we also condemn the many Protestant excesses as well, as I argued above in my comments on the Inquisition.

  275. June 5, 2010 at 10:36 am

    Hi rfwhite (#269),

    I can’t get deeply into this canon issue, as I am already in ten discussions at once, about my original question: “what is a Christian, and are Catholics Christians?” (it remains unresolved), and the accompanying issue of the Tridentine anathemas, that was asked of me by greenbaggins. But I will give a brief reply.

    One, what must the nature of the church’s authority be for its recognition of the canon to be infallible?

    Obviously, I think, a binding (we would say, apostolic) authority; otherwise, what good is the proclamation? It is no better than you or I saying which books are Scripture.It is clear from Scripture itself that the Church has such authority. We see it most clearly in the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:28: RSV: “For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things”) . Even Paul and Timothy proclaimed this binding authoritative pronouncement: “As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for observance the decisions which had been reached by the apostles and elders who were at Jerusalem” (Acts 16:4).

    “Infalliblity” is simply another way o=f saying that something is true (and in this case, protected by the assistance of the Holy Spirit).It is because Protestants often now accept theological relativism or relativistic latitude on a host of issues, that they disparage certitude and infallibility. In other words, since y’all can’t resolve your never-ending internal differences, you relegate large areas of Christianity to mere personal choice.

    That approach is, with all due respect, post-Enlightenment, postmodernist gobbledygook, not biblical or historic Christianity, nor even the Christianity of Luther and Calvin, who felt quite certain of their own beliefs and even damned those who differed from it (e.g., Luther’s opinion of Zwingli, or Calvin calling Lutheranism an “evil”).

    Two, does infallibility apply to the component parts of the canon only or does it extend to the collection as a whole also?

    Catholics believe that all Scripture is infallible (in its manuscripts). We also believe that the proclamation of the canon is an infallible one, since it was finalized at Trent in a dogmatic fashion.

  276. June 5, 2010 at 10:51 am

    Hi Jeff (#270),

    Again, I’ll have to pass on extensive discussion of canon issues, since I am already in two extensive discussions. One can only do so much (and I’m a great believer in avoiding too many discussions at once and not spreading oneself too thin). The other Catholics here can continue their replies to these matters. Just one observation at this time:

    How can the RCC authoritatively declare that certain books are God-breathed and authoritative, without undercutting their authority by playing the king-maker?

    The same way it could declare that circumcision was no longer necessary for Gentiles, in the Jerusalem council. The same way it could determine that Matthias was a successor to Judas; hence an apostle (hence an operation of apostolic succession), recorded in Holy Scripture itself. It does so because it is the “pillar and foundation of the truth” (see my lengthy treatment of what is involved in that: properly examined):

    1 Timothy 3:15: Was My Take in The Catholic Versesthe “Worst Exegesis Ever”?

    http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2010/03/1-timothy-315-was-my-take-in-catholic.html

    Biblical Proof of Church Infallibility and Disproof of Sola Scriptura in One Bible Verse — Reinforced by Closely Related Cross-References

    http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2010/03/biblical-proof-of-church-infallibility.html

    Sola Scriptura vs. Ephesians 4 & St. Paul’s Word Selection: “Scripture(s),” “Tradition,” and “Church” (+ “Body”)

    http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2010/03/sola-scriptura-vs-ephesians-4-st-pauls.html

  277. Jeff Cagle said,

    June 5, 2010 at 11:53 am

    Hi Dave (#274):

    Re: #268:

    You haven’t overthrown my original contention at all. I claimed that many more issues were in play with Luther and his excommunication besides
    justification. You even helped bolster my point by providing a few examples. How this disproves what I stated is, I confess, a great mystery to me.

    There is a misunderstanding here. I agree with the factual content of your statement and was not attempting to disprove it, but to qualify it.

    The fact remains that Luther was excommunicated for, among other things, his doctrine of justification, which is what Lane originally stated.

    If we can agree on this point, then it seems reasonable to close the book on the matter.

    JRC: I threw #33 in as an aside: we note that even the pope errs here in his judgment that “burning heretics is against the will of the Spirit” is an error.

    DA: The issue (pondered beyond mere provocation and polemics and a “gotcha” mentality)

    Certainly. My intention was to extend the discussion with Sean in #74. I think and hope that we agree that getting the story straight matters more than making our (mine or yours) particular version of the story to be the dominant one.

    D: …is how heresy is to be dealt with and/or punished in this life also. The medievals thought that danger to souls was at least as dangerous and harmful to society as danger to their physical bodies or emotional well-being. They have a certain point.

    I am a passionate believer in complete religious tolerance, and the Catholic Church has taken that course in Vatican II. We all pretty much agree on that now. If we wish to go back to the previous time and those practices, then all I ask is that we also condemn the many Protestant excesses as well, as I argued above in my comments on the Inquisition.

    I unequivocally repudiate the practices of hanging witches, and of drowning Anabaptists, and so on. I can do so with the understanding that my Protestant forbears erred in understanding the applicability of OT law to NT times.

    But on what grounds can you repudiate the practice of the Inquisition? Or of Leo X’s comment above? Would that not be an instance in which the Church erred in a matter of doctrine?

    What I’m getting at is neither gamesmanship nor gotcha, but seeking to understand how the argument

    (1) The Holy Spirit will not abandon the Church
    (2) ???
    (3) Therefore, the Church cannot err in identifying tradition.

    I appears to me that the Church has always thought of herself as standing in the apostolic tradition; and certainly the burning of heretics was considered to be within that tradition also.

    So I have trouble grasping the nature of the argument that the HS’s preservation of the Church entails infallibility.

    And that’s true with regard to the canon also. It would make sense that the Church might fallibly recognize the infallible Word of God. I don’t understand the argument that the Church “infallibly authoritatively declares” what the canon is. How do we know that the declaration is infallible, and what does it mean to authoritatively declare something?

    These appear to me to be the central questions.

  278. Jeff Cagle said,

    June 5, 2010 at 11:54 am

    (I will of course peruse your links in search of an answer).

  279. June 5, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    Protestants can play games with epistemology and “mathematical certainty” if they like. I’ve heard those tired arguments a hundred times. That was never what Christianity was about, anyway, because it is a religion that requires faith, not mathematics or philosophy.

    Dave,

    Re: 264

    Christian philosophy is concerned with things like the law of contradiction, maximal warrant for belief, the reasonableness of faith etc. Accordingly, it’s rather naïve to assert that any polemic, even yours (which I have not yet seen btw), can avoid philosophy. To pit faith against philosophy only demonstrates a less than fragile handle of the subject. Similar observations can be made about the lack of appreciation for how epistemology comes to bear on this matter.

    The fact remains that without strong, binding Church authority, the canon question would have gone on being controversial for a long time, quite possibly up to our present day.

    How do you know that? Has God, a pope or a counsel revealed that to you? More to the point, your assertion is that the canon question “quite possibly” might not have been resolved apart from an alleged infallible church. You call that a “fact”. That “fact” as it were would suggest that the canon question indeed could have been resolved without an infallible church. In which case, at least in theory, an infallible church was not necessary for God to bring to pass the identification and reception of the NT canon. Protestants agree with that premise. In fact, Protestants believe that is what occurred. The only question is whether God intended to build his church upon the sure word of God and whether He had the ability to ensure that the church would receive what he intended for them to receive. God was able to bless Jacob through Jacob’s deceit. In the like manner, even if the church wanted to screw up the canon it couldn’t. And as you already implied – no infallible church was necessary – it only would have made the process faster, which of course would imply that God could not work just as fast through a fallible church, or even a corrupt church that wanted to corrupt the canon.

    One has to have infallible binding authority in order to get to a place where sola Scriptura (the belief that holds that only Scripture is the final, infallible authority) can get off the ground: even theoretically.

    I know you don’t care for philosophy but maybe this one time you might prove this for us. Please don’t just make assertions; please try stringing together a series of premises where the conclusion follows from the premises. Then we’ll examine the form of the argument to see whether it begs crucial questions, or draws conclusions that exceed the scope of the premises. If it passes those tests, then we’ll move to examine the justification of the premises.

    I’ve never seen a decent Protestant argument that resolves this, and I don’t expect to see it here. Perhaps someone will give me a big surprise. I won’t hold my breath.

    Given that you dismiss critical thinking from the start, you are not in the best position to recognize, let alone submit to, a sound argument.

    Ron

  280. June 5, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    Hi Andrew (#272),

    No offense taken, I take it that you are just giving us your straightforward impressions of what I say.

    Indeed. I’m glad you understand that. I argue very passionately and sometimes (so I am told!) quite pointedly and in a “hit between the eyes” fashion; it is never intended to be a personal attack. I always try to stick to the ideas, doctrines, and logic involved. My argumentative passion (honed over 30 years of apologetics and debates) is often misinterpreted as emotional excess. It is not at all. I’m a very easy-going sort and am said to be “soft-spoken.”

    In person that would be immediately obvious, I think (again, so I have been told many times). I just want to nip this “issue” in the bud before it possibly becomes a problem here, because I am enjoying myself and hope I can hang around a bit, if you guys are willing to put up with my challenges and perhaps sometimes “provocation,” as it were. I come on like gangbusters, sometimes. It is simply my aggressive debating style. I love true debate and dialogue. Sometimes others do not share my love and find my particular consciously socratic style offensive or off-putting.

    In #205, you asked about the official stance of of this site on Catholicism. I’m not the owner nor a moderator, so I cannot comment here. I was just chipping in on a comment or two that Lane made. You said that you did not want to interact with those who you deemed to be “anti-Catholic” and I understand this and certainly don’t blame you.

    It’s wonderful that this is understood. No one likes to try to interact with folks who are persistently hostile, and often, unfortunately, in a directly personal, ad hominem fashion. I’ve been personally called every name in the book over 14 years online: virtually every calumny imaginable. I won’t bore you or anyone with those details. Like I said, my experience is what it is, and I can’t change it.

    I think that you will find most all of the Protestants who interact here are fair-minded and careful in the way they interact.

    I have indeed found that to be the case and overall I like this place and the people here. I think there is an excellent, refreshing mix of thoughtfulness and cordiality. I’m delighted that I haven’t been 1) personally attacked, or 2) kicked out yet. :-) Surely we all are aware of how rampant such things are on the Internet. I gave up on discussion boards way back in 2003 because of it.

    Frankly, I still marvel, however, that there is no clear definition of “Christianity.” I find that to be a remarkable, astounding thing. My questions in that area have ultimately been left hanging (I assume that there are competing time demands in some cases). You have grappled directly with them at some length (thanks) but as of yet you don’t seem to have offered a clear answer, either. Do you acknowledge that you should reasonably have a clear answer?

    So my response to you in #262 could be summarized in a sentence to say that we are not going to assume that someone is a Christian just because they are a member in good standing in the RCC, but we are not going to deny that there are many Catholics who are truly Christian.

    Good, but what is a Christian in the first place? My position is that there is a lot of ignorance. We can’t determine what Catholicism teaches by taking head counts of usually under-educated; too often misinformed or compromised collections of Catholics on the street. We can’t do that with Protestants, either. We have to look at “the books” in both cases. I don’t see how that is even arguable.

    Again, I say that any “ambiguity” comes from the second aspect of the definition: that of one’s personal position in relationship with God. You guys say one is either justified or not. We follow that to a large extent but we also look at it more as a process. The Catholic examines himself right now to see if he is in a state of mortal, grave sin, or separation from God. If I’m in bed with a prostitute as I type this, then I am not in a good place with God. We say that this is a mortal sin and that death minus true repentance could quite possibly land one in hell for eternity.

    You guys say that it proves that a person never was justified or regenerated in the first place; lest he wouldn’t be indulging in such serious sin. It is a formal difference but a practical agreement. in both instances the person is in a bad place, is seen to be a rank hypocrite, and is in distinct danger of damnation.

    So you look at the “good” Catholics and the “bad” ones and determine who may or not be a Christian in that behavioral sense. You still incorporate behavioral aspects. This is what I find informative. You don’t separate — in the end — the aspect of good works and behavior and avoidance of sin anymore than we do. You simply categorize things differently.

    But — that said — I would contend that in the final analysis, a person’s state of soul is known only to God. As fallible, limited, finite human beings, we can only determine who is a Christian by a doctrinal analysis. That’s why I always ask Protestants if they think Catholicism is Christian as a system of theology. And I say, “can a Catholic who believes all that his Church teaches be saved?,” or, “does one have to be a bad Catholic in order to be a good Christian?”

    It’s the doctrinal, creedal emphasis. Protestants normally extend this charity of category to all other Protestants (with some exceptions), but for some odd reason there is reluctance to do this in relation to Catholics (and often Orthodox as well).

    Now I’m sure there are some Reformed folks who may interact here that disagree with the last statement, but I think it is generally true of most of the Reformed folks who come here.

    I’ll take your word. The tone of this site is plainly very different from most Reformed sites I have seen (that tended to be anti-Catholic and often extremely uncharitable, sad to say).

    You need to understand that we are not generally going to try to differentiate between Catholics who do hold to official RCC theology and those who don’t.

    Why not? I submit that you wouldn’t like it much if I made no differentiation between the most wacko Protestants out there (some not even trinitarian, some antinomian, some compromised on various moral issues or liberal in theology, some off on wild hyper-faith delusions, etc.) and a solid, traditional, confessional, morally conservative Presbyterian or other Reformed Christian. If we are expected to be aware of all the fine distinctions and to categorize properly, why are we not owed the same thing in return? The only objective way to do this (on both sides) is to consult official theologies.

    Someone is “Catholic” if they are a member in good standing of the Catholic Church. But worldwide this allows for a massive breadth of belief systems.

    I dispute that. It is easily said, but it is never proven. Many Catholics, for example, dissent on contraception. But that no more disproves the official stance of the Catholic Church than cohabiting evangelicals disprove the traditional Protestant stance against fornication. You guys look and see dissenters, but note that this is exactly what they are: “dissenter” implies that there is something solid that is disbelieved: not that there is no belief because there is a dissenter. Our beliefs are plain and clear. If you have doubts, I’d be happy to clarify any given one for you.

    We’re not Episcopalians (or any number of other Protestant denominations who decided to overturn moral teachings with a majority vote at a gathering). Our teachings don’t change. We don’t decide that all of a sudden homosexuality or masturbation or abortion or contraception suddenly becomes moral after centuries of being understood as immoral. But Protestants actually change those things. Everyone here is certainly aware of the problem of liberal dissent. Catholics have plenty of liberals attempting to undermine our dogmatic teachings, too. But in our case, they have changed no teaching. In many Protestant scenarios, teachings have been changed. This is the essential difference. Please don’t project your internal problems onto us.

    So when you ask us what we think of a given Catholic

    I don’t believe I asked that (if I happened to in one place, it has not been my emphasis at all). You’re the one bringing up individuals. I asked what you thought of the system as a whole, that can easily be understood in all its dogmatic particulars by simply consulting official sources, just as we are referred to the Westminster Confession or what not in order to learn what an orthodox Reformed Protestant believes. We’re not sent to the local Reformed drunk down at the bar at the corner to learn that. Nor should you consult a high school dropout Catholic construction worker or 90 year old lady playing Bingo to determine the nature of Catholic theology. Your responsibility is to consult the best Catholic sources you can find, just as I have the same responsibility in charity and intellectual honesty, towards any given Protestant tradition.

    we are not going to answer you without some further qualification. And even for the conservative Catholics who can spout Ott and Denzinger and so on, the fact that they possess a certain body of knowledge does not make them a Christian. Again, we would need more information.

    So your position is that espousal of a creed or confession thought to be orthodox has no bearing on whether one can properly be called a Christian?
    You don’t know the state of a person’s soul (what might be called the spiritual or “metaphysical” dimension of being a Christian). John Calvin taught that no one knows who is elect, with certainty. You claim no one can ever fall away from salvation, but you can’t know who is or isn’t a Christian on a behavioral basis, because you don’t know the future. If someone is caught stealing or whoring or lying ion your circles, you immediately conclude they were never among you. But you didn’t know that the day before. In many cases, such people were thought to be upstanding members of the local church. Therefore, because we don’t have certainty in these respects, a doctrinal criterion of what a Christian is, is in the end, the only reasonable and possible way to categorize and classify. And this is why you have creeds and confessions and mandatory dogmas, just as we do.

    One other thing to note that I have often reminded the conservative Catholics who post here and other such loops is that outside of these Internet forums we rarely meet conservatives like them.

    That’s right. And I rarely meet conservative Protestants, either. So what? We committed, educated Christians of all stripes are a rare breed. Always have been, always will be. Why should this surprise anyone? Jesus talked about the narrow way, and “few are chosen,” etc. All the more reason to evangelize and share what we have found: the pearl of great price. I have devoted my life to it.

    Catholicism is what it is, not what the conservatives would like it to be.

    It is what it is; right! And I am saying it is simple to find that out. Go read the Catechism. Go read Trent and Vatican II. Read Ott and Denzinger. There are lots of liberals and gross sinners in our ranks (just as in yours) but that doesn’t change a whit what a thing is. It only shows that folks are hypocrites and sinners and inconsistent, and I should think that any thinking, self-reflective Christian already knows this from experience (and looking in the mirror).

    And the conservatives such as yourself are a relatively rare bread from what we can see.

    Just as conservatives like you are in your ranks. You are in your cozy little sub-strata and social club, just as I am (we must pick our mates very selectively these days). It’s no different. Outside of our small clubs of traditionalism or orthodoxy there are many heterodox people.

    Do you understand what I’m getting at?

    I do fully, and I disagree in large part on the grounds that I am explaining. One can only sensibly define “Christianity” doctrinally. You do it in your confessions; we do it in our councils and dogmatic proclamations. So I continue to press you guys to tell me why Catholic theology isn’t Christian in a way that you would not say of any traditional Protestant denomination? Why are we “apostate”? What is the gospel? These are fundamental questions but they are not being answered. Eventually I’ll give up asking, but I think it is only for your good if you work out answers to presuppositional questions.

    We generally are not going to analyze the “official” theology of Rome to see who is in accord with it and who is not.

    Alright; then I’ll ignore all your confessions, too, and act as if any Protestant Tom, Dick, or Harry on the street represents your beliefs as a Reformed Protestant. Arminians are the same as Calvinists. Hyper-faith Pentecostals are in your camp and no different from you. Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker are “your guys.” I won’t make any crucial distinctions among Protestant groups even though we Catholics are constantly excoriated for supposedly being so stupid and clueless about such things. See how it works? I’m only applying your own reasoning back to you, as a reductio ad absurdum.

    We are going to assume that someone is Catholic if they are a member in good standing of the RCC.

    And in return I will assume everyone is a good Protestant who says they are a Christian or a Protestant, no matter how ridiculous their beliefs may be: KJV-only, denial of the Trinity (UPC, Christadelphian, Unitarians), denial of the necessity of baptism (Salvation Army, Quakers), etc. I’ll assume they’re all the same in the big, happy family of Protestantism!

    Can you not see how impossible (and unfair) such a chain of reasoning is? I owe it to you as a Reformed Christian to get your beliefs right, just as you owe it to me as a Catholic to have at least a rudimentary understanding of what orthodox Catholicism is. And we both ought to know that we know what a Christian is.

  281. Jeff Cagle said,

    June 5, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    Good, but what is a Christian in the first place?

    Acts 11: So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.

    We actually have a stipulated definition for the word “Christian”: disciples of Christ. In the terms of the Confession, then, a “Christian” is anyone who belongs to the invisible Church.

    In terms of our identification of Christians, it would seem reasonable to call a Christian anyone who belongs to the visible Church.

    And that church is more or less visible in different congregations; and some congregations have degenerated so as to be no longer churches.

    So the question of whether or not Catholics are “Christians” is really two-fold:

    (1) Are Catholics members of the invisible church? (I would answer: In many cases, yes.)

    (2) Is the Catholic church still a part of the visible Church, so that Catholics are identifiable as Christians? (I would answer: It appears to be just on the boundary).

  282. reedhere said,

    June 5, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    Dave: myt comment about bringing things back on topic was not directed at the Inquisition trail (as I saw that was ending). My request was related to all the additional sub-trails. yu and others have continued.

    At this point, please all, answer relevant unanswered questions – as pithily as possible, and rbing it back to canon related subjects.

    This is what commonly happens in such discussions. We loine up at the shooting ranger, take a shot at the first target, and then begin firing off all our ammo. Please folks, save up that ammo. Lane has got more posts (targets) popping up in the future.

  283. June 5, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    Hi Jeff (#277),

    But on what grounds can you repudiate the practice of the Inquisition? Or of Leo X’s comment above? Would that not be an instance in which the Church erred in a matter of doctrine? . . .

    I appears to me that the Church has always thought of herself as standing in the apostolic tradition; and certainly the burning of heretics was considered to be within that tradition also.

    The Inquisition was not a doctrine in the first place; it was a practice: a particular way of approaching the question of heresy and corrupters of souls, as it were. Secular society today is engaging in the same debate when it tries to figure out how to deal with captured terrorists. The first Protestants almost all agreed with this method, then in due course all Christians have forsaken it as unworkable and too potentially dangerous in its power elements (except for the reconstructionists in your camp — not mine — who would like to bring it back).

    I would argue that no absolute scriptural argument can be made against it. This is why it can change, and why it can’t be condemned through and through as utterly evil. Most Christians agree that war is sometimes justifiable. Most of us accept the notion of police power (killing a guy who is holding a little girl hostage, etc.). We put people to death for committing crimes against persons’ bodies; are not their souls far more valuable?

    Therefore, one can make an argument that capital punishment for heresy is entirely just and good for society. St. Thomas Aquinas (Calvinists’ second favorite Catholic after St. Augustine) did so. In the Middle Ages, this was the consensus, because they valued spiritual things and the soul far more than we do today. To them, theology truly meant something and affected all of life, whereas today we compartmentalize everything (including faith and religion) in neat little boxes.

    It is easily shown to be a “biblical” practice in the wars of Israel against her enemies, commanded by God (often complete with mass executions), and in the various grounds for capital punishment under the law (e.g., I believe idolatry — a religious belief — was one of those).

    It is also indicated in its essentials in the NT (lest I get the reply that I only mentioned OT stuff). For example:

    Acts 5:1-12 (RSV) But a man named Anani’as with his wife Sapphi’ra sold a piece of property, [2] and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back some of the proceeds, and brought only a part and laid it at the apostles’ feet. [3] But Peter said, “Anani’as, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back part of the proceeds of the land? [4] While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? How is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” [5] When Anani’as heard these words, he fell down and died. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. [6] The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him. [7] After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. [8] And Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much.” And she said, “Yes, for so much.” [9] But Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? Hark, the feet of those that have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” [10] Immediately she fell down at his feet and died. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. [11] And great fear came upon the whole church, and upon all who heard of these things.
    [12] Now many signs and wonders were done among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon’s Portico.

    Peter presides over what is ultimately God’s judgment. God struck them dead for sin. It’s capital punishment for sin. Peter didn’t say to them, “let he who is without sin cast the first stone,” and send them on their way. We see, then, the notion of capital punishment for a spiritual matter: “lying to God”. Therefore, the underlying principle of the Inquisition is seen in the NT and in the New Covenant.

    One might argue that the same sort of sanctioned corporal, capital punishment is seen (or at least suggested) also in the hideous deaths of Judas and Herod. It ain’t just OT stuff.

    This sort of thing is similar to Christian thought on just war (with the Catholic Church taking the lead, as usual in today’s moral issues). Peace is thought to be the best way to go, if at all possible. Today, tolerance in matters of religious faith is thought to be the best approach. But it was not always so. And those who thought differently had some biblical warrant.

    One reason why I point out the special hypocrisy of Luther and Calvin drowning Anabaptists is because it proceeded on a different principle: Luther had established Bible Alone as the Rule of Faith and plain Scripture as understood by the common man without any necessary authoritative Church or Tradition, yet as soon as anyone came up with a different conclusion than his, he wanted to kill them. Anabaptists were no different from Baptists today. I have noted many times that a reformed Baptist like James White could have been killed in Lutheran or Calvinist circles, but I as a Catholic almost always would not have been.

    Thus, Luther and Calvin were persecuting fellow Protestants who simply differed from them on matters now regarded usually as relative trivialities in Protestant circles. The Anabaptists were applying Luther’s own principle of authority. The Inquisition, on the other hand, often (and initially) was dealing with extraordinary heresies like the Albigensians and Cathari, who were species of revived Gnosticism and in no way, shape, or form Christian.

    For thoughtful Catholic treatments of the developed Catholic stand on religious toleration and liberty, see:

    “Declaration on Religious Liberty” (William G. Most)
    http://www.ewtn.com/library/DOCTRINE/RELLIB.TXT

    “A Response to John Noonan, Jr. Concerning the Development of Catholic Moral Doctrine” [Usury, Marriage, Slavery, Religious freedom] (Patrick M. O’Neil)
    http://www.ewtn.com/library/THEOLOGY/FRNOONAN.HTM

    “Torture and Punishment as a Problem in Catholic Moral Theology: Part I. The Witness of Sacred Scripture” (Brian W. Harrison)
    http://www.rtforum.org/lt/lt118.html

    “Torture and Punishment as a Problem in Catholic Moral Theology: Part II. The Witness of Tradition and Magisterium” (Brian W. Harrison)
    http://www.rtforum.org/lt/lt119.html

    “The Center is Holding” [The Second Vatican Council and Religious Liberty] (Brian W. Harrison)
    http://www.rtforum.org/lt/lt44.html

    “Pius IX, Vatican II and Religious Liberty” (Brian W. Harrison)
    http://rtforum.org/lt/lt9.html

  284. June 5, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    Hi Jeff (#277),

    But on what grounds can you repudiate the practice of the Inquisition? Or of Leo X’s comment above? Would that not be an instance in which the Church erred in a matter of doctrine? . . .

    I appears to me that the Church has always thought of herself as standing in the apostolic tradition; and certainly the burning of heretics was considered to be within that tradition also.

    The Inquisition was not a doctrine in the first place; it was a practice: a particular way of approaching the question of heresy and corrupters of souls, as it were. Secular society today is engaging in the same debate when it tries to figure out how to deal with captured terrorists. The first Protestants almost all agreed with this method, then in due course all Christians have forsaken it as unworkable and too potentially dangerous in its power elements (except for the reconstructionists in your camp — not mine — who would like to bring it back).

    I would argue that no absolute scriptural argument can be made against it. This is why it can change, and why it can’t be condemned through and through as utterly evil. Most Christians agree that war is sometimes justifiable. Most of us accept the notion of police power (killing a guy who is holding a little girl hostage, etc.). We put people to death for committing crimes against persons’ bodies; are not their souls far more valuable?

    Therefore, one can make an argument that capital punishment for heresy is entirely just and good for society. St. Thomas Aquinas (Calvinists’ second favorite Catholic after St. Augustine) did so. In the Middle Ages, this was the consensus, because they valued spiritual things and the soul far more than we do today. To them, theology truly meant something and affected all of life, whereas today we compartmentalize everything (including faith and religion) in neat little boxes.

    It is easily shown to be a “biblical” practice in the wars of Israel against her enemies, commanded by God (often complete with mass executions), and in the various grounds for capital punishment under the law (e.g., I believe idolatry — a religious belief — was one of those).

    It is also indicated in its essentials in the NT (lest I get the reply that I only mentioned OT stuff). For example:

    Acts 5:1-12 (RSV) But a man named Anani’as with his wife Sapphi’ra sold a piece of property, [2] and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back some of the proceeds, and brought only a part and laid it at the apostles’ feet. [3] But Peter said, “Anani’as, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back part of the proceeds of the land? [4] While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? How is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” [5] When Anani’as heard these words, he fell down and died. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. [6] The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him. [7] After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. [8] And Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much.” And she said, “Yes, for so much.” [9] But Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? Hark, the feet of those that have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” [10] Immediately she fell down at his feet and died. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. [11] And great fear came upon the whole church, and upon all who heard of these things.
    [12] Now many signs and wonders were done among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon’s Portico.

    Peter presides over what is ultimately God’s judgment. God struck them dead for sin. It’s capital punishment for sin. Peter didn’t say to them, “let he who is without sin cast the first stone,” and send them on their way. We see, then, the notion of capital punishment for a spiritual matter: “lying to God”. Therefore, the underlying principle of the Inquisition is seen in the NT and in the New Covenant.

    One might argue that the same sort of sanctioned corporal, capital punishment is seen (or at least suggested) also in the hideous deaths of Judas and Herod. It ain’t just OT stuff.

    This sort of thing is similar to Christian thought on just war (with the Catholic Church taking the lead, as usual in today’s moral issues). Peace is thought to be the best way to go, if at all possible. Today, tolerance in matters of religious faith is thought to be the best approach. But it was not always so. And those who thought differently had some biblical warrant.

    One reason why I point out the special hypocrisy of Luther and Calvin drowning Anabaptists is because it proceeded on a different principle: Luther had established Bible Alone as the Rule of Faith and plain Scripture as understood by the common man without any necessary authoritative Church or Tradition, yet as soon as anyone came up with a different conclusion than his, he wanted to kill them. Anabaptists were no different from Baptists today. I have noted many times that a reformed Baptist like James White could have been killed in Lutheran or Calvinist circles, but I as a Catholic almost always would not have been.

    Thus, Luther and Calvin were persecuting fellow Protestants who simply differed from them on matters now regarded usually as relative trivialities in Protestant circles. The Anabaptists were applying Luther’s own principle of authority. The Inquisition, on the other hand, often (and initially) was dealing with extraordinary heresies like the Albigensians and Cathari, who were species of revived Gnosticism and in no way, shape, or form Christian.

    For thoughtful Catholic treatments of the developed Catholic stand on religious toleration and liberty, see:

    “Declaration on Religious Liberty” (William G. Most)
    http://www.ewtn.com/library/DOCTRINE/RELLIB.TXT

    “Torture and Punishment as a Problem in Catholic Moral Theology: Part I. The Witness of Sacred Scripture” (Brian W. Harrison)
    http://www.rtforum.org/lt/lt118.html

    “Torture and Punishment as a Problem in Catholic Moral Theology: Part II. The Witness of Tradition and Magisterium” (Brian W. Harrison)
    http://www.rtforum.org/lt/lt119.html

    “The Center is Holding” [The Second Vatican Council and Religious Liberty] (Brian W. Harrison)
    http://www.rtforum.org/lt/lt44.html

    “Pius IX, Vatican II and Religious Liberty” (Brian W. Harrison)
    http://rtforum.org/lt/lt9.html

  285. June 5, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    Hi Jeff (#277),

    But on what grounds can you repudiate the practice of the Inquisition? Or of Leo X’s comment above? Would that not be an instance in which the Church erred in a matter of doctrine? . . .

    I appears to me that the Church has always thought of herself as standing in the apostolic tradition; and certainly the burning of heretics was considered to be within that tradition also.

    The Inquisition was not a doctrine in the first place; it was a practice: a particular way of approaching the question of heresy and corrupters of souls, as it were. Secular society today is engaging in the same debate when it tries to figure out how to deal with captured terrorists. The first Protestants almost all agreed with this method, then in due course all Christians have forsaken it as unworkable and too potentially dangerous in its power elements (except for the reconstructionists in your camp — not mine — who would like to bring it back).

    I would argue that no absolute scriptural argument can be made against it. This is why it can change, and why it can’t be condemned through and through as utterly evil. Most Christians agree that war is sometimes justifiable. Most of us accept the notion of police power (killing a guy who is holding a little girl hostage, etc.). We put people to death for committing crimes against persons’ bodies; are not their souls far more valuable?

    Therefore, one can make an argument that capital punishment for heresy is entirely just and good for society. St. Thomas Aquinas (Calvinists’ second favorite Catholic after St. Augustine) did so. In the Middle Ages, this was the consensus, because they valued spiritual things and the soul far more than we do today. To them, theology truly meant something and affected all of life, whereas today we compartmentalize everything (including faith and religion) in neat little boxes.

    It is easily shown to be a “biblical” practice in the wars of Israel against her enemies, commanded by God (often complete with mass executions), and in the various grounds for capital punishment under the law (e.g., I believe idolatry — a religious belief — was one of those).

    It is also indicated in its essentials in the NT (lest I get the reply that I only mentioned OT stuff). For example:

    Acts 5:1-12 (RSV) But a man named Anani’as with his wife Sapphi’ra sold a piece of property, [2] and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back some of the proceeds, and brought only a part and laid it at the apostles’ feet. [3] But Peter said, “Anani’as, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back part of the proceeds of the land? [4] While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? How is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” [5] When Anani’as heard these words, he fell down and died. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. [6] The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him. [7] After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. [8] And Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much.” And she said, “Yes, for so much.” [9] But Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? Hark, the feet of those that have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” [10] Immediately she fell down at his feet and died. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. [11] And great fear came upon the whole church, and upon all who heard of these things.
    [12] Now many signs and wonders were done among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon’s Portico.

    Peter presides over what is ultimately God’s judgment. God struck them dead for sin. It’s capital punishment for sin. Peter didn’t say to them, “let he who is without sin cast the first stone,” and send them on their way. We see, then, the notion of capital punishment for a spiritual matter: “lying to God”. Therefore, the underlying principle of the Inquisition is seen in the NT and in the New Covenant.

    One might argue that the same sort of sanctioned corporal, capital punishment is seen (or at least suggested) also in the hideous deaths of Judas and Herod. It ain’t just OT stuff.

    This sort of thing is similar to Christian thought on just war (with the Catholic Church taking the lead, as usual in today’s moral issues). Peace is thought to be the best way to go, if at all possible. Today, tolerance in matters of religious faith is thought to be the best approach. But it was not always so. And those who thought differently had some biblical warrant.

    One reason why I point out the special hypocrisy of Luther and Calvin drowning Anabaptists is because it proceeded on a different principle: Luther had established Bible Alone as the Rule of Faith and plain Scripture as understood by the common man without any necessary authoritative Church or Tradition, yet as soon as anyone came up with a different conclusion than his, he wanted to kill them. Anabaptists were no different from Baptists today. I have noted many times that a reformed Baptist like James White could have been killed in Lutheran or Calvinist circles, but I as a Catholic almost always would not have been.

    Thus, Luther and Calvin were persecuting fellow Protestants who simply differed from them on matters now regarded usually as relative trivialities in Protestant circles. The Anabaptists were applying Luther’s own principle of authority. The Inquisition, on the other hand, often (and initially) was dealing with extraordinary heresies like the Albigensians and Cathari, who were species of revived Gnosticism and in no way, shape, or form Christian.

    For thoughtful Catholic treatments of the developed Catholic stand on religious toleration and liberty, see the following papers, listed at my Development of Doctrine web page:

    http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2006/11/development-of-doctrine-index-page.html

    “Declaration on Religious Liberty” (William G. Most)

    “Torture and Punishment as a Problem in Catholic Moral Theology: Part I. The Witness of Sacred Scripture” (Brian W. Harrison)

    “Torture and Punishment as a Problem in Catholic Moral Theology: Part II. The Witness of Tradition and Magisterium” (Brian W. Harrison)

    “The Center is Holding” [The Second Vatican Council and Religious Liberty] (Brian W. Harrison)

    “Pius IX, Vatican II and Religious Liberty” (Brian W. Harrison)

    “A Response to John Noonan, Jr. Concerning the Development of Catholic Moral Doctrine” [Usury, Marriage, Slavery, Religious freedom] (Patrick M. O’Neil)

  286. June 5, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    I heartily thank Jeff Cagle (#281) above for the most concise, sensible answer to my queries about who is a Christian. See, it wasn’t that hard to do (which is what I’ve maintained all along).

    I intend to strictly abide by topical restrictions from here on in: no matter what I am asked. I can always (and certainly will, time-permitting) answer on my blog if that is necessary due to topic restriction. Let me simply, if I may, briefly respond to some absurd statements made about me by Ron above (#279), for the record.

    I am assuming (due to considerable charity and patience extended by the hosts) that I can be granted this one last “diversion” seeing that everyone is firing questions at me, and I’m just one guy (however voluminous my writing may be). I’m still restricted to the laws of physics regarding finite amount of time to answer 3,783 questions all at once. Here I am spending the greater part of my daytime hours on Saturday trying my best to offer some answer to all the questions asked of me.

    Now on to Ron’s charges:

    Christian philosophy is concerned with things like the law of contradiction, maximal warrant for belief, the reasonableness of faith etc. Accordingly, it’s rather naïve to assert that any polemic, even yours (which I have not yet seen btw), can avoid philosophy. To pit faith against philosophy only demonstrates a less than fragile handle of the subject. Similar observations can be made about the lack of appreciation for how epistemology comes to bear on this matter.

    This is laughable. I love philosophy. I have probably 300 books of philosophy in my own library. I have an extensive Philosophy, Science, and Christianity web page on my site (along with some of the most extensive C. S. Lewis and Cardinal Newman web pages online). As an apologist for almost thirty years I have massively utilized philosophy in my apologetics. I have taken on many atheists in dialogue, including professors of science and philosophy, usually arguing in a philosophical fashion. I have probed in depth all of the major theistic arguments for God, and have utilized them in dialogue with atheists. I consider myself a socratic (as I alluded to above).

    The denial of all this (as if I oppose philosophy comes from the most wrongheaded and illogical take of what I actually stated. Ron cited my words:

    “Protestants can play games with epistemology and ‘mathematical certainty’ if they like. I’ve heard those tired arguments a hundred times. That was never what Christianity was about, anyway, because it is a religion that requires faith, not mathematics or philosophy.”

    I was saying (a variant of what I have stated 100 times on my blog, though I could have stated it more precisely) that religion is not philosophy; Christianity is not philosophy. It can’t be reduced to that. It requires faith. I was not at all saying that there is no such thing as Christian philosophy: a thing I passionately love and use all the time.

    I know you don’t care for philosophy . . .

    No you don’t “know” that (as an epistemological matter), because you were flat-out wrong in taking this tack about my supposed likes and dislikes.

    but maybe this one time you might prove this for us. Please don’t just make assertions; please try stringing together a series of premises where the conclusion follows from the premises.

    Right. We all know that my multitude of words in this thread contain no arguments . . .

    Then we’ll examine the form of the argument to see whether it begs crucial questions, or draws conclusions that exceed the scope of the premises. If it passes those tests, then we’ll move to examine the justification of the premises.

    If this is your method of arguing, I’ll “move” to ignore you henceforth.

    Given that you dismiss critical thinking from the start, . . .

    Really?

    you are not in the best position to recognize, let alone submit to, a sound argument.

    Since the premise is ridiculously wrong, obviously the conclusion drawn from it is also.

    May God bless you abundantly, Ron.

  287. June 5, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    Dave – I see you chose to dodge rather than interact. I won’t quibble over your esoteric view that philosophy doesn’t require faith. (Even atheism requires faith!) But let’s get to the nub of the matter. Put forth a valid proof that concludes that it probably would have taken more years for the church to have identified the canon and received it as such apart from there being an infallible church. Secondly, prove that God did not bring to pass the identification and reception of the canon by a fallible church.

    Ron

  288. June 5, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    P.S. When I asked you to put forth an argument to defend your assertions I stated “Then we’ll examine the form of the argument to see whether it begs crucial questions, or draws conclusions that exceed the scope of the premises. If it passes those tests, then we’ll move to examine the justification of the premises.”

    Your response to this challenge was: “If this is your method of arguing, I’ll “move” to ignore you henceforth.”

    That you don’t particularly care for this part of debate simply means that you don’t particularly care to have your arguments critiqued. You seem most pleased to pontificate but not argue. No surprise there I suppose.

    Ron

  289. Paige Britton said,

    June 5, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    Dave —
    Just a small note: please don’t hold it against Lane for not getting back to your basic question, “what is a Christian.” He’s a pastor of two congregations, and while he’s owner and main moderator of this blog, he is not always available to comment.
    pax,
    Paige B.

  290. June 5, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    Now that I have attempted to answer almost all of the 345,382 questions thrown at me, I’d like to actually get back to the topic (apologies for my own diversions) and address some of the (rather interesting and thoughtful) questions from Jeff (from #270) that I didn’t have time for up till now.

    . . . this central question has arisen:

    Does the church create truth or recognize truth?

    Obviously the latter in terms of the canon (or indeed, anything, I would say). The truth is what it is. The Catholic Church can create dogmas (just as the Calvinist communion creates the dogma of TULIP) but not truths themselves. And the Church can do neither out of thin air, as we are often charged. I addressed this above in one of my remarks (#254), and cited Vatican I and II to prove that this is in fact what we assert regarding the canon (contrary to many contra-Catholic myths to the contrary).

    Sean’s response (#126):

    Your question, “Does the church create truth or recognize truth?” leaves out a third option: “Does the Church authoritatively declare truth?”

    And so now the question on the table is, What does that third option mean? What is the difference between authoritatively declaring truth and either recognizing truth (as scientists attempt to do) or creating truth (as baseball umpires do).

    I think it is mainly a question of semantics and clarification. I won’t speak for Sean. That is for him to do (being the world’s greatest expert on the thoughts and intentions in his own head). But I have my own thoughts.

    The Church doesn’t “create” the canon in the most technical sense because it is what it is: God-inspired revelation: a thing that is separate from and prior to the Catholic Church (or anyone) recognizing it for what it is. So we can lay that to rest. It makes no sense once we understand what Holy Scripture inherently is, and it is not our claim anyway. So bye-bye, pseudo-objection and false stereotype . . . it comes from the Protestant either/or speculation that the Catholic Church is always trying to place itself above Scripture. That is not our position at all, as I also explained in the same post above (#254).

    I would say that declaring and recognizing truth are basically the same thing. Using either word in a sentence regarding a truth or a fact amounts to essentially the use of what are synonyms. But to use the terminology of “authoritatively declare” as Sean did, brings in the additional element of proclamation of a dogma, which is a different thing.

    This is why I myself use the phraseology of saying that there needed to be a binding, authoritative proclamation of the biblical canon, to settle the question once and for all. It was not completely settled spontaneously in history. There was a significant consensus, granted (especially for the gospels and Pauline epistles), but there were lots of doubts about other books, and many eminent fathers thought books not now included, were Scripture.

    I would disagree, by the way, that a baseball umpire “creates truth.” He does not. If anything, he creates a “dogma”: a certain pitch is now to be regarded dogmatically as a strike or a ball and a play as an out or not or a ball fair or foul, etc. The things involved are what they are: truths, prior to the umpire making a decision on them. In fact, any given thrown pitch was either a strike or not. The umpire may be correct in his assessment or incorrect. But he doesn’t create anything. He declares.

    Conveniently, this was graphically brought home in the recent Detroit Tigers game where our pitcher was deprived of a perfect game because of a clearly blown umpire’s call. Replays revealed that the last base runner was in fact out. But the umpire had created the “dogma” that he was safe. He did not create a new “truth” that he was safe, because in fact he was not safe. Even the umpire knows this now. The commissioner of baseball has decided to uphold the “dogma.”

    In relationship to the canon, that’s what Paige is getting at. What is the difference between “infallibly recognizing the canon” and “infallibly authoritatively declaring the canon”?

    We have established that no one is “creating” anything. Now you are using the word “infallibly.” I don’t see much difference in recognizing vs. declaring. The real question is infallibility, authority, and a binding decree or dogma. Our position is consistent. We believe in the three-legged stool as our rule of faith: Scripture, Church, Tradition. None is “above” the other. They are all of a piece.

    The canon is above all a practical matter: how can the Christian know which books are indeed God-breathed Scripture. The early Christians disagreed too much and couldn’t fully settle it. So the Church did, and did so authoritatively. But Protestants accept no infallible Church declaration, since their only final infallible authority is Scripture. So they are left with a radical circularity and vicious circle: they must adopt, in effect, an infallible Church authority (which they cannot do) in order to have their infallible Scripture, which they make alone the infallible authority in all Matters Christian.

    If the Church was in fact, fallible when it made the decision (and Protestants do actually think this when it comes to the deuterocanon), then Protestants are left with an open canon, and cannot know with the certitude of faith what are indeed the legitimate NT books. A fallible collection of infallible books is a contradiction in terms.

    I don’t view this at all as a game, but as the central question surrounding RC authority:

    Good. It is a very serious discussion indeed, with momentous consequences, depending on how one comes down on the question.

    how can the RCC make the claims that it does about authority, without usurping God’s own authority?

    It is not doing so at all, because the Church was given its authority by God, and is guided by the Holy Spirit (Jn 14:26; 15:26; 16:13). Jesus commissioned Peter as the head of the Church (tons of Scriptures for Petrine primacy, that even many Protestant scholars now recognize). Paul was commissioned by the Church and possessed apostolic authority, as did the other apostles. The Jerusalem Council (Acts 15) exercised profound binding, infallible authority, as I have mentioned. Paul went around proclaiming these binding decrees (Acts 16:4). Bishops had a strong authority. Matthias was an apostle in replacement of Judas: thus showing apostolic succession in the Bible itself. The Church has the power to anathematize (Matt 18:17) and bind and loose (Matt 16:19; 18:18; Jn 20:23), forgive sins, and pronounce absolution and penances. Personal infallibility, such as we believe poes possess in certain circumstances, was already foreseen to an even greater extent in the prophets, infallible Bible writers, and the apostles. It is no novel thing at all. 1 Timothy 3:15 alone, as I have argued, is sufficient to establish a sublime Church authority.

    I have collected literally many hundreds of Bible passages demonstrating all these things. The Tradition, Church, and Papacy chapters of my book, Bible Proofs for Catholic Truths take up its first 161 pages: and it is 95% simply listed Scripture, like Nave’s Topical Bible.

    All this, yet you can’t see ecclesiastical authority in Scripture, and feel as if any such authority must needs be in conflict with God, in classic Protestant “either/or” fashion?

    Reformed churches have authority, too, you know, on a lesser scale than us, but they still do. How does that not usurp God, just as you claim our authority does?

  291. June 5, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    I won’t quibble over your esoteric view that philosophy doesn’t require faith.

    This gets old real quick. It ain’t my view. Religious faith is different from the axiomatic assent of science and philosophy. But there are similarities.

    (Even atheism requires faith!)

    Exactly: “faith ” of a sort. I have argued this for years. One of my own favorite papers against atheism argues that atheists have far more faith (in the Omnipotent atom) than Christians do in God. I had the pleasure of making that very argument in the presence of eleven atheists recently. They couldn’t answer it.

    Next time, I suggest that you make at least a minimal effort to get to know the actual views of a person before you jump all over them and commit all kinds of factual errors. You’re dealing with a guy who has over 2500 posted papers and over 50 distinct web pages. It’s not difficult to ascertain what my actual beliefs are.

    I’m completely unimpressed by both your argumentation thus far and hostile tone. I’m having excellent discussions with several others here. I’m not gonna get dragged down in the usual acrimonious exchanges. If at a later time you decide to adopt a different tone (and you are not an anti-Catholic, which I suspect to be the case, though I don’t assert it, like you do about all my mythical alleged beliefs), then we’ll see (we all have bad days and we all misunderstand and misjudge at times), but not now.

    The only helpful point you have made so far concerned one instance where I improperly used the word “fact” in the rush of all the words I have written here in the last two days. My bad. I thank you for that. I changed it in my blog version and noted that I did.

    Paige,

    I suspected that was the case and even alluded to it above, I believe. I figured that he was likely busy on the weekend, as all pastors are. Two congregations must be quite time-consuming and energy-zapping. God bless him and his congregations. I have the greatest respect for clergymen of all stripes.

  292. June 5, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    More of Ron’s speculations about my motivations and abilities (how this is considered on-topic I know not, and I shouldn’t even respond, but anyway . . .):

    . . . simply means that you don’t particularly care to have your arguments critiqued. You seem most pleased to pontificate but not argue. No surprise there I suppose.

    I guess that is why I have posted on my blog some 700 or so debates (I stopped counting a while ago when it was well over 500). That proves beyond any possible doubt my antipathy to rational argument and debate, doesn’t it?

    If anyone here knows of a theological site that has a higher number of debates (as well as individual posts / papers) by one individual than that, please let me know, because I’ve never seen one, and to my knowledge I have more posted (with — in almost all cases — all of my opponents’ words) than any apologist I’ve seen online.

    Not bragging; just stating the facts in replying to a ludicrous criticism. Like good ol’ Dizzy Dean said, “it ain’t braggin’ if you can do it.”

  293. June 5, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    Dave,

    I’ve never seen someone so in love with himself as you, but again I ask you to prove that God did not use an infallible church to identify and receive the canon.

    Ron

  294. June 5, 2010 at 4:51 pm

    oops, that’s fallible church.

  295. Sean said,

    June 5, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    I’ve never seen someone so in love with himself as you, but again I ask you to prove that God did not use an infallible church to identify and receive the canon.

    Great question and Great Point RON!

    Just kidding…but that is a good ‘typo’ isn’t it?

    There is a very good discussion on the canon here by the way. It goes into detail about your question.

  296. June 5, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    Does that thread prove that I’m quite “in love with” myself, too, Sean? ROFL

  297. June 5, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    Sure enough, Ron DiGiacomo is an anti-Catholic (I was so shocked when I found out that I fainted straightaway off of my chair). Farewell, Ron. It was real . . .

    “How are the Popes to be viewed? Well that’s an easy one. Let the Pope and his Bishops who pervert the gospel and lead people to hell be accursed . . .”

    (“Rome: Its Teachers and Followers in Light of Paul” — 4-3-07)

    http://reformedapologist.blogspot.com/2007/04/rome-its-teachers-and-followers-in.html

    Note how the personal attacks almost immediately follow the prior intellectual disposition of anti-Catholicism (I’m full of myself, I’m this and that, I’m an intellectual coward …). This has always been the case in my eleven years of interaction with anti-Catholics online (off and on) till I gave it up in October 2007.

    I don’t include such ad hominem rhetoric in my definition of anti-Catholic, yet in practice I find that the views are almost always accompanied by the uncharitable attitude. And it does because if one considers another a wicked denier of Christ and leading people to hell, etc., then obviously that will not be a person with whom we are inclined to be charitable and nicey-nicey, and engage in a warm fuzzy relationship. People can’t help following their philosophies in their behavior.

  298. June 5, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    Dave,

    Let’s review the bidding. You claimed: “The fact remains that without strong, binding Church authority, the canon question would have gone on being controversial for a long time, quite possibly up to our present day.”

    I merely asked you to prove your claim with a series of premises organized in a valid formulation whereby the conclusion followed – to which you responded with: “We all know that my multitude of words in this thread contain no arguments . . .

    When I said I would require of you to justify the premises that you might employ in such arguments, you responded with: “If this is your method of arguing, I’ll “move” to ignore you henceforth.

    When I pointed out to you that you were simply dodging, you then proceeded to tell me that I was “dealing with a guy who has over 2500 posted papers and over 50 distinct web pages. [And that] It’s not difficult to ascertain what [your] actual beliefs are.”

    You then went on to tell us all how wonderful you are:

    …I have posted on my blog some 700 or so debates (I stopped counting a while ago when it was well over 500). That proves beyond any possible doubt my antipathy to rational argument and debate, doesn’t it? If anyone here knows of a theological site that has a higher number of debates (as well as individual posts / papers) by one individual than that, please let me know, because I’ve never seen one, and to my knowledge I have more posted (with — in almost all cases — all of my opponents’ words) than any apologist I’ve seen online. Not bragging; just stating the facts in replying to a ludicrous criticism. Like good ol’ Dizzy Dean said, “it ain’t braggin’ if you can do it.”

    Dave, what a luxury it must be for you to have attained to such a level of distinction and repute that you may make assertions that no longer require a defense. One might think you thought yourself divine. Does the word narcissism mean anything to you?

    nar•cis•sism n.
    1. Excessive love or admiration of oneself. See Synonyms “conceit”.
    2. A psychological condition characterized by self-preoccupation, lack of empathy, and unconscious deficits in self-esteem.
    3. Erotic pleasure derived from contemplation or admiration of one’s own body or self, especially as a fixation on or a regression to an infantile stage of development.
    4. The attribute of the human psyche charactized by admiration of oneself but within normal limits.

  299. rfwhite said,

    June 5, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    Dave A: Allow me to try further to understand your position. You write, If the Church was in fact, fallible when it made the decision (and Protestants do actually think this when it comes to the deuterocanon), then Protestants are left with an open canon, and cannot know with the certitude of faith what are indeed the legitimate NT books….

    My question: is it your position that for the church’s recognition of the canon to be infallible, the nature of the church’s authority must be infallible? If so, why does this follow?

  300. June 5, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    My question: is it your position that for the church’s recognition of the canon to be infallible, the nature of the church’s authority must be infallible? If so, why does this follow?

    Fair question. It’s not strictly necessary, of course (your word “must”), for some Christian body to make a declaration (even a binding one) in an infallible way. So broadly speaking, no.

    What I’m arguing is that in order to have certainty that the Bible as we know it (leaving off the question of the deuterocanon for now, and sticking to the 66 books we all agree on) contains certain books, we need a strong authority to proclaim this, so as to put the vexed question to an end and for the sake or unity and theological order.

    This doesn’t have to be infallible authority, but our claim is that the Catholic proclamation was indeed that, because that is how our authority works.

    The problem for you and all Protestants is dealing with this state of affairs. Even assuming such authority was not infallible (as indeed you do), this does not get you out of your epistemological conundrum because you are still relying on the ecclesiastical authority to arrive at your conclusion of the nature and parameters of the biblical canon.

    So, assuming it is a non-infallible proclamation, you are still (for some reason) adhering to it, save for the seven disputed books. If one steps back and ponders that, it is a rather odd state of affairs. If it was not an infallible pronouncement, then Protestants, by the very nature of their own system and rule of faith have the “right” to dissent against it. yet they rarely do. Apart from some wild mostly early statements from Luther about several books and a few liberals, by and large, there has been no dispute. This means that the authoritative proclamation was in effect , accepted, even though it is regarded as itself fallible.

    Logically, if there is no binding and infallible declaration, we should see a lot more latitude of opinion among Protestants. Martin Luther was arguably more consistent on this score than almost all Protestants subsequently.

    Paul Althaus, in his Theology of Martin Luther, Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1966, pp. 85, 336) opined:

    “He thereby established the principle that the early church’s formation and limitation of the canon is not exempt from re-examination . . . the canon is only a relative unity, just as it is only relatively closed. Therewith Luther has in principle abandoned every formal approach to the authority of the Bible. It is certainly understandable that Luther’s prefaces were no longer printed in German Bibles.

    “One may characterize his attitude in this way: The canon itself was, as far as Luther was concerned, a piece of ecclesiastical tradition and therefore subject to criticism on the basis of God’s word.”

    Lutheran Mark F. Bartling (WELS), in his informative paper, “Luther and James: Did Luther Use the Historical-Critical Method?” [no longer online at the URL I found], although unwilling to grant that Luther’s view amounted to subjectivism, arbitrariness, and liberal higher criticism, nevertheless, stated:

    “It must be admitted that Luther did develop a personal criterion of canonicity that took its place along side of apostolicity and universality (those books unanimously accepted by the early church, homologoumena) . . . It was, of all people, Carlstadt who condemned Luther for this criterion. Carlstadt said: ‘One must appeal either to known apostolic authorship or to universal historical acceptance as to the test of a book’s canonicity, not to internal doctrinal considerations.’ [De Canonicis Scripturis libellus, Wittenberg, 1520, p. 50]. This position of Carlstadt was also the position of Martin Chemnitz and of C. F. W. Walther [Compendium Theologiae Positivae, Vol. I. p. 149].

    Brooke Foss Westcott (1825-1901), the great biblical scholar, strongly disagreed with Luther, too:

    “The freshness and power of Luther’s judgments on the Bible, the living sense of fellowship with the spirit which animates them, the bold independence and self-assertion which separate them from all simply critical conclusions, combined to limit their practical acceptance to individuals. Such judgments rest on no definite external evidence. They cannot be justified by the ordinary rule and measure of criticism or dogma. No Church could rest on a theory which makes private feeling the supreme authority as to doctrine and the source of doctrine. As a natural consequence the later Lutherans abandoned the teaching of their great master on the written Word.”

    (A General Survey of the History of the Canon of the New Testament, 6th edition, 1889; reprinted by Baker Book House: Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1980, 483-484)

    Luther was wrong, but he was self-consistent. I argue that Protestants are right (excepting the Deuterocanon) but for the wrong reasons, and inconsistent, because their notions of the canon clash with their rule of faith, sola Scriptura.

    I would say that most Protestants (who, I strongly suspect, never think much about the issue, just as I didn’t much when I was a Protestant) accept it uncritically. basically, they buy a Bible and certain books are in there and they accept that without further thought.

    Those who do ponder and grapple with it, have not, I think, come up with an acceptable solution to the dilemma. Either flimsy, implausible arguments for a provisional, temporary Church authority are set forth, or they anachronistically apply our present “certainty” back to the early Church, or adopt the position that all biblical books are self-attesting (which has its own host of problems, and even if true, did not lead all early Christians to agreement on the canon).

    Along with the irritating fact that sola Scriptura cannot be proven from Scripture Alone (which it has to be in order to sensibly hold as worthy of belief), the canon issue makes it a double whammy against the Protestant rule of faith: a position that has more logical holes in it than a pin cushion.

  301. June 5, 2010 at 6:32 pm

    I forgot to link to my relevant paper:

    Luther’s Outrageous Assertions About Certain Biblical Books (Protestant Scholars’ Opinions and “Debate” With John Warwick Montgomery)

    http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2004/09/luthers-outrageous-assertions-about.html

  302. June 5, 2010 at 6:42 pm

    My question: is it your position that for the church’s recognition of the canon to be infallible, the nature of the church’s authority must be infallible? If so, why does this follow?

    Dear Sir,

    As I suspect you well appreciate, it doesn’t follow. That’s what I was driving at, which I also trust you appreciate, when I asked Dave to produce an argument wherein the conclusion did not exceed the scope of the premises. Dave needs a vital minor premise for such an argument to work. That premise which Dave needs yet has yet to produce is that the infallible cannot know it has identified and received the fallible. Yet if Dave affirms such a premise, then he shoots himself in the head. After all, if the fallible cannot identify and receive the infallible and know it has done so, then Dave (being fallible) cannot know that the Roman communion is indeed infallible on matters of faith and practice.

    Ron

  303. June 5, 2010 at 6:47 pm

    Another typo, but you probably got the point. Let me correct:

    As I suspect you well appreciate, it doesn’t follow. That’s what I was driving at, which I also trust you appreciate, when I asked Dave to produce an argument wherein the conclusion did not exceed the scope of the premises. Dave needs a vital minor premise for such an argument to work. That premise which Dave needs yet has yet to produce is that the *fallible* cannot know it has identified and received the *infallible*. Yet if Dave affirms such a premise, then he shoots himself in the head. After all, if the *fallible* cannot identify and receive the *infallible* and know it has done so, then Dave (being fallible) cannot know that the Roman communion is indeed infallible on matters of faith and practice.

    Ron

  304. June 5, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    “I would say that most Protestants (who, I strongly suspect, never think much about the issue, just as I didn’t much when I was a Protestant) accept it uncritically. basically, they buy a Bible and certain books are in there and they accept that without further thought.

    Whether Protestants who buy Bibles to read (or Roman Catholics who buy bibles to put on their coffee table) think about the justification for accepting the 66 books as God’s canon is not germane. The point is, you aren’t able to prove that a fallible church has not received the canon and been assured by God that they have. Moreover, the OT Jews needed no infallible organism through which to receive the law and the prophets but nonetheless they had all they needed for faith and practice.

    Ron

  305. June 5, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    Couldn’t resist turning the tables:

    the *fallible* cannot know it has identified and received the *infallible*. . . . After all, if the *fallible* cannot identify and receive the *infallible* and know it has done so, then Dave (being fallible) cannot know that the Roman communion is indeed infallible on matters of faith and practice.

    [first of all, this is not my position in the first place, as can readily be seen above, particularly when I plainly answered the re-cited question "no". My view has been distorted by Ron, as usual. The man can't get it right where I am concerned, to save his life]

    the *fallible* cannot know it has identified and received the *infallible* (let alone the inspired, which is a greater characteristic) . . . . After all, if the *fallible* cannot identify and receive the *infallible* (or the inspired) and know it has done so, then Protestants (being fallible) cannot know that Holy Scripture is indeed infallible on matters of faith and practice, and all matters, let alone inspired (God-breathed).

    And this amounts to the theologically liberal position: the Scriptures are fallible and full of errors, therefore we shall pick and choose from it what we deem to be true and reject what we decide is false, outdated, a later textual addition, etc.

    This is what one gets when they epistemologically (for the moment) reduce Christianity and Christian faith to mere philosophy. Protestant fundamentals fall right alongside Catholic ones, should these false and wrongheaded premises be adopted.

  306. June 5, 2010 at 7:06 pm

    Dave, I fail to see how you have turned the tables. Again, prove that an infallible church did not receive the canon and been assured they have by God.

  307. June 5, 2010 at 7:09 pm

    I figured you wouldn’t get it. But others surely will.

  308. June 5, 2010 at 7:10 pm

    Correction! Prove that a fallible church did not receive the canon and been assured they have by God. That’s all I’m asking.

  309. June 5, 2010 at 7:18 pm

    the *fallible* cannot know it has identified and received the *infallible* (let alone the inspired, which is a greater characteristic) . . . . After all, if the *fallible* cannot identify and receive the *infallible* (or the inspired) and know it has done so, then Protestants (being fallible) cannot know that Holy Scripture is indeed infallible on matters of faith and practice, and all matters, let alone inspired (God-breathed).

    Dave, that is called question-begging. You’ve made an assertion and then asserted a conclusion:

    p1. The fallible cannot know it has it has identified and received the infallible
    Conclusion: Fallible Protestants can’t know that the Scripture is infallible…

    I’m asking you to defend p1.

    Moreover, if the fallible cannot know it has identified the infallible, then how do you, being fallible, know you have identified the true, infallible church?

  310. June 5, 2010 at 7:18 pm

    You’ll have to ask someone else. I don’t waste my time with anti-Catholics, as I stated in my first post (#205). I didn’t know you were one at first (only illogical and quick to judge); now I do.

  311. June 5, 2010 at 7:42 pm

    Dave,

    In defense of your avoidance to offer more than mere assertions you have either excused yourself by pleading your reputation and debating prowess, or stated that you do not argue with anti-Catholics. It seems rather apparent that you never had any intention of defending your assertions. When asked to put forth clear and concise arguments that could be examined and critiqued, you always refused.

    Ron

  312. June 5, 2010 at 7:44 pm

    Right. ZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzz…………………………….

  313. June 5, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    Well then, let me try to wake you up from your dogmatic slumbers.

    Your argued:

    *fallible* cannot know it has identified and received the *infallible* (let alone the inspired, which is a greater characteristic) . . . . After all, if the *fallible* cannot identify and receive the *infallible* (or the inspired) and know it has done so, then Protestants (being fallible) cannot know that Holy Scripture is indeed infallible on matters of faith and practice, and all matters, let alone inspired (God-breathed).

    That translates to:

    Premise: Fallible cannot know infallible
    Justification: If fallible cannot know infallible, then fallible cannot know Holy Scripture is infallible…

    Again, how do you prove p!?

  314. Jeff Cagle said,

    June 5, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    Dave (#288):

    Thanks for your replies. I want to press the baseball thing a bit more, for I sense that we are close in our understanding of the situation, while perhaps using different language. You wrote:

    I would disagree, by the way, that a baseball umpire “creates truth.” He does not. If anything, he creates a “dogma”: a certain pitch is now to be regarded dogmatically as a strike or a ball and a play as an out or not or a ball fair or foul, etc. The things involved are what they are: truths, prior to the umpire making a decision on them. In fact, any given thrown pitch was either a strike or not. The umpire may be correct in his assessment or incorrect. But he doesn’t create anything. He declares.

    Here’s what I meant by “a baseball umpire creates truth”, and I specifically had the Tigers game in mind.

    The umpire, of course, has no control over the physics of the situation. Either the base runner beats the ball, or he doesn’t.

    But the umpire creates the declaration of “out” or “safe.” That declaration is the final word, regardless of what the tape shows [except recently in the case of home runs].

    In that sense, we legitimately say, “The runner was out because the ump said so.” You and I might debate later whether the call was a good call or a bad call, but the fact of the matter determines the game: the ump’s call. And that’s why Bud Selig (Ger: “holy” — what a name for a baseball commissioner!) has refused to overturn the call. The runner is what the ump says he is.

    You and I may say that Jason Donald was “really” out on June 2, 2010. When we do so, we are appealing to the stated rules of the game — if the runner beats the ball, he is safe; if the ball beats the runner, he’s out.

    But the rule (the objective measure of safeness and outness) is subordinate to the authority of the ump, who interprets those rules. In point of fact, Donald was safe because Joyce ruled it so. Done.

    It is this state of affairs that I call “The ump creates the truth.” His declarations trump any actual physics. They are unreviewable because he is the authority.

    It strikes me that Catholic magisterial authority appears to function in the same fashion. To take one of the most vexing doctrines for me, Perpetual Virginity, the normal rules of hermeneutics, when applied in any reasonable manner, cannot possibly conclude that what Matthew and Luke are really trying to tell us is that Joseph and Mary were married, but celibate; or that Jesus’ brothers were really cousins. Nothing in the text supports that conclusion by any objective measure or reading.

    And in fact, no Catholic interpreter has ever tried to make that positive case; the discussions of PV are all reduced to defensive plays, trying to show that the Scripture doesn’t necessarily require disbelief in PV.

    But regardless of the rules of hermeneutics, Church authority has declared that the text of Scripture means PV, so PV it is.

    In that sense, it appears to me that the RCC authority creates truth. Regardless of hermeneutical physics, what the Church says is what is true. Regardless of Matthew and Luke’s intent, as observed by the evidence of their writing, this is what the text means.

    If you find the umpire’s creation of truth to be a distasteful state of affairs, you can appreciate now why I find claims of magisterial authority to be problematic also.

    We can leave the burning of heretics alone if you wish, but my point is that Leo is making a doctrinal claim. It is true that the action of burning heretics is a practice; but practice derives from doctrine, and at some point, the Church was in fact teaching that heretics should be burnt. Leo is defending that teaching and opposing the teaching that heretics should not be burnt. Though the burning of heretics was (thankfully!) not dogma; still and all, it was doctrine.

  315. rfwhite said,

    June 5, 2010 at 9:48 pm

    300 Ron D: I’m tracking with you. We’re pressing the same point.

  316. Andrew McCallum said,

    June 5, 2010 at 10:39 pm

    Frankly, I still marvel, however, that there is no clear definition of “Christianity.

    Dave, no it’s that we cannot define Christian. That is easy enough. But you are were asking about the individual Catholic in #205 (when you said that Protestants would often liken the faithful Catholic to a Mormon, etc). A Christian is one who knows Christ because Christ knows him. When you ask about the faithful Catholic and whether we would consider him a Christian our response is we that cannot say this because we cannot know the heart of the individual nor can we know the mind of Christ.

    You don’t separate — in the end — the aspect of good works and behavior and avoidance of sin anymore than we do. You simply categorize things differently.

    But we don’t say that someone who is an obvious state of rebellion ever was Christ’s sheep. Christ says that He knows His sheep and they will never perish. They cannot be His sheep at one point and then slip through His fingers later.

    And I rarely meet conservative Protestants, either. So what? We committed, educated Christians of all stripes are a rare breed. Always have been, always will be. Why should this surprise anyone?

    I agree here, Dave. I think you and I have both gravitated to relatively small segments within Catholicism and Protestantism. But one of the issues that we have with Catholicism is that the liberal, heretics, and syncretists are still called “Catholics.” In the Reformed communions we don’t call those who deny Christ by any sort of Christian name. We remove those who deny Christ (or they remove us).

    Go read the Catechism. Go read Trent and Vatican II. Read Ott and Denzinger.

    I have read quite a bit of the CCC and Trent and a little of Ott. But the heretics and the liberals read the same Church tradition as Ott, etc but come to different conclusions. The conservatives believe that Ott, etc’s understanding of the tradition of the Church is the correct one, but so do all the other groups within (and outside of ) Rome. So why should I conclude that the conservatives such as yourself have gotten it right?

    Alright; then I’ll ignore all your confessions, too, and act as if any Protestant Tom, Dick, or Harry on the street represents your beliefs as a Reformed Protestant.

    Do you really mean this? If it is on record that a given preacher in the PCA is a minister in good standing in the PCA will you take this on faith or will you analyze his confession and practice to determine if he really is in accord with the WCF and other standards?

  317. June 5, 2010 at 11:59 pm

    Hi Jeff,

    Thanks for your further comments. I suspected you would take the umpire analogy in the direction you did. The Catholic Church arbitrarily creates dogma, just like the umpire “created” a fake hit and ruined the perfect game . . . It’s simply not true.

    But in any event that and the foray into perpetual virginity both stray from the topic at hand: the canon, and so in deference to reedhere’s express wishes, I will desist from a reply.

    I have thirteen posted papers on the perpetual virginity of Mary on my Mary web page, with many “positive arguments” included (if you desire further discussion on that). You can read them, challenge what I set forth, and I will be happy to counter-reply (either here or on my blog). Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, and Bullinger all believed it, along with many later Protestants such as John Wesley. The widespread denial among Protestants today is mostly a product of higher criticism and post-Enlightenment skepticism. It certainly was not a feature of the early Protestant movement. You can believe that all these Protestants had no scriptural reason whatever to believe as they did, and it was mere “holdover” from Catholicism, etc. (the stock reply), but I don’t find that plausible.

    Luther even believed in the Immaculate Conception, for heaven’s sake, centuries before Catholics were dogmatically required to do so. Bullinger made a very strong statement about the Assumption of Mary, etc.

  318. June 6, 2010 at 12:20 am

    Hi Andrew,

    Thanks very much for your reply, too.

    Like Jeff’s, it also strays from the thread topic. At some point, all of us have to abide by the expressed rules of our hosts. Just a few very brief replies, then:

    So why should I conclude that the conservatives such as yourself have gotten it right?

    By the same method that I can conclude that the conservatives such as yourself have gotten it right within the Reformed tradition. Things are what they are. It’s not difficult to identify the mainstream of any given Christian tradition, and it is usually easy as pie to spot the so-called “progressives” and dissidents and liberals. They always make it easy because they are so extreme. The Catholic liberal denies Catholic dogmas. It’s really no more complicated than that. The Protestant liberal (as in Machen’s analyses) denies Protestant dogmas. Are you saying you can’t figure out what the Catholic dogmas are? Jeff above certainly knew that the perpetual virginity of Mary was one such dogma, didn’t he?

    ME: “Alright; then I’ll ignore all your confessions, too, and act as if any Protestant Tom, Dick, or Harry on the street represents your beliefs as a Reformed Protestant.”

    Do you really mean this? If it is on record that a given preacher in the PCA is a minister in good standing in the PCA will you take this on faith or will you analyze his confession and practice to determine if he really is in accord with the WCF and other standards?

    I was flipping your own treatment of Catholicism back on you, doing a reductio ad absurdum. You see it is unacceptable; therefore, you shouldn’t be so skeptical of what is Catholic orthodoxy, as if it is difficult to figure out. You illustrated my point perfectly in your reply. Thanks! :-)

  319. June 6, 2010 at 12:32 am

    Just one additional footnote:

    the normal rules of hermeneutics, when applied in any reasonable manner, cannot possibly conclude that what Matthew and Luke are really trying to tell us is that what Matthew and Luke are really trying to tell us is that Joseph and Mary were married, but celibate; or that Jesus’ brothers were really cousins. Nothing in the text supports that conclusion by any objective measure or reading.

    Both Luther and Calvin thought so (were they hermeneutical dolts, too? Maybe you think so and will be fair-minded enough to include them in your disdain for lousy Bible exegesis :-):

    LUTHER:

    “Christ . . . was the only Son of Mary, and the Virgin Mary bore no children besides Him . . . I am inclined to agree with those who declare that ‘brothers’ really mean ‘cousins’ here, for Holy Writ and the Jews always call cousins brothers.”

    (Luther’s Works, vol. 22:214-15 / Sermons on John, chaps. 1-4 [1539] )

    “When Matthew [1:25] says that Joseph did not know Mary carnally until she had brought forth her son, it does not follow that he knew her subsequently; on the contrary, it means that he never did know her . . . This babble . . . is without justification . . . he has neither noticed nor paid any attention to either Scripture or the common idiom.”

    (Luther’s Works, vol. 45:212-213 / That Jesus Christ was Born a Jew [1523] )

    CALVIN

    “Helvidius displayed excessive ignorance in concluding that Mary must have had many sons, because Christ’s ‘brothers’ are sometimes mentioned.”

    (Harmony of Matthew, Mark and Luke, sec. 39 [Geneva, 1562], vol. 2 / From Calvin’s Commentaries, translated by William Pringle, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1949, p.215; on Matthew 13:55)

    [On Matt 1:25:] “The inference he [Helvidius] drew from it was, that Mary remained a virgin no longer than till her first birth, and that afterwards she had other children by her husband . . . No just and well-grounded inference can be drawn from these words . . . as to what took place after the birth of Christ. He is called ‘first-born'; but it is for the sole purpose of informing us that he was born of a virgin . . . What took place afterwards the historian does not inform us . . . No man will obstinately keep up the argument, except from an extreme fondness for disputation.”

    (Pringle, ibid., vol. I, p. 107)

    “Under the word ‘brethren’ the Hebrews include all cousins and other relations, whatever may be the degree of affinity.”

    (Pringle, ibid., vol. I, p. 283 / Commentary on John, [7:3] )

  320. June 6, 2010 at 12:50 am

    Sorry, Reed Here. Please make these guys stop asking good questions! Expecting an apologist like me to stop trying to offer answers and defenses of Catholic teaching under challenge is sort of like asking Lebron James to refrain from dunking the ball . . . LOL I’m trying; I really am, but it would be a lot easier if there were no off-topic questions that I had to resist.

  321. June 6, 2010 at 6:51 am

    313 RFWhite, I strongly suspected we were tracking. Maybe Dave will answer these questions for you. His writings are in italics.

    Even assuming such authority was not infallible (as indeed you do), this does not get you out of your epistemological conundrum because you are still relying on the ecclesiastical authority to arrive at your conclusion of the nature and parameters of the biblical canon.

    The Protestant church is not relying on the ecclesiastical authority (whether infallible or not), but rather the Protestant church is relying upon the intention of God to build his church upon the sure word of God and the sovereign ability for Him to providentially ensure that the church would indeed received the books God required for this to come to pass. Accordingly, there is no conundrum – just special pleading.

    So, assuming it is a non-infallible proclamation, you are still (for some reason) adhering to it, save for the seven disputed books

    Yes, we adhere to the books but not because of any proclamation! We are trusting that we have the books because we are trusting that God provided the books for an infallible church. Accordingly, our confidence is in God and not a binding proclamation by the church. We certainly are not placing our confidence in anything as silly as that the notion that we received the books because God imposed an infallible quality to the church, or that because the church (whether fallible or not) has proclaimed we have received the books.

    Logically, if there is no binding and infallible declaration, we should see a lot more latitude of opinion among Protestants. Martin Luther was arguably more consistent on this score than almost all Protestants subsequently.

    Dave doesn’t show why this should logically be the case. Moreover, it’s not logically the case because if a Protestant were to reject any part of the canonical books, he should be placed outside the visible church. That, in turn, would ensure that no Protestant within the visible church rejects any book of the Bible. The Protestants who remain would be those placing their confidence not in an infallible church but in a sovereign God who intended to build his church upon the sure word of God, and a God who would ensure his people received the books that He required – just as He did in the Old Testament yet without an infallible church or any proclamations regarding the books!

    Ron

  322. Reed Here said,

    June 6, 2010 at 7:24 am

    Dave: consider it fair game to respond to questions two or three degrees off topic, provided that the answer is intended to respond to a prior question on topic. E.g., Jeff’s PV question relates to “dogma creation,” relates to “authority,” relates to “canon dogma.” We’re back home pretty quickly.

  323. Reed Here said,

    June 6, 2010 at 7:25 am

    P.S. please, at least follow up with the fallible know infallible topic, as it has been addressed by at least a few. Thanks.

  324. Tom Riello said,

    June 6, 2010 at 10:13 am

    Ron,

    “We certainly are not placing our confidence in anything as silly as that the notion that we received the books because God imposed an infallible quality to the church.”

    Why is the notion of God endowing His Church, not man’s, with the quality of infallibility silly? One could disagree with it, one could say it is not found in antiquity, but silly?

    “the Protestant church is relying upon the intention of God to build his church upon the sure word of God and the sovereign ability for Him to providentially ensure that the church…”

    How is the above not susceptible to the same charge as silly? The Scripture actually has Jesus, who is the Church’s Head and Supreme Lord, say “You are Peter and upon this rock I will build My Church” (Matt 16). Where is the Scripture passage that says that God will build His Church upon the sure Word of God? Paul speaks of the Church as the Pillar and Foundation of the Truth. Regardless of how you flesh out the above references (e.g. Eastern Orthodox or Catholic), this much can be said, the Church is given as a pillar, a rock, a sure guide for faith.

    What you write about God’s sovereign ability to providentially provide can be equally said of the Catholic claim as to why the Church is infallible. Certainly we would be agreed that God could safeguard His Church in that manner. It is not ridiculous to think He would or that He did. Silly, according to whom? There are lots of people that do not think it silly. And there are lots of people that think the falliblility of the Church is a silly notion. It cuts both ways. Thus, the charge that it is silly is a bad choice of arguments. It would behoove all involved in these matters to look at Scripture and the early Church to determine the legitimacy of our claims.

  325. June 6, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    How is the above not susceptible to the same charge as silly? The Scripture actually has Jesus, who is the Church’s Head and Supreme Lord, say “You are Peter and upon this rock I will build My Church” (Matt 16).

    Tom,

    This is a classic example of a conclusion exceeding the scope of the premises, or in this case a single premise. How does one logically deduce from any exegesis of that particular verse the grand conclusion of a perpetual and infallible Magisterium? At best, all that can be logically deduced from that verse even through Catholic lenses is the infallibility of Peter alone, but even that would be problematic.

    Where is the Scripture passage that says that God will build His Church upon the sure Word of God?

    First and foremost, we must assume continuity unless God himself changes the rules. The OT principle was that God spoke threw the prophets and that God’s word was self-attesting and recognizable by his covenant people. Since God has in no way has abrogated this principle of Scripture as our only infallible guide, the de facto position remains – there is no infallible Magisterium. Furthermore, in these last days God has spoken through Christ, not the papacy. (Hebrews 1:1-2) There is no reason therefore, to place ourselves under the precepts of men, especially those who have taught cardinal doctrines that are contrary to the plain teaching of Scripture. It is not wise or available to God’s people to act contrary to what they know God has taught in his word. It is Scripture we are to rely upon; for it is Scripture, God has told is – that is profitable for doctrine, correction, and instruction. And it is for this reason that man shall live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God, not the mouth of the papacy. (Matt. 4:4). Moreover, God’s people have been clearly warned not to heed unto the words of “prophets” who speak according to the devices of their own heart and not according to God (Jer. 23:16). Indeed, God’s covenant people have been warned and will suffer correction should they obey a philosophy that is after the tradition of men and not after Christ”. (Col. 2:8). Finally, our Lord harshly condemned those who placed tradition above God’s word. (Matt. 15:6). In a word, Protestants fear God and not the papacy because God has taught us to behave this way. This fear of God actually requires that the claims of men be weighed against the Scriptures. (Acts 17:11).

    Why is the notion of God endowing His Church, not man’s, with the quality of infallibility silly? One could disagree with it, one could say it is not found in antiquity, but silly?

    With that said, it is indeed silly to blindly follow the papacy. For to follow the papacy rather than a loving God could end up causing one to believe in miracles that do not appeal to the senses as being in any way miraculous. Imagine, for instance, Jesus saying that he was walking on water while he was neck high in the water. Could such a Jesus be believed? Of course not! Would we believe that Moses led God’s people on dry ground through the parting of Red Sea if it had actually appeared to the eyes as if they rowed across in boats? In the like manner, should we believe that the humanity of Christ is physically present in the Eucharist even though the bread looks, smells and tastes like bread? To believe a church that would require its people to believe such things is on par with following a charlatan like Joseph Smith. Moreover, it’s silly to follow the papacy because there is not a hint of biblical evidence for the papacy, but there are a lot of tell tale signs that the papacy is evil. I can go on and on, but no amount of evidence can overcome a pre-commitment to the papacy. Accordingly, please strike the “silly” remark and simply tell me why the church should discard the precedence of OT ecclesiastical authority, which was rooted in the Scriptures alone and not the Magisterium of the day.

    In His bonds,

    Ron

  326. Andrew McCallum said,

    June 6, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    The Catholic liberal denies Catholic dogmas. It’s really no more complicated than that.

    Dave – That’s fine, we see this. But the Catholic liberal is Catholic just like the Catholic conservative. You asked us originally what we think of Catholicism and faithful Catholics, and I am responding with a question for further qualification as far as what part of Catholicism you are speaking of. And thenn as Lane said, if you ask us to speak of who is and who is not a Christian we want to know what YOU think is a Christian before we answer. The problem is not our coming up with a definition, but rather understanding what YOUR definition is.

    Cheers….

  327. Tom Riello said,

    June 6, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    Ron,

    With all due respect you assume so much in your statement: “First and foremost, we must assume continuity unless God himself changes the rules. The OT principle was that God spoke threw the prophets and that God’s word was self-attesting and recognizable by his covenant people.” Please tell me where I find this principle? Is it in the OT? Do we know who wrote 1st and 2nd Kings? Were they prophets?

    My comment to you was calling infallibility silly. In your response I did not notice you respond to my points.

  328. June 6, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    if you ask us to speak of who is and who is not a Christian we want to know what YOU think is a Christian before we answer. The problem is not our coming up with a definition, but rather understanding what YOUR definition is.

    I already gave my definition several times above, long before any of you gave yours. E.g., in #210:

    “My nutshell definition is: one who is a trinitarian, accepts the gospel (defined by the Bible itself) and the saving work of Jesus Christ on the cross on his behalf, and accepts the Nicene Creed.”

  329. David Weiner said,

    June 6, 2010 at 3:29 pm

    Tom, re #322:

    Regardless of how you flesh out the above references (e.g. Eastern Orthodox or Catholic), this much can be said, the Church is given as a pillar, a rock, a sure guide for faith.

    Not that Ron needs my help in the slightest; but, I thought I would just point out something regarding the church being a pillar. As I read 1 Timothy 3:15 the church is indeed called a pillar and support of THE truth. Not only that but the church is defined as the ‘household of God.’ The church is not defined as some subset (e.g., magisterium) of the household of God. The church, the entire household of God, knows the truth and is charged with upholding it; not finding it, not defining it, not specifying it, etc.

  330. June 6, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    Hi Reed,

    P.S. please, at least follow up with the fallible know infallible topic, as it has been addressed by at least a few. Thanks.

    It’s a non-issue. Why would anyone think in the first place that one has to be infallible to recognize and accept a source that is infallible, or any particular truth? The Bible presupposes many things, among them: 1) that we know there is a God, by, among other things, simply observing creation (Rom 1:19-21). The text doesn’t say that the person has to be flawless in comprehension or infallible or what-not. There is a thing called “faith” in the Bible, right?

    Likewise, it is casually assumed that we can know truth without being incapable of espousing other erroneous beliefs. I can know that 2+2=4 with a high degree of certainty without being infallible in all math (I never took calculus or trigonometry). I can know how to wire a socket without knowing every jot and tittle of advanced electronics. I can change a water pump on a car without being a full-fledged mechanic. My knowledge was flawed and incomplete and fallible in all those cases, yet the thing I knew I knew with great certainty.

    Paul expressly teaches that the Church is “the pillar and bulwark of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15). That is accepted because it is in infallible Scripture. You as Protestants believe in an infallible Scripture without having to be personally infallible. I and Catholics agree with you. I think there are many different ways that God communicates to us that Scripture is inspired revelation, apart from Church authority.

    “Truth” is universally presented in Scripture as able to be known (without people having to be “infallible” in order to do so). And there was one faith and one body of truth, not hundreds, as in Protestantism:

    John 8:31-32 (RSV as throughout) Jesus then said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples,
    and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

    John 16:13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

    Romans 2:8 but for those who are factious and do not obey the truth, but obey wickedness, there will be wrath and fury.

    1 Corinthians 2:13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who possess the Spirit.

    2 Corinthians 4:2 We have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways; we refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.

    2 Corinthians 11:10 . . . the truth of Christ is in me . . .

    2 Corinthians 13:8 For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth.

    Galatians 5:7 You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth?

    2 Thessalonians 2:10-13 and with all wicked deception for those who are to perish, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends upon them a strong delusion, to make them believe what is false, so that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God chose you from the beginning to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.

    1 Timothy 2:4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

    1 Timothy 4:3 . . . those who believe and know the truth.

    2 Timothy 1:13-14 Follow the pattern of the sound words which you have heard from me . . . guard the truth which has been entrusted to you by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.

    2 Timothy 2:25 . . . God may perhaps grant that they will repent and come to know the truth,

    2 Timothy 3:7-8 who will listen to anybody and can never arrive at a knowledge of the truth. As Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of corrupt mind and counterfeit faith;

    2 Timothy 4:4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths.

    2 Peter 1:12 Therefore I intend always to remind you of these things, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have.

    1 John 2:21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and know that no lie is of the truth.

    1 John 3:19 By this we shall know that we are of the truth, and reassure our hearts before him

    This was true already in the Old Covenant. For example, it was said of the Levites:

    Malachi 2:6-8: True instruction was in his mouth, and no wrong was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many from iniquity. For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and men should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts.

    Prophets routinely purported to proclaim the very “word of the LORD.” This is a much greater claim than infallibility under limited conditions. Papal infallibility is primarily a preventive, or “negative” guarantee, not positive inspiration. It is easy to argue, then, that infallibility is a far less noteworthy gift than the “revelation on the spot” that we observe in the prophets:

    1 Samuel 15:10 The word of the LORD came to Samuel:

    2 Samuel 23:2: The Spirit of the LORD speaks by me, his word is upon my tongue. [King David]

    1 Chronicles 17:3: But that same night the word of the LORD came to Nathan,

    Isaiah 38:4: Then the word of the LORD came to Isaiah:

    Jeremiah 26:15 . . . the LORD sent me to you to speak all these words in your ears.

    Ezekiel 33:1: The word of the LORD came to me: ["word of the LORD" appears 60 times in the Book of Ezekiel]

    To the contrary: the prophets received their inspiration by the Holy Spirit (2 Chron. 24:20; Neh. 9:30; Zech. 7:12). The Holy Spirit is now given to all Christians (Jn. 15:26; 1 Cor. 3:16), so it is perfectly possible and plausible that an even greater measure of the Holy Spirit would be given to leaders of the Church who have the responsibility to teach, since James wrote: “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, for you know that we who teach shall be judged with greater strictness” (Jas. 3:1). The disciples were reassured by Jesus: “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth” (Jn. 16:13; cf. 8:32), so surely it makes sense that shepherds of the Christian flock would be given an extra measure of protection in order to better fulfill their duties.

    Perhaps the clearest biblical proof of the infallible authority of the Church is the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:6-30), and its authoritative pronouncement, binding on all Christians:

    Acts 15:29-30: For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from unchastity.

    In the next chapter, we learn that Paul, Timothy, and Silas traveled around “through the cities” and “delivered to them for observance the decisions which had been reached by the apostles and elders who were at Jerusalem” (Acts 16:4). This is binding Church authority – with the sanction of the Holy Spirit Himself -, and an explicit biblical proof of the gift of infallibility that the Catholic Church claims for itself when it assembles in a council.

    St. Paul told us to imitate him (e.g., 2 Thess. 3:9). And he went around proclaiming decrees of the Church. No one was at liberty to disobey these decrees on the grounds of conscience, or to declare by “private judgment” that they were in error (per Luther).

    It’s a non-issue; completely irrelevant. This mentality is a species of what I have critiqued above: reducing Christianity to mere philosophy rather than a religion and spiritual outlook that requires faith and incorporates innate and intuitive knowledge that God grants to us through the Holy Spirit and His grace. We can know the truth. We don’t need to be infallible to do so. This sort of thinking is post-Enlightenment hyper-rationalism. It certainly isn’t a biblical outlook.

    But with regard to the canon, the fact that we can possibly arrive at truth (just as St. Athanasius did by being the first to list all 27 NT books in 367: some 330 years after Christ) did not guarantee that the collective of early Christians came to a consensus. Therefore, Church authority (sanctioned by God and the Bible) was needed to make a proclamation that would settle the issue, just as other doctrines (notably trinitarianism and Christology) were hammered out by the early Church, with authoritative decrees handed down.

  331. June 6, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    I am responding with a question for further qualification as far as what part of Catholicism you are speaking of.

    Historic orthodox Catholicism, of course.

    If one wants to know what it is, one reads the Catechism, councils, papal encyclicals; aided (if necessary) by summaries and outlines like Denzinger, Ott, popular works of apologetics, Q&A Internet forums, etc.

    I’d be happy to tell you what we believe on any given thing. It’s not rocket science.It’s no different than my asking you what Presbyterians believe about such-and-such. You cite your sources and you tell me the answer (unless the question involves an extraordinarily difficult matter like the definition of “Christianity” :-). But you have far more internal division than we do, as proven by the endless disputes y’all are in now, as always (Federal Vision, Reconstructionism, Auburn Avenue, N. T. Wright and works of the law, Lordship salvation, etc.).

    Our beliefs are clear. Dissidents dissent from them, by definition. You guys have dissidents and liberals; so do we. It’s a fact of life. They don’t define what the belief-system is. The fact that there were Arians in the 4th century did not “prove” that, therefore, orthodox trinitarian Christianity was not able to be known and identified. People forsake historic Christian beliefs because they lack faith and the grace of God and/or are sinning (esp. in all the sexual areas).

  332. June 6, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    Dave: consider it fair game to respond to questions two or three degrees off topic, provided that the answer is intended to respond to a prior question on topic.

    Understood. Thanks.

    If I may also make a statement somewhat along these lines: since I’m trying to answer everything under the sun thrown at me, I would appreciate it if at least some fair number of my many as-yet unanswered questions could be grappled with, too, by the many folks here. Many have been ignored, and I have thrown out many questions and challenges as well.

    Works both ways in dialogue, don’t it? I’m trying to have dialogues; not just being a “Catholic answer man” dealing with the usual 9,684,721 Protestant objections all at once. I don’t have unlimited energy (or time), and not nearly as much as I did 20-25 years ago, for sure!

  333. June 6, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    But the Catholic liberal is Catholic just like the Catholic conservative.

    Unfortunately, on a local level, too many liberals are going around speaking for the Church and wreaking havoc. But there comes a point when discipline is imposed. Hans Kung, e.g., is no longer to be regarded as a Catholic theologian.

    The following is a list of similar disciplinary actions during Pope John Paul II’s reign (inclusing many well-known dissidents):

    1. Fr. Jacques Pohier, a French Dominican with heterodox views on the Resurrection, lost his license to teach theology and left the Dominicans in 1984.
    2. Fr. Hans Kung lost his license to teach in 1979, partly because of his erroneous teaching about papal infallibility.
    3. Fr. Edward Schillebeeckx questioned the virginity of Mary and received “notifications” from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) saying that his writings conflicted with Church teaching.
    4. Fr. Charles Curran lost his license to teach in 1986. He was the most prominent American opponent of “Humanae Vitae.”
    5. Fr. Leonardo Boff, a proponent of liberation theology who taught a skewed Christology, was silenced twice, then left the Franciscans and the priesthood in 1992.
    6. Fr. Anthony Kosnik formerly taught at Detroit’s seminary and was forced to resign because his writings on sexuality conflicted with basic Catholic teachings.
    7. Fr. Gustavo Gutierrez, another proponent of liberation theology, had his writings criticized by the CDF.
    8. Bishop Jacques Gaillot lost his position as bishop of Evreux, France, in 1995 because of his promotion of contraception and homosexuality.
    9. Fr. Matthew Fox taught pantheism and eventually was expelled from the Dominicans. He joined the Episcopal Church in 1994.
    10. Sr. Mary Agnes Mansour was the director of the Department of Social Services in Michigan, where she oversaw funding of abortions. She was forced to choose between that job and the religious life, and she chose the former.
    11. Srs. Elizabeth Morancy and Arlene Violet served in the Rhode Island government. Told to choose between their jobs and their lives as members of the Sisters of Mercy, they chose the jobs.
    12. Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen, of Seattle, was investigated by the Vatican after numerous allegations of liturgical abuse. An auxiliary bishop was appointed, and Hunthausen lost much of his authority.
    13. Fr. Ernesto Cardenal was the minister of culture in Nicaragua’s Sandinista government. He was chastised by John Paul II when the Pope visited that country in 1983. Cardenal refused to quit his government post and lost his priestly faculties.
    14. Fr. Robert Nugent and Sr. Jeannine Gramick, proponents of homosexuality, were forced to leave New Ways Ministry in 1984. In 1999 the Vatican levied additional sanctions on them.
    15. Fr. John McNeill was investigated by the CDF in the 1970s for his views on homosexuality. He was expelled from the Jesuit order in 1987.
    16. Srs. Barbara Ferraro and Patricia Hussey signed a 1984 “New York Times” ad that backed abortion and refused a Vatican order to retract their support for the ad.
    17. Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre ordained four bishops without papal consent and thereby suffered automatic excommunication.
    18. Fr. Tissa Belasuriya published heterodox writings on Christ’s divinity, Mary, and original sin. The CDF notified him of errors and ordered him to sign a profession of faith. He refused and was excommunicated in 1997. A year later he was reconciled to the Church.
    19. Fr. Eugen Drewermann questioned the Virgin Birth and the reality of the Resurrection. He was expelled from the priesthood.
    20. Sr. Ivone Gebara publicly advocated legalized abortion. She was silenced for two years.

  334. June 6, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    But the Catholic liberal is Catholic just like the Catholic conservative.

    Unfortunately, on a local level, too many liberals are going around speaking for the Church and wreaking havoc. But there comes a point when discipline is imposed. Hans Kung, e.g., is no longer to be regarded as a Catholic theologian.

    The following is a list of similar disciplinary actions during Pope John Paul II’s reign (including many well-known dissidents):

    1. Fr. Jacques Pohier, a French Dominican with heterodox views on the Resurrection, lost his license to teach theology and left the Dominicans in 1984.
    2. Fr. Hans Kung lost his license to teach in 1979, partly because of his erroneous teaching about papal infallibility.
    3. Fr. Edward Schillebeeckx questioned the virginity of Mary and received “notifications” from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) saying that his writings conflicted with Church teaching.
    4. Fr. Charles Curran lost his license to teach in 1986. He was the most prominent American opponent of “Humanae Vitae.”
    5. Fr. Leonardo Boff, a proponent of liberation theology who taught a skewed Christology, was silenced twice, then left the Franciscans and the priesthood in 1992.
    6. Fr. Anthony Kosnik formerly taught at Detroit’s seminary and was forced to resign because his writings on sexuality conflicted with basic Catholic teachings.
    7. Fr. Gustavo Gutierrez, another proponent of liberation theology, had his writings criticized by the CDF.
    8. Bishop Jacques Gaillot lost his position as bishop of Evreux, France, in 1995 because of his promotion of contraception and homosexuality.
    9. Fr. Matthew Fox taught pantheism and eventually was expelled from the Dominicans. He joined the Episcopal Church in 1994.
    10. Sr. Mary Agnes Mansour was the director of the Department of Social Services in Michigan, where she oversaw funding of abortions. She was forced to choose between that job and the religious life, and she chose the former.
    11. Srs. Elizabeth Morancy and Arlene Violet served in the Rhode Island government. Told to choose between their jobs and their lives as members of the Sisters of Mercy, they chose the jobs.
    12. Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen, of Seattle, was investigated by the Vatican after numerous allegations of liturgical abuse. An auxiliary bishop was appointed, and Hunthausen lost much of his authority.
    13. Fr. Ernesto Cardenal was the minister of culture in Nicaragua’s Sandinista government. He was chastised by John Paul II when the Pope visited that country in 1983. Cardenal refused to quit his government post and lost his priestly faculties.
    14. Fr. Robert Nugent and Sr. Jeannine Gramick, proponents of homosexuality, were forced to leave New Ways Ministry in 1984. In 1999 the Vatican levied additional sanctions on them.
    15. Fr. John McNeill was investigated by the CDF in the 1970s for his views on homosexuality. He was expelled from the Jesuit order in 1987.
    16. Srs. Barbara Ferraro and Patricia Hussey signed a 1984 “New York Times” ad that backed abortion and refused a Vatican order to retract their support for the ad.
    17. Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre ordained four bishops without papal consent and thereby suffered automatic excommunication.
    18. Fr. Tissa Belasuriya published heterodox writings on Christ’s divinity, Mary, and original sin. The CDF notified him of errors and ordered him to sign a profession of faith. He refused and was excommunicated in 1997. A year later he was reconciled to the Church.
    19. Fr. Eugen Drewermann questioned the Virgin Birth and the reality of the Resurrection. He was expelled from the priesthood.
    20. Sr. Ivone Gebara publicly advocated legalized abortion. She was silenced for two years.

  335. June 6, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    Sorry for the duplicate. I thought I caught one typo in time, but obviously didn’t.

  336. June 6, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    As for dissenters; someone thinks PCA is free from all such problems? That ain’t what I saw in the thread, “Problems in the PCA?” (from Reformed forum) — filled with anecdotes of all sorts of internal difficulties:

    http://www.puritanboard.com/f117/problems-pca-33246/

    I was in the Protestant world, too, you know., I know what goes on. Liberalism is a problem almost everywhere, and where it isn’t, there are other problems of being too insular and exclusionary, anti-intellectual, and so forth, due to being too isolated and sectarian.

    Or how about: “The Gospel Crisis in the OPC and PCA,” by Brian Schwertley?:

    http://www.reformedonline.com/view/reformedonline/The%20Current%20Crisis%20in%20the%20OPC%20and%20PCA.htm

  337. June 6, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    Tom wrote: With all due respect you assume so much in your statement: “First and foremost, we must assume continuity unless God himself changes the rules. The OT principle was that God spoke threw the prophets and that God’s word was self-attesting and recognizable by his covenant people.” Please tell me where I find this principle? Is it in the OT? ”

    Tom,

    I was going to defend this point up front but then reconsidered. I thought I’d wait to see if you challenged the premise rather than writing something that I hoped would have been unnecessary. In other words, I was hoping you would readily agree with that most basic axiom. To argue against it is a sure formula for radical protest, the very thing Romanists would like to impugn to Protestants.

    The premise has basically two parts: the continuity of any command or precept is to be assumed unless abrogated by God; and (2) under the older economy the Word was self-attesting and recognizable by God’s people. Do you really want to challenge either of those two prongs of the axiom? Let’s run with your challenge, not knowing whether you reject both parts or only one.

    Let us consider the contrary to the first part of the axiom. Let us consider that it reasonable to assume discontinuity (rather than continuity) without God granting such latitude. Such an operating premise would allow one the latitude to assume that God’s precepts and doctrines are not binding the moment after they are issued. In other words, the denial of the axiom of continuity is to affirm that God must reassert his commands and precepts over and over again ad infinitum at all times and in all places for them to remain perpetually binding. Obviously you don’t live by such strictures, nor can you. Such a mode of operation is devilish because such a practice would be a formula for anarchy and confusion. (Before responding, do internalize the ramifications of denying the axiom of continuity. Remember, the axiom does not reject the modification or outright abrogation of laws. It merely requires that the law-giver do the abrogating!)
    Moreover, given a blind reliance upon an infallible Magisterium – one that could demand discontinuity – followers could be required to embrace almost anything. I find such blind obedience silly. For instance, if a counsel were to assert that man is not justified by faith alone – contrary to the plain teaching of God’s Scripture – one would have to accept such a teaching as divine dogma and accept the exegesis that went along with such a damning doctrine. If a dogma were pronounced that stated there is a process of purification (or temporary punishment) through which those who die in a state of grace are prepared for Heaven – it would have to be embraced as coming from God, even when Scripture tells us that our sins were sufficiently dealt with on the cross. Naturally, I find that silly too. I can go on an on, citing superstitions and fables that Rome has fabricated without any Scriptural backing. Frankly, I find many Catholic teachings no less silly than the teaching of men owning their own planets and having multiple wives. Anything goes when that OT precept of Scripture alone – that was presupposed by Jesus in his treatment of the Pharisees – is abandoned arbitrarily in the face of His exhortations and warnings. All the silliness of believing in holy days, sanctified relics and Marion dogmas comes from paying heed to the tempter’s question of “Has God said?” Obviously such a mode of operation that includes blind submission to an authority not ordained by God’s word is a formula for confusion, but how can one who has guzzled the Catholic Kool-Aid accept such a Protestant premise? I’ll tell you – by fearing God more than men.

    The second prong of the axiom is that under the older economy God spoke through the prophets and that his word was self-attesting and recognizable by his covenant people. That God spoke through the prophets under the older economy is stated by the author of Hebrews. That should settle the matter. That God’s word under the older economy was self-attesting and recognizable by his covenant people is presupposed in Jesus’ treatment of His sheep and the teachers of the law. That too settles the matter.

    Do we know who wrote 1st and 2nd Kings? Were they prophets?

    See Hebrews principle set forth above.

    My comment to you was calling infallibility silly. In your response I did not notice you respond to my points.

    As I already noted, God taught his people throughout redemptive history, even in the NT, to submit only to the word of God and to weigh the philosophies of men against it. I cited and referred to a handful of passages to defend that premise. To reject and exchange God’s word on that matter for a papal claim of “infallibility” is not only silly – it is mindless and spiritual suicide. Added to that I noted that by blindly submitting to a self-proclaimed authority could (and has) lead to embracing miracles that do not appeal to the senses – such as the hocus pocus of the mass – a repugnant practice to those who have been given the grace to trust in God and God alone. For the Romanist (just like the Mormon in many respects) the tyranny of “trust me or else” has taken precedence over the plain teaching of a loving God.

    I’m sorry but I have to leave the States in the morning and will have limited access to the Internet in my absence. So, I will leave you and Dave to the Reformed saints on this site who, no doubt, can handle this matter most competently.

    {In passing and in closing ‘ll note that Reformed saints too often leave the “personal relationship with Jesus” talk to the non-Reformed Prostestant brethren. But let me say that that there is a great catholicity of liberty and freedom among all Protestants. I sincerely hope that you, with us, might enjoy the liberation and freedom that comes through a personal relationship with God through Christ alone that is unencumbered by a communion that by dogmatic decree can only get in the way of such a personal relationship. I’m not saying that you can’t or don’t have a personal relationship with God through Christ. I’m merely saying that such a relationship must be obscured if you are going to try to work toward improving that relationship through the Roman communion.}

    Unworthy but His,

    Ron

  338. June 6, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    327 David, thanks for your input. And I am glad to receive all the help I can get! :)

    Again, I probably won’t be able to weigh in this week.

    Best wishes,

    Ron

  339. johnbugay said,

    June 6, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    Ron 335: Very nice, thanks for this.

  340. Jeff Cagle said,

    June 6, 2010 at 6:09 pm

    Dave A: (#317):

    Both Luther and Calvin thought so (were they hermeneutical dolts, too? Maybe you think so and will be fair-minded enough to include them in your disdain for lousy Bible exegesis

    Point of fact: Luther (and Zwingli) believed in Perpetual Virginity; Calvin was agnostic on the issue. Here is Calvin’s quote in full:

    This passage afforded the pretext for great disturbances, which were introduced into the Church, at a former period, by Helvidius. The inference he drew from it was, that Mary remained a virgin no longer than till her first birth, and that afterwards she had other children by her husband. Jerome, on the other hand, earnestly and copiously defended Mary’s perpetual virginity. Let us rest satisfied with this, that no just and well-grounded inference can be drawn from these words of the Evangelist, as to what took place after the birth of Christ.Calv Comm Matt 1.25

    I’m sure you would agree that it is important to go no further than the facts allow; and this is what Calvin is saying here.

    In researching Perpetual Virginity, I noticed several Catholic sites claiming Calvin in defense of the belief. But in fact, he cannot be pressed quite so far; he goes only so far as to criticize Helvidius for going beyond necessary inference. I trust that you will help your Catholic brothers to be factually accurate on this point.

  341. Jeff Cagle said,

    June 6, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    Dave A (#315):

    DA: I suspected you would take the umpire analogy in the direction you did.

    I’m glad that we’re tracking closely together.

    DA: The Catholic Church arbitrarily creates dogma, just like the umpire “created” a fake hit and ruined the perfect game . . . It’s simply not true.

    No, I don’t believe for an instant that the RCC arbitrarily creates dogma; any more than umpires arbitrarily ruin games. Quite the opposite: umpires at the pro level (and below) do their best to call balls and strikes, outs and safes, according to their best perceptions of the physics and rules.

    Likewise, the RCC tries, I believe, to interpret Scripture in a comprehensive way according to its assumptions.

    So my point was not about arbitrariness, but about fallibility.

    We agree, do we not, that conscientious umpires create (or declare) outs and safes; but they cannot create or declare the actual physics of the game. Joyce made a binding declaration of “safe!”, but he could not change the fact that the ball beat the runner.

    Likewise here, a conscientious Pope might declare the meaning of the text; but he cannot change or create the original intent of the author.

    It follows therefore that it is logically possible for RCC interpretation to be in error. There is a set of facts (the intended meaning of the author); the authority of the RCC cannot change these or create these; therefore, there is no logically necessary connection between the RCC interpretation and the original intent of the author.

    I think so far that you would agree, right? Sorry to move slowly, but I want to be very careful about the argument, which is quite related to canon issues.

    Where we have gotten to, then, is this: the argument

    (1) The RCC has the authority to make declarations;
    (2) The RCC declares that the text means X;
    (3) Therefore, the original author intended X.

    is fallacious. The authority to make declarations, even assuming that the RCC possesses that authority, does not convey correctness to those decisions. There is a set of facts on the ground (original intent), and the RCC’s ability to recognize that set of facts is not grounded in her authority, but in something else.

    This is what I mean by saying that an argument from authority is fallacious.

    (For God, not so: God defines truth, and what He says is true, is automatically true.)

    But for anyone else (including the RCC), there is no logically necessary connection between authority and correctness.

    Now, I’m guessing that you might wish to supply an additional premise (that God supernaturally preserves the church from error), that makes the argument above into an inductive argument of some sort. Am I correct? If so, then we’re tracking together. In any event, I’ll await your response.

  342. John said,

    June 6, 2010 at 10:28 pm

    greenbaggins: ” If Vatican II wants to change relations with Lutheranism (and one can certainly argue that it does), then it should *retract* Trent, not redefine it.”

    I don’t see how this matters as to whether Catholics are Christians are not. What does it matter to you if they retract it or redefine it? All you need to care about is what they are saying now.

  343. John said,

    June 6, 2010 at 10:29 pm

    Dave Armstrong: “First of all, how could one who accepts the Nicene and Apostles’ Creed not be a Christian? I think that is something you should ask yourself.If those do not help clarify who is and who is not a Christian, what in the world does?”

    Dave: would you say that Protestants believe the Nicean creed, that they believe in the one holy catholic and apostolic church?

  344. Bob Suden said,

    June 6, 2010 at 11:58 pm

    Since in large part we seem to be watching a ho hum replay of previous threads in re. with the current verbose substitute and pinch hitter for Mr. Cross, Tole, Dozi etc (speaking of filibusters, where was this guy when they passed the Patriot Act, the TARP bailout and healthcare, not to mention the upcoming cap & trade and amnesty legislation?) allow me, John B. to extend my appreciation to your remarks on the Turretin thread here at GB as to the genesis of the CTC group. I thought exactly the same thing at the time which is why I didn’t bother getting into the discussion at the site in question. But enough said.

  345. June 7, 2010 at 12:04 am

    Point of fact: Luther (and Zwingli) believed in Perpetual Virginity; Calvin was agnostic on the issue.

    Okay, so (given your strong remarks on the exegetical considerations, you think Luther and Zwingli were dolts on the matter, and that Calvin missed the absolute clarity of Scripture to the extent that he was (oddly enough, from the strength of your claims above about how manifestly obvious Scripture is on this) an agnostic.

    I think the claim that Calvin was an agnostic is possible to be made, because of the scarcity of the evidence (it’s not an unserious or frivolous opinion, I don’t think), but for myself, I’m inclined to think he did believe in the dogma, from what we have. I’m not alone. Many Protestant scholars agree. David F. Wright, in his book, Chosen by God: Mary in Evangelical Perspective (London: Marshall Pickering, 1989, pp. 173, 175), stated:

    “. . . his more careful biblicism could insist on only Mary’s refraining from intercourse before the birth of Jesus (i.e., her virginity ante partum). On the other hand, he never excluded as untenable the other elements in her perpetual virginity, and may be said to have believed it himself without claiming that Scripture taught it. . . . [Calvin] commonly speaks of Mary as ‘the holy Virgin’ (and rarely as simply as ‘Mary’ preferring ‘the Virgin’, etc.).”

    That would be my exact position on the matter, too.

    Thomas Henry Louis Parker, in his Calvin: an Introduction to his Thought (Westminster John Knox Press, 1995), concurs:

    “. . . the Virgin Birth, which Calvin holds, together with the perpetual virginity of Mary.” (p. 66)

    He is the author of several books about Calvin, such as John Calvin: A Biography (Westminster John Knox Press, 2007), and Oracles Of God: An Introduction To The Preaching Of John Calvin (Lutterworth Press, 2002), Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries (S.C.M. Press, 1971), Calvin’s Preaching (Westminster John Knox Press, 1992), Calvin’s Old Testament Commentaries (Westminster John Knox Press, 1993), and several other Calvin-related volumes, and translator of Calvin’s Harmony of the Gospels in its 1995 Eerdmans edition.

    The article “Mary” (by David T. Wright) in the Encyclopedia of the Reformed Faith (edited by Donald K. McKim, Westminster John Knox Press,1992, p. 237), proclaims:

    “Calvin was likewise less clear-cut than Luther on Mary’s perpetual virginity but undoubtedly favored it. Notes in the Geneva Bible (Matt. 1:18, 25; Jesus ‘brothers’) defend it, as did Zwingli and the English reformers . . .”

    Donald G. Bloesch, in his Jesus Christ: Savior and Lord (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2006, p. 87), joins the crowd:

    “Protestantism . . . remained remarkably open to the idea of Mary’s perpetual virginity. Among others, Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Wollebius, Bullinger and Wesley claimed that Mary was ever-virgin (semper virgo). The Second Helvetic Confession and the Geneva Bible of the Reformed faith and the Schmalkald Articles of the Lutheran churches affirm it.”

    Geoffrey W. Bromiley in his article, “Mary the Mother of Jesus” in International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: K-P (edited by Bromiley, revised edition of 1994 published by Eerdmans [Grand Rapids, Michigan], p. 269), wrote:

    “The post-partum or perpetual virginity concept is held by some Protestants and was held by many Reformers (e.g., Calvin in his sermon on Mt. 1:22-25) . . .”

    Calvin’s successor Theodore Beza argued that Catholics and Protestants agreed on the perpetual virginity of Mary, at the Colloquy of Poissy in 1561 (see William A. Dyrness, Reformed Theology and Visual Culture: the Protestant Imagination from Calvin to Edwards, [Cambridge University Press, 2004], pp. 86-87).

    I trust that you will help your Catholic brothers to be factually accurate on this point.

    I’ll be glad (indeed, more than happy) to inform my Catholic (and Protestant and Orthodox) brothers and sisters in Christ that there are Protestant scholars (even reputable, renowned Reformed Protestant scholars of Calvin and encyclopedias of Calvinism) who hold that Calvin did indeed accept Mary’s perpetual virginity. If they do so, then we Catholics who are of the same opinion cannot be charged with being dishonest with Calvin texts (without the same charge landing on the heads of Parker, Wright, Bloesch, Bromiley, and indirectly to McKim).

    Thanks so much for challenging me to clarify this. The case from Protestant opinion as to Calvin’s belief on this point is a lot stronger than I had heretofore realized.

  346. June 7, 2010 at 12:13 am

    Dave: would you say that Protestants believe the Nicean creed, that they believe in the one holy catholic and apostolic church?

    I would say that Protestants (broadly speaking) believe in some semblance of an ecclesiology, and even in one church, but they usually define it differently from the way the early Church did (overemphasizing the invisible church, denying apostolic succession and hierarchy, etc.).

    There is similar ambiguity in the “baptism for the forgiveness of sins” clause (since most Protestants deny baptismal regeneration: against the Bible and the fathers).

    So it’s not perfect, but on the whole, the Nicene Creed is a good barometer for an inclusive criteria of who is a Christian.

  347. June 7, 2010 at 12:32 am

    Hi Jeff,

    Thanks for yet another stimulating comment.

    No, I don’t believe for an instant that the RCC arbitrarily creates dogma; any more than umpires arbitrarily ruin games. Quite the opposite: umpires at the pro level (and below) do their best to call balls and strikes, outs and safes, according to their best perceptions of the physics and rules.

    Likewise, the RCC tries, I believe, to interpret Scripture in a comprehensive way according to its assumptions.

    Good.

    So my point was not about arbitrariness, but about fallibility.

    We agree, do we not, that conscientious umpires create (or declare) outs and safes; but they cannot create or declare the actual physics of the game.

    Of course. I already noted that above.

    Joyce made a binding declaration of “safe!”, but he could not change the fact that the ball beat the runner.

    Indeed.

    Likewise here, a conscientious Pope might declare the meaning of the text; but he cannot change or create the original intent of the author.

    No; but he could be guided by God in ascertaining the correct meaning, intent of the author, and of God through the author, by being led by the Holy Spirit, Who is God. There are only about seven texts, by the way, that are required to be interpreted in a certain way by Catholics, as a matter of dogma.

    It follows therefore that it is logically possible for RCC interpretation to be in error.

    It can be in error if it is not a situation where infallibility applies. We believe in faith (and with much evidence, I would say) that Scripture, Tradition, and the Church all agree: they are harmonious. This is because of the special guidance of the Holy Spirit. It could never happen under the mere power of man alone. It’s God-directed. The Catholic, in the end, is not exercising faith in “the Church” but rather, in a God Who chose to specially guide the One True Church. We believe He is powerful enough to do this, and in fact does do it.

    There is a set of facts (the intended meaning of the author); the authority of the RCC cannot change these or create these; therefore, there is no logically necessary connection between the RCC interpretation and the original intent of the author.

    Correct. But as I said, the Catholic Church could be led by God to correctly perceive original intent.

    I think so far that you would agree, right?

    In large part, but with the qualifications noted.

    Sorry to move slowly, but I want to be very careful about the argument, which is quite related to canon issues.

    Okay.

    Where we have gotten to, then, is this: the argument

    (1) The RCC has the authority to make declarations;
    (2) The RCC declares that the text means X;
    (3) Therefore, the original author intended X.

    is fallacious.

    I agree. but that is not our reasoning, so it is a non sequitur. This is, rather, a caricature of Catholic authority and relation to the Bible, unfortunately held by many Protestants.

    The authority to make declarations, even assuming that the RCC possesses that authority, does not convey correctness to those decisions.

    Yes; the Holy Spirit does that; not some alleged “logical necessity.”

    There is a set of facts on the ground (original intent), and the RCC’s ability to recognize that set of facts is not grounded in her authority, but in something else.

    This is what I mean by saying that an argument from authority is fallacious.

    But this is not our argument, so you have accomplished little in critiquing us, if you have not understood how we approach the matter.

    (For God, not so: God defines truth, and what He says is true, is automatically true.)

    But for anyone else (including the RCC), there is no logically necessary connection between authority and correctness.

    What is true in Catholicism, is so because it is true, period, and God guided the Catholic Church to it.

    Now, I’m guessing that you might wish to supply an additional premise (that God supernaturally preserves the church from error), that makes the argument above into an inductive argument of some sort. Am I correct? If so, then we’re tracking together. In any event, I’ll await your response.

    The preservation by the Spirit is central to the whole scenario of what Catholics believe about the Church. We believe that the Church declares things because they are true (and already were), not that things are or become true simply because the Church declares them to be so. I’ve already shown how this was the case regarding the canon; citing Vatican I and II.

    The Church is a servant of truth and Scripture and apostolic tradition.

    God bless.

  348. Bob Suden said,

    June 7, 2010 at 12:35 am

    340

    Trent categorically condemned protestantism and justification by faith alone in anathematizing the latter. If Vatican 2 is serious about reconciliation that needs to be repudiated in a forthright manner instead of with the typical Roman equivocation.

    Robt. Reymond has some further trenchant comments on Vat.2 here though the usual anti -protestant suspects will squawk about it. I say let them, but the kinder, gentler calvinists might disagree. Oh well.

  349. June 7, 2010 at 12:51 am

    . . . current verbose substitute and pinch hitter for Mr. Cross, Tole, Dozi etc (speaking of filibusters . . .

    If this is referring to me (as I suspect, but can’t be sure), I would reply that a filibuster is designed to shut down discussion, whereas I have been doing exactly the opposite: carefully trying to give answers out of courtesy to many different folks who have asked me questions (which I call — strangely enough, perhaps –“dialogue”).

    If someone objects to my doing that, or is bored by it, etc., then I suggest that they urge folks to stop asking me questions! But if questions are being asked, obviously, the ones asking think I have something to offer by way of reply, agree or no. I’m enjoying myself. I hope a few others have enjoyed the dialogue, too.

    The many questions fired out were even alluded to by host Reed Here, who said that folks should reserve some of their “ammo.” That is hardly my fault. But it is common when a Catholic apologist enters Protestant venues. I don’t mind it at all, myself, as long as I have time to interact and am not required to deal with too many topics at once.

    That being the case, the potshot is almost as much directed towards those who question me as it is to myself: the one who attempts to answer. The “filibuster” (i.e., lengthiness) is a function of how many questions asked and complexity of the questions asked, not some desire to dominate, as if I am sitting here lecturing, etc.

    I happen to believe that someone making a defense of anything should give it everything he has and bring as many relevant considerations into the mix as are necessary to make the case. That is not to everyone’s taste (and I would never say it was). Different strokes for different folks . . .

    But if someone wants to see some serious theological “filibustering,” I would recommend anti-Catholics Steve Hays and “Turretinfan,” who both make me look (in comparison) like I never typed a word in my life, and who often spew out more words even in a single post than there are electrons in the universe.

  350. June 7, 2010 at 12:53 am

    instead of with the typical Roman equivocation.

    You mean our time-honored jesuitical casuistry?

  351. Jeff Cagle said,

    June 7, 2010 at 6:51 am

    JRC: Now, I’m guessing that you might wish to supply an additional premise (that God supernaturally preserves the church from error), that makes the argument above into an inductive argument of some sort.

    DA: The preservation by the Spirit is central to the whole scenario of what Catholics believe about the Church. We believe that the Church declares things because they are true (and already were), not that things are or become true simply because the Church declares them to be so.

    Fantastic. We seem to be on the same page so far.

    So it is clear, then, that the authority of the church is not the ground for belief. The argument, “The Church teaches X, so it is true” is a kind of short-hand for

    (1) The Church dogmatically teaches X
    (2) I believe that the Church is infallible in its dogmatic proclamations, so
    (3) X is true.

    and authority really plays no epistemic role here, right? The actual epistemic work is done by the premise of infallibility in dogmatic proclamations.

    So I’m troubled by the premise of infallibility, on several counts:

    (1) What justifies it? You’ve mentioned the preservation of the Church by the Spirit (which I believe in, though probably not in the same way you do), but there are missing links in the argument. Once more, with feeling:

    * The Holy Spirit preserves the Church,
    * ?????
    * So the Church’s dogmatic proclamations are infallible.

    What fills in the dots?

    (2) Why is infallibility so inconsistently exercised? We’ve seen many instances of papal errors in matters both of faith and morals. If the Pope possesses a property of being able exercise infallibility, then why does he not exercise it more frequently? On the other hand, if infallibility is not a property of the Pope, but a working of the Spirit, then why should we believe that such working of the Spirit is limited to the Pope? We recall that several of the prophets (Amos, e.g.) received the Word of the Lord without any prior sacramental action.

    (3) Related to (2), why should there be a continuity of infallibility? Paul and Peter were moved by the Spirit in writing Scripture; but there was no continuation of Scripture-writing. So even if I were to hold, say, Gregory V’s pronouncements to be infallible, what would guarantee that, say, Leo VII’s pronouncements were also infallible?

    (4) If much of the entire church (EO, Protestant) fails to acknowledge papal infallibility, can that doctrine really be said to be a part of the tradition of the church?

    (4)

  352. John Bugay said,

    June 7, 2010 at 7:45 am

    Jeff: I like the approach you are taking to this, and the patience you are bringing to it.

    You asked: (2) Why is infallibility so inconsistently exercised?

    First, here is the teaching on infallibility:

    891 “The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful – who confirms his brethren in the faith he proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals. . . . The infallibility promised to the Church is also present in the body of bishops when, together with Peter’s successor, they exercise the supreme Magisterium,” [“teaching authority” above all in an Ecumenical Council. When the Church through its supreme Magisterium proposes a doctrine “for belief as being divinely revealed,” and as the teaching of Christ, the definitions “must be adhered to with the obedience of faith.” This infallibility extends as far as the deposit of divine Revelation itself.

    http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/para/891.htm

    Specifically, “papal infallibility” as per the 1870 definition (given in part here) has only been exercised once, and that would be the 1950 declaration “Munificentissimus Deus,” by Pius XII. And within that whole document, here is the only portion of the text which will be “infallible” under that definition:

    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.

    So in actual fact, this is the only thing that can be nailed down as a “papally-declared, infallible dogma”. Everything else may be subsumed under the second part of 891: the “supreme Magisterium,” — the bishops together with the pope.

    In actual practice, though, anything may be “reformulated,” as we saw with the Vatican II “positive reformulation” for example, of the statement, “there is no salvation outside the church”. Whole new categories have been created, so that now, virtually anyone who tries real hard can be saved:

    847 This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church [earlier defined as "The Roman Catholic Church" as where "The Church that Christ founded" "subsists"]: Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience – those too may achieve eternal salvation.

    So, for all practical purposes, the “Magisterium du jour” may exercise a kind of carte blanche, as this example provides — it is the reason C.S. Lewis said he would not become Catholic.

    So in practice, there is nothing that’s not “up for grabs”. The only practical limitation is whether they can somehow save face while doing this “reformulation” — even though they may turn “A” into “~A”, they still have to come up with some plausible explanation for why they have not really contradicted themselves.

    I think this is one reason why so many liberals currently populate the upper eschelons of the Magisterium. If they hold out long enough, they believe can get their policies enacted on just about anything. It’s almost like the US Supreme Court. Get that 5th vote, and you can legislate anything.

  353. John Bugay said,

    June 7, 2010 at 7:48 am

    (Should have been an end-ital tag after the bolded “eternal salvation” in #350 above).

  354. Jeff Cagle said,

    June 7, 2010 at 8:16 am

    Dave A (#343):

    JRC: Point of fact: Luther (and Zwingli) believed in Perpetual Virginity; Calvin was agnostic on the issue.

    DA: Okay, so (given your strong remarks on the exegetical considerations, you think Luther and Zwingli were dolts on the matter, and that Calvin missed the absolute clarity of Scripture to the extent that he was (oddly enough, from the strength of your claims above about how manifestly obvious Scripture is on this) an agnostic.

    Again, being careful on the facts here, I don’t think that either Luther or Calvin was a dolt.

    I would encourage you not to rush to enlist Calvin to your cause until you have weighed what he says concerning Matt 1.25 with his commentary on 1 Cor 7. His criticism of Helvidius in the commentary on Matt 1.25 is a common criticism that he makes of many folk of going beyond the evidence. It is common for Calvin to criticize this or that commentator on those grounds, sometimes while agreeing with their conclusions in the main (here, he does not express agreement with Helvidius).

    Meanwhile, his criticism of Jerome’s views of virginity in the commentary on 1 Cor 7 are quite strong, and Calvin undercuts Jerome’s entire support for PV at a stroke.

    So if indeed Calvin held to PV as a private opinion (and that’s logically possible), he did so on grounds much different from the RCC and from Jerome in particular.

    With regard to Calvin scholars: I’m sure you realize that credible secondary sources do carry some weight, but are not definitive. Without any primary source backing, the quotes that you provide are intruiging, but neither you nor I should simply take their word for it.

    If primary source writing turns up in which Calvin expresses positive support for PV, then I’ll change my tune.

    But until then, it seems that we should not claim that “Calvin supported PV” or “Calvin believed in PV” unless we have a primary source in hand showing that he supported or believed in PV. Right?

    (Ditto for Bullinger. I’m seeing a lot of secondary sources claiming Bullinger’s support of PV, but I can’t find it in the primary sources. I’ll keep looking.)

    But the most important point is the difference between Luther and Zwingli, and the RCC doctrine.

    Both men affirmed the proposition that Mary remained a virgin all her days. But no Reformer ever affirmed PV as a dogma, a belief necessary for salvation.

    This is the key point. You may believe in PV all your life, and I might disagree with you all my life, but we have the freedom in Christ to disagree on that matter. PV is not a doctrine taught in Scripture; and if it were necessary for salvation, the apostles would have written it down. So says Irenaeus, and he’s right.

    So we want to be careful here about what’s being challenged. I’m not challenging the proposition that Mary remained virgin. I have my doubts; I think that 1 Cor 7 is decisive about what godly marriage should look like. But I can be wrong. Clearly, men whom I admire as thinkers and scholars (Luther in particular) disagreed with me.

    What I’m challenging is the elevation of PV to the status of dogma, a doctrine without which one cannot be saved, a doctrine whose denial makes one liable to anathema. (or “made one liable”, prior to the redefinition of anathema.)

    And in so challenging, I’m getting to the heart of sola scriptura: we may hold all manner of pious opinions; but we as elders may only authoritatively require belief of those opinions taught by good and necessary consequence from Scripture. To turn a phrase, sola scriptura is not so much about formal sufficiency of Scripture, but the formal necessity of Scripture for doctrine. In formal language:

    The Formal Necessity of Scripture: Good and necessary inference from the Scriptural text is the necessary warrant for dogmatic proclamation.

    Or to go back to our umpire analogy: the good umpire will only stand by decisions that can be scrutinized when we roll the tape and look at the play in slow motion. The point behind “good and necessary inference” is the requirement that all calls meet the scrutiny test: we can roll the tape and defend the doctrine from the Scriptural evidence.

  355. June 7, 2010 at 11:06 am

    Jeff: I like the approach you are taking to this, and the patience you are bringing to it.

    Yeah, I do too, which is why it is a pleasure to dialogue with him (unlike with you).

  356. John Bugay said,

    June 7, 2010 at 11:10 am

    Yeah, I do too, which is why it is a pleasure to dialogue with him (unlike with you).

    I don’t believe I’ve ever said a word about you personally.

    But because I talk about Roman Catholic history, at various levels, it seems likely that you would find some of what I say unpleasant. But think of me as a reporter. I pass along the information that’s there. If Roman Catholic history is unpleasant, it’s not because I’ve made it so.

  357. June 7, 2010 at 11:24 am

    I don’t believe I’ve ever said a word about you personally.

    This is beside the point (my policy of non-interaction with anti-Catholics). When someone is not of that position, like Jeff, I’m happy to dialogue till Kingdom Come, as you see me doing.

    If you’re a “reporter,” then you need to get your facts straight (and we know that many reporters do not do so). You can start with your “5 million killed by the Inquisition” myth . . .

  358. John Bugay said,

    June 7, 2010 at 11:28 am

    I did not say “by the inquisition.” As I mentioned on your blog, the header on that particular graphic was, “Persecutors and their victims, 33 ad-2000 ad.” Certainly some portion of those 5-million or so “victims” came within the context of the inquisition. But there were other contexts as well.

  359. June 7, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    Re #358. Fine. Prove it (as I have repeatedly challenged you to no avail) by enlisting reputable historians to back up the numbers (rather than merely appealing to the “proof” of a book published at Oxford).

    Hi Jeff (#351),

    Fantastic. We seem to be on the same page so far.

    That’s what makes for constrictive dialogue: identify common premises and then discuss and work through why conclusions drawn from them differ.

    So it is clear, then, that the authority of the church is not the ground for belief.

    1) Philosophically (i.e., epistemologically), when closely examined, as a “bottom line” matter, I agree.

    2) In terms of rule of faith, Church authority must be placed within the overall framework of Scripture-Church-Tradition. The Church is not proclaiming in isolation (as Protestants often falsely assume with the mythical polemical canard of sola ecclesia, etc.), but in conjunction with; in harmony with Scripture and prior (apostolic, patristic, medieval) Tradition.

    3) In a practical sense, for the unsophisticated proverbial “man on the street,” I believe the whole system was designed by God to provide the certitude of faith (another huge topic itself which I don’t have time to delve into, with all else that is going on in this monster thread: see Cardinal Newman’s Essay on the Grammar of Assent): “the Church has proclaimed thus-and-so regarding Theological Issue X,” and that is sufficient to end the matter, given a prior commitment in faith to believe that there is such a thing as a Church guided by God and that the Catholic Church is that Church.

    The early Protestants (if not, alas, many current ones who have a relatively poor understanding of their own history) thought in the same way when they formulated their confessions: they were dogmatic declarations that were designed to end speculation and disagreement: they declared what was to be believed by those who accepted them. That is the purpose of creeds, confessions, and dogmas for both Protestants and Catholics. But ours possess more authority because we don’t deny that they can be infallible, as you do.

    So that is three different ways to examine the same thing: from three separate but related perspectives.

    The argument, “The Church teaches X, so it is true” is a kind of short-hand for

    (1) The Church dogmatically teaches X
    (2) I believe that the Church is infallible in its dogmatic proclamations, so
    (3) X is true.

    Correct (though I would add to #3: “. . . in the sense that one can achieve a certitude of faith”). It is a proposition of faith, not philosophy, understood in the sense of my #2 and #3 above, whereas the analysis of #1 is in a strictly philosophical realm, where to say that something can “create truth” is an absurdity, since truth already is what it is. We fully agree with you!

    and authority really plays no epistemic role here, right? The actual epistemic work is done by the premise of infallibility in dogmatic proclamations.

    The epistemic work is done by examining the evidences of Scripture and Tradition that led to the authoritative Church proclamation (things that I do all the time as emphases in my apologetics: showing why we believe as we do in any given matter). So that goes back to my #2 above. Authority has to do with what someone believes. Apologetics and epistemology get into why it is believed: and that is my area and responsibility.

    So I’m troubled by the premise of infallibility, on several counts:

    (1) What justifies it?

    I’ve given many many different biblical reasons above, especially in answering Reed’s question about how the fallible can accept the infallible (#330) and in other comments throughout (many left hanging and uninteracted with).

    What justifies an infallible Bible (with which we agree) and sola Scriptura (which we disagree with, and a thing that has never been demonstrated from the Bible alone, as it necessarily has to be, by its own nature)? I have provided a ton of Scripture for a strong, infallible Church authority. I’ve never seen an adequate or compelling proof for sola Scriptura, in many scores of debates about it for twenty years.

    You’ve mentioned the preservation of the Church by the Spirit (which I believe in, though probably not in the same way you do), but there are missing links in the argument. Once more, with feeling:

    * The Holy Spirit preserves the Church,
    * ?????
    * So the Church’s dogmatic proclamations are infallible.

    What fills in the dots?

    Scripture (see #330 above). It is not infallibility and truth that should trouble you, but the perpetual Protestant “quest for uncertainty” and watering-down theological certainty at every turn. You guys want to undermine Scriptural, dogmatic truth by relentlessly questioning it (Luther at Worms). We want to bolster it so folks can know what’s what (and we believe this was God’s will for the Church and every individual Christian: to know the truth and not be in doubt about so many things). That was the biblical, apostolic method, and the patristic and medieval. Yours is the radical innovation of de facto theological relativism and ecclesiological chaos (completely anti-biblical denominationalism)

    (2) Why is infallibility so inconsistently exercised? We’ve seen many instances of papal errors in matters both of faith and morals.

    Easy to say. Each supposed instance requires a long discussion and there is much misinformation.

    If the Pope possesses a property of being able exercise infallibility, then why does he not exercise it more frequently?

    Because of the sublime nature of the gift. By its nature it should be relatively infrequent. It is a protection against error: not a positive gift of inspiration. Popes are not prophets.

    On the other hand, if infallibility is not a property of the Pope, but a working of the Spirit,

    False, unnecessary dichotomy; it is both. The Spirit speaks through the pope (and councils in concert with him also).

    then why should we believe that such working of the Spirit is limited to the Pope? We recall that several of the prophets (Amos, e.g.) received the Word of the Lord without any prior sacramental action.

    It is in terms of being binding on others. This is essentially the distinction we make between private and public revelation, with the latter being binding upon all.

    (3) Related to (2), why should there be a continuity of infallibility?

    So that people can continue to know and be guided by truth. Why should the Bible be infallible today as it was 2000 years ago? Obviously, because we still need that authority.

    Paul and Peter were moved by the Spirit in writing Scripture; but there was no continuation of Scripture-writing. So even if I were to hold, say, Gregory V’s pronouncements to be infallible, what would guarantee that, say, Leo VII’s pronouncements were also infallible?

    It is a matter faith of faith, supported by reasoned defenses of non-contradiction throughout history. Catholics have faith that God is powerful enough (and that He wills) to guide a Church of live human beings throughout history and protect it from doctrinal error when it makes binding dogmatic proclamations for all. Protestants lack the faith that God can and would do that.

    We have a much greater sense of God’s ongoing sovereignty and majesty and power and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, I would say. It takes more faith to believe as we do, but God is without doubt (being omnipotent) able to do as we believe. The only question is whether in fact He chose to do so. We think He did, and we believe that by consistently applying much Scripture that suggests (and I say, virtually proves) it.

    (4) If much of the entire church (EO, Protestant) fails to acknowledge papal infallibility, can that doctrine really be said to be a part of the tradition of the church?

    Of course, because the roots of it go all the way back. Orthodox and Protestants chose to depart from the mainstream biblical, apostolic, patristic Tradition. That has no bearing on what the legitimate ecclesiological tradition (including the papacy) was. The Orthodox (before they split off) recognized conciliar infallibility and (many of their eminent figures) papal supremacy. Even since the split many still recognize Petrine and papal primacy. Even some Protestants do that (particularly traditional Anglicans and some Lutherans).

  360. John Bugay said,

    June 7, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    Re #358. Fine. Prove it (as I have repeatedly challenged you to no avail) by enlisting reputable historians to back up the numbers (rather than merely appealing to the “proof” of a book published at Oxford).

    Who in the world but you thinks that Oxford is an untrustworthy source of factual information? Disprove what they’ve written!

  361. June 7, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    Hi Jeff (#354),

    Continued excellent dialogue. Thank you. It is a rare pleasure these days.

    Again, being careful on the facts here, I don’t think that either Luther or Calvin was a dolt.

    Let’s go back to your original claim of just two days ago (#314), to refresh readers’ memories:

    ” . . . the normal rules of hermeneutics, when applied in any reasonable manner, cannot possibly conclude that what Matthew and Luke are really trying to tell us is that Joseph and Mary were married, but celibate; or that Jesus’ brothers were really cousins. Nothing in the text supports that conclusion by any objective measure or reading. . . . Regardless of hermeneutical physics, what the Church says is what is true. Regardless of Matthew and Luke’s intent, as observed by the evidence of their writing, this is what the text means.”

    To summarize what you were saying then (as opposed to now, under challenge), and my replies:

    1) “Normal rules of hermeneutics, when applied in any reasonable manner, cannot possibly” lead us to the PVM (including Jesus’ “brothers” being cousins).

    2) “Nothing in the text supports that conclusion by any objective measure or reading.”

    3) The Catholic Church (strong implication: outrageously so) declares the dogma, despite the clear intent of “normal, reasonable, objective” hermeneutics and in the teeth of original intent.

    4) I reply that Luther, Calvin (with documentation) and many other Protestants also believe in the PVM.

    5) (Luther and) Calvin did not accept Catholic infallible authority.

    6) Therefore, if Calvin accepted the PVM, he must have done so on scriptural basis only (or tradition understood in a non-binding fashion, excluding apostolic succession as traditionally understood).

    7) This being the case, it follows that Calvin was a “hermeneutical dolt” (so was Luther) — as I colorfully described it, since he fell prey to all these things you criticize the Catholic Church for: neglect of normal, reasonable, objective hermeneutics, in the teeth of original intent.

    8) Therefore, your original criticism of Catholic hermeneutics here also applies to Calvin.

    9) But now you want to deny the logic of it, by saying, “I don’t think that either Luther or Calvin was a dolt.”

    10) You also tried to deny that Calvin believed in the PVM.

    11) I produced much documentation from Protestant sources (mostly Reformed) holding that he did in fact accept it.

    12) One can legitimately differ on whether he did or not, as I have already stated, but I think what I have established is that your characterization of how clear-cut the hermeneutical issue is (supposedly against the PVM) is unwarranted. The issue is not nearly as simple as you made out.

    13) Thus, you should either modify your original strong, critical statements against Catholic hermeneutics or apply the ire equally to Luther and Calvin (or at least Luther: whom you yourself admit did accept the PVM). The tendency in so much of the Protestant critique of Catholicism (even irenic, reasonable, thoughtful ones such as yours) is to have one standard for Catholics and another for Protestants who believe the same thing in particulars. we’re blasted for unreasonableness or excessive arbitrary dogmatism, while important Protestants who agree in particulars are given a pass (or else it is not known in the first place that they agree with us).

  362. June 7, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    Re: #360 ROFL Unbelievable, but not surprising . . . a classic example of the genetic fallacy.

  363. John Bugay said,

    June 7, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    Sorry Dave, I’ll take Oxford’s word over yours.

  364. johnbugay said,

    June 7, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    I just had this out so I thought I’d share it:

    “There is reasonable evidence to see the origin of the Pauline corpus during the latter part of Paul’s life or some time after his death, almost assuredly instigated by Paul and/or a close follower or followers, and close examination of the early manuscripts with Paul’s letters and of related documents seems to support this hypothesis.” (Stanley E. Porter, “Paul and the Process of Canonization,” in “Exploring the Origins of the Bible, Craig A. Evans and Emanuel Tov, Editors, pg. 202.)

  365. June 7, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    Continuing with Jeff (#354):

    I would encourage you not to rush to enlist Calvin to your cause until you have weighed what he says concerning Matt 1.25 with his commentary on 1 Cor 7. His criticism of Helvidius in the commentary on Matt 1.25 is a common criticism that he makes of many folk of going beyond the evidence. It is common for Calvin to criticize this or that commentator on those grounds, sometimes while agreeing with their conclusions in the main (here, he does not express agreement with Helvidius).

    Meanwhile, his criticism of Jerome’s views of virginity in the commentary on 1 Cor 7 are quite strong, and Calvin undercuts Jerome’s entire support for PV at a stroke.

    That logic doesn’t follow. You are equating things that don’t equate. I looked up the commentary on the CCEL site. So. e.g., at 1 Cor 7:1, Calvin states:

    “Now we must observe what he means by the word good, when he declares that it is good to abstain from marriage, that we may not conclude, on the other hand, that the marriage connection is therefore evil — a mistake which Jerome has fallen into . . .”

    If in fact Jerome believed that (and he may not have; I always have a healthy suspicion of what Calvin says Catholics believe, having recently written a book about him), he was obviously wrong. Calvin is right in condemning such a view. Catholics believe marriage is a sacrament and gives grace, so obviously we don’t think it is evil. It was Martin Luther who thought even marital intercourse remained evil in every instance:

    “Intercourse is never without sin; but God excuses it by his grace because the estate of marriage is his work, and he preserves in and through the sin all that good which he has implanted and blessed in marriage.”

    (The Estate of Marriage [1522]; translated by Walther I. Brandt; pp. 17-49 in Luther’s Works, Volume 45 [Philadelphia: Muhlenberg Press, 1962], p. 49)

    Likewise, commenting on 7:7, Calvin writes:

    “Nor has the error as to this matter been confined to the common people and illiterate persons; for even the most eminent doctors, devoting themselves unreservedly to the commendation of virginity, and forgetting human infirmity, have overlooked this admonition of Paul — nay rather, of Christ himself. Jerome, blinded by a zeal, I know not of what sort, does not simply fall, but rushes headlong, into false views. Virginity, I acknowledge, is an excellent gift; but keep it in view, that it is a gift. Learn, besides, from the mouth of Christ and of Paul, that it is not common to all, but is given only to a few. Guard, accordingly, against rashly devoting what is not in your own power, and what you will not obtain as a gift, if forgetful of your calling you aspire beyond your limits.”

    Likewise, for 7:8:

    “The sum is this, that an unmarried life has many advantages, and that these are not to be despised, provided every one measures himself according to his own size and measure. Hence, though virginity should be extolled even to the third heavens, this, at the same time, always remains true — that it does not suit all, but only those who have a special gift from God.”

    Exactly right. Exactly the Catholic view (I have argued in the same exact way many times in my apologetics, using this very passage in 1 Corinthians). This doesn’t rule out the PVM at all. She would simply be one of the “few” who had the “gift” — just as Calvin would say was true of Paul, John the Baptist and other celibate disciples and apostles and past figures such as the prophet Jeremiah.

    He resumes criticism of Jerome’s alleged or real views at 7:33:

    “Let us always, however, bear in mind, that these evils do not belong to marriage, but proceed from the depravity of men. Hence the calumnies of Jerome, who scrapes together all these things for the purpose of bringing marriages into disrepute, fall. For, were any one to condemn agriculture, merchandise, and other modes of life, on this ground, that amidst so many corruption’s of the world, there is not one of them that is exempt from certain evils, who is there that would not smile at his folly? Observe, then, that whatever evil there is in marriage, has its origin somewhere else . . .”

    Also, at 7:36:

    “As to Jerome’s making a handle of the expression sinneth not, for reviling marriage, with a view to its disparagement, as if it were not a praiseworthy action to dispose of a daughter in marriage, it is quite childish.”

    Again, we agree wholeheartedly with this reasoning. It is Martin Luther who would disagree: who thinks that marriage and especially marital sex, necessarily retain evil by nature. And again, this has no bearing on Mary’s perpetual virginity or whether Calvin believed in it.

    Therefore citing Calvin’s commentary here has no direct bearing on the question of Mary unless Calvin says something specific along those lines. Perhaps I have missed that and you can direct me to it. This was all I could find about Jerome in the entire 1 Cor 7 section of his commentaries.

    So if indeed Calvin held to PV as a private opinion (and that’s logically possible), he did so on grounds much different from the RCC and from Jerome in particular.

    Yes; he did it on hermeneutical grounds, which is precisely my point: your condemnation of the supposedly profoundly erroneous heremeneutics involved redounds upon Calvin (if he believed in the PVM) and Luther also.

    With regard to Calvin scholars: I’m sure you realize that credible secondary sources do carry some weight, but are not definitive.

    You are one such source, but you are not a Calvin scholar like several of these men are (I don’t know if you are a scholar at all). Therefore, their scholarly opinion (especially Parker’s) carries far more weight than yours (or my own mere layman’s opinion). As I respect scholarship, I prefer to accept their word over yours. It’s not an absolute proposition, but I think the plausibility and seeming scholarly consensus lie with my position: that Calvin believed in the PVM.

    Without any primary source backing, the quotes that you provide are intruiging, but neither you nor I should simply take their word for it.

    I’m not taking their word for it. I was simply making the case that many Reformed scholars agree with my take. I think that is significant. They are interpreting the little (somewhat ambiguous) data we have, just as you and I are doing, but isn’t it interesting that you disagree with your own reformed scholars, and I agree with them in this instance? That’s what makes debate fun! They look at it and conclude as they do (in agreement with my opinion); you look at the same data and conclude that only the most mangled, unreasonable hermeneutics could possibly conclude such a thing.

    I think you should learn from this to tone down and moderate your statements about such honest disagreements in the future, since it has boomeranged back upon your head.

    If primary source writing turns up in which Calvin expresses positive support for PV, then I’ll change my tune.

    These men think it does exist. They were not tentative; they feel fairly certain about it.

    But until then, it seems that we should not claim that “Calvin supported PV” or “Calvin believed in PV” unless we have a primary source in hand showing that he supported or believed in PV. Right?

    No; the evidence is sufficient to form a reasoned opinion; at the same I have acknowledged that reasonable men can differ. I am being as honest and fair-minded as I can on the question. I have no stake in the matter either way. Whether Calvin believed it or not is nothing that has any effect on myself or my beliefs. But you seem to have a stake in his not believing it. You would think he was being unreasonably “Catholic” if he did so, right? :-)

    (Ditto for Bullinger. I’m seeing a lot of secondary sources claiming Bullinger’s support of PV, but I can’t find it in the primary sources. I’ll keep looking.)

    Let me know if you find something! Donald Bloesch, for some odd reason, thin ks that he did, and I am assuming he (being a scholar) must have some reason for thinking that, if he put it in a published book.

    But the most important point is the difference between Luther and Zwingli, and the RCC doctrine.

    I know there may very well be differences; that is beside my point. You want to stress difference; I want to stress common ground and examine why it is there in the first place.

    Both men affirmed the proposition that Mary remained a virgin all her days. But no Reformer ever affirmed PV as a dogma, a belief necessary for salvation.

    That’s correct. But they did plenty of similar things. Luther, e.g., concluded that Zwingli was damned because he denied consubstantiation. Other fellow “reformers” concluded that Luther was damned. So in effect, it is the same thing: folks were excluded from the fold for denying something other than the plain gospel: no different from Catholic thought.

    Anti-Catholics do the same thing today: I and other Catholics are supposedly outside the fold of the Body of Christ because we believe things that Protestants don’t agree with: also stuff that has no direct bearing on the gospel or even (in many cases) soteriology.

    Just today on my blog I had a guy (self-defined Anabaptist / Brethren) say that Catholicism isn’t Christian insofar as the communion of saints is believed in (what he falsely called “saint worship”).

    This is the key point. You may believe in PV all your life, and I might disagree with you all my life, but we have the freedom in Christ to disagree on that matter.

    You have the freedom to disbelieve in God and choose to go to hell, too. We all have a free choice to believe what we will. The Catholic Church makes judgments about what is orthodox and what isn’t: no different from any other Christian group: the only difference is in degree and scope.

    PV is not a doctrine taught in Scripture; and if it were necessary for salvation, the apostles would have written it down. So says Irenaeus, and he’s right.

    There is all sorts of evidence in Scripture and early Christian tradition. As I mentioned, I have 13 papers about it that I have written myself.

    So we want to be careful here about what’s being challenged. I’m not challenging the proposition that Mary remained virgin. I have my doubts; I think that 1 Cor 7 is decisive about what godly marriage should look like.

    It doesn’t rule out a possible celibate marriage in extraordinary circumstances. Jesus said that a disciple could even leave a wife in some situations, for His sake. We know that Peter was married, but seemingly voluntarily separated from his wife: a scenario not unlike voluntary celibacy.

    Whatever Calvin stated in his commentary of 1 Cor 7, somehow many Protestant scholars believe he accepted the PVM. Your task is to understand why they think that, seeing that you think the truth is so obviously different, and that Scripture gives no warrant for believing in it.

    But I can be wrong.

    Indeed! :-) I think this is one such instance!

    Clearly, men whom I admire as thinkers and scholars (Luther in particular) disagreed with me.

    Yep. And that should cause us to moderate our critical language a bit, no? But I’m a straight shooter myself, so I really can’t talk much about that . . .

    What I’m challenging is the elevation of PV to the status of dogma, a doctrine without which one cannot be saved, a doctrine whose denial makes one liable to anathema. (or “made one liable”, prior to the redefinition of anathema.)

    The Catholic Church takes a strong stand as to what is true; hence the abundance of dogmas. This particular dogmas goes all the way back to the Council of Ephesus and was accepted from the 5th century onwards: from the time before many Catholics even deny that there was a “Catholic Church” as we know and lover her today (since many Protestants seem to think that papal supremacy began only with Pope Leo the Great (440-461) or even as late as Gregory the Great (590-604). Therefore, this is early Church dogma, not the dreaded “Tridentine dogma” etc.

    And in so challenging, I’m getting to the heart of sola scriptura: we may hold all manner of pious opinions; but we as elders may only authoritatively require belief of those opinions taught by good and necessary consequence from Scripture.

    But this belief is itself not in Scripture. Secondly, we contend that PVM does have sufficient scriptural support. It’s not explicit; it is indirect and deductive, but so are many other Christian beliefs that even Protestants hold. Moreover, you hold things that are not in Scripture at all (sola Scriptura and the canon, denominationalism and many other errors).You simply substitute Protestant man-made traditions for biblical, apostolic, patristic ones in those cases.

    To turn a phrase, sola scriptura is not so much about formal sufficiency of Scripture, but the formal necessity of Scripture for doctrine. In formal language:

    The Formal Necessity of Scripture: Good and necessary inference from the Scriptural text is the necessary warrant for dogmatic proclamation.

    Yep.

    Or to go back to our umpire analogy: the good umpire will only stand by decisions that can be scrutinized when we roll the tape and look at the play in slow motion. The point behind “good and necessary inference” is the requirement that all calls meet the scrutiny test: we can roll the tape and defend the doctrine from the Scriptural evidence.

    Indeed. We do so. I do so. But not everything has to be explicit in Scripture. I believe in material sufficiency, but I also believe that doctrines present in Scripture can undergo much development and that Scripture is not the be-all and end-all of all relevant evidence.

  366. June 7, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    Typo above (sorry; was writing very fast since this is diverting me from my regular work today):

    “This particular dogmas goes all the way back to the Council of Ephesus and was accepted from the 5th century onwards: from the time before many Catholics even deny that there was a ‘Catholic Church’ as we know and lover her today. . .”

    Should be:

    “This particular dogma goes all the way back to the Council of Ephesus and was accepted from the 5th century onwards: from the time before many non-Catholics think that there was a ['Roman'] ‘Catholic Church’ at all: as we know and love her today. . .”

  367. Tom Riello said,

    June 7, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    Ron (and John since you liked his post in #336)

    “The premise has basically two parts: the continuity of any command or precept is to be assumed unless abrogated by God;”

    Again, you assume much. Where is the text in NT that changes abrogates the Sabbath from the last day of the week to the first day of the week? In fact, it was for this reason that the 7th Day Adventists came along, isn’t it? By this reasoning our day of rest should be Saturday. If not, why not?

    Ron, you also throw a lot of inflammatory rhetoric to the discussion. Equating Catholics with Mormons, drinking the Catholic kool-aid, Catholic holy days, relics etc… I mean the earliest evidence we have from antiquity is that the Church always remembered the dead in Christ, the martyrs on feast days, the relics of the saints. Maybe they were wrong, but I am honored to place myself with our Fathers and Mothers from antiquity. The issues are too important to play such games. If the Scripture and antiquity is on your side then we can do without the silly comparisons of Catholics with Mormons.

  368. johnbugay said,

    June 7, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    WCF Chapter XXI:

    http://www.puritanboard.com/confessions/wcf.htm#chap21

    VII. As it is the law of nature, that, in general, a due proportion of time be set apart for the worship of God; so, in His Word, by a positive, moral, and perpetual commandment binding all men in all ages, He has particularly appointed one day in seven, for a Sabbath, to be kept holy unto him: which, from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, was the last day of the week: and, from the resurrection of Christ, was changed into the first day of the week, which, in Scripture, is called the Lord’s Day, and is to be continued to the end of the world, as the Christian Sabbath.

    1CO 16:1 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. 2 Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come. ACT 20:7 And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.

  369. Jeff Cagle said,

    June 7, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    Dave (#365):

    Your argument in #365 is running a bit ahead of matters.

    First, it is entirely possible to believe that Luther was quite brilliant, yet mistaken on one point or another. Google for Linus Pauling and Vitamin C.

    I think the problem, really, is with the colorful characterization of “dolt.” One mistake does not a dolt make. If you replace the term “dolt” with “mistaken”, then I’ll probably agree with you.

    Second, it is possible also to examine Luther’s argument for PV and ask the question, Is he appealing to Scripture as the ground for PV, OR is he appealing to some other ground? We can walk through Luther’s argument and see whether it follows the principle of sola scriptura or not.

    As you read his argument, how would you characterize it? Is he defending PV from Scripture or from some other ground?

    Third:

    DA: 10) You also tried to deny that Calvin believed in the PVM.

    11) I produced much documentation from Protestant sources (mostly Reformed) holding that he did in fact accept it.

    Yes to both. Specifically, I find in Calvin’s treatment of Matt 1.25 a reluctance to come down on one side or the other. I’m surprised that you disagree on this point.

    DA: 12) One can legitimately differ on whether he did or not, as I have already stated, but I think what I have established is that your characterization of how clear-cut the hermeneutical issue is (supposedly against the PVM) is unwarranted. The issue is not nearly as simple as you made out.

    What is not clear-cut is Calvin’s own view of the matter.

    What is clear-cut is the status of PV as dogma: NONE of the Reformers made it into a dogma. And that’s really what I’ve been arguing about.

    What is further clear-cut is that claiming Calvin as a supporter of PV is tenuous based on the evidence so far on the table.

    Which brings us to …

    JRC: With regard to Calvin scholars: I’m sure you realize that credible secondary sources do carry some weight, but are not definitive.

    DA: You are one such source, but you are not a Calvin scholar like several of these men are (I don’t know if you are a scholar at all). Therefore, their scholarly opinion (especially Parker’s) carries far more weight than yours (or my own mere layman’s opinion). As I respect scholarship, I prefer to accept their word over yours. It’s not an absolute proposition, but I think the plausibility and seeming scholarly consensus lie with my position: that Calvin believed in the PVM.

    You have no need to be limited by the secondaries. Each of these sources you have cited will, presumably, footnote their sources in the primary writings of Calvin, which are for the most part freely available. Ad fontes! (“To the Bat-sources!”) Evaluate the state of affairs for yourself, instead of relying solely on the judgment of others.

    It’s not my word against theirs — I’m just some guy on the ‘Net — it’s their word against the evidence. Before you accept their word (especially since you consider Reformed sources a generally unreliable barometer!), check their work.

    Or if you don’t have time for that (being a busy guy), it is a simple matter to qualify your claim as “some Reformed scholars claim that Calvin held to PV, but I haven’t been able to verify it myself.”

    As I said, I’m happy to change my mind in the face of primary source evidence. I just haven’t seen any so far that confirms your claim. The claim that Calvin believed in PV appears to be too strong and unsupported by direct (i.e. primary) evidence.

    DA: I want to stress common ground and examine why it is there in the first place.

    JRC: Both men affirmed the proposition that Mary remained a virgin all her days. But no Reformer ever affirmed PV as a dogma, a belief necessary for salvation.

    DA: That’s correct. But they did plenty of similar things. Luther, e.g., concluded that Zwingli was damned because he denied consubstantiation. Other fellow “reformers” concluded that Luther was damned. So in effect, it is the same thing: folks were excluded from the fold for denying something other than the plain gospel: no different from Catholic thought.

    Quite different from Catholic thought, actually. There is a similar-looking conclusion (Lack of salvation, “You have a different Spirit!”), but a quite different ground for it.

    Let’s take the Confession. The Confession lays out doctrines that it believes to be necessary for salvation (and some not necessary for salvation, also). But it book-ends itself with these two statements:

    1.10. The supreme judge by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture.

    31.2. It belongeth to synods and councils, ministerially to determine controversies of faith, and cases of conscience; to set down rules and directions for the better ordering of the public worship of God, and government of His Church; to receive complaints in cases of maladministration, and authoritatively to determine the same: which decrees and determinations, if consonant to the Word of God, are to be received with reverence and submission; not only for their agreement with the Word, but also for the power whereby they are made, as being an ordinance of God appointed thereunto in His Word.

    3. All synods or councils, since the Apostles’ times, whether general or particular, may err; and many have erred. Therefore they are not to be made the rule of faith, or practice; but to be used as a help in both.

    Note the important difference here: whereas the RCC anathematizes deniers of PV on the ground that they have rejected tradition and therefore rejected the authority of the church (“The Faith”), the Confession declares an objective standard for the faith, and then carefully states that the Confession itself is not the ultimate rule of faith, but rather Scripture is.

    So what? This: The difference is the ground for the anathema. Ultimately, the Church anathematizes on the ground of rejection of Church authority and teaching.

    The Confession pronounces no anathemas, but to the extent that it promulgates doctrines necessary for salvation, it does so on the principle of good and necessary inference from Scripture.

    The Confession is careful not to place itself in the seat of the Word of God.

    And this gets back to the issue of recognizing v. creating truth. Augustine did not believe the Apocrypha to be fully canonical. Trent anathematizes all those who do not receive the Apocrypoha in their entirety as fully canonical (Session 4)

    Why is Augustine not therefore considered heretical? Because, goes the reasoning, the doctrine of the canon was not yet fully defined.

    But as we agreed, the church does not create truth, or create the canon; it recognizes it. Thus, if disbelieving the canon was pernicious to faith after Trent, it must have been equally pernicious to the faith prior to Trent.

    UNLESS

    (1) The truth changes. Hope no-one wants to defend that!, OR

    (2) The real damnable crime with heresy is not the belief itself, but rejecting the church’s authoritative declaration.

    This is clearly a significant difference between the WCoF and the magisterium. On the Confession’s account, heresy is objectively heresy, as proved in the Scripture. A denial of the Trinity is a pernicious heresy because it conflicts with saving faith.

    On the magisterium’s account, heresy in one era is not heresy in another; and the difference is the stance one takes towards the Church authority.

    This is why the recurring charge from Rome is one of schism.

    More later.

  370. June 7, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    Hi Jeff,

    You can have the last word on these particular discussions. Mostly I think you are reiterating now. It has to end somewhere (and I am again being diverted from my regular work — though I am ultimately self-employed and have a lot of leeway; I have some contractual work that I do –, even writing this). By saying this, I’m not saying that there is nothing worthwhile above to respond to (in your posts there always is), but that it is mostly stuff now that has already been discussed and pretty much beaten to death in our exchange.

    I have neither time nor desire to now start on a lengthy comparison of the methodologies of the WCF vs. the Catholic Church. To me it is another rabbit trail, and I have already engaged in discussions in this thread about at least seven distinct topics (with more always threatening to be introduced as I am challenged yet again), even if Reed Here thinks all this is still directly on-topic by third, fourth, and fifth degrees of affinity. :-)

    I’ll be hanging around (I have concluded that this is a cool place to dialogue, if y’all will have me). We have a whole lifetime to discuss Catholic-Protestant differences. I look forward to it. I’ve been looking for a place to have good discussions with thoughtful, cordial Protestants for a long time now, so I’m very happy to have discovered this site.

    My overall emphasis was to try to show (with some analogies, that I always love to bring into play) that we’re not nearly as different and radical as you are making us out to be, and that there are many similarities all down the line.

    Not to minimize any real difference (I never want to do that), but I think it is important to establish common ground where it is supposed or argued that there is not. That is my ecumenical impulse that is always present alongside my apologetic one.

    Lastly, I have looked at the relevant Calvin texts (though, no doubt, not with the rigor that a Calvin scholar or professional historian or theologian would bring to them) and came to the conclusion I presently have. You should cut me some slack on this, since I already agreed above (#345) with David F. Wright. He stated that Calvin “believed it [PVM] himself without claiming that Scripture taught it.” I agreed, by saying, “That would be my exact position on the matter, too.”

    You brought up his commentary on 1 Corinthians 7, but after examining it I found nothing that had any direct bearing on the topic of PVM at all, as argued above. Apples and oranges. So that is not even a relevant text. I think you created a fallacious association there, simply because the estate of virginity was being discussed.

    Also, Calvin habitually calling Mary “the virgin” or “holy virgin” (as Calvin scholar T.H.L. Parker noted), is further evidence, since that had always been understood in Church history (I’m pretty sure) as a belief in perpetual virginity, and was clearly understood as such in Calvin’s time.

    It is not simply referring to the Virgin Birth. Think about it. We don’t call women who are married now and sexually active, “virgins” their whole lives and thereafter. That would make no sense, since they ceased being virgins. It is as illogical as calling them “children” when they are adults. They’re not lifetime eunuchs or celibates or virgins. They were simply one thing and then another, by virtue of getting older and passing into the state of marriage. They did not have the gift of celibacy that Calvin acknowledged, per clear Pauline teaching.

    Calvin didn’t even use the phraseology of Theotokos ‘”Mother of God”] (as Luther and many other Protestants — even in some confessions — did), so I think that if he continued to use “holy virgin” that it is more plausible to believe that he retained the traditional view than that he did not. Otherwise, it stands to reason that he would cease using that title for her, too, since he was well familiar with historical usage and patristic teachings.

    Therefore this is another relevant evidence of Calvin’s position, by both linguistic and commonsense criteria, and it is direct: not a non sequitur, like your alleged connection of his commentary on 1 Cor 7. I think that would influence the determination of scholars like Parker and Wright and Bloesch and Bromiley to conclude as they did. You can write to them and ask them yourself, if you want to learn more. I’d love to hear what they would say, too.

  371. Reed Here said,

    June 7, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    O.k., how about wrapping up? Can you summarize your key observations in two or three sentences?

    For example, Dave, you have conceded that the Church does not have to be infallible to render an infallible judgment. What other summary points do you want to offer?

    A moderating note for all to consider:

    Lane intends for this blog to be a place for serious discussion. We understand that this means that posts will not always be your short one or two liners, and that exchanges will go on for some while.

    At the same time, we need to keep in mind that there are lots of folks reading who are not going to keep up with a single post that takes 15 minutes to digest, let alone the 1/2 hour ones y’all have been posting lately.

    WordPress has an “interesting” slowling down problem when threads get long. This seems to be measured not by the number of posts in a thread, but by the number of words.

    Ordinarily the blog starts slowing down around the 400 post mark. As a sign of the verbosity on this thread, this slowing down problem began around the mid one-hundreds.

    Sometimes lots of words are need for clarity. Other times they just demonstrate that a person’s point is not well thought out. I’m not making any particular criticisms, merely asking you to consider. Has your verbosity helped the clarity of your argument, or hindered it?

    Please, strive for pithiness. Thanks!

    Reed DePace
    (moderator)

  372. greenbaggins said,

    June 7, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    Thank you, Reed. A suggestion I was going to make myself. It’s very easy to go long and verbose, especially if there is any cut and pasting going on, which I suspect there is. Many words do not an airtight argument make.

  373. Jeff Cagle said,

    June 7, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    Sorry Reed. My summary:

    (1) The RCC claim to authority vacillates between a formal acknowledgment that authority cannot create truth and a pragmatic framework that rests on its supposed ability to create authoritative declarations of the truth.

    This is incoherent.

    (2) The authority of Rome, to whatever extent it exists, is no ground at all for believing in the accuracy of its teachings.

    [(3) -- where we were going ... The addition premises needed to fill in the argument for RCC authority all rest upon either (a) a fallible judgment of history; or (b) an acceptance of the RCC's interpretation of history. In neither case do we arrive at a justified belief that "The church teaches X; therefore X is true."]

    A final thought: Dave, I’ve enjoyed our conversation, and I’m sorry for the long-windedness. You said above that your position requires greater faith. I’m reminded of Jesus: “Which is more difficult: to say, “Your sins are forgiven”? or to say “Get up and walk”?”

    I ask you: which requires more faith: to believe that the unity of the church rests on everyone joining your team? Or to believe that God will in His own way bring about the unity of the church by convincing men of the truth through the word?

  374. June 7, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    Reed: O.k., how about wrapping up?

    Note that (for my part) I did exactly this right above your two observations, by writing:

    “You can have the last word on these particular discussions. Mostly I think you are reiterating now. It has to end somewhere . . . it is mostly stuff now that has already been discussed and pretty much beaten to death in our exchange.”

    I have tried to stop discussions as off-topic earlier. On one occasion, Reed said I should keep talking about second- and third-degree stuff (after I expressed reluctance to do so, as off-topic) and asked me a question himself (that I carefully answered).

    greenbaggins: It’s very easy to go long and verbose, . . . Many words do not an airtight argument make.

    It’s simply not my fault that I am being asked a lot of questions and am trying to give a cogent, careful answer. Granted, I can get long-winded (guilty as charged!) but if I wasn’t being asked what I think are good questions, I wouldn’t be answering in the first place (or at length, since many factors were being brought into play and needed to be given a solid answer), would I?

  375. June 7, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    For example, Dave, you have conceded that the Church does not have to be infallible to render an infallible judgment.

    I did? Where? This sentence is not even coherent. What I did say was that individuals need not be infallible in order to receive infallible pronouncements: that there is no requirement there at all, either biblically or logically.

  376. Reed Here said,

    June 7, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    Dave: no disrespect, but you have got to be kidding me. You do not see your long-windedness? C’mon dude, just a little humility, maybe? :-)

  377. June 7, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    Like I said, Jeff, you can have the final word. I continue to disagree (surprise!). But out of courtesy I’ll briefly answer your last two coupled questions.

    I ask you: which requires more faith: to believe that the unity of the church rests on everyone joining your team? Or to believe that God will in His own way bring about the unity of the church by convincing men of the truth through the word?

    I think this is a false dilemma that doesn’t require a choice of one or the other, because I believe (in faith but with many supporting reasons) that the Catholic Church is indeed already (uniquely, fully) in unity with the truths of the Divine Word of revelation and with apostolic tradition: therefore unity would involve coming closer to both entities (Church and Scripture, as well as Apostolic Tradition.

    In other words, your very query presupposes Protestant “either/or” categories that I reject as unbiblical and unreasonable. So I deny the premise involved in your question.

  378. June 7, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    Hi Reed,

    Dave: no disrespect, but you have got to be kidding me. You do not see your long-windedness?

    I guess you missed my statement all of ten minutes before yours (#374): “Granted, I can get long-winded (guilty as charged!).”

    Virtually all of my posts except my very first one have been replies.
    If you guys want to write quite a bit about Catholic teachings (as seen in the topic of the posts), then surely if a Catholic apologist comes in and tries to offer answers, and is confronted by 6-8 people at once, with as many or more topics thrown out and introduced (all I asked about at first was the definition of “Christianity”), clearly he will have to speak at come length to adequately answer. Otherwise, we get accused of having no answer.

    So what do you expect me to do? Just ignore the questions? I’m between a rock and a hard place. I’ve tried to end individual discussions but was egged on to offer more (including by you yourself in the fallible / infallible thing).

  379. John said,

    June 7, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    Unless someone at a bare minimum can tell us Oxford’s criteria for counting a martyr, the numbers are meaningless. For example, was the sacking of Constantinople in the 1200s by the west a count of martyrs? The criteria could be very murky when choosing whether a particular death is due to religion or not. At one extreme every time a Catholic kills anyone claiming to be Christian could be counted. At the other extreme only those specifically killed for the sole reason of their religious affiliation at the other end. I’d imagine the number could vary by multiple orders of magnitude depending on where you draw the line.

  380. Reed Here said,

    June 8, 2010 at 6:37 am

    Dave: here’s how you end a discussion.

  381. Phil Derksen said,

    June 8, 2010 at 9:39 am

    Reed #371,

    Thanks for posting these comments and guidelines. I couldn’t agree more.

    I think it is important for everyone to remember that there are many people with varying backgrounds and intellects that would like to follow along with the discussion. Yet it often seems to turn into a rather verbose and complicated conversation between a handful of highly intellectual participants-and all the other parts of the thread are soon lost to many readers.

    Maybe this says something about my own intelligence (or lack thereof…) but after a while, in this particular case, I often found my eyes glazing over, or when I did try to really concentrate on the discussion, I soon developed a hair-ache.

    So, I definitely agree that keeping things a bit more focused and succinct would be a good thing for all concerned.

    Thanks again.

  382. Phil Derksen said,

    June 8, 2010 at 9:47 am

    Follow-up: Of course I meant no disrespect toward anyone who may not even be capable of developing a hair-ache…

  383. TurretinFan said,

    June 8, 2010 at 6:44 pm

    Dave Armstrong asked:

    First of all, how could one who accepts the Nicene and Apostles’ Creed not be a Christian? I think that is something you should ask yourself.If those do not help clarify who is and who is not a Christian, what in the world does? This is the very purpose of creeds and confessions: to determine in a concise manner who is within and outside of the fold.

    One has to ask why, i.e. upon what pretense, Dave selects the creeds of those councils, and not the Tridentine creed?

    If one is going to include “heretics” who do not accept the Tridentine creed, why not accept heretics who do not accept the Nicene creed? After all, from Rome’s perspective, both Arians (who reject Nicaea) and the Reformed (who reject Trent) are “outside the fold” in the same sense. Trent is not less of an ecumenical council in Romanism, nor is its authority any less.

    -TurretinFan

  384. Bob Suden said,

    June 9, 2010 at 1:17 am

    380 Dave: here’s how you end a discussion.

    Amen. Bout time.

  385. June 9, 2010 at 1:45 am

    Now who is continuing the discussion after it has “officially” ended?

  386. TurretinFan said,

    June 9, 2010 at 7:20 am

    Dave: My comment wasn’t an invitation to you to respond. We both know you cannot.

  387. June 9, 2010 at 11:12 am

    That’s right. This entire thread amply proves that I am out to sea in terms of making any response to Reformed arguments. Dream on.

  388. TurretinFan said,

    June 9, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    There’s nothing distinctively Reformed about my exposure of your sophistry. I happen to be Reformed, but my argument could be made by anyone, even one of your co-religionists.

  389. June 9, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    Right.

  390. TurretinFan said,

    June 9, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    See?

  391. June 11, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    No.

  392. TurretinFan said,

    June 11, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    Let me try to help you think through this. Read my argument:

    One has to ask why, i.e. upon what pretense, Dave selects the creeds of those councils, and not the Tridentine creed?

    If one is going to include “heretics” who do not accept the Tridentine creed, why not accept heretics who do not accept the Nicene creed? After all, from Rome’s perspective, both Arians (who reject Nicaea) and the Reformed (who reject Trent) are “outside the fold” in the same sense. Trent is not less of an ecumenical council in Romanism, nor is its authority any less.

    Then divide that up into sentences:

    1) One has to ask why, i.e. upon what pretense, Dave selects the creeds of those councils, and not the Tridentine creed?

    2) If one is going to include “heretics” who do not accept the Tridentine creed, why not accept heretics who do not accept the Nicene creed?

    3) After all, from Rome’s perspective, both Arians (who reject Nicaea) and the Reformed (who reject Trent) are “outside the fold” in the same sense.

    4) Trent is not less of an ecumenical council in Romanism, nor is its authority any less.

    Then, for each of those sentences, try to find any affirmation of any distinctively reformed doctrine or practice. (4) is simply a factual description of Romanism. (3) is simply a factual description of Romanism. (2) is a question that does not presuppose anything distinctively Reformed. (1) likewise is a question that does not presuppose anything distinctively Reformed.

    Yet together, they demonstrate your sophistry. Anyone could use the argument, it just happens that I did. But you cannot give any good answer, which is why you are responding as you have above.

    -TurretinFan

  393. June 11, 2010 at 10:14 pm

    zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz………….Your usual sophistry and fallacy-laden “argument” . . .

  394. Reed Here said,

    June 12, 2010 at 7:33 am

    O,k, guys, both of you have to actually offer a substantive response to a point for the conversation to continue. As this is off topic, if one of you isn’t interested in doinng that, thenn let’s let it drop.

  395. TurretinFan said,

    June 12, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    Since you, Reed, have encouraged me to focus primarily on the substance (I assume you don’t mean the substantive argument about Dave’s sophistry, but rather arguments relating to the canon), allow me to go through what Dave has written here, noting the off-topic posts and responding to the on-topic posts.

    OFF
    205, 210, 211, 215, 216, 217, 219, 221, 225, 226, 228, 230, 231, 234, 235, 239, 240, 242, 243, 246, 247, 249, 250, 252, 253

    ON
    254
    Dave argues that Romanism does involve putting the Church over Scripture. However, it would be bad enough that Romanism aims to make the Church

    equal to Scripture. Furthermore, in practice, Rome’s system places the Church over Scripture, since Rome requires its followers to interpret

    Scripture to be in harmony with whatever the Church teaches.

    OFF
    255, 257, 258

    ON
    260, 263, 264
    Dave argues:

    My argument would be to say that Church authority has to necessarily settle that, since the Bible itself does not, and that

    this has always been a thorny question for Protestants to deal with, since they don’t like binding, infallible Church authority, and a fallible

    collection of infallible biblical books just don’t cut it.

    However, as Pastor King has recently demonstrated (here), the Jews were able to identify what “Scripture”

    referred to, i.e. the Old Testament canon, without Rome’s assistance.
    Dave wrote:

    That “fallible collection of infallible biblical books” line sounds laughable.

    I agree. It was popularized by R. C. Sproul (in case anyone was unaware of that).

    Dave’s laughter is hollow: before the 16th century,

    even Rome didn’t purport to offer an infallible canon.

    Dave states:

    The fact remains that without strong, binding Church authority, the canon question would have gone on being controversial

    for a long time, quite possibly up to our present day.

    Now, in Romanism the canon question is settled (though not according to Roman

    Catholic, Gary Michuta’s recent book, Why are Catholic Bibles Bigger). It’s settled, but it’s wrong. How is that supposed to be better?

    OFF
    265, 266, 271, 273,
    274, 275 (“I can’t get deeply into this canon issue, as I am already in ten discussions at once, about my original question:

    “what is a Christian, and are Catholics Christians?” (it remains unresolved), and the accompanying issue of the Tridentine anathemas, that was asked

    of me by greenbaggins.”),

    ON
    276 (but note: “Again, I’ll have to pass on extensive discussion of canon issues, since I am already in two extensive discussions”)
    Dave writes:

    How can the RCC authoritatively declare that certain books are God-breathed and authoritative, without undercutting their

    authority by playing the king-maker?

    The same way it could declare that circumcision was no longer necessary for Gentiles, in the Jerusalem council. The same way it could determine that

    Matthias was a successor to Judas; hence an apostle (hence an operation of apostolic succession), recorded in Holy Scripture itself. It does so

    because it is the “pillar and foundation of the truth”

    Of course, there was no Roman Catholic Church in the 1st century. Furthermore,

    the Jerusalem church simply recognized the fact that circumcision was no longer required, considering both the vision to Simon Peter and the

    miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit given to the uncircumcized Gentile believers. The Judiazers that troubled Antioch were not right – they were

    wrong, and the church at Jerusalem (not Rome) recognized that fact. James decided the matter based on Scripture, not on “church authority.”

    Matthias was Judas’ replacement, not his “successor.” Nevertheless, if the Matthias situation is normative, then we should see that for someone to

    be an apostolic successor in those terms required witnessing Jesus’ earthly ministry. None of the bishops of Rome (at the latest from the second

    century onward) can possibly have those qualifications. Furthermore, of course, the apostles replaced Judas based on Scripture, not on “church

    authority.”

    While the local church’s (if you’re wondering why I say “local church” it is because in context, Paul is telling Timothy how to behave himself in

    “the church”) role is to be the “pillar and bulwark of the truth,” the verse does not say that the local church always fully or perfectly serves that

    role.

    OFF
    280, 283, 284, 285, 286

    ON
    290

    Dave argues:

    The canon is above all a practical matter: how can the Christian know which books are indeed God-breathed Scripture. The

    early Christians disagreed too much and couldn’t fully settle it. So the Church did, and did so authoritatively.

    As noted above, Rome

    erred, which is hardly a better situation. Furthermore, as also noted above, the 1st century Jews knew the canon of the Old Testament without Rome’s

    help. Finally, we don’t see the early church through the medieval period not believing it necessary for the church to authoritatively resolve the

    disputes that occassionally emerged.

    OFF
    291, 292, 296, 297

    ON
    300, 301, 305

    Dave states:

    What I’m arguing is that in order to have certainty that the Bible as we know it (leaving off the question of the

    deuterocanon for now, and sticking to the 66 books we all agree on) contains certain books, we need a strong authority to proclaim this, so as to put

    the vexed question to an end and for the sake or unity and theological order.

    This is just a variation on the statements above. The same

    answers apply. While Rome (or anyone else) strongly asserting that the canon is “x” may silence dissent (particularly when accompanied by

    persecution of those who dissent). A situation without dissent, however, is not necessarily better – especially when the strong assertion is an

    errant assertion.

    Dave states:

    And this amounts to the theologically liberal position: the Scriptures are fallible and full of errors, therefore we shall

    pick and choose from it what we deem to be true and reject what we decide is false, outdated, a later textual addition, etc.

    The use of

    textual criticism to reject what is decided to be a later textual addition does seem to be endorsed by the Nova Vulgata. So it is unclear

    whether Dave is trying to criticize his own church for being theologically liberal, or he just doesn’t know what his own church looks like.

    OFF
    307, 310, 312, 317, 318, 319, 320, 328,

    ON
    330

    In response to Ron and others, Dave writes:

    Why would anyone think in the first place that one has to be infallible to recognize and

    accept a source that is infallible, or any particular truth?

    This, of course, undermines his laughter at Sproul noted above.

    Dave goes on to claim:

    Perhaps the clearest biblical proof of the infallible authority of the Church is the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:6-

    30), and its authoritative pronouncement, binding on all Christians:

    However, in addition to the issues identified above, the Jerusalem

    Council did not aim to bind, but rather to loose. Furthermore, its decision was not directed to all Christians, but rather to Gentile converts, and

    not to all of them, but specifically to those in the region around Antioch (“the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia”

    – Acts 15:23).

    OFF
    331, 332, 333, 334, 335, 336, 345, 346

    ON
    347

    Dave states:

    There are only about seven texts, by the way, that are required to be interpreted in a certain way by Catholics, as a matter of dogma.

    Everyone’s “irony meter” should be pegging right about now. While supposedly it’s important to have an infallible canon of Scripture, there’s no certainty over the number (apparently less than a dozen) of ex cathedra or conciliar dogmatic interpretations of Scriptures.

    OFF
    349, 350, 355, 357

    ON
    359

    Dave claims:

    In a practical sense, for the unsophisticated proverbial “man on the street,” I believe the whole system was designed by God to provide the certitude of faith (another huge topic itself which I don’t have time to delve into, with all else that is going on in this monster thread: see Cardinal Newman’s Essay on the Grammar of Assent): “the Church has proclaimed thus-and-so regarding Theological Issue X,” and that is sufficient to end the matter, given a prior commitment in faith to believe that there is such a thing as a Church guided by God and that the Catholic Church is that Church.

    The early Protestants (if not, alas, many current ones who have a relatively poor understanding of their own history) thought in the same way when they formulated their confessions: they were dogmatic declarations that were designed to end speculation and disagreement: they declared what was to be believed by those who accepted them. That is the purpose of creeds, confessions, and dogmas for both Protestants and Catholics. But ours possess more authority because we don’t deny that they can be infallible, as you do.

    Last things first: wishing that one’s church were infallible doesn’t give one’s church any more authority. It means one treats it as though it had more authority, but its actual authority is what it is.

    Next, while the Reformers did view one of the church’s roles as settling controversies, the fact that the Reformers uniformly acknowledged the fallibility of the church necessarily meant that they were not thinking “in the same way” when they formulated their confessions. Indeed, taking Ussher’s Irish Articles of 1615 as an example:

    75. It is not lawful for the Church to ordain any thing that is contrary to God’s word: neither may it so expound one place of Scripture that it be repugnant to another. Wherefore although the Church be a witness and a keeper of holy writ: yet as it ought not to decree any thing against the same, so besides the same ought it not enforce any thing to be believed upon necessity of salvation.

    76. General Councils may not be gathered together without the commandment and will of Princes; and when they be gathered together (for as much as they be an assembly of men and not always governed with the Spirit and word of God) they may err, and sometimes have erred, even in things pertaining to the rule of piety. Wherefore things ordained by them as necessary to salvation, have neither strength nor authority unlesse it may be shown that they be taken out of holy Scriptures.

    One will search long and hard for a similar thought in the “Catechism of the Catholic Church.”

    Dave also writes:

    What fills in the dots?

    Scripture (see #330 above). It is not infallibility and truth that should trouble you, but the perpetual Protestant “quest for uncertainty” and watering-down theological certainty at every turn. You guys want to undermine Scriptural, dogmatic truth by relentlessly questioning it (Luther at Worms). We want to bolster it so folks can know what’s what (and we believe this was God’s will for the Church and every individual Christian: to know the truth and not be in doubt about so many things). That was the biblical, apostolic method, and the patristic and medieval. Yours is the radical innovation of de facto theological relativism and ecclesiological chaos (completely anti-biblical denominationalism)

    Of course, Dave is falsely assigning to us both method and intent that are not ours. Furthermore, if Rome’s goal were really to help folks know what’s what, and if Rome could really infallibly interpret Scripture, one would expect more than a dozen verses to have been interpreted over the course of nearly two millenia, rather than only “about seven texts” (see response to #347, above).

    OFF
    361, 362, 365, 366, 370, 374

    ON
    375

    (this one, while on topic, doesn’t have anything worth responding to)

    OFF
    377, 378

    (enter my demonstration of Dave’s sophistry)

    OFF
    385, 387, 389, 391, 393

    Since apparently you, Reed, would prefer for me not to continue to demonstrate Dave’s sophistry here, I will direct the interested reader to my own

    blog (link to applicable post). That is the reason he

    came here, and I thought it prudent to identify to the reader his sophistical method, which is aimed at deceiving Christians. I didn’t see anyone else in the course of 150 or so comments identify this particular sophistry, so I thought I’d bring it to your attention.

    He cannot respond to the substance of my criticism of his sophistry, any more than he will respond (in any substantive way) to my substantive points above. Nevertheless, given the fact that the vast bulk of his voluminous comments here have nothing to do with the opening post (and the few that do are easily defeated, as noted above), it’s understandable why you might want to discourage his further interaction here.

    -TurretinFan

  396. Reed Here said,

    June 12, 2010 at 10:12 pm

    TF: as long as your on topic :) Chil dude. Looked like Dave didn’t want to play anything with but tit for tat. Y’all aren’t gonna play that here. If Dave wants to respond to your substantive challenges, even if they are directed toward proving his sophistry, fair game.

  397. June 12, 2010 at 10:57 pm

    As I have reiterated many times (in this very thread), I don’t waste time with anti-Catholics.

    I wrote a lot in this combox because I was asked questions. Period. If I was off-topic then so were my questioners. Since all the questions ceased and the combox ended, you don’t see me writing much here, do you? And that is because I was responding, not just preaching and lecturing. It’s dialogue . . .

    Now I am being insulted and lied about up and down by an anti-Catholic. What else is new? That’s all these guys do . . .

    If I came merely to deceive and engage in sophistry (or to simply be a troll), then webmaster greenbaggins was taken in himself, since he wrote in #212: “if you wish to dialogue with me, I am more than willing.”

    But if TF can get him in a corner and convince him (and who knows who else?) I am Attila the Hun and an altogether wicked, unsavory scoundrel, then more power to him. I would hope any fair-minded person could see through such a cynical ploy. Jeff Cagle and I had an excellent dialogue, that he said he enjoyed. So he better be instructed soon about what a deceiving rascal I am before he is deceived, too!

  398. June 12, 2010 at 11:25 pm

    I do confess that I get quite a laugh out of the position I am in here. When I was answering questions left and right (virtually all introduced by Protestants and regulars here) and dialoguing, I got in trouble for writing too much and straying from the topic, and no doubt some folks consider me a troll and intruder. We know what TF thinks of me.

    Now that I am refusing to answer an anti-Catholic (per my openly stated policy), it is implied that I am a coward and/or unable to give an answer.

  399. Bob Suden said,

    June 13, 2010 at 2:22 am

    397

    Now I am being insulted and lied about up and down by an anti-Catholic. What else is new? That’s all these guys do . . .

    This is real simple.
    Somebody needs to back up their accusations or kindly stand down, shut up and take their evasions elsewhere.

    If TF really is what he is accused of, there was no need to necessarily respond.
    1. It would be clear to the average reasonable reader. The discussion would be over and we could all move on.
    2. Or someone could respond in substance and demonstrate rather than blithely assert TF’s errors.

    But that didn’t happen. Somebody tried hiding behind the skirts of “anti-catholic, insults” and lies” to carry the day instead of a genuine rebuttal.

    You got a beef with TF’s view of your views in 395? Deal with it rather than duck it. (I am bold to say you didn’t, because you can’t, but whatever.)

    Otherwise you will come across a low and cunning roman apologist, if not a low, cunning and self deceived roman apologist. (Likewise don’t bother with the ‘can’t win for trying’ option. You chose to respond when you could have and should have remained quiet.)

    Thank you.

  400. Bob Suden said,

    June 13, 2010 at 2:25 am

    “2. Or someone could respond in substance and demonstrate rather than blithely assert TF’s errors [as Reed gave you permission to do in 396].”

  401. June 13, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    If TF really is what he is accused of, there was no need to necessarily respond.

    Exactly. That’s what I’m trying to do.

    1. It would be clear to the average reasonable reader.

    Precisely, again; and the key word is “reasonable.” I couldn’t agree more.

    I don’t care what you or anyone else thinks of my policy of how I manage my time, Bob. It’s a matter of stewardship, between myself and God. If that causes you to have a need to call me names and judge my heart and motives, then that is your problem. I’ll pray for you.

    If my presence on this site is not welcome, the webmasters only need say so and I’ll split. That is up to them. I was initially welcomed. Otherwise I have enjoyed the dialogue with those who acted like Christian gentlemen. I think there are several sharp people here that I can learn from and have great dialogues with. The others I avoid, just as the Apostle Paul commands us all to do if it is a vain, fruitless controversy.

  402. June 13, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    And furthermore, either I am free to speak my opinion like anyone else when my motives are publicly cast into question or else I can be kicked off, if that is what is desired. That’s fine; I am a guest here and the webmasters are free to do what they wish. If I am not free to respond, then I submit that the persons offering the initial insults and calumnies that I reply to should be censured, and their posts deleted, because that is the employment of a double standard.

    This can be the sadly typical Reformed site where non-Reformed are treated like dirt and kicked out, or it can be different: a place where diverse viewpoints are welcomed, rather than feared or pilloried. I believe it is indeed different from the usual (which is why I am here), but with a minority faction that wants to keep the old hostilities brewing.

    It’s true that Turretinfan and I have a history. He chose to come in and try to bait me into debate with him, when he knows full well what my policy is (and after the webmasters have said this thread is exhausted). I chose not to respond to his “arguments.” There is nothing wrong with that. I have already stated about seven times that I don’t waste time with anti-Catholics. But he wants to make hay out of my refusal and keep it going. Someone has to refuse to reply when it is fruitless. Insult away: whoever has a need to do that. It has no effect whatever on my own personal policy of how I spend my time doing apologetics and dialogues.

  403. June 13, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    [...] Whitaker on the Cannon Whitaker on the Cannon, part 2 [...]

  404. TurretinFan said,

    June 13, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    Dave:
    You wrote:

    If TF really is what he is accused of, there was no need to necessarily respond.

    Exactly. That’s what I’m trying to do.

    The thing is this: you don’t refuse to reply. You just reply in sophistical ways, as demonstrated above. Let me summarize:You accuse of lying without substantiating your charge.You allege that you are being insulted, but the accusations against you have been substantiated.You run for cover behind a policy that you set aside and impose whenever you like.And you waste space with comments like “zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz………….Your usual sophistry and fallacy-laden “argument” . . .” although you cannot identify any sophistry or fallacies in the argument to which the comment is putatively responding.I’m confident that folks here, having had your pattern of behavior brought to their attention, will see through it. You may be able to blow smoke, but once someone turns on a fan, it dissipates.
    -TurretinFan

  405. June 13, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    You allege that you are being insulted, but the accusations against you have been substantiated.

    How does one substantiate an idiotic and slanderous statement such as “his sophistical method, which is aimed at deceiving Christians” (#395 above)? According to you, that is only an “alleged” insult; not a real one?

    I know there are several charitable, reasonable people here who do not have to “argue” as you do, by attacking motives: even if they may not think I am a “real Christian.” I appeal to them; I write to and for them. They are the ones I have had great dialogues with.

    You run for cover behind a policy that you set aside and impose whenever you like.

    I don’t “run” at all. I have simply chosen not to interact with anti-Catholics any longer, because for eleven years doing that always reduced to a fruitless, vain discussion and stupid controversy (what St. Paul condemns and tells us to avoid). And you are providing an absolutely classic example of why I made that decision in 2007: immediate personal insults, no charity whatever, quick charges of deception, etc. I don’t get involved in mud pie fights any longer.

    People choose with whom they will debate all the time. Your cronies do that. James White picks and chooses. He has systematically ignored my critiques for many years now. R.C. Sproul has a policy of not debating Catholics (James White reported this from a remark Sproul made to him). But of course you will never accuse them of being cowards because they made this deliberate choice. They have the utmost integrity. But when I make the same decision of who to spend time answering, it must be for low, unsavory motives. It can’t possibly be otherwise. This is a perspective of rank prejudice.

    When I did debate anti-Catholics, I did so probably more times than any other Catholic online. I am currently putting together a list of all my dialogues and debates. The ones with anti-Catholics are already listed (though the entire list is incomplete), so if anyone wants to see if I am a “chicken” or not, take a look at all those:

    http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2010/06/dialogue-central-complete-listing-of.html

    I continue to debate all sorts of people (I was in a room alone with eleven atheists about a month ago), but there are groups that I ignore, debate-wise. You happen to be in one of them. And objective, fair-minded people can easily see why.

    . . . you cannot identify any sophistry or fallacies in the argument to which the comment is putatively responding.

    I certainly can. I have many times in the past with you, but one tires of doing that, and so I choose not to do so here. I don’t take you seriously. James Swan has said that about me for years now; so does James White. I can have the same opinion about other people, too, just as they do.

    I’m confident that folks here, having had your pattern of behavior brought to their attention, will see through it.

    The anti-Catholics will think just as you do, because their mind is made up. The others may see it quite differently.

    But I won’t sit here and let your personal insults and calumnies pass by without protest. Like I said before: if your insults are allowed on the forum, then my replies should be as well. And they are, as far as I can tell. If your insults were deleted, then I wouldn’t have to bother with you at all.

  406. greenbaggins said,

    June 13, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    The temp on this blog needs to cool off, both sides, guys.

  407. TurretinFan said,

    June 13, 2010 at 7:50 pm

    Dave wrote: “How does one substantiate an idiotic and slanderous statement such as “his sophistical method, which is aimed at deceiving Christians” (#395 above)?”

    One does that the way I did it at #383. Another way is at #395.

    Dave wrote: “According to you, that is only an “alleged” insult; not a real one?”

    It’s a criticism, even a harsh criticism. It’s not an insult.

    Dave wrote: “I know there are several charitable, reasonable people here who do not have to “argue” as you do, by attacking motives: even if they may not think I am a “real Christian.” I appeal to them; I write to and for them. They are the ones I have had great dialogues with.”

    The argument of #383 does not hinge on the evil motives that I’ve observed in your behavior here and elsewhere. In fact, whether your arguments spring from ignorance or malice isn’t really the issue. However, as you so anxious and thoroughly document, this isn’t your first trip around the block. It seems a little late in the day to try to play the “ignorance” card.

    Dave wrote: “I don’t “run” at all.”

    You do an exact impression of what someone running away looks like.

    Dave wrote: “People choose with whom they will debate all the time. Your cronies do that.”

    I’m glad that you include as my “cronies,” such giants as R.C. Sproul and James White (though the later would surely prefer to be identified as my friend, and the former has probably never heard of me). That said, R.C. doesn’t troll comment boxes selectively responding to folks and Dr. White is notoriously famous for allowing practically anyone to call into his weekly broadcast program. Your self-comparison to those godly men is hardly compelling.

    Dave wrote: “I certainly can.”

    I say you can’t, and my point stands, since you haven’t.

    Dave wrote: “But I won’t sit here and let your personal insults and calumnies pass by without protest.”

    Again, the supposed insults are just substantiated criticisms. At some point, your “protest” sounds more like whining.

    In Summary
    I’ve provided substantive criticism of what you’ve written here at #385 and #393. Your response to that criticism has been completely non-substantive, exactly as I predicted. I’m happy to let the reader judge whether my criticisms are better thought to be empty insults or solid critiques.

    -TurretinFan

    To the Greenbaggins moderators. You have my email address, I think. Feel free to e-mail me if you think I’m out of line. I’d be happy to provide the testimony of men like Dr. James White or Pastor David King who have a long history of dealing with Mr. Armstrong.

  408. June 13, 2010 at 11:36 pm

    .

  409. June 13, 2010 at 11:59 pm

    “the evil motives that I’ve observed in your behavior here and elsewhere.”

    Of course, this is not a personal insult, either. It’s merely a “harsh criticism” or a “solid critique.”

    And I have some oceanfront property in Kansas I’d love to sell, too.

  410. TurretinFan said,

    June 14, 2010 at 7:29 am

    Dave: The demonstration is provided above. Specifically, See #383 and See #393, both of which, despite your “protest” (your description), remain unanswered.

    Yes, taking my comment out of context (especially separated from the demonstration and proffered testimony of two Christian elders), it may sound like an insult. However, folks who view the comment in its context will see through your characterization of it.

    Since you continue not to offer any substantive answers to anything I write, may I suggest you leave off responding? Otherwise, you run the risk of leaving folks with the impression that your claim, “I don’t get involved in mud pie fights any longer,” is as false as your dozen non-substantive responses since I entered this comment box (specifically #’s 385, 387, 389, 391, 393, 397, 398, 401, 402, 405, 408, and 409) show it to be.

    -TurretinFan

  411. June 14, 2010 at 9:23 am

    Am I damned to hell, too? Is that a reality you can also “observe” with your keen, virtually infallible perception of the hearts and motives of others?

  412. Phil Derksen said,

    June 14, 2010 at 9:50 am

    Does WordPress have a “Turn of Comments” feature for individual threads? Just asking…

  413. greenbaggins said,

    June 14, 2010 at 10:07 am

    Phil, not sure what feature that would be. There are a few features that I can turn on and off for individual threads, but very few. What is “turn of comments?”

  414. June 14, 2010 at 10:13 am

    Pastor King is hardly an objective judge of the character and motives of myself or any Catholic, since he paints us all with a broad anti-Catholic brush:

    “I already have a very low view of the integrity of non-Protestants in general, . . . most of you are too dishonest to admit what you really think.” (on Eric Svendsen’s Areopagus board, 4-15-03)

    “It is a typical Roman Catholic tactic to misrepresent one’s opponent purposely in order to ‘name and claim’ a victory.” (on Eric Svendsen’s Areopagus board, 6-5-03)

    Many similar statements from James White can easily be found as well. I found these in a few minutes of searching his site:

    “. . . those Roman Catholic apologists who really are not serious about truth but do what they do for less-than-noble reasons, . . . (7-31-08; Steve Ray and myself were mentioned by name earlier in the post)

    http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php?itemid=2807

    “And yet this is the sum and substance of 98% of everything you will find said repeatedly, endlessly, by the folks who frequent the Roman Catholic apologetics forums. Where are the moderators? . . . Those who are serious about issues of truth are few and far between these days. I am more convinced than ever that such a disposition requires the work of the Spirit in the heart, and therefore I should not be surprised when unregenerate men act like…unregenerate men. Unregenerate religious men will act in a way that shames and dishonors the truth.. . . Beza was right on when he said, ‘For piety has no enemies more inveterate than those who have sincerely embraced a false religion, thinking it true.’ ” (5-24-05)

    http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php?itemid=447

    ” When you have to play so fast and loose with history as Rome’s defenders do, you are crippled when it comes to meaningful apologetics.” (3-30-07)

    http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php?itemid=1886

    “Your gospel is a shadow, a shell, a soul-enslaving treadmill of never-perfecting sacraments without a perfect Savior, without a true promise of God-centered salvation. I will never understand how anyone who once professed the true faith could embrace it, but, of course, I don’t believe anyone who has, by the Spirit’s power, come to know their own sinfulness and Christ’s glorious sufficiency could do so. Empty profession is no bulwark against apostasy.” (8-10-07)

    http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php?itemid=2188

    I do agree with James White, however, that sheer insults prove that the one making them has no argument (and carries not the slightest appeal):

    “. . . calling for me to be ‘charitable’ while throwing every possible kind of insult at me, from questioning my mental stability, intelligence, honesty, integrity—well, you name it—does nothing more than prove my point. . . . ‘charity’ is the last thing driving the comments of the Roman Catholics there. Hatred and animosity, yes, charity, no.. . . the thread was filled with the ever-present insults, slams, lies, etc.—all very charitable, of course. Do these folks really think that lying about me, slamming what I have written without showing the first bit of knowledge of it is supposed to attract me to this religion? . . . But I do thank you for joining so many of your co-religionists in proving my points for me regarding how to be charitably uncharitable. No one has ever been so charitable while calling me a moron. Many thanks. (“Could it Get Any Loonier?”, 8-10-07)

    http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php?itemid=2188

    Now, lest I am reprimanded, please note that I have been publicly charged by Turretinfan with deliberate deception and “evil motives”. To this end, our friend has cited White and King as “witnesses” in an effort to shut me up and get me kicked off of this forum.

    That was allowed, though mild, “two-sided” moderator statements were issued. This being the case, all I’m doing now is documenting that both men have a strong animus against Catholicism and Catholics in general, before it ever comes to me personally; therefore, they are hardly objective judges of my alleged “evil” motives, supposed dishonesty and cowardice, etc.

    And again I appeal to the moderators: isn’t it better to disallow such sweeping, condemning, judgmental statements about others, seen in Turretinfan’s comments, than to prolong this by allowing them; thus entailing my reply, that I am entitled to make: since my character and personal integrity is being roundly attacked here, in public?

    Even the secular world understands this. But a Christian forum wants to allow this low level of calumny? Are there no rules about personal attack here? There must be somewhere . . .

  415. TurretinFan said,

    June 14, 2010 at 10:19 am

    Dave: Obviously, that’s not happened yet. You live and breathe (see Ecclesiastes 9:4). Rather than wasting that breath mocking me, repent of your sins and trust in Christ alone for salvation. Make Him your only Rock (Psalm 62:2&6). Set aside the idolatries of your Roman religion in favor of the pure gospel of Christ.

    Peter (the simple fisherman who knew nothing of palaces and fine garments, see John 21:7) affirmed that Jesus is the Rock (1 Peter 2:6-8). Furthermore, Scripture plainly teaches that Christ is the Head of the church (Colossians 1:18), and Peter describes himself not as “pope” or anything like that, but merely as συμπρεσβύτερος or co-elder (1 Peter 5:1). Likewise, Paul himself testifies to his equality with Peter both directly (2 Corinthians 12:11) and indirectly (Galatians 1).

    You may choose to continue to serve the Roman pontiff, or you may serve Christ whose church that pontiff falsely claims jurisdiction over (2 Thessalonians 2:4). But you cannot serve both (Matthew 6:24 and Luke 16:13).

    I have said before, as you surely remember, that simply being a member of the apostate communion of Rome is not enough to damn you, if you will trust in Christ alone for salvation. And there may be many folks in that boat – God only knows. I am willing to pass judgment on the sophistical arguments you use, but it’s quite another thing to speak to the ultimate issue. I hope that adequately answers your question, and I hope you will study the Scriptures I’ve pointed you to, rather than letting this comment be simply my word on the matter.

    -TurretinFan

  416. greenbaggins said,

    June 14, 2010 at 10:25 am

    I think that this thread has reached the end of its usefulness, and I am therefore closing the thread. People are not staying on topic, and are resorting to aspersions to character. The character of every one of us is surely suspect, is it not? While the character of anyone commenting on this board may be suspect and open to challenge in other forums, it is not open on this forum. To the Protestants: even if you think that a particular Romanist’s character is less than honorable, I would prefer if that were not made the topic of debate on this blog. If we keep to the topic and the specific logical argumentation, we will do just fine, I think. To the Romanists, I encourage open and free dialogue. But responding in kind won’t help, either.