Oral Tradition Debate

A lot of folks wanted to debate the subject of Roman Catholic oral tradition over in the “Verses That Changed Luther” comment thread, so I’m opening up a new post here so that the discussion can continue in this combox and we can stay on-topic over in the other one.

Posted by David Gadbois

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360 Comments

  1. Sean said,

    October 6, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us. – 2 Thessalonians 2:15

    “In answer to the objection that the doxology in the form ‘with the Spirit’ has no written authority, we maintain that if there is not other instance of that which is unwritten, then this must not be received. But if the great number of our mysteries are admitted into our constitution without written authority, then, in company with many others, let us receive this one. For I hold it apostolic to abide by the unwritten traditions. ‘I praise you,’ it is said, ‘that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances as I have 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.”
    -Basil, Holy Spirit 71 (c. A.D. 370).

  2. John Bugay said,

    October 6, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    Sean, Basil here was talking strictly external practices. Sign of the cross, altars facing east, dunk three times vs. one in baptism. Things like that.

    You are also misusing 2 Thess 2:15. Just what were those “traditions” that Paul is talking about?

  3. TurretinFan said,

    October 6, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    John Bugay has already identified the two main issues. Let me try to crystalize them a little differently.

    1) No living person received oral teachings from the apostles (if Mr. Cross wants me to prove that negative assertion, I’ll tell him where to go).

    2) Suppose we want to follow what Paul orally taught them, who can tell us what Paul orally taught them? All the eyewitnesses are dead (same comment as above, Mr. Cross), and so far we haven’t found any writings from eyewitnesses that tell us what those oral teachings were.

    3) Basil seems to think that unwritten apostolic tradition is constituted in certain widespread practices (other fathers had the same idea as Basil on this). Establishing which widespread practices are really apostolic, however, is quite challenging historically. It is poor reasoning to assume that because something was widespread in Basil’s day that it was consequently something apostolic, yet Basil seemed to think that way (and he wasn’t alone).

    4) If Apostolic practices (traditions in Basil’s sense) are also binding, then mandatory clerical celibacy is not just a dumb idea, it’s definitely wrong, since we know that the apostolic practice was (in general) to ordain married men who had children.

    5) Further to (4), if they’re binding, and if Basil has identified them, why has Rome departed from some of the practices that Basil identified?

    - TurretinFan

  4. TurretinFan said,

    October 6, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    Thanks, David, for opening this thread!

  5. Sean said,

    October 6, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    John,

    Basil is talking about the doxology (which is s statement of faith); not making the sign of the cross.

    So, is it your official position that the fathers whenever they spoke about tradition were really just talking about stricktly external practices?

    “Here perhaps, someone may ask: Since the canon of the Scripture is complete and more than sufficient in itself, why is it necessary to add to it the authority of ecclesiastical interpretation? As a matter of fact, we must answer]Holy Scripture, because of its depth, is not universally accepted in one and the same sense. The same text is interpreted different by different people, so that one may almost gain the impression that it can yield as many different meanings as there are men. Novatian, for example, expounds a passage in one way; Sabellius, in another; Donatus, in another. Arius, and Eunomius, and Macedonius read it differently; so do Photinus, Apollinaris, and Priscillian; in another way, Jovian, Pelagius, and Caelestius; finally still another way, Nestorius. Thus, because of the great distortions caused by various errors, it is, indeed, necessary that the trend of the interpretation of the prophetic and apostolic writings be directed in accordance with the rule of the ecclesiastical and Catholic meaning.”

    Vincent of Lerins, Commonitory for the Antiquity and Universality of the Catholic Faith 2 (A.D. 434).

    How about St. Vincent de Lerins? Is he only talking about the sign of the cross and customs like that?

  6. John Bugay said,

    October 6, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    Sean, you certainly skip and evade with the rest of them.

    What traditions was Paul talking about?

  7. Jeff Cagle said,

    October 6, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    Tom (from other thread):

    I grant that there is an attempt to look to certain Fathers and try to demonstrate a relationship between Reformational thinking and the early Church (e.g. TF Torrance and the Eastern Fathers etc…). However, what gets frustrating is when people attack the Catholic position, for example, on Purgatory and then act as though this teaching was non-existent in the Fathers of antiquity.

    I can see why that might be frustrating. But if you can step into other shoes for a moment, imagine that you are confronted with an bewildering array of practices and doctrines which are found in the Church Fathers, and one particular branch of the church which claims, “We just happen to have retained all the truly apostolic ones and ditched the non-apostolic ones.”

    One’s choice would then be

    (1) Accept the claim of authority and roll with it, OR
    (2) Try to find a way to validate the claim of apostolic tradition.

    And since Scripture warns us against blindly receiving the traditions of men, and praises those who test even apostolic words against Scripture, I find myself conscience-bound to choose (2).

    And that’s really what sola scriptura is all about. It isn’t an exaltation of one’s own interpretative abilities. Nor is it a claim that Scripture is sufficient to tell us all that we might wish to know. Rather, it expresses that our consciences ought to be bound only by the Scripture, and not by the word of man. Not even my own interpretation of Scripture is infallible, in my eyes.

  8. Jeff Cagle said,

    October 6, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    TF (#3):

    if Mr. Cross wants me to prove that negative assertion, I’ll tell him where to go…

    I’m guessing that wasn’t intended the way it came out. :)

  9. David Meyer said,

    October 6, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    Jeff Cagle said:
    “that’s really what sola scriptura is all about. It isn’t an exaltation of one’s own interpretative abilities. Nor is it a claim that Scripture is sufficient to tell us all that we might wish to know. Rather, it expresses that our consciences ought to be bound only by the Scripture, and not by the word of man. Not even my own interpretation of Scripture is infallible, in my eyes.”
    As someone converting to Catholicism because of this very question, I want to say how that explaination just falls so flat to my ears. (Not that it is trying to be a complete explaination of course, and there is much more to it, I know.)

    I just dont see how the persons “conscience” (as opposed to the truth contained in Scripture) does not become the final measure there. I mean a lot of Mormons right now are following their conscience right? But we agree that their conscience is totally malformed. They need the Church to TELL THEM to reform their conscience. How is it enough to just tell them to go study and pray more?

    Arius quoted Scripture left and right and we should assume he was following his conscience, I think you would agree with that. We should also assume that he did a whole lot of prayerfull study of the Scriptures. That is not an outlandish assumption I think. So what then? His conscience leads him to heresy. What does sola scriptura say to him? He says “been there done that” in reply to sola scriptura. This (Arius question) is not a rhetorical question, and I am not trying to do a “drive by”. This issue has caused me much heartache these past months and is close to my heart.

    Kyrie Eleison,

    David Meyer

  10. TurretinFan said,

    October 6, 2010 at 4:33 pm

    Tom wrote:

    However, what gets frustrating is when people attack the Catholic position, for example, on Purgatory and then act as though this teaching was non-existent in the Fathers of antiquity.

    It bothers me a little to hear this sort of claim made. There may have been some proto-purgatorial ideas among some of the ancients, but “the Catholic position” is not there (sorry, Mr. Cross – that’s another one of those negative assertions).

    -TurretinFan

  11. October 6, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    As someone converting to Catholicism because of this very question, I want to say how that explaination just falls so flat to my ears.

    David,

    I am interested to see how your epistemological position measures up to your own standards. I understand that this issue is important to you, so I apologize if it seems intellectually dry or surgical. I considered conversion to Catholicism once (although on somewhat different grounds), so I understand the pains of wrestling with deep dissatisfaction with one’s current religious system. (I also hope this doesn’t seem insincere. My intent is not to make you more favorable to my position, which is Protestant, but to treat you like a human being.)

    You write:

    Arius quoted Scripture left and right and we should assume he was following his conscience, I think you would agree with that. We should also assume that he did a whole lot of prayerfull study of the Scriptures. That is not an outlandish assumption I think. So what then? His conscience leads him to heresy.

    I’m interested to know more about your conversion to Catholicism. Would you not say that you think both Scripture and Tradition, the latter embodied as it is in the church fathers, ecumenical councils, etc., support and cohere with distinctively Catholic claims to authority and interpretive rights over God’s Word? If so, how would you describe your process of arriving at such a conclusion? It seems rather similar to anyone interpreting Scripture and history and arriving at some position on the propositional content of the Word, even if the conclusions are at variance–one becomes a Catholic, one a Protestant, one an Eastern Orthodox, etc.

    In other words, I hope, and assume, you’ve spent time reading both Scripture and history as you progress through your journey. I also assume you’ve come to interpretive conclusions about these bodies of evidence. It would seem, to me at least, that it is impossible to avoid the matter of “conscience.” Even if you now submit your conscience to the Magisterium, it requires that you have a “good” conscience on the matter before you do, that you think the Magisterium, of all possible and mutually exclusive claimants, is the best qualified. Until judgment day, the human mind will always be the final temporal arbiter of truth.

    In short: Which Church should tell them to reform their conscience? How do you identify the right Church?

    What does sola scriptura say to him?

    If God speaking through the Scriptures does not move someone to truth, I am not sure what will. Sola Scriptura would say that he has not rightly interpreted the Word, that he is distorting it as have so many others before, a state of affairs Peter himself saw occurring during his own lifetime with respect to Paul’s (God-breathed) letters (2 Peter 3:15-16).

    I think this latter point is really quite important as well, worth some specific attention. If Peter could not successfully convince others that they were misinterpreting Paul’s letters (and, presumably, Paul himself was unsuccessful as well), then what hope would a lesser, non-inspired authority like the Magisterium have in convincing others that their positions are wrong?

    It seems to me you’re asking for a level of epistemological certainty God has, in his infinite wisdom, decided not to provide us in this life.

    I hope that’s not too long and at least tentatively helpful. I also hope I’ve properly captured your concerns. I offer all this sincerely, as someone who has struggled with similar sentiments and questions.

  12. D. T. King said,

    October 6, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    As someone converting to Catholicism because of this very question, I want to say how that explaination just falls so flat to my ears. (Not that it is trying to be a complete explaination of course, and there is much more to it, I know.)

    Ah, so when converting to Romanism, part of the rule of faith is now the measure of one’s own experience (what falls so flat on one’s ears). Your fellow Romanists, especially Loyola and Bellarmine, would be quick to correct that kind of approach.

    This (Arius question) is not a rhetorical question, and I am not trying to do a “drive by”. This issue has caused me much heartache these past months and is close to my heart.

    If this is sincere, then (as a novice) take a back seat and observe the debate as it proceeds and unfolds, and stop behaving as a “drive-by.” I think you will be better served from that posture.

  13. Tom Riello said,

    October 6, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    TF,

    What bothers you? There may have been some? Time does not permit me to mention the Fathers who speak of praying for the souls who departed this world. Tertullian, Cyril of Jerusalem, the Cappodocian Fathers, Chrysostom, Augustine. St. Monica’s words to her son were simply this: “remember me at the altar.”

    It is your free will to reject the Church and reject purgatory. You can argue that these Fathers were all wrong. What you cannot say is that they did not teach it or act as though it were some minority position.

  14. TurretinFan said,

    October 6, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    Mr. Meyer:

    You wrote:

    I just dont see how the persons “conscience” (as opposed to the truth contained in Scripture) does not become the final measure there. I mean a lot of Mormons right now are following their conscience right? But we agree that their conscience is totally malformed. They need the Church to TELL THEM to reform their conscience. How is it enough to just tell them to go study and pray more?

    Arius quoted Scripture left and right and we should assume he was following his conscience, I think you would agree with that. We should also assume that he did a whole lot of prayerfull study of the Scriptures. That is not an outlandish assumption I think. So what then? His conscience leads him to heresy. What does sola scriptura say to him? He says “been there done that” in reply to sola scriptura. This (Arius question) is not a rhetorical question, and I am not trying to do a “drive by”. This issue has caused me much heartache these past months and is close to my heart.

    I’m not sure why you think the example of Arius is helpful to you or harmful to sola Scriptura. It sounds like you are saying that Scripture study didn’t persuade Arius that Arius was wrong. But also Nicaea didn’t persuade Arius that Arius was wrong, did it?

    As for Mormons, likewise, they are outside the authority structure of the church. Preachers can and should preach the gospel to them and try to persuade them of their error, but that doesn’t require preachers to be infallible.

    - TurretinFan

  15. Jeff Cagle said,

    October 6, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    David,

    I share your sorrow over individuals who go their own way. Just last weekend, we had some contact with an individual who follows Harold Camping.

    The point is not that anyone can hang out a “conscience” shingle and do as he pleases.

    The point is rather that our consciences should be bound by the Scripture and not by a closed-source “oral tradition.”

    When Arius was opposed by Athanasius, the tradition was a secondary plank in Ath.’s arguments. First and foremost was the argument from Scripture (viz. Ath’s expositio fidei or Against Arius). Take some time to study Athanasius’ arguments. See how often he appeals to tradition and the authority of the Church; compare this to his appeals to Scripture itself.

    Athanasius did not trump Arius’s Scripture with tradition; he made the better argument from Scripture. He produced the good and necessary consequence that Scripture demonstrated the deity of Christ.

    The thing that disturbs me about apologist’s arguments here — and the quote by Vincent of Lerins above — is the suggestion that Scripture is a wax nose that may be twisted at will.

    Gentlemen, if that is truly the case, if there is no such thing as good and necessary inference from a text, then neither Scripture nor oral tradition matters one whit. Derrida wins, and we’re wasting our time. (Which means, of course, “I like red fish”).

    But if on the other hand, texts have meanings which may be (imperfectly) read out, then the argument that we must have tradition else there is no orthodoxy falls to the ground. We might not ever have perfect orthodoxy, but orthodoxy can be had.

    I understand why Catholics press the supposed insufficiency of Scripture in order to make room for the necessity of tradition. But consider that the more you denigrate the authority of Scripture on its own, the lower you take the Church also. For does not the RCC claim its authority on the basis of Jesus’ statement to Peter? And if that statement of Scripture can be given “as many interpretations as there are men”, then its authority to establish the Church is null and void.

    What I perceive in these kinds of arguments is the very nominalism that the RCC decries in others: “Words can mean anything! We need a living tradition.”

  16. TurretinFan said,

    October 6, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    Tom:

    You wrote:

    What bothers you? There may have been some? Time does not permit me to mention the Fathers who speak of praying for the souls who departed this world. Tertullian, Cyril of Jerusalem, the Cappodocian Fathers, Chrysostom, Augustine. St. Monica’s words to her son were simply this: “remember me at the altar.”

    Have you really understood me that badly? No, what bothers me is people suggesting that the fathers held “the Catholic position,” when they did not.

    I noticed that you have now made a different claim, a claim that there are fathers who speak of praying for souls departed from this world. That claim is also interesting, but praying for the souls of the departed is not necessarily the same thing as holding to “the Catholic position.” For example, prayers for the dead in hell is an example of prayers for the departed, but it does not reflect “the Catholic position.” There are also a number of other views of the afterlife (such as the idea that a soul wanders the earth for some time before facing any judgment) that are consistent with prayer for the dead without being “the Catholic position.”

    It is your free will to reject the Church and reject purgatory. You can argue that these Fathers were all wrong. What you cannot say is that they did not teach it or act as though it were some minority position.

    Perhaps you should study the patristic evidence more carefully. “The Catholic position” involves a lot more than some kind of generic prayer for anyone whose soul has departed. Such a prayer may be something we (Reformed) would disagree with, but the world is not limited to the Reformed and Roman Catholic positions. You need to let the early church fathers be the early church fathers.

    -TurretinFan

  17. Nick said,

    October 6, 2010 at 5:24 pm

    Here are three popular Protestant apologists quotes which are easily available online:

    James White: The main element of [Catholic apologist] Mr. Ray’s misrepresentation of sola scriptura can be seen in just this: the doctrine speaks of a rule of faith that exists. What do I mean by this? One will search high and low for any reference in any standard Protestant confession of faith that says, “There has never been a time when God’s Word was proclaimed and transmitted orally.” You will never find anyone saying, “During times of enscripturation—that is, when new revelation was being given—sola scriptura was operational.” Protestants do not assert that sola scriptura is a valid concept during times of revelation. How could it be, since the rule of faith to which it points was at that very time coming into being? One must have an existing rule of faith to say it is “sufficient.” It is a canard to point to times of revelation and say, “See, sola scriptura doesn’t work there!” Of course it doesn’t. Who said it did?

    William Webster: The sixteenth century Reformation was responsible for restoring to the Church the principle of sola Scriptura, a principle that had been operative within the Church from the very beginning of the post apostolic age.
    Initially the apostles taught orally, but with the close of the apostolic age, all special revelation that God wanted preserved for man was codified in the written Scriptures. Sola Scriptura is the teaching, founded on the Scriptures themselves, that there is only one special revelation from God that man possesses today, the written Scriptures or the Bible.

    Joe Mizzi: Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone) is the doctrine that the Holy Bible, being the Word of God, is the only infallible rule of faith and practice for Christians in the post-apostolic age.

    Each of these quotes agrees: Sola Scriptura was not practiced by Christ nor the Apostles nor Apostolic Christians. This means any Scriptural text appealed to to teach Sola Scriptura cannot (logically) be teaching the doctrine, since it was functionally impossible at the time. The rule of faith didn’t (fully) exist yet. The notion that all inspired oral teachings would one day be confined to Scripture is likewise a (dogmatic) claim not taught in Scripture itself.

    Starting at this point, I don’t see how Sola Scriptura has a chance.

  18. D. T. King said,

    October 6, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    Mr. Cagle wrote: But if on the other hand, texts have meanings which may be (imperfectly) read out, then the argument that we must have tradition else there is no orthodoxy falls to the ground. We might not ever have perfect orthodoxy, but orthodoxy can be had.

    This is an excellent point, and rarely conceded by members of the Romanist party. We need not understand Scripture exhaustively or infallibly in order to understand it sufficiently.

    Throughout the works of the ECFs, time and time again, they emphasize the need to come to Holy Scripture in prayer before God and purity of heart, in order that the Scribe of Holy Scripture, the Spirit of Truth Himself, will enable one to understand His words. Here I could cite a myriad of ancient testimonies in support, none of whom betray any thought of an infallible, Roman magisterial interpretive grid to which they must conform.

    In his work On Christian Doctrine, Augustine himself sets before his readers favorably the seven rules of Tychonius, a Donatist no less, recommending his hermeneutical guidelines for others to observe. If the Christians of Augustine’s day were at the mercy of some infallible Roman magisterium, it doesn’t make sense that he would thus instruct others. This doesn’t mean that Augustine accepted everything uncritically from the “the seven rules of Tychonius,” but it is one of many instances that renders vacuous the claims of the Roman communion that only they are authorized to render Scripture intelligible.

  19. D. T. King said,

    October 6, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    Starting at this point, I don’t see how Sola Scriptura has a chance.

    I would kindly request the moderators to remind the Romanists that the topic of this debate is not about sola Scriptura. It is about their claim for oral tradition. Moreover, triumphalism isn’t an argument.

  20. Nick said,

    October 6, 2010 at 6:14 pm

    Mr King,

    As per the comments I gave from those well respected apologists, inspired oral teachings: (1) exited during the apostolic age, (2) rendered Sola Scriptura functionally impossible at the time, and (3) were at some point at or near the death of the last Apostle were “confined wholly unto writing” (cf WCF1:1). So I don’t believe my comments were distracting from the main subject.

    The $64 million question is: how do you know these inspired oral teachings were eventually enscripturated?

    The Catholic would respond and say the only way we could answer that question is by Scripture, Tradition or Magisterium, none of which teach this.

    The Protestant, who goes by Scripture as the ultimate authority, would be obligated to show this concept being taught in Scripture – since anything short of that would be a dogmatic guess by definition.

  21. TurretinFan said,

    October 6, 2010 at 7:35 pm

    Nick wrote:

    As per the comments I gave from those well respected apologists, inspired oral teachings: (1) exited during the apostolic age, (2) rendered Sola Scriptura functionally impossible at the time, and (3) were at some point at or near the death of the last Apostle were “confined wholly unto writing” (cf WCF1:1). So I don’t believe my comments were distracting from the main subject.

    I assume that “exited” is supposed to be “existed.”

    I’ll try to help you keep the matter clean: “confined to writing” may simply mean that we no longer have prophets and apostles among us. No one is delivering direct revelation from God, and Jesus Christ is not bodily present speaking to us from his mouth. Instead, God speaks to us only through the Scriptures. That’s all we have right now. (of course, this is another of those negative assertions)

    The $64 million question is: how do you know these inspired oral teachings were eventually enscripturated?

    There’s not necessarily a single Reformed position on this, but I think most would say, “We don’t know or care whether they were all enscripturated.” That’s not the important question for us.

    The Catholic would respond and say the only way we could answer that question is by Scripture, Tradition or Magisterium, none of which teach this.

    I’ll pass over this comment for now, except to note that your own tradition/magisterium acknowledges that public revelation ceased with the death of the last apostle. That aspect of sola Scriptura is something that you need to concede.

    The Protestant, who goes by Scripture as the ultimate authority, would be obligated to show this concept being taught in Scripture – since anything short of that would be a dogmatic guess by definition.

    This is an attempt to get the “Protestant” to prove a negative. That is, to get the “Protestant,” to prove that there is not some additional rule of faith beyond Scripture. But the burden of establishing any additional rule is on the advocate of the rule.

    If you want to allege that there is a living prophet, or an infallible pope, or an infallible magisterium, the burden is on you – not on us.

    -TurretinFan

  22. Jeff Cagle said,

    October 6, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    There was a time, by the way, when claims of an oral tradition were quite common. That was during the time of the Gnostics, when (apparently) Valentinus and claimed to have received secret knowledge and oral tradition from the apostles. Here was how Irenaeus refuted him:

    We have learned from none others the plan of our salvation, than from those through whom the Gospel has come down to us, which they did at one time proclaim in public, and, at a later period, by the will of God, handed down to us in the Scriptures, to be the ground and pillar of our faith. — Irenaeus, Adv Her 3.1.1

    1. 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 [assert] that they are ambiguous, and that the truth cannot be extracted from them by those who are ignorant of tradition. For [they allege] that the truth was not delivered by means of written documents, but vivâ voce: wherefore also Paul declared, “But we speak wisdom among those that are perfect, but not the wisdom of this world.”…But, again, when we refer them to that tradition which originates from the apostles, [and] which is preserved by means of the succession of presbyters in the Churches, they object to tradition, saying that they themselves are wiser not merely than the presbyters, but even than the apostles, because they have discovered the unadulterated truth. For [they maintain] that the apostles intermingled the things of the law with the words of the Saviour; and that not the apostles alone, but even the Lord Himself, spoke as at one time from the Demiurge, at another from the intermediate place, and yet again from the Pleroma, but that they themselves, indubitably, unsulliedly, and purely, have knowledge of the hidden mystery: this is, indeed, to blaspheme their Creator after a most impudent manner! It comes to this, therefore, that these men do now consent neither to Scripture nor to tradition. — ibid 3.2.2

    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 [to demonstrate] the succession of these men to our own times; those who neither taught nor knew of anything like what these [heretics] 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. — ibid 3.3.1

    It’s obvious that Ir. held a strong view of the tradition of the apostles. But he distinguished between true and false tradition in this way: partly by universal assent of the churches, but more importantly, the tradition was in the Scriptures. Scripture was first and foremost; tradition confirmed its teaching.

    Notice that Irenaeus would have none of the argument currently on the table, that Scripture cannot be understood without appeal to tradition. No, the value of the tradition is that if (for whatever reason) we did not have Scripture, the tradition would deliver the same content (cf. Adv. Her. 3.4.1-2). Tradition confirms the orthodox teaching; it does not form the basis for it.

  23. johnbugay said,

    October 6, 2010 at 8:12 pm

    The $64 million question is: how do you know these inspired oral teachings were eventually enscripturated?

    In his work, “Scripture and Tradition,” (c) 1956, Oscar Cullman puts forth this argument.

    1. For Paul, the paradosis, in so far as it refers to the confession of faith and to the words and deeds of Jesus, is really Church tradition which has a parallel in the Jewish paradosis
    2. This tradition relates to the direct apokalypsis of the Lord to the Apostles. That is, the office of the Apostles was unique because they provided unique eyewitness testimony to the life of Christ.
    3. This tradition lived and died with the apostolic office. No other source had the eyewitness authority of the Apostles.

    Cullman notes something that I had noticed but have not until this time been able to put it all together:

    For a long time it has been noted that, apart from the letters of Ignatius, the writings of the so-called Apostolic Fathers, who do not really belong to the Apostolic age but to the beginning of the second century—[1 Clement, Barnabas, the Shepherd of Hermas]—despite their theological interest, are to a considerable distance from New Testament thought, and to a considerable extent relapse into a moralism which ignores the notion of grace, and of the redemptive death of Christ, so central to apostolic theology. [See Torrance’s “The Doctrine of Grace in the Apostolic Fathers,” 1948].

    It has also been noted that the Church Fathers who wrote after 150—Irenaeus and Tertullian—although chronologically more remote from the New Testament than the authors of the first half of the century, understood infinitely better the essence of the gospel. This seems paradoxical, but is explained perfectly by that most important act, the codification of the apostolic tradition in a canon, henceforward the superior norm of all tradition.

    The Fathers of the first half of the century wrote at a period when the writings of the New Testament already existed, but without being vested with canonical authority, and so set apart. Therefore they did not have any norm at their disposal, and, on the other hand, and on the other hand, they were already too far distant from the apostolic age to be able to draw directly on the testimony of eye-witnesses. The encounters of Polycarp and Papias with apostolic persons could no longer guarantee a pure transmission of authentic traditions, as is proved by the extant fragments of their writings.

    But after 150 contact with the apostolic age was re-established through the construction of the canon, which discarded all impure and deformed sources of information. Thus it is confirmed that, by subordinating all subsequent tradition to the canon, the Church once and for all saved its apostolic basis. It enabled its members to hear, thanks to this canon, continually afresh and throughout all the centuries to come the authentic word of the apostles, a privilege which no oral tradition, passing through Polycarp or Papias, could have assured them.

    The written fixation of the witness of the apostles is one of the essential facts of the incarnation
    The church of 150 AD consciously set about to formulate a canon, to put an end to the numerous apocryphal works that had been appearing in the first part of the second century, fueling the expansion of the different heresies.

    Andreas Kostenberger and Michael Kruger note that first, the Apostles would have been more than familiar with the concept of covenant, and also, the need for “covenant documents.” The books of Moses provided this very set of documentation. In their own era, there were, of course, the Gospels, and the various letters that they knew had been written. They note:

    Although the term “closed canon” is most commonly used to refer to fourth-century ecclesiastical decisions, there is a real sense in which the canon, in principle, was “closed” long before that time. In the Muratorian Fragment (c. 170), the very popular Shepherd of Hermas is mentioned as a book that can be read by the church but is rejected as canonical. The grounds for this rejection are due to the fact that it was written “very recently, in our own times.” In other words, the author of the fragment reflects the conviction that early Christians were not willing to accept books written in the second century or later, but had restricted themselves to books from the apostolic time period. They seemed to have understood that the apostolic phase of redemptive history was uniquely the time when canonical books were produced.

    Thus, from this perspective, the canon was “closed” by the beginning of the second century. After this time (and long before Athanasius), the church was not “open” to more books, but instead was engaged in discussions about which books God had already given. In other words, due to the theological conviction of the early Christians about the foundational role of the apostles, there was a built-in sense that the canon was “closed” after the apostolic time period had ended.

    Note that the books themselves carried the marks of “canonicity.” Kostenberger and Kruger cite Ridderbos:

    When understood in terms of the history of redemption, the canon cannot be open; in principle it must be closed. That follows directly from the unique and exclusive nature of the power of the apostles received from Christ and from the commission he gave to them to be witnesses to what they had seen and heard of the salvation he had brought. The result of this power and commission os the foundation of the church and the creation of the canon, and therefore these are naturally unrepeatable and exclusive in character.

    Meanwhile, it was not the authority of “the Church” which determined the canon. In reality, as Cullmann notes, it was the decision of the church (in fixing the canon) determined that “oral tradition” was becoming too corrupted to be useful.

    By establishing the principle of a canon the Church recognized that from that time the tradition was no longer a criterion of truth.

  24. TurretinFan said,

    October 6, 2010 at 8:12 pm

    Additional confirming evidence is found in the seemingly universal absence of any early Christian appeals to Jewish “oral tradition,” either in their own writings with one another or in their polemics with the Jews.

    By way of contrast, consider for example Justin Martyr’s Dialog with Trypho, where he quotes from Old Testament Scripture numerous times, but one cannot find (or at least I cannot find) him citing Jewish oral tradition.

    Except in one place:

    Trypho: Sir, it were good for us if we obeyed our teachers, who laid down a law that we should have no intercourse with any of you, and that we should not have even any communication with you on these questions. For you utter many blasphemies, in that you seek to persuade us that this crucified man was with Moses and Aaron, and spoke to them in the pillar of the cloud; then that he became man, was crucified, and ascended up to heaven, and comes again to earth, and ought to be worshipped.

    Justin: I know that, as the word of God says, this great wisdom of God, the Maker of all things, and the Almighty, is hid from you. Wherefore, in sympathy with you, I am striving to the utmost that you may understand these matters which to you are paradoxical; but if not, that I myself may be innocent in the day of judgment. For you shall hear other words which appear still more paradoxical; but be not confounded, nay, rather remain still more zealous hearers and investigators, despising the tradition of your teachers, since they are convicted by the Holy Spirit of inability to perceive the truths taught by God, and of preferring to teach their own doctrines. Accordingly, in the forty-fourth [forty-fifth] Psalm, these words are in like manner referred to Christ:

    My heart has brought forth a good matter; I tell my works to the King. My tongue is the pen of a ready writer. Fairer in beauty than the sons of men: grace is poured forth into Your lips: therefore has God blessed You for ever. Gird Your sword upon Your thigh, O mighty One. Press on in Your fairness and in Your beauty, and prosper and reign, because of truth, and of meekness, and of righteousness: and Your right hand shall instruct You marvellously. Your arrows are sharpened, O mighty One; the people shall fall under You; in the heart of the enemies of the King [the arrows are fixed]. Your throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of equity is the sceptre of Your kingdom. You have loved righteousness, and have hated iniquity; therefore your God has anointed You with the oil of gladness above Your fellows. [He has anointed You] with myrrh, and oil, and cassia, from Your garments; from the ivory palaces, whereby they made You glad. King’s daughters are in Your honour. The queen stood at Your right hand, clad in garments embroidered with gold. Hearken, O daughter, and behold, and incline your ear, and forget your people and the house of your father: and the King shall desire your beauty; because He is your Lord, they shall worship Him also. And the daughter of Tyre [shall be there] with gifts. The rich of the people shall entreat Your face. All the glory of the King’s daughter [is] within, clad in embroidered garments of needlework. The virgins that follow her shall be brought to the King; her neighbours shall be brought unto You: they shall be brought with joy and gladness: they shall be led into the King’s shrine. Instead of your fathers, your sons have been born: You shall appoint them rulers over all the earth. I shall remember Your name in every generation: therefore the people shall confess You for ever, and for ever and ever.’

    - TurretinFan

  25. johnbugay said,

    October 6, 2010 at 8:25 pm

    Nick, if you want a thorough Protestant understanding of the development of the New Testament canon, one that rejects Rome’s claims to have been the master of the canon, take a look at Jason Engwer’s series.

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2009/06/new-testament-canon.html

  26. D. T. King said,

    October 6, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    2 Thessalonians 2:15: ‘Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle.’

    In the context of 2 Thessalonians 2:15, Paul is not addressing the sufficiency of divine revelation as though it was his purpose to bind the Church of subsequent ages to two modes of revelation. Instead, if one examines the context of the passage, one discovers that the apostle is addressing something very different. Beginning v. 13, he says,

    But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle. Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work (2 Thess. 2:13–17).

    Upon contextual examination, we see that the apostle Paul is writing about the transmission of the basic teachings of the gospel itself. The apostle is not arguing for two sources of revelation but rather that they ‘stand fast and hold the traditions’ that he as an apostle has communicated to them, whether by means of oral proclamation or epistle. In the larger context, they were to ‘stand fast (στήκετε – stekete) and hold (κρατεῖτε – krateite) the traditions’ of ‘our gospel’ (v. 14) in the face of eschatological apostasy and deception that would arise in future days (2 Thess. 2:1–12).
    We learn, then, that the ‘traditions’ of 2 Thessalonians 2:15 are a reference to the same message delivered in two different modes. The coordinating conjunction εἴτε—εἴτε (whether/or) in 2 Thess. 2:15 signifies the two–fold apostolic method of delivering the same doctrine orally or in writing. Indeed, this is what we find in the ancient witness of Theodoret of Cyrrhus (393-466) in his commentary on this very text: “Keep as the norm of doctrine the words offered you by us, which we preached to you when present and wrote when absent.”1 Thus, there is not the slightest hint from this passage that the apostle’s oral proclamation differed in content or substance than that delivered by written tradition.2 It does not follow, on the basis of this text, that any part of apostolic tradition remains unwritten, especially given the fact that no evidence of a single instance of any so–called, unwritten apostolic tradition has ever been produced.
    There is a much better explanation of this passage. The Thessalonians enjoyed the singular benefit of sitting under the teaching of a living apostle. There are no more apostles today, and the only certainty of apostolic tradition that remains is that which has been committed to writing. The late Dr. Bahnsen correctly observed:

    Now when contemporary Roman Catholic apologists look at 2 Thessalonians 2:15 and say, ‘We’re bound to follow the traditions, oral as well as written,’ my response to that is not only are oral and written two different ways of saying the same thing; but my response to that is simply I’m under obligation to listen to the oral teaching of the Apostles; you’re absolutely right, and they’re not around any more! And you know, catch up with what’s happening in the Church friend; we don’t have Apostles today! Where do you get the idea (even on your misreading of this verse)…Where do you get the idea that the authority of the Apostles in oral instruction has passed on to other people?3

    It is commonly believed by New Testament scholars that the Thessalonian epistles were among the first to be composed, preceded perhaps only by Galatians.4 The Thessalonians at this time had no other New Testament books in their possession, and the remaining New Testament corpus forms a sufficient record of apostolic tradition. We know that following 2 Thessalonians, the substance of additional apostolic tradition came to be inscripturated. This fact is completely ignored by one apologist when he writes in reference to 2 Thessalonians 2:15: ‘If at that time the written word contained the complete and only necessary revelation of God to preserve, it would have been superfluous for the first Christians to preserve any oral revelation.’5
    What is assumed without warrant, is that there must be a supplemental or complementary content of the apostle’s doctrine/teaching in his oral proclamation which he failed to communicate and/or transmit in Scripture, but which has been preserved by Rome. But elsewhere, when Paul speaks of what he is handing down to the saints, he is careful to emphasize that his oral proclamation is ‘according to the Scriptures,’ and this he asserts twice over in 1 Corinthians 15:1–4, where the verb form of paradosis (παράδοσις), paradidomai (παραδίδωμι), is used to describe his delivering of the Gospel to the saints at Corinth.

    Of the only three instances (1 Cor. 11:2; 2 Thess. 2:15, 3:6), where the noun παράδοσις is used of binding Christian tradition in the New Testament, i.e., where the apostle makes reference to authoritative apostolic tradition which he had ‘delivered’ (1 Cor. 11:2), ‘taught’ (2 Thess. 2:15), and ‘commanded’ (2 Thess. 3:6), we find that these traditions to which he refers could be objectively identified by his readers. In each usage, these traditions were not something awaiting the future development of a living voice because, firstly, they had already been ‘delivered’ to the Corinthians who were ‘keeping’ them (1 Cor. 11:2). Secondly, they had already been ‘taught’ to the Thessalonians who were commanded to ‘stand fast’ in them and ‘hold’ them (2 Thess. 2:15). And, thirdly, they were commanded to ‘walk’ according to them, clearly indicating that the Thessalonians were already acquainted with them (2 Thess. 3:6). This being the case, not one of these texts support the modern Roman view that ‘tradition’ in the New Testament can refer to a future unfolding of doctrinal development, or unidentified dogma awaiting future definition. Why? because the Church was already in possession of these traditions. They were already ‘keeping’ them, ‘holding’ them, and ‘walking’ in them. These verbs used to describe the relationship of these traditions to Christian observance make no sense if they had not already been identified and defined. Every reference to ‘tradition’ in these passages has to do with doctrinal or moral rules already delivered. As Leon Morris points out in commenting on 1 Corinthians 11:2:

    The reference is to that oral teaching which formed such an important part of early Christian instruction. The article [τὰς παραδόσεις] points to well–known Christian traditions.6

    With reference to these three passages (1 Cor. 11:2; 2 Thess. 2:15, 3:6), C.K. Barrett identifies the nature of these traditions:

    The traditions . . . were the central truths of the Christian faith, handed on at this stage (before the emergence of Christian literature) orally from evangelist and teacher to convert. The context suggests that training in Christian conduct was included.7

    Not one of these proof texts supports the paradigm described by Newman in his Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine. The apostles did not command the early Christians to identify, develop or refine these traditions, but to keep, hold, and obey what had already been delivered. There is not one usage of the noun παράδοσις in the New Testament that supports those traditions peculiar to Rome.
    Today’s Roman communion has attempted to expand and redefine the New Testament meaning of tradition in order to fit its scheme of developing dogma. This represents not a succession of doctrine, but a radical break with the apostolic tradition delivered in the New Testament Scriptures. Ultimately, the meaning of tradition for the communion of Rome is nothing more than a ‘blank check’ for whatever her magisterium currently teaches. Nothing illustrates this better than the formal definitions of the Marian dogmas, which find absolutely no support in the early tradition of the Church, and are patently absent in Holy Scripture. As we have seen, this appeal to living tradition is a Gnostic principle and represents a radical departure from the inscripturated apostolic tradition, and thus a severance from the only Head and King of the Church, the Lord Jesus Christ.
    When the verb form of παράδοσις (paradosis), παραδίδωμι (paradidomai) is used in connection with the transmission of the apostolic message and identified, it is understood to be that which has been transmitted according to Holy Scripture.

    Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve (1 Cor. 15:1–5).

    We must remember, the meaning of ‘tradition’ (παράδοσις) as used in the New Testament is not always uniform, binding, or divine in origin as is the case with Holy Scripture. It be used negatively or positively. Negatively, it can refer to a corrupt religious system (Matt. 15, Mk. 7, and Gal. 1:14), or to human wisdom, ‘the tradition of men,’ ordered according to ‘the basic principles of the world’ in opposition to the person of Christ and his work (Col. 2:8). Therefore, in every case of binding Christian tradition where the noun παράδοσις appears, we know that these traditions have been identified and defined to the extent that the readers were able to keep, hold, and walk in them. The term παράδοσις (paradosis), as used in the NT, never refers to a body of doctrinal or moral truths awaiting future identification and development such as tradition viewed in the Roman terms of a seed or germ form would suggest.

    1. Robert Charles Hill, Theodoret of Cyrus: Commentary on the Letters of St. Paul, Vol. 2 (Brookline: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2001), p. 130. Cf. Ἔχετε κανόνα διδασκαλίας τοὺς παρʼ ἡμῶν ὑμῖν ἐκηρύξαμεν, καὶ ἀπόντες ἐγράψαμεν. Interpretatio Epistolae II Ad Thessalonicenses, Caput II, v. 15, PG 82:668C.
    2. As Francis Turretin argued in his Institutes of Elenctic Theology, Vol. 1, trans. George Musgrave Giger and ed. James T. Dennison (Phillipsburg: reprinted by Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1992), II.xvi.xxv, p. 140.
    3. Excerpt from a taped lecture, “Is Sola Scriptura a Protestant Concoction?”
    4. See the chronological table of F.F. Bruce, Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, reprinted 1995), p. 475; Bruce M. Metzger, The New Testament: Its Background, Growth, and Content, 2nd ed., enlarged (Nashville: Abingdon, 1990), pp. 206, 218; Luke Timothy Johnson, The Writings of the New Testament, p. 281; and J.W. Shepard, The Life and Letters of St. Paul (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1950), p. 164.
    5. Not By Scripture Alone, Robert Sungenis, Editor (Santa Barbara: Queenship, 1997), p. 127.
    6. Leon Morris, The First Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975), p. 151.
    7. C. K. Barrett, A Commentary on the First Epistle to the Corinthians (New York: Harper & Row, 1968), p. 247.

  27. Bryan Cross said,

    October 6, 2010 at 10:24 pm

    Jeff, (re: #14),

    Your comment #14 implies to me that we are still a great distance apart. You wrote:

    The thing that disturbs me about apologist’s arguments here — and the quote by Vincent of Lerins above — is the suggestion that Scripture is a wax nose that may be twisted at will.

    If Scripture cannot be twisted, then you would have no reason to disagree with the Catholic interpretation of Scripture, since it would have to be the orthodox (i.e. untwisted) interpretation. But if you disagree with the Catholic interpretation of Scripture, then you must believe that Scripture can be twisted. So, which is it?

    If you think the Catholic Church twists Scripture (and thus that St. Vincent was right), then which verses do you think the Catholic Church twists, and how do you know that it is her interpretation of those verses that is twisted, and not yours?

    Gentlemen, if that is truly the case, if there is no such thing as good and necessary inference from a text, then neither Scripture nor oral tradition matters one whit. Derrida wins, and we’re wasting our time.

    What you are doing here is presenting a false dilemma: either Scripture is sufficient to preserve the Church in the unity Christ intended, or Scripture has no intrinsic meaning. That’s a false dilemma because there is a middle position. The Scripture, being divinely inspired, has an intrinsic meaning that can be properly and rightly known only by the aid of the Spirit working through the Church. Men may grasp at it with their own minds, but without the divinely established interpretive authority Christ established in the Church He founded, they fall into a thousand different incommensurable and irresolvable interpretations. The last five hundred years demonstrates that fact most clearly. By default, what it means in Reformed circles to say that Scripture is perspicuous is that its Reformed meaning is clear to you and to those who agree with you. But that is special pleading, because if the Scriptures were not sufficiently clear to preserve the Church in unity, the degree of fragmentation and interpretive confusion wouldn’t need to be any greater than it is at present. For example, if a driver has been in forty-five car accidents over the past five years, it is special pleading to say that if you set aside the particular days in which he was in a car accident, he’s a great driver. Likewise, it is special pleading to say that if you set aside all the interpretive disagreements that have divided and presently divide Christians, Scripture is sufficiently clear to preserve the Church in unity. Just as the “good driver” designation is derived by an ad hoc abstraction, so the perspicuity attribute is derived by an ad hoc abstraction, one which conveniently sets aside the facts of Christian history over the last five hundred years.

    I understand why Catholics press the supposed insufficiency of Scripture in order to make room for the necessity of tradition.

    If you think this is why we say that Scripture is insufficient to preserve the Church in the unity Christ intended, then you don’t understand the Catholic position. The Church never diminished Scripture to make room for Tradition. Tradition was always there since the Church was born on Pentecost. Tradition was there before the first book of the NT was written. Tradition is that by which the Church knew who wrote which books, and which books were to be canonized. So your characterization of the Catholic position begs the question, by assuming that first there was only Scripture, and then we had to belittle Scripture in order to justify adding Tradition. No, that’s a straw man. In the Catholic understanding, Tradition is from the Apostles themselves; it preceded the NT and has been handed down within the Church since the day of Pentecost.

    But consider that the more you denigrate the authority of Scripture on its own, the lower you take the Church also.

    The Catholic Church has never denigrated the authority of Scripture. Scripture is the divinely inspired written words of God. You think it denigrates Scripture to believe that rightly interpreting Scripture requires a divinely appointed interpreter. But on the contrary, claiming that all one needs to interpret Scripture are some exegetical tools, the historico-critical method and some lexicons, denigrates Scripture, by reducing it to a merely natural book, decipherable through natural tools and the natural power of human reason.

    For does not the RCC claim its authority on the basis of Jesus’ statement to Peter?

    The Catholic Church claims its authority on what Christ gave to St. Peter in Caesarea, not on the Gospel of St. Matthew chapter 16. St. Peter already had the keys before the Gospel of St. Matthew was ever written. You’re evaluating the doctrine of the Catholic Church through a Protestant paradigm, as if the Catholic Church too holds to “sola scriptura.” But that just begs the question, i.e. assumes precisely what is in question between us. From the Catholic point of view, we (Catholics) were there before the NT was written; we knew about the keys before the NT was written. We didn’t learn this from Scripture, but from the lips of the living God incarnate, as He spoke them at Caesarea. One of our leaders (i.e. St. Matthew) later wrote the account down, in a book you got from us. But the Apostles’ authority didn’t come from the Scriptures, but from Christ’s ordination of the Apostles. Likewise, the authority of the bishops whom the Apostles ordained did not come from the Scriptures, but from the divinely authorized Apostles. So, your way of evaluating the Catholic paradigm is through the Protestant [sola scriptura] paradigm, and that’s why the Catholic position looks ridiculous to you, as though the Catholic Church got its authority from Scripture (the way Protestants attempt to), and then had to diminish the authority of Scripture in order to squeeze in Tradition and the need for man-made magisterium. No wonder it looks ridiculous to you; you’ve made the Catholic Church in a Protestant image. In order to see things from a Catholic perspective, you can’t use the Protestant paradigm. Otherwise, it just begs the question.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  28. D. T. King said,

    October 6, 2010 at 10:45 pm

    The Catholic Church claims its authority on what Christ gave to St. Peter in Caesarea, not on the Gospel of St. Matthew chapter 16. St. Peter already had the keys before the Gospel of St. Matthew was ever written. You’re evaluating the doctrine of the Catholic Church through a Protestant paradigm, as if the Catholic Church too holds to “sola scriptura.” But that just begs the question,…

    What is question-begging is that Rome’s interpretation of Matthew 16 is indeed a reflection of Catholic tradition. Speaking of the difficulty of the so-called Unanimous patristic consent as a reliable locus theologicus in Catholic theology, the Roman Cardinal Congar wrote:

    “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 ecclesiological 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.

    Your claim on behalf of Rome that its interpretation of Matthew 16 is the catholic interpretation, i.e., of the patristic exegesis by and large, is explicitly denied by a cardinal of your own communion.

    Moreover, Cardinal Congar even goes on to insist “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.

    Thus the cardinal begs the very question which your assertion begs, all the while conceding that apart from Rome, this was not the interpretation of Matthew 16. The Roman exegesis of Matthew 16, if ever officially defined, contradicts the testimony of the ancient church.

    Who knows if Matthew 16 has even been *officially* defined by your own communion, as to its meaning, for the Roman apologist Patrick Madrid insists…

    …the dogma being defined here is Peter’s primacy and authority over the Church — not a formal exegesis of Matthew 16. The passages from Matthew 16 and John 21 are given as reasons for defining the doctrine, but they are not themselves the subject of the definition. As anyone familiar with the dogma of papal infallibility knows, the reasons given in a dogmatic definition are not themselves considered infallible; only the result of the deliberations is protected from error. It’s always possible that while the doctrine defined is indeed infallible, some of the proofs adduced for it end up being incorrect. Patrick Madrid, Pope Fiction (San Diego: Basilica Press, 1999), p. 254.

    Mr. Cross continues to beg the question for the catholicity of Rome’s claims.

  29. David Meyer said,

    October 6, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    TFan:
    As for Mormons, likewise, they are outside the authority structure of the church. Preachers can and should preach the gospel to them and try to persuade them of their error, but that doesn’t require preachers to be infallible.

    How is a Mormon (or Arius) doing anything different than I was as a Protestant when we look to scripture? I dont mean our conclusions, obvious difference there. But if I were to believe something heretical on some point of doctrine, how would that be different from the Mormons or Arius’ approach to the scripture? How would I (they) identify the heresy? From Arius’ perspective, Nicea could be shrugged off because to him it clearly contradicted the teaching of Scripture.

    That is why Luther boldly burned the Papal Bull and books of church law. Not because he hated the church, but because he saw himself as defending it.

    What was different in Arius’ situation from Luther’s that Arius should have known he was stepping into heresy?

    For example, my sister does not see water baptism as something Christians should ever do. She is fully convinced of this by Scripture. How can she know she is wrong? When does the heresy bell start to “ding ding ding” for her? I preach to her, she preaches to me. We both see the other as being in serious error (this was while I was Reformed btw, imagine what she thinks of me now!). Her elders at her church (one is her husband) back her up, mine back me up. Now imagine if the entire evangelical church had a council and declared her position a heresy. Of course she would just shake it off and laugh, because in her eyes the council went against the Scripture and she must obey God rather than men. This is where I was going with the Arius dillema.

    What is different in the situation of the heretic under sola scriptura as oposed to the situation of the orthodox under sola scriptura that would clue the heretic in to his own heresy? There is no difference that I have been able to find.

    The inability to answer or have answered this question is what has painted me into the corner of either agnosticism or to an oral tradition that can currently be accesed that decides these matters. (not necesarily Catholicism for the sake of this question)

    -David M.

  30. David Meyer said,

    October 6, 2010 at 11:06 pm

    oops

  31. Bryan Cross said,

    October 7, 2010 at 5:52 am

    D.T. King, (re: #26)

    Congar was simply mistaken on this point, because there are numerous examples of Church Fathers other than bishops of Rome, referring to St. Peter or the See of Peter explicitly as the rock upon which Christ founded the Church, and to which Christ gave the keys of the Kingdom.

    St. Ephraim (c. 306 – 373), of Nisibius, Syria writes lyrically:

    “Simon, My follower; I have made you the foundation of the holy Church. I betimes called you Peter [Kefa, or Rock, in the original text], because you will support all its buildings. You are the inspector of those who will build on earth a Church for Me. If they should wish to build what is false, you, the foundation, will condemn them. You are the head of the fountain from which My teaching flows, you are the chief of My disciples. Through you I will give drink to all peoples. Yours is that life-giving sweetness which I dispense. I have chosen you to be, as it were, the first-born in My institution, and so that, as the heir, you may be executor of my treasures. I have given you the keys of my kingdom. Behold, I have given you authority over all my treasures.”

    St. Hilary, Archbishop of Poitiers, (315-367/68) writes:

    “Peter believeth first, and is the prince of the apostleship.” Elsewhere, “Blessed Simon, who after his confession of the mystery was set to be the foundation-stone of the Church, and received the keys of the kingdom of heaven.” Again, “He [Jesus] took up Peter — to whom He had just before given the keys of the kingdom of heaven, upon whom He was about to build the Church, against which the gates of hell should not in any way prevail, who whatsoever he should bind or loose on earth, that should abide bound or loosed in heaven — this same Peter … the first confessor of the Son of God, the foundation of the Church, the doorkeeper of the heavenly kingdom, and in his judgment on earth a judge of heaven.” Again, “O blessed keeper of the gate of heaven, to whose disposal are delivered the keys of the entrance into eternity; whose judgment on earth is an authority prejudged in heaven, so that the things that are either loosed or bound on earth, acquire in heaven too a like state of settlement.” … if to the head, that is to the see of the Apostle Peter, the priests of the Lord report . . . .” Elsewhere he says, “[Peter is to be admired] because, knowing that all acknowledged his primacy, he had too much humility to resent any reproach offered to himself.”

    St. Jerome in Antioch (where he was ordained) writes about AD 376:

    I think it my duty to consult the chair of Peter, and to turn to a church whose faith has been praised by Paul … The fruitful soil of Rome, when it receives the pure seed of the Lord, bears fruit an hundredfold … My words are spoken to the successor of the fisherman, to the disciple of the Cross. As I follow no leader save Christ, so I communicate with none but your blessedness, that is with the chair of Peter. For this, I know, is the rock on which the Church is built! This is the house where alone the Paschal Lamb can be rightly eaten. This is the ark of Noah, and he who is not found in it shall perish when the flood prevails.

    St. Macarius of Egypt (300-390) writes:

    “Afterwards Moses was succeeded by Peter, who had committed to his hands the new Church of Christ, and the true priesthood.”

    St. Cyril of Jerusalem (b. 315 – d. 386) writes:

    “As the delusion [of Simon Magus] was extending, Peter and Paul, a noble pair, chief rulers of the Church, arrived and set the error right…. And marvellous though it was, yet no marvel. For Peter was there, who carrieth the keys of heaven.”

    St. Basil the Great (330-379), bishop of Caesarea, writes,

    “… him that was called from amongst fishermen unto the ministry of the Apostleship; him who on account of the pre-eminence of his faith received upon himself the building of the Church.” “One also of these mountains was Peter, upon which rock the lord promised to build His Church”.

    Eulogius of Alexandria (A.D. 581) writes:

    “Neither to John, nor to any other of the disciples, did our Savior say, ‘I will give to thee the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven,’ but only to Peter.

    Sergius, Metropolitain of Cyprus (A.D. 649 A.D.), writing to to Pope Theodore, says:

    “O Holy Head, Christ our God hath destined thy Apostolic See to be an immovable foundation and a pillar of the Faith. For thou art, as the Divine Word truly saith, Peter, and on thee as a foundation-stone have the pillars of the Church been fixed.”

    St. Maximus the Confessor (c. 650) of Constantinople writes:

    “The extremities of the earth, and everyone in every part of it who purely and rightly confess the Lord, look directly towards the Most Holy Roman Church and her confession and faith, as to a sun of unfailing light awaiting from her the brilliant radiance of the sacred dogmas of our Fathers, according to that which the inspired and holy Councils have stainlessly and piously decreed. For, from the descent of the Incarnate Word amongst us, all the churches in every part of the world have held the greatest Church alone to be their base and foundation, seeing that, according to the promise of Christ Our Savior, the gates of hell will never prevail against her, that she has the keys of the orthodox confession and right faith in Him, that she opens the true and exclusive religion to such men as approach with piety, and she shuts up and locks every heretical mouth which speaks against the Most High.”

    “How much more in the case of the clergy and Church of the Romans, which from old until now presides over all the churches which are under the sun? Having surely received this canonically, as well as from councils and the apostles, as from the princes of the latter (Peter & Paul), and being numbered in their company, she is subject to no writings or issues in synodical documents, on account of the eminence of her pontificate …..even as in all these things all are equally subject to her (the Church of Rome) according to sacerdotal law. And so when, without fear, but with all holy and becoming confidence, those ministers (the popes) are of the truly firm and immovable rock, that is of the most great and Apostolic Church of Rome.”

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  32. TurretinFan said,

    October 7, 2010 at 5:57 am

    Bryan Cross wrote: “The Catholic Church has never denigrated the authority of Scripture.”

    Were I to argue like Bryan Cross was arguing in the previous thread, I would label this an “unsubstantiated assertion,” and demand proof. Hopefully, Mr. Cross now sees that such a request would be absurd. Furthermore, even if Mr. Cross were to present a mountain of evidence of the RCC not denigrating Scripture, all that evidence would be “fully consistent” with the falsity of his statement. Accordingly, it would “not support” it, as per his previous line of reasoning. This too is absurd.

    Hopefully, this will serve as an object lesson to Mr. Cross. And this is the sort of place to which I would direct him, Mr. Cagle, if he were to attempt to continue his misguided criticisms of negative statements. I would direct him to his own statements.

    The proper way to address his claim, if we thought it was worth addressing, is by pointing out ways in which his church did denigrate Scripture. Then, he could try to knock those arguments down.

    -TurretinFan

  33. TurretinFan said,

    October 7, 2010 at 6:06 am

    Bryan:

    Re: #29, leaving the matter of the specific quotations you’ve produced for a second post, there’s a pretty fundamental problem with your response to Yves Congar. Congar wrote: “Except at Rome, this passage was not applied by the Fathers to the papal primacy,” but your thesis is “here are numerous examples of Church Fathers other than bishops of Rome, referring to St. Peter or the See of Peter explicitly as the rock upon which Christ founded the Church, and to which Christ gave the keys of the Kingdom.” Those two do not necessarily contradict. For example, if the father applies it to Peter personally (to the exclusion of all others), the father would not be supporting papal primacy. Likewise, if the father applies it to the “see of Peter” as being found in all churches, or to the “see of Peter” as found in Rome in the same way as to all sees wherever they may be found, this too would not be supporting papal primacy.

    We’ll turn to your quotations in a moment, but I think it is important for you to see that your thesis itself does not contradict what Congar said. Thus, even if your quotations established your thesis, they would not undermine what Congar wrote.

    -TurretinFan

  34. TurretinFan said,

    October 7, 2010 at 9:39 am

    A second point. This list is obviously cut-and-paste. (see here for example) I assume that you haven’t cited back to that page, since it is your own. Should you ever update that page, it might be helpful for you to provide citations to the particular works you are quoting.

    Also, perhaps as an artifact of the cut-and-paste, you have Hilary writing something that’s actually an amalgamation of different items, cobbled together by some editor (you? I’m not sure …).

    -TurretinFan

  35. Phil Derksen said,

    October 7, 2010 at 10:15 am

    Just a technical question for the admins/mods: What’s up with the all-italicized text (even in the sidebar content)?

  36. D. T. King said,

    October 7, 2010 at 10:28 am

    Congar was simply mistaken on this point, because there are numerous examples of Church Fathers other than bishops of Rome, referring to St. Peter or the See of Peter explicitly as the rock upon which Christ founded the Church, and to which Christ gave the keys of the Kingdom.

    I confess that I never cease to be amazed at how quickly Roman apologists are willing to dismiss a member of their own communion as mistaken based upon their own private judgment. But, nonetheless, Mr. Cross, it is you are mistaken. Simply because an ECF references Peter, that does not prove that the same has in view the bishop of Rome or his primacy over all of Christendom. All you’ve demonstrated is the common Roman apologetic that reads the primacy of Rome back into statements that these early witnesses made concerning Peter. Let’s consider briefly these citations, and perhaps I’ll offer more on them later.

    1. St. Ephraim of Nisibius never even mentions the see of Rome in the citation you offered.

    2. Hilary of Poitiers never mentions, in the citation Mr. Cross produced, the see of Rome or the primacy of the Roman bishop. And he certainly did not hold to papal primacy in his day. In his work, Against Valens and Ursacius he condemns Pope Liberius as a heretic, and reproduces a letter by Liberius wherein he, the pope, excommunicates Athanasius of Alexandria from the Roman communion.

    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. </blockquote

    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!” Hilary did not hold to the primacy of the Roman bishop.

    3. Jerome is writing from Antioch, yes, but Rome was his home church. this letter, which you cite, was written roughly in the winter of 376 or 377 A.D. from the desert area of Chalcis ad Belum “on the confines between northern Syria and the region west of the Euphrates.” If we are to accept the usual date offered for his birth (347 A.D.), he couldn’t have been more than 29 or 30 years of age. However, Kelly (in his biography of Jerome) argues strongly in favor of the date Prosper suggests as 331 A.D., which, if accepted, would place his age at this time around 45 or 46 years of age. He had probably been baptized sometime prior to the year 366 before Damasus became the bishop of Rome, or else as Kelly argues “it is inconceivable that he should not have mentioned the fact when he proudly reminded the pope that he had been baptized in Rome” because it was the bishop who normally administered baptism. Thus, writing from a foreign location to the church of his present communion, it is only natural that Jerome should seek the counsel of his pastor concerning the three factions of Christians in the city of Antioch. The fact that he proudly employs the flowery language of consulting “the chair of Peter…the successor of the fisherman” is perfectly understandable because it is the church of his present communion and from which he received “the garb of Christ,” which as Kelly notes might possibly be a reference to the “white garment” with which the new newly baptized are clothed following the sacrament. Rather than appealing to some notion of universal jurisdiction, Jerome is simply seeking the counsel of his home communion and the advice of his pastor whom he knows and trusts. This does not classify, really, as non-Roman witness. Nonetheless, Jerome did not apply Matthew 16 exclusively to the bishop of Rome…

    Jerome (347-420): But you say, the Church was founded upon Peter: although elsewhere the same is attributed to all the Apostles, and they all receive the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and the strength of the Church depends upon them all alike, yet one among the twelve is chosen so that when a head has been appointed, there may be no occasion for schism. NPNF2: Vol. VI, Against Jovinianus, Book 1, §26.

    Moreover, Jerome did not believe that the latter development of the monarchical bishop itself was a divine appointment.

    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.

    Moreover, Jerome acknowledges that pope Liberius likewise fell into heresy, which does not fit the modern day paradigm of Roman primacy.

    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. Cf. S. Hieronymi Chronicon, Ad Ann. 352, PL 27:684-685.

    4. St. Macarius of Egypt never references any notion of Roman primacy in the citation you’ve cited. You’re simply begging the question again with this example. “Peter” does not equal Rome for the ECFs.

    5. Likewise with St. Cyril of Jerusalem, no reference whatsoever to Roman primacy.

    6. And you have done the precise same thing with St. Basil the Great. There is no reference in this citation to the bishop of Rome. You are begging the question when you assume that the mention of “Peter” equals the bishop of Rome.

    7. Eulogius of Alexandria, same as above.

    8. Sergius, Metropolitain of Cyprus (A.D. 649 A.D.), writing to to Pope Theodore is a very late witness, regarded by many as beyond the patristic age.

    9. St. Maximus the Confessor (c. 650) of Constantinople, same critique as above.

    Now then, I hope that one can see how Mr. Cross has misused and abused these patristic witnesses, and how Cardinal Congar was not the one who is mistaken, but rather Mr. Cross. These citations represent Mr. Cross’ attempt tom read back into the early church modern day views of Roman primacy. Mr. Cross continues, with these citations, to beg the question of the catholicity of the exclusive claims of Rome.

    Virtually ever Roman apologist reads and equates any mention of “Peter” by the ECFs with the bishop of Rome, and that betrays an uncritical, biased assessment that is woefully unfamiliar with the witness of the early church.

    Moreover, Mr. Cross has yet to offer any evidence that the Roman magisterium itself has ever officially defined the meaning of Matthew 16 in contrast to the claim of Roman apologist, Patrick Madrid, who insists that it has not.

  37. D. T. King said,

    October 7, 2010 at 10:33 am

    I would like to request the moderators to delete my last post in order for me to reformat it. Thanks.

  38. David Gadbois said,

    October 7, 2010 at 10:34 am

    DTK, I’ll delete that post for you.

    Also, I think the italics are fixed now.

  39. D. T. King said,

    October 7, 2010 at 10:43 am

    Thanks David.

  40. D. T. King said,

    October 7, 2010 at 10:46 am

    Congar was simply mistaken on this point, because there are numerous examples of Church Fathers other than bishops of Rome, referring to St. Peter or the See of Peter explicitly as the rock upon which Christ founded the Church, and to which Christ gave the keys of the Kingdom.

    I confess that I never cease to be amazed at how quickly Roman apologists are willing to dismiss a member of their own communion as mistaken based upon their own private judgment. But, nonetheless, Mr. Cross, it is you are mistaken. Simply because an ECF references Peter, that does not prove that the same has in view the bishop of Rome or his primacy over all of Christendom. All you’ve demonstrated is the common Roman apologetic that reads the primacy of Rome back into statements that these early witnesses made concerning Peter. Let’s consider briefly these citations, and perhaps I’ll offer more on them later.

    1. St. Ephraim of Nisibius never even mentions the see of Rome in the citation you offered.

    2. Hilary of Poitiers never mentions, in the citation Mr. Cross produced, the see of Rome or the primacy of the Roman bishop. And he certainly did not hold to papal primacy in his day. In his work, Against Valens and Ursacius he condemns Pope Liberius as a heretic, and reproduces a letter by Liberius wherein he, the pope, excommunicates Athanasius of Alexandria from the Roman communion.

    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!” Hilary did not hold to the primacy of the Roman bishop.

    3. Jerome is writing from Antioch, yes, but Rome was his home church. this letter, which you cite, was written roughly in the winter of 376 or 377 A.D. from the desert area of Chalcis ad Belum “on the confines between northern Syria and the region west of the Euphrates.” If we are to accept the usual date offered for his birth (347 A.D.), he couldn’t have been more than 29 or 30 years of age. However, Kelly (in his biography of Jerome) argues strongly in favor of the date Prosper suggests as 331 A.D., which, if accepted, would place his age at this time around 45 or 46 years of age. He had probably been baptized sometime prior to the year 366 before Damasus became the bishop of Rome, or else as Kelly argues “it is inconceivable that he should not have mentioned the fact when he proudly reminded the pope that he had been baptized in Rome” because it was the bishop who normally administered baptism. Thus, writing from a foreign location to the church of his present communion, it is only natural that Jerome should seek the counsel of his pastor concerning the three factions of Christians in the city of Antioch. The fact that he proudly employs the flowery language of consulting “the chair of Peter…the successor of the fisherman” is perfectly understandable because it is the church of his present communion and from which he received “the garb of Christ,” which as Kelly notes might possibly be a reference to the “white garment” with which the new newly baptized are clothed following the sacrament. Rather than appealing to some notion of universal jurisdiction, Jerome is simply seeking the counsel of his home communion and the advice of his pastor whom he knows and trusts. This does not classify, really, as non-Roman witness. Nonetheless, Jerome did not apply Matthew 16 exclusively to the bishop of Rome…

    Jerome (347-420): But you say, the Church was founded upon Peter: although elsewhere the same is attributed to all the Apostles, and they all receive the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and the strength of the Church depends upon them all alike, yet one among the twelve is chosen so that when a head has been appointed, there may be no occasion for schism. NPNF2: Vol. VI, Against Jovinianus, Book 1, §26.

    Moreover, Jerome did not believe that the latter development of the monarchical bishop itself was a divine appointment.

    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.

    Moreover, Jerome acknowledges that pope Liberius likewise fell into heresy, which does not fit the modern day paradigm of Roman primacy.

    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. Cf. S. Hieronymi Chronicon, Ad Ann. 352, PL 27:684-685.

    4. St. Macarius of Egypt never references any notion of Roman primacy in the citation you’ve cited. You’re simply begging the question again with this example. “Peter” does not equal Rome for the ECFs.

    5. Likewise with St. Cyril of Jerusalem, no reference whatsoever to Roman primacy.

    6. And you have done the precise same thing with St. Basil the Great. There is no reference in this citation to the bishop of Rome. You are begging the question when you assume that the mention of “Peter” equals the bishop of Rome.

    7. Eulogius of Alexandria, same as above.

    8. Sergius, Metropolitain of Cyprus (A.D. 649 A.D.), writing to to Pope Theodore is a very late witness, regarded by many as beyond the patristic age.

    9. St. Maximus the Confessor (c. 650) of Constantinople, same critique as above.

    Now then, I hope that one can see how Mr. Cross has misused and abused these patristic witnesses, and how Cardinal Congar was not the one who is mistaken, but rather Mr. Cross. These citations represent Mr. Cross’ attempt tom read back into the early church modern day views of Roman primacy. Mr. Cross continues, with these citations, to beg the question of the catholicity of the exclusive claims of Rome.

    Virtually ever Roman apologist reads and equates any mention of “Peter” by the ECFs with the bishop of Rome, and that betrays an uncritical, biased assessment that is woefully unfamiliar with the witness of the early church.

    Moreover, Mr. Cross has yet to offer any evidence that the Roman magisterium itself has ever officially defined the meaning of Matthew 16 in contrast to the claim of Roman apologist, Patrick Madrid, who insists that it has not.

  41. Nick said,

    October 7, 2010 at 11:01 am

    TurretinFan (post21)

    The way the WCF uses “confined wholly unto writing” is in the context of all inspired oral teachings eventually being written down. To say Scripture is “all we have right now (of course, this is another of those negative assertions)” is a self-refuting assertion and as fallacious as a person who only knows about the Gospel of Matthew jumping to the conclusion (via a negative assertion) that Christians are to go by Sola Matthew.

    What I think was the most important claim you made was: “We don’t know or care whether they were all enscripturated. That’s not the important question for us.”

    To say you don’t know nor care about whether Inspired Oral Teaching was enscripturated is to say you don’t know nor care if it still exists – but if it still exists, then Sola Scriptura is false by definition. That’s something that folks certainly should know and care about. Worse yet, it would be saying you don’t care whether God has made other Divine Revelation known, which is a form of blasphemy.

    You concluded with: “If you want to allege that there is a living prophet, or an infallible pope, or an infallible magisterium, the burden is on you – not on us.”

    But if you don’t know nor care if there is Inspired Teaching not enscripturated in Scripture, how can this information be of any benefit?
    The real issue here is whether inspired oral tradition STILL EXISTS or not. ALL agree that inspired oral tradition existed at the time of the Apostles, where things diverge is that Protestants made a *positive* assertion that things changed in the post-Apostolic age such that inspired oral teaching was either enscripturated or irrelevant. The burden is definitely on them to prove this, especially if they are going to call Oral Divine Revelation irrelevant.

    To emphasize the problem (and fallacies resulting from avoiding this issue), let’s take this example:
    If I were to affirm that Matthew is inspired today, but come tomorrow and say Matthew is no longer inspired, would it valid for me to shift the burden onto you?
    Would it be valid (or even Christian) for me to say even though Matthew was inspired yesterday, that issue isn’t relevant today?

  42. D. T. King said,

    October 7, 2010 at 11:13 am

    Here is what Saint Basil thought of the Roman bishop in his day. Notice his comments on western pride…

    Basil of Caesarea (AD. 329-379): As soon as I got home, after contracting a severe illness from the bad weather and my anxieties. I straightway received a letter from the East to tell me that Paulinus had had certain letters from the West addressed to him, in acknowledgment of a sort of higher claim [reference to the see of Rome - my note]; and that the Antiochene rebels were vastly elated by them, and were next preparing a form of creed, and offering to make its terms a condition of union with our Church. Besides all this it was reported to me that they had seduced to their faction that most excellent man Terentius. I wrote to him at once as forcibly as I could to induce him to pause; and I tried to point out their disingenuousness. NPNF2: Vol. VIII, Letters, Letter 216, To Meletius, the Bishop of Antioch. The translation that Edward Denny offers is, “After I returned…I received immediately letters from the East stating that Paulinus’ friends had certain letters from the West conceived as if they were the credentials of a sovereign power—ἀρχῆς—and that his partisans were proud of it, and exulted in these letters, moreover, were putting forth their faith, and on these terms were ready to join with the Church that stands by us.” See Edward Denny, Papalism (London: Rivingtons, 1912), p. 636, §1217.

    Basil of Caesarea is protesting Rome’s refusal to recognize Meletius as the rightful bishop of Antioch. The Pope recognized Paulinus instead, and regarded Meletius as out of communion with Rome. Basil refused to bow to papal jurisdiction. I have serious doubts whether Mr. Cross has really interacted with the history of the east vs. the west. Of all people to accuse of Roman primacy, Basil is no witness in favor of Rome…

    Basil of Caesarea (AD. 329-379): 1. When I heard that your excellency had again been compelled to take part in public affairs, I was straightway distressed (for the truth must be told) at the thought of how contrary to your mind it must be that you after once giving up the anxieties of official life, and allowing yourself leisure for the care of your sold, should again be forced back into your old career. But then I bethought me that peradventure the Lord has ordained that your lordship should again appear in public from this wish to grant the boon of one alleviation for the countless pains which now beset the Church in our part of the world. I am, moreover, cheered by the thought that I am about to meet your excellency once again before I depart this life.
    2. But a further rumor has reached me that you are in Antioch, and are transacting the business in hand with the chief authorities. And, besides this, I have heard that the brethren who are of the party of Paulinus are entering on some discussion with your excellency on the subject of union with us; and by “us” I mean those who are supporters of the blessed man of God, Meletius. I hear, moreover, that the Paulinians are carrying about a letter of the Westerns, assigning to them the episcopate of the Church in Antioch, but speaking under a false impression of Meletius, the admirable bishop of the true Church of God. I am not astonished at this. They are totally ignorant of what is going on here; the others, though they might be supposed to know, give an account to them in which party is put before truth; and it is only what one might expect that they should either be ignorant of the truth, or should even endeavor to conceal the reasons which led the blessed Bishop Athanasius to write to Paulinus. But your excellency has on the spot those who are able to tell you accurately what passed between the bishops in the reign of Jovian, and from them I beseech you to get information. I accuse no one; I pray that I may have love to all, and “ especially unto them who are of the household of faith;” and therefore I congratulate those who have received the letter from Rome. And, although it is a grand testimony in their favor, I only hope it is true and confirmed by facts. But I shall never be able to persuade myself on these grounds to ignore Meletius, or to forget the Church which is under him, or to treat as small, and of little importance to the true religion, the questions which originated the division. I shall never consent to give in, merely because somebody is very much elated at receiving a letter from men. Even if it had come down from heaven itself, but he does not agree with the sound doctrine of the faith, I cannot look upon him as in communion with the saints. NPNF2: Vol. VIII, Letters, Letter 214, §1-2, To Count Terentius.

    Basil of Caesarea (AD. 329-379) on western pride: Really lofty souls, when they are courted, get haughtier than ever. If the Lord be propitious to us, what other thing do we need? If the anger of the Lord lasts on what help can come to us from the frown of the West? Men who do not know the truth, and do not wish to learn it, but are prejudiced by false suspicions, are doing now as they did in the case of Marcellus, when they quarreled with men who told them the truth, and by their own action strengthened the cause of heresy. Apart from the common document, I should like to have written to their Coryphaeus [i.e., the bishop of Rome, theirs, not his Coryphaeus] — nothing, indeed, about ecclesiastical affairs except gently to suggest that they know nothing of what is going on here, and will not accept the only means whereby they might learn it. I would say, generally, that they ought not to press hard on men who are crushed by trials. They must not take dignity for pride. Sin only avails to produce enmity against God. NPNF2: Vol. VIII, Letters, Letter 239, To Eusebius, the Bishop of Samosata.

    Basil of Caesarea did not recognize the bishop of Rome as the head of all Christendom.

    Basil of Caesarea (Ad 329-379): Now you are the body of Christ and members of member’—that is, the one and only true Head which is Christ exercises dominion over and unites the members, each with the other, unto harmonious accord. Fathers of the Church, Vol. 9, Preface on the Judgment of God (New York: Fathers of the Church, Inc., 1950), p. 41.
    Greek text: τῆς μιᾶς καὶ μόνης ἀληθῶς κεφαλῆς. De Judicio Dei, §3, PG 31:660.

    Basil of Caesarea denied explicitly the headship of any man over Christ’s Church. Yet, Mr, Cross, apparently wholly unfamiliar with the history of eastern vs. western relations, cites Basil as a proponent of papal primacy that was utterly foreign to Basil’s ecclesiology. Basil did not apply Matthew 16 to the bishop of Rome, and Mr. Cross should be ashamed of his attempt to mislead others.

  43. TurretinFan said,

    October 7, 2010 at 11:19 am

    Turning to the first quotation, the quotation appears to be derived (whether directly or indirectly, I do not know) from Jurgens’ quotation book, “Faith of the Early Fathers,” p. 311. The quotation, according to Jurgens, is taken from Ephraim’s Homily 4,1, referring to the homilies identified by Lamy as eight “Sermones in hebdomadam sanctam, diem resurrectionis et dominicam novam.” This particular citation is taken from volume 1 of Lamy’s “Sancti Ephraem Syri Hymni et sermones,” at columns 411-12 (Syriac and Latin, respectively).

    Jurgens does note (on the page prior to the page where the quotation appears) that the homilies are from a 14th century manuscript, as does Lamy (at column 339). What Jurgens does not say is that these sermons are likely not the work of Ephraim the Syrian. Cf. Sydney H. Griffith’s contribution in Catholicism and Catholicity, edited by Sarah Beckwith, p. 126 and fn 66 et seq.; and Francis Crawford Burkitt S. Ephraim’s Quotations from the Gospel, at p. 3 (“These volumes [from Lamy] give us a good deal that is certainly not of the fourth century but they also contain the Sermo de Domino nostro … which is for textual and doctrinal purposes perhaps the most important work of S Ephraim which survives.”); and Christian M.W. Lange, The portrayal of Christ in the Syriac commentary on the Diatessaron, p. 35 (” … modern research in general rejects the authenticity of various works which have been attributed to the great Syrain. This group of works includes … the Sermones in Hebodmadam sanctam.”) cf. fn 51.

    In short, this work is probably not a work written by Ephraim the Syrian.

    Moreover, of course, ps-Ephraim’s picture of Peter the building-inspector and Peter the foundation says nothing of the primacy of any Roman bishop. Rome is not even mentioned! Nor is anything written to suggest that what ps-Ephraim says is given to Peter is given to anyone else. While these comments from ps-Ephraim may not directly contradict Rome’s teaching of papal primacy, they certainly don’t teach Rome’s position, falling short of Rome’s position in a number of critical respects, such as identifying the Roman bishop as the sole successor of Peter, the idea of Peter’s foundational role being something passed down, and the like.

    In short, even if this work were by Ephraim, it would not support a contention in favor of papal primacy. Moreover, it does not identify “Peter explicitly as the rock upon which Christ founded the Church,” nor does it say that Peter was, in a unique way, the one “to which [sic] Christ gave the keys of the Kingdom.” I have added “in a unique way,” because of course Peter was given the keys of the kingdom, just as all the apostles were.

    -TurretinFan

  44. TurretinFan said,

    October 7, 2010 at 11:24 am

    Nick,

    I’m not sure what else to tell you about the WCF, except that it means what I already explained to you. As to the rest of your comment, yes, if we claim that Matthew is inspired, and someone disagrees, it’s our burden to establish it. And no it’s not self-refuting to say that all we have right now is the Bible – no prophets, no apostles, and Jesus is bodily in heaven.

    -TurretinFan

  45. TurretinFan said,

    October 7, 2010 at 11:25 am

    It looks like my next to last (I guess it is now third to last in view of this comment) comment got stuck in the spam filter, due to length and amount of links.

  46. David Gadbois said,

    October 7, 2010 at 11:38 am

    Fixed.

  47. D. T. King said,

    October 7, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    Consider further, men, Mr. Cross’ misrepresentation of Jerome’s view of Matthew 16:18…

    In his actual commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, Jerome make no mention of any successors of Peter, and certain no reference to the bishop of Rome…

    Jerome (347-420): “For you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church.” He himself gave light to the apostles that they might be called the light of the world, and the other designations that were allotted from the Lord. In the same way, to Simon, who believed in Christ the rock [petra], was granted the name of Peter [Petrus]. And in accordance with the metaphor of rock [petra], it is rightly said to him: “I will build my Church” upon you. Fathers of the Church, Vol. 117, St. Jerome, Commentary on Matthew, trans. Thomas P. Scheck (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 2008), p. 192.

    Here was Jerome’s perfect opportunity to support the papal claim, and the thought is absent from him.

    Moreover, in Homily 18 on the Psalms, notice how Jerome distinguishes the apostles from those who come after them…

    Jerome (347-420): ‘In his record of the peoples the Lord shall tell’: in the sacred writings, in His Scripture that is read to all peoples in order that all may know. Thus the apostles have written; thus the Lord Himself has spoken, not merely for a few, but that all might know and understand. Plato wrote books, but he did not write for all people but only for a few, for there are not many more than two or three men who know him. But the princes of the Church and the princes of Christ did not write only for the few, but for everyone without exception. ‘And princes’: the apostles and evangelists. ‘Of those who have been born in her.’ Note ‘who have been’ and not ‘who are.’ That is to make sure that, with the exception of the apostles, whatever else is said afterwards should be removed and not, later on, hold the force of authority. No matter how holy anyone may be after the time of the apostles, no matter how eloquent, he does not have authority, for ‘in his record of the peoples and princes the Lord shall tell of those who have been born in her.’ FC, Vol. 48, The Homilies of St. Jerome: Vol. 1, On the Psalms, Homily 18 (Washington D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1964), pp. 142-143.

  48. D. T. King said,

    October 7, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    Here is the witness of Jerome again, this time commenting on what attempts to pass for oral tradition…

    Jerome (347-420): ‘In his record of the peoples and princes the Lord shall tell of these who have been born in her.’ Now the psalm did not say, those who are born in her, but who have been born in her. ‘The Lord shall tell.’ How shall he tell? Not by word of mouth, but in His writings. In His writings of whom? Of the peoples. That is not enough, for it also speaks of the princes. And which princes? Those who are born in her? No, it did not say that; but, those who have been born in her. FC, Vol. 48, The Homilies of St. Jerome: Vol. 1, On the Psalms, Homily 18 (Washington D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1964), p. 142.

    When Jerome references “those who have been born in her,” i.e. the church, he is referring to the Apostolic Scriptures, as the above citation in my previous post makes abundantly clear.

    And from his commentary on Haggai, I offer four different translations of his comment on Haggai 1:11…

    Jerome (347-420): The other things, also, which they find and feign, of themselves, without the authority and testimonies of the Scriptures, as if by apostolical tradition, the sword of God [the word of God in the Scriptures] strikes down. From Jerome’s Commentary on Haggai, Chapter 1 as cited in William Goode, The Divine Rule of Faith and Practice, 2nd ed., (London: John Henry Jackson, 1853), Vol. 3, p. 151.

    “The sword of God smites whatever they draw and forges from a pretended (quasi) apostolic tradition, without the authority and testimony of the Scriptures.” From Jerome’s Commentary on Haggai, Chapter 1 as cited in Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, trans. George Musgrave Giger, ed. James T. Dennison (Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1992), Vol. 1, p. 143.

    “But the word of God smites the other things, which they spontaneously discover, and feign as it were by an apostolical authority, without the authority and testimony of the Scriptures.” From Jerome’s Commentary on Haggai, Chapter 1 as cited in George Finch, A Sketch of the Romish Controversy (London: G. Norman, 1831), p. 168.

    “The sword of God, which is the living Word of God, strikes through the things which men of their own accord, without the authority and testimonies of Scripture, invent and think up, pretending that it is apostolic tradition.” From Jerome’s Commentary on Haggai, Chapter 1 as cited in Martin Chemnitz, Examination of the Council of Trent, Part 1, trans. Fred Kramer (St. Louis: Concordia, 1971), pp. 228–229.

    Latin text: Sed et alia quae absque auctoritate et testimoniis Scripturarum quasi traditione apostolica sponte reperiunt atque confingunt, percutit gladius Dei; homines autem et jumenta, vel λογισμοὺ et αἰσθήσεις, id est, cogitationes et sensus eorum accipiamus. Jacques Paul Migne, Patrologiae Latinae, Commentariorum In Aggaeum Prophetam,1:11, 25:1398 (Paris: J.-P. Migne, 1857-87).

  49. Jeff Cagle said,

    October 7, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    David M (#28):

    How is a Mormon (or Arius) doing anything different than I was as a Protestant when we look to scripture?

    They may not be. It may be the case that you, as a Protestant, practiced what Mathison calls “solo Scriptura” — me and my Bible. This kind of individualistic interpretive method is common in certain circles, including Joseph Smith’s circles.

    In contrast, thoughtful Protestants have always given serious weight and even deference at times to the established tradition of the Church. That’s why we say the creeds in worship. That’s why we appeal to the Church Fathers to substantiate our arguments. Not that they are infallible, but that they are tested and reliable guides.

    The place where Rome goes over the top is in ascribing infallibility to tradition.

    That is why Luther boldly burned the Papal Bull and books of church law. Not because he hated the church, but because he saw himself as defending it.

    Luther was in a unique position, and one must put oneself in his shoes to fully grasp it. On the one hand was Pope Leo X, who exalted himself and lived out the saying sometime attributed to him, “God has given us the papacy; let us enjoy it.” That Pope, and his officers on down the line, were engaged in or approved of a practice, the sale of indulgences, that had no support, none whatsoever, in either Scripture or the tradition. And in fact, it had been condemned at several councils.

    Luther was aware of the tradition, well-versed in the tradition, and the current living representative of that tradition was essentially calling night, day.

    What to do from there? Cajetan would have had him suck it up and submit to a self-evidently false prophet. Jesus, on the other hand, said to “beware” of such, and to recognize them by their fruits.

    I think you ought to cut Luther some slack. He was acting as a pastor over his flock — his ministerial students — and was torn between two really bad options.

    Arius, meanwhile, was simply experimenting in nifty ideas. Those are quite different situations.

    The inability to answer or have answered this question is what has painted me into the corner of either agnosticism or to an oral tradition that can currently be accesed that decides these matters. (not necesarily Catholicism for the sake of this question)

    You may be comfortable in your corner, but if you are not fully settled, I ask you to consider a couple of questions:

    (a) Why do all matters need to be decided?

    Could it not be the case, as the Confession has it, that *salvific matters* are plain and easily read out — “believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved”; “having been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” — while other matters might simply be unknowable?

    (b) The same skepticism applies in full to the question of tradition. You have posed it as, “How can I know which interpretation of Scripture is correct, unless a living tradition tells me?”

    But if you think about it, we could just as easily ask, “How can I know which tradition is correct, unless God himself tells me?”

    The RCC tradition claims correctness on the grounds of authority transmitted from person to person, as a sacrament. But whoever said that authority is transmitted in that manner? Why the RCC instead of the EO?

    One must buy the RCC argument before one … buys RCC arguments.

    I hate to play the radical skeptic; I know that it tears at the heart a bit. Nevertheless, I think you should face this question honestly and face the circularity of the RCC arguments honestly before you commit yourself.

  50. TurretinFan said,

    October 7, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    On the Mormon thing, one obvious difference between the Mormon and the “Protestant,” is that the Mormon has a magisterium of living apostles as well as the additional tradition of Joseph Smith. They are not practitioners of Sola Scriptura – in fact their system is a lot closer to Romanism.

  51. Jeff Cagle said,

    October 7, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    Bryan (#26):

    I think our difference can be boiled down to this:

    In my view, reading Scripture is hard but possible. In your view, reading Scripture is impossible — unless the Church helps. I just don’t find that view warranted.

    In saying that Scripture cannot be twisted, I am not claiming that people cannot misread it. Rather, I am claiming that established and relatively neutral hermeneutical principles can arrive at an approximately objective understanding of the text. The role of the Spirit is then in causing faith in what the text says. Even atheists — some times, especially atheists — can read Scripture and understand what the words mean. Believing them is another story.

    So people can misread Scripture, but the misreading can be proved by good and necessary inference, from passages which speak more plainly.

    OR

    If there is not enough data to warrant a firm conclusion, then the matter is one of adiaphora.

    In my physics lab, students are capable of misreading the meter stick (just had one the other day). Nevertheless, there is an established method of reading the meter stick that yields reproducible results, which we take to be accurate.

    In like manner, there are established ways of reading texts that yield results which can be falsified, disputed on rational grounds, or acknowledged as one option out of several.

    In plain English: People can read stuff. And when they make mistakes, textual data can be used to identify those mistakes and improve on the readings.

    By contrast, your argument claims that people can’t even read the Bible, unless they first filter it through the lens of tradition. Irenaeus would have none of that; nor Jerome.

    BC: By default, what it means in Reformed circles to say that Scripture is perspicuous is that its Reformed meaning is clear to you and to those who agree with you.

    That’s not so. I came to a predestinarian understanding of salvation NOT because I already agreed with it (I was Southern Baptist at the time), but because I read Ephesians and Romans and realized that the plain meaning of the words was well-nigh incontrovertible.

    I actually disagreed with the meaning of the text, but was compelled to say, “Yeah, the Bible really does teach predestination.”

    Bryan, you frequently assert individualism even where individualism does not exist. But what I’m talking about is not individualism, but objectivity. Is all interpretation subjected to an endless morass of subjectivism? OR, do texts have a meaning that the mind can apprehend by established methods? I’m not talking about faith, that peculiar work of the Spirit in which we actually receive what the Scripture says as true. I’m talking merely about reading texts. Can we do it? Or do we need Rome’s interevention to properly interpret everything?

    BC: If you think this is why we say that Scripture is insufficient to preserve the Church in the unity Christ intended, then you don’t understand the Catholic position. The Church never diminished Scripture to make room for Tradition.

    Historically, it appears that the Church did diminish Scripture and made greater room for tradition. As I’ve documented in part above, the method of the early church fathers was to appeal to Scripture as an objective source of doctrine. As time passed, the direct appeal to Scriptures gave way more and more to deference to “tradition.” There are definite points in church history in which tradition took on a greater role, and scripture a correspondingly less.

    The method of the early church fathers stands in stark witness against the notion that direct appeal to Scriptures ends in chaos.

    BC: So, your way of evaluating the Catholic paradigm is through the Protestant [sola scriptura] paradigm, and that’s why the Catholic position looks ridiculous to you, as though the Catholic Church got its authority from Scripture (the way Protestants attempt to), and then had to diminish the authority of Scripture in order to squeeze in Tradition and the need for man-made magisterium.

    No, I’ve read the arguments. The RCC argument is a bootstrap argument:

    (1) The Scripture is a sufficiently reliable historical guide to tell us that Christ established the Church upon Peter the rock;
    (2) History proves that the RCC is that Church;
    (3) And the Church tradition includes the fact that Scripture is infallible.

    My “way of evaluating that paradigm” is not specifically Protestant; rather, I simply ask, “How do we know that’s true?”

    And it turns out that no non-circular arguments have been provided to substantiate either (1) or (2).

    So the argument looks wrong to me — I don’t know about ridiculous, but wrong — because it cannot be supported. That’s independent of any Protestant assumptions I might have.

    I’m not sure where our discussion could go from here, but here’s my question for you:

    You’ve asserted in the past that people can read documents and understand them. I agree. Why then is Scripture special, so that it cannot be read and understood?

    Isn’t the real problem not the understanding, but the believing?

  52. Nick said,

    October 7, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    Jeff (#51),

    I think you have misunderstood Byran and the Catholic Church in this regard.

    All sides teach Scripture is “plain English” for the most part. Nobody is suggesting that the text is unintelligible, such that “Jesus got on a boat” is some confusing sequence of words.

    But there are certainly passages that while “plain English” are subject to controversy, for example, “This is My Body.” The dispute is whether this is literal, something between literal and symbolic, or purely symbolic. This is not a trivial matter, yet Protestants have significant disputes on this.

    Now we come to a major problem: When it comes to “This is My Body,” does the Protestant (a) dogmatize a given interpretation, (b) leave it to be addressed some time in the future, or (c) say the issue “non essential”?

    Regarding option “C,” many Protestants of the “low church” sort would say “non essential,” and continue this on similar issues so that at the end of the day orthodox “Christianity” was stripped down to bare, bare essentials. This is probably the most common trend today.

    Regarding option “B,” this really is self-defeating since Scripture should be “clear enough” such that a doctrine would never have to be “shelved” until later.

    Regarding option “A,” this is (obviously) the Catholic approach, and to a lesser extent, the “high church” Protestants. This, ultimately, is the only way to prevent the Eucharist from being trivialized (and even to prevent sacrilege).

    Bryan’s point is that while ‘natural’ tools like critically examining historical documents, scholarly consensus, lexical analysis, etc, are helpful, they break down after a while and ultimately don’t and cannot “settle” issues like the above.

    Further, in my own personal research, there is great dishonesty and ignorance when it comes to things such as lexical analysis, often repeating errors for so long that the average Bible student doesn’t know any better. One prime example is the issue of “imputation,” which I’ve yet to find a single Protestant author or apologist address head on (most of the time it’s a brief sentence or two). (I know from experience bringing up this issue is a conversation killer, since the discussion goes virtually silent after I mention it. It’s an elephant in the room in the truest sense.)

    You said: “If there is not enough data to warrant a firm conclusion, then the matter is one of adiaphora.”

    The problem here is that it is a slippery slope to doctrinal and moral relativism. Ultimately, the individual Protestant decides if X is sufficiently taught in Scripture to believe, which is disastrous.

    Then there is a another category, where a Catholic argument can have solid biblical proof, backed up even by respected (conservative) Protestant scholars, and yet be shrugged off by any Protestant wanting to claim otherwise.

    You said: “In plain English: People can read stuff. And when they make mistakes, textual data can be used to identify those mistakes and improve on the readings.”

    While this is true in a certain limited sense, it’s “the blind leading the blind” as far as passing on the Deposit of Faith is concerned. When it comes to certain doctrines or sins, it’s not enough to “keep trying ’till we get it right,” since you’re potentially preaching serious error along the way.

  53. Tom Riello said,

    October 7, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    Jeff,

    Bryan can more than answer for himself but where do you get the notion that for him or any Catholic reading the Bible is impossible?

    First off, the Church encourages the faithful to read the Bible: “access to Sacred Scripture ought to be open wide to the Christian faithful” (CCC 110), and, “The Church forcefully and specifically exhorts all the Christian faithful to learn the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures. [St. Jerome wrote,], ‘Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ’” (CCC 133).

    That being said the Church would never say to the faithful when it comes to reading the Bible, “Have at it. Read it the way you please.” The Catholic Church doesn’t do that and neither would the PCA, OPC or any of my former RTS professors affirm that.

    The Church gives clear guidelines to the faithful when reading the Bible. We are to look at the literal and spiritual sense (allegorical/typological, moral and anagogical). We are to keep in mind the three principles of interpretation: 1. The content and unity of the whole of Scripture 2. Recognize the living Tradition of the Church, thus we read the Bible with those who have gone before us (as Father Kimel’s Third Law makes clear) 3. Recognize the analogy of the faith. Basically meaning that the Church’s Dogmatic pronouncements are to be upheld (e.g. whatever it means to say that the Son does not know the day or the hour cannot mean that the Son is not consubstantial with the Father and equal to the Father as the eternal Son of God, God from God, true God from true God etc…).

    Reading the Bible is not impossible for a Catholic, provided the faithful employ the tools provided by the Church. Why should this surprise us? You mentioned your work in the physics lab. There are established rules and criteria that I am sure you follow in your work. These established rules are not an imposition but rather a means for the field to flourish. So too do the guidelines and rules of the Church not stifle reading of the Sacred Text but provides a framework and structure that gives room for a vital encounter with Scripture, proposing to us the beauty and glory of the Person and Work of the heart of Scripture, Jesus Christ.

  54. Jeff Cagle said,

    October 7, 2010 at 6:08 pm

    Tom: Bryan can more than answer for himself but where do you get the notion that for him or any Catholic reading the Bible is impossible?

    Because he says,

    BC: The Scripture, being divinely inspired, has an intrinsic meaning that can be properly and rightly known only by the aid of the Spirit working through the Church. Men may grasp at it with their own minds, but without the divinely established interpretive authority Christ established in the Church He founded, they fall into a thousand different incommensurable and irresolvable interpretations.

    There it is. Unless the Church intervenes, we can’t read the Bible.

  55. Jeff Cagle said,

    October 7, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    Nick: I’ll freely admit that sola scriptura is open to abuse. Yes, people in the name of “sola scriptura” can and do believe wacky things.

    In return: can you admit that submission to church tradition is open to abuse? That popes might teach error while claiming infallibility?

  56. Jeff Cagle said,

    October 7, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    Tom (#53):

    Recognize the analogy of the faith. Basically meaning that the Church’s Dogmatic pronouncements are to be upheld … So too do the guidelines and rules of the Church not stifle reading of the Sacred Text but provides a framework and structure that gives room for a vital encounter with Scripture, proposing to us the beauty and glory of the Person and Work of the heart of Scripture, Jesus Christ.

    Tom, it’s a noble goal. But given the history of the Church’s dogmatic pronouncements — some of which are perfectly fine, but some of which twist the Scripture into knots — the only thing I can hear when you say this is

    “The Scripture exists to provide confirmation bias for the Church’s dogmatic pronouncements.”

    If the Scripture must always conform to the Church’s dogmatic pronouncements, and if it cannot be read apart from the Church’s dogmatic pronouncements (which you give as one of the proper tools for reading Scripture), then there is no sense in which Scripture acts as a rule of faith at all. It serves merely as a kind of vehicle for the real rule — the Church’s pronouncements.

    I see Mathison’s “Tradition 3″ taking hold here.

    I’m sure this dialogue must frustrate you; it frustrates me also. We are not even able to agree on basic things like reading.

  57. D. T. King said,

    October 7, 2010 at 7:41 pm

    BC: The Scripture, being divinely inspired, has an intrinsic meaning that can be properly and rightly known only by the aid of the Spirit working through the Church. Men may grasp at it with their own minds, but without the divinely established interpretive authority Christ established in the Church He founded, they fall into a thousand different incommensurable and irresolvable interpretations.

    This is simply special pleading in favor of the Roman communion, and also begs the question of which Church. It is a virtual denial of the ministry of the Holy Spirit to direct individuals efficaciously to a sufficient understanding of the word of God, i.e., it is insisting that the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit is only mediated by means of the Roman magisterium; and it is a denial of the spirituality Now, this is the position of Rome today, but this was not the position of the ancient Church. Please compare the witness of Mr. Cross to the witness of the ancient fathers, and how so very differently they spoke to this issue.

    Chrysostom (349-407): Observe the marks of a robber; first, that he doth not enter openly; secondly, not according to the Scriptures, for this is the, “not by the door.” Here also He referreth to those who had been before, and to those who should be after Him, Antichrist and the false Christs, Judas and Theudas, and whatever others there have been of the same kind. And with good cause He calleth the Scriptures “a door,” for they bring us to God, and open to us the knowledge of God, they make the sheep, they guard them, and suffer not the wolves to come in after them. For Scripture, like some sure door, barreth the passage against the heretics, placing us in a state of safety as to all that we desire, and not allowing us to wander; and if we undo it not, we shall not easily be conquered by our foes. By it we can know all, both those who are, and those who are not, shepherds. NPNF1: Vol. XIV, Homilies on the Gospel according to St. John, Homily 59.

    Chrysostom (349-407), Taken from sections 2 & 3 of his 3rd sermon on Lazarus:
    2. Many other such things there are that beset our soul; and we have need of the divine remedies that we may heal wounds inflicted, and ward off those which, though not inflicted, would else be received in time to come—thus quenching afar off the darts of Satan, and shielding ourselves by the constant reading of the Divine Scriptures. It is not possible—I say, it is not possible, for any one to be secure without constant supplies of this spiritual instruction (translator’s note, “Or without constantly making use of spiritual reading”). Indeed, we may congratulate ourselves (i.e. one ought to be content), if, constantly using this remedy, we ever are able to attain salvation. But when, though each day receiving wounds, we make use of no remedies, what hope can there be of salvation?
    Do you not notice that workmen in brass, or goldsmiths, or silversmiths, or those who engage in any art whatsoever, preserve carefully all the instruments of their art; and if hunger come, or poverty afflict them, they prefer to endure anything rather than sell for their maintenance any of the tools which they use. It is frequently the case that many thus choose rather to borrow money to maintain their house and family, than part with the least of the instruments of their art. This they do for the best reasons; for they know that when those are sold, all their skill is rendered of no avail, and the entire groundwork of their gain is gone. If those are left, they may be able, by persevering in the exercise of their skill, in time to pay off their debts; but if they, in the meantime, allow the tools to go to others, there is, for the future, no means by which they can contrive any alleviation of their poverty and hunger. We also ought to judge in the same way. As the instruments of their art are the hammer and anvil and pincers, so the instruments of our work are the apostolic and prophetic books, and all the inspired and profitable Scriptures. And as they, by their instruments, shape all the articles they take in hand, so also do we, by our instruments, arm our mind, and strengthen it when relaxed, and renew it when out of condition. Again, artists display their skill in beautiful forms, being unable to change the material of their productions, or to transmute silver into gold, but only to make their figures symmetrical. But it is not so with thee, for thou hast a power beyond theirs—receiving a vessel of wood, thou canst make it gold. And to this St. Paul testifies, speaking thus: “In a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and earth. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work,” (2 Tim. ii. 20, 21). Let us then not neglect the possession of the sacred books. For gold, whenever it becomes abundant, causes trouble to its possessors; but these books, when carefully preserved, afford great benefit to those who possess them. As also where royal arms are stored, though no one should use them, they afford great security to those who dwell there; since neither thieves nor burglars, nor any other evil-doers, dare attack that place. In the same way, where the inspired books are, from thence all satanical influence is banished, and the great consolation of right principles comes to those who live there; yea, even the very sight of these books by itself makes us slower to commit iniquity, Even if we attempt any forbidden thing, and make ourselves unclean, when we return home and see these books, our conscience accuses us more keenly, and we become less likely to fall again into the same sins. Again, if we have been stedfast in our integrity, we gain more benefit, (if we are acquainted with the word;) for as soon as one comes to the gospel, he by a mere look both rectifies his understanding and ceases from all worldly cares. And if careful reading also follows, the soul, as if initiated in sacred mysteries, is thus purified and made better, while holding converse with God through the Scriptures.
    “But what,” say they, “if we do not understand the things we read?” Even if you do not understand the contents, your sanctification in a high degree results from it. However, it is impossible that all these things should alike be misunderstood; for it was for this reason that the grace of the Holy Spirit ordained that tax-gatherers, and fishermen, and tent-makers, and shepherds, and goatherds, and uninstructed and illiterate men, should compose these books, that no untaught man should be able to make this pretext; in order that the things delivered should be easily comprehended by all—in order that the handicraftsman, the domestic, the widow, yea, the most unlearned of all men, should profit and be benefited by the reading. For it is not for vain-glory, as men of the world, but for the salvation of the hearers, that they composed these writings, who, from the beginning, were endued with the gift of the Holy Ghost.
    3. For those without—philosophers, rhetoricians, and annalists, not striving for the common good, but having in view their own renown—if they said anything useful, even this they involved in their usual obscurity, as in a cloud. But the apostles and prophets always did the very opposite; they, as the common instructors of the world, made all that they delivered plain to all men, in order that every one, even unaided, might be able to learn by the mere reading. Thus also the prophet spake before, when he said, “All shall be taught of God,” (Isa. liv.13). “And they shall no more say, every one to his neighbor, Know the Lord, for they shall all know me from the least to the greatest,” (Jer. xxxi. 34). St. Paul also says, “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech, or of wisdom, declaring unto you the mystery of God,” ( 1 Cor. ii. 1). And again, “My speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,” (1 Cor. ii. 4). And again, “We speak wisdom,” it is said, “but not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world that come to nought,” (1 Cor. ii. 6). For to whom is not the gospel plain? Who is it that hears, “Blessed are the meek; blessed are the merciful; blessed are the pure in heart,” and such things as these, and needs a teacher in order to understand any of the things spoken?
    But (it is asked) are the parts containing the signs and wonders and histories also clear and plain to every one? This is a pretence, and an excuse, and a mere cloak of idleness. You do not understand the contents of the book? But how can you ever understand, while you are not even willing to look carefully? Take the book in your hand. Read the whole history; and, retaining in your mind the easy parts, peruse frequently the doubtful and obscure parts; and if you are unable, by frequent reading, to understand what is said, go to some one wiser; betake yourself to a teacher; confer with him about the things said. Show great eagerness to learn; then, when God sees that you are using such diligence, He will not disregard your perseverance and carefulness; but if no human being can teach you that which you seek to know, He himself will reveal the whole.
    Remember the eunuch of the queen of Ethiopia. Being a man of a barbarous nation, occupied with numerous cares, and surrounded on all sides by manifold business, he was unable to understand that which he read. Still, however, as he was seated in the chariot, he was reading. If he showed such diligence on a journey, think how diligent he must have been at home; if while on the road he did not let an opportunity pass without reading, much more must this have been the case when seated in his house; if when he did not fully understand the things he read, he did not cease from reading, much more would he not cease when able to understand. To show that he did not understand the things which he read, hear that which Philip said to him: “Understandest thou what thou readest?” (Acts viii. 30). Hearing this question he did not show provocation or shame: but confessed his ignorance, and said: “How can I, except some man should guide me?” (ver. 31). Since therefore. while he had no man to guide him, he was thus reading; for this reason he quickly received an instructor. God knew his willingness, He acknowledged his zeal, and forthwith sent him a teacher.
    But, you say, Philip is not present with us now. Still, the Spirit that moved Philip is present with us. Let us not, beloved, neglect our salvation!
    “All these things are written for our admonition upon whom the ends of the world are come,” (1 Cor. x. 11). The reading of the Scriptures is a great safeguard against sin; ignorance of the Scriptures is a great precipice and a deep gulf; to know nothing of the Scriptures, is a great betrayal of our salvation. This ignorance is the cause of heresies; this it is that leads to dissolute living; this it is that makes all things confused. It is impossible—I say, it is impossible, that any one should remain unbenefited who engages in persevering and intelligent reading. For see how much one parable has profited us! how much spiritual good it has done to us! For many I know have departed, bearing away abiding profit from the hearing; and if there be some who have not reaped so much benefit, still for that day on which they heard these things, they were rendered in every way better. And it is not a small thing to spend one day in sorrow on account of sin, and in consideration of the higher wisdom, and in affording the soul a little breathing time from worldly cares. If we can effect this at each assembly without intermission, the continued hearing would work for us a great and lasting benefit. F. Allen, trans., Four Discourses of Chrysostom, Chiefly on the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, 3rd Sermon, §2-3 (London: Longmans, Green, Reader and Dyer, 1869), pp. 62-68. See Concionis VII, de Lazaro 3.2-3 PG 48:993-996 (Paris: J.-P. Migne, 1857-87). Cf. PG 62:485.

    Now, I could multiply such passages from the ECFs, but I think it is such a sad state of affairs that the Roman apologetic, due to a self-serving agenda, is reduced to pleading against the sentiment of the Psalmist, who confesses to God, “The entrance of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple.” (Psalm 119:130). It is not Holy Scripture that needs the protection of God’s people; it is God’s people who need the protection of Holy Scripture.

    Would to God that the communion of Rome would repent of its discouraging agenda against the reading of God’s word by His people, who are also part of the Church, and come to the conclusion of Hilary…

    Hilary of Poitiers (c 315-67): For he is the best student who does not read his thoughts into the book, but lets it reveal its own; who draws from it its sense, and does not import his own into it, nor force upon its words a meaning which he had determined was the right one before he opened its pages. Since then we are to discourse of the things of God, let us assume that God has full knowledge of Himself, and bow with humble reverence to His words. For He Whom we can only know through His own utterances is the fitting witness concerning Himself. NPNF2: Vol. IX, On the Trinity, Book 1, §18.
    Latin text: Optimus enim lector est, qui dictorum intelligentiam exspectet ex dictis potius quam imponat, et retulerit magis quam attulerit, neque cogat id videri dictis contineri, quod ante lectionem praesumpserit intelligendum. Cum itaque de rebus Dei erit sermo, concedamus cognitionem sui Deo, dictisque ejus pia veneratione famulemur. Idoneus enim sibi testis est, qui nisi per se cognitus non est. De Trinitate, Liber Primus, §18, PL 10:38B.

    The misuse of Scripture is no argument against the right use of Scripture.

  58. D. T. King said,

    October 7, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    Dear Mr. Gadbois.

    I think my latest post was caught in the spam filter again. I offer my gratitude in advance for any assistance you might be able to render.

  59. steve hays said,

    October 7, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    Bryan Cross said,

    “What you are doing here is presenting a false dilemma: either Scripture is sufficient to preserve the Church in the unity Christ intended, or Scripture has no intrinsic meaning. That’s a false dilemma because there is a middle position.”

    Notice how Bryan rigs the issue by framing the issue in terms of whether or not Scripture is sufficient to preserve the intended unity of the church. But before he can run with that, he needs to establish two key assumptions:

    i) He needs to show that Scripture is supposed to preserve the unity of the church.

    ii) He also needs to show, by responsible exegesis, that his allusion to Jn 17:21 supports his claim.

    “The Scripture, being divinely inspired, has an intrinsic meaning that can be properly and rightly known only by the aid of the Spirit working through the Church.”

    Textbook case of begging the question.

    “Men may grasp at it with their own minds, but without the divinely established interpretive authority Christ established in the Church He founded, they fall into a thousand different incommensurable and irresolvable interpretations. The last five hundred years demonstrates that fact most clearly.”

    Is he admitting that we can grasp the meaning of Scripture with our own minds?

    “The Church never diminished Scripture to make room for Tradition. Tradition was always there since the Church was born on Pentecost. Tradition was there before the first book of the NT was written.”

    And OT Scripture was there before the Christian church existed. For that matter, the prophet Amos was there before the papacy existed.

    “Tradition is that by which the Church knew who wrote which books, and which books were to be canonized.”

    “The Church” doesn’t know anything. “The Church” is a personification for a bunch of people.

    And Bryan doesn’t really mean “the Church.” That’s his euphemism for the papacy and the episcopate. Bryan always speaks in code language. Using this rhetorical bait-and-switch tactic. Classic doubletalk, where “the Church” doesn’t mean “the Church.”

    “The Catholic Church claims its authority on what Christ gave to St. Peter in Caesarea, not on the Gospel of St. Matthew chapter 16. St. Peter already had the keys before the Gospel of St. Matthew was ever written. You’re evaluating the doctrine of the Catholic Church through a Protestant paradigm, as if the Catholic Church too holds to ‘sola scriptura.’ But that just begs the question, i.e. assumes precisely what is in question between us. From the Catholic point of view, we (Catholics) were there before the NT was written.”

    From the Jewish point of view, Moses was there before the bishop of Rome.

    “We knew about the keys before the NT was written.”

    The collective “we” is just an imaginary retrojection. Bryan didn’t know about the keys before the NT was written.

    “We didn’t learn this from Scripture, but from the lips of the living God incarnate, as He spoke them at Caesarea.”

    Bryan is play-acting. Bryan didn’t hear this from the lips of Christ. Pope Benedict XVI didn’t hear this from the lips of Christ. We’re all in the same boat.

    “One of our leaders (i.e. St. Matthew) later wrote the account down, in a book you got from us.”

    i) Matthew was not a Roman Catholic. And the church of Rome doesn’t hold the copyright to the Gospel of Matthew.

    ii) BTW, it’s nice to see that Bryan affirms the apostolic authorship of Matthew, but that hardly represents mainstream Catholic Bible scholarship. That’s the sort of thing evangelical scholars would still defend.

  60. Tom Riello said,

    October 7, 2010 at 9:59 pm

    Jeff,

    It really is not frustrating. When you say we cannot agree on reading, I have to ask: What is it about the Church’s hermeutical guidelines that make us not agree on reading? Grant it, that you have a problem with reading the Scripture in light of certain doctrinal pronouncements but in principal wouldn’t you agree with the Church’s guidelines? Certainly we are all agreed that whatever it means when Jesus says the Father is greater than I or the Son knows not the day or the hour, it cannot mean that Jesus is not God. Or, in your case, as a Calvinist wouldn’t you say that whatever Scripture says about resisting the Holy Spirit (Acts 7) or choosing God, must be read in light of the dogmatic declarations of the WCF?

  61. TurretinFan said,

    October 7, 2010 at 10:04 pm

    Tom R:

    No, we presbyterians don’t insist that Scripture “must be read in light of the dogmatic declarations of the WCF.” Where did you get that idea? The WCF itself states that the Scriptures are the only infallible rule of faith and life, and consequently even the WCF is judged by Scripture, not vice versa.

    We do not, like Rome, arrogate our councils to parity with or supremacy over Scripture.

    -TurretinFan

  62. D. T. King said,

    October 7, 2010 at 10:12 pm

    BTW, it’s nice to see that Bryan affirms the apostolic authorship of Matthew, but that hardly represents mainstream Catholic Bible scholarship. That’s the sort of thing evangelical scholars would still defend.

    That is an interesting point, to say the least. It seems to me that if Bryan really wanted to follow the Pontifical Biblical Commission, he would be in some confusion by the work of these magisters. For under Pius X, the Pontifical Biblical Commission ‘affirmed with certainty that Matthew, the Apostle of Christ, is in fact the author of the vulgate Gospel under his name.’ See See Henry Denzinger, Enchiridion Symbolorum, The Sources of Catholic Dogma, trans. Roy J. Feferrari, Thirtieth Ed. (Powers Lake: Marian House, published in 1954 by Herder & Co., Freiburg), #2148, p. 552.

    But Raymond Brown has informed us that the same commission has more recently reversed its position on this issue…

    Roman Catholics were among the last to give up defending officially the view that the Gospel was written by Matthew, one of the Twelve—a change illustrated in 1955 when the secretary of the Roman Pontifical Biblical Commission gave Catholics ‘full liberty’ in reference to earlier Biblical Commission decrees, including one which stipulated that Greek Matthew was identical in substance with a Gospel written by the apostle in Aramaic or Hebrew. See Raymond Brown, S.S., The Birth of the Messiah: A Commentary on the Birth Narratives in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke (New York: Doubleday, 1993), pp. 45-46, fn. 2. On p. 27 and fn. 5, Brown also notes: “The Roman Catholic Church was one of the last major Christian bodies to regard the date and authorship of biblical books as a doctrinal issue…”

    But Steve, this is easily explained . . . the authorship of the Gospel of Matthew is one of those “time-conditioned” traditions.

  63. Tom Riello said,

    October 7, 2010 at 10:33 pm

    TF,

    As you know, if a minister of the Presbytery, found himself out of accord with the WCF on Election, for example, he would have to make that known to the Presbytery and demit or resign the ministry. If a candidate did not affirm the doctrine of election according to the WCF he would not be able to be ordained. If a man is nominated for an office in the church and he does not subscribe to the doctrine of election he could present himself for office. Thus, the WCF functions as guide, a sure norm of the faith, and any reading of Scripture to goes contrary to this settled guide would prevent a man from being able to minister. That is what I meant by reading the Scripture in light of the WCF. Do you not agree with that, even at some level?

  64. TurretinFan said,

    October 7, 2010 at 10:38 pm

    Tom:

    I’m not sure what “that” you’re referring to. I agree that the churches can have subordinate standards, and that the WCF is a subordinate standard.

    That’s quite different from the Roman system, as you know.

    I’m wondering – what does this have to do with oral tradition?

    -TurretinFan

  65. Bryan Cross said,

    October 7, 2010 at 11:26 pm

    Jeff (re: #54)

    There it is. Unless the Church intervenes, we can’t read the Bible.

    That’s not what I said, nor does it follow from what I said. You’re misinterpreting what I wrote, because you don’t know the Catholic position. The more you understand the Catholic position, the more you will rightly interpret what I’m saying. And this demonstrates my point, because it is the same with the Bible — the less someone knows the oral Tradition, the less he can rightly understand the written Tradition, i.e. Scripture. Anyone can read the Bible. But to understand the whole of Scripture rightly, we need the guidance of the Tradition and the Holy Spirit living in and working through the Church. Otherwise, as a quick glance around verifies, we fall into a thousand interpretive disagreements.

    In order to maintain that Scripture is perspicuous, a Reformed person would have to believe that all Christians who read Scripture but are not Reformed are either stupid or blind. That would include all the Church Fathers. But the more you read or are around Scripture-loving Christians who are not Reformed, but who are obviously not stupid and not blind, then the alternative hypothesis becomes far more compelling, namely, that Scripture is not perspicuous in the sense that all non-stupid and non-blind people will agree about its interpretation. The perspicuity thesis is sustainable only if you mostly limit your personal relations to people who hold your general interpretation of Scripture (or only also to obviously blind or stupid people holding alternative interpretations).

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  66. Jeff Cagle said,

    October 7, 2010 at 11:35 pm

    Bryan (#65):

    It *is* what your words mean. If that’s not what you intended, I can understand that — but it is what you said:

    The Scripture, being divinely inspired, has an intrinsic meaning that can be properly and rightly known only by the aid of the Spirit working through the Church. Men may grasp at it with their own minds, but without the divinely established interpretive authority Christ established in the Church He founded, they fall into a thousand different incommensurable and irresolvable interpretations.

    (1) The Scripture has an intrinsic meaning,
    (2) which can only be rightly known
    (3) through the aid of the Spirit
    (4) who works through the Church.
    (5) Without the interpretive authority in the Church,
    (6) the mind of man goes to a thousand interpretations.

    If the church does not intervene (4, 5), we cannot read the Bible (6,2).

    OK, we can *read* it, but we can’t *understand* it. I’ll grant some sloppiness on my part there.

    In order to maintain that Scripture is perspicuous…

    All of Scripture? Or that which is necessary for salvation?

  67. D. T. King said,

    October 8, 2010 at 12:00 am

    In order to maintain that Scripture is perspicuous, a Reformed person would have to believe that all Christians who read Scripture but are not Reformed are either stupid or blind. That would include all the Church Fathers. But the more you read or are around Scripture-loving Christians who are not Reformed, but who are obviously not stupid and not blind, then the alternative hypothesis becomes far more compelling, namely, that Scripture is not perspicuous in the sense that all non-stupid and non-blind people will agree about its interpretation. The perspicuity thesis is sustainable only if you mostly limit your personal relations to people who hold your general interpretation of Scripture (or only also to obviously blind or stupid people holding alternative interpretations).

    Now, as impious as this charge against Holy Scripture is, let us turn it in reverse…

    In order to maintain that papal, conciliar or magisterial pronouncements are perspicuous, a Romanist would have to believe that all Christians who read their decisions and explanations but are not Romanists are either stupid or blind. That would include virtually all the Church Fathers. But the more you read or are around Romanists who stress conciliar authority but who are not Romanists (enter the EO), but who are obviously not stupid and not blind, then the alternative hypothesis becomes far more compelling, namely, that conciliar or magisterial pronouncements are not perspicuous in the sense that all non-stupid and non-blind people will agree about their interpretations. The perspicuity thesis for conciliar and/or papal authority is sustainable only if Romanists mostly limit their personal relations to people who hold their general view of conciliar and/or papal authority (or only also to obviously blind or stupid people holding alternative views of conciliar authority like the Eastern Orthodox).

    Moral of the story? If the same reasoning can be applied to undermine your own argument, then your argument is not a sound argument.

  68. TurretinFan said,

    October 8, 2010 at 12:46 am

    Bryan wrote:

    In order to maintain that Scripture is perspicuous, a Reformed person would have to believe that all Christians who read Scripture but are not Reformed are either stupid or blind.

    That’s not either stated or implied by the doctrine of perspicuity, as I think you know, Bryan. The Reformed and Patristic doctrine (attest Chrysostom, for example) of perspicuity is that whatever things are necessary for salvation are clear in Scripture.

    We feel justified in believing that people can be saved by faith in Christ, without having a detailed or fully consistent theology, such as is offered in the Westminster Confession.

    But to get back to the topic at hand, you also wrote: “the less someone knows the oral Tradition, the less he can rightly understand the written Tradition, i.e. Scripture.”

    Does it work the other way ’round? Can a person rightly understand oral tradition without written tradition?

    What’s more, someone like myself has access to all the same teachings you have access to, whether that is the Bible alone or the Bible, plus the fathers, plus the canons and decrees of the 21 allegedly ecumenical councils. Worse yet, so do folks like Congar, Denzinger, Ott, Rahner, and so forth.

    Yet you would disagree with each of us at various points. It’s not an absence of information that’s the issue, is it?

    My point here is to push you to realize that the answer is that Holy Spirit is the one who blesses (or doesn’t) the study of God’s Word. Recall the parable of the four kinds of soil.

    That explanation, not some alleged insufficiency of Scripture, is the reason that folks can read the Bible and still go off and fall into a false religion, like you and your friends at Called to Communion have done. But we are here – quasi-orally traditioning God’s word to you. Won’t you hear and follow it?

    - TurretinFan

  69. John Bugay said,

    October 8, 2010 at 2:36 am

    In addition to the other debunked citations that Bryan Cross provided in support of the papacy, here is another one.

    Eamon Duffy wrote to the effect that much of what “the greatest minds of the church” believed about Peter was “pious legend.”

    Bryan Cross has provided an example of this, in his Cyril of Jerusalem quote:

    St. Cyril of Jerusalem (b. 315 – d. 386) writes:
    “As the delusion [of Simon Magus] was extending, Peter and Paul, a noble pair, chief rulers of the Church, arrived and set the error right…. And marvellous though it was, yet no marvel. For Peter was there, who carrieth the keys of heaven.”

    The entire Peter-vs-Simon-Magus-in-Rome saga is recounted in the fictitious “Acts of Peter,” an invention of the late-second-century. This is one of the fictitious works which, despite being fictional, shaped the early papacy.

    Thanks, Bryan.

  70. John Bugay said,

    October 8, 2010 at 2:42 am

    Bryan Cross #65: But to understand the whole of Scripture rightly, we need the guidance of the Tradition and the Holy Spirit living in and working through the Church.

    And the practical out-working of this is that you end up incorporating total fictions as foundational to your eternal worldview.

  71. Bryan Cross said,

    October 8, 2010 at 6:52 am

    As Sean pointed out in the first comment in this thread, St. Paul commands the Christians to “hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.” (2 Thess. 2:15) And that imperative applied to all Christians in the generation after the Apostles. They were to hold to everything the Apostles had taught, not only to those things written down by the Apostles. Not only does Scripture nowhere say to follow only what the Apostles wrote; it explicitly states that the believers should also abide by what they taught by word of mouth. So, the default position, given what St. Paul says, is for all Christians to follow not only what was written by the Apostles, but also what had been taught orally, and what had been taught by the Apostles’ example. They were to follow the example of the Apostles in their form of worship and prayer, for example.

    The second generation of Christians after the Apostles could not rightly say to the first generation after the Apostles, “We can safely ignore those things you told us the Apostles said and did, that aren’t recorded in Scripture, because we didn’t receive them for ourselves directly from the Apostles.” If anyone were to say that, his condemnation would be deserved, because he would be unjustifiably subtracting from the deposit of faith, by imposing his own rationalistic criterion for credibility upon the deposit of faith (i.e. “I will not believe it comes from the Apostles unless I can prove that it was written by them or by someone contemporary with them under their supervision.”) And the same is true in the third generation after the Apostles. They could not rightly say to the second generation after the Apostles, “We can safely ignore those things you told us the first generation after the Apostles said and did, that aren’t recorded in Scripture, because we didn’t receive them for ourselves directly from the Apostles.” Their condemnation would be deserved. And the same is true for the fourth, fifth, and even to the present generation of Christians. The imperative upon Christians to abide by what the Apostles taught by word of mouth but did not write down, remains until Christ returns. There was no magical date in Church history when that imperative ceased to be binding on all Christians, because neither Scripture nor the oral Tradition teach that there is such a magical date. Nor has the Church ever taught that there was a date at which the oral Tradition ceased to be binding on Christians.

    That’s why Session 4 of the Council of Trent states:

    This [Gospel], of old promised through the Prophets in the Holy Scriptures, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, promulgated first with His own mouth, and then commanded it to be preached by His Apostles to every creature as the source at once of all saving truth and rules of conduct.

    It also clearly perceives that these truths and rules are contained in the written books and in the unwritten traditions, which, received by the Apostles from the mouth of Christ Himself, or from the Apostles themselves, the Holy Ghost dictating, have come down to us, transmitted as it were from hand to hand.

    Following, then, the examples of the orthodox Fathers, it receives and venerates with a feeling of piety and reverence all the books both of the Old and New Testaments, since one God is the author of both; also the traditions, whether they relate to faith or to morals, as having been dictated either orally by Christ or by the Holy Ghost, and preserved in the Catholic Church in unbroken succession.

    The bishops here are referring to the oral Tradition handed down by the Apostles, and their successors, not only that which Christ Himself taught, but also what the Holy Spirit revealed to the Apostles during their lives, and which they handed on orally to the Christians of the first century.

    Concerning the oral Tradition the First Vatican Council taught the same as the Council of Trent:

    Now this supernatural revelation, according to the belief of the universal Church, as declared by the sacred Council of Trent, is contained in written books and unwritten traditions, which were received by the apostles from the lips of Christ himself, or came to the apostles by the dictation of the Holy Spirit, and were passed on as it were from hand to hand until they reached us. (Session 3, 2.5)

    “Wherefore, by divine and Catholic faith all those things are to be believed which are contained in the word of God written or handed down and which are proposed by the Church as matters to be believed as divinely revealed, whether by her solemn definition or in her ordinary and universal magisterium.” (Session 3, 3.8.)

    And in Dei Verbum, Vatican II taught the same. Notice here the extent of what belongs to Tradition, how it is more than a set of propositions:

    This commission was faithfully fulfilled by the Apostles who, by their oral preaching, by example, and by observances handed on what they had received from the lips of Christ, from living with Him, and from what He did, or what they had learned through the prompting of the Holy Spirit. (DV, 7)

    And again:

    Now what was handed on by the Apostles includes everything which contributes toward the holiness of life and increase in faith of the peoples of God; and so the Church, in her teaching, life and worship, perpetuates and hands on to all generations all that she herself is, all that she believes. (DV, 8)

    A few lines later the Conciliar Fathers write:

    The words of the holy fathers witness to the presence of this living tradition, whose wealth is poured into the practice and life of the believing and praying Church. Through the same tradition the Church’s full canon of the sacred books is known, and the sacred writings themselves are more profoundly understood and unceasingly made active in her; and thus God, who spoke of old, uninterruptedly converses with the bride of His beloved Son; and the Holy Spirit, through whom the living voice of the Gospel resounds in the Church, and through her, in the world, leads unto all truth those who believe and makes the word of Christ dwell abundantly in them (see Col. 3:16). (DV, 8)

    Notice the phrase “practice and life.” Here too, we see some examples of what belongs to the unwritten Tradition, namely, the canon of Scripture, and the lived faith by which the sacred writings are rightly understood.

    The twenty-first century person who finds himself presently without access to the oral Tradition of the Apostles, can either dismiss the Apostolic imperative to abide by the oral Tradition taught by the Apostles as no longer applicable, by assuming that the oral Tradition no longer exists, or he can search out the oral Tradition, and begin to abide by it. The former assumption is like that of the present-day person who assumes (on account of culpable negligence and doubt) that even if God spoke to man two thousand years ago, that divine message had been garbled, twisted, and entirely lost even by the end of the first century. If God intends to give a universal message to all of mankind, until He returns, it is reasonable to believe that He is capable of supernaturally preserving that message, even if ordinary means of information transfer over generations can be unreliable and error prone. If it is a divine message intended for the whole world, preserving it from error is not a problem for God.

    For those who lived in the time of Christ, faith in Christ was expressed by believing the words that one heard from His lips. But as soon as Christ ascended into Heaven, and the day of Pentecost came, faith in Christ was expressed through believing those Christ had authorized and sent in His Name. And for that reason this is a greater faith, as Jesus says to Thomas the Apostle, with a greater reward. (John 20:29) Those in the Apostolic generation could, like Thomas, hear the Apostles’ preaching for themselves. But those in the following generation, in order to know what was the oral Tradition of the Apostles, had to exercise faith in Christ, by believing those whom the Apostles had authorized to hand on the Apostolic deposit. If these second-generation Christians had refused to believe the oral Tradition unless they heard it with their own ears, they would have been like doubting Thomas, and would not have been able to know the oral Tradition. Only by exercising faith in Christ by believing those whom the Apostles had authorized, could they come to know the oral Tradition and so fulfill the Apostolic imperative to keep the oral Tradition. And it is the same to this day. To this day, only by an act of faith in which we trust Christ by trusting those having the succession from the Apostles, can we know the oral Tradition, and follow the perpetual imperative St. Paul gives to the Thessalonians to “hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.” (2 Thess 2:15)

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  72. Jeff Cagle said,

    October 8, 2010 at 7:28 am

    Bryan (#71):

    Not only does Scripture nowhere say to follow only what the Apostles wrote; it explicitly states that the believers should also abide by what they taught by word of mouth.

    Indeed it does. But the Scripture *also* says that we are to test the teachings of man against Scripture.

    Even Paul himself did not rest on his authority simpliciter, but said to the Galatians, “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!”

    There was an objective content (the Gospel) against which the teachings of even angels from heaven should be measured.

    Your theory of Rome’s authority makes it impossible for an individual believer to test tradition against Scripture. If for whatever reason tradition is seen to be in conflict with Scripture, it is the fault of the individual, never the fault of tradition.

    So where John commanded us to “test the spirits, to see whether they are from God”, you tell us to accept whatever the spirit of Rome says.

    Nor can the individual believer fulfill Jesus’ command to know false teachers by their fruits. By any measure, popes such as Alexander VI were false teachers and therefore not valid authorities in the Church.

    But on your account, we must separate the office from the officer and take Alex’s office as valid — no matter his behavior, he both received and passed on the sacramental gift of authority. Even though, according to Jesus, he never possessed that authority in the first place.

    What’s happened in your theory of authority is exactly what I explained above: the actual *text* of Scripture makes no difference; only the *interpretation of the text by the Church* is of force. The testing function of Scripture has been vacated because the Church tradition has entirely overshadowed it.

    You fear individualism. But for whatever reason, you do not fear what the Scripture says to fear: that false teachers would infiltrate the Church and lead many astray.

    Why should it be implausible that the Church might err here or there, when the history of the Church is filled with the record of struggles against error, and even errors committed by pope or council?

    And most importantly: if the early church fathers took on error by picking up Scripture as the basis for sound doctrine, why are you now advocating the view that Scripture is no basis at all, but is instead a wax nose that must be shaped by the tradition of the Church to take its proper shape? The very same early church fathers that you revere did not do as you do. They did the opposite.

    They did the opposite, brother Bryan.

  73. steve hays said,

    October 8, 2010 at 8:34 am

    Bryan Cross said,

    “As Sean pointed out in the first comment in this thread, St. Paul commands the Christians to “hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.” (2 Thess. 2:15)”

    i) This is a good example of how Bryan makes a specious case for Romanism. He begins by positing a false premise, then proceeds to build on his false premise.

    ii) Notice the fatal equivocation of terms. See how he’s putting words in the mouth of St. Paul.

    Paul doesn’t command *Christians* in general to do this. Rather, Paul commands the *Thessalonians* to do this. This command was directed at Christians living in the mid-1C. Christians living at the time the apostles were alive. Christians who actually had direct word-of-mouth knowledge of apostolic teaching. Christians who actually heard the apostles preach and teach.

    iii) In the nature of the case, that type of firsthand access to the spoken word of the apostles is hardly interchangeable with 3rd, 4th, 5th-hand acquaintance.

    iv) By contrast, the written word is accessible to posterity. As we know from the OT, that’s a primary reason Scripture was inscripturated in the first place: a permanent, public record of God’s revealed will.

    v) Also notice that Bryan must quote a written source to even establish the existence of an oral source. So his knowledge of the oral source is dependent on his knowledge of the written source.

    vi) As long as we’re quoting 2 Thes, here’s something else we should also quote:

    “…not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 3 Let no one deceive you in any way…” (2 Thes 2:2-3).

    “I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. This is the sign of genuineness in every letter of mine; it is the way I write” (2 Thes 3:17).

    So the Thessalonians are not to credit every putative apostolic “tradition” as an actual apostolic tradition. To the contrary, they are to be on their guard against spurious apostolic traditions.

    Therefore, if Bryan is serious about applying 2 Thes to the situation of modern-day Christians, he needs to explain and defend the process by which he authenticates oral apostolic tradition.

    “And that imperative applied to all Christians in the generation after the Apostles. They were to hold to everything the Apostles had taught, not only to those things written down by the Apostles. Not only does Scripture nowhere say to follow only what the Apostles wrote; it explicitly states that the believers should also abide by what they taught by word of mouth.”

    Once again, Bryan is putting words in the mouth of St. Paul. Once again, Bryan is building on a false premise. Paul does not “explicitly” apply that command to all Christians in the generation after the apostles. Indeed, that’s not even implicit in what he says.

    Rather, he applies that statement to listeners or readers who were contemporaneous with the author of the letter. This is all that St. Paul actually says in the verse cited.

    Paul doesn’t say, “After I’m dead, your children are obligated to hold to hearsay claims attributed to the me and my fellow apostles.”

    Rather, the Thessalonians are to hold to what *he* taught *them*. Either face-to-face communication, or via his signed letters, delivered by one of his known couriers.

    “But on the contrary, claiming that all one needs to interpret Scripture are some exegetical tools, the historico-critical method and some lexicons, denigrates Scripture, by reducing it to a merely natural book, decipherable through natural tools and the natural power of human reason.”

    That’s clearly fallacious. The nature of the audience has no bearing on the nature of the book. You might as well say the book can’t be inspired unless the reader or listener is also inspired.

  74. steve hays said,

    October 8, 2010 at 8:40 am

    BTW, I can’t help but notice that Bryan is giving us his private interpretation of 2 Thes 2:15. I don’t see him quoting an infallible interpretation of 2 Thes 2:15 from the extraordinary Magisterium.

  75. TurretinFan said,

    October 8, 2010 at 8:47 am

    Bryan,

    In #71, there are three serious errors in your presentation.

    1) You beg the question of whether there is command to receive tradition handed down orally from non-apostles. You assert, but do not demonstrate, that “Hold fast to the traditions which you received orally from us,” is also a command to receive those same traditions from someone other than the apostles. The text of 2 Thessalonians 2:15 obviously do not actually say that, so the question is where you get it from. The text says that the Thessalonians are supposed to hold fast to what they heard Paul teach them, not what they heard just anyone teach them. So, your “perpetual imperative” claim rings hollow.

    2) You can’t even tell us what oral traditions Paul gave the Thessalonians, yet you allege that:

    To this day, only by an act of faith in which we trust Christ by trusting those having the succession from the Apostles, can we know the oral Tradition, and follow the perpetual imperative St. Paul gives to the Thessalonians to “hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.” (2 Thess 2:15)

    The absurd result of your statement seems to be that no one on Earth has faith, because no one on Earth can tell us what those oral traditions are that Paul communicated to the Thessalonians.

    3) It’s strange that you allege that we cannot know the Oral Tradition without trusting in the alleged successors of the apostles. We can know what the Bible says without believing the Bible. We can know what your church teaches, without believing your church. Why would oral tradition from the apostles be some sort of hidden knowledge, concealed from outsiders? Roman Catholicism isn’t a Gnostic sect – so where did you get this idea? In any event, this would explain why you are unable (or perhaps unwilling) to tell us what the oral tradition per item (2) above is, if you are sworn to keep this knowledge secret. But that’s not the official teaching of your church.

    And, of course, the million dollar question is this: has your church ever infallibly interpreted 2 Thessalonians 2:15? If so, where did it do so?

    - TurretinFan

  76. David Meyer said,

    October 8, 2010 at 8:51 am

    Jeff Cagle said:
    In contrast, [to solo scriptura] thoughtful Protestants have always given serious weight and even deference at times to the established tradition of the Church. That’s why we say the creeds in worship. That’s why we appeal to the Church Fathers to substantiate our arguments. Not that they are infallible, but that they are tested and reliable guides.

    That describes my Reformed sola scriptura experience. Yeah, sola is better than solo, Ive read Mathison’s book twice and coresponded with him about it. Solo and sola are different, but it is plain that there is no real difference in principle, as even your statement shows: “deference at times” giving “serious weight”, these statements mean that you will agree with “established tradition” and creeds when it suits you, but in the end, even with the true blue sola scriptura, your opinion has the trump card.

    For instance you ingore the 7th ecumenical council (I assume) because it does not fit your interpretation of scripture. What is different from the Council whose creed you proudly recite and the 7th? Why do you accept the one and not the other? The ‘weight’ of the Church’s opinion falls off the protestant scale on that one and what is left is opinion. And if the 7th is not infallible, then why should I or anyone else care a bit about 1-5?

    We accept the Nicene creed because the Church gave it, not because we agree with it. Period. If it is based on agreement with my interpretation then all authority is drained from it.

    Giving “deference’ makes it sound like you are in submission to the church through your session or other leaders (I don’t know your interpretation of correct polity). But we are talking about the Faith here! would you say that you would give “deference at times” to Christ? No way, you want to give it all the time. So why give deference only at times to His church?

    Let me ask you this: At those times when you are not giving “serious weight and even deference at times to the established tradition of the Church” what are you giving deference to? Hello solo.

  77. Sean said,

    October 8, 2010 at 9:25 am

    DT King,

    *You cannot* quote Chrysostom and Hillary of Poiters, # 57 for example, who are expressing a truth about the material sufficiency of scripture and conflate that to me that the Church plays no role in rightly interpreting scripture. This is what you do over and over again. I’ve seen it on TFan’s blog, your self published books and now here.

    The reason you cannot do this is because other statements by the same fathers flatly contradict the conclusion that you are drawing.

    Here is just one glaring example. If I had more time today I am certain I could prove that each of the fathers you quoted did not teach the formal sufficiency of scripture to the exclusion of the teaching authority of the church.

    In # 57 you quoted Hilary of Poitiers. You said: Would to God that the communion of Rome would repent of its discouraging agenda against the reading of God’s word by His people, who are also part of the Church, and come to the conclusion of Hilary… and then you went onto quote Hilary teaching that scripture is God’s word and the student should approach scripture by letting its meaning speak for itself.

    However, in that statement, Hilary says nothing about excluding the interpretive authority of the church from that practice. But when Hilary does speak about the authority of the Church he is clear:

    “They who are placed without the Church, cannot attain to any understanding of the divine word. For the ship exhibits a type of Church, the word of life placed and preached within which, they who are without, and lie near like barren and useless sands, cannot understand.”
    Hilary of Poitiers, On Matthew, Homily 13:1 (A.D. 355)

  78. louis said,

    October 8, 2010 at 9:40 am

    Question for the papists, if any care to answer:

    By “oral tradition”, do you mean an actual, identifiable body of information, passed down from the apostles and held only orally in the church?

  79. Ron Henzel said,

    October 8, 2010 at 9:43 am

    David,

    You wrote:

    “…these statements mean that you will agree with “established tradition” and creeds when it suits you, but in the end, even with the true blue sola scriptura, your opinion has the trump card.”

    First of all, individual Church Fathers are not identical with “established tradition.” Even Romanists acknowledge this. In fact, they insist upon it quite loudly when a particular Church Father (e.g., Origen) contradicts “established tradition.” So on that score your characterization here is utterly unfair.

    Secondly, to not compare individual Church Fathers—or even “established tradition”—with Scripture and yield to Scripture when there is a difference is tantamount to implicit faith (read: checking your brain at the door). When the meaning of Scripture can be clearly established as opposing the Fathers or tradition, one would be going against one’s own conscience to choose the latter over the former. And, as Luther pointed out, to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. To reduce conscience to the status of “opinion” is merely to use a cynical rhetorical device to short-circuit individual moral obligation.

  80. Tom Riello said,

    October 8, 2010 at 9:58 am

    Steve,

    I am intrigued by this: “Paul doesn’t command *Christians* in general to do this. Rather, Paul commands the *Thessalonians* to do this. This command was directed at Christians living in the mid-1C.”

    My concern would be similar to what Pope Benedict has expressed about such notions: The Scripture is left to the playground of the exegetes and the historical/critical scholars to decide what is or is not still in force. Could your argument against Bryan possibly prove too much? Namely, that the Bible is subject to the whims of exegesis and the academy. One says this passage is still operative, the other says that this was for that particular time (I am thinking of Paul’s not allowing women to the ordained ministry) and still another says the passage is not authentic. How would you defend your position contra the liberal academy? What makes it different? (Please know that I am not asking in order to engage in some polemical fight but out of a genuine desire to hear your answer).

  81. TurretinFan said,

    October 8, 2010 at 10:01 am

    Sean Patrick:

    What does that “Homily” say in the next line about the gift of faith?

    By all means enlighten us, so that we can understand what Hilary means by “church” here.

    But I suppose you probably cannot tell us, because you haven’t read any homilies by Hilary on Matthew. And I would be surprised to find that you had even read that section of Hilary’s commentary on Matthew (which is where the translation is taken from).

    Here’s a translation of the same section, provided via a translation of Thomas Aquinas’ Catena Aurea, which probably has more of the text of Hilary’s Commentary on Matthew than you’ve ever read.

    There is moreover a reason in the subject of His discourse why the Lord should sit in the ship, and the multitude stand on the shore. For He was about to speak in parables, and by this action signifies that they who were without the Church could have no understanding of the Divine Word. The ship offers a type of the Church, within which the word of life is placed, and is preached to those without, and who as being barren sand cannot understand it.

    But I’d be delighted to be wrong – to be dealing with someone who actually realizes that Hilary was talking about the ability to understand parables, received by the gift of faith – where “Church” here equals “all believers.”

    I really wish you’d let the fathers be the fathers, instead of imposing your ideas on them.

    -TurretinFan

  82. D. T. King said,

    October 8, 2010 at 10:02 am

    *You cannot* quote Chrysostom and Hillary of Poiters, # 57 for example, who are expressing a truth about the material sufficiency of scripture and conflate that to me that the Church plays no role in rightly interpreting scripture. This is what you do over and over again.

    I do beg your pardon, Pontifex maximus, but I can and did. :)

    But two points…

    1) They weren’t addressing material sufficiency (your private exegesis of these two ECFs notwithstanding), but they were addressing formal sufficiency. But this is not the topic being debated here.

    2) I never said that the Church plays no role in interpreting Scripture. As a rule, it’s only people in the church who interpret Scripture. People outside of the church usually show little interest in Scripture.

    I’m afraid you’ve missed your target.

    And, the last I heard, I have not been placed without the Church. I am a member in good standing in the church.

    Now, here’s my question for you – Are you going to tell us what these oral traditions are that Paul commanded the Thessalonians to have and to hold, or are you going to keep them to yourself? Here is your prime opportunity to tell us what these oral traditions are, and I would have thought that you would have taken advantage of this opportunity to instruct us all.

  83. steve hays said,

    October 8, 2010 at 10:02 am

    BTW, I can’t help noticing that Bryan takes the Pauline authorship of 2 Thes for granted. But that’s not something he got from reading your average Roman Catholic scholar. Rather, that’s a carryover from his bad old days as a benighted evangelical. Like many evangelical converts to Rome, Bryan is to the right of his adopted denomination on Bible criticism. It’s not as if the hierarchy requires the laity to affirm the Pauline authorship of 2 Thes.

    Now it’s possible that Bryan merely assumes the Pauline authorship of 2 Thes for the sake of argument. But if this is a purely tu quoque appeal, then he will need to restructure his argument. For a letter from a forger commanding his readers to adhere to his bogus apostolic traditions doesn’t seem to be a very promising starting-point to make the case for oral apostolic tradition.

    So either way, Bryan has backed himself into a dilemma. Does he or does he not affirm the Pauline authorship of 2 Thes? If so, then on what grounds? It can’t be grounded in the official policy of his adopted denomination, for the Roman church doesn’t require that of its members. That’s not de fide. Indeed, there are Catholic Bible scholars in good standing with their ecclesiastical superiors who openly deny the Pauline authorship of 2 Thes.

  84. TurretinFan said,

    October 8, 2010 at 10:19 am

    Moving on in my response to Bryan’s attempt to contradict Cardinal Congar …

    As noted above, the alleged quotation from Hilary is actually an amalgamation of various quotations, cobbled together by some editor (Bryan?). The quotations are as shown below. No citation was provided with these quotations, so I have had to do my best to track down the sources. Consequently, please understand that the citation is mine. In the event that Hilary said something twice, I may only have caught one of the two times, but this is really the fault of Mr. Cross for not citing his sources so that I could tell you more accurately what he is citing.

    1. “Peter believeth [the] first, and is the prince of the apostleship.” (bracketed material mine, to make the quotation match the source I found)

    I found one citation for this as Commentary on Matthew, Chapter 7, No. 6. This is a good place to start, since the Commentary on Matthew is Hilary’s first work that we have, written about A.D. 353-355.

    This comment from Hilary is part of his commentary on Matthew 8:14, which relates to Jesus healing Peter’s mother-in-law. The context is this:

    In Peter’s wife’s mother is shewn the sickly condition of infidelity, to which freedom of will is near akin, being united by the bonds as it were of wedlock. By the Lord’s entrance into Peter’s house, that is into the body, unbelief is cured, which was before sick of the fever of sin, and ministers in duties of righteousness to the Saviour. Then when she was healed, serves in the office of servant. On the other hand, he that believed first, and is chief of the apostles, and because in him even before he languished, the ministry of the Word of God strengthened as it were, produced the public salvation. Although this mother-in-law of Peter is rightly fitted to the similitude of the attitude of unbelief, the place where we will discuss the daughter-in-law and mother-in-later is later (Chapter 10, Section 18). But for now, Peter’s mother-in-law is compared to unbelief, because until he believed, his will was held in slavery.

    The black text represents the portion translated as part of the translation of Thomas Aquinas “Catena Aurea” (see here), the remainder being my translation (which is open to significant doubt – feel free to improve on it). My apologies for providing my own feeble attempt at translating, but there does not appear to be any extant complete English translation of the work. Here is the Latin:

    Petri socrus infidelitatis affectio. Petrus fidei et apostolatus princeps.(Cum venisset Jesus in domum Petri, vidit socrum ejus jacentem et febricitantem, et reliqua (Mt 8,14). In socru Petri, vitiosa infidelitatis aestimatur affectio, cui adjacet libertas voluntatis, quae nos quadam sibi conjugii societate conjungit. Ergo ingressu Domini, in Petri domu, id est, in corpore curatur infidelitas peccatorum calore exaestuans, et vitiorum aegra dominatu. Mox deinde sanata, officii famulatu ministrat. Nam primus credidit, et apostolatus est princeps: et quod in eo ante languebat, Dei verbo invalescens ministerio tamquam publicae salutis operatum est. Recte autem hanc ex socru Petri similitudinem ad affectionem infidelitatis aptari, loco qui de nuru et socru consequitur tractabimus (Cap. 10, n. 18). Nunc autem ideo infidelitatis socrus Petri nuncupabitur, quia usque dum credidit, voluntatis suae servitio detinebatur.

    (source of Latin)

    As you can see, all we really have here are two comments about Peter. One is that he was a “chief” (princeps) of the apostles. It could possibly be evidence that Hilary thought that Peter was the foremost apostle, although that’s certainly not a point he’s pursuing in the text. But certainly, there’s nothing here about Peter having any particular formal jurisdiction over the apostles, or of Peter assigning that power to the bishop of Rome, or of that power being passed down to only one bishop at a time down through history. In short, there’s nothing at all close to papal primacy in this discussion.

    2. “Blessed Simon, who after his confession of the mystery was set to be the foundation-stone of the Church, and received the keys of the kingdom of heaven.”

    This selection is taken from On the Trinity, Book VI, Chapter 20. The entire context for the quotation is this (taken from what I think is the most popular English edition of this work – perhaps the only English edition):

    What is this hopeless quagmire of error into which Thou hast plunged me? For I have learnt all this and have come to believe it; this faith is so ingrained into my mind that I have neither the power nor the wish to change it. Why this deception of an unhappy man, this ruin of a poor wretch in body and soul, by deluding him with falsehoods concerning Thyself? After the Red Sea had been divided, the splendour on the face of Moses, descending from the Mount, deceived me. He had gazed, in Thy presence, upon all the mysteries of heaven, and I believed his words, dictated by Thee, concerning Thyself. And David, the man that was found after Thine own heart, has betrayed me to destruction, and Solomon, who was thought worthy of the gift of Divine Wisdom, and Isaiah, who saw the Lord of Sabaoth and prophesied, and Jeremiah consecrated in the womb, before he was fashioned, to be the prophet of nations to be rooted out and planted in, and Ezekiel, the witness of the mystery of the Resurrection, and Daniel, the man beloved, who had knowledge of times, and all the hallowed band of the Prophets; and Matthew also, chosen to proclaim the whole mystery of the Gospel, first a publican, then an Apostle, and John, the Lord’s familiar friend, and therefore worthy to reveal the deepest secrets of heaven, and blessed Simon, who after his confession of the mystery was set to be the foundation-stone of the Church, and received the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and all his companions who spoke by the Holy Ghost, and Paul, the chosen vessel, changed from persecutor into Apostle, who, as a living man abode under the deep sea and ascended into the third heaven, who was in Paradise before his martyrdom, whose martyrdom was the perfect offering of a flawless faith; all have deceived me.

    (source for translation)

    As you can see, again, there’s nothing particularly about papal primacy in the text. Peter is sandwiched between the other prominent apostles, John and Paul. He’s not described as having universality of jurisdiction. Certainly there is no reference to Rome or to a Roman bishop, or to anyone besides Peter having (or lacking) what Peter had. In short, while the quotation may not contradict a view of papal primacy, it certainly does not demonstrate such a view.

    Moreover, in chapters 36-37, we have a reference to Matthew 16 and Peter that is not merely a passing reference amongst a litany of references to prophets and apostles. In that place we find Hilary making some rather un-Roman claims:

    36. A belief that the Son of God is Son in name only and not in nature, is not the faith of the Gospels and of the Apostles. If this be a mere title, to which adoption is His only claim; if He be not the Son in virtue of having proceeded forth from God, whence, I ask, was it that the blessed Simon Bar-Jona confessed to Him, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God? Because He shared with all mankind the power of being born as one of the sons of God through the sacrament of regeneration? If Christ be the Son of God only in this titular way, what was the revelation made to Peter, not by flesh and blood, but by the Father in heaven? What praise could he deserve for making a declaration which was universally applicable? What credit was due to Him for stating a fact of general knowledge? If He be Son by adoption, wherein lay the blessedness of Peter’s confession, which offered a tribute to the Son to which, in that case, He had no more title than any member of the company of saints? The Apostle’s faith penetrates into a region closed to human reasoning. He had, no doubt, often heard, He that receiveth you receiveth Me, and He that receiveth Me receiveth Him that sent Me. Hence he knew well that Christ had been sent; he had heard Him, Whom he knew to have been sent, making the declaration, All things are delivered unto Me of the Father, and no one knoweth the Son but the Father, neither knoweth any one the Father save the Son. What then is this truth, which the Father now reveals to Peter, which receives the praise of a blessed confession? It cannot have been that the names of Father’ and Son’ were novel to him; he had heard them often. Yet he speaks words which the tongue of man had never framed before:–Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. For though Christ, while dwelling in the body, had avowed Himself to be the Son of God, yet now for the first time the Apostle’s faith had recognised in Him the presence of the Divine nature. Peter is praised not merely for his tribute of adoration, but for his recognition of the mysterious truth; for confessing not Christ only, but Christ the Son of God. It would clearly have sufficed for a payment of reverence, had he said, Thou art the Christ, and nothing more. But it would have been a hollow confession, had Peter only hailed Him as Christ, without confessing Him the Son of God. And so his words Thou art declare that what is asserted of Him is strictly and exactly true to His nature. Next, the Father’s utterance, This is My Son, had revealed to Peter that he must confess Thou art the Son of God, for in the words This is, God the Revealer points Him out, and the response, Thou art, is the believer’s welcome to the truth. And this is the rock of confession whereon the Church is built. But the perceptive faculties of flesh and blood cannot attain to the recognition and confession of this truth. It is a mystery, Divinely revealed, that Christ must be not only named, but believed, the Son of God. Was it only the Divine name; was it not rather the Divine nature that was revealed to Peter? If it were the name, he had heard it often from the Lord, proclaiming Himself the Son of God. What honour, then, did he deserve for announcing the name? No; it was not the name; it was the nature, for the name had been repeatedly proclaimed.

    37. This faith it is which is the foundation of the Church; through this faith the gates of hell cannot prevail against her. This is the faith which has the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatsoever this faith shall have loosed or bound on earth shall be loosed or bound in heaven. This faith is the Father’s gift by revelation; even the knowledge that we must not imagine a false Christ, a creature made out of nothing, but must confess Him the Son of God, truly possessed of the Divine nature. What blasphemous madness and pitiful folly is it, that will not heed the venerable age and faith of that blessed martyr, Peter himself, for whom the Father was prayed that his faith might not fail in temptation; who twice repeated the declaration of love for God that was demanded of him, and was grieved that he was tested by a third renewal of the question, as though it were a doubtful and wavering devotion, and then, because this third trial had cleansed him of his infirmities, had the reward of hearing the Lord’s commission, Feed My sheep, a third time repeated; who, when all the Apostles were silent, alone recognised by the Father’s revelation the Son of God, and won the pre-eminence of a glory beyond the reach of human frailty by his confession of his blissful faith! What are the conclusions forced upon us by the study of his words? He confessed that Christ is the Son of God; you, lying bishop of the new apostolate, thrust upon us your modern notion that Christ is a creature, made out of nothing. What violence is this, that so distorts the glorious words? The very reason why he is blessed is that he confessed the Son of God. This is the Father’s revelation, this the foundation of the Church, this the assurance of her permanence. Hence has she the keys of the kingdom of heaven, hence judgment in heaven and judgment on earth. Through revelation Peter learnt the mystery hidden from the beginning of the world, proclaimed the faith, published the Divine nature, confessed the Son of God. He who would deny all this truth and confess Christ a creature, must first deny the apostleship of Peter, his faith, his blessedness, his episcopate, his martyrdom. And when he has done all this, he must learn that he has severed himself from Christ; for it was by confessing Him that Peter won these glories.

    (source)

    Notice how here Hilary explicitly identifies the rock and designates it as being the faith of Petr, the faith in the divinity of the Son, not just the name “the Son of God,” but the real meaning behind it. Peter may be a “foundation stone,” and he certainly had the keys of the kingdom (rightly understood), but that key (according to Hilary) is faith! This is so far from the Roman notion as to show that the previous citation was quite a mistaken attempt to use Hilary to support a position he did not support.

    3. “He [Jesus] took up Peter — to whom He had just before given the keys of the kingdom of heaven, upon whom He was about to build the Church, against which the gates of hell should not in any way prevail, who whatsoever he should bind or loose on earth, that should abide bound or loosed in heaven — this same Peter … the first confessor of the Son of God, the foundation of the Church, the doorkeeper of the heavenly kingdom, and in his judgment on earth a judge of heaven.”

    This is apparently taken from Hilary’s Tractates on the Psalms, at Psalm 131, section 4.

    A little more context helps to show what’s going on here:

    On an occasion that the Only-Begotten spoke to His disciples certain things concerning His Passion, and Peter expressed his abhorrence, as if it were unworthy of the Son of God, He took up Peter,— to whom He had just before given the keys of the kingdom of heaven, upon whom He was about to build the Church (super quem ccclesiam adificalurus erat), against which the gates of hell should not in any way prevail, who, whatsoever he should bind or loose on earth, that should abide bound or loosed in heaven, — this same Peter then, when expressing his abhorrence in such reproachful terms, He took up with, Get behind me, Satan, thou art an offense to Me. For it was with Him so sacred a thing to suffer for the salvation of the human race, as thus to designate with the reproachful name Satan, Peter, the first Confessor of the Son of God, the Foundation of the Church (ecclesice fundamentuni), the Door-keeper (janitorem) of the heavenly kingdom, and in his judgment on earth a Judge of heaven (et in terreno judicis judicem call).

    (source)

    The context does certainly seem to change the tone a little, doesn’t it? Yes, Hilary says a lot of nice things about Peter, but nothing about universal jurisdiction, and nothing even about primacy of honor or glory (as one might find elsewhere). And – of course – there is nothing here about Rome, or a Roman bishop, or anything about any of these traits of Peter being passed down to others after Peter leaves (or during his life).

    4. “O blessed keeper of the gate of heaven, to whose disposal are delivered the keys of the entrance into eternity; whose judgment on earth is an authority prejudged in heaven, so that the things that are either loosed or bound on earth, acquire in heaven too a like state of settlement.”

    This is apparently another quotation taken from Hilary’s Commentary on Matthew. My source for the first citation also had a longer excerpt providing some of the context for the quotation:

    5. … We must hold that form of confession, that we so mention the Son of God as not to forget the Son of Man, for the one without the other offers us no hope of salvation; and therefore He said emphatically, “Whom do men say that the Son of Man is?” (translation from translation of Aquinas’ Catena Aurea)

    6. When they had presented diverse human origins concerning him, he asked what they themselves thought about him. Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” But Peter had pondered the nature of the question. For the Lord had said, “Whom do men say that the Son of man is?” Certainly his human body indicated he was a Son of man. But by adding “Who do you say that I am?” Jesus indicated that they should consider something besides what he seemed in himself, for he was a Son of man. Therefore, what judgment concerning himself did he desire? It was a secret he was asking about, into which the faith of those who believe ought to extend itself. (Translation from the Ancient Christian Commentary series, pp. 44-45)

    7. And in sooth Peter’s confession obtained a worthy recompense. Blessed is he that is praised as having both remarked and seen beyond the ken of human eyes not regarding what was of flesh and blood, but, by the revelation of the heavenly Father, beholding the Son of God, and accounted worthy to be the first to acknowledge what was in the Christ of God. Oh, in thy designation by a new name happy foundation of the Church, and a rock worthy of the building up of that which was to scatter the infernal laws, and the gates of hell and all the bars of death! O blessed keeper of the gate of heaven to whose disposal are delivered the keys of the entrance into eternity; whose judgment on earth is an authority, prejudged in heaven, so that the things that are either loosed or bound on earth acquire in heaven too a like state of settlement. (Berington and Kirk, The Faith of Catholics)

    10. … The Lord, knowing the suggestion of the craft of the devil, says to Peter, “Get thee behind me;” that is, that he should follow the example of His passion; but to him by whom this expression was suggested, He turns and says, “Satan, thou art an offence unto me.” For we cannot suppose that the name of Satan, and the sin of being an offence, would be imputed to Peter after those so great declarations of blessedness and power that had been granted him.

    Commentary on Matthew, Chapter 16, Sections 5-7 & 10.

    Alternate translation of a portion of Section 6 and of Section 7 (translation from translation of Aquinas’ Catena Aurea):

    6. … By asking, “Whom do men say that the Son of Man is?” He implied that something ought to be thought respecting Him beyond what appeared, for He was the Son of Man. And in thus enquiring after men’s opinion respecting Himself, we are not to think that He made confession of Himself; for that which He asked for was something concealed, to which the faith of believers ought to extend itself.

    7. This confession of Peter met a worthy reward, for that he had seen the Son of God in the man. He is blessed, because to have looked and to have seen beyond human sight is matter of praise, not beholding that which is of flesh and blood, but seeing the Son of God by the revelation of the heavenly Father; and he was held worthy to be the first to acknowledge the divinity which was in Christ. But in this bestowing of a new name is a happy foundation of the Church, and a rock worthy of that building, which should break up the laws of hell, burst the gates of Tartarus, and all the shackles of death.

    All this build up to simply point that although again Hilary says nice things about Peter and identifies the blessedness associated with his name (while linking this closely with his confession of faith), Hilary does not describe Peter has having universal jurisdiction, as having a unique Roman successor, or anything like that. There is nothing of papal primacy here – indeed, although there is mention of power given to Peter, the focus of the discussion is not on Peter but on his confession of faith, the saving confession that Jesus Christ is not just the Son of Man but the Son of God.

    5. [“]… if to the head, that is to the see of the Apostle Peter, the priests of the Lord report . . . .”

    This appears to be taken from the following sentence:

    “This will be seen to be best, and by far the most fitting thing, if to the Head, that is, to the See of the Apostle Peter, the priests of the Lord report from every one of the provinces” for which the citation is Fragment 2, section 9, which itself is not that helpful a designation – fragments of what? But upon searching it appears that it is taken from the fragments of Hilary’s Historical Works.

    In this case, the line is actually taken from a letter from the Sardican council to Julius. As Roman Catholic historian Hefele indicates, Hilary preserved some of the documents of the council in Latin, whereas Athanasius preserved them in Greek. However, as Hefele also indicates, this particular sentence has been identified as questionable – a possible later interpolation, because of its terrible Latin.

    So this line is neither certainly genuinely in Hilary’s works, nor is it actually Hilary’s own words. Moreover, in context, the Sardican council is simply reporting to Julian the actions they have taken against error. If we take this is as being original and authentic, there may be some sort of primacy suggested, but not one that led the council to wait to see what Julius would think before making their decisions. The letter is reporting to Julius what the Synod of Sardica did.

    A translation of the entire letter can be found in Wickham, L.R. Hilary of Poitiers, Conflicts of Conscience and Law in the Fourth-Century Church “Against Valens and Ursacius”, the Extant Fragments, Together with His “Letter to the Emperor Constantius”. (Liverpool 1997), pp. 48 et seq. (sadly this is not available on-line, to my knowledge, or I would link you too it)

    6. “[Peter is to be admired] because, knowing that all acknowledged his primacy, he had too much humility to resent any reproach offered to himself.”

    This seems to be taken from Steve Ray’s book or from the source of Steve Ray’s book. Steve quotes Hilary this way:

    Both Paul and Peter are to be admired; Paul because he did not fear to point out the right practice to his superior; Peter because, knowing that all acknowledged his primacy, he had too much humility to resent any reproach offered to himself.

    Steve Ray does not cite any work of Hilary for this. Instead, Mr. Ray cites “Radio Replies, ed. Charles Carty [1938; reprint Rockford, Ill.: TAN books, 1979], 1:82-83″ (link to evidence). I checked Radio Replies, at item 357 in Volume 1 (which does have that quotation), but Radio Replies itself does not have any citation to Hilary. So, we are at a dead end here. Is this really Hilary? Who knows!

    I would be surprised if it were Hilary, but it may be. Even if we assume that it is Hilary, all it shows is that Peter had some sort of primacy of honor above that of Paul (that’s not what Galatians teaches, but that’s another story). It doesn’t suggest that Peter had universal jurisdiction, nor that his superiority (of whatever kind) to Paul was passed on to someone else.

  85. TurretinFan said,

    October 8, 2010 at 10:21 am

    Sorry to admins, but it appears another of my long, link-filled comments has gotten snared in the spam filter.

  86. steve hays said,

    October 8, 2010 at 10:22 am

    Tom Riello said,

    “My concern would be similar to what Pope Benedict has expressed about such notions: The Scripture is left to the playground of the exegetes and the historical/critical scholars to decide what is or is not still in force. Could your argument against Bryan possibly prove too much? Namely, that the Bible is subject to the whims of exegesis and the academy. One says this passage is still operative, the other says that this was for that particular time (I am thinking of Paul’s not allowing women to the ordained ministry) and still another says the passage is not authentic. How would you defend your position contra the liberal academy? What makes it different? (Please know that I am not asking in order to engage in some polemical fight but out of a genuine desire to hear your answer).”

    i) Exegesis applies to texts generally–whether biblical, papal, patristic, conciliar, or secular. Bryan assumes that readers of Green Baggins can properly interpret his statements. Bryan assumes that he can properly interpret the statements of commenters at Green Baggins.

    You had to interpret my statement to frame your question, and I had to interpret your question to answer it.

    So if you think that leaves it to the “playground” of exegetes, than you objection applies with equal force to Magisterial statements as well as statements made by Catholic epologists like Bryan.

    ii) Either exegetes give arguments for their interpretations or they don’t. If so, then it’s a question of judging the quality of the argument.

    If you think we can’t judge the quality of an argument, then we can’t judge the quality of arguments for Roman Catholicism.

    iii) As to historical/critical scholars, that depends, in part, on the evidence they adduce, but that also depends on their methods and assumptions. If, say, a historical/critical scholar is screening the witness of Scripture through the filter of methodological naturalism, then we’re entitled to challenge that hermeneutical grid.

  87. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    October 8, 2010 at 10:25 am

    Blogpost Title: Oral Tradition Debate

    Question: Informally speaking, if the Catholic position on Oral Tradition is shown to be false or untenable, what are the consequences?

    I.e., suppose a Catholic lurker reads this thread and concludes that the Catholic arguments for Oral Tradition fail. If s/he is intellectually and spiritually honest, what then?

  88. Sean said,

    October 8, 2010 at 10:39 am

    Mr. Fan,

    Think whatever you want to about me. I really don’t worry about what somebody named “TurretinFan” thinks of me.

    Regardless, even your alternate translation says that those outside the church cannot understand the divine word. Furthermore, Hilary never defines the Church as anything but the church founded by the apostles which includes apostolic succession. The Church for Hilary included bishops, councils and apostolic succession.

    When Hilary was writing there was no group of Christians who placed themselves outside of the unity of the Catholic Church. For Hilary, those outside of communion with the Catholic Church were heretics. Hilary himself was a bishop in the Catholic Church. Pius IX canonized him a doctor of the church. Strange thing for a Catholic pope to do in 1851 if Hilary was such a proto Protestant.

    Allow me to quote Keith Mathison from “The Shape of Sola Scriptura:

    Page 31 – Hilary of Poitiers

    “The concern for interpreting the authoritative Scriptures within the context of the apostolic faith is repeated in the writings of Hilary, the Bishop of Poiters. The apostolic rule of faith and the Holy Scriptures are essentially one and the same for Hilary….These scriptures, however, cannot be interpreted apart from the context of the apostolic faith without destroying their meaning.”

  89. TurretinFan said,

    October 8, 2010 at 10:41 am

    SP:

    And if you read on in the Catena Aurea (here’s a link), you’ll find Aquinas providing these comments, which attributes to Hilary (I’m not sure Hilary actually said it):

    The Lord compares Himself to leaven; for leaven is produced from meal, and communicates the power that it has received to a heap of its own kind. The woman, that is the Synagogue, taking this leaven hides it, that is by the sentence of death; but it working in the three measures of meal, that is equally in the Law, the Prophets, and the Gospels, makes all one; so that what the Law ordains, that the Prophets announce, that is fulfilled in the developements of the Gospels. But many, as I remember, have thought that the three measures refer to the calling of the three nations, out of Shem, Ham, and Japhel. But I hardly think that the reason of the thing will allow this interpretation; for though these three nations have indeed been called, yet in them Christ is shewn and not hidden, and in so great a multitude of unbelievers the whole cannot be said to be leavened.

    This treasure is indeed found without cost; for the Gospel preaching is open to all, but to use and possess the treasure with its field we may not without price, for heavenly riches are not obtained without the loss of this world.

    That’s not the immediate context, of course, but it helps to give you a better sense of what Aquinas though Hilary thought about the text (if you have interest, I can try to figure out whether it is also what Hilary himself thought … I always take Aquinas’ use of the fathers with a grain of salt).

    -TurretinFan

  90. TurretinFan said,

    October 8, 2010 at 10:49 am

    “Hilary never defines the Church as anything but the church founded by the apostles which includes apostolic succession”

    I’m quite sure you haven’t read enough of Hilary’s writings to make this sort of claim. And while you may not care what I think of you, perhaps you should consider that you’re bloviating in a public forum.

    And, of course, I notice you don’t actually address what the context of your quotation indicates about the mean of the word “church.”

    -TurretinFan

  91. D. T. King said,

    October 8, 2010 at 11:08 am

    Hilary never defines the Church as anything but the church founded by the apostles which includes apostolic succession. The Church for Hilary included bishops, councils and apostolic succession.

    Well, you know, different fathers say different things. As for bishops, councils and apostolic succession guaranteeing the the preservation of the true deposit of faith, Ambrose has expressed himself…

    Ambrose (c. 339-97): Many times have the clergy erred; the bishop has wavered in his opinion; the rich men have adhered in their judgment to the earthly princes of the world; meanwhile the people alone preserved the faith entire. John Daillé, A Treatise on the Right Use of the Fathers (Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1856), p. 197.
    Latin text: Plerumque clerus erravit, Sacerdos mutavit sententiam, divites cum saeculi istius terreno rege senserunt; populus fidem propriam reservavit. In Psalmum David CXVIII Expositio, Sermo 17, §17, PL 15:1446. Cf. also Commentarius in Cantica Canticorum, Caput Septimum, §4, PL 15:1947C-D, Plerumque clerus erravit, sacerdos mutavit sententiam, divites cum saeculi istius terreno rege senserunt, populus fidem propriam reservavit.

    (BTW, unlike our Romanist friends, we actually document our sources :)

    And the often contrary Jerome tells us…

    Jerome (347-420): The Church does not consist in walls, but in the truths of her teachings. The Church is there where there is true faith. As a matter of fact, fifteen and twenty years ago, all the church buildings belonged to heretics, for heretics twenty years ago were in possession of them; but the true Church was there where the true faith was. FC, Vol. 48, The Homilies of St. Jerome: Vol. 1, On the Psalms, Homily 46 (Washington D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1964), p. 344.
    Latin text: Ecclesia non parietibus consistit, sed in dogmatum veritate. Ecclesia ibi est ubi fides vera est. Caeterum ante annos quindecim aut viginti, parietes omnes hic Ecclesiarum haeretici possidebant. Ante viginti enim annos, omnes Ecclesias has haeretici possidebant. Ecclesia autem vera illic erat, ubi vera fides erat. Breviarium in Psalmos, Psalmus CXXXIII, PL 26:1223.

    Those contrary fathers! Why couldn’t they be on board with modern day Rome’s apologetic???

  92. D. T. King said,

    October 8, 2010 at 11:14 am

    Dear Mr. Gadbois,

    I am afraid that my last post is in the spam filter again. Your help, as always, will be appreciated.

    DTK

  93. Nick said,

    October 8, 2010 at 11:17 am

    Jeff (#55)

    You said: “I’ll freely admit that sola scriptura is open to abuse. Yes, people in the name of “sola scriptura” can and do believe wacky things.”

    That never was my point; I never was speaking on people abusing SS. Unless you are saying taking a symbolic interpretation of “This is My Body” is an “abuse” and “wacky”.
    My point was a text like “This is My Body” can and is “plain English,” but the question is whether it’s to be taken literally, somewhere between literal and symbolic, or purely symbolic.
    Your *only* options when it comes to interpreting the text is (a) claiming a dogmatic interpretation, (b) shelving it for another time, or (c) saying it’s non-essential one way or another.
    Ultimately, only Tradition can answer this question, and in issues like Communion, Tradition is required for option (a).

    Remember what *you* said earlier: “If there is not enough data to warrant a firm conclusion, then the matter is one of adiaphora.”

    First of all, nowhere does Scripture tell you to proceed this way. The “rule” that whatever doesn’t have enough data makes the issue “non-essential” is a tradition of men.
    Second, the very notion of “enough data” is purely subjective, since a Protestant can claim there is “enough data” while another can claim not enough.

    You asked: “In return: can you admit that submission to church tradition is open to abuse? That popes might teach error while claiming infallibility?”

    Outside authoritative interpretation, any source can be “abused” by anyone. But if you believe the Popes and Church today can teach just as dogmatically as the Apostles and Apostolic Church did, then teaching error is impossible.

    You don’t have to agree that the Pope and Church today *in fact* exercise the same authority as the Apostles – *BUT* at least understand the Catholic outlook on this, meaning that within the Catholic framework, logically speaking, teaching error is impossible.

  94. Ron Henzel said,

    October 8, 2010 at 11:20 am

    Sean,

    You quoted Mathison writing of Hilary:

    These scriptures, however, cannot be interpreted apart from the context of the apostolic faith without destroying their meaning.

    This is a statement with which any good Protestant should agree. It in no way contradicts sola Scriptura, especially since it in no way mentions or implies oral tradition.

  95. Tom Riello said,

    October 8, 2010 at 11:23 am

    TF,

    With all due respect, things have been said on this site about Sean that have attacked his character, attacked his knowledge in a given subject, accused him of hidden motives etc… And to be honest, it does make it a bit harder when you are engaging someone who hits hard, like yourself, and who uses a moniker all the while you have put your name out there and it gets attacked. You have your reasons for the moniker and I respect that but do realize that it adds to the impersonal tendency of the internet.

    Steve,

    Given what you said, my concern is this: It seems that this understanding of interpretation only allows for making a quality argument, nothing more, nothing less.

  96. Sean said,

    October 8, 2010 at 11:28 am

    David T King,

    I do beg your pardon, Pontifex maximus, but I can and did. :)

    Well sure, you can say whatever you want. This is one of the pitfalls of the blog world. What I should have said is, “You can say that Chrysostom and Hilary were advocating the formal sufficiency of scripture but we know better.”

    1) They weren’t addressing material sufficiency (your private exegesis of these two ECFs notwithstanding), but they were addressing formal sufficiency. But this is not the topic being debated here.

    Not one father taught the formal sufficiency of scripture. Full stop. If you disagree here is your chance.

    Tell me which fathers taught the formal sufficiency of scripture.

    Like previous times we’ve chatted, you continue to make this assertion while ignoring the obvious. Hilary was a Catholic bishop who placed authority in councils and who wrote that those outside the church (you know…the ones with councils, bishops and apostolic succession) could not understand scripture. He called those people outside of the Church, Arians in his case, heretics.

    2) I never said that the Church plays no role in interpreting Scripture. As a rule, it’s only people in the church who interpret Scripture. People outside of the church usually show little interest in Scripture.

    You confess the formal sufficiency of scripture which by definition excludes the interpretive authority of the church. You say, effectively, that the church can interpret scripture so long as the interpretation of scripture is scriptural…which really means, “The Church can interpret scripture for me so long as I agree with it.”

    I’m afraid you’ve missed your target.

    I’m afraid that your misappropriation of the fathers has not gone unnoticed.

    And, the last I heard, I have not been placed without the Church. I am a member in good standing in the church.

    You are not a communing member of the Church that St. Hilary – Bishop of Poiters – was part of. Among other things; Hilary’s ‘formal sufficiency’ led to some strangely Catholic conclusions like Peter and his successors being the foundation of the church, apostolic succession via the sacrament of holy orders, the Catholic teaching on the Eucharist, Mary’s ever virginity, indefectibility of councils etc etc.

    Now, here’s my question for you – Are you going to tell us what these oral traditions are that Paul commanded the Thessalonians to have and to hold, or are you going to keep them to yourself?

    The oral traditions that Paul commands us to have and hold are protected by the sacred deposit of Tradition which is proclaimed by the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

    By the way, can you name one church history scholar whose name is not David T King or William Webster who conclude that any father taught that scripture was formally sufficient?

    Here is a start on that research for you:

    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

  97. Nick said,

    October 8, 2010 at 11:33 am

    Please note: David King’s co-worker, William Webster, said the Bible and ECFs taught *Material Sufficiency* in his online article which I commented on titled “What did the Early Church believe about the authority of Scripture? (sola Scriptura)”

  98. Nick said,

    October 8, 2010 at 11:35 am

    (sorry for the double post)
    Please note: David King’s co-worker, William Webster, said the Bible and ECFs taught *Material Sufficiency* in his online article ,which I commented on, titled “What did the Early Church believe about the authority of Scripture? (sola Scriptura)”

  99. D. T. King said,

    October 8, 2010 at 11:35 am

    Not one father taught the formal sufficiency of scripture. Full stop. If you disagree here is your chance.

    Define formal sufficiency. I know what it means, but do you?

  100. RL Keener said,

    October 8, 2010 at 11:40 am

    To Nick (#52):

    You said:

    “One prime example is the issue of ‘imputation,’ which I’ve yet to find a single Protestant author or apologist address head on (most of the time it’s a brief sentence or two).”

    I find that hard to believe. Does John Piper not address imputation head on in his book “Counted Righteous In Christ”?

    If not, what is he doing?

  101. steve hays said,

    October 8, 2010 at 11:42 am

    Tom Riello said,

    “Given what you said, my concern is this: It seems that this understanding of interpretation only allows for making a quality argument, nothing more, nothing less.”

    And why is that a source of concern? Didn’t Jesus and the Apostles reason from the Scriptures? They argued down their opponents.

  102. Tom Riello said,

    October 8, 2010 at 11:53 am

    Steve,

    Certainly you don’t think Jesus and the Apostles thought that their reasoning from the Scripture was only the putting forth of a quality argument.

  103. D. T. King said,

    October 8, 2010 at 11:54 am

    I still don’t see any of the Romanists offering any of these traditions, which they claim, via 2 Thess 2:15, the Apostle communicated purely orally and were preserved purely orally. It seems to me that all they want to discuss is the sufficiency of Holy Scripture.

    Can the moderators help keep us on track here?

  104. Bryan Cross said,

    October 8, 2010 at 11:56 am

    Jeff, (re: #72)

    But the Scripture *also* says that we are to test the teachings of man against Scripture.

    The imperative to “test the teachings of man against Scripture” is nowhere in the Bible. Presumably, that’s your interpretation of some verse or set of verses. If Scripture commanded that every man is required to test for himself the teachings of the Church against Scripture, then it would follow that Scripture commands that every man learn to read. But if Scripture does not directly or indirectly command every man to learn to read. And therefore it cannot be the case that Scripture commands that every man test the teachings of the Church (or any other source) against Scripture or against his own interpretation of Scripture.

    Even Paul himself did not rest on his authority simpliciter, but said to the Galatians, “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!”

    There was an objective content (the Gospel) against which the teachings of even angels from heaven should be measured.

    Of course. But that objective content was not “my personal interpretation of Scripture.” It was something much bigger than that. It was the faith that has been preached throughout the world by the Apostles. There was a communa, historical and personal dimension to the received faith and its identity; it wasn’t limited to the letters written by the Apostles. To see whether someone was teaching a novel teaching, one would compare the message in question to the teaching universally received from the Apostles throughout the whole Church. The standard by which to measure the message in question was not “my interpretation of Scripture.” Otherwise, anyone could claim to be following the original gospel, who followed his own novel interpretation of Scripture.

    Your theory of Rome’s authority makes it impossible for an individual believer to test tradition against Scripture. If for whatever reason tradition is seen to be in conflict with Scripture, it is the fault of the individual, never the fault of tradition.

    That’s not true. Nor does it follow from what I said. If someone comes along teaching something contrary to the faith that has been believed and practiced in the universal Church from the time of the Apostles, it is to be rejected. From the day of Pentecost, there was never a Tradition-less Church-less hermeneutical vacuum within which to interpet Scripture, against which one could test every incoming component of Tradition. Tradition was present before the NT was written, as was the Church. And therefore novel claims are to be tested not against a [Scripture interpreted in a Tradition-less Church-less vacuum], for that is an artificial abstraction. Rather, novel claims are to be tested against the already-received-Tradition [both written and unwritten]-within-the-already-existing-universal-Church.

    Nor can the individual believer fulfill Jesus’ command to know false teachers by their fruits. By any measure, popes such as Alexander VI were false teachers and therefore not valid authorities in the Church.

    Again, nothing I have said implies or entails that we cannot know false teachers by their fruits. We have to be careful to interpret that verse rightly. Jesus isn’t saying that if we see someone living an immoral life, we can therefore know that his words are false. That would be a non sequitur. And experience itself shows that even some immoral people can talk the talk (i.e. affirm orthodoxy). Nor is Jesus giving necessary and sufficient conditions for retaining ecclesial office. That is not His purpose in that passage. His purpose is to give a general principle, that orthodoxy is corroborated by sanctity, that heresies cannot produce true sanctity. A life of manifest immorality indicates that someone is not in a state of grace, and not suited for being a shepherd of God’s flock. Only upright persons are to be appointed to these offices. But what Jesus is saying does not entail that every immoral person must be teaching false doctrine, or that if a person falls into immorality he has ipso facto lost his ecclesial office. To draw that conclusion is to read more into the text than what it says.

    What’s happened in your theory of authority is exactly what I explained above: the actual *text* of Scripture makes no difference; only the *interpretation of the text by the Church* is of force. The testing function of Scripture has been vacated because the Church tradition has entirely overshadowed it.

    That’s a straw man. The text of Scripture makes a huge difference. This is, in part, how the Church is guided and informed. But Scripture is something known and understood communally, not in an individualistic way, and never in a Tradition-less vacuum.

    But for whatever reason, you do not fear what the Scripture says to fear: that false teachers would infiltrate the Church and lead many astray.

    I think mind-reading is not a good way of approaching ecumenical dialogue. I strongly oppose false teachers, whether inside the Church or outside the Church, because they lead many people astray. But I don’t assume that anyone who teaches contrary to my interpretation of Scripture is a false teacher, because my interpretation of Scripture is not the standard by which false teachers are distinguished from true shepherds. It is the Tradition (written and unwritten) received from the Apostles and preserved throughout the universal Church, against which false teachers are shown to be false, not my interpretation of Scripture.

    Why should it be implausible that the Church might err here or there, when the history of the Church is filled with the record of struggles against error, and even errors committed by pope or council?

    I wouldn’t believe in ecclesial infallibility if the Church didn’t teach it. Again, this is a difference between Protestants and Catholics. My interpretation of Scripture is not the standard by which doctrine is measured. I submit to the Church, as the Body Christ Himself established by which His people are to be taught and nourished. Faith isn’t just believing my own interpretation of Scripture, but the Tradition (written and unwritten) as it is handed down to us by Christ’s Body. We trust Christ by trusting His Church.

    And most importantly: if the early church fathers took on error by picking up Scripture as the basis for sound doctrine, why are you now advocating the view that Scripture is no basis at all, but is instead a wax nose that must be shaped by the tradition of the Church to take its proper shape? The very same early church fathers that you revere did not do as you do. They did the opposite.

    You only reach that conclusion, because you do not see them explicitly using the unwritten Tradition when they are appealing to Scripture. But all their appeals to Scripture take place informed by the Tradition in which they learned the faith. The faith of the Church, the liturgy and sacramental practice of the Church, the embodiment of the faith in the particular Church (or Churches) in which they have been catechized, all inform their hermeneutic. None of them appeals to Scripture from a Tradition-less Church-less vacuum. They all bring the Tradition (and whatever the Church has already decided, when applicable) to their hermeneutical practice, and thus to all their appeals to Scripture.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  105. Nick said,

    October 8, 2010 at 11:57 am

    RL Keener ([lucky post]#100)

    John Piper mentions the Greek word for “impute” once or twice, in the lenght of about a sentence or two. That’s it.

    From my personal research on this topic, that’s par for the course in Protestant apologist books, articles, blog posts, and even systematic theology texts and the works of “big name” Protestant theologians that I have been able to consult.

    You might find it hard to believe – indeed, all Protestants should – but you can go ahead and look.

    Side Note: A very similar thing is going on with the Biblical term “atonement,” I’ve not found any Protestants actually examine how the Bible uses the term in any depth. A recent example is when Steve Hays went around saying the Levitical Sacrifices modeled Penal Substitution, even condemning other Protestants for not believing it, but Steve went utterly silent (and even mocked me) when I called him out to prove that. Just see this article on his blog, scroll down to my first comment.

  106. TurretinFan said,

    October 8, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    Nick: Have you forgotten about our debate? – TurretinFan

  107. steve hays said,

    October 8, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    Tom Riello said,

    “Certainly you don’t think Jesus and the Apostles thought that their reasoning from the Scripture was only the putting forth of a quality argument.”

    They thought it was sufficient to argue for their interpretation. That’s what they gave their audience. “My interpretation is right for this reason. Or, your interpretation is wrong for this reason.”

  108. steve hays said,

    October 8, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    Nick said,

    “A recent example is when Steve Hays went around saying the Levitical Sacrifices modeled Penal Substitution, even condemning other Protestants for not believing it, but Steve went utterly silent (and even mocked me) when I called him out to prove that. Just see this article on his blog, scroll down to my first comment.”

    That’s a documentable lie. I pointed out that Nick committed stock word-study fallacies.

  109. October 8, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    Sean writes:

    By the way, can you name one church history scholar whose name is not David T King or William Webster who conclude that any father taught that scripture was formally sufficient?

    Do the scholars who endorsed their volumes count?

    Either way, I seriously doubt you’ve done a thorough survey of church history scholarship on this point.

  110. steve hays said,

    October 8, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    Bryan Cross said,

    “I wouldn’t believe in ecclesial infallibility if the Church didn’t teach it.”

    Mitt Romney said,

    “I wouldn’t believe in ecclesial infallibility if the LDS Church didn’t teach it.”

    Helen Keller said,

    I wouldn’t believe in ecclesial infallibility if the Swedenborgian Church didn’t teach it.

  111. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    October 8, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    Observational Note:

    Green Baggins (and other Protestant blogsites) are superior to the Called to Communion and Catholic Champion blogsites because Green Baggins does not moderate comments that have to pass through a moderator before a comment is posted.

    Question: Informally speaking, if the Catholic position on Oral Tradition is shown to be false or untenable, what are the consequences?

    I.e., suppose a Catholic lurker reads this thread and concludes that the Catholic arguments for Oral Tradition fail. If s/he is intellectually and spiritually honest, what then?

    P.S. FWIW, I think the Catholics are losing the arguments (in various forms and levels) on Oral Tradition.

  112. steve hays said,

    October 8, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    Bryan Cross said,

    “I wouldn’t believe in ecclesial infallibility if the Church didn’t teach it.”

    Unless you already knew that a church which teaches ecclesial infallibility is infallible, there would be no reason to believe its self-referential teaching.

    “From the day of Pentecost, there was never a Tradition-less Church-less hermeneutical vacuum within which to interpet Scripture, against which one could test every incoming component of Tradition.”

    From the day of Pentecost, there was never a Scripture-less church, for the Apostles preached from the OT.

  113. David Gadbois said,

    October 8, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    DT King is right, this thread is not about the formal sufficiency of scripture or sola scriptura, it is about the Roman Catholic claims of oral tradition. The topics may be related, but even if sola scriptura were wrong this would not justify oral tradition, per se.

  114. D. T. King said,

    October 8, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    But if Scripture does not directly or indirectly command every man to learn to read. And therefore it cannot be the case that Scripture commands that every man test the teachings of the Church (or any other source) against Scripture or against his own interpretation of Scripture.

    Whether a man is literate or illiterate is not germane to this debate. All one has to do is consult the scriptures themselves for the plethora of passages where the scriptures are to be read in the hearing of the people. And they are called, for example, to mediate in the law of the Lord both day and night, which presupposes that they engage either in the reading of the Scriptures themselves or having the Scriptures read to them. The Apostle Paul commanded that his epistles be read in the hearing of the people (Col 4:16; 1 Thess 5:27). The OT is full of these examples. Moreover, Paul indicates to the Corinthians, “For we are not writing any other things to you than what you read or understand.” (2 Co 1:13), Hence Mr. Cross’ “therefore” does not logically follow, and thus his argument cannot stand as constructed.

    The Church fathers, unlike Trent (Session XXV: Rule IV of the Ten Rules Concerning Prohibited Books), were zealous in their insistence that the people either read or have read to them the Holy Scriptures…

    Caesarius, bishop of Arles (470-543): Listen, I beseech you, brethren; I will say something about which you are not ignorant. We know that some merchants who are illiterate look for literate mercenaries; although they themselves do not know letters, they acquire immense profits by having others write their ideas. Now, if those who are unlearned hire literate mercenaries in order to obtain earthly wealth, why do not you, whoever you are that is illiterate, seek with the price of reward someone to read over the sacred Scriptures for you, so that you may be able to acquire eternal rewards through them? It is definitely a fact, brethren, that anyone who diligently seeks this believes that it will profit him for eternity. However, if a man neither will read the text himself nor willingly listen to others do so, he does not believe that he can derive any good at all from it. Therefore, I beg and exhort you, dearly beloved, if any of you know letters, read the sacred Scriptures rather frequently; those of you who do not should listen with attentive ears when others read it. The light and eternal food of the soul is nothing else but the word of God, without which the soul can neither see nor live. Just as our body dies if it does not receive food, so, too, our soul is killed if it does not receive the word of God. FC, Vol. 31, Saint Caesarius of Arles, Sermons (1-80), Sermon 6.2 (New York: Fathers of the Church, Inc., 1956), pp. 39-40.

    Caesarius, bishop of Arles (470-543): Another may report: I recall that my bishop said that a man who knows letters should be eager to read sacred Scripture, and one who does not should look for someone and ask him to read God’s precepts to him so that with God’s help he may fulfill what was read. Again, another may say: I heard my bishop say that just as merchants who are illiterate hire learned mercenaries so that they may acquire wealth, so Christians should seek, ask, and if necessary, pay for someone to read the sacred Scriptures to them; that just as a trader gets money by having someone else read, so Christians should obtain eternal life in this way. If you do this and admonish each other, you can both live devoutly in this world and afterwards attain to the bliss of eternal life. FC, Vol. 31, Saint Caesarius of Arles, Sermons (1-80), Sermon 6.8 (New York: Fathers of the Church, Inc., 1956), pp. 44-45.

    Caesarius of Arles (470-543) commenting on Rev. 22:10: Just as the divine Scriptures are sealed for those who are proud and who love the world more than God, so are they opened for those who are humble and who fear God. William C. Weinrich, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: New Testament, Vol. XII, Revelation (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2005), p. 398. Cf. Commentary on the Apocalypse 22.10, Homily 19.

    Caesarius, bishop of Arles (470-543): I beseech you, beloved brethren, be eager to engage in divine reading whatever hours you can. Moreover, since what a man procures in this life by reading or good works will be the food of his soul forever, let no one try to excuse himself by saying he has not learned letters at all. If those who are illiterate love God in truth, they look for learned people who can read the sacred Scriptures to them. This we have learned even illiterate merchants do, for they hire literate mercenaries and through their reading or writing acquire great profits. Now, if men do this for earthly wealth, how much more should we do it for the sake of eternal life? It often happens that a learned person may be poor in food or clothing, while one who does not know letters has more abundant wealth. The illiterate man who abounds in earthly goods summons the poor learned one and they mutually give each other what they need. The one by reading feeds the other with the sweet word of God, while the other by giving material substance does not allow his neighbor to suffer want. FC, Vol. 31, Saint Caesarius of Arles, Sermons (1-80), Sermon 8.1 (New York: Fathers of the Church, Inc., 1956), p. 49.

    Caesarius, bishop of Arles (470-543): Therefore consider at once, brethren, and carefully notice that the man who frequently reads or listens to sacred Scripture speaks with God. See, then, whether the Devil can overtake him when he perceives him in constant conversation with God. However, if a man neglects to do this, with what boldness or with what feelings does he believe God will grant him an eternal reward, when he refuses to speak with Him in this world through the divine text? FC, Vol. 31, Saint Caesarius of Arles, Sermons (1-80), Sermon 8.3 (New York: Fathers of the Church, Inc., 1956), p. 52.

    Chrysostom (349-407): But how shall any one who is unskillful as these men pretend, be able to convict the gainsayers and stop their mouths? or what need is there to give attention to reading and to the Holy Scriptures, if such a state of unskillfulness is to be welcome among us? Such arguments are mere makeshifts and pretexts, the marks of idleness and sloth. But some one will say, “it is to the priests that these charges are given:” — certainly, for they are the subjects of our discourse. But that the apostle gives the same charge to the laity, hear what he says in another epistle to other than the priesthood: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom,” and again, “Let your speech be always with grace seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer each one,” and there is a general charge to all that they “be ready to” render an account of their faith, and to the Thessalonians, he gives the following command: “Build each other up, even as also ye do.” But when he speaks of priests he says, “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word, and in teaching.” NPNF1: Vol. IX, The Christian Priesthood, Book 4, §7-8.

    Chrysostom (349-407): But what do the multitude say? “I do not hear what is read,” saith one, “nor do I know what the words are which are spoken.” Because thou makest a tumult and confusion, because thou comest not with a reverent soul. What sayest thou? “I know not what things are said.” Well then, for this very reason oughtest thou to give heed. But if not even the obscurity stir up thy soul, much more if things were clear wouldest thou hurry them by. Yea, this is the reason why neither all things are clear, lest thou shouldest indulge indolence; nor obscure, lest thou shouldest be in despair.
    And whereas that eunuch and barbarian (Acts 8:20.) said none of these things, but surrounded as he was with a crowd of so important affairs and on his journey, had a book in his hands and was reading: dost thou, both abounding in teachers, and having others to read to thee privately, allege to me thine excuses and pretexts? Knowest thou not what is said? Why then pray that thou mayest learn: but sure it is impossible to be ignorant of all things. For many things are of themselves evident and clear. And further, even if thou be ignorant of all, even so oughtest thou to be quiet, not to put out them that are attentive; that God, accepting thy quietness and thy reverence, may make the obscure things also plain. NPNF1: Vol. XII, Homilies on First Corinthians, Homily 36.9.

  115. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    October 8, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    John Bugay has written a post titled Friday, October 08, 2010
    Oscar Cullmann on the relationship between oral tradition and the canon of the New Testament, part 1
    .

    Excerpt:

    “From the same period we have the first apocryphal Gospels, which were collections of other oral traditions. It is sufficient to read these Gospels, one of which tells of the infant Jesus making living sparrows, carrying water in his apron, and miraculously killing companions who were annoying him, or to read the numerous apocryphal Acts, in order to realize that the tradition, in the Church, no longer offered any guarantee of truth, even when it claimed a chain of succession. For all these traditions were justified by [various chains] of transmission reaching back to the apostles. Papias himself also makes this claim when he says that he got his information from people who had been in contact with the apostles. The teaching office of the Church in itself did not suffice to preserve the purity of the gospel (88-90).

    Read the entire post.

  116. D. T. King said,

    October 8, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    Just to reiterate #103

    I still don’t see any of the Romanists offering any of these traditions, which they claim, via 2 Thess 2:15, the Apostle communicated purely orally and were preserved purely orally.

    If the Roman communion has indeed preserved these oral tradition of the Apostle Paul, it should be a relatively easy matter for them to pass these traditions on to us, which they claim we have failed to preserve and observe. My Romanist friends, this is your opportunity to give it your best shot.

    Don’t promise us the “candy” and then withhold it.

  117. Sean said,

    October 8, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    David,

    Formal Sufficiency and Material Sufficiency:

    For Scripture to be materially sufficient, it would have to contain or imply all that is needed for salvation. For it to be formally sufficient, it would not only have to contain all of this data, but it would have to be so clear that it does not need any outside information to interpret it.

    Now please tell me which fathers taught that scripture was formally sufficient.

    We can then approach the data together and examine their teaching on scripture in its relation to the church.

  118. TurretinFan said,

    October 8, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    Tom R.: I hear what you’re saying. I don’t want to sidetrack this discussion with a discussion about how Sean is feeling, but I’d be happy to exchange emails with you (you can get my email address through my blogger profile) if you’d like to discuss that at greater length. -TurretinFan

  119. Sean said,

    October 8, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    Matthew #109,

    Do the scholars who endorsed their volumes count?

    Well, since David T King and William Webster self published their research I have no idea what standards they gave to the people who endorsed it.

    So, no. That doesn’t count.

    If you are going to rely on that than you are basically saying that David T King and William Webster are the first scholars to ever figure out that the fathers taught that the scriptures were formally sufficient…(something which apparently William Wesbter is backing away from now although not David T King)

  120. David Gadbois said,

    October 8, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    If you Romanists have such a strong case for oral tradition, then surely you can actually stay focused and argue your case rather than throwing up endless off-topic diversions about penal substitution (Nick) or formal/material sufficiency of Scripture (Sean) or anything else.

    I will be deleting such off-topic comments from here on out.

  121. D. T. King said,

    October 8, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    For it to be formally sufficient, it would not only have to contain all of this data, but it would have to be so clear that it does not need any outside information to interpret it.

    Tell you what Sean, we can pick this up, and I will gladly oblige this request *after* you answer my question germane to this debate . . . What are these traditions, which you claim via 2 Thess 2:15, that the Apostle communicated purely orally and were preserved purely orally.

    And to the point, if you cannot identify and/or know them yourself, then the demand and claim for your understanding of 2 Thess 2:15 is itself a hypocritical request, for this reason . . . If you cannot identify them, how in the world can you be “standing stedfast in them,” “holding to them,” and “walking in them?”

    Sean, here is your golden opportunity to set all of us ignorant and blind Protestants straight. I invite you to make the most of it. :)

  122. Tom Riello said,

    October 8, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    David,

    In fairness to Sean he was asked to discuss the formal/material sufficiency by, if I remember, DT King. He was only bringing it in to play because he was asked to.

  123. Jeff Cagle said,

    October 8, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    David (#76):

    …but in the end, even with the true blue sola scriptura, your opinion has the trump card.

    David, I grieve that you have accepted this argument as legitimate. It is not.

    The problem with the argument is that it confuses the mental act of belief — which is, of course, *always* under the control of the agent — with the notion of authority.

    A Protestant holds the Scripture to be the primary standard, and Church tradition secondary. He therefore constructs his beliefs with an eye to these two. As the believing agent, he must *of course* in the end believe his own interpretation of those two.

    The Catholic meanwhile holds the Scripture and Tradition to be equal primary standards. He therefore constructs his beliefs with an eye to these two. As the believing agent, he must *of course* believe his own interpretation of those two.

    The argument being circulated here is a double standard. For Protestants, it focuses on the believing agent and says, “Look, you have to rely on your own interpretation!” Well, of course I do — as do you — because in the end, my beliefs are entirely dependent on my interpretation. My brain cannot jump outside of my senses and directly plug into Scripture (nor Tradition).

    So if we were being fair, we would say to the Catholic, “Your beliefs are dependent on your interpretation of Scripture and Tradition.”

    But the Catholic apologist argument here shifts ground and focuses on the objective standards used by the Catholic: Scripture and Tradition.

    The result is the pretense that the Protestant is mired in subjectivity, while the Catholic is relying upon an objective standard.

    This is false. Both Catholic and Protestant are looking at the standards they believe to be the God-given ones, then constructing beliefs based on those standards.

    So: why do you reject the authority of the Eastern Orthodox church? Is it not the case that you rest upon your opinion that the RCC claims to authority are better than those of the EO?

    See, the subjectivity claim cuts both ways. Which is why the RCC is not monolithic. Some Catholics reject Vatican II.

  124. Sean said,

    October 8, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    David T King,

    I already answered your ‘golden opportunity’ question in # 96.

    David Gadbois,

    OK.

  125. TurretinFan said,

    October 8, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    Tom: See Sean’s #96.
    Sean: Re: your #96 and your response to Pastor King’s question.

    You wrote: “The oral traditions that Paul commands us to have and hold are protected by the sacred deposit of Tradition which is proclaimed by the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.”

    That’s not an answer to the question that Pastor King asked. I’ll post Pastor King’s question for you again here: What are these traditions, which you claim via 2 Thess 2:15, that the Apostle communicated purely orally and were preserved purely orally.

    - TurretinFan

  126. D. T. King said,

    October 8, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    In fairness to Sean he was asked to discuss the formal/material sufficiency by, if I remember, DT King.

    Tom, show me. The only thing I recall making reference to was “the sufficiency of divine revelation.”

    Now, if you can’t demonstrate my request so worded by you, I request you to retract your statement.

  127. David Gadbois said,

    October 8, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    I’m not all that concerned about culpability and who started it, both Protestants and Romanists should stay on-topic. The topic is important, and in order to debate it effectively we need to focus.

  128. D. T. King said,

    October 8, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    apostolic succession via the sacrament of holy orders, the Catholic teaching on the Eucharist, Mary’s ever virginity, indefectibility of councils etc etc.

    Sean, besides these listed, all of which you have not proven to be purely “oral” apostolic tradition, I missed the “etc. etc” traditions.

    And I ask the other Romanists either to agree with Sean, or correct him by adding to, or subtracting from, his list of purely “oral” apostolic traditions. And I ask as well, is this an exhaustive list. If this list is not exhaustive, then my charge for the hypocrisy of the demand stands, because if you are not observing all of these purely “oral” apostolic traditions, then you are not faithful yourselves to the command of the apostle, as you folks are so inclined to interpret him.

  129. Tom Riello said,

    October 8, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    DT King,

    Sean brought it up in response to something you posted in #96 and in #99 you asked him to define formal sufficiency. That is what I was referring to. I apologize for any confusion.

  130. Sean said,

    October 8, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    What are these traditions, which you claim via 2 Thess 2:15, that the Apostle communicated purely orally and were preserved purely orally.

    So it’s now apparent that the idea is that based on 2 Thess 2:15 the Church must have a list of doctrines that it keeps that are based purely on oral tradition?

    This sounds like the old, “show us a list of infallible doctrines” challenge.

    DT King,

    You posted some fathers # 57 and then claimed that they were teaching the formal sufficiency in a subsequent post.

    I raised the issue of material sufficiency because you were doing what you normally do: splicing statements from different fathers speaking approvingly of scripture as if they had nothing to say about the church.

  131. Reed Here said,

    October 8, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    Jeff, no. 123: excellent summary. Praying our RCC friends will see the distinction with such clarity and be more consistent in this matter.

  132. Sean said,

    October 8, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    By the way – The church teaches that sacred Tradition and scripture form the SAME deposit of faith, therefore it is impossible to separate them.

  133. TurretinFan said,

    October 8, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    If it is really impossible to separate them, sola Scriptura shouldn’t be a problem at all.

  134. Phil Derksen said,

    October 8, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    RE #132: [note capitalization scheme] “By the way – The church teaches that sacred Tradition and scripture form the SAME deposit of faith, therefore it is impossible to separate them.”

    Might that have been a Freudian slip there? :)

  135. Sean said,

    October 8, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    TFan,

    Sola Scriptura wouldn’t be a problem at all had Christ not promissed us His Church. Sola Scriptura wouldn’t be a problem at all if each and every person could read the bible for themselves and come out the other side articulating perfect Nicean orthodoxy.

  136. TurretinFan said,

    October 8, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    “So it’s now apparent that the idea is that based on 2 Thess 2:15 the Church must have a list of doctrines that it keeps that are based purely on oral tradition?”

    a) You’re the one that raised this text. You seem to think we need to hold fast to the traditions that Paul delivered to the Thessalonians.

    b) Or possibly, you don’t really want us to hold fast to the traditions that Paul delivered to the Thessalonians, but in that case, you should find your support from a different place.

    c) In any event, it’s certainly analytically possible to separate Scripture, oral tradition, and living magisterium concepts. My previous comment was intended to help make that obvious to you.

    -TurretinFan

  137. John Bugay said,

    October 8, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    Jeff 123 and Reed 131: There is a third element in Roman doctrine, and that would be “the living Magisterium,” which provides a “magisterial,” binding “interpretation” at any given moment. (So depending on the Magisterium du jour, the “interpretation” might be different, though equally binding).

  138. TurretinFan said,

    October 8, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    “Sola Scriptura wouldn’t be a problem at all had Christ not promissed us His Church.”

    Promised whom his Church? Where did he promise this?

    “Sola Scriptura wouldn’t be a problem at all if each and every person could read the bible for themselves and come out the other side articulating perfect Nicean orthodoxy.”

    That’s a strange standard.

    a) It’s strange that you pick Nicaea and not Trent or Vatican I or II (assuming you think they are authoritative) or something closer to the time of the apostles (if you are trying to go back as early as possible).

    b) It’s strange that you think it’s a problem that wicked men distort the Scriptures to their own destruction. What makes you think that anything was designed to prevent wicked men from doing that sort of thing (i.e. refusing to hear God’s Word)?

    - TurretinFan

  139. Sean said,

    October 8, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    TFan # 136.

    OK. This is my last for the day. I got pick up the kids from school in a moment and have wasted too much of a good weather in Houston day blogging.

    a) You’re the one that raised this text. You seem to think we need to hold fast to the traditions that Paul delivered to the Thessalonians.

    You misunderstand the purpose in raising the text. The purpose was to show that oral tradition existed even in the apostles day. Not that there are some secret oral precepts that we have a list of back at the Vatican.

    b) Or possibly, you don’t really want us to hold fast to the traditions that Paul delivered to the Thessalonians, but in that case, you should find your support from a different place.

    No, we should all hold fast to the entire deposit of faith.

    c) In any event, it’s certainly analytically possible to separate Scripture, oral tradition, and living magisterium concepts. My previous comment was intended to help make that obvious to you.

    Well, just like we cannot divorce the soul from the body we cannot divorce scripture from the church nor can we divorce sacred Tradition with Holy Scripture.

  140. TurretinFan said,

    October 8, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    “The purpose was to show that oral tradition existed even in the apostles day.”

    It’s a pity you didn’t say that up front. We agree that doctrines were delivered orally and in writing (in fact, they are delivered orally and in writing today — every time a good pastor gives a sermon, he’s delivering doctrine orally).

    Of course, one cannot go from there to assuming that we can know what doctrines Paul preached to the Thessalonians. All we know that he taught the Thessalonians is what we read in his two epistles to them. So, applying that verse to ourselves, we maintain everything that we know Paul taught. We didn’t hear him preach to us, and we don’t know what he preached to the Thessalonians, so we couldn’t possibly follow that portion if we wanted to, or if it was intended for us.

    -TurretinFan

  141. D. T. King said,

    October 8, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    So it’s now apparent that the idea is that based on 2 Thess 2:15 the Church must have a list of doctrines that it keeps that are based purely on oral tradition? This sounds like the old, “show us a list of infallible doctrines” challenge. This sounds like the old, “show us a list of infallible doctrines” challenge.

    You’re the one who toosed out the proof text of 2 Thess 2:15 . . . Show us the list of Doctrines and/or practices that are apostolic in nature. I am simply holding you to your own claim. If you cannot identify them, and then demonstrate them to be apostolic, how in the world can you be sure “standing stedfast in them,” “holding to them,” and “walking in them?” You cannot be sure that you are even observing your own norms for faith and practice.

    Repeating the question is not an answer. If you cannot do it, I’ll accept “no” as an answer, and regard the Roman claim for the meaning of 2 Thess 2:15 as hypocritical apologetic, and we can end the debate now :)

  142. D. T. King said,

    October 8, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    Sorry for the sentence structure, but I am multitasking here.

  143. D. T. King said,

    October 8, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    We need a complete list of oral apostolic traditions to address, and since you claim, by way of implication, that Rome claims to have these traditions enumerated under the umbrella, if not the “blank check,” of 2 Thess 2:15, we all need to know that you are exercising universal obedience to your interpretation of this Pauline injunction. Otherwise the charge you level against Protestants is one of which you yourselves bear the guilt for not fulfilling.

  144. Ron Henzel said,

    October 8, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    D.T.:

    “A complete list of oral apostolic traditions”? But then, won’t they cease to be “oral traditions” once they’re written down?

    I was raised Roman Catholic, and instructed thoroughly by the priests and nuns at St. Christopher School in Midlothian, IL about those “oral traditions,” but they never mentioned an actual list. In fact, I specifically remember them quoting John 21:25 as proof of the existence of this “oral tradition”:

    Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.

    [John 21:25, NIV.]

    So, they argued, this verse proved that Jesus did (and presumably taught) things that were not written down, and yet is part of the “deposit of faith” in that it was preserved orally by the church (even though the verse itself does not indicate that it was, in fact, preserved). And it’s also pretty clear from this verse that if it indeed has been preserved, we might run out of paper before we succeeded in writing it all down. I actually recall that the religious at St. Chris were pretty impressed with that “the whole world would not have room for the books” thing. They put a lot of emphasis on that part of the verse. So there’s your carte blanche right there. I don’t think you’re going to pry it out of their hands by asking them to write it down.

  145. TurretinFan said,

    October 8, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    You can sort of imagine a bunch of cardinals sitting around in some dimly lit room of the Vatican palace, scratching their heads and saying, “There’s this vast body of undocumented oral tradition about Jesus per John’s gospel — what shall we reveal to them? Oh, I know, let’s give them a new Marian dogma!”

    -TurretinFan

  146. D. T. King said,

    October 8, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    Dear Ron,

    You wrote: They put a lot of emphasis on that part of the verse. So there’s your carte blanche right there. I don’t think you’re going to pry it out of their hands by asking them to write it down.

    I’m not on the verge of beginning to hum “Beautiful Dreamer,” but given the serious nature of the charge which our Romanist friends have brought against us repeatedly (I’ve heard it for some 15 years plus now), I’m hoping for something a whole lot more than what’s been offered thus far.

    Now, to be sure, my hopes are manageable, and I am anticipating a number of responses, none of which I can yet imagine as reasonable. But hopes burns on! :)

  147. John Bugay said,

    October 8, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    Ron #144: Oscar Cullmann described the process of the development of the canon precisely because the “oral traditions” were becoming corrupted by 150 ad, in his 1956 work, “The Early Church” (the essay on “Scripture and Tradition” had been previously printed in a theological journal).

    This process was corroborated by Kostenberger and Kruger in their recent work “The Heresy of Orthodoxy”.

    http://beggarsallreformation.blogspot.com/2010/10/oscar-cullmann-on-relationship-between.html

  148. TurretinFan said,

    October 8, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    Bryan Cross:

    You provided a single quotation from Jerome:

    I think it my duty to consult the chair of Peter, and to turn to a church whose faith has been praised by Paul … The fruitful soil of Rome, when it receives the pure seed of the Lord, bears fruit an hundredfold … My words are spoken to the successor of the fisherman, to the disciple of the Cross. As I follow no leader save Christ, so I communicate with none but your blessedness, that is with the chair of Peter. For this, I know, is the rock on which the Church is built! This is the house where alone the Paschal Lamb can be rightly eaten. This is the ark of Noah, and he who is not found in it shall perish when the flood prevails.

    What he’s quoting from is Jerome’s letter to Damasus, bishop of Rome, the first section.

    But Mr. Cross hasn’t started from the beginning of the letter. In fact he’s left out the part of the first section that explains why Jerome thinks that he should contact the Roman church.

    Jerome explains himself this way:

    1. Since the East, shattered as it is by the long-standing feuds, subsisting between its peoples, is bit by bit tearing into shreds the seamless vest of the Lord, “woven from the top throughout,” since the foxes are destroying the vineyard of Christ, and since among the broken cisterns that hold no water it is hard to discover “the sealed fountain” and “the garden inclosed,” I think it my duty to consult the chair of Peter, and to turn to a church whose faith has been praised by Paul. I appeal for spiritual food to the church whence I have received the garb of Christ.

    – Jerome, Letter 15 (to Damasus), Section 1. (a translation can be found here)

    Notice that the reason is not papal infallibility or papal primacy. The reason is particular problems that have arisen in the East, his new home. These problems have caused him to go back to the church where he was baptized (“whence I have received the garb of Christ”), namely Rome. Notice also that Jerome does not say that he’s seeking out the head of his own church, but rather that he’s seeking out the “Church whose faith has been praised by Paul,” namely the Roman church. Not the “Catholic church” but the Roman church. This is actually a key distinction that Mr. Cross has missed.

    Jerome later goes on to make this self-identification even more explicit:

    Just now, I am sorry to say, those Arians, the Campenses, are trying to extort from me, a Roman Christian, their unheard-of formula of three hypostases.

    – Jerome, Letter 15 (to Damasus), Section 3.

    Jerome is writing back to what he views as his “home church” for support. He wants advice from a church that he trusts, one that was praised (hundreds of years earlier) by Paul.

    There is some discussion in Jerome that uses some very positive language of Damasus. Even if, however, we were willing to generously construe Jerome to be saying that Damasus was not just a successor to Peter, but the sole successor to Peter, and even if that gave Damasus some sort of primacy, it is not a primacy of jurisdiction. Jerome views Damasus as leader of the church of Rome, the Roman church, not the leader of the universal church (or – at least – Jerome does not make a claim beyond the “Roman” claim).

    (see also Pastor King’s comments on Jerome, above)

    -TurretinFan

  149. David Gadbois said,

    October 8, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    I think the point that some Protestant commenters are sort of beating around is the fact that there simply is no Roman Catholic oral tradition in any normal sense of the word. Their Catechism does not even use this term. Oral traditions have fixed, *verbal* content (words, not just “the gist” or concept) and are open to historical scrutiny.

    In this respect the Quran has far more historical bona fides than does any oral tradition the Roman church can make claim to (set aside the obvious fact that an accurate oral tradition of false prophet doesn’t have any normative ethical value). Muslims consider the Quran to be oral recitations primarily, and not in essence a written text (despite all of the recent bally-hoo about Quran burning in the news). You can travel anywhere in the world and hear a hafiz who has memorized the entire Quran recite it in the original Arabic with very little variation from recitations in other parts of the world (although probably not completely free of variation, as the Muslims would have us believe). Most scholars believe that what we have today is very, very close to what Mohammed taught or at least what the earliest followers taught as the Quran not long after him. While the Islamic hadith have a more checkered history, still here you have a historical “paper trail” that is open to scrutiny, verification, and falsification. Sources are listed, names are named in the line of transmission. Muslims have cared far more about concrete documentation and historical veracity than the church of Rome has.

    Also, as is evident, eventually oral traditions get written down in literate cultures, usually fairly quickly (the New Testament and the Quran are good examples of this). Not so much for RCC oral tradition.

    The Romanists won’t even define the content of oral tradition, much less open it to subjection by historical scrutiny. Oral tradition, for them, simply is whatever the magisterium says it is centuries after the fact when they need to make a dogmatic pronouncement about something, always leaving the door open for more teachings passed down by oral tradition to pop up in the future. It is a secret deposit meted out piecemeal as is convenient for them.

    I shouldn’t be saying anything controversial here, inasmuch as the Catholic Catechism does not use the term “oral tradition”. It calls it by a much more nebulous term “living transmission” in which “the Church, in her doctrine, life and worship, perpetuates and transmits to every generation all that she herself is, all that she believes. The sayings of the holy Fathers are a witness to the life-giving presence of this Tradition, showing how its riches are poured out in the practice and life of the Church, in her belief and her prayer….And [Holy] Tradition transmits in its entirety the Word of God which has been entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit. It transmits it to the successors of the apostles so that, enlightened by the Spirit of truth, they may faithfully preserve, expound and spread it abroad by their preaching.

    Pardon me, but this is *not* oral tradition to say that something is “transmitted” in some vague unwritten manner. Practically speaking, this is scarcely distinguishable from magisterial teaching authority. It is an argument from authority, not an argument from a historical record. And appealing to the early church fathers as witnesses to this tradition can only, in principle, operate as secondary confirmation. All it actually proves is historical precedent in church history, but historical precedent alone does not prove something to be the product of an apostolic oral tradition. Romanists skip a lot of logical steps in assuming otherwise.

    A genuine evidence of oral tradition from the fathers would have to take the explicit form of a claim by a father to have heard a normative, dogmatic teaching not found in the Bible, from a bishop or prestbyter at the end of a chain of witnesses leading back to Jesus or an Apostle. “This isn’t in the Bible, but I heard it from Bishop Chuck who heard it from Clement who heard it from the Apostle Paul” sort of thing.

  150. Phil Derksen said,

    October 8, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    TFan wrote: “You can sort of imagine a bunch of cardinals sitting around in some dimly lit room of the Vatican palace, scratching their heads and saying, “There’s this vast body of undocumented oral tradition about Jesus per John’s gospel — what shall we reveal to them? Oh, I know, let’s give them a new Marian dogma!”

    Of course these seem to have also been among the “undocumented” traditions…

    The veneration of angels and dead saints
    The doctrine of purgatory
    The Latin language as the “official” language of prayer and worship
    Prayers directed to saints
    The kissing of the Pope’s feet and/or ring
    The temporal power of the Popes
    Worship of the cross, of images and relics
    Holy water
    The baptism of bells
    Canonization of dead saints
    Fasting on Fridays during Lent
    The Mass
    The celibacy of clerics
    The Rosary
    The Inquisition
    The sale of Indulgences
    Transubstantiation
    Confession of sins to the priest
    The Bible forbidden to laymen and placed in the Index of forbidden books
    The Scapular
    Forbidding the cup to the laity
    Adding the apocryphal books to the cannon
    The Immaculate Conception of Mary
    Papal Infallibility
    Assumption of the Virgin Mary…

  151. TurretinFan said,

    October 8, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    Sean wrote:

    For instance you ingore the 7th ecumenical council (I assume) because it does not fit your interpretation of scripture. What is different from the Council whose creed you proudly recite and the 7th? Why do you accept the one and not the other? The ‘weight’ of the Church’s opinion falls off the protestant scale on that one and what is left is opinion. And if the 7th is not infallible, then why should I or anyone else care a bit about 1-5?

    a) We don’t “ignore” the 7th so-called EC, we reject its errors.

    b) There’s nothing magical about the fact that it was a council. One council is right because its claims correspond with the rule of faith, the other is wrong because its claims do not correspond with the rule of faith.

    We accept the Nicene creed because the Church gave it, not because we agree with it. Period. If it is based on agreement with my interpretation then all authority is drained from it.

    a) There”s a false dichotomy between something having authority equal to Scripture and something having zero authority.

    b) This implicit faith in councils is not wise, reasonable, or what the fathers would have done, as we’d be happy to demonstrate, if you’re interested in hearing why.

    -TurretinFan

  152. TurretinFan said,

    October 8, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    “Practically speaking, this is scarcely distinguishable from magisterial teaching authority.”

    Indeed, and through the use of equivocation some of the RC folks try to smuggle magisterial teaching authority into “oral tradition” and then force it into passages like 2 Thessalonians 2:15. It’s a doubly illicit move.

  153. D. T. King said,

    October 8, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    Hi Phil,

    You might want to add to your list, Annulment of Marriages.

  154. TurretinFan said,

    October 8, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    With respect to Macarius of Egypt (a relatively obscure 4th century “saint”), Mr. Cross provides the following quotation: “Afterwards Moses was succeeded by Peter, who had committed to his hands the new Church of Christ, and the true priesthood.”

    This is taken from Homily 26, Section 9, of Macarius’ 50 Spiritual Homilies. The entire section provides context:

    In the Old Testament, Moses and Aaron, when they held the priesthood, had much to suffer. Caiaphas, when he occupied their seat, himself persecuted and condemned the Lord; yet the Lord, in respect for the priesthood, suffered him to execute the office. The prophets likewise were persecuted by their own nation. Peter was the successor of Moses, entrusted with Christ’s new church and with the true priesthood; for we have now a baptism of fire and the Spirit, and a circumcision in the heart. For the divine and heavenly Spirit lodges in the mind; nevertheless even these perfect ones, so long as they are in the flesh, are not free from anxiety, because of the freedom of their will, but are still subject to fear, and for that same reason are allowed to be tempted. But if the soul succeeds in reaching the city of the saints, then, but not before, it is able to live without trouble and temptations. There, no longer is there anxiety, or trouble, or weariness, or old age, or Satan, or warfare, but rest, joy, peace, and salvation. The Lord is in the midst of them, and He is called the Saviour, because He saves the captives. He is called the Physician, forasmuch as He gives the heavenly and divine medicine, and heals the sufferings of the soul; for in some respects they have dominion over the man. To speak of them in comparison, Jesus is King and God; Satan is an usurper and a tyrant.

    (source)

    As you can see, in context the point is that this world is full of suffering and temptation, and anxiety that will be removed in the next life. Peter as the successor of Moses could be taken to indicate some kind of universal jurisdiction (though obviously Macarius doesn’t make that application), but standing in line right behind Caiaphas, it doesn’t suggest the kind of authority that Rome wants. It’s an authority that Christ submitted to out of respect, but not one that could bind anyone’s conscience.

    Moreover, consider the additional light shed on Macarius’ words by the comments in his next homily:

    As when persons of rank and wealth and high birth
    by their own will and choice forsake their wealth and birth and dignities, and go and put on poor sordid clothing, and dishonour instead of respect, and bear hardship, and are held of no account, this is all left to their own discretion. You may believe me, that even the apostles, perfected as they were in grace, were not hindered by that grace from doing as they desired, if they wished occasionally to do a thing that was not pleasing to grace. Our nature is susceptible of good and bad, and the adverse power acts by persuasion, not compulsion. You have free choice to incline which way you will. Do you not read that Peter was to be blamed, [Galatians 2:2] and that Paul went and reproved him. In spite of being what he was, he was still to be blamed. And Paul, for all his spirituality, of his own will, engaged in a dispute with Barnabas, and they grew so sharp that they withdrew from one another. [Acts 15:39] And that same Paul says, “Ye that are spiritual, restore such an one, considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” [Galatians 6:1] There! the spiritual are tempted, because their freedom of will remains; and the enemies keep plying them as long as they are in this world.

    Notice that Macarius does not assign such a level of grace even to Peter or Paul so that they would be preserved entirely from errors. Macarius clearly thinks that Peter is someone important (“in spite of being what he was”), but at the same time he does not paint an unrealistic picture of him.

    While I am on the subject of Macarius, perhaps it is worthwhile sharing his view of Scripture. One of the 50 homilies is particularly on the subject of why we were given the Scriptures. It’s short, so enjoy!

    HOMILY XXXIXWhy the Holy Scripture was given to us by God.As a king writes letters to those upon whom he wishes to confer patents and special gifts, and signifies to them all, “endeavour to come quickly to me, that you may receive from me royal gifts”; and if they do not come and receive them, they will be none the better off for having read the letters, but, on the contrary, are liable to be put to death for not choosing to go and be honoured by the king’s hand; so God, the King, has sent to men the holy scriptures as His letters, declaring by them that they should pray to God and believing should ask and receive a heavenly gift of the substance of His Godhead; for it is written, That we should be made partakers of the divine nature. [2 Pet. i. 4.] But if man will not come, and ask, and receive, he is none the better off for having read the scriptures, but is rather liable to death, because he did not choose to receive from the heavenly King the gift of life, without which it is impossible to obtain immortal life, which is Christ. To whom be glory for ever. Amen.

    That stands in contrast to Rome’s view of the Scriptures, both theoretically and practically. Practically in that Rome sees no special urgency in people receiving the Scriptures themselves, and theoretically in that Rome’s view of the Scriptures could not lead the people who read but do not obey to be blamed, since allegedly one needs “the Church” to understand the Scriptures.

    But in another place Macarius writes:

    When the rich men of the earth have brought much fruit into their garners, they set to work again every day to get more, in order to have plenty, and not run short. If they presume upon the wealth laid up in the garners, and take things easily and add no more, but use up what they have stored already, they soon sink into want and poverty. So they have to labour and add, enlarging their intake, that they may not get behindhand. In Christianity, to taste of the grace of God is like that. Taste, it says, and see how gracious the Lord is. [Ps. xxxiv. 8.] This tasting is an effectual power of the Spirit in full certainty, ministering in the heart. As many as are the sons of light, and of the ministry of the New Covenant in the Holy Ghost, these have nothing to learn from men; they are taught of God. [1 Thess. iv. 9.] Grace itself writes upon their hearts the laws of the Spirit. They ought not therefore to rest their assurance only upon the scriptures that are written in ink; the grace of God writes the laws of the Spirit and the mysteries of heaven upon the tables of the heart [2 Cor. iii. 3.] as well. For the heart governs and reigns over the whole bodily organism; and when grace possesses the ranges of the heart, it reigns over all the members and the thoughts. For there, in the heart, is the mind, and all the faculties of the soul, and its expectation; therefore grace penetrates also to all the members of the body.

    – Macarius the Egyptian, Homily 15, Section 20

    He’s not teaching Scripture alone there, he’s teaching Scripture and conscience, and says that these holy men “have nothing to learn from men”! Isn’t that remarkable! One wonders if we will now hear some Roman Catholic criticism of Macarius and his flawed hermeneutical principle of relativism or some kind of “solo scriptura” criticism of him.

    Here Macarius again saying much the same thing as we’ve seen above:

    As the husbandman governs a yoke of oxen and tills the ground, so the Lord Jesus, the fair true Husbandman, yoked the apostles two and two and sent them forth, tilling with them the ground of those who hear and truly believe. Only this is worth saying, that the kingdom of God and the preaching of the apostles is not in the word of hearing only, like one who knows a set of words and rehearses them to others, but the kingdom is in power and effectual working of the Spirit. This was the sad case of the children of the Israelites; always studying the scriptures, and in fact making the Lord the theme of their study, and yet not receiving the truth itself, they parted with that inheritance to others. So those who rehearse to others words of the Spirit, while they do not themselves possess the word in power, part with the inheritance to others. Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost for ever. Amen. – Macarius the Egyptian, Homily 28, Section 7

    The problem, you see, is not any insufficiency in Scripture – it is the failure of those (even those who study the Scriptures) to believe what the Scriptures say – to receive their truth. Moreover, what is especially interesting is how the words of Scripture have their own power that they can convey even when rehearsed in the mouths of those who do not have the power of those words! This is not a picture of a Holy Spirit guided magisterium, but an unregenerate magisterium that still passes on the inheritance to others, because the power is in the Scriptures themselves.

    One more selection for your reading pleasure:

    For God is just and just are His judgments, and with Him there is no respect of persons; and He judges each in proportion to the varying benefits with which He has endowed mankind benefits of body or of spirit, whether knowledge, or understanding, or discernment and will require the fruits of virtue accordingly, and will render to each the due reward of his works in the day of judgment. He will come, we are told, and will render to every man according to his deeds, [Rom. ii. 6.] and mighty men shall be mightily tormented, for mercy will soon pardon the meanest; [Wisd. vi. 6.] and the Lord says, The servant which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes; but he that knew not, and did things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes; and unto whom much is given, of him shall much be required, and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more. [Luke xii. 47, 48.] The knowledge and understanding I have mentioned may be variously thought of, either according to grace and the heavenly gift of the Spirit, or in conformity with the natural intelligence and discernment, and through the instruction of the divine scriptures. Of each man will be required the fruits of virtue in proportion to the benefits conferred upon him from God, whether natural, or given by God’s grace. Therefore every man is inexcusable before God in the day of judgment, for every man will be required to answer of his will and purpose according to what he knew of the fruits of faith and love and every other virtue towards God, whether he knew by hearing, or had never heard the word of God. – Macarius the Egyptian, Homily 29, Section 6

    Just read that and see what are the three sources of heavenly knowledge: the Spirit, the light of reason, and Scripture. Isn’t it truly remarkable that Macarius omitted the Roman magisterium? In point of fact, I leafed through his fifty homilies to see if I could find Rome mentioned even once. I could not. I take that back – the Romans are mentioned twice – in terms of the Roman Army versus the Persian Army. But as far as referring to the bishop of Rome, or the church of Rome – a golden silence seems to prevail. Paul’s epistle to the Romans gets a lot of attention,b ut Perhaps he mentioned it elsewhere in his writings, but the bottom line is that Mr. Cross will need to present something more than a single line that says something laudatory of Peter to overthrow Cardinal Congar’s conclusion. (Need more reading from Macarius? Check out Homily 37, Section 10.)

    I should point out that there is some question about the authenticity of these homilies (link to discussion). However, my impression (based, admittedly, on not a lot of research) is that these homilies are still thought to be authentic.

    - TurretinFan

  155. Nick said,

    October 8, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    One of the difficulties in this debate is that Tradition is not being properly understood by the Protestant end.

    I think this analogy will help set the record straight:

    1) Tradition is what passes on the Deposit of Faith (everything the Apostles taught), it is akin to a tool-box carrying all necessary tools to fix things.

    2) Inside the tool-box are various tools. For example: a hammer, wrench, and a caliper. These represent the different forms of tradition, e.g. liturgy, scriptures

    3) Most people know what a hammer and wrench are, but many don’t know what a caliper is. A caliper isn’t like a hammer or wrench, so it’s futile to describe it in those categories. This is akin to the error of asking/demanding an (exhaustive) list of oral traditions.

    4) But that doesn’t answer the question: WHAT is a caliper then? If you’ve never seen or used a caliper with your work, then it’s not easy to explain. It’s not that a caliper is some complex or obscure tool, only that YOU’RE not used to it. Can it be described in words? To some extent, but that’s not how the tool operates in terms of “getting the job done”.

    5) Let’s say the caliper is akin to Liturgy. Much of Protestantism doesn’t have or know what Liturgy is. This isn’t to say Liturgy is complicated, only that it’s not easy to explain to someone who has no idea what Liturgy is. Writing a book doesn’t adequately convey what Liturgy is, it simply cannot be forced into the categories of “a list of doctrines”.

    6) Yet Liturgy conveys many concepts and doctrines that go hand in hand with the other tools for “getting the job done”. For example, in Liturgy the Trinity is emphasized and explained in a way Scripture doesn’t. One can find the doctrine of the Trinity in Scripture, but the fact is it is not as “front and center” in Scripture as it is in Tradition. In Liturgy, the “Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” is repeatedly invoked in Trinitarian formulas like the Sign of the Cross prayer – where as in Scripture, the Three Names only appear together a few times. There is a huge difference between Scripture speaking on the Trinity here and there (in fact the Trinitarian Formula is only mentioned *ONCE* in Scripture) and repeated and explicit references to the Trinity in Liturgy. Other things Liturgy conveys are things such as Prayer directly to the Holy Spirit – something Scripture doesn’t directly address, and which many Trinitarian Protestants refuse to do because of the repeated emphasis on directing Prayer to the Father.

    This is why Liturgy is so critical to “getting the job done”, because without it you’re passing on the Gospel in a very minimalistic and even malnourished fashion.

    This can also be seen by looking at the Liturgical CALENDAR, in which various themes, saints and doctrines are celebrated throughout the year. Yet many Protestants have no liturgical calendar, and more are more don’t even celebrate “major” Christian holidays, or even Sunday worship. To try to explain the notion of a Liturgical Calendar is simply over the top of the average Protestant’s head – they see it as irrelevant and don’t think in those categories.

    7) The primary difficulty in this discussion is that Protestants are under the impression Oral Tradition must be something akin to Written Tradition, and for Catholics not to “give a list” is akin to hiding the truth. That’s wholly inaccurate. The problem is when Catholics mention something like Oral Tradition in the form of Liturgy (*caliper*), the Protestant doesn’t *grasp* what’s being presented – and this is especially true when all they are accustomed to is Written Tradition.

  156. TurretinFan said,

    October 8, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    My apologies to the moderators, but I think I managed to sink yet another long/link-filled post into the spam filter.

  157. David Gray said,

    October 8, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    What sort of caliper is used in the Clown Mass and the Polka Mass?

  158. TurretinFan said,

    October 8, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    Nick: No, the problem isn’t that we don’t understand the vast number of things that lumped together under the banner of “tradition.” We also can distinguish between “oral tradition,” and “liturgical tradition.” But we are savvy enough to figure out that a lot of Rome’s liturgical practices are not ancient, and that even the EOs (who have less disturbed liturgies, it seems) cannot trace their liturgical traditions back to the apostles (no matter what John of Damascus may have thought).

    No, the problem is Rome’s servants here cannot establish the authenticity of Rome’s traditions, whether oral, liturgical, or otherwise. Even when it comes to Scripture (written tradition), Rome errantly bundles the inspired with the uninspired.

    But this specific debate is over oral tradition not every kind of unwritten tradition, and not over every kind of tradition.

    -TurretinFan

  159. Nick said,

    October 8, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    And two final points (since this thread is getting too long to follow):

    1) Protestants admit the notion of inspired oral teachings, just see my original quotes from James White, William Webster, Joe Mizzi, etc. The question then becomes not whether there is such a thing, but rather what happened to it. To frame the issue in terms of whether it exists or not is fallacious. So this leads to other questions, such as whether they were enscripturated.
    And yet the only direct interaction I got on this point was Turretin Fan, who said (post#21) “We don’t know or care whether they were all enscripturated.”

    How is the Catholic supposed to respond to that? I’m at a loss of words as to how to respond, since it makes the whole investigation MOOT.

    2) I don’t care how often the issue is mentioned and discussed and how tired everyone is of hearing it: the canon of Scripture is known by Oral Tradition.
    Folks like David King are free to show me a ECFather that says the canon is known by the personal guidance of the Holy Spirit, but I don’t believe such a quote exists. And the problem with that is that if a given ECFather didn’t get the correct canon right – which a Protestant must admit is the most fundamental and basic knowledge the Holy Spirit can convey to a believer, after Union with the Trinity – you’re (logically) stuck questioning whether the ECFather was ever really Christian to begin with.

  160. TurretinFan said,

    October 8, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    “I’m at a loss of words as to how to respond, since it makes the whole investigation MOOT.”

    It’s not completely moot because of that, since you guys are claiming that they still exist and are binding … .

    Of course, you are totally incapable or unwilling to identify them for us, so perhaps it is moot after all.

  161. Nick said,

    October 8, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    Turretin Fan,

    You said (post#158) “we are savvy enough to figure out that a lot of Rome’s liturgical practices are not ancient.”

    What practices is this crowd “savvy enough” to know are not ancient?
    I don’t know about what you had in mind, but the “examples” given (or affirmed) by David King in #153 and the laundry list by Phil in #150 certainly don’t reflect any accurate knowledge of what pass for inspired apostolic teachings. So if you’re suggesting a “savvy” crowd here, I don’t see evidence of that. And I know how much Protestants dislike when Protestantism is misrepresented, and *rightly* so, but in fairness posts like #150 (and affirmed by #153) are more along the lines of misrepresentations and smears about what Catholics consider inspired oral tradition.

    You concluded with: “But this specific debate is over oral tradition not every kind of unwritten tradition, and not over every kind of tradition.”

    Liturgy is certainly in the category of inspired Apostolic oral teaching, so it’s certainly ‘on topic’. David G in post #149b explicitly affirmed this when he quoted the Catechism speaking on tradition.

  162. Andrew McCallum said,

    October 8, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    A genuine evidence of oral tradition from the fathers would have to take the explicit form of a claim by a father to have heard a normative, dogmatic teaching not found in the Bible, from a bishop or prestbyter at the end of a chain of witnesses leading back to Jesus or an Apostle

    David – And what if a Church Father were to make such a claim? How are we to judge the words or any given ECF or group of ECF’s concerning any given matter? We get lots of quotes from Fathers thrown at us and we throw others back. But our question to the Catholics is how are we to interpret these words? The teachings of the ECF’s are capable of any number of interpretations. The conservative wing of the RCC has taken one possible set of interpretations to form modern RCC dogma, but other interpretations of the teaching of the Fathers are equally derivable from the corpus of the ECF’s. This it seems to me is at the core of the problem of elevating the tradition of the Church (interpreted by the Church as qualified by the RCC) to the effective level of Scriptures.

    And this gets into something that I’ve challenged some of the folks of CTC over. We agree with our Catholic friends that the ECF’s argued from the Scriptures with the assumption that they were infallible. But then my question is whether or not there was any other set of data besides Scripture which rose to the same level of authority and certainty as Scripture. If the answer is no then the ECF’s were arguing from Scripture alone as their ultimate source of authority. This is of course what we mean by sola scriptura. But the answer is yes then the Catholic apologist must demonstrate what this other source is. But my experience is that our Catholic friends don’t like this way of looking at the matter. From my standpoint that’s too bad. It seems to me like a very rational way to proceed.

  163. Nick said,

    October 8, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    TF #161,

    You said: “It’s not completely moot because of that, since you guys are claiming that they still exist and are binding”

    If you (speaking for Protestantism) say you don’t care if they were enscripturated, then what use is it for Catholics to discuss it? If a genuine inspired apostolic doctrine wasn’t enscripturated, but you say you don’t care if that’s so, then that means you’re saying you don’t care whether you have all inspired teachings or not.

    You said: “Of course, you are totally incapable or unwilling to identify them for us, so perhaps it is moot after all.”

    This is a logically fallacious approach to the situation. A Catholics inability (by your standards) doesn’t *default* to you as the right answer. A key example of this is a LDS failing to prove a doctrine when speaking with a JW doesn’t mean the *default* for truth goes to the JW.

  164. Andrew McCallum said,

    October 8, 2010 at 6:13 pm

    Nick – I really don’t think that we have all misunderstood the Catholic position of non-inscripturated tradition (including oral tradition) nor that such traditions are of no importance. We would be denying our own traditions if that was the case. To use your example, all of us Reformed guys have a keen appreciation for liturgy and it’s utility. The issue between us boils down I think primarily to whether the NT’s mention of tradition includes everything that the RCC has poured into it’s understanding of tradition, and then secondarily whether the ECF’s utilization of such tradition ever rose to the same effective level of Scripture. We find no basis for affirming either.

  165. D. T. King said,

    October 8, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    How is the Catholic supposed to respond to that? I’m at a loss of words as to how to respond, since it makes the whole investigation MOOT.

    We have observed that our Romanist friends are only at a loss of words when it comes to identifying the traditions you claim to be holding on the basis of 2 Thess 2:15. We’ve noticed the desire to talk about everything but identifying these “oral” traditions to which you claim you are “standing stedfast in” and to which you are “holding.”

    But yes, you do seem to be at a loss of words on the subject of your own, grand proof text, 2 Thess 2:15. I still hold out hope that our Romanist friends are going to act in our best interests in identifying these, and demonstrating how they can be traced back to the Church at Thessalonica to whom Paul committed them.

  166. David Gadbois said,

    October 8, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    It is enough to say we don’t *need* all of the inspired utterances of the Apostles. The question is whether or not we have the Gospel, and have adequate instructions to order the church and pursue holiness according to God’s law in our lives. The answer is that God has preserved enough of the Apostle’s teachings in written Scripture for these purposes. This shouldn’t be surprising, you don’t know every inspired utterance Moses ever made, nor did the Israelites who lived after that time, not all of them were written down. God chose not to preserve all instances of divine, revelatory utterances, but what he did preserve was sufficient.

    If you insist that it really is important to know every inspired utterance of Jesus and the Apostles, then fine, do tell us what this “oral tradition” of yours says these utterances are. Out with it already.

    And, I note, you are oscillating back and forth between your previous description of oral tradition as a tool to “get the job done”, like a caliper, as opposed to an objective, concrete revelation taught by the Apostles.

  167. D. T. King said,

    October 8, 2010 at 7:44 pm

    Folks like David King are free to show me a ECFather that says the canon is known by the personal guidance of the Holy Spirit, but I don’t believe such a quote exists…

    You would no doubt explain it away if I offered it. So, let me ask you this, and depending how you answer, I’ll offer you something very close to your request. My question is this – Is the canon of Holy Scripture something passed down through the Roman communion via oral tradition alone?

  168. TurretinFan said,

    October 8, 2010 at 8:32 pm

    “If you (speaking for Protestantism) say you don’t care if they were enscripturated, then what use is it for Catholics to discuss it?”

    Well, allow me to clarify. If you tried to tell me that the doctrine of the resurrection (something that we know Paul preached) wasn’t inscripturated, I’d laugh you to scorn (and deservedly so). If, on the other hand, you said that the doctrine of the immaculate conception of Mary wasn’t inscripturated, I’d completely agree with you, except that I’d say it wasn’t an apostolic doctrine.

    My comment before was just that I’m completely satisfied with the Bible. I don’t need something else. If I did, I guess it would matter more to me whether there were some oral traditions that didn’t get inscripturated.

    “If a genuine inspired apostolic doctrine wasn’t enscripturated, but you say you don’t care if that’s so, then that means you’re saying you don’t care whether you have all inspired teachings or not.”

    That seems to be implication behind my comment about being totally satisfied. But let’s suppose I were interested … what would be the point of such a curiosity? Can you show me what oral traditions weren’t inscripturated? I don’t think so. You’re welcome to try, of course.

    I had said, “Of course, you are totally incapable or unwilling to identify them for us, so perhaps it is moot after all.”

    You responded: “This is a logically fallacious approach to the situation.”

    I’m pretty sure that arguments can be fallacies – I’m less sure about “approaches” being fallacies. Let’s just say that you don’t like this approach.

    “A Catholics inability (by your standards) doesn’t *default* to you as the right answer.”

    Who said that it does? Mootness of an argument can simply imply that something makes it useless to have the discussion. For example, if you can’t identify any un-inscripturated oral traditions that were apostolic traditions, it’s really a moot question whether or not those traditions were in fact inspired and binding.

    “A key example of this is a LDS failing to prove a doctrine when speaking with a JW doesn’t mean the *default* for truth goes to the JW.”

    It means that the JW has not been given a reason to change his opinion. The same goes here. If you guys can’t provide something more than just trying to shoehorn Rome’s doctrines into prooftexts that don’t teach what Rome is teaching, we are going to remain unpersuaded. That doesn’t logically prove that we’re right, of course.

    We’re right because we follow the catholic and apostolic faith as traditioned in the providentially preserved Scriptures. You’re wrong because you have deviated from that catholic faith, whether you try to appropriate the label “Catholic” for yourself or not. But on this particular topic, oral tradition, the burden is on you to show us why we should accept some teaching or other of yours on the ground that it is oral tradition. If you can, great! If you cannot, so be it. So far, we haven’t seen any Roman Catholics who call tell us what oral traditions Paul taught the Thessalonians – and let’s be frank, there’s a reason: the only traditions that we know Paul taught the Thessalonians are doctrines or practices that are taught in Scripture.

    Does that make more sense to you?

    -TurretinFan

  169. TurretinFan said,

    October 8, 2010 at 9:13 pm

    “What practices is this crowd “savvy enough” to know are not ancient?”

    It would be a long list, depending, of course, on what you designate as “ancient.” For example, mandatory celibacy for bishops is quite old but not apostolic.

    “I don’t know about what you had in mind, but the “examples” given (or affirmed) by David King in #153 and the laundry list by Phil in #150 certainly don’t reflect any accurate knowledge of what pass for inspired apostolic teachings.”

    Your church has not infallible defined a canon of un-scripture “inspired apostolic teachings,” so I’m not sure you could give us anything more than your private judgment about it – which is fine, but hardly authoritative, right?

    And moreover we’re well aware that you are not so naive as to think that everything in 150 and 153 is apostolic in origin. Those men were simply identifying later-developed practices. Maybe you agree with them on 100% of those items, perhaps there are a few you think are apostolic in origin. They certainly didn’t say that they think that all your liturgical practices are dogmatic teachings.

    “So if you’re suggesting a “savvy” crowd here, I don’t see evidence of that.”

    Well, I just meant “savvy enough” (although I tend to think that Phil and David are more savvy than your average man on the street, I just see no need to debate how savvy they are).

    “And I know how much Protestants dislike when Protestantism is misrepresented, and *rightly* so, but in fairness posts like #150 (and affirmed by #153) are more along the lines of misrepresentations and smears about what Catholics consider inspired oral tradition.”

    They didn’t say you think those are inspired oral tradition. They were teasing you by pointing out a few of the numerous practices/doctrines that Rome has had that were not apostolic. Phil’s list looks similar to what I recall of Lorraine Boetnner’s list of RCC innovations, which I know is an unpopular work. Nevertheless, it’s up to you really what oral traditions you want to say came from the apostles, even if you can’t identify any that Paul specifically gave to the Thessalonians.

    - TurretinFan

    -TurretinFan

  170. D. T. King said,

    October 8, 2010 at 11:28 pm

    Well, TF is sufficiently savvy to interpret me accurately. :)

  171. Bob Suden said,

    October 9, 2010 at 12:05 am

    This ain’t a Virginia Slim commercial (You’ve come a long way, baby.) but I concur with Mr. Bugay above, who is encouraged to see the active defense of the Reformed position contra Rome in contrast to the first appearances of the apologists for the Vatican on this site; likewise the presence of Mr. King, who wasn’t around in those days.

    As re. Mr. Cross in 72:
    As Sean pointed out in the first comment in this thread, St. Paul commands the Christians to “hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.” (2 Thess. 2:15)

    Ah, yes. I think the Roman interpretation here is of the “audacity, audacity, audacity” genre.

    Grammatically speaking the traditions are the same, whether taught by word or letter.

    IOW Paul does NOT say “hold the traditions you have been taught both by word and letter”, i.e. two different traditions, both of which have to be held to be saved.

    IOW the Thessalonians as eye and ear witnesses of Paul, had first heard him say in person, what he declared to them later in his letter to them.

    It’s not that hard to figure out.

    Why, even Sean blurts it out in 132:

    By the way – The church teaches that sacred Tradition and scripture form the SAME deposit of faith, therefore it is impossible to separate them.

    Now the question becomes, how do we get Sean and Bryan on the same page and not working at Cross purposes?

    Dunno. It’s a puzzlement.

    But it’s still highly entertaining to watch.

  172. Andrew McCallum said,

    October 9, 2010 at 5:01 am

    Hello All,

    I just wanted to say that I hope that our Catholic friends here don’t feel too beat up on. I know the feeling of being on a Catholic loop and getting more responses than I can possibly reply to and maybe feeling a little overwhelmed. This is an important matter for Catholics and Protestants to discuss and I hope the Catholics don’t leave too quickly.

    I just returned from Florence and Rome where I spent quite bit of time interacting with Roman Catholic theology in the form of the art of the Renaissance period. Some of the RCC apologetics was very heavy handed like one Jesuit church I visited where there was a depiction of an angel beating the snot out of a number of Protestants and stepping on the snake (Luther) while a cherub ripped apart a heretical Protestant book. But generally the Catholic artists of this period were much more gentle and attempted to portray what they perceived to be the beauty of the RCC doctrines that the Protestants rejected. Unfortunately for our Protestant forefathers, it was Jesuits who prosecuted the Inquisition rather than the even-tempered artists! Anyway, this was a fascinating way to experience how Roman Catholic apologetics expressed itself in this era.

    Cheers…

  173. johnbugay said,

    October 9, 2010 at 5:57 am

    Andrew McCallum #172 — I have always appreciated your participation in these discussions — your thorough knowledge of Reformed history and theology, and even your sense of even-handedness. We need far more individuals who can interact with Catholicism on a knowledgeable basis.

    But I strenuously disagree with your characterization of what’s going on here. It’s not like the Catholics are getting beat up by a Protestant mob here. This got started when Taylor Marshall made a stupid statement. There are still, generally, more Catholics than Protestants here. Of the Catholics, David Meyer, Tom Riello, Sean Patrick, Nick, and Bryan Cross are participating. On the Protestant side, Turretinfan and D.T. King are the primary participants, with help from David Gadbois and Jeff Cagle and a few other one-time commenters. There are more Catholics here, generally, than Protestants.

    The real, genuine issue is that of the truth, and that, not numbers, not the beauty of Renaissance art, are what this is all about.

    And in this regard, the Protestants are not winning because they have superior numbers, but because they have a far greater correspondence with the truth. They are more accurate historically and Scripturally.

    For example, Bryan Cross in #29 posted a mountain of early church citations, trying to prove that “Congar was mistaken” that the early church “except at Rome” did NOT see papal primacy in Matt 16. Here is a snippet from that passage:

    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 ecclesiological thought, more anthropological and spiritual than judicial. . . .

    I’m not keeping score, but DTK and Turretinfan have debunked virtually every citation that Bryan Cross provided in support of his position. And by “debunk,” I mean to say, they have proven that Bryan Cross has falsely used those statements to falsely support his false position.

    The Catholics are not being defeated here because of any other reason than that the position they are arguing for is a bankrupt one.

    You must be aware of the phrase “cold war.” The Reformation, unsettled as it was, initiated a state of war, either hot war or cold war, for the last 493 years. Everyone is correct: this is not a state of affairs that can or should continue.

    But there is not any moral equivalence at all in this discussion. Note again the arrogance of Bryan Cross in #29. “Congar was mistaken…” Not just “mistaken,” but “simply mistaken.”

    As much as I disagree with Catholicism, I have to say that Congar is the real Catholic. Raymond Brown is the real Catholic. Francis Sullivan is the real Catholic. These individuals at least are trying to locate Roman Catholicism in its historical context. If that means that Rome must withdraw from its claims of being “divinely instituted,” and withdraw their claims of infallibility, that at least is an outcome that will give you the opportunity to have the discussion that you desire with them on some area of common ground.

    As it is, Bryan Cross and his group have posited the Roman religion as some sort of divinely-imposed, untouchable, not-up-for-discussion, holier-than-thou gift from God that we all must embrace unconditionally. Using chess as a metaphor, they will play the game with you, so long as they can rig the rules to move all the pieces around to suit their mutated fancy.

    But in the real world, Rome is checkmated — on every position I’ve seen, Protestants hold the truth. The Roman “king” is checkmated; Rome has lost both the biblical and historical positions. And yet Cross and his gang are the real wolves in sheep’s clothing — deceitfully suggesting they come “in the peace of Christ,” when instead, what they offer is a mutation of genuine Roman Catholicism, and they would shove it down the throats of each and every one of us if they could.

    Yes, hear me in this. Bryan Cross and his gang are the mutations even of a mutant Roman Catholic religion. They are the heirs of an inquisition, which, at this moment in history, is on the losing side, and they are trying to make everyone think they have dressed up and are playing nice.

    In reality, they are practitioners of an especially virulent strain of triumphalist ultramontanism that has poked up its ugly head at various times throughout history — from the murderer pope Damasus through the pornocracy, from Gregory VII through the Borgias to pope Pio “I AM Tradition” Nono (Pius IX).

    Bryan Cross and his followers would have the pope ruling not only the church, but ruling the world, in a re-make of the 11th century. But he is in reality an enemy of the truth, one who will use all the gifts that God gave him to put forth his ill-conceived, satanically-conceived counterfeit of God’s good gift of salvation.

    Your happy-faced portrayal of this as if “we’re all just having a nice day at the country club” is genuinely wrong-headed.

  174. Jeff Cagle said,

    October 9, 2010 at 9:13 am

    John (#173):

    I see it more as a call to “happy warrior”dom in the knowledge that we and our counterparts here are human beings caught up in a larger spiritual struggle. Bryan is not the enemy; the Enemy is the enemy.

  175. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    October 9, 2010 at 9:37 am

    John Bugay has written a very illuminating post titled

    Oscar Cullmann on the relationship between oral tradition and the canon of the New Testament, part 2.

    Excerpts:

    “Meanwhile, it was not the authority of “the Church” which determined the canon. In reality, as Cullmann notes, it was the decision of the church (in fixing the canon) determined that “oral tradition” was becoming too corrupted to be useful.

    By establishing the principle of a canon the Church recognized that from that time the [oral] tradition was no longer a criterion of truth.”

    —–

    Boom! Meanwhile, it was not the authority of “the Church” which determined the canon.

    Boom! it was the decision of the church (in fixing the canon) determined that “oral tradition” was becoming too corrupted to be useful.

    Boom! By establishing the principle of a canon the Church recognized that from that time the [oral] tradition was no longer a criterion of truth.”

    ——-

    The Catholic battleship named Oral Tradition has been blasted and sunk by numerous broadsides. From both within and without.

    Sending rescue ships and life preservers from the Green Baggins vessel.

  176. johnbugay said,

    October 9, 2010 at 10:36 am

    Jeff, I understand what you are saying about “our counterparts” not being the real enemy, but my larger point was not to say that they were “the real enemy.”

    Taylor Marshall ran out of here saying “Those bad Protestants couldn’t handle my argument so they were being mean to me.” Nothing of the kind was happening.

    In reality, they are the ones spreading the untruths, and and we should not be happy about that.

  177. Bryan Cross said,

    October 9, 2010 at 11:14 am

    My list of quotations (in #31) was intended to show examples of various Fathers outside Rome “referring to St. Peter or the See of Peter explicitly as the rock upon which Christ founded the Church, and to which Christ gave the keys of the Kingdom.” (#31) It was not intended to show examples of Fathers outside Rome appealing to Matthew 16 explicitly to defend the papal primacy of their own day. What I intended to show is relevant to Congar’s statement, because when understood in light of what these Church Fathers did believe about apostolic succession, the episcopacy, and about Rome as the place where St. Peter had his cathedra (seat) and poured out his blood, their recognition of St. Peter as the rock upon whom the Church is built and to whom the keys of the Kingdom are given, has implications for papal primacy, even in cases where they may not have fully grasped the extent of those implications. This is the sense in which their understanding of Matthew 16 does apply to papal primacy in a positive way, not by reading back into their statements what is not there, but by recognizing the implications of their seeing St. Peter as the rock upon whom Christ builds His Church and the one to whom Christ gives the keys of His Kingdom, in light of their beliefs concerning apostolic succession, the episcopacy, the events of the life of St. Peter and, where applicable, their other statements (as well as their awareness of the testimony of other Church Fathers) concerning the primacy of the Apostolic See.

    There are many other things to be said regarding the oral Tradition, and its content, etc. But, in my opinion, the level of civility here (on the part of some, not all) has dropped below the already minimal levels. In my opinion, it is impossible to engage in genuine rational discourse in such an environment, i.e. without at least a minimal level of civility. The silence resulting from driving away with incivility those with whom one disagrees is not justifiably interpreted as evidence of having refuted their arguments. To do so would be to confuse power with truth, even if that power is dressed as truth. As a general rule, if a person thinks the truth is on his side, he knows he has no need to attack his interlocutors’ person, because he knows that his evidence and argumentation are sufficient to establish or support the truth of his position. By resorting to personal attacks he shows that he does not think his evidence and arguments are sufficient. In this way personal attacks are a form of implicit concession to his interlocutors of the inadequacy of the evidence for his own position. That is in part why genuine truth seekers try to avoid them in rational discourse, while those seeking power do not try to avoid them.

    In addition, there is an ontological and epistemic relation between truth and love, such that one cannot be pursued and acquired apart from the other. Truth cannot be perceived without love, and love cannot be expressed without truth. As discussed above regarding a tree and its fruit, because of this relation of truth and love, if the more deeply persons imbibe a particular position, the more they tend to lose graciousness and charity and become rude and uncharitable, this testifies against the truth of that position. In that light, this discussion points in a very different direction than that claimed in some of the recent comments. This discussion (above) is not genuine ecumenical dialogue, because genuine ecumenical dialogue is not about scoring points or ‘winning debates,’ but about reaching the truth together, in love.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  178. Jeff Cagle said,

    October 9, 2010 at 11:22 am

    TUAD (#175): Few posts make me laugh out loud. You get a cookie.

  179. Jeff Cagle said,

    October 9, 2010 at 11:49 am

    John (#176):

    In reality, they are the ones spreading the untruths, and and we should not be happy about that.

    I see it like this: I am happy about the Gospel, and engage from that standpoint.

    Would you agree with Bryan (#177) that truth and love are partners?

  180. johnbugay said,

    October 9, 2010 at 11:57 am

    Bryan Cross, your response in 177 looks very much like you have no ability to interact with the material as it’s been presented, and so you have to say, “why can’t we all get along?” But no one here has become unkind, neither with you, nor with your friend Taylor Marshall.

    There is no question Peter was an important apostle. But there is absolutely no link between Peter and later bishops of Rome. Not a historical link. Not some magical and unseen “succession” of authority. Peter’s role was unique. The role of the apostles and their “written and oral” teaching was unique. That has fairly effectively been established, here and in other places. And when you have eliminated the things that are impossible [i.e., that there was even a physical lineage to carry that succession], what’s left, no matter how much you might dislike the thought of it, is what’s true.

    implications for papal primacy

    This is characteristic of the slippery language that is used all throughout the documents of Vatican II. Well, there is also an ontological and epistemic relation between what a word is and what it means, and Aristotle’s first category involved “equivocation.”

    Tell me that you don’t see equivocation in the way that you have used these words. Tell me that you don’t see equivocation in the way that official Roman documents defend official Rome. If you can make that admission, then I will have some notion that you have some care about real truth and are not simply pursuing a partisan agenda.

    Yes, there is an ontological and epistemic relation between truth and love, but it is impossible to say that an apple is an orange. You can wish for it all you want, but it will not happen.

    I say this of historical facts. Historical details. No one whom you cited made that link between Peter and “papal primacy,” and they even said some things that contradicted the notion of “papal primacy.”

    What you are feeling from the folks her Bryan is not hostility. Rather, it’s more likely that what you are feeling is the sting of some godly discipline.

  181. johnbugay said,

    October 9, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    Jeff, I am absolutely certain that Bryan (and his friends) had some strong need to interact with the truths that have been presented here by D.T. King and Turretinfan.

    I am equally certain that those two men are doing what they do out of Christian charity.

  182. johnbugay said,

    October 9, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    Jeff, I am further certain that Bryan, in spreading the untruths that he does, exhibits not love but something else, no matter how much he protests that we all ought to love one another.

  183. Tom Riello said,

    October 9, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    John,

    You have a right and the free will to disagree with Bryan. What does get tiring is to have the character of Sean and Bryan impugned by you. Bryan, Sean, myself and all those who are united to the Church with the Bishop of Rome as its center of unity do not hide the fact that we yearn and desire to see all of us at the one altar, offering the one sacrifice under the Bishop, receiving the one Body and Blood of Jesus Christ as the food of immortality of our souls. However, when you write what you did earlier about some sinister plot and motives of the Called to Communion crowd with Bryan as our fearless leader is quite silly. You almost persuade me that I am part of some new world order plot to take over the world. You give me way too much credit. When someone engages in discussion in the way you present your interlocutor it does make it very hard to have a fruitful discourse. I have read Bryan’s recent response, I fail to see how you could think that he had nothing to say the material presented. I have no animosity toward you, John, and I do not attribute to you any diabolical plot. I think you are a well-meaning and zealous man who believes what he has to say needs to be heard. I just pray that you would not ascribe sinister motives to those you disagree with.

  184. D. T. King said,

    October 9, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    In addition, there is an ontological and epistemic relation between truth and love, such that one cannot be pursued and acquired apart from the other. Truth cannot be perceived without love, and love cannot be expressed without truth. As discussed above regarding a tree and its fruit, because of this relation of truth and love, if the more deeply persons imbibe a particular position, the more they tend to lose graciousness and charity and become rude and uncharitable, this testifies against the truth of that position. In that light, this discussion points in a very different direction than that claimed in some of the recent comments. This discussion (above) is not genuine ecumenical dialogue, because genuine ecumenical dialogue is not about scoring points or ‘winning debates,’ but about reaching the truth together, in love.

    Mr. Cross,

    This presupposition, “there is an ontological and epistemic relation between truth and love,” if applied in the way you attempt to do so here, would condemn virtually all of the ECFs. Yes, there is an ontological and epistemic relation between truth and love. Yes the truth is of such a nature that it calls forth the love of my heart for it. When I see you dismiss out of hand the position of a Cardinal from your own communion who has actually investigated the historical exegesis of Matthew 16, and then a priori pronounce him to be mistaken, then toss up a list of patristic quotations which clearly you have not bothered to investigate historically, that is not a love for the truth.

    Then when you come back, after having been shown that you are the one who is mistaken, attempting to rehabilitate what you attempted to do, as if your original intention was to prove something more vague when you pronounced Congar to be mistaken (your constant tendency btw) is not a love for the truth.

    If you were the humble, conciliatory ecumenist which you attempt to project yourself to be, you would have admitted you were wrong and apologized. But Mr. Cross, I see through the charade. The whole reason for the “Called to Communion” blog is the attempt of you and your co-religionists to convert the Reformed to Rome. When you come here and attempt to describe someone’s cry to Mary as a cry to God, that does not demonstrate a love for truth.

    No sir, I do not believe you, and I do not believe you to be sincere. You and your crowd are playing for keeps, and you know precisely what you’re all about. There is nothing “catholic” about the Romanist position which declares all other Christian bodies to be outside the true church. The parallel that Rome shares with the Mormons and the JW is that it alone is the true church.

    Now, I understand that some of my Reformed brethren differ with me on this analysis, but after 15 years of interacting with fanatical Romanists, who are far less than subtle than yourself, I know better from experience. You cannot even admit that you are the one who is mistaken – no, you’re simply trying to imply that you were misunderstood about what you were attempting to do with that list of citations. Not only are you being dishonest with us, but with yourself as well.

    For my Reformed Brethren, Mr. Cross’ communion is the one which pronounced at the Council of Florence…

    The Council of Florence (1441) declared in the Decree for the Jacobites, in the Bull Cantata Domino: It firmly believes, professes, and proclaims that those not living within the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics cannot become participants in eternal life, but will depart “into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels” [Matt. 25:41], unless before the end of life the same have been added to the flock; and that the unity of the ecclesiastical body is so strong that only to those remaining in it are the sacraments of the Church of benefit for salvation, and do fastings, almsgiving, and other functions of piety and exercises of Christian service produce eternal reward, and that no one, whatever almsgiving he has practiced, even if he has shed blood for the name of Christ, can be saved, unless he has remained in the bosom and unity of the Catholic [read Roman] Church. See Henry Denzinger, Enchiridion Symbolorum, The Sources of Catholic Dogma, trans. Roy J. Deferrari, Thirtieth Ed. (Powers Lake: Marian House, published in 1954 by Herder & Co., Freiburg), #714, p. 230.

    Rome has never rescinded that pronouncement, and the anathemas of Trent have never been lifted. Rome’s ecumenism is this – Call Protestants to Rome, and any means in the name of mother Rome is justifiable. Their ecumenism is not about attempting to understand us, no it is their attempt to pave the road to Rome.

    And if such Rome’s “ecumenism” can manage to construe those who oppose its object so described above as unloving and unecumenical, then whatever works is fine, so long as it serves the interests of mother Rome. It is not unloving to oppose Rome’s ecumenism. It is love to confront a man with his error, it is love for his soul and a love for the truth which loves to tell the truth.

    I confess openly that I am not here for ecumenical dialogue – I am here out of love for my Reformed brethren, who are often misled by the claims of Mr. Cross and others.

    If Mr. Cross really had a love for the truth, he would not have pronounced a Cardinal, from his own communion to be mistaken, attempt to confute the Cardinal’s historical analysis with a “simple-simon” list of patristic citations that he thought would prejudice the evidence in another direction. Now, after having been demonstrated to be the one who was wrong, we are now led to believe that this was not his real purpose at all. I ask, does that reflect “an ontological and epistemic relation between truth and love?”

    And, last of all, why doesn’t that “”an ontological and epistemic relation between truth and love” cut both ways in his description of others here as “rude and uncharitable.” This is but another subtle attempt to prejudice the evidence presented here against the position of Mr. Cross and his co-religionists – and attack the messengers rather than the message, because he knows it has not gone well in the interests of Rome.

    The reason why I would never post on “CTC” is because those folks always censor the posts there, and one never knows what they are going to permit to pass through their approval to appear in the comment section. But they cannot control the dialogue and the evidence that militates against their position here. And when that kind of control cannot be maintained, then the tactic is to cast others as “unloving.”

    I pray for the soul of Mr. Cross, and those who seem to follow him as their de facto leader, that the God who commanded the light to shine in darkness would shine in their hearts to give them the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But his present tactic is clear, it is but an ad hominem dressed up in the language, but not in the reality, of love.

  185. D. T. King said,

    October 9, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    You have a right and the free will to disagree with Bryan. What does get tiring is to have the character of Sean and Bryan impugned by you…

    Tom, what I think is unloving on your part is to defend the former you mentioned in the way you have. If you really cared for Sean, you would be attempting to restrain this novice from his wild-eyed assertions. He does the injury to himself with his own unrestrained language, and then plays the martyr afterwards. Two considerations…

    1) You and Mr. Cross ought to be trying to restrain him, at least privately, because it is clear he does not understand Rome’s position or ours – he simply lashes out blindly. In other words, he brings it on himself! I have never understood why folks like yourself do not try to restrain these folk who are still in the “cage-stage” of their conversion to Rome. If you love Sean, then Tom I urge you to restrain him. It is not loving to let a man who doesn’t know what he’s talking about make your communion look bad in that way. He wades in slashing this way and that with the finesse of a bull in a china cabinet. The man ought to be learning instead of teaching. Think of it this way – he is a brand new convert to Rome, a layman with no theological background or training, and yet he’s leading the way here for the Roman position as though he knows all, and that against Reformed pastors and teachers who are not ignorant and stupid. He backs himself into a corner that he can’t defend, and then it’s everyone else’s fault! Then people like yourself feel sorry for him, and run in to defend him. I mean, com’on Tom, open your eyes and just watch him.

    2) (more of #1) Apply what you apply to John with Sean, and you might see a little less of that which you perceive to be more heat than light. To be honest, that I find Sean so offensive upfront that I do my best to ignore him as long as I can. But he himself provokes the attacks he receives with his own inflammatory language, and more often than not the man is clueless. I’m not trying to attack him out of anger with him – he needs to be restrained by people like yourself.

    My 2 cents.

  186. Bryan Cross said,

    October 9, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    D.T. King (re: #184)

    You’re demonstrating my point that charity is requisite for genuine rational dialogue. When I explain in the first paragraph of #177 what I meant in #33, you have two options. The charitable option is to think the best of me, and grant that what I said in the first paragraph of #177 is exactly what I meant in #33. The uncharitable option is to think the worst of me, such that in #177 I’m lying about what what I meant in #33. You chose the uncharitable option. And when the uncharitable option is taken, communication becomes impossible, because then everything the other person says is (or can be) construed (and perceived) as insincere, malicious, deceitful, etc.

    And that makes rational dialogue impossible.

    By the way, believing that one’s own position is correct (orthodox, apostolic, etc.) does not entail that one can engage in ecumenical dialogue only insincerely. Otherwise, only theological skeptics could engage in ecumenical dialogue sincerely. I discussed this in Two Ecumenicisms. That’s why I do not assume (or infer) that Reformed Christians who approach the ecumenical table while holding on to their belief that Reformed theology is the apostolic doctrine, must therefore be insincere in their activities at the ecumenical table. So likewise, and for the same reason, it does not follow that if a Catholic believes the Catholic Church to be what she claims to be, he must therefore be insincere in ecumenical activity. What makes ecumenical activity sincere is a genuine desire for unity in the truth, in love. And that does not require standing nowhere theologically, or lacking any certainty about what counts as orthodoxy. There is no a priori reason to presuppose or stipulate such a definition of ecumenism.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  187. Bryan Cross said,

    October 9, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    In #186, where I wrote “#33″ that should be “#31.”

  188. Andrew McCallum said,

    October 9, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    John said this to me: But I strenuously disagree with your characterization of what’s going on here. It’s not like the Catholics are getting beat up by a Protestant mob here.

    Well John, I have to admit that I came late and while I did read quite a bit of the comments before posting I did not read everything. And like you I was not keeping score, but my impression was that there were some answers to Nick and maybe Sean at the same time by Protestants. I know when this has happened to me that I have sometimes shut down knowing that I was not going to be able to answer everything.

    I will also say that I’m very uncomfortable with the accusations of deceitfulness and engaging in charades and so on. It’s not that big a deal to tell someone they are wrong, but I think we have to be much more careful and have overwhelming evidence before we start saying that someone is acting deceitfully or something of similar force. I don’t want to stand in judgment on anyone since it’s not my blog. And heaven knows I have said my share of things on Catholic blogs that I should not have. But it seems to me that these accusations go beyond what can be reasonably deduced from the statements made in posts like those from Bryan and Sean

  189. TurretinFan said,

    October 9, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    Bryan:

    You wrote: “As a general rule, if a person thinks the truth is on his side, he knows he has no need to attack his interlocutors’ person, because he knows that his evidence and argumentation are sufficient to establish or support the truth of his position.”

    Oddly enough, it seems that your comments are themselves part of an attack on the person of your interlocuters, considering that you introduce this discussion with the following: “But, in my opinion, the level of civility here (on the part of some, not all) has dropped below the already minimal levels.”

    As I offered to Tom, if you want to discuss the feelings of the participants, you are welcome to email me (my email is available through my blogger profile), but I don’t think that a metadebate on people’s feelings is something worth cluttering this thread with.

    I notice that on the substance of discussion, you have not made clear whether you are trying to maintain your original position: “Congar was simply mistaken on this point,” or whether you are trying to maintain some new point, where Congar is exactly right, but it doesn’t matter because what the fathers believed has implications that they were unaware of ” … what these Church Fathers did believe … has implications for papal primacy, even in cases where they may not have fully grasped the extent of those implications”).

    I think I will continue documenting the misuse of the fathers in your original comment because it has educational value as a response to the kind of argument you were using, whether or not you continue to defend it or participate in general here.

    - TurretinFan

  190. October 9, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    What makes ecumenical activity sincere is a genuine desire for unity in the truth, in love. And that does not require standing nowhere theologically, or lacking any certainty about what counts as orthodoxy. There is no a priori reason to presuppose or stipulate such a definition of ecumenism.

    Dear Mr. Cross,

    If find that those involved with the Protestant-Romanist ecumenical movement are either naïve about the irreconcilable differences of the two communions, or have ulterior motives, which I find deceptive. This leads me to believe that any true sincerity may only come from those whose love is not walled in by knowledge and judgment. (Philippians 1:9) You, if you are knowledgeable, appreciate that Rome has placed her unambiguous anathema upon sola fide and that her decree is irreformable, for her battle cry is “semper eadem!” – always the same. Accordingly, if I am to regard you as one with understanding, then I must find you deceptive. If I find you loving, I must find you ignorant. How would you like to be regarded, Mr. Cross?

    Ron

  191. October 9, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    What makes ecumenical activity sincere is a genuine desire for unity in the truth, in love. And that does not require standing nowhere theologically, or lacking any certainty about what counts as orthodoxy. There is no a priori reason to presuppose or stipulate such a definition of ecumenism.

    Dear Mr. Cross,

    If find that those involved with the Protestant-Romanist ecumenical movement are either naïve about the irreconcilable differences of the two communions, or have ulterior motives, which I find deceptive. This leads me to believe that any true sincerity may only come from those whose love is not walled in by knowledge and judgment. (Philippians 1:9) You, if you are knowledgeable, appreciate that Rome has placed her unambiguous anathema upon sola fide and that her decree is irreformable, for her battle cry is “semper eadem!” – always the same. Accordingly, if I am to regard you as one with understanding, then I must find you deceptive. If I find you loving, I must find you ignorant. How would you like to be regarded, Mr. Cross?

    Ron

  192. D. T. King said,

    October 9, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    The uncharitable option is to think the worst of me,../i>

    Mr. Cross, that cuts both ways, as I have demonstrated, and we are dialoging even now. Your private opinion of me as “uncharitable” is to think the worst of me, and a double-standard you often bring into play to cast others, such as myself, in the worst light, when your position is scrutinized and exposed in a negative light. I have demonstrated this methodology in how you handle the truth.

    Is it not uncharitable of you to think the worst of me? You see, the double standard is what I find so distasteful in you. The only thing I think you are truly sincere about in “ecumenical activity” is to undermine the Reformed position in vague terms, and to engage a priori in dismissal of evidence presented against the claims of Rome, and to convince others to follow you into the communion of Rome.

    Now, I ask you, Mr. Cross, are you or are you not attempting in these “ecumenical activities” to lead others into communion with Rome? Please give me an answer that is not couched in vague terms.

    Now, I have not presupposed anything when you attempt to prove something, and then deny that was your purpose. That is not an a priori response on my part; it is a post facto assessment. I do think you are being dishonest with us and yourself, and we are having rational dialogue now and disagreeing.

    I never used the term “lying,” I have expressed my thoughts that you have misrepresented the evidence on the subject thus indicated, and I find you less than forthcoming in admitting that. That is my rational assessment of your behavior here. I do not regard that as uncharitable. It seems to me to be a cheap shot to cast me in that light simply because you disagree with my assessment of your methodology.

    And when the uncharitable option is taken, communication becomes impossible…

    Actually, Mr. Cross, we are communicating, and I think we both understand where the other stands. Now, I can very well be wrong in my assessment, but that does not mean we are not engaging in rational communication. As you know, the meaning of “rational” has a number of nuances, and it seems to me that you are simply choosing the one which you think a prior represents what is transpiring here. I do not believe you were forthcoming on your error, and that leads me to believe that your desire here to pursue truth is less than sincere.

    Husbands and wives engage in rational conversation when seeking to work out problems between them, and often end up agreeing to disagree. I disagree with you, sir, and it is my settled opinion that you are all about pontificating what must pass for “rational communication.”

    You see, if you were really about “rational communication,” you would be endeavoring to restrain the young man here who does not know how to restrain himself, not just here, but on other blogs. You are doing him a disservice. So, you’ll have to excuse me for pointing out your double standard. I don’t think you can admit your own bias in this respect. Instead, your only concern is this subtle ad hominem against myself, and make no mistake, that is what it is. :)

  193. D. T. King said,

    October 9, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    My apologies for botching my formatting.

  194. steve hays said,

    October 9, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    Bryan Cross said,

    ” … what these Church Fathers did believe … has implications for papal primacy, even in cases where they may not have fully grasped the extent of those implications”).

    That type of argument would enjoy some degree of salience if you were dealing with an inspired writer. For even if he were not fully conscious of all the implications of his statement, the unintended implications would still be inspired implications. And you could therefore draw valid inferences from what he said, regardless of whether or not he was fully aware of all that entailed.

    But when you’re dealing with uninspired writers (e.g. church fathers), you can’t properly attribute to them a position of which they themselves were oblivious. You can’t make them bear witness to something they didn’t mean to affirm or deny.

    Indeed, it’s often the case, because we’re shortsighted creatures, that when someone points out the unintended implications of something we said, we will retract what we said. We may exclaim, “Well, I hadn’t thought that through. But now that you draw my attention to the implicit consequences of my stated position, I see that I need to modify or retract my statement.”

  195. D. T. King said,

    October 9, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    Andrew said: I will also say that I’m very uncomfortable with the accusations of deceitfulness and engaging in charades and so on. It’s not that big a deal to tell someone they are wrong, but I think we have to be much more careful and have overwhelming evidence before we start saying that someone is acting deceitfully or something of similar force.

    My dear brother, I can accept your discomfort, and I think I can, by God’s grace in the bonds of peace, disagree with you on your assessment. I welcome your assessment as loving and kind, even though I disagree.

    Blessings,
    DTK

  196. steve hays said,

    October 9, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    Bryan Cross said,

    “As discussed above regarding a tree and its fruit, because of this relation of truth and love, if the more deeply persons imbibe a particular position, the more they tend to lose graciousness and charity and become rude and uncharitable, this testifies against the truth of that position.”

    i) I doubt that commenters like Pastor King and TFan have any fundamental objection to judging a belief-system by its fruits. They can speak for themselves, but I expect that one reason they oppose Roman Catholicism is because they’ve been judging Roman Catholic theology by its fruits.

    ii) I’d also note that civil, charitable, ecumenical dialogue is hardly a historical trademark Bryan’s adopted denomination. Google the text of “Exsurge Domine.” Or Google the text of “Ad Extirpanda.”

    “This discussion (above) is not genuine ecumenical dialogue, because genuine ecumenical dialogue is not about scoring points or ‘winning debates,’ but about reaching the truth together, in love.”

    At the risk of stating the obvious, the usual purpose of a public debate is not for one debater to convince the other, or vice versa. Rather, debates are ordinarily for the benefit of the confused or the undecided. For the audience, and not the debaters.

    That’s why most debaters debate. Not to persuade their opponent, which is normally an unrealistic expectation, but to get their best arguments in the public record.

    “And when the uncharitable option is taken, communication becomes impossible, because then everything the other person says is (or can be) construed (and perceived) as insincere, malicious, deceitful, etc.”

    Without commenting in Bryan’s motives, I’d simply like to make a general and fairly obvious point: not all writers or speakers argue in good faith. We see this all the time in politics, don’t see?

    So there’s no presumption that everyone is entitled to the most charitable construction on what they say. That’s person-variable. Some people are entitled to the benefit of the doubt, but others are not. That’s just the world we live in.

  197. Bryan Cross said,

    October 9, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    Ron (re: #191),

    This leads me to believe that any true sincerity may only come from those whose love is not walled in by knowledge and judgment. (Philippians 1:9)

    I don’t understand what you mean by that statement. I don’t see knowledge and judgment (in the sense of judging some things to be true and some things to be false) to be incompatible with true sincerity. Otherwise, God either could not be truly sincere (if He had all knowledge and right judgment), or if He is sincere He could not have all knowledge and true judgment. So, it seems to me that you are presenting a false dilemma, namely, that we must choose between knowledge and true judgment on the one hand, and true sincerity on the other hand.

    You, if you are knowledgeable, appreciate that Rome has placed her unambiguous anathema upon sola fide and that her decree is irreformable,

    I am aware of that.

    Accordingly, if I am to regard you as one with understanding, then I must find you deceptive.

    Here you lost me. How does “deceptive” follow from having “understanding”? I don’t see how you are moving from [if you understand Catholic doctrine] to [you must be deceptive]. It appears to me that some premises are missing from that argument, because as it is stated, the conclusion does not follow. See the second paragraph in #186, where I explain (see the link in that paragraph) how believing that one’s own position is correct, is fully compatible with sincerely engaging in ecumenical dialogue. When it comes to ecumenical activity, we don’t have to choose between ignorance or skepticism on the one hand, and insincerity on the other hand. That is a false dilemma. The Reformed Christian who enters into ecumenical dialogue believing that all who disagree with him ought to become Reformed, is not being insincere by entering into such a dialogue. If he were to say or do something he doesn’t actually believe, then of course he would be insincere. But engaging in ecumenical dialogue with other traditions is not an activity intrinsically incompatible with believing that one’s own position is the correct one. Otherwise, only theological skeptics could engage sincerely in ecumenical dialogue.

    (I’ll be gone the rest of the day, but if you reply I’ll read it tomorrow.)

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  198. D. T. King said,

    October 9, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    Mr. Cross said: The Reformed Christian who enters into ecumenical dialogue believing that all who disagree with him ought to become Reformed, is not being insincere by entering into such a dialogue.

    And who here, if any, has espoused that belief? Now, who is is offering a false dilemma? Mr. DiGiacomo has not suggested that. Mr. Cross I am smelling another double standard, and am willing to offer the judgment of charity that you are unconscious of it.

    Now, if that is a statement in general of one who is possessed with such a mindset, I suppose so. But if you are projecting that on to someone here, I assure you that this is not my mindset, and I have not witnessed it on the part of any other Reformed participants.

  199. michael said,

    October 9, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    Mr. Cross,

    with all due respect, which quite frankly there isn’t any but a charitable response to your nonsense, I would proffer these verses of Scripture and ask you, “where’s your belief now after considering your words in light of Scripture”: “What makes ecumenical activity sincere is a genuine desire for unity in the truth, in love. …”

    I do not find Scripture granting any room for one bit of ecumenical activity at all with any other religions or beliefs:

    Psa 44:9 But you have rejected us and disgraced us and have not gone out with our armies.
    Psa 44:10 You have made us turn back from the foe, and those who hate us have gotten spoil.
    Psa 44:11 You have made us like sheep for slaughter and have scattered us among the nations.
    Psa 44:12 You have sold your people for a trifle, demanding no high price for them.
    Psa 44:13 You have made us the taunt of our neighbors, the derision and scorn of those around us.
    Psa 44:14 You have made us a byword among the nations, a laughingstock among the peoples.
    Psa 44:15 All day long my disgrace is before me, and shame has covered my face
    Psa 44:16 at the sound of the taunter and reviler, at the sight of the enemy and the avenger.
    Psa 44:17 All this has come upon us, though we have not forgotten you, and we have not been false to your covenant.
    Psa 44:18 Our heart has not turned back, nor have our steps departed from your way;
    Psa 44:19 yet you have broken us in the place of jackals and covered us with the shadow of death.
    Psa 44:20 If we had forgotten the name of our God or spread out our hands to a foreign god,
    Psa 44:21 would not God discover this? For he knows the secrets of the heart.
    Psa 44:22 Yet for your sake we are killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.

    Or in these:

    Joh 12:20 Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks.
    Joh 12:21 So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”
    Joh 12:22 Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.
    Joh 12:23 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.
    Joh 12:24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
    Joh 12:25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
    Joh 12:26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.
    Joh 12:27 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour.
    Joh 12:28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”
    Joh 12:29 The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.”
    Joh 12:30 Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine.
    Joh 12:31 Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out.
    Joh 12:32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”

    Now, in a world ruled by the Devil, where does God give His Children shelter or allow for any of His Children to agree one bit with it?

  200. D. T. King said,

    October 9, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    I would much rather see this discussion return to the topic of the “Oral Tradition Debate.” It seems that our Romanists friends would rather discuss what they perceive to be a lack of “charity” for whatever motive that may be. But one thing is for sure, that topic is a departure and a distraction from the one herein stated.

    I suppose if one wants to discuss our charity, who has it and who doesn’t, what constitutes charity and what doesn’t,” etc., perhaps a moderator might be so disposed as to open a thread for that topic.

  201. Nick said,

    October 9, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    This is my last post since this thread seems to have run its course, but I will respond to the last comments I saw directed at me:

    Andrew M (#164),

    You said: “I really don’t think that we have all misunderstood the Catholic position of non-inscripturated tradition (including oral tradition)”

    There are two misunderstandings I would distinguish between:

    (1) The example of Post#150, which was total ignorance on what exactly inspired oral tradition is, and was nothing more than a cut-n-paste list from other folks who didn’t do their homework nor know what exactly they are talking about. It could be said Phil was joking when he made that list, but that’s not at all the impression given off, nor is that a joking matter.

    (2) Many Protestant comments have framed the issue in terms of saying any inspired apostolic oral tradition given as evidence cannot also be found in the Scriptures. In other words, there is false notion that for something to qualify as inspired apostolic oral tradition, it by necessity, cannot also be recorded in Scripture. This is serious misunderstanding. The truth is, inspired apostolic oral tradition includes all of the doctrines recorded in written tradition (i.e. Scripture), but there is not always the same emphasis. For example, when we read “This is My Body,” inspired apostolic oral tradition emphasizes the literalness of this passage. A point that a plain reading of the text cannot settle, and hence why many Protestants take a purely symbolic reading of that text. In taking a purely symbolic reading of the text there, those Protestants have unwittingly used the lens of traditions of men, *emphasizing dogmatically* the symbolic meaning.

    The only other option, which I’ve seen some suggest here (see especially my post #52 and #93), is that it’s a popular Protestant claim that: “If there is not enough data to warrant a firm conclusion, then the matter is one of adiaphora [i.e. non-essential].” But this leads to doctrinal minimalism, and that’s likely why nobody’s touched that hot-potato.

    With that in mind, the “demand” that keeps being presented is more of a false dilemma. And to top that off, I’ve given (at least) three examples where inspired apostolic oral tradition fills in important details that the written alone cannot settle, namely: literal understanding of “This is My Body;” the canon of Scripture; prayers directed to the Holy Spirit (as opposed to only the Father).
    These types of examples get shrugged off, yet there is a lot riding on them. In my experience, the Catholic realizes how much is riding on these points, while the Protestant typically does not.

    You said: “To use your example, all of us Reformed guys have a keen appreciation for liturgy and it’s utility.”

    That’s not exactly accurate, and is actually false for a great percentage of Protestantism. It’s really only the “high church” denominations that have “a keen appreciation for liturgy and it’s utility,” and even then those folks (e.g. Anglicans) would be doing/teaching a lot of things many “low church” Protestants would find objectional, unbiblical, unnecessary, etc, and the only way to maintain unity at that point is to eventually conclude liturgy is dispensable.

    I remember about two years ago around Christmas time when Turretin Fan posted on his blog that celebrating Christmas was purely optional for the Christian, and that he would treat Christmas day any other ordinary day of the week. Many Protestants would vehemently disagree, but TF was well within his “Protestant rights” to do so. On the other hand, I pointed out that TF’s logic was widely utilized by Protestants who would go so far as to say even Sunday worship is no better than any other day of worship, which in the end made liturgy a non-essential. So, in reality, there is no “keen appreciation” for liturgy and such in any significant sense among Protestants, be they Reformed or not.

    You said: “The issue between us boils down I think primarily to whether the NT’s mention of tradition includes everything that the RCC has poured into it’s understanding of tradition, and then secondarily whether the ECF’s utilization of such tradition ever rose to the same effective level of Scripture. We find no basis for affirming either.”

    If you find no basis for affirming either, especially the latter, then you ultimately affirm it doesn’t matter how strongly any given doctrine is emphasized by history (e.g. ECFs), the Protestant is free to reject it – proving no genuine distinction between solO and solA Scriptura at the end of the day. But the problem is, if you’re not going to take the RC path of inspired apostolic oral tradition, is that you must raise traditions of men to a dogmatic level (including dogmatically consigning the disputed doctrine to “non-essential”).

    —————–

    David King (#165),

    You said: “We have observed that our Romanist friends are only at a loss of words when it comes to identifying the traditions you claim to be holding on the basis of 2 Thess 2:15. … … I still hold out hope that our Romanist friends are going to act in our best interests in identifying these, and demonstrating how they can be traced back to the Church at Thessalonica to whom Paul committed them.”

    First see my point above to Andrew, especially the part where inspired apostolic oral tradition is not wholly independent of the doctrines of Scripture (i.e. if Scripture speaks on X, inspired apostolic oral tradition can also teach X).

    I’ve given the example of inspired apostolic oral traditions regarding the reading of “This is My Body” multiple times, and I think it decisively proves the Catholic point. This is the scenario at it’s most fundamental level:

    (1) The meaning of “This is My Body” is a non-essential.

    (2) The meaning of “This is My Body” is purely symbolic.

    (3) The meaning of “This is My Body” is somewhere between literal and symbolic.

    (4) The meaning of “This is My Body” is literal.

    There are Protestants that fall within all 4 categories, and the ‘trump card’ in all of this is the oral tradition the Protestant is appealing to. But the Protestant is stuck at this point, since their only options are (a) traditions of men, or (b) inspired apostolic oral traditions.

    Given this “This is My Body” example, I’ve proven that inspired apostolic oral traditions are necessary and exist. And the ECFs even testify to the literal interpretation (and certainly not the “non-essential” or even purely symbolic views, to which many Protestants would gladly dispense with the ECFs on this point and others).

    Post #167 Regarding the canon question and ECFs, you asked:
    “Is the canon of Holy Scripture something passed down through the Roman communion via oral tradition alone?”

    The answer is “No.” Scripture itself testifies to SOME extent on what other books are inspired, which is especially clear in the cases when the NT quotes Moses or a Prophet. But it doesn’t give enough information as to whether a book like Esther, Hebrews, Jude, Revelation, etc, etc, are canonical.

    —————–

    David G (#166),

    You said: “It is enough to say we don’t *need* all of the inspired utterances of the Apostles.”

    Who says it’s enough?
    And, more importantly, I’m not talking about all the inspired utterances in general, but rather inspired teachings in particular (i.e. teachings pertaining to Divine Revelation). To say we don’t need the teachings of Divine Revelation is to say Divine Revelation is only partially important/necessary.

    You said: “The question is whether or not we have the Gospel, and have adequate instructions to order the church and pursue holiness according to God’s law in our lives.”

    That’s fine. But how is that question being answered? You can’t just *default* to Scripture alone, nor can Scripture alone settle points such as what “This is My Body” means.

    You said: “The answer is that God has preserved enough of the Apostle’s teachings in written Scripture for these purposes.”

    The Catholic would object here saying that’s an unproven assumption you’re making. Moreover, “enough of the Apostle’s teaching” doesn’t address the point of whether the teaching in question is part of Divine Revelation. If it’s part of Divine Revelation, then there is no question of whether “enough” Divine Revelation was maintained, for ALL of Divine Revelation must be.

    You said: “This shouldn’t be surprising, you don’t know every inspired utterance Moses ever made”

    The issue of inspired oral teaching (whether by Moses or the Apostles) was *never* understood in this framework. If Moses or an Apostle gave a teaching pertaining to Divine Revelation, then such a teaching must have been preserved. The phraseology of “every inspired utterance” in the context of some of that being lost can only be of the level of localized/temporal prophecy, not Divine Revelation (i.e. pertaining to the Deposit of Faith).

    You said: “God chose not to preserve all instances of divine, revelatory utterances, but what he did preserve was sufficient.”

    Speaking of Divine Revelation, how do you know what God chose to preserve was “sufficient”? More importantly, to what degree or quality of “sufficiency” was this preserved? Catholics can gladly say what God preserved in Scripture was “sufficient,” but that is material sufficiency at most.

    My example of the inspired apostolic oral tradition of taking *literally* the saying “This is My Body” shows conclusively why Scripture is not fully sufficient in this regard.

    ————–
    This is getting long enough, so I’ll be brief:

    Turretin Fan #168,

    I still don’t follow your logic. I was explicitly and repeatedly speaking of “a genuine inspired apostolic *doctrine*” and *you* not caring if they were inscripturated, to which you keep replying “I’m completely satisfied with the Bible. I don’t need something else.”
    You’re missing the point that an inspired *doctrine* is part of Divine Revelation, it’s part of the Deposit of Faith that must be preserved and never lost. To say you’re fine with the Bible alone – *indifferent* to a genuine inspired oral Doctrine – is to say you don’t care about the full extent of God’s Teachings He gave specifically to help and assist man.
    That’s about as much as I can say, since the thrust of my comments to you hang on this point.

  202. Reed Here said,

    October 9, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    Here we go round the mulberry bush …

    What about that list of oral traditions handed down? Maybe even one salient example?

  203. D. T. King said,

    October 9, 2010 at 6:26 pm

    I’ve given the example of inspired apostolic oral traditions regarding the reading of “This is My Body” multiple times, and I think it decisively proves the Catholic point. This is the scenario at it’s most fundamental level:

    (1) The meaning of “This is My Body” is a non-essential.

    (2) The meaning of “This is My Body” is purely symbolic.

    (3) The meaning of “This is My Body” is somewhere between literal and symbolic.

    (4) The meaning of “This is My Body” is literal.

    Well, to be honest, this claim meets with a number of difficulties, not the least of which is a bishop of Rome himself…

    Gelasius, Bishop of Rome (492-496): Surely the sacrament we take of the Lord’s body and blood is a divine thing, on account of which, and by the same we are made partakers of the divine nature; and yet the substance of the bread and wine does not cease to be. And certainly the image and similitude of Christ’s body and blood are celebrated in the action of the mysteries. (Tractatus de duabus naturis 14 [PL Sup.-III. 773]) 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, p. 479 (XVIII.xxvi.xx).
    Latin text: Certe sacramenta, quae sumimus, corporis et sanguinis Christi divina res est, propter quod et per eadem divinae efficimur consortes naturae; et tamen esse non desinit substantia vel natura panis et vini. Et certe imago et similitudo corporis et sanguinis Christi in actione mysteriorum celebrantur. Jacques Paul Migne, Patrologiae Latinae, Tractatus de duabis naturis Adversus Eutychen et Nestorium 14, PL Supplementum III, Part 2:733 (Paris: Editions Garnier Freres, 1964). See also Gelasius’s Eucharistic teaching at no. 14 of his Tractatus seu Gelasii episcope romani de duabus naturis in Christo adversus Eutychem et Nestorium in Andreas Thiel, Epistolae romanorum pontificum genuinae et quae ad eos scriptae sunt a S. Hilario usque ad Pelagium II, Tomus I (Brunsbergae, 1868), pp. 530-57, at 541-42.

    This is not simply the analysis of his position by many from the Reformed perspective, but from a Jesuit scholar himself…

    Edward J. Kilmartin, S.J.: According to Gelasius, the sacraments of the Eucharist communicate the grace of the principal mystery. His main concern, however, is to stress, as did Theodoret, the fact that after the consecration the elements remain what they were before the consecration. Edward J. Kilmartin, S.J., “The Eucharistic Theology of Pope Gelasius I: A Nontridentine View” in Studia Patristica, Vol. XXIX (Leuven: Peeters, 1997), p. 288.

    The elements retain their same substance post ex facto their consecration. If this was a legitimate apostolic tradition, then the bishop of Rome erred in departing from it.

  204. steve hays said,

    October 9, 2010 at 6:50 pm

    Nick said,

    Turretin Fan #168,

    I still don’t follow your logic. I was explicitly and repeatedly speaking of “a genuine inspired apostolic *doctrine*” and *you* not caring if they were inscripturated, to which you keep replying “I’m completely satisfied with the Bible. I don’t need something else.”
    You’re missing the point that an inspired *doctrine* is part of Divine Revelation, it’s part of the Deposit of Faith that must be preserved and never lost. To say you’re fine with the Bible alone – *indifferent* to a genuine inspired oral Doctrine – is to say you don’t care about the full extent of God’s Teachings He gave specifically to help and assist man.

    ***********************************

    Well, TFan is more than able to speak for himself, but I assume he’s simply agreeing with God’s own judgment on the matter. If God didn’t see fit to preserve this or that inspired utterance, then why should TFan take issue with God’s providential wisdom?

    Putting the same thing in reverse, God has, in fact, inscripturated everything that ought to be preserved for the ages. Nothing was lost that we can’t do without. Unlike the Romanist, we trust in God’s selection criteria. God knows best which of his words need to be memorialized for the benefit of his people.

  205. TurretinFan said,

    October 9, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    Responding to Nick:

    You wrote: “You’re missing the point that an inspired *doctrine* is part of Divine Revelation, it’s part of the Deposit of Faith that must be preserved and never lost.”

    Steve has already responded well. I’d like to add a couple additional items.

    1) I know for a fact that at least one prophet was told not to write down part of the revelation that God gave to him.

    Revelations 10:4 And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.

    I don’t know whether those things were doctrines or something else, and frankly it doesn’t matter. God has decided that we don’t need to know that (apparently).

    2) “Inspired doctrine” is a strange category. The Scriptures themselves are the only things that are said to be “inspired” in the Bible. That inspiration extends both to explicit doctrinal teachings (such as are found throughout Paul’s letters) as well as to the simpler historical parts found in the books of Moses and the four gospels.

    Sometimes we say that the prophets or apostles were “inspired” to write them, but this is using the word loosely, in a non-technical sense. To say that the doctrines are “inspired doctrines” is to take the loose usage of the word a step further.

    3) The “deposit” is what was delivered to the church (not the magisterium, but the church) once for all.

    Jude 1:3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

    Now, if you are saying that there might be some part of the faith that was once delivered that is not found in the Scriptures (which would seem to involve a denial of material sufficiency), I’d at least like to know what you think that extra thing is. If it really was part of the once-delivered faith, then that would be important. To the extent that my original words expressed apathy toward any part of the once delivered faith, I hereby recant them (though I admit that I didn’t think I was expressing such an attitude at that time – hence my qualified recanting).

    4) But this brings us back to the question that the Reformed folk have been asking, and which we don’t think you can answer (based on the fact that you don’t seem to have identified them, and based on the obvious difficulty you would face in trying to say that something was part of the faith and yet was not included in the Scriptures).

    You also wrote: “To say you’re fine with the Bible alone – *indifferent* to a genuine inspired oral Doctrine – is to say you don’t care about the full extent of God’s Teachings He gave specifically to help and assist man.”

    See my qualified recanting above, but additionally I want to point out that (a) I don’t have any reason to think that there are genuine doctrines that were revealed to the apostles and transmitted by them only orally; and (B) I am indifferent to other genuine revelations that may have been made, but were not inscripturated, such as prophecies like that of Agabus:

    Acts 21:11 And when he was come unto us, he took Paul’s girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.

    The Holy Spirit decided to give us a record of this prophecy, and the Holy Spirit may have given many other similar prophecies in the apostolic era, which are not recorded. I’m not even a little bit troubled by the fact that they are not recorded. They served an important role at the time, but they are not needed now.

    Likewise, if there are Old Testament era prophecies that have been lost, I am perfectly fine with that. God has preserved that which is of use to us. I’m completely satisfied with what I have.

    -TurretinFan

  206. TurretinFan said,

    October 9, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    Bryan provided the following quotation from Cyril of Jerusalem:

    “As the delusion [of Simon Magus] was extending, Peter and Paul, a noble pair, chief rulers of the Church, arrived and set the error right…. And marvellous though it was, yet no marvel. For Peter was there, who carrieth the keys of heaven.”

    This quotation is taken from Cyril’s Catechetical Lectures, Lecture VI, Section 15:

    As the delusion was extending, Peter and Paul, a noble pair, chief rulers of the Church, arrived and set the error right; and when the supposed god Simon wished to shew himself off, they straightway shewed him as a corpse. For Simon promised to rise aloft to heaven, and came riding in a dæmons’ chariot on the air; but the servants of God fell on their knees, and having shewn that agreement of which Jesus spake, that If two of you shall agree concerning anything that they shall ask, it shall be done unto them [Matt. xviii. 19.], they launched the weapon of their concord in prayer against Magus, and struck him down to the earth. And marvellous though it was, yet no marvel. For Peter was there, who carrieth the keys of heaven [Ib. xvi. 19.]: and nothing wonderful, for Paul was there, who was caught up to the third heaven, and into Paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful far a man to utter [2 Cor. xii. 2, 4.]. These brought the supposed God down from the sky to earth, thence to be taken down to the regions below the earth. In this man first the serpent of wickedness appeared; but when one head had been cut off, the root of wickedness was found again with many heads.

    Greek Text: Παρατεινομένης δὲ τῆς πλάνης, ἀγαθῶν ξυνωρὶς διορθοῦται τὸ πταῖσμα, Πέτρος καὶ Παῦλος παραγενόμενοι, οἱ τῆς ἐκκλησίας προστάται· καὶ ἐπιδεικτιῶντα τὸν νομιζόμενον Θεὸν Σίμωνα, νεκρὸν εὐθὺς ἀπέδειξαν. Ἐπαγγελλομένου γὰρ τοῦ Σίμωνος μετεωρίζεσθαι εἰς τοὺς οὐρανοὺς, καὶ ἐπ’ ὀχήματος δαιμόνων ἐπ’ ἀέρος φερομένου, γόνυ κλίναντες οἱ τοῦ Χριστοῦ δοῦλοι καὶ τὴν συμφωνίαν ἐνδειξάμενοι, ἣν εἶπεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς, Ὅτι ἐὰν δύο ἐξ ὑμῶν συμφωνήσωσι, περὶ παντὸς πράγματος οὗ ἐὰν αἰτήσωνται, γενήσεται αὐτοῖς· τὸ τῆς ὁμονοίας βέλος διὰ τῆς προσευχῆς πέμψαντες κατὰ τοῦ μάγου, κατέβαλον αὐτὸν εἰς τὴν γῆν. Καὶ οὐδὲν θαυμαστὸν, καίπερ ὂν θαυμαστόν· Πέτρος γὰρ ἦν, ὁ τὰς κλεῖς τῶν οὐρανῶν περιφέρων. Καὶ οὐ θαύματος ἄξιον· Παῦλος γὰρ ἦν, ὁ εἰς τρίτον οὐρανὸν ἁρπαγεὶς καὶ εἰς παράδεισον καὶ ἀκούσας ἄῤῥητα ῥήματα, ἃ οὐκ ἐξὸν ἀνθρώπῳ λαλῆσαι. [Οἳ καὶ] ἐξ ἀέρος ἐπὶ γῆν κατήγαγον τὸν νομιζόμενον Θεὸν, μέλλοντα εἰς τὰ καταχθόνια κατάγεσθαι. Οὗτος πρῶτος ὁ τῆς κακίας δράκων· μιᾶς δὲ ἐκκοπείσης κεφαλῆς, πολυκέφαλος εὑρέθη πάλιν ἡ τῆς κακίας ὕλη.

    Let’s set aside the fact that Cyril is relating to us the fictional account of Peter’s and Paul’s showdown with Simon Magus, the first heretic. What does the text say? It gives Peter and Paul equal billing as “chief rulers of the church,” and it says Peter carries the keys of heaven.

    There is nothing about Peter having universal jurisdiction or about Rome being the seat of a bishop who rules over the entire church. There is no discussion about what it means to have the “keys of the kingdom,” nor is that the point of the text, which is simply describing the glory of these two great apostles in contrast to the evil of Simon Magus.

    I was thinking that perhaps the present tense of “carries” might be significant, because it would definitively mean that he didn’t think that Peter passed the keys on to a successor or successors. However, I think that’s a lot more weight than a present participle can bear. Nevertheless, the opposite point needs to be made, namely that there is no indication at all regarding whether anyone else carried the keys.

    I would be remiss if I omitted to inform the reader about Cyril of Jerusalem’s rule of faith, explained in the same work, Catechetical Lecture IV, 17:

    Have thou ever in thy mind this seal, which for the present has been lightly touched in my discourse, by way of summary, but shall be stated, should the Lord permit, to the best of my power with the proof from the Scriptures. For concerning the divine and holy mysteries of the Faith, not even a casual statement must be delivered without the Holy Scriptures; nor must we be drawn aside by mere plausibility and artifices of speech. Even to me, who tell thee these things, give not absolute credence, unless thou receive the proof of the things which I announce from the Divine Scriptures. For this salvation which we believe depends not on ingenious reasoning, but on demonstration of the Holy Scriptures.

    By this standard, of course, Cyril of Jerusalem would want us to evaluate papal primacy or other such doctrines according to Scripture. If it came up lacking, we would not accept it, since it lacks proof from the Divine Scriptures.

    - TurretinFan

  207. David Meyer said,

    October 9, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    #150 and 173 were a bit out there, right?

    John Bugay refering to Bryan Cross in #173:

    “Bryan Cross and his followers would have the pope ruling not only the church, but ruling the world, in a re-make of the 11th century. But he is in reality an enemy of the truth, one who will use all the gifts that God gave him to put forth his ill-conceived, satanically-conceived counterfeit of God’s good gift of salvation.” (italics mine)

    I could hear the Imperial March from Star Wars as I read that. I bet Bryan puts on horns and a cape at night and scares little old ladies too! Muahaha!

    Please.

    Contrary to what Mr. King was saying about some less than honest motives by some/all of the Catholics here, I for one am not even officially a Catholic yet and am here for one thing… the truth. I want to hear someone refute the Catholic authority claims and answer what I see as pretty solid objections to one of the fundamental Reformed doctrines. I want to listen in on the debate.

    I have enjoyed most of the comments here and have learned from both “sides”. Lots of good quotes, and some discussion from people that are knowledgeable and really care about the truth.

    I remember sitting in a concert at the Cathedral of Saint Paul here in Minnesota years ago (enjoying Handel’s Messiah) and thinking “someday this will be a Reformed church I hope.” (I know, far fetched, but hey I was a Postmillenialist)
    I’m sure when I am a Catholic I will be thinking that about Reformed churches. There is no sinister plot in either situation. If one is convinced of the truth they want to spread that truth, and if they are really interested in the truth, they will be open to challenges to their beliefs and to self examination. (which I am!) I believeed as a Reformed Calvinist that this examination and discussion must happen if we take seriously Jesus’ prahigh priestly prayer in John 17. I still believe it.

    Obviously, in this conversation one side or neither is right, which means that the other side or both are on the side of the devil. In the interest of dialogue between those who desire to follow Christ, what possible good does it do to accuse the other side of being satanic?

    That kind of “you’re of the devil!” commenting certainly is informative to me, just not in the way you might hope.

    -David

  208. David Meyer said,

    October 9, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    Turretin Fan in #151 you atributed to Sean some stuff I wrote.

    OK so you “reject the errors” of the 7th council, not “ignore”. Fair enough. What is the basis for your acceptance of Nicea?
    That 1) You see its doctrine conforming with Scripture?

    Or 2) because of the authority of the council?

    3) Some other reason?

    If #2 enters into the acceptance in any way, why does that not also enter into the decision for the 7th?

    Thanks,

    David Meyer

  209. Jeff Cagle said,

    October 10, 2010 at 12:26 am

    Dear David M (#207):

    I apologize ahead of time for the length of this; I thought your question deserved a thorough answer. Anyone uninterested can skip ahead to the next comment.

    DM: I for one am not even officially a Catholic yet and am here for one thing… the truth. I want to hear someone refute the Catholic authority claims and answer what I see as pretty solid objections to one of the fundamental Reformed doctrines.

    You’ve been on my mind this evening. While I cannot offer everything you might wish, here’s my stab at (a) answering the Catholic authority claims, and (b) answering the objection to sola scriptura.

    (a) Why not submit to the authority of the Catholic church?

    First and foremost, because arguments from authority are formal fallacies. This is not a trick of logic, but a real-world application of it.

    The Confession states, “God alone is Lord of the conscience, and hath left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men, which are, in any thing, contrary to His Word; or beside it, if matters of faith, or worship. So that, to believe such doctrines, or to obey such commands, out of conscience, is to betray true liberty of conscience: and the requiring of an implicit faith, and an absolute and blind obedience, is to destroy liberty of conscience, and reason also.” (WCoF 20.2).

    The Catholic church, as a condition of membership, requires you to “believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God”. Notice that the person professing this has probably not actually studied all that the church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God. Instead, he is required to have implicit faith that if the church teaches it, it must be right.

    This is an argument from authority, and it is not deductively sound. Authorities can be reliable, so that arguments from authority can be strong inductive arguments. But the Catholic church requires something stronger: that you believe that it is always right, no matter what.

    In order to do so, you must accept the premise that the authority of the Church means the correctness of her doctrine.

    This is a fallacious argument.

    Contrast: The authority of God Himself means that He has the right to be believed. God creates truth; therefore, His word is automatically right.

    In terms of arguments from authority, an argument that “God said it; it must be so” is deductively valid.

    But the church? The church does not create truth. Its argument from authority, then, is not deductively valid. What guarantees the truth, then, of what they claim? Supposedly, the special promise of God to keep His church from error, the charism of infallibility (CCC 890).

    Yet the only witness to this charism is … the teaching of that same Church.

    The Gospels nor the New Testament do not record a charism of infallibility.

    The ECFs do not speak of such.

    As the canon was drawn up, as was pointed out in the Cullman quote above, the entire Church recognized those teachings that were actually the word of God. Nowhere among them is a teaching of infallibility.

    And the entire rest of Christ’s church outside of the Roman Catholic Church, does not recognize this supposed charism of infallibility.

    Nothing whatsoever confirms the infallibility of the teaching of the RCC — except for the RCC itself.

    David, as I read the story of your struggle with sola scriptura, I read out a struggle for certainty: How can I know that my interpretation is true?

    The Catholic Church will ask you to trade your uncertainty for certainty: Because the church says so.

    But in exchange, it will ask you to make a single high-stakes commitment to a logical fallacy: I know with certainty because an authority told me so.

    Truly, the Confession is correct that requiring implicit faith is to overthrow reason.

    And we might go further. Several popes demonstrated by their lives that they were false teachers, not true. Doesn’t that ask us to wonder whether they truly were able to transmit a charism of infallibility, if indeed they were disqualified for their office? Surely being in mortal sin ought to remove the grace of God?

    (b) The core argument made against sola scriptura is that it exalts the individual interpretation over against the church interpretation. There are various arguments out there, but this is the core.

    As I’ve pointed out above, this argument is not legitimate.

    It is, of course, understandable. Given the RCC’s view of authority and of faith, it would be imperative to delegitimize any opinion that differed from theirs. And the delegitizimation happens by dividing the differing opinion from the church. You will notice that “schism” is a mortal sin in the Catholic Church.

    But examine with me again the category mistake inherent in the argument.

    Think of any belief that you have, any whatsoever. Perhaps this one: “I believe in God the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth.”

    That belief is your individual opinion.

    The *ground* for that belief is either the teaching of Scripture, or the teaching of the church, or both.

    But the opinion itself is yours. You cannot help this fact; in the end, we each believe what *we* believe.

    sola scriptura does not exalt the individual opinion. It merely specifies the sole ground for opinions binding on the consciences of men: namely, the teaching of Scripture.

    Ah, the church says, but Scripture is hard to understand. And heretics appeal to the Scripture!

    But if Scripture is hard to understand, then why did the early church fathers place so much stock in it? Why did they argue from it? Why were they not tied up in endless knots about whether their individual opinions were consistent with the teaching of the bishop of Rome? [aside: have you noticed how *little* reference there is in the ECFs to the opinions of Rome, even in those wild and lawless times in the first three centuries?]

    Because they knew that Scripture was a solid ground for their beliefs.

    The flashlight of the RCC argument is pointing on the wrong target. It shines on the individual and says, “Look! An individual opinion!” Well, yeah, individuals have opinions. That doesn’t stop when you become Catholic. You still have to interpret church teaching.

    But a more clear-sighted approach would shine the flashlight on the ground for belief. Will that ground be Scripture? Or will it be Scripture and church teaching? Or will it be church teaching alone?

    [aside: On that last point, notice how the RCC argument, that Scripture is hard to understand and individual interpretation is to be feared, has the effect of making Scripture of no weight as an authority. It cannot independently confirm church teaching because ... church teaching always includes what Scripture must mean!]

    This gets to the heart of the error that Catholic apologists make when they conflate sola scriptura with solo scriptura.

    A true sola scriptura-ist uses Scripture as the ground for belief, and tradition as the confirmation that his method and reasoning have been sound. Solos, on the other hand, seek no confirmation. This is a clear and obvious difference; and the Catholic denial of that difference is counterfactual.

    You say, but this leads to thousands of opinions!

    Several billion, actually — but they don’t all diverge nearly as much as some would have us think. On the question of “this is my body”, there aren’t thousands of different opinions; there are only really four or five.

    Sola scriptura doesn’t offer us the prospect that our own individual opinions will always be correct. It doesn’t offer you the certainty that the RCC claims (wrongly!) for itself.

    Instead, it places our feet on the rock of Scripture, and invites us to be a part of the Church, the true historic and universal church that has taken God at his word, and wrestled with weighty issues as fallible human beings examining an infallible word from God.

    There is a choice before you: On the one hand, the RCC offers certainty in exchange for commitment to a logical error. On the other hand, sola scriptura offers you the true ground for belief, and then invites you to be a part of God’s fallible church, trusting in His word.

    If you believe, as I do, that the true church will one day be one, then you should believe also that God’s Spirit is not dismayed or surprised or bound by the proliferation of error in the church. He is rather quite able to work true unity in His own timing, in that day when “we will no longer be tossed about by the opinions of men” (Eph 4.14).

    Our trust is not in men or the institutions of men, but in God Himself. It must be that way. No man has the right to claim your absolute allegiance, that you believe all that he has ever or will ever teach. Only the God-Man can do so.

    So in short, I would discount Rome’s claim to authority because it is fallacious on its face; and I would answer the objection to sola scriptura by saying that the objection is a category error. Of course our opinions are our own; the question is, what is their ground?

    Grace and peace,
    Jeff Cagle

  210. TurretinFan said,

    October 10, 2010 at 12:43 am

    David Meyer,

    Sorry about the name mix-up. I assure you it was unintentional.

    I’ll give you a straight answer to your question, but before I do, let me ask you – have you read the 20 canons of the council of Nicaea? Let me read you canon 6:

    Let the ancient customs prevail which were in vogue in Egypt and Libya and Pentapolis, to allow the bishop of Alexandria to have authority over all these parts, since this is also the treatment usually accorded to the bishop of Rome. Likewise with reference to Antioch, and in other provinces, let the seniority be preserved to the Churches. In general it is obvious that in the case in which anyone has been made a bishop without the Metropolitan’s approval, the great Council has prescribed that such a person must not be a Bishop. If, however, to the common vote of all, though reasonable and in accordance with an ecclesiastical Canon, two or three men object on account of a private quarrel, let the vote of the majority prevail.

    Notice the rationale: the bishop of Alexandria gets jurisdiction over his region because the same thing was accorded to the bishop of Rome. Wouldn’t that be a really strange thing to say if the Roman bishop were pope? Something to think about.

    But no, I don’t accept canon 6 on the authority of the council of Nicaea, nor do I accept the other 19 canons on their authority. I do agree with the creed of the council of Nicaea because it agrees with Scripture. For me, as for the Nicaean fathers, the Scriptures are my rule of faith and life.

    If I were discussing the issues with someone who viewed Nicaea as inferior to the larger council of Ariminum, I would probably say, like Augustine:

    I should not, however, introduce the Council of Nicea to prejudice the case in my favor, nor should you introduce the Council of Ariminum that way. I am not bound by the authority of Ariminum, and you are not bound by that of Nicea. By the authority of the scriptures that are not the property of anyone, but the common witness for both of us, let position do battle with position, case with case, reason with reason.

    - Augustine, Answer to Maximinus, Part I, Vol. 18 of the Works of Saint Augustine, ed. John Rotelle, O.S.A., trans. Roland J. Teske, S.J. (New York: New City Press, 1995), p. 282.

    So the very short answer to your question is (1). I agree with Nicaea because Scripture confirms what Nicaea says. I likewise disagree with Ariminum because of what Scripture says, not because it wasn’t big enough, or because of some other similar standard.

    -TurretinFan

  211. johnbugay said,

    October 10, 2010 at 4:38 am

    This statement of mine was mocked a bit by some of the “charitable” Roman Catholics here: “Bryan Cross and his followers would have the pope ruling not only the church, but ruling the world, in a re-make of the 11th century. But he is in reality an enemy of the truth, one who will use all the gifts that God gave him to put forth his ill-conceived, satanically-conceived counterfeit of God’s good gift of salvation.” (italics mine)

    The “Dictatus Papae” of the 11th century is attributed to Pope Gregory VII — and whether or not he actually wrote it, it became the doctrine of the papacy in the middle ages. Check out some of this language and see if it gives you the warm fuzzies. None of this is found in the Scriptures; by default, then, this is handed down as a part of the living, oral Tradition of the Church:

    The Dictates of the Pope

    That the Roman church was founded by God alone.
    That the Roman pontiff alone can with right be called universal.
    That he alone can depose or reinstate bishops.
    That, in a council his legate, even if a lower grade, is above all bishops, and can pass sentence of deposition against them.
    That the pope may depose the absent.
    That, among other things, we ought not to remain in the same house with those excommunicated by him.
    That for him alone is it lawful, according to the needs of the time, to make new laws, to assemble together new congregations, to make an abbey of a canonry; and, on the other hand, to divide a rich bishopric and unite the poor ones.
    That he alone may use the imperial insignia.
    That of the pope alone all princes shall kiss the feet.
    That his name alone shall be spoken in the churches.
    That this is the only name in the world.
    That it may be permitted to him to depose emperors.
    That he may be permitted to transfer bishops if need be.
    That he has power to ordain a clerk of any church he may wish.
    That he who is ordained by him may preside over another church, but may not hold a subordinate position; and that such a one may not receive a higher grade from any bishop.
    That no synod shall be called a general one without his order. (Never mind that all of the first seven “ecumenical” councils were called by emperors; some of whom completely ignored the popes.)
    That no chapter and no book shall be considered canonical without his authority.
    That a sentence passed by him may be retracted by no one; and that he himself, alone of all, may retract it.
    That he himself may be judged by no one.
    That no one shall dare to condemn one who appeals to the apostolic chair.
    That to the latter should be referred the more important cases of every church.
    That the Roman church has never erred; nor will it err to all eternity, the Scripture bearing witness.
    That the Roman pontiff, if he have been canonically ordained, is undoubtedly made a saint by the merits of St. Peter; …. As is contained in the decrees of St. Symmachus the pope.
    That, by his command and consent, it may be lawful for subordinates to bring accusations.
    That he may depose and reinstate bishops without assembling a synod.
    That he who is not at peace with the Roman church shall not be considered catholic.
    That he may absolve subjects from their fealty to wicked men.

    Notice that this occurred almost immediately following the split with Constantinople in 1054. It falls within the scope of “church dogma,” based on its strength as a papal pronouncement. Some have considered this to be an infallible statement.

    http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/g7-dictpap.html

    This is another document that is based on forgeries (i.e., the Donation of Constantine and the Symmachan Forgeries). Yet it was an official teaching of a pope, and it made its way into Canon law.

    Bryan Cross, will you say this pope was “simply mistaken” in all of this? Or would you rather bow to Roman authority and accept this program that really, “the pope may depose emperors”?

    You Roman Catholics are pleading with us all to have unity under the “Bishop of Rome”. But are you aware of the sweep of history that created such a monster? Are you aware of what that monster had become?

    The papacy was beholden to no power on earth. If it is not from God (as I truly believe, except that, as in His decrees, God has permitted the papacy to exist as he has permitted sin to exist), then of the devil.

  212. Andrew McCallum said,

    October 10, 2010 at 5:24 am

    Andrew said: The issue between us boils down I think primarily to whether the NT’s mention of tradition includes everything that the RCC has poured into it’s understanding of tradition, and then secondarily whether the ECF’s utilization of such tradition ever rose to the same effective level of Scripture. We find no basis for affirming either.

    Nick replied: If you find no basis for affirming either, especially the latter, then you ultimately affirm it doesn’t matter how strongly any given doctrine is emphasized by history (e.g. ECFs), the Protestant is free to reject it….

    Nick, it sounds like you might have left the discussion now, but in case you are still reading I wanted to comment on just your one point because I think you are misunderstanding the central thrust of much of the Protestant position here.

    We do take seriously the emphasis of certain doctrines in the history of the Church and there is nothing that you should take from my comments that would deny this. Christianity is a historical religion, this is true in Protestantism as it is in Catholicism. But what I am looking at is the basis for the decisions that the ECF’s came to in determining central doctrines like the Trinity. Catholics and Protestants agree that the ECF’s believed that Scripture was infallible and that they could use Scripture as an ultimate and absolute standard. The question that must then be posed is whether or not there was any other such source of equal authority and certainty used by the ECF’s. If there was not then we are left with Scripture alone as the ultimate standard for the ECF’s in determining dogma. So we are asking our Catholic friends to provide some sort of proof that non-inscripurated traditions had the same level of authority and certainty as Scripture for the ECF’s. By the late Medieval period the Church was operating in a mode where certain extra biblical traditions had the same effective level of authority as Scripture (and in some cases in practical terms had actually eclipsed the Scriptures). My point is that we don’t find traditions operating in the same way with the ECF’s as we do with the Medieval RCC. For the ECF’s tradition outside of Scripture did not have the same authority as Scripture itself. To put it in Augustine’s terms, the Scriptures were infinitely superior to any of the words of the bishops, even in the context of a council and even in the context of an ecumenical council. The ultimate authority for the Church in the centuries following the Apostles was only Scripture.

    So you don’t want to believe this but I hope you at least understand where I’m coming from now wrt to my comments that you responded to.

  213. October 10, 2010 at 7:20 am

    Bryan,

    Re: 197

    There is no false dilemma. Since you admit that you know Rome’s doctrines are irreformable and since you believe they are infallible, your “call to communion” is indeed deceptive because it’s not a “call to communion” that you are after but rather a summons back to pure Romanism without remainder. It’s the disguise I find abhorrent. So what is the “sincere” dialogue all about? You’re trying to proselytize and in the process you might succeed in making children twice the child of hell as those who have followed Trent to their graves.

    Ron

  214. johnbugay said,

    October 10, 2010 at 7:54 am

    I have to apologize, I stated that the “Dictatus Papae” was an official document, but it was not official; it was a personal writing found in the personal papers of Gregory VII. [Nevertheless, Klaus Schatz included it in his section of "primary texts" that, to use a Bryan Cross phrase, had "implications for papal primacy."

    Eamon Duffy says this:

    The eleventh century had seen a steady growth in collections of legal canons, textbooks designed to serve the new spirit of reform. The twenty-seven maxims which make up the Dictatus Papae were probably headings for a new compilation of canons designed to illustrate papal prerogatives.

    If so, the compilation was never completed, for although some of the maxims simply summarized long-standing claims of the papacy, the overall thrust of the Dictatus was revolutionary, going far beyond anything to be found in the textbooks and precedent collections. …

    … the claim that the Pope alone has the power to depose or translate bishops, to call general councils and to authorize or reform canon law had all been vigorously contested in the Frankish church, and would go on being contested up to the Reformation. The most startling maxims in the Dictatus Papae, however, were more radical still, for Gregory claimed that the Pope can depose emperors, and that he can absolve subjects from their allegiance to wicked rulers. Everyone acknowledged the role of the Pope in the making of an emperor, but no one had ever before deduced from this that a Pope could unmake an emperor. In the interests of an exalted vision of his own office, Gregory was here striking at the heart of the contemporary belief about the nature of monarchy and the political community. The extravagance of that vision was evident in his claim that a duly ordained pope is automatically made a saint by the merits of St. Peter, an assertion which, in the light of the popes of the preceding years, must have made his contemporaries blink. (121-122)

    Nevertheless, Gregory's vision for the papacy did shape the vision and the actions of his "successors." Schatz notes how Innocent III (1198-1216) proceeded:

    The notion we take for granted, that the pope is Christ's representative (or vicar) pure and simple, can be traced to Innocent. [So much for theological novelties.] Now for the first time “vicar of Christ” became the pope’s proper title. Until the eleventh century the king was also considered the vicarious Christi, and the same title was applied to the bishops. … According to Innocent, the pope [was now] simply “the solve vicar of CHrist.” This tittle thus replaces the earlier appellation, “vicar of Peter,” that from Leo I onward had been the pope’s proper self-designation and held a central place in Gregory VII’s mysticism of Peter. Innocent expressly rejected the title “vicar of Peter” as inadequate [so much for never having erred], because he was “the successor of Peter,” but “the vicar of Christ.” (91-92)

    Schatz goes on to note that “Thus even more clearly than in Gregory’s time the pope is regarded as the source of all power in the Church. The title “vicar of Christ” points in the same direction. Its exclusive nature leads to a very dangerous elevation that threatens to place the papal office above the Church rather than in the CHurch. If the title “vicar of Peter” still meant that the papal office was located within the apostolic college and the Church, even though certainly wielding a special authority given it by Christ, this new title had the deceptive consequence of placing the pope above the Church.”

    Still more “implications for papal primacy,” I guess.

  215. Bryan Cross said,

    October 10, 2010 at 8:31 am

    Ron, (re:#213)

    You’re talking about a “disguise” without having shown that there is a disguise. There is no disguise. I don’t assume that “Green Baggins” is a disguise for Reformed folks who believe that all Christians should become Reformed, even though I believe that the Reformed folks at GB believe that all Christians should become Reformed. I assume that “Green Baggins” is just a cool name. Again, if you take the path against charity, and thus assume the worst of your interlocutor, then what is a name becomes a “disguise,” and the possibility of genuine dialogue breaks down. We (at CTC) are truly calling our brothers and sisters to communion, and that communion must initially take the form of sincere dialogue regarding Christ’s Church and His gospel and whatever else presently divides Protestants and Catholics.

    The fifteen of us at CTC who were at one time Reformed, and are now Catholic, have never hidden the fact that we are all Catholics. We have never hidden what we believe we have discovered, namely that the Catholic Church is the Church that Christ founded, and to which all Christians should be joined in full communion. We’ve openly explained that we believe true communion (John 17) can be had by all Christians only when we all are in full communion with the episcopal successor of the Apostle to whom Christ gave the keys of the Kingdom.

    You’re assuming that sincere ecumenism requires compromise of one’s own beliefs, but you haven’t established or demonstrated that sincere ecumenism requires compromise of one’s own beliefs. As I pointed out above, merely because someone believes his position to be right and is not willing to give up what he believes to be true, it does not follow that he can be at the ecumenical table only insincerely. Ecumenism entails mutual pursuit of the truth, not necessarily mutual compromise, as I explained in “Two Ecumenicisms.” If a person (I’m speaking of a hypothetical person) is not willing to pursue the truth, but only wishes to cling to his ideology, even if it is shown to be false, then he cannot enter into a mutual pursuit of truth (in love) with those who do not share his ideology. But if a person is willing to pursue the truth, and give up any false belief shown to be false, then he can sincerely come to the ecumenical table, even if he comes believing that his own position is true.

    The reason this is important (on a thread about oral Tradition), is that it is impossible for those at the ecumenical table to work out their theological disagreements, so long as any one present is thought to be insincere or deceitful, simply for believing his position to be true. So getting this squared away is a precondition for discussing any theological disagreement between Protestants and Catholics. If Jesus sat down at the ecumenical table, He wouldn’t therefore be insincere, just for believing that His position is true. And the same is true of you — if you sit down at the ecumenical table, this doesn’t make you insincere, even if you believe all Christians in the world should be Reformed. And so likewise, when a Catholic enters into an ecumenical discussion, he is not thereby made to be insincere, if he believes the Catholic Church to be the Church Christ founded and to which all Christians should be joined in full communion. A person can sincerely enter ecumenical dialogue, and believe his own position to be true, without contradiction.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  216. D. T. King said,

    October 10, 2010 at 11:43 am

    The reason this is important (on a thread about oral Tradition), is that it is impossible for those at the ecumenical table to work out their theological disagreements, so long as any one present is thought to be insincere or deceitful, simply for believing his position to be true. So getting this squared away is a precondition for discussing any theological disagreement between Protestants and Catholics.

    I think we are at cross purposes here. This is not an ecumenical table – it is an “Oral Tradition Debate.” You folks want to discuss our character, and we’re here to debate the concept of oral tradition. Whether that involves you or not, Mr. Cross, that is for you to decide.

    One never knows what you are saying – One man cries out to Mary, and you define that as crying out to God. That’s why I think any exchange with you is hopeless.

  217. October 10, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    Ecumenism entails mutual pursuit of the truth…

    Mr. Cross,

    This is just another example of pure sophistry. In your mind, you are not pursuing truth because you believe you have already arrived at the truth! Therefore, for you there can be no “mutual” pursuit of truth because the only ones who may pursue the truth are not the Romanists that already have it but rather the poor Protestants who have not yet found the truth of Mother Church. I find, therefore, that you are not pursuing “truth” at all but rather potential converts to Romanism. That’s your disguise, Mr. Cross. Call your movement “Call to the truth of Romanism” and then I will say you are sincerely putting forth your agenda. Continue to call it “Call to Communion” and I will continue to find your movement full of intentional deceit given that you say you know that at least someone is preaching a damning gospel.

    RD

  218. michael said,

    October 10, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    Mr Cross,

    If a person (I’m speaking of a hypothetical person) is not willing to pursue the truth, but only wishes to cling to his ideology, even if it is shown to be false, then he cannot enter into a mutual pursuit of truth (in love) with those who do not share his ideology.

    Why step into that? You betray yourself and malign the Truth! Truth is not infused and enabling a pursuit of it. Truth is imputed by virtue of predestination and foreknowledge.

    Why not acknowledge the truth taught in Scripture? Are you not mistaken about Scripture and the Truth with that sort of hypothesis?

    Here’s the Truth:

    You write about a hypothetical person as though they have an ability or no ability to pursue Truth and that as though the will to pursue Truth is with them. No one pursues Truth. No one has that ability. It is a gift of God that one would desire Truth. Truth comes to those that fit this frame of mind:

    Rom 3:9 What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin,
    Rom 3:10 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one;
    Rom 3:11 no one understands; no one seeks for God.
    Rom 3:12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”
    Rom 3:13 “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.”
    Rom 3:14 “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
    Rom 3:15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
    Rom 3:16 in their paths are ruin and misery,
    Rom 3:17 and the way of peace they have not known.”

    You write as one who is deceived. It seems to me you do not know it or truly understand the process of God’s election so that the “life” change Truth brings about by election comes to pass. It is by grace and truth coming God that brings one freedom from deception. The whole world lies in the lap of the wicked one!

    Do you not, as yet, understand? Have you not, as yet, understood no one seeks after God? No one seeks after Truth. Jesus is Truth. And to refer to your John 17 reference above: Joh 17:15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.
    Joh 17:16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.
    Joh 17:17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
    Joh 17:18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.
    Joh 17:19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.

    For those who have received these Words of Grace and Truth apply sound reason in Communion with Truth. You are mistaken to think being “reformed” is set in your kind of historical hypothesis that you have written about above.

    Maybe you would want to receive these Words of Grace and Truth yourself, now? Perhaps there is indeed the Spirit of Grace and Truth working upon your heart sanctifying your spirit, soul and body too?

    Joh 1:9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
    Joh 1:10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him.
    Joh 1:11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.
    Joh 1:12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,
    Joh 1:13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
    Joh 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
    Joh 1:15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”)
    Joh 1:16 And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.
    Joh 1:17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
    Joh 1:18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

  219. TurretinFan said,

    October 10, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    Bryan:

    If you want to pursue the truth about oral tradition, you have an opportunity to do so here. You’re not taking advantage of that opportunity.

    -Turretinfan

  220. Bryan Cross said,

    October 10, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    Ron, (re: #217)

    (Please just call me ‘Bryan.’) I agree that in one sense a person can no longer pursue what he already possesses. If I’m looking for a coin, and I find it, then I can longer pursue it. If I’m looking for a lamb, and I find it, I can no longer pursue it. But in another sense, with things having a spiritual dimension, it is possible to have something and yet still pursue it, without contradiction. For example, woe to the man who walks down the aisle with his new bride, and no longer pursues her, thinking that he already has her. Truth, likewise, can always be pursued in this present life, even when we already possess it. That’s because Truth is like an infinite and inexhaustable ocean. While we may truly be said to take it into ourselves in thimble-sized portions, yet it always also remains something that vastly exceeds our capacity to possess in its entirety. And so we may rightly and truly believe we have the truth about something, and yet we may, without contradiction or self-deception, continue genuinely to pursue a further investigation and understanding about that truth in all its various aspects, evidence, meaning and implications, even as we sincerely examine all the best evidence and objections against it. This is expressed in the principle “faith seeking understanding.” Possession of the truth by faith does not preclude the further pursuit of that same truth, in the unfathomable depths of its fullness, by continually deepening our understanding of it, correcting our misunderstandings, and allowing it to illumine and inform us more completely. Nor does it prevent us from genuinely considering and evaluating objections to it. Faith does not eliminate or restrict reason, but perfects and illumines reason. This is why we can continue to pursue the wisdom contained in Scripture, even if we have read and understood certain passages hundreds of times before. The wisdom within it, as you know, is inexhaustible, and the more we meditate on it, the more we realize that we have only just barely scratched the surface. And the same principle applies to all the truths of the faith. Believing that the Reformed faith is true does not preclude genuinely pursuing further understanding of and penetration into its meaning and the evidence for and against it. And likewise with the Catholic faith.

    In addition, mutual pursuit of truth is not just two persons each individually seeking truth. It is specifically (i.e. in species) an irreducibly communal activity, because the goal of the activity is not just possession of truth by multiple people, but agreement concerning the truth, between those persons. And therefore even if two persons who disagree about the truth, each believes he has the truth, they can both sincerely engage in a mutual pursuit of the truth, by together seeking to reach agreement concerning the truth. That’s an entirely different activity from a debate where the goal is to make one’s position appear superior, or to make the onlookers to believe it to be so. In the mutual pursuit of truth, both parties see it as a failure if they do not reach agreement concerning the truth. The success of a debate, by contrast, does not depend on reaching agreement with one’s interlocutor concerning the truth.

    So if your reason for thinking that my claim to desire to enter into mutual pursuit of the truth is a “disguise” is that truth possessed cannot be pursued, then I would say that this falls short in two ways. It presupposes an overly simplistic notion of truth (like an overly simplistic notion of a wife as an object possessed) and it fails to note that mutual pursuit of truth is an activity having as its telos a unity having not only a vertical dimension but also an irreducibly horizontal dimension, which allows persons who already believe they have the truth to enter into that activity without contradiction or insincerity.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  221. October 10, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    Bryan,

    Bryan,

    You’re just engaging in more sophistry by piling more irrelevant thought on top of the original point with which you had ample time to interact yet decided not to. You acknowledge that truth, when found, can no longer be pursued at least in some sense. But then you allow for additional pursuit of that same truth in order to gain greater understanding. That would have been all well and good had your “truth” not been that faith + merit yields salvation. You see Brian, since Protestants deny that axiom of yours, any sincere “mutual pursuit” of truth needs to begin there and not in some deeper understanding of that Romish plan of salvation.Yet the pursuit of the very basic formula of justification is not available for you to pursue, for as to put it in your words, that “coin” you have already found. And with that pursuit already accomplished by you, there’s really no call to communion that is not a call to Romanism.

    It would be better to have no wits at all than to use them as you do, Bryan. You are the sophist among sophists. Congratulations.

    RWD

  222. Jeff Cagle said,

    October 10, 2010 at 6:29 pm

    Bryan (#220):

    I don’t begrudge you the fact that you think you’re right. That’s not a problem.

    I do, however, feel a bit nervous about engaging in dialogue if the subtext of that dialogue, the precondition for dialogue, is to be “Bryan cannot be incorrect, for Rome cannot be incorrect.”

    That is: it’s one thing to believe that one is correct; it’s another to believe that one’s correctness is axiomatic.

    I know that on the one hand, you feel obligated to the truth, AND that truth is defined for you by Roman Catholic dogma. RC infallibility functions for you as an axiom.

    But if we are questioning the truthfulness of RC dogma, then we are asking you to step outside your axiom and defend it. *Why* should we believe that RC dogma is necessarily true?

    And here, the dialogue seems to end. You are not willing to step outside your axiom (because it seems like unbelief to you). We are not willing to accept your axiom as axiomatic (because it is not self-evidently true).

    What can you offer up to break the logjam? I’m stuck, myself. I don’t see good reason to believe all that the Roman Catholic church teaches to be true. The move to declare us all “individualists” doesn’t really advance the discussion. Is there some other avenue that can be taken?

  223. David Meyer said,

    October 10, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    TFan said: “I do agree with the creed of the council of Nicaea because it agrees with Scripture.”

    Thanks for that. I really did not know how you would answer that. I have not read all the cannons and such and honestly may never do so. As a layman I do not think that should be necesary for my acceptance of the council. When I first gave my assent of faith to the scriptures as being infallible and inerrant, I hadnt read more than a few pages of it. I believed them because I believed Jesus. Later reading about a talking donkey did not shake my faith a bit. Same goes for any other elements of Tradition. It seems that we should logically be on the RECIEVING end of determining true doctrine. When I read your quote above, I just cannot help but read it in this way (my bracketing):
    “I do agree with the creed of the council of Nicaea because it agrees with [my interpretation of] Scripture.”
    Your rejection of the 7th council is for the same reason I assume? (because it does not agree with Scripture)

    Hypothetical: If tomorrow (God forbid) you woke up and decided that Nicea (the creed) does not agree with scripture, how would you know you were in error? (If it helps, put yourself in the position of an utter layman with four young kids like me who doesnt have that much time to study these things). What would be different between the determination of Nicea not agreeing with Scripture and your current basis for accepting it?

    In other words, assume you were very much convinced that some element of the creed was totally in error in the light of Scripture. In Protestantism, what mechanism is there for you to know you are off the rails?

    Jeff Cagle:
    Thank you so much for your thoughtful and respectful reply!

    I cant respond to all of it but I am grateful to hear you have some of the same concerns for unity that I have always had as a Christian. I think I can assume you are a flaming postmillenialist like I was. (That is a compliment) (I have to submit to being a “positive” Amilleniallist as a RC.)

    For your point (a) I dont see how anything you criticize is different under sola Scriptura. All the points about conscience would be the same, so it would become a “formal falacy” (not sure I get what that even is to be honest.) For example, if my conscience is convinced that in Scripture homosexuality is not a sin. It is obvious that my conscience is malformed. The WCF says “contrary to His word”. I mean that is just loaded, right? I am NOT saying Scripture is a wax nose either. Homosexuality is a extreme example of someone seemingly intentionally decieving themselves about the content of Scripture. But what about the Eucharist? It really is a great example. I dont think many people intentionally decieve themselves about that one. It is also obvious that alot is at stake. Saying it is not a “central” doctrine is in itself a doctrine.
    Let me say that again:

    Saying it is not a “central” doctrine is in itself a doctrine.

    But that has to be the default Reformed doctrine. We all just kind of instinctively know that the other guy has some good reasons to believe what he does… so how can we say it is heresy. But at the same time, (is it just me?) we instinctively know that this doctrine quite possibly means everything.

    So we are left to pick a doctrine (I chose Mathison’s take on Calvins doctrine) and mix it up with a healthy dose of “but it’s not a central issue of the faith” thinking. I cannot begin to relate how utterly unsatisfying and dirty that feels to think that way. Not only have I chosen the doctrine for myself, but have chosen it’s importance level; relegating it by necessity to a tertiary doctrine that can be radically different (yet orthodox) to others within the visible church.

    “The Catholic church, as a condition of membership, requires you to “believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God”. Notice that the person professing this has probably not actually studied all that the church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God. Instead, he is required to have implicit faith that if the church teaches it, it must be right.
    This is an argument from authority, and it is not deductively sound.”

    Like I said, nothing was different for me as a new believer in Christ 20 years ago. I made a leap of faith that this Man Jesus would not lead me astray after revealing Himself to me. No way could I run every doctrine past my malformed conscience at that point in time. I was/am WAY too untrustworthy to trust my conscience.

    The falacy situation you describe fits for the authority of Christ in general too. Substitute “Jesus” for “Catholic church” in your statement and nothing changes. And it seems to me at least plausable and reasonable that the church, the “Body of Christ” is what we submit to in the event our conscience is at odds with it. When we disagree with Christ, we need to… obey Christ not our conscience. Which means conforming our conscience to Christ/His Church.

    Saying that conforming ones conscience to that of the Church can only mean submitting to mere men is akin to a unbeliever saying the Scripture are merely the words of men. Obviously in submitting to the magisterium I would need to see it as being divinely protected from error. (similarly to the way the Scripture is) And considering no Apostle wrote a table of contents for Scripture, submission to inspired men after the Apostolic era is not just plausable, but unavoidable. Like Peter Kreeft says: “You can’t squeeze infallible Bible juice from a fallible church orange.” So why stop at submitting to them for just the cannon? why not for the interpretation of John 6 as well?

    No one here can honestly tell me that as a “romanist” I will need to “interpret the magisterium” for what they believe about the Eucharist/ Lord’s Supper/communion doctrine. You can say it, but it falls flat. We all know and can describe EXACTLY what Rome preaches on pain of anathema about the Eucharist. Right or wrong, It is settled doctrine for them and it’s importance level is firmly fixed. If my conscience disagrees, THAT makes sense to me. My conscience wants to do all sorts of dumb crap! So it makes sense I would need to conform to the visible Church’s doctrine. As a Reformed believer, I don’t see where that was happening. Everyone was fine with multiple views of the Lord’s Supper. To think that Luther’s, Calvin’s, and Zwingli’s views can all be viewed as being orthodox is just so “after the fact”. If the Reformation had settled on one view, sola scriptura would have a very solid proof. But of course they did not, and now to maintain an appearance of unity a Reformed Christian claims to be part of the same visible church as the “wonder bread and grapejuice” Zwinglians. Is Christ divided in this sacreligious way? God forbid. Either one of these views is right and it excludes all others from it’s communion, or the visible Church has truly been swallowed by history.

    Sorry for the length, those who cannot argue well must resort to ranting about their feelings. Nevertheless, I care about these issues.

    -David

  224. Bryan Cross said,

    October 10, 2010 at 8:41 pm

    Jeff (re: #222),

    The reason why I brought up the issue of charity is that there is no point trying to work out the disagreement concerning oral Tradition (or any other theological point of disagreement), if the Catholic participants are assumed to be insincere or deceitful. The principle of charity is a basic precondition for genuine dialogue, so if the fact of my believing Catholic doctrine and seeking to engage in the mutual pursuit of truth with Protestants is treated as ipso facto grounds for inferring insincerity on my part, then it would be pointless for me (or any other orthodox Catholic) to comment here.

    Regarding your comments (in #222), which I think are helpful, I would never make “Rome cannot be incorrect” a precondition for dialogue. That’s not my epistemic starting point. I didn’t arrive at my beliefs about the Catholic Church through a fideistic leap. Nor was I born with them, obviously; so they’re not innate or a priori. Rather I arrived at my beliefs concerning the Catholic Church through a process of investigation. So, I wouldn’t expect anyone to take as an epistemic starting point, the infallibility of the Catholic Church. That you even think I would make something like that a “precondition for dialogue” is surprising to me; it shows me that I haven’t sufficiently explained where I’m coming from epistemically.

    It seems to me (but this is just a hunch) that you are using a presuppositional paradigm, and assuming that I also operate presuppositionally, though with different fundamental presuppositions than you hold. So you (apparently) think that “Rome cannot error” [in faith and morals] is an epistemic first principle for orthodox Catholics. But it is not. For us, the order of authority is the opposite of the order of knowing. We come to our beliefs about the identity and authority of the Catholic Church, not by presupposing those beliefs (that would be a kind of fideism), but by means of the motives of credibility, which are accessible (in principle) to every person through the natural power of reason. And yet we are not rationalists who require that the truth of every article of faith be verified or verifiable to us through our own rational power. (I recently explained here how the Catholic position avoids both rationalism and fideism.) Without the help of the Holy Spirit, we cannot assent to supernatural revelation. Nor can reason see for itself the truth of the articles of faith; this is why they are called mysteries, not because they are irrational, but because they extend beyond our capacity to comprehend by our own natural power of reason.

    So, in my opinion, the “logjam” is broken up by backing up, epistemically, to common ground between us. In particular, we agree that Christ came from heaven, became man, and founded a Church in the first century. That’s common ground. We agree about the divine inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible (excepting the deuteros). That’s an important piece of our common ground. Our fundamental points of disagreement have their roots in how we understand what happened in the second half of the first century, when the apostles were being martyred, and appointing leaders to replace them. This is where we (you and I) disagree about the episcopacy, and apostolic succession. And that has important implications in the bigger picture for determining which doctrines are orthodox and which are heretical. If the successors of the apostles had only ministerial authority, then the Reformed interpretation of Scripture could be right. But if the successors of the apostles had magisterial authority, then that changes everything, because it changes how orthodoxy and heresy are to be determined.

    Much more to be said, obviously, but that’s my sketch of the way around your “logjam,” and where to find common ground, and where the fundamental point of divergence lies. (You might just say that’s another “logjam”, but I think there is hope here too.)

    You said to David M earlier that the argument from authority is a fallacy, because the conclusion does not necessarily follow. That’s true, except when the authority is divine. In Summa Theologica I Q.1 a.8 ad 2, St. Thomas says:

    This doctrine is especially based upon arguments from authority, inasmuch as its principles are obtained by revelation: thus we ought to believe on the authority of those to whom the revelation has been made. Nor does this take away from the dignity of this doctrine, 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.

    As St. Thomas explains, although the argument from authority is ordinarily the weakest argument, when the authority is divine, then the argument from authority is the strongest. And that’s precisely what we believe apostolic succession is, a handing down of divine authority. What the demons don’t say when the Apostles are casting them out, is “You don’t have the authority to do this.” Christ had given the Apostles authority to cast out devils (e.g. Matt 10:1). He also gave them authority to forgive and retain sins (John 20:23), an exclusively divine power (Mark 2:7, Luke 5:21). And this shows that divine authority can be entrusted to men. And that’s why with respect to Magisterial authority the “argument from authority” is not necessarily a fallacy.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  225. Jeff Cagle said,

    October 10, 2010 at 9:13 pm

    Bryan,

    Thanks for the replies.

    That you even think I would make something like that a “precondition for dialogue” is surprising to me; it shows me that I haven’t sufficiently explained where I’m coming from epistemically.

    You and I have had a difficult time discoursing. I don’t want to bring up old issues, except to say that I do find it hard to locate you epistemically.

    At the surface, regardless of history, you do seem to think in keeping with your vow: The RCC is always right in matters of interpretation of Scripture.

    The net effect (as seen on this side of the table) is that any appeal to Scripture is trumped a priori.

    So that’s what I mean; I don’t know whether it’s worth drilling down further.

    As St. Thomas explains, although the argument from authority is ordinarily the weakest argument, when the authority is divine, then the argument from authority is the strongest.

    I agree and indicated as much above. Because God defines truth, the syllogism

    (1) God said X
    (2) Therefore, X is true

    is logically sound.

    The problem is that the authority of the church is not in essence divine. The church is not God; she does not create truth. Therefore,

    (1) The church says X
    (2) Therefore God says X
    (3) Therefore X is true

    is not logically valid. It can be made inductively strong if strong evidence indicates that this additional premise is true:

    (1a) The teaching of the church is a faithful representation of God’s thoughts.

    But in that case, the argument would run

    (1) The church says X
    (1a) Strong evidence indicates that the teaching of the church is a faithful representation of God’s thoughts
    (2) Therefore there is a high probability that God says X
    (3) Therefore X is likely true.

    This is the only way to rescue the concept of “divine authority” for the Church unless you want to bite the bullet and claim that the Church creates truth.

    Trouble is, our new and rescued argument allows the possibility that the Church could be wrong, in the same sense that our theory of gravity might be wrong.

    But your vow does not admit of exceptions. It requires you to accept the authority of the Church without exception.

    So the core problem is this: the authority of the Catholic church is, like any human authority, probablistic. But the vow you take requires you to treat it as absolute.

    In short: the slippery missing step in the “divine authority” claim is that the church’s authority is not actually divine in essence. It might have authority granted from God; but the granting of such authority is not a logically necessary guarantor of infallibility.

    There might be transmission errors from God to pope.

    And if so, then taking a vow to believe all that the church teaches or will ever teach, is to commit oneself to a logical fallacy.

  226. TurretinFan said,

    October 10, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    I want to point out that the last several lengthy comments from Mr. Cross are clearly off topic. I have been holding back from responding to Mr. Cross’ comments at any length in the hopes that one of the moderators will make clear whether these off topic tangents are fair game or whether they will be deleted.

    If they are fair game, I have some thoughts, but I’d rather not participate in what looks to be an attempt to derail the discussion that at least David Meyer and myself are still having on the actual topic of oral tradition.

  227. Jeff Cagle said,

    October 10, 2010 at 9:28 pm

    David M:

    The falacy situation you describe fits for the authority of Christ in general too. Substitute “Jesus” for “Catholic church” in your statement and nothing changes.

    No, actually, something does change. Jesus, being God, defines truth. The Church, not being God, cannot; she can only proclaim truth.

    So there’s no possibility that Jesus would err; there is a possibility that the Church would err. Don’t take my word for it; check out Bryan’s argument from Aquinas above (#224).

    Now, you might have in mind this question: “Yes, God’s words must be true, but how do we know that the Scriptures are God’s words?”

    And this is the crucial difference between Scripture and RCC teaching.

    On the one hand, the entirety of Christ’s church bore witness to the canon of Scripture as God’s word. The Protestant canon is identical to the canon of Athanasius. We might dispute about the deutero books, but no one disagrees about the 66 books found in the NIV.

    The entirety of Christ’s church, meanwhile, does not assent to the proposition that RCC dogma is infallible. In fact, that proposition has been disputed, has been the occasion for schism (there’s some irony for you!), and can reasonably be falsified (though not without significant dispute).

    So the difference between sola scriptura and RCC tradition is this: the whole church agrees that Scripture is God’s word. That’s strong, powerful evidence that makes arguments like

    (1) Scripture says X
    (2) Scripture is the word of God (warranted by the testimony of the whole church)
    (3) Therefore X is true

    stand on strong warrant.

    Meanwhile, the argument

    (1) The RCC teaches X
    (2) The RCC’s dogma is the word of God (warranted by the dogma of the RCC, but disputed by the rest of the church)
    (3) Therefore X is true

    stands on the very weak warrant that the RCC dogma is the word of God.

  228. D. T. King said,

    October 10, 2010 at 9:31 pm

    I too would ask that the moderators to direct Mr. Cross to address the topic at hand here, or find some other medium to discuss what interests him.

  229. Jeff Cagle said,

    October 10, 2010 at 9:31 pm

    In order to keep things less cluttered, I will not give any more detailed responses. That’s not a snub, Bryan and David, but just an attempt at self-discipline.

  230. Jeff Cagle said,

    October 10, 2010 at 9:43 pm

    I’ve opened up a thread for a discussion of the issues that we’ve raised, David.

    To be up front: I’m not a professional apologist, but I am an elder in the PCA. I would like to persuade you that crossing the Tiber is a mistake.

    I anticipate that Bryan has the opposite view, and he is welcome to make his case.

  231. Bryan Cross said,

    October 10, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    Jeff, (re: #225)

    At the surface, regardless of history, you do seem to think in keeping with your vow: The RCC is always right in matters of interpretation of Scripture. … But your vow does not admit of exceptions.

    I have never taken such a vow. So I don’t know where you are getting this idea that I took some kind of a vow regarding the Catholic Church. It seems to me that you think you know things about the Catholic faith, when you really don’t know them. It might be better to slow down, back up, and make sure you understand the Catholic position first. Catholics are allowed to take vows, but no one being received into the Church is required to take a vow.

    The net effect (as seen on this side of the table) is that any appeal to Scripture is trumped a priori.

    I’m all for avoiding question-begging. But notice that any appeal to Scripture as though there is no apostolic succession, and therefore as though our own interpretation of Scripture can stand in judgment over any Church decision, is also question-begging. That’s why the apostolic succession issue is so fundamental.

    It seems to me that your dilemma (either the Church creates truth, or the Church is fallible) is a false dilemma, in the same way that [either the authors of Scripture created truth or their writings are fallible] is a false dilemma. If God promises to keep the Church in the truth, we can know with certainty that her teachings are not merely probably true.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  232. October 10, 2010 at 9:54 pm

    When I read your quote above, I just cannot help but read it in this way (my bracketing): “I do agree with the creed of the council of Nicaea because it agrees with [my interpretation of] Scripture.”

    David M.,

    How about this: “I do agree with creed-x of council-y… because it agrees with what God says in his word.” Now obviously you don’t like that answer but is there anything in Scripture or tradition that would undermine the premise that God can communicate to his people apart from an infallible magisterium?

    In other words, assume you were very much convinced that some element of the creed was totally in error in the light of Scripture. In Protestantism, what mechanism is there for you to know you are off the rails?

    The “mechanism”, as you put it, to discern truth from error is the same mechanism used by God’s people from the beginning, the authority of God’s word and the testimony of the Holy Spirit. For example, that is how one can know that Rome has placed her anathema upon the gospel.

    I was/am WAY too untrustworthy to trust my conscience.

    What is your alternative to trusting your conscience, going against your conscience? Are you really entrusting your eternal destiny to claims of a communion that violate your conscience? Can such a faith save? At the very least, isn’t it so that what is not of faith is sin?

    Obviously in submitting to the magisterium I would need to see it as being divinely protected from error. (similarly to the way the Scripture is) And considering no Apostle wrote a table of contents for Scripture, submission to inspired men after the Apostolic era is not just plausable, but unavoidable.

    Unavoidable for you maybe but it’s not a logical constraint, let alone a constraint that Scripture places upon you.

    Like Peter Kreeft says: “You can’t squeeze infallible Bible juice from a fallible church orange.” So why stop at submitting to them for just the cannon? why not for the interpretation of John 6 as well?

    If God is sovereign over history, then you are constrained to admit that it is possible for us to know today, just as his ancient people prior to Christ could know then, that we have the sure word of God without having the aid of an infallible magisterium.

    If my conscience disagrees, THAT makes sense to me. My conscience wants to do all sorts of dumb crap!

    So your argument is that because you don’t find your conscience trustworthy, you should therefore distrust what you believe is nonsensical about the hocus pocus of the mass? Is your conscience always untrustworthy? When should you trust it and when shouldn’t you? Moreover, the “miracle” of the mass runs contrary to all biblical miracles. Miracles appeal to the senses. What Rome would like you to believe about the mass is that bread and wine become Christ’s body and blood without any appeal to the senses of such a change. Imagine Jesus saying that he was walking on water while he was neck high in water. Would God require that we believe such a “miracle”?

    As a Reformed believer, I don’t see where that was happening. Everyone was fine with multiple views of the Lord’s Supper. To think that Luther’s, Calvin’s, and Zwingli’s views can all be viewed as being orthodox is just so “after the fact”. If the Reformation had settled on one view, sola scriptura would have a very solid proof.

    Prove that the validity of the premise that sola scriptura is dependent upon the success of professing Christians to rightly divide the word of truth and their agreement over doctrine.

    David, you sound like a young man who is terrified to get alone with God and wrestle with what he has to say. Instead, you would throw yourself blindly upon the opinions of men, even on matters that would violate your conscience. I’m here to tell you son, that is very poor procedure.

    In His Grace,

    Ron

  233. steve hays said,

    October 10, 2010 at 10:13 pm

    Bryan Cross said,

    “So, in my opinion, the ‘logjam’ is broken up by backing up, epistemically, to common ground between us. In particular, we agree that Christ came from heaven, became man, and founded a Church in the first century. That’s common ground.”

    Actually, traditional covenant theology accentuates the continuity between the OT church and the NT church. So Bryan’s comparison is equivocal.

    “We agree about the divine inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible (excepting the deuteros).”

    No, that’s not common ground. Vatican II limits inerrancy to saving articles of faith. Not only is that all the wording requires, but the wording reflects Conciliar deliberations involving an influential speech by Cardinal König, who dissuaded the bishops from reaffirming the traditional RC position on the plenary inspiration of Scripture.

    That’s why liberal scholars like Joseph Fitzmyer, John Meier, Luke Timothy Johnson, and the late Raymond Brown (to name a few) reflect mainstream RC Bible scholarship.

    However, I agree with TFan that this is a diversion from the issue at hand. I only mention this so that Bryan’s errors don’t go unchecked.

  234. Bryan Cross said,

    October 10, 2010 at 10:23 pm

    Steve,

    Vatican II limits inerrancy to saving articles of faith.

    That’s not true. See “Vatican II and the Inerrancy of the Bible.”

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  235. Jeff Cagle said,

    October 10, 2010 at 10:26 pm

    Bryan (#231):

    I have never taken such a vow. So I don’t know where you are getting this idea that I took some kind of a vow regarding the Catholic Church. It seems to me that you think you know things about the Catholic faith, when you really don’t know them.

    You have previously stated, and I have confirmed that this is a part of the RCIA, that you made this profession of faith:

    I believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God.

    Do you deny this?

    Do you deny that this profession requires you to accept all that the Church teaches?

    You may not wish to call it a vow, but that’s a quibble.

  236. Bryan Cross said,

    October 10, 2010 at 10:34 pm

    Jeff, (re: #235)

    You may not wish to call it a vow, but that’s a quibble.

    No, it is not. A profession of faith is stating what we believe; it is not a promise that we will say or do or believe anything in the future. A vow is defined in the Catechism as:

    “A vow is a deliberate and free promise made to God concerning a possible and better good which must be fulfilled by reason of the virtue of religion,” A vow is an act of devotion in which the Christian dedicates himself to God or promises him some good work. By fulfilling his vows he renders to God what has been promised and consecrated to Him. The Acts of the Apostles shows us St. Paul concerned to fulfill the vows he had made. (CCC 2102)

    If your wife finds out you think there is no difference between a statement of present belief, and a vow, you’re in trouble. :-)

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  237. TurretinFan said,

    October 10, 2010 at 11:02 pm

    “Thanks for that. I really did not know how you would answer that. I have not read all the cannons and such and honestly may never do so. As a layman I do not think that should be necesary for my acceptance of the council.”

    Within the religion you intend presently to join, it will not be required of you that you read the canons. I suggest you at least read the canon I highlighted for you, because I think it helps to demonstrate that the bishops of the Nicene council were not “papists,” i.e. they did not hold to a papal form of church government. They were certainly willing to adopt a monarchical system of bishops and metropolitans, but the system had not yet developed into a papacy. As such, Rome’s historical claims with the respect to the papacy (whether the papacy as “oral tradition” or something else) are not true. And if Rome’s historical claims with respect to the papacy are not true, you should not place implicit confidence in the Roman magisterium.

    “When I first gave my assent of faith to the scriptures as being infallible and inerrant, I hadnt read more than a few pages of it. I believed them because I believed Jesus. Later reading about a talking donkey did not shake my faith a bit.”

    I hope that if you believe that the Scriptures are infallible and inerrant, you will be eager to read every page of them. That said, the religion that you aim to join will not make such reading a requirement (though I understand that you can get an indulgence by engaging in a half-hour of Scripture reading each day).

    “Same goes for any other elements of Tradition.”

    If you have implicit faith in the Roman magisterium, then you consistently would accept all of “Tradition” within that analogy of faith (i.e. understanding all of that Tradition in whatever way necessary in order to have the Tradition conform to what the church teaches). My warning to you is that placing implicit trust in the Roman magisterium is not justified, because Rome’s doctrines are not the doctrines of the apostles, and Rome’s claim of preeminence is not something that was bestowed upon it by Christ or the apostles, nor was it recognized even as late as the council of Nicaea. Consequently, while I understand that you may be placing your faith in Rome, I still see it as my duty to warn you that your faith is not a reasonable faith.

    “It seems that we should logically be on the RECIEVING end of determining true doctrine.”

    Well, recall what the purpose of inspired Scripture is, it is so that the man of God may be thoroughly furnished unto every good work via doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness. We are on the receiving end of determining true doctrines, with the Holy Spirit and Scripture as the light that the illuminates our path.

    When I read your quote above, I just cannot help but read it in this way (my bracketing): “I do agree with the creed of the council of Nicaea because it agrees with [my interpretation of] Scripture.”

    Any time one applies a rule to a situation, one is applying one’s interpretation of the rule to the situation. That’s true regardless of whether the rule is the inspired Scriptures or the Roman magisterium or the Constitution or the rules on the back of the Monopoly Board Game box.

    If you say, “It’s ok for me to say the ‘Hail Mary,’ although the apostles never did so, because the Church says it’s ok,” what you are saying is that you have interpreted the rules of the Church and applied that interpretation to your saying the “Hail Mary.” The fact that you’re interpreting things is just the way that human beings operate.

    But as between having for your rule the Roman magisterium, and having as your rule the Holy Scriptures, the latter has a more noble historical lineage than the former, and the latter is more trustworthy than the former, since even the Roman magisterium must admit that the Scriptures are inspired and authoritative, whereas the Scriptures do not say that the Roman magisterium is completely reliable.

    “Your rejection of the 7th council is for the same reason I assume? (because it does not agree with Scripture)”

    Among the reasons to reject the so-called 7th ecumenical council is the fact that it contradicts Scripture (specifically the second commandment). There are other great reasons to reject, however. For example, even if one did not want to consider whether it is correctly aligned with Scripture, the so-called 7th ecumenical council is not the first council to call itself by that title. There was a council convened in the immediately previous generation that also called itself the 7th ecumenical council and reached the opposite conclusion regarding the issue of icons.

    “Hypothetical: If tomorrow (God forbid) you woke up and decided that Nicea (the creed) does not agree with scripture, how would you know you were in error? (If it helps, put yourself in the position of an utter layman with four young kids like me who doesnt have that much time to study these things).”

    If I know I’m in error and yet hold to the error, I’m the worst sort of hypocrite. So, I’m not sure how to answer your question. Perhaps I’ve misunderstood its parameters.

    Perhaps if you asked the question in terms of how it is that the Holy Spirit might persuade me that I am wrong to deny (in this hypothetical situation) that Jesus is God. The Holy Spirit could use all sorts of means to persuade me. Among those means the foremost means is the church. Were I to deny the divinity of the Son, there are elders who would be sitting down to talk with me pretty much immediately. Of course, those elders aren’t inspired or infallible, but they are still useful, and perhaps by God’s grace the Holy Spirit would enable me to see the error of my ways.

    I hope that helps, though I honestly acknowledge that I’m not sure if I’ve answered your hypothetical question.

    “What would be different between the determination of Nicea not agreeing with Scripture and your current basis for accepting it?”

    I don’t understand this question, perhaps because it seems to be asking for a comparison between apples and oranges. Could you please try to rephrase it so that I’ll understand it better?

    “In other words, assume you were very much convinced that some element of the creed was totally in error in the light of Scripture. In Protestantism, what mechanism is there for you to know you are off the rails?”

    Just so you and I are clear, “Protestantism” is by and large a Roman Catholic category for a group of non-Roman Catholics. I’m Reformed. I’m in a Reformed church (though for a variety of reasons, I don’t specify which one).

    The way that people are informed that they have gone off the rails in Reformed churches are several: (1) your family (if they are believing) should be exhorting you to return to the faith; (2) your brethren in the church should be exhorting you to return to the faith; and (3) especially the elders of the church should be exhorting you to return to the faith, and applying godly discipline to you, if you do not. Ultimately, that discipline would terminate in excommunication, if you did not heed lesser discipline.

    Does that guarantee results? No. The Holy Spirit does not promise that everyone who is among us is truly of us. Nevertheless, even excommunication can be used by the Holy Spirit to bring men back to the faith.

    -TurretinFan

  238. Bob Suden said,

    October 10, 2010 at 11:14 pm

    Like Mr. Hays, I see some loose ends in the discussion that needed to be tidied up for the record.

    One, there were some excellent rejoinders to the charge of uncivility. They know who they are and as one presumably guilty as charged, I will not compromise them by explicit mention or praise.

    Further we know that incivility is the unforgivable sin – right up there with not staying on topic – but in the interest of a just defense (LC144) a few comments should suffice.
    Bear with the uncivil one for a minute, please.

    In as much as Mr. Cross has brought up various ECF on Matt. 16 – presumably they are infallible and inspired to boot – we note in passing that he does not at all address what one of the big guns of the ECF, St. Augustine, has said on the issue, that is simply damning to the Roman papal thesis.
    (Neither is this the first time this has been mentioned.) Cf. if you would with Sermon XXVI. Again on Matt.
    xiv. 25: Of the Lord walking on the waves of the sea, and of Peter tottering
    and
    Homilies on the Gospel of John,
    Tract. CXXIV
    .

    Evidently when one is “uncivil”, one is beneath not only contempt, but substantive rebuttal as well.
    Oh, well.

    But to move on.

    Even more to the current point, not five verses past where Peter is supposedly established as the rock upon which the Roman church is built, our Lord literally and explicitly calls him “Satan”. (Matt. 16:23)

    What? How uncivil. The nerve of Christ to insult the pontiff. Just who does he think he is?

    IOW so much for those who think that some vague charge of incivility is some kind of definitive trump card.
    IOW respectfully, if we can’t handle nonsense being called by its true name – foolishness – perhaps this is not the forum for us. This is not an ecumenical discussion per se, much more before there can be genuine unity, there has to be agreement on the truth.

    Also, as RG noted, before BC took his remarks out of context, there are some irreconcilable differences between Rome and Protestantism. This is the year of our Lord 2010 and while there has been a lot of water under the bridge since the Reformation and Trent, the truth never changes, which is what provoked the secession of the reformed from the deformed Roman church on the basis of Scripture alone at the Reformation in the first place. If one is ignorant of that history and that truth, one is incompetent to the question and ought to get up to speed, not pontificate about it. If one is aware of it, the question of deceitfulness, if not naivety, lawfully and logically enters the equation. Those who are self appointed expositors of the Vatican which has infallibly declared Protestantism to be an anathema, much more that one may break faith with heretics, need to realize “incivility” is the least of Protestant worries – at least this uncivil Protestant.

    Likewise, if we are going to discuss oral tradition, it should go without saying that whether Romanist or Protestant, the nominally common ground and authority between the two is
    Scripture (or at least used to be before the liberal RC exegetes saw the light). If one will not restrict their argument to those grounds, they cannot expect a hearing.

    Which is at least part of the problem. Again, appeals to holy Mother Church or to the ECF per se and not to their appeal to scripture, should and will be disregarded. As a consequence, if the hurt card gets played, I am sorry, but I for one only see it as a subterfuge and evasion.

    Yet there is nothing new under the sun. Both Whittaker and Turretin in part see tradition, oral or otherwise, as the Roman substitute and alternative to the reformed doctrine of the good and necessary consequences of Scripture.

    Thank you.

  239. johnbugay said,

    October 11, 2010 at 4:57 am

    Bryan #234: the link you provided does not tell the whole story. It, in fact, falls into the trap that David Wells observed in his 1972 word “Revolution in Rome”.

    Wells noted that “present-day Catholicism, on its progressive side, is teaching many of the ideas which the liberal Protestants espoused in the last century. Though progressive Catholics are largely unaware of their liberal Protestant stepbrothers, the family resemblance is nevertheless there. Since these ideas have only come into vogue in Catholicism in the last two decades, they appear brilliantly fresh and innovative. To a Protestant, whether he approves or disapproves of them, they are old hat.

    One kind of interpretive problem, then, which an analyst of the (Vatican II) documents faces concerns the existence of those passages which are so brilliantly ambiguous as to be capable of serving the interest of both parties. The statement on biblical inerrancy best illustrates this problem. The council affirmed:

    “since everything asserted by the inspired authors or sacred writers must be held to be asserted by the Holy Spirit, it follows that the books of Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching solidly, faithfully and without error that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings for the sake of salvation.” (Dei Verbum 11).

    This statement, over which there was a considerable tussle both in private and in public, seems at first sight to affirm Rome’s traditional stance on this matter. For this reason, conservatives in the Council agreed to it, and some Protestants subsequently have been led to think that Catholicism’s historic stance on this matter is unaltered….

    But is this really the case? A careful scrutiny of the Council’s statement shows that it can be interpreted in an entirely different way, one which a majority of Catholic scholars are now following. In perhaps the most lucid account of the Council’s theology, B.C. Butler, explains how. The council obviously spoke of the Bible “teaching without error”, but the significance of this phrase, he argues, depends on the view of “the truth” which Scripture is said to teach without error. ‘Here the word “truth” is qualified by a statement of the finality or purpose of inspiration; it is a question of truth relevant to God’s saving purpose summed up in Christ. The point he is making is that many truths of science and history have no part to play in our salvation. “For instance” he says, “the date of the appearance of the human species in natural history is not formally relevant to our salvation; the reality of Christ’s death and resurrection is formally relevant.”

    The illustration in the first half of Butler’s sentence is so obvious that the reader is disarmed against the thrust of the second half. The council’s statement, he argues, guarantees as inerrant only those truths necessary for our salvation. The meaning of the passage, therefore, turns on the question of how much we need to know with certainty to be saved. Apparently there is room for discussion on this point. Butler has limited the inerrant statements of Scripture to those which bear on the saving actions of God which were summed up in Christ, but Gregory Baum has trimmed this core even further. To be saved, he says, we need to know exceedingly little; exceedingly little, then, is inerrantly taught in scripture. (Wells, p. 29)

    The article you linked to presents thoroughly the arguments of those who would argue for the first part of that “interpretation,” while ignoring all of the individuals who read that verse the second way. You, in fact, have no authority to suggest that the reading to which Steve Hays has alluded is not the “official” interpretation. It is more wishful thinking on your part. [And in fact, your author confirms at the end that this is "wishful thinking": [We may well pray that the See of Peter does indeed soon “clarify” this difficult issue effectively and authoritatively."]

    The information you provided is merely one side “proposed” to the CDF. This is a classical instance of what James Swan has called a “blueprint for anarchy”.

  240. Sean said,

    October 11, 2010 at 7:10 am

    David T King,

    # 185

    I realize I make you uncomfortable. But I believe that it is more because I challenge the assertions that you make more-so than any assertions I make. If I went around making baseless assertions that it would be easy to refute them and I doubt I would be getting under your skin so easily. You would like having me around if all I did was make bad arguments all day.

    This thread is a great example of you making defenseless bald assertions and my pointing that out to everybody.

    See my comment # 52.

    Also in this thread and in your book you go where no other scholar has gone and claim that the fathers taught that scripture was formally sufficient! I asked you to name one other scholar other than you and William Webster (who apparently has backed off from that claim) who concludes what you conclude and you cannot name any.

    So – here are two claims that you have made: 1) That Augustine, Aquinas, Chrysostom, and Basil all taught justification by faith alone and 2) that the ECFs taught that scripture was formally sufficient.

    All I’ve done in these two threads is challenge you on these two fronts. I asked on item # 2 to name the fathers that taught that scripture was formally sufficient and you wouldn’t even do that.

    So, yeah, I realize I make you uncomfortable.

    He backs himself into a corner that he can’t defend, and then it’s everyone else’s fault!

    Could you please show me where I was backed into a corner that I could not defend in either thread David T King?

    But he himself provokes the attacks he receives with his own inflammatory language,

    Can you please cite examples of my ‘inflammatory language’ in these threads?

  241. TurretinFan said,

    October 11, 2010 at 7:39 am

    Sean, How is #240 connected to the topic of oral tradition? I’m not seeing the connection.

    -TurretinFan

  242. steve hays said,

    October 11, 2010 at 8:01 am

    Bryan Cross said,

    “That’s not true. See ‘Vatican II and the Inerrancy of the Bible.’”

    For documentation:

    Any memory of old theories of verbal inspiration was to be omitted, and
    hence any form of an impersonal, mechanistic interpretation of the origin of Scripture… But this little word veritas that intruded here proved to be a living cell that continued to grow. But what did it mean? Only, “religious” or even “secular7′ truth, to use the language of the 1962 schema? This was the real problem that now had to be taken up with full force both inside and outside the conciliar discussion. This did not happen, and new suggestions for the solution of the inerrancy question, as modem research posed it, could be made only hesitantly.
    Form F was worked out in the third session of the Council. The first change that strikes us is in the title of Article 11: “Statuitur factum inspirationis et veritatis S. Scripturae.” Inerrantia is replaced by the positive term veritas, which is notably extended in the text. In the course of the discussion on the schema in the autumn of 1964, various fathers from the Eastern and the Western Churches made important speeches on the necessity of an interpretation of the inerrancy of Scripture that would be in harmony with the latest findings of exegesis. It was variously pointed out that the doctrine of inerrancy received its particular and narrower formulation in the 19th century, at a time when the means of secular historical research and criticism were used to investigate the secular historical accuracy of Scripture, and this was more or less denied – which had inevitable consequences for its theological validity. The teaching office of the Church sought to concentrate its defense at the point of immediate attack: i.e. to defend the inerrancy of Scripture even in the veritates profanae generally defending the claim of the Bible and of Christianity to be revelation. To defend scriptural inerrancy in this sphere of secular truths various theories were employed which sought to prove the absolute inerrancy of Scripture on the basis of these conditions and attitudes. Because of the apologetical
    viewpoint from which they started, they were in danger of producing a
    narrowness and a false accentuation7 in the doctrine of inerrancy. Also in
    the area of the interpretation of Scripture and the rules pertaining to this we can see a similar phenomenon, which the Council observed in different spheres of theology and endeavoured to nullify: namely, the tendency to an apologetical isolation and the claim to absolutism of a partial view. With this kind of motivation for the defense of the inerrancy of Scripture in the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries, there was a weakening of the awareness that Scripture as the inspired, written word of God is supposed above all to serve the preservation and expansion of the saving revelation and reality given through Christ in the world. Of course it was always realized that this was the real purpose of Scripture. In the question of inerrancy, however, the emphasis was placed on the one-sided and isolated – accentuation of the veritates profanae. This tended to create uncertainty rather than a joyful confidence that God’s truth and salvation remain present in the world in an unfalsified and permanent form–namely through the inspired word. It was necessary to reawaken this awareness. The doctrine of
    inerrancy needed its own centre and the right accentuation.
    In this respect the most important contribution was undoubtedly the speech by Cardinal Koenig on 2 October 1964. Several other fathers who took part in the discussion from 2 to 6 October either verbally or in writing came back to this point. The Cardinal first of all pointed out the new situation that exists in relation to the question of inerrancy. As a result of intensive Oriental studies our picture of the veritas historica and the fides historica of Scripture has been clarified. Many of the 19th century objections to the Old Testament in particular and its reliability as an account of historical fact are now irrelevant But Oriental studies have also produced another finding: “ . . . laudata scientia rerum orientalium insuper demonstrat in Bibliis Sacris notitias historicas et notitias scientiae naturalis a veritate quandoque deficere.” Thus Cardinal Koenig admitted that not all the difficulties could be solved. On the contrary, in certain cases they have an urgency that is borne out by scientific research. His speech mentioned a few examples: according to Mk 2:26 David had entered the house of God under the high priest Abiathar and eaten the bread of the Presence. In fact, however, according to 1 Sam 21: l ff. it was not under Abiathar, but under his father Abimelech. In Mt 27:9 we read that in the fate of Judas a prophecy of Jeremiah was fulfilled. In fact it is Zech 11: 12f. that is quoted. In Dan 1: 1 we read that King Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem in the third year of King Jehoiakim, i.e. 607 B.C., but from the authentic chronicle of King Nebuchadnezzar that has been discovered we know that the siege can only have taken place three years later. Other geographical and chronological
    points could be quoted in this connection.
    The fact that this speech could be held in a plenary session without any
    protest being made is surely significant… Thus Cardinal Koenig implicitly
    gives up that premise that comes from the aprioristic and unhistorical
    thinking that has dominated teaching on inerrancy since the age of the
    Fathers: if one admits that a sacred writer has made a mistake, then one is necessarily admitting that God has made a mistake with the human author.
    The actual aim of inspiration allows us to find a better solution: one can
    still maintain the true influence of God on the human authors without
    making him responsible for their weaknesses. These relate only to the form or the outer garment of the Gospel, and not the latter itself, however much the two might be inwardly connected- indeed, without this genuine humanity, with all its limitations, Scripture would appear like a foreign body in our world. But God speaks to us in this way, in our language, from out of our midst.
    A number of Council fathers followed the example of Cardinal Koenig and
    refer to him as an authority: others, admittedly in the minority, produced the traditional statements, without, however, dealing with the new points raised by Cardinal Koenig.

    H. Vorgrimler, ed. Commentary on the Documents of Vatican II (Herder & Herder,
    1969), 3:204-207

  243. D. T. King said,

    October 11, 2010 at 8:08 am

    I realize I make you uncomfortable.

    No, you don’t. You give yourself too much credit. My thoughts have already been expressed.

    This thread is a great example of you making defenseless bald assertions and my pointing that out to everybody.

    Thanks for sharing.

  244. steve hays said,

    October 11, 2010 at 8:18 am

    For the record, I was just quoting from Aloys Grillmeier’s eyewitness account of the proceedings at Vatican II. For a corroborative eyewitness account, see Hans Küng’s My Struggle for Freedom: Memoirs (Eerdmans 2003), 366-68. They were there, Bryan was not. Therefore, I have more confidence in their firsthand accounts than a newbie convert who wasn’t on the scene, knows none of the participants, &c.

  245. Sean said,

    October 11, 2010 at 8:34 am

    TFan #241.

    I don’t see how DT King’s #185 is related to Oral Tradition. Did you just forget to follow his # 185 with an admonition to stay on topic?

    I answered a direct comment (# 185) that was made about me; that’s all. I too prefer things to stay on topic.

  246. D. T. King said,

    October 11, 2010 at 8:44 am

    For my Reformed brethren…

    There are times when even liberal scholars express far more confidence in the sufficiency of Holy Scripture than our Romanist friends do. The following quote comes from a patristic scholar who does not even believe in the inerrancy of Holy Scripture. He is very good in the field of church history, and he has written at length elsewhere to expose the notion of oral apostolic traditions.

    R. P. C. Hanson: Indeed, Roman Catholics often grossly overstate the incoherence and obscurity of the Bible, and even of the New Testament. The Bible can stand as a tradition by itself, as far as coherence and consistency of thought are concerned. The Church in no sense completes the Bible. It is indeed a stupid insult to the memory of the four evangelists and of St. Paul and the other apostolic writers to suggest that they failed in the first aim of their writings, which was to convey the meaning of the Christian Gospel to their hearers. We cannot imagine that the Christians in Rome whom Mark probably had in view when he wrote his Gospel, were not expected to understand what was written for them until the writings were re-interpreted or explained to them by the Church. And if the Church were to undertake to complete the Bible, there is no source of doctrine from which it could legitimately do so except — the Bible. Richard Hanson and Reginald Fuller, The Church of Rome: A Dissuasive (London: SCM Press LTD, reprinted, 1951), p. 95.

  247. TurretinFan said,

    October 11, 2010 at 9:01 am

    Well, Sean. Where does the topic stand?

    You quoted from 2 Thessalonians 2:15 to start out this discussion. We seem to agree, however, that:

    (1) You don’t know what things Paul taught the Thessalonians orally, except what Scripture tells you that Paul taught them.

    (2) What the text actually says is that the Thessalonians are to hold fast to what they were taught orally by Paul, not that “all Christians” are to hold fast to what Paul orally taught the Thessalonians.

    Now it seems that you want to interpret 2 Thessalonians 2:15 in such a way that it means “all Christians,” without literally saying that. However,

    (3) If “all Christians” have to hold fast to what Paul taught the Thessalonians orally, it seems that “all Christians” would need to know what Paul taught the Thessalonians orally.

    (4) But (3) in view of (1) implies either that the mandate is not binding on all Christians or that all of Paul’s binding oral teachings are to found in Scripture.

    So, it seems that your quotation of 2 Thessalonians 2:15 does not support a case for binding extra-scriptural oral tradition. Are we in agreement about that? If not, why not?

    Additionally, as noted above, it seems that your reliance on 2 Thessalonians 2:15 is an attempt to argue from a personal interpretation of the text, as opposed to an official, allegedly infallible interpretation of the text. If so, on what basis should we prefer your interpretation of the text to our own? Truth is absolute, don’t get me wrong, but if your church doesn’t claim to have infallibly interpreted the text, on what basis do you think your own interpretation superior to ours?

    - TurretinFan

  248. TurretinFan said,

    October 11, 2010 at 9:12 am

    Bryan:

    For Basil, you again combined quotations.

    The first quotation is as follows:

    “… him that was called from amongst fishermen unto the ministry of the Apostleship; him who on account of the pre-eminence of his faith received upon himself the building of the Church.”

    This is taken from Basil’s Against Eunonmius, Book 2, Chapter 4. Berington and Kirk provide a little more of the context:

    When we hear the name of Peter, that name does not cause our minds to dwell on his substance, but we figure to our minds the properties that are connected with him. For we at once, on hearing that name, think of the son of him that came from Bethsaida, Andrew’s brother; him that was called from amongst fishermen unto the ministry of the Apostleship; him who on account of the pre-eminence of his faith received upon himself the building of the Church.

    This is one example that Basil is giving regarding the fact that a name calls to mind a whole host of different details of a person. The other example is the name “Paul,” which reminds us of “of Tarsus, a Hebrew, as to following the law – a Pharisee, Gamaliel’s disciple, because of rivalry, persecutor of the Church of God, from the awful brought to knowledge by a vision, apostle to the Gentiles.”

    There is a mention of “preeminence” of Peter here, but the preeminence is of faith. Furthermore, there is mention of the church being founded on Peter. In context, however, the explanation for why it was founded on him was the preeminence of his faith. This is a very personal explanation, not one that would be applicable to every bishop of Rome. And, of course, there is no mention of Rome or a papacy, or the idea that what is brought to mind by the name “Peter” should be the papacy.

    The second quotation comes from a completely different work of Basil’s, Basil’s Commentary on Isaiah, Chapter 2, Section 66. I say “work of Basil’s,” but actually the authorship of the work is disputed. Nikolai Lipatov has defended the authenticity of the work (as mentioned here), but more usually it’s my understanding that this book is referenced as being Pseudo-Basil (see the discussion here), thus accepting Lipatov’s conclusion would mean revising the consensus view since about the time of Erasmus (see discussion here).

    The quotation is this:

    “One also of these mountains was Peter, upon which rock the lord promised to build His Church”.

    There is actually an extant English translation of this work, by Lipatov, but it is rather hard to obtain.

    Colin Lindsay provides this translation of the sentence in its immediate context:

    The house of God, which is the Church of the living God, the foundations of which are on the holy mountains, for it is built upon the foundation of Apostles and Prophets. One also of these mountains was Peter, upon which Rock the Lord promised to build His Church.

    As can be seen in the original (original and a Latin translation here), Pseudo-Basil goes on to explain that Peter was called a high rock, because his utterance was firmly rooted in faith, and strongly and firmly it endured the wound of temptation. This is a highly personal explanation: the focal point is his personal faith.

    So, like the previous quotation, this quotation (which obviously does not mention Rome, or succession, or anything except for a reference to Peter as being among the various mountains upon which the church is set) is not something that would disprove what Congar stated, namely that “this passage was not applied by the Fathers to the papal primacy” (leaving aside the application used by those at Rome).

    Although it is an aside, perhaps it would be appropriate for me to provide some comment from Basil on the Scriptures:

    Into the life eternal the Holy Scriptures lead us, which teach us through divine words. But so long as our immaturity forbids our understanding their deep thought, we exercise our spiritual perceptions upon profane writings, which are not altogether different, and in which we perceive the truth as it were in shadows and in mirrors. Thus we imitate those who perform the exercises of military practice, for they acquire skill in gymnastics and in dancing, and then in battle reap the reward of their training. We must needs believe that the greatest of all battles lies before us, in preparation for which we must do and suffer all things to gain power. Consequently we must be conversant with poets, with historians, with orators, indeed with all men who may further our soul’s salvation. Just as dyers prepare the cloth before they apply the dye, be it purple or any other color, so indeed must we also, if we would preserve indelible the idea of the true virtue, become first initiated in the pagan lore, then at length give special heed to the sacred and divine teachings, even as we first accustom ourselves to the sun’s reflection in the water, and then become able to turn our eyes upon the very sun itself.

    – Basil the Great, Address to Young Men on the Right Use of Greek Literature, Section 2 (see translation here)

    Basil’s point is both that there are general skills in reading that we can hone and polish on profane writings that we can then apply to the Scriptures, to be taught by the Scriptures, and that there are truths even in pagan lore, but the sun of truth is Holy Scripture. He even goes on to say in section 10, “To be sure, we shall become more intimately acquainted with these precepts in the sacred writings, but it is incumbent upon us, for the present, to trace, as it were, the silhouette of virtue in the pagan authors.” For Basil, the primary teacher of these young men is to be the Scriptures. What you may find even more surprising, his address never once mentions “the church” as such. But enough of this aside.

    In Basil’s undoubtedly authentic work “On the Holy Spirit,” he calls Christ by the name Rock (twice in chapter VIII)(once in Chapter XIV), following Scripture’s own teaching that “The Rock was Christ,” (1 Corinthians 10:4). We realize that Roman Catholics don’t think that this view is exclusive of a view that Peter is the rock of Matthew 16:18, but I’m simply unaware of anywhere in Basil’s authentic works where he explicitly interprets Matthew 16:18 even as being that Peter is the Rock (unless we count the instance in “Against Eunomius” above), and certainly no instances where Peter and the Roman bishops in succession are the rock.

    -TurretinFan

  249. TurretinFan said,

    October 11, 2010 at 9:13 am

    It looks like I lodged another comment in the spam filter, this one about Basil.

  250. Sean said,

    October 11, 2010 at 9:47 am

    ‘Turretin Fan’,

    I really can’t spend all day at the computer today but I would like to offer several things.

    I do not agree that the charge to obey the oral traditions only applied to the Thessalonians. In this understanding I stand with Basil, who I quoted at the start and also other fathers such as St. John Chrysostom:

    “Stand firm and hold fast to the Traditions you were taught, whether by an oral statement or by a letter’ (2 Thess 2:15). Hence it is manifest that they did not deliver all things by Epistle, but many things unwritten, and in like manner both the one and the other are worthy of credit. Therefore, let us think the tradition of the Church also worthy of credit. It is a Tradition, seek no farther.”
    - Commentary on 2nd Thessalonians

    So, my quoting of 2 Thess 2:15 to describe the existence of an unwritten Tradition is not unique.

    St. John Henry Newman further articulates: “It is quite evident that this passage (2 Timothy 3:16-17) furnishes no argument whatever that the sacred Scripture, without Tradition, is the sole rule of faith; for, although sacred Scripture is profitable for these four ends, still it is not said to be sufficient. The Apostle requires the aid of Tradition (2 Thess. 2:15). Moreover, the Apostle here refers to the scriptures which Timothy was taught in his infancy…Now, a good part of the New Testament was not written in his boyhood: Some of the Catholic epistles were not written even when Paul wrote this, and none of the books of the New Testament were then placed on the canon of the Scripture books. He refers, then, to the scriptures of the Old Testament, and, if the argument from this passage proved anything, it would prove too much, viz., that the scriptures of the New Testament were not necessary for a rule of faith.”
    - Inspiration in its Relation to Revelation

    In some recent reading I was reminded with Augustine’s teaching on the Tradition of the Church. There is a good letter which highlights his views found here.

    Like Augustine, the Church today does not treat sacred Tradition and Scripture as separate deposits of faith but together they form the same deposit of faith.

    He says, “But in regard to those observances which we carefully attend and which the whole world keeps, and which derive not from Scripture but from Tradition, we are given to understand that they are recommended and ordained to be kept, either by the Apostles themselves or by plenary councils, the authority of which is quite vital in the Church”
    -Letter to Januarius

    Note that Augustine says that some things are not derived from Scripture but from Tradition and that the authority of the councils are vital to the Church.

    Augustine then gives examples of those things delivered by Tradition and not derived from Scripture. “the annual commemoration, by special solemnities, of the Lord’s passion, resurrection, and ascension, and of the descent of the Holy Spirit from heaven, and whatever else is in like manner observed by the whole Church wherever it has been established.”

    The whole letter is basically about which traditions to follow. Augustine argues that certain traditions are based on the custom of particular churches. He says that with these traditions we ought to basically do in Rome as the Romans do; so to speak. You find this in the Catholic Church today. The Latin Rite has some practices that the Eastern Rite does not practice – such as mandatory priestly celibacy. Even within the Latin Rite there are different customs as respect to feast days from diocese to diocese. However, both the Latin Rite and the Eastern Rite adhere to the same sacred Tradition. And this is key: Like Augustine the whole Church adheres to the authority of the Church. And it is that fact, the bolded bit, that David T King misses in all of his insistance that the fathers believed that scripture was formally sufficient. The very definition of formal sufficiency requires that the Church have no authority to define the faith. This is not what Augustine taught and it is not what any Church father taught.

    Augustine further describes the difference (between tradition and Tradition) when he says that there are Traditions which the whole world (Catholic Church) practices which cannot be changed or disagreed with…

    He describes those Traditions as Traditions taught by Scripture or practiced by the whole church/defined in a plenary council.

    He says: I answer, therefore, that if the authority of Scripture has decided which of these methods is right, there is no room for doubting that we should do according to that which is written; and our discussion must be occupied with a question, not of duty, but of interpretation as to the meaning of the divine institution. In like manner, if the universal Church follows any one of these methods, there is no room for doubt as to our duty; for it would be the height of arrogant madness to discuss whether or not we should comply with it.

    This is the Catholic faith about Tradition. Dei Verbum explains the relation between Tradition and Scripture: “Hence there exists a close connection and communication between sacred Tradition and sacred Scripture. For both of them, flowing from the same divine wellspring, in a certain way merge into a unity and tend toward the same end. For sacred Scripture is the word of God inasmuch as it is consigned to writing under the inspiration of the divine Spirit. To the successors of the apostles, sacred Tradition hands on in its full purity God’s word, which was entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit.

  251. steve hays said,

    October 11, 2010 at 9:54 am

    Notice that Sean has quietly abandoned his original claim. He’s no longer appealing to what Paul said. Rather, he’s appealing to what church fathers said Paul said. This is the typical bait-n-switch tactic of the Romanist.

  252. Sean said,

    October 11, 2010 at 10:03 am

    Steve.

    Maybe you can tell me what my original claim was and how I abandoned it?

  253. steve hays said,

    October 11, 2010 at 10:04 am

    I also notice that Sean has yet to furnish an infallible interpretation of his prooftext. Instead, he’s given us the private interpretation of church fathers. And Bryan is in the same boat.

    It’s gratifying to see their unspoken faith in the right of private judgment.

  254. steve hays said,

    October 11, 2010 at 10:09 am

    Sean,

    If the best you can do is to play dumb, that’s fine with me.

  255. TurretinFan said,

    October 11, 2010 at 10:15 am

    Thanks for your response, Sean.

    You wrote: “I do not agree that the charge to obey the oral traditions only applied to the Thessalonians.”

    Do you at least agree that Paul, in 2 Thessalonians 2:15, is specifically speaking to the Thessalonians?

    (1) If so, why do extend the instruction beyond them?

    (2) If not, what’s your basis for interpreting “brethren” and “ye” as someone other than the Thessalonians, in light of the context of verse 13.

    You mention a lot of stuff from the church fathers, and we’ll get to that in a little while, I hope. But I’m first trying to get to the more fundamental question of where you and we disagree, and the basis for our disagreement.

    -TurretinFan

  256. Tom Riello said,

    October 11, 2010 at 10:23 am

    TF,

    I brought this up earlier to Steve in reference to the 2Thess 2:15 referring only to them but it needs to be said again: why should we limit it this only to the Thessalonians? Scripture is not a dead letter but living and active and as Pope Benedict reminds us we are contemporaries with Scripture by the Spirit.

  257. D. T. King said,

    October 11, 2010 at 10:33 am

    Notice the Romanist contention regarding these patristic pericopes…
    I do not agree that the charge to obey the oral traditions only applied to the Thessalonians. In this understanding I stand with Basil, who I quoted at the start and also other fathers such as St. John Chrysostom:…

    Here we observe another Romanist double-standard. The Romanist will not accept evidence from a Protestant for a bare patristic citation, unless we add the endorsement of scholarly agreement with what we allege it to prove. Yet, the Romanisty regards himself as under no such standard, hence he supposes a priori that Chrysostom agrees with the Romanist position regarding oral apostolic tradition. Yet patristic scholars do not agree with the common Romanist misuse of Chrysostom (or of Basil) in this fashion, which can easily be seen below. New converts to Rome ought to be restrained by 1) the same standard they try to impose on us, and 2) by their lack of familiarity with patristic literature with respect to primary and secondary sources, but be that as it may, we will continue to correct them…

    H. E. W. Turner: The fourth-century Fathers show a particular interest in traditions. Thus Epiphanius discusses the question whether Christians should marry and, after quoting the relevant Pauline passages, argues as follows: ‘You must also employ Tradition, for not everything is contained in Scripture. That is why the Apostles delivered some things in Tradition and others in Scripture as the Holy Apostle himself says.’ It would be a grave error to deduce from this passage the complete equality of Scripture and Traditions as sources of doctrine. If the writer speaks of Tradition in general terms, it is clear that *practical traditions* are uppermost in his mind. St. Basil, on the other hand, is more directly concerned with the liturgical practices of the Church in the following passage: ‘Among the doctrines and proclamations of the Church some have come down to us from written teachings, others we have received transmitted to us secretly from the traditions of the Apostles, both of which have the same force for religion. No one who has the slightest experience of ecclesiastical institutions will dispute them. For if we endeavoured to decry the non-written customs as destitute of force, we should unwittingly strike at the Gospel at some vital point. What Scripture teaches us to sign with the Cross those who have placed their hope in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ? Or to turn to the East during the Prayer? What saint has left in writing the words of the Eucharist and the cup of blessing? The blessing used over the waters of Baptism, the threefold immersion, the renunciation of the devil and his angels, even the actual text of the Baptismal Creed all come from the unwritten Tradition.’ Though both Fathers enunciate general principles which appear dangerously unguarded, the examples which they cite place their real meaning beyond doubt. In other contexts both can make an equally emphatic appeal to the sufficiency of Scripture. From 2 Thessalonians ii, 15 St. John Chrysostom deduces that the Apostles did not hand down everything in letters, but many matters without the use of writing; both are equally trustworthy. It is Tradition; let us seek no further. The absence of reserve here is almost worthy of Tertullian himself, but in a slightly later passage Chrysostom tells us more clearly what is in his mind: ‘St Paul means traditions through *actions*; that is what he *always meant* when he uses the word strictly.’ H. E. W. Turner, The Pattern of Christian Truth (London: A. R. Mowbray & Co., reprinted 1978), pp. 320-321.

    If the Romanists really believed what Basil asserts, then why do they not define as dogma triple immrsion as the mode of baptism and the necessity of turning to the east in prayer? Thus, the appeal to Basil to support their notion of oral tradition is without merit.

    G. L. Prestige: Further evidence comes from Epiphanius, a vigorous though undiscriminating hammer of heretics, and Chrysostom, the master and pattern of all Biblical commentators belonging rather to the historical than to the dogmatic school of exposition. Epiphanius is meeting the difficulty that the Bible seems to contradict itself on the question whether Christians should marry or not marry; he quotes various statements of St. Paul and of our Lord, which appear on a superficial view to be at variance. He replies that the words of Scripture are not to be explained away, but that thought and insight are required to determine the force of any particular injunction. “Moreover,” he adds, “you must employ tradition; everything cannot be found in divine Scripture; the holy apostles traditioned some things in scriptures and some in tradition” (haer. 61.6). It is very sound and sensible advice. If some direction given in the Bible puzzles you, first use your common sense and try to understand the circumstances surrounding the problem; compare one passage of the Bible with another; if more help is needed, see whether a consideration of early Christian *practice* throws any further light. Chrysostom is of the same mind. Commenting on the apostle’s injunction to “hold fast the traditions” (II Thess. ii.15), he remarks: “From this it is evident that they did not tradition everything by epistle, but many matters also unwrittenly; but the former and the latter are similarly trustworthy. So let us regard the tradition of the Church too as trustworthy. It is tradition, seek no further”. Later on, his comment on II Thess. iii.6 (“not according to the tradition which you received from us”) helps to indicate the kind of subjects which he thought the apostle regulated in that way. They were not matters of faith, but of practice. “He means”, says Chrysostom, “tradition through actions; that is always in the strict sense what he means by tradition.” G. L. Prestige, Fathers and Heretics (London: SPCK, 1958), p. 20.

    Patristic scholar Prestige agrees with Turner that these are practices, not doctrine, to which these patristic writers refer.

    G. W. H. Lampe: He [i.e. Chrysostom] appears to be speaking here of moral and practical precepts rather than of unwritten doctrinal tradition, as is Epiphanius when he says that since the apostles did not write down all their teaching one cannot derive everything from Scripture but must also use tradition. Certainly, when the latter author asserts that God has taught us both in writing and agrapôs, he is alluding to matters of Church order and worship. We have already mentioned Basil’s long exposition of unwritten tradition in regard to liturgical and devotional practice—a passage which has often been misused to support the Tridentine theory of tradition as a source of authority, parallel to Scripture, in matters of doctrine. Quoted from his essay in F. W. Dillistone, ed. Scripture and Tradition (London: Lutterworth Press, 1955), pp. 47-48.

    J.N.D. Kelly: Indeed, all the instances of unwritten tradition lacking Scriptural suppport which the early theologians mention will be found, on examination, to refer to matters of observance and practice (e.g. triple immersion in baptism; turning to the East for prayer) rather than doctrine as such, although sometimes they are matters (e.g. infant baptism; prayers for the dead) in which doctrine is involved. J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines (San Francisco: Harper, 1960), p. 47.

    R.P.C. Hanson: The appeal to unwritten tradition is always made by those writers of the second and early third centuries who make it as an appeal to something which is secondary, which can easily be allowed to vary from church to church and from place to place, and which cannot seriously be compared as an authority to Scripture. It is consistently thought of as a tradition which regulates praxis, not doctrine. R. P. C. Hanson, Tradition in the Early Church (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1962), p. 238.

    Thus the Romanist double standard is exposed. The point that I make here is that these Romanist disputants are not well read in either primary or in secondary sources that address the meaning of the former.

    As for scholarly support for the patristic position on the formal sufficiency of Scripture, I am preparing a post for TF’s blog, which will be posted when I find time to complete it, and I will notify the participants here.

  258. steve hays said,

    October 11, 2010 at 10:44 am

    Tom Riello said,

    “I brought this up earlier to Steve in reference to the 2Thess 2:15 referring only to them but it needs to be said again: why should we limit it this only to the Thessalonians? Scripture is not a dead letter but living and active and as Pope Benedict reminds us we are contemporaries with Scripture by the Spirit.”

    That’s a fair question in its own right, but it changes the subject. Bryan attributed a specific claim to Paul that Paul never made. It’s important to clarify what Paul did or didn’t say.

    Now, you may think that Paul’s statement has applicability beyond the immediate referent. And there’s some truth to that.

    But before we get to that point we can’t allow this constant bait-and-switch to go unchallenged. Paul never said what Bryan imputes to Paul. Yet that was a premise of Bryan’s argument. We don’t permit Bryan to continue building on a false premise.

    Concerning your question, I don’t think any of us object to following identifiable apostolic traditions. Other than Scripture, where do we find identifiable apostolic traditions?

    You can’t simply appeal to oral tradition, for unless you can *document* the oral tradition, there’s nothing to appeal to. But, of course, if you can *document* the oral tradition in question, then it ceases to be an *oral* tradition.

    And even if you can document a putative apostolic tradition, the next question is how to verify its apostolicity.

  259. TurretinFan said,

    October 11, 2010 at 10:51 am

    Tom:

    You wrote:

    I brought this up earlier to Steve in reference to the 2Thess 2:15 referring only to them but it needs to be said again: why should we limit it this only to the Thessalonians? Scripture is not a dead letter but living and active and as Pope Benedict reminds us we are contemporaries with Scripture by the Spirit.

    I think you may be getting ahead of where I am. The first question to be answered is what the text actually says. This is what we could call the literal meaning of the text. There may then be subsequent questions about whether the literal meaning of the text provides some broader principle or not.

    Scripture is not a dead letter, of course, and yet I don’t hear too many people trying to turn the verse below into some sort of universal principle that we need to carry cloaks, books, and most especially parchments with us.

    2 Timothy 4:13 The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments.

    There may well be a valid broader principle at play, but I’m trying to get consensus (or not) on the literal meaning before moving on to the next layer of the analysis.

    In infer from your comments, Tom, that you agree with me that literally the text is an instruction from Paul specifically for the Thessalonians. However, you think there is a broader application of the text. Have I inferred correctly?

    -TurretinFan

  260. D. T. King said,

    October 11, 2010 at 10:56 am

    Like Augustine the whole Church adheres to the authority of the Church.

    1) Protestants embrace the authority of the Church, but the presupposition that the ECFs, including Augustine, always agreed with the whole church, is a myth born of an apologetic agenda. Notice the testimony of Basil, and then Augustine…

    Basil of Caesarea (Ad 329-379): Liberated from the error of pagan tradition through the benevolence and loving kindness of the good God, with the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the operation of the Holy Spirit, I was reared from the very beginning by Christian parents. From them I learned even in babyhood the Holy Scriptures which led me to a knowledge of the truth. When I grew to manhood, I traveled about frequently and, in the natural course of things, I engaged in a great many worldly affairs. Here I observed that the most harmonious relations existed among those trained in the pursuit of each of the arts and sciences; while in the Church of God alone, for which Christ died and upon which He poured out in abundance the Holy Spirit, I noticed that many disagree violently with one another and also in their understanding of the Holy Scriptures. Most alarming of all is the fact that I found the very leaders of the Church themselves at such variance with one another in thought and opinion, showing so much opposition to the commands of our Lord Jesus Christ, and so mercilessly rendering asunder the Church of God and cruelly confounding His flock that, in our day, with the rise of the Anomoeans, there is fulfilled in them as never before the prophecy, ‘Of your own selves shall men arise speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.’
    Witnessing such disorders as these and perplexed as to what the cause and source of such evil might be, I at first was in a state, as it were, of thick darkness and, as if on a balance, I veered now this way, now that—attracted now to one man, now to another, under the influence of protracted association with these persons, and then thrust in the other direction, as I bethought myself of the validity of the Holy Scriptures. After a long time spent in this state of indecision and while I was still busily searching for the cause I have mentioned, there came to my mind the Book of Judges which tells how each man did what was right in his own eyes and gives the reason for this in the words” ‘In those days there was no king in Israel.’ With these words in my mind, then, I applied also to the present circumstances that explanation which, incredible and frightening as it may be, is quite truly pertinent when it is understood; for never before has there arisen such discord and quarreling as now among the members of the Church in consequence of their turning away from the one, great, and true God, only King of the universe. Each man, indeed, abandons the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ and arrogates to himself authority in dealing with certain questions, making his own private rules, and preferring to exercise leadership in opposition to the Lord to being led by the Lord. Reflecting upon this and aghast at the magnitude of the impiety, I pursued my investigation further and became convinced that the aforesaid cause was no less the true source also of secular difficulties. I noticed that as long as the common obedience of the others to some one leader was maintained, all was discipline and harmony in the whole group; but that division and discord and a rivalry of leaders besides proceeded from a lack of leadership. Moreover, I once had observed how even a swarm of bees, in accordance with a law of nature, lives under military discipline and obeys its own king with orderly precision. Many such instances have I witnessed and many others I have heard of, and persons who make profession of such matters know many more still, so that they can vouch for the truth of what I have said. Now, if good order with its attendant harmony is characteristic of those who look to one source of authority and are subject to one king, then universal disorder and disharmony are a sign that leadership is wanting. By the same token, if we discover in our midst such a lack of accord as I have mentioned, both with regard to one another and with respect to the Lord’s commands, it would be an indictment either of our rejection of the true king, according to the Scriptural saying: ‘only that he who now holdeth, do hold, until he be taken out of the way,’ or of denial of Him according to the Psalmist: ‘The fool hath said in his heart: There is no God.’ And as a kind of token or proof of this, there follow the words: ‘They are corrupt and are become abominable in their ways.’ Fathers of the Church, Vol. 9, Preface on the Judgment of God (New York: Fathers of the Church, Inc., 1950), pp. 37-39.

    Basil then goes on to point out from many Scriptural passages the solution to this discord from both the Old and New Testaments how to restore unity. Among other things he says: ‘Now you are the body of Christ and members of member’—that is, the one and only true Head which is Christ exercises dominion over and unites the members, each with the other, unto harmonious accord.’ (p. 41)

    All this crowing about the “pristine unity” of the early church is a fable.

    2) Though Protestants embrace the authority of the church, we view its authority as secondary to and derivative from Scripture itself. Augustine did not believe in the infallibility of church authority. All one needs to do to demonstrate this is to consult his work ,i>On Christian Doctrine in order to see how he thought disputes over the canon of Scripture were to be viewed. Notice…

    Augustine (354-430): But for the canonical scriptures, they should follow the authority of the majority of the Catholic Churches, among which, of course, are those that have the privilege of being apostolic sees and having received letters from the apostles.
    They will hold, therefore, to this standard with the canonical scriptures, that they will put those accepted by all the Catholic Churches before those which some do not accept; among these which are not accepted by all they will prefer those accepted by most of them, and by the greater ones among them, to those which fewer Churches and ones of lesser authority regard as canonical. Should they, however, discover that different ones are held to be canonical by the majority of Churches from those so regarded by the greater Churches—though this would be very unlikely—I consider that both should be regarded as having equal authority. See John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., The Works of Saint Augustine, Part I, Vol. 11, trans. Edmund Hill, O.P., Teaching Christianity (De Doctrina Christiana), Book II, §12 (New York: New City Press, 1996), p. 134.

    In short, where churches disagreed over the list of books regarded as canonical, Augustine said that their authority was to be regarded as equal. This is an implicit denial of ecclesiastical infallibility. Augustine is no friend of the Romanist position. There was, in his opinion, no infallible oral apostolic tradition which defined the contents of the canon, and there was no infallible authority to adjudicate the same.

  261. Sean said,

    October 11, 2010 at 11:03 am

    Steve.

    #254.

    I have not abandoned anything about my argument, hence I asked you to tell me how I’ve abandoned my argument.

    If you are going to make assertions than you need to back them up.

    “Turretin Fan”,

    # 255

    Just like Paul’s other letters are addressed to specific churches so is this letter. Be that as it may, do you agree that the truths that Paul teaches to those churches apply to all of us today? Or do you disagree with that?

  262. steve hays said,

    October 11, 2010 at 11:10 am

    BTW, we need to distinguish between oral transmission and oral tradition. If my mother tells me something about her childhood, that’s oral transmission. If my mother tells me something her mother told her about her mother’s childhood, that’s oral tradition. Likewise, if my grandmother tells me something about her childhood that’s oral transmission, not oral tradition.

    2 Thes 2:15 deals with oral transmission, not oral tradition. The Thessalonians heard certain things firsthand from the lips of Paul. That’s not equivalent to oral tradition. Tradition is second or thirdhand information.

    2 Thes is dealing with firsthand information, not hearsay.

    This doesn’t mean secondhand information is inherently untrustworthy. Depending on the chain-of-custody, secondhand info can be reliable.

    But that’s not what Paul is referring to in 2 Thes.

  263. steve hays said,

    October 11, 2010 at 11:12 am

    Sean said,

    “I have not abandoned anything about my argument…If you are going to make assertions than you need to back them up.”

    Your denial is itself an assertion.

  264. October 11, 2010 at 11:20 am

    Steve, re: 262 – that is a very fine way of illustrating the point.

    Thank you for that and your other clarifying remarks.

    Best wishes,

    Ron

  265. Nick said,

    October 11, 2010 at 11:25 am

    Steve #263,

    I’ve only been following bits and pieces of this discussion since it’s gotten so huge, but your one sentence comment here (based on a history of that tactic elsewhere) is simply cheap and unfair. It’s also a good indication to me that a thread is going down-hill fast and that I shouldn’t invest any further time.

    Nobody, be they Catholic or Protestant should be beating around the bush when someone asks for clarification – especially when charges have been made against a certain person. You did the same thing to me on your Psub thread (see post #105), where I spoke openly and directly, and you came back with one line brush offs when it came to defending your original claims.

  266. Sean said,

    October 11, 2010 at 11:41 am

    DT King.

    Re: posting about the formal sufficiency on TFan’s blog.

    Since we’ve been down this road before I must remind you that the onus on you is to prove that the fathers taught that Scripture was formally sufficient, not just materially sufficient. And you need to show scholars that concluded that the fathers believed that Scripture was formally sufficient.

    Steve,

    # 263 – I am not in grade school anymore and frankly have no time for it. Congratulations on bringing this conversation to its death knell by injecting your peculiar brand of sophistry.

  267. steve hays said,

    October 11, 2010 at 11:41 am

    Nick said,

    “It’s also a good indication to me that a thread is going down-hill fast and that I shouldn’t invest any further time.”

    I doubt your absence will be sorely missed.

    “Nobody, be they Catholic or Protestant should be beating around the bush when someone asks for clarification…”

    To the contrary, Romanists like you, Bryan, and Sean excel in the fine art of obfuscation rather than clarification. I don’t plan to follow you down every rabbit trail.

    “You did the same thing to me on your Psub thread (see post #105), where I spoke openly and directly, and you came back with one line brush offs when it came to defending your original claims.”

    You committed classic word-study fallacies of the sort James Barr exploded decades ago. It’s not incumbent on me to tutor you in basic lexical semantics. For a good introduction to the subject, see Moisés Silva, Biblical Words and Their Meaning (2nd ed.).

    Let’s also keep in mind that you don’t speak for the church of Rome. You’re not an authorized representative. You’re not even a priest, much less a bishop, much less the Prefect, much less the Pope.

    Some lay Catholic apologists are more influential than others, and so I focus on them. But you’re not that high on the pecking order.

  268. October 11, 2010 at 11:47 am

    Nick,

    Some things are really quite obvious and don’t need further explanation. It’s highly obvious that Sean has moved from direct appeal to Paul to direct appeal to what the church fathers said about Paul. A defense of Steve’s equivalent (earlier) assertion would amount to quoting Sean’s original approach and placing it next to a quote of Sean’s more recent approach. I don’t see why anyone would be under obligation to perform such a mundane task. The same results can be produced simply by either: (a) using basic recall, or, if memory has failed (or if someone hasn’t read the thread), (b) taking the time to engage in basic reading comprehension.

    Now that’s out of the way, perhaps we can discuss the problems with and implications of Sean’s bait-and-switch.

  269. Sean said,

    October 11, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    Mathew.

    #268.

    “It’s highly obvious that Sean has moved from an appeal to Paul to an appeal about church fathers…”

    My very first comment in this thread was quoting Paul….AND…Oh, that’s right. Basil. A church father. Please spare me.

    Besides, who says that quoting scripture and then quoting a church father is tantamount to abandoning the argument from scripture???

    You guys have really lost it.

    I gotta laugh at Steve’s # 267 rhetoric that we Catholics cannot engage in this discussion because we aren’t the Pope.

    Thankfully I know that not all of you are like this and that some of you can see this sophistry for what it is.

    The way the past 50 comments or so has gone is exhibit A of what Bryan was talking about – e.g. lacking civility.

    There are certain people in these discussion whose only goal is ‘gotcha’ moments and who stop at nothing to paint others in the worst possible light. A great example is triumphantly proclaiming that I’ve abandoned my argument when I’ve done no such thing. Another example is TFan accusing me of not staying on topic while patting DT King on the back for doing the same. Some of you have made it clear that no matter what is said by us, you will be there to jump down our throats and twist our words.

    And you wonder why some of us no longer bother to participate on some of the other Reformed blogs….yes Matthew, some things are pretty obvious.

  270. October 11, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    Sean,

    It’s not as if your first comment was the only comment relevant to your appeals. See, for example, #130 and #139. Also compare with Cross’s interpretation in #71 and Suden’s in #171.

  271. TurretinFan said,

    October 11, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    Sean (#261):

    You wrote:

    Just like Paul’s other letters are addressed to specific churches so is this letter. Be that as it may, do you agree that the truths that Paul teaches to those churches apply to all of us today? Or do you disagree with that?

    That sounded like a “yes,” to my question about whether the verse literally is addressing the Thessalonians (I hope I’m not misrepresenting you). I noticed, however, you haven’t yet addressed the question about why we would then more broadly apply this verse.

    As to your second point, Paul gives various instructions in his letters. For example, one of his instructions to Timothy is this:

    2 Timothy 4:13 The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments.

    As I mentioned to Tom a minute ago, no one would generalize this into an instruction that all Christians should always have a cloak and books, especially parchments, with them when they travel.

    I picked it as a kind of an easy example of something that is true, but whose application for us is not that we follow the command ourselves.

    Other parts of Paul’s epistles state timeless truths that don’t seem to depend in any major way on the fact that he’s writing to a particular audience. For example, in 2 Thessalonians 1:7-8 Paul mentions “…the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ … .” That’s revelation of a truth, not specifically a command, and that truth is (of course) always true.

    The question (if you are in agreement with me so far) is, essentially, “what place on that spectrum does this verse lie?”

    You seem to want to keep it away from 2 Timothy 4:13 territory, but how you plan to do so is not clear.

    Let me explain:

    Suppose that the right way to make this verse general is simply to say that this applies to all of Paul’s letters and all of the sermons Paul preached (even when in other cities); or suppose that the right way to make this verse general is simply to say that we should hold fast to all the apostolic teachings, whether in Scripture or preached to us by the apostles themselves. If this is right, it’s easy to follow the latter half, since neither Paul nor any of the other Apostles has preached anything to us.

    Suppose, alternatively, that the right way to make this verse general is simply to say that we should hold fast to all the apostolic teachings, no matter how we received them. If we received them in writing, hold them, and if we received them some other way, also hold them.

    I don’t think too many “Protestants” would have a big objection to that. The problem is simply that now that the apostles aren’t around, and the eyewitnesses of the apostles aren’t around, it seems that you can’t know what the apostles taught except through Scripture.

    So, under any of the options above (or under a very rigid literal understanding of the verse only) we don’t arrive at a meaning of the verse that would seem to support your position.

    However, you seem to have some other way that you want to generalize this verse. Please try to explain what that generalization is (and preferably why you think we should accept that generalization).

    -TurretinFan

  272. michael said,

    October 11, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    It is with great Joy I continue to read the comments in here!

    This Joy I am writing about is like the Joy John writes about here:

    1Jn 1:4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

    I am so grateful to the Lord for His mercies and His supplies of the Grace sufficient enough for the opportunity to sit here and read, read, read these comments!

    To you Reformed brothers, I commend you personally as an expression from my heart, deceitful though it be and continually a force to be reckoned with, that the Good Lord, from Whom all things come into existence becoming good or evil, would continue to pour abundantly upon you both material and spiritual blessings.

    This thread opened up and this subject of oral traditions undoubtedly has become the best experience I can say I have experienced so far the last few days, except for yesterday, the Lord’s Day where we gathered to sing our Praise to Him following the uniqueness of the traditions of our Church family that has been our practice for over 40 years now!

    And it does appear the brilliance is overwhelming at times because of the majestic Grace that flows from some of the comments written hereon!

    I would like to know when an oral argument no longer is an oral argument?

    It seems to me the very mention of such an argument destroys it’s effect if one begins to answer it in here! Silence anyone?

    I have a suggestion, why not all you guys meet at my place for an oral debate about when an oral argument is no longer an oral argument that can be instantly and simultaneously transmitted into a written form as you speak forth your oral arguments?

    Oh, a personal digression though. I am a bit saddened that there is one tradition in my home that is starting to lack substance! It has been my practice with my boys that we would go out for breakfast on Saturday mornings now for more than 16 years, so mommy didn’t have to do much in the way of cooking for her boys Saturday mornings. Now I have one son following the tradition of the 101st Airborne helicopter combat units deployed in Afghanistan and the other one, well, he is turning 17 in a couple of weeks and his Saturdays are more nuanced away from daddy’s tradition! grrrrrr

    Maybe I can change the tradition so that my wife and I have a Saturday breakfast together now, after all these years? Hummmmm, can I do that, change a tradition? I suppose some traditions just grow old over time and are not a tradition anymore in the “House”!

    Bryan, Sean, Tom, and there may be others I am not aware of who have made comments in here on behalf of Rome’s traditions, I have to say that after reading the last few comments of TF, Steve, Ron, John and Pastor King, methinks you have a lot of explaining to do?

    But, take your time, we are all hungry to understand more about your written understanding of the oral traditions you guys, I suppose, orally communicate one with another that you don’t seem to be able to put down in written form in this combox?

    Although, Sean, @ #250, I did appreciate your most recent exchanges above! That is a good start, it seems to me, or not?

    I have one question regarding the tradition of circumcision. Do you still practice that one in light of the Apostle Paul’s positions on it? He does seem to go both ways, traditionally with Timothy and rather arcane with regard to Titus? And what was his intent? Was it to establish a tradition or to refute one?

  273. louis said,

    October 11, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    All this talk of oral tradition sounds strangely familiar.

    “… legal determinations, which traditionalism declared absolutely binding on all — not only of equal, but even greater obligation than Scripture itself. And this not illogically, since tradition was equally of Diving origin with Holy Scripture, and authoritatively explained its meaning; supplemented it; gave it application to cases not expressly provided for… ”

    Ah yes, now I remember.

    “…so important was tradition, that the greatest merit a Rabbi could claim was the strictest adherence to the traditions, which he had received from his teacher….

    “They assure us, that there was an Academy and a Rabbinic tribunal of Shem, and they speak of traditions delivered by that Patriarch to Jacob…. According to the Jewish view, God had given Moses on Mount Sinai alike the oral and the written law… From Ex.20:1 it was inferred that God had communicated to Moses the Bible, the Mishnah, and Talmud, and the Haggadah…

    “But traditionalism went further, and placed the oral actually above the written law. The expression ‘after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel’ was explained as meaning that God’s covenant was founded on the spoken, in opposition to the written words….

    “No proof was to be sought in Scripture — at most support, or confirmatory allusion (Asmakhtu)….” 2 Thess. 2:15 anyone?

    (Edersheim, Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah).

    By the way, Michael, that was hilarious!

  274. D. T. King said,

    October 11, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    Re: posting about the formal sufficiency on TFan’s blog.

    Since we’ve been down this road before I must remind you that the onus on you is to prove that the fathers taught that Scripture was formally sufficient, not just materially sufficient. And you need to show scholars that concluded that the fathers believed that Scripture was formally sufficient.

    Yes, I understand the onus, and the double standard of the Romanist about the onus. It is a rule for the Protestant, but not for the Romanist. So yes, I undertand the onus of the double standard which I’ve demonstrated already.

    Thanks again for sharing.

  275. Sean said,

    October 11, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    David T King…

    Asking you to prove your assertions, in this case that the fathers taught that scripture was formally sufficient, is not an unreasonable request. And if you took a step back and read how silly and immature your comments are sounding I think you’d be embarrassed.

    TFan,

    I’d like to get back to your most recent comment about which parts of scripture are meant for the whole church but don’t have time this afternoon. Hopefully tomorrow.

  276. TurretinFan said,

    October 11, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    Sean,

    You wrote: “I’d like to get back to your most recent comment about which parts of scripture are meant for the whole church but don’t have time this afternoon. Hopefully tomorrow.”

    Just by way of clarification, I am really interested specifically in how you go from this:

    2 Thessalonians 2:15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.

    to

    whatever you think that verse is telling us to do — or if you don’t think it is telling us to do something, then

    to

    whatever you think this verse is telling us).

    If that requires a more general background on “which parts of scripture are meant for the whole church,” that’s fine, but if you can tackle this particular passage without the general discussion, that’s even better, since I am try to stay focused on the topic.

    -TurretinFan

  277. D. T. King said,

    October 11, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    Asking you to prove your assertions, in this case that the fathers taught that scripture was formally sufficient, is not an unreasonable request. And if you took a step back and read how silly and immature your comments are sounding I think you’d be embarrassed.

    I have never said it was an unreasonable request (notice how the target of what I actually said keeps moving in the hands of the Romanist, suggesting I intended something I never said). And given the double standard, I’m not the one being silly and immature.

    Thanks again for sharing

  278. Jeff Cagle said,

    October 11, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    Bryan (#236):

    You’ve denied that your profession of faith is a “vow”, and you appealed to the definition of “vow.” I concede the technical point: vow is not the right term to use.

    But on the substance, I think I’m right: Your profession of faith does indeed involve an element of promise.

    Look again:

    I believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God.

    We’ve already agreed that when you made this profession, you did not personally know each proposition taught by the Catholic Church. So in making this profession, you were committing yourself to believe propositions whose content was unknown. That’s a future commitment, Bryan, a promise that when made aware of Catholic teaching, you will believe it.

    Two years ago, you wrote (Sept 21, 2007):

    When I was received into full communion with the Catholic Church, I (along with all those who were being so received) said the following words: “I believe and profess all that the Holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God.” That statement is now on my wall. When we come into the Church, we don’t pick and choose what we are going to believe among the Church’s teachings. Either we believe “all that the Holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God”, or we don’t have sufficient faith to enter the Church … The faith is not a buffet from which we pick and choose eclectically.

    (at that time, you also disputed the term “vow” — I had forgotten that point).

    The point here is when you state that you “believe all the church teaches”, but don’t actually know all that the church teaches, then you are not describing your mental state. You are not affirming that “of the list of propositions taught by the Church, I believe each one to be true.” Instead, you are making a promise: “As I become aware of Catholic teaching, I will receive it as true.”

    This may not fall under the technical definition of “vow”; but it sure is close.

    And your stance towards your profession of faith, putting it on your wall and continuing to remind yourself and us that the teaching of the church is not a buffet to be sampled, indicates that you take that profession to have the force of a serious promise.

    Is that not so?

  279. steve hays said,

    October 11, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    Sean said,

    “And you wonder why some of us no longer bother to participate on some of the other Reformed blogs.”

    Sounds like a promising development. Anything we can do to enhance that trend?

  280. TurretinFan said,

    October 11, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    Andrew McCallum (#162), I think you raise some very good points. I hope our RC friends will consider what you’ve said.

    -TurretinFan

  281. TurretinFan said,

    October 11, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    Tom asked: “What is it about the Church’s hermeutical guidelines that make us not agree on reading?”

    One sticking point is that your church requires that its members read the Scriptures within the analogy of faith, by which it is meant that they must always be read in such a way as not to contradict what your church teaches. This hermeneutic begs the question when the question is whether your church is wrong.

    -TurretinFan

  282. Sean said,

    October 11, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    TFan.

    # 276.

    My purpose in citing 2 Thes 2:15 was to show that the apostle himself said that there exists teaching that is not written but that is transmitted through the oral teaching of the apostles. That’s all. I do not claim to think that there was some hidden oral precept that he was referring to in this instance.

    If you read my #250 I expound on that. In a nutshell, for Paul the faith is transmitted not just through writing but through the teaching of the Church.

    DT King.

    # 277 – Sure you didn’t say it was ‘unreasonable’ but you threw a hissy fit.

    Several months ago you chided me for calling you ‘David’. You said that as my elder you deserved respect and calling you by your first name was disrespectful.

    Notwithstanding the fact that I am a grown man and disregarding the repeated requests for you to stop calling me a romanist, I have tried to honor your request.

    But some advice: If you really desire respect than you should try to act respectably. Repeating your shrug-off one liners: “thanks for sharing”, “typical romanist” etc is not respectable, Mr. King.

  283. TurretinFan said,

    October 11, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    Sean:

    You wrote:

    My purpose in citing 2 Thes 2:15 was to show that the apostle himself said that there exists teaching that is not written but that is transmitted through the oral teaching of the apostles. That’s all. I do not claim to think that there was some hidden oral precept that he was referring to in this instance.

    Allow me to try to force you to be more precise:
    1) 2 Thessalonians 2:15 doesn’t say what exists now, but suggests that something existed then.
    2) 2 Thessalonians 2:15 does not say that the content of what was spoken was different from the content from what was written.
    3) 2 Thessalonians 2:15 certainly does not say that the content of what was spoken is different from what is now written.

    Can we agree on those three counter-points/clarifications?

    -TurretinFan

  284. Sean said,

    October 11, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    TFan

    # 280. I read Andrew’s comment.

    Firstly, we Catholics are not left groping around in the dark trying figure out the Catholic faith. Our Church is a teaching Church. The Magesterium is a living Magesterium.

    Are their dissenters against teaching? Yes. But this only proves that there is teaching to dissent against. Take birth control, for example. Church teaching is clear that artificial birth control is a sin because it removes the procreative from the marriage act (Humane Vitae). The Church is not ambiguous about it’s teaching. However, polling data suggest that a big % of Catholics practice birth control. They disregard/ignore Church teaching but this does not make the Church’s teaching questionable.

    Secondly, the Church fathers were not examining some separate set of data per se but they were relying on the faith handed down to them.

    “The Church’s preaching has been handed down through an orderly succession from the Apostles and remains in the Church until the present. That alone is to be believed as the truth which in no way departs from ecclesiastical and apostolic tradition.”
    Origen, First Principles 1,2 (c. A.D. 230)

    “Let us now investigate what are our common conceptions concerning the Spirit, as well those which have been gathered by us from Holy Scripture as well those which have been gathered concerning it as those which we have received from the unwritten tradition of the Fathers.”
    Basil, Holy Spirit 22 (c. A.D. 370)

  285. Sean said,

    October 11, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    TFan # 283.

    Yes, I agree that 2 Thes 2:15 does not say all of that explicitily.

  286. Tom Riello said,

    October 11, 2010 at 4:33 pm

    TF,

    “One sticking point is that your church requires that its members read the Scriptures within the analogy of faith, by which it is meant that they must always be read in such a way as not to contradict what your church teaches. This hermeneutic begs the question when the question is whether your church is wrong”.

    My response would be that, for example, a Lutheran does the same as regards Baptismal Regeneration, loss of salvation. He will read the Scripture in light of what the Augsburg Confession states. A Presbyterian officer does the same, for he states that he embraces the WCF and Catechism as the doctrine taught in the Bible. Thus, as I said earlier, if he comes across a passage that seems to contradict the five points of Calvinism he will read the passage in light of the Confession’s statement. Another example would be as regards infant baptism vis a vis credo baptism, he will appeal to the standards of the WCF contra- the Reformed Baptist.

  287. TurretinFan said,

    October 11, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    Tom:

    You wrote:

    My response would be that, for example, a Lutheran does the same as regards Baptismal Regeneration, loss of salvation. He will read the Scripture in light of what the Augsburg Confession states. A Presbyterian officer does the same, for he states that he embraces the WCF and Catechism as the doctrine taught in the Bible. Thus, as I said earlier, if he comes across a passage that seems to contradict the five points of Calvinism he will read the passage in light of the Confession’s statement. Another example would be as regards infant baptism vis a vis credo baptism, he will appeal to the standards of the WCF contra- the Reformed Baptist.

    Yes, I recall you stating something like that before. However, our churches do explicitly teach that we should examine church teaching according to Scripture and that where the church teaching and Scripture disagree, we should follow Scripture.

    That’s a very important distinction.

    -TurretinFan

  288. TurretinFan said,

    October 11, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    Sean:

    Thanks. Although 2 Thessalonians 2:15 does not say those things explicitly, are you taking the position that it implies them? If so, how?

    -TurretinFan

  289. D. T. King said,

    October 11, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    DT King.

    # 277 – Sure you didn’t say it was ‘unreasonable’ but you threw a hissy fit.

    Several months ago you chided me for calling you ‘David’. You said that as my elder you deserved respect and calling you by your first name was disrespectful.

    Private judgment and interpretation without proof. Thanks for sharing. You don’t have any business addressing me as “David.” I suspect I am twice your age (with a grown child). It’s inappropriate.

    Notwithstanding the fact that I am a grown man and disregarding the repeated requests for you to stop calling me a romanist, I have tried to honor your request.

    I haven’t asked you to abandon a conviction. It is my conviction that you are a Romanist and not a “catholic,” because I have come to believe by conviction that the communion of Rome is the most “anti-catholic” institution in the world, which refuses to recognize any other church as part of the catholic church. No other communion claims a pope as head of all Christendom. That is from an historical perspective “anti-catholic.” Only the Roman communion has so dared to attempt to remove the crown prerogatives of the only King and Head of the Church, the Lord Jesus Christ, and place it on the head of a mere man, declaring him to be infallible when addressing issues of de fide,/i>.

    Now, I understand that you do not like it, but I can do no other for conscience’s sake. And it is the loving thing so to confront you.

    But some advice: If you really desire respect than you should try to act respectably. Repeating your shrug-off one liners: “thanks for sharing”, “typical romanist” etc is not respectable, Mr. King.

    How would you have me respond, “No thanks for sharing?” Shall I thank you now for your unsolicited advice, or thank you for it, or simply ignore it. I doubt if any response would please you. But I am going to be polite, so thank you once again for sharing. It is duly noted. :)

  290. October 11, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    Tom,

    If I may add to TF’s response in 287, you are operating under a very impoverished view of Protestant thought, and I hope you will receive correction. If a good Protestant adheres to a given confession without exception, when he comes to a verse in Scripture that might imply something contrary to the Confession’s teaching, he affirms the Confession not on the authority of the document or because of some blind adherence to it, but because he believes that the abundant testimony of Scripture repudiates the non-Confessional interpretation of the isolated verse in question. Indeed, the Confession he adheres to reflects that very conclusion he clings to but it is the testimony of Scripture, summarized in the Confession, that his confidence and allegiance is based upon.

    Ron

  291. Tom Riello said,

    October 11, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    TF,

    I understand what you are saying but both the Reformed Baptist and the Presbyterian minister (PCA, ARP, OPC etc…) would appeal to Scripture but in different ways. The RB would appeal to Scripture and see no evidence in the NT of anyone being baptized who did not first publicly express faith. The Presbyterian would employ a typological reading (circumcision points to baptism, covenant etc…) but not actually have a text that says, “baptize infants.” At some point the Presbyterian would have to appeal to the ancient practice of the Church, its history and its confessions. (BTW, I recognize that you know this already, you do have great learning and I mean that).

    I guess I would say that at some level the Presbyterian has to appeal to the analogy of the faith as expressed by the historic Reformed and Presbyterian Creeds and Confessions.

  292. TurretinFan said,

    October 11, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    Tom:

    You wrote:

    I guess I would say that at some level the Presbyterian has to appeal to the analogy of the faith as expressed by the historic Reformed and Presbyterian Creeds and Confessions.

    With respect, no – that’s not it. Not all Christians are persuaded to agree with one another on certain things (the RB vs. Presbyterian divide is one example). We would like to persuade one another, but we do not simply appeal to something like Rome’s analogy to try to force our views on them. We acknowledge that the WCF is no more binding on them than the LBCF is binding on us.

    Consequently, like Augustine:

    I should not, however, introduce the [WCF] to prejudice the case in my favor, nor should you introduce the [LBCF] that way. I am not bound by the authority of [the LBCF], and you are not bound by that of [the WCF]. By the authority of the scriptures that are not the property of anyone, but the common witness for both of us, let position do battle with position, case with case, reason with reason.

    - Augustine, Answer to Maximinus, Part I, Vol. 18 of the Works of Saint Augustine, ed. John Rotelle, O.S.A., trans. Roland J. Teske, S.J. (New York: New City Press, 1995), p. 282. (obviously, the WCF and LCF replace Nicaea and Ariminum, see earlier in this thread for the untouched quotation)

    -TurretinFan

  293. Tom Riello said,

    October 11, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    Ron,

    I always appreciate correction and am willing to always learn and be fair in what I say. I do think that what I wrote in reference to infant baptism, however, is true. The Presbyterian cannot and does not rely on an overwhelming and abundant number of passages to argue against the Reformed Baptist position. Thus, at some point the Presbyterian has to appeal to the Confession and history contra the Baptist position and not just Scripture.

  294. Nick said,

    October 11, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    TF #283,

    (ok, since my inbox is still being flooded by these posts, I took a look, and got sucked into this “discussion” for at least a bit longer)

    You said:
    Allow me to try to force you to be more precise:
    1) 2 Thessalonians 2:15 doesn’t say what exists now, but suggests that something existed then.
    2) 2 Thessalonians 2:15 does not say that the content of what was spoken was different from the content from what was written.
    3) 2 Thessalonians 2:15 certainly does not say that the content of what was spoken is different from what is now written.

    As a Catholic, here is how I would evaluate those propositions:

    1) True it at least suggests something written and unwritten tradition existed at least then. Does it still exist now? Not necessarily, both the written and unwritten could have been lost or never have been inspired teaching.
    But two factors go against that idea: (a) Paul is speaking in the context of salvation, holding onto saving truths, which would suggest God would preserve Providentially and (b) it isn’t a leap of logic to suggest 1st Thessalonians was included in his comment on “by letter” in 2Th2:15, and if so means the “by word of mouth” would also be included in the saving truths category.

    2) True, it does not say the content of the written was different from the spoken, but two points are worthy of consideration: (a) The passage uses an “or” operator, suggesting difference in some sense, while an “and” operator would suggest (but not demand) the opposite. (b) The content can be “substantially” the same without them being identically “accidentally,” in other words the same doctrine can be found in both forms (which would certainly be the most logical) but the emphasis and expression is not the same. If you are talking to someone on the phone for tech-support, they can be giving you the same instructions as your manual but be properly emphasizing certain instructions or implicit (written) steps.

    3) I would say this goes largely along with MY #2 above. I would add that to suggest everything spoken was eventually written down cannot be verified from this passage.

  295. michael said,

    October 11, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    Why can’t we all put our differences aside for awhile and huddle around Isaiah?

    Isa 2:22 Stop regarding man in whose nostrils is breath, for of what account is he?

    If not Isaiah, how about the crying Prophet, Jeremiah?

    Jer 17:5 Thus says the LORD: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the LORD.
    Jer 17:6 He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land.
    Jer 17:7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD.
    Jer 17:8 He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

    He won’t do?

    Will Habakkuk?

    Hab 2:12 “Woe to him who builds a town with blood and founds a city on iniquity!
    Hab 2:13 Behold, is it not from the LORD of hosts that peoples labor merely for fire, and nations weary themselves for nothing?
    Hab 2:14 For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.

    Not sure how one gets around that?

    One wonders just how they built that town with blood and how the foundation of a city is built on iniquity?

    Naaa, it couldn’t be by oral traditions, now could it?

    I would not be in error to safely say and assert the Apostle Paul, when admonishing those Thessalonians to stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter, had in mind one thing and one thing only!

    His whole life’s work after Godly intervention, mind you, was so that whatever tradition others learned, received, heard or seen in him by those he was given a charge over, they would come to know the God of Peace, the God of Grace, Mercy and Peace.

    Learn from Isaiah.

    Learn from Jeremiah.

    Learn from Habakkuk.

    Learn from Paul the Apostle then, and, especially learn, receive, hear and see from Paul’s writings the Way God grants you through Christ by One Spirit to know Him:::>

    Php 4:9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me–practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

    Eternal Life anyone?

  296. Tom Riello said,

    October 11, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    I just wanted to point people to a brilliant little post by Dr. Michael Liccione over here:

    http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2010/10/vatican-ii-and-the-inerrancy-of-the-bible/#comment-11567

  297. steve hays said,

    October 11, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    Nick said,

    “But two factors go against that idea: (a) Paul is speaking in the context of salvation, holding onto saving truths, which would suggest God would preserve Providentially and (b) it isn’t a leap of logic to suggest 1st Thessalonians was included in his comment on ‘by letter’ in 2Th2:15, and if so means the ‘by word of mouth’ would also be included in the saving truths category.”

    i) Suppose we play along with this for the sake of argument. If oral tradition preserves saving truths which are not preserved in Scripture, and if the church of Rome is the repository of this information, then all non-Catholics are damned.

    However, that’s hardly the position of Vatican II, which make allowance for the salvation, not only of non-Catholics, but even non-Christians.

    ii) But there is another problem with Nick’s argument. Protestants don’t contend that 1-2 Thessalonians contain all things necessary for salvation. Sola Scriptura doesn’t refer to 1-2 Thessalonians, but to the 66 books of the canon in toto. So even if 1-2 Thessalonians omitted one or more saving articles of the faith, how does that undercut the Protestant position? It doesn’t.

  298. Nick said,

    October 11, 2010 at 7:27 pm

    Steve #297,

    You said: i) Suppose we play along with this for the sake of argument. If oral tradition preserves saving truths which are not preserved in Scripture, and if the church of Rome is the repository of this information, then all non-Catholics are damned.
    However, that’s hardly the position of Vatican II, which make allowance for the salvation, not only of non-Catholics, but even non-Christians.

    You’re confusing issues here. A person need not know each and every saving truth to be saved, and baptized infants are the epitome of this. Now, *if* Rome is the True Church and someone refuses to submit to it, it’s akin to refusing to submit to Christ, and thus they will indeed be damned. But that in iteslf says nothing itself of the content or extent of Divine Revelation, which is the subject we’re on.

    You said: ii) But there is another problem with Nick’s argument. Protestants don’t contend that 1-2 Thessalonians contain all things necessary for salvation. Sola Scriptura doesn’t refer to 1-2 Thessalonians, but to the 66 books of the canon in toto. So even if 1-2 Thessalonians omitted one or more saving articles of the faith, how does that undercut the Protestant position? It doesn’t.

    Where did I say 1-2 Thess contain all things necessary for salvation? All I said in regards to 1 Thess was that it was not a leap of logic to suggest “by epistle” in “by word or epistle” was speaking of 1 Thess since the question/inquiry I was responding to was whether “by word or by letter” was in reference to Divine Revelation or important but non-inspired temporal information intended for the Thessalonians only.

  299. steve hays said,

    October 11, 2010 at 7:53 pm

    Tom Riello said,

    “I just wanted to point people to a brilliant little post by Dr. Michael Liccione over here.”

    Okay, let’s comment on that:

    Michael Liccione:

    “The Catholic Church teaches that each of those is necessary and that all are mutually supporting. Scripture alone does not suffice, because a set of writings composed and collected by people over a period of centuries cannot certify itself as divinely inspired and inerrant.”

    That’s far from obvious. On the one hand, later writings can certify earlier writings. Likewise, contemporary writings can certify each another. And there’s even a sense in which earlier writings can prophetically certify later writings.

    “Of themselves, they tell us what various people said and did about God, but they do not tell us why what some of those people said is true or why what they did was appropriate.”

    Once again, that’s far from obvious. Take the argument from prophecy. If it comes true, then it was true.

    “I have spent years advancing two theses: (1) if it isn’t clear, from the beginning until now, which visible body counts as ‘the Church,’ then the question what counts as Scripture and Tradition is open to a debate that can never be definitively settled.”

    Once more, that’s far from obvious. For even if we accept his tendentious criterion of visibility, why stipulate that visibility must be embodied in just one “church.” Why can’t several churches “visibly” embody the truth?

    “(2) if whichever body counts as ‘the Church’ is never preserved from error when interpreting Scripture and Tradition, then the meaning of Scripture and Tradition is up for indefinite debate, even if their content is not. In the final analysis, the Christian religion would reduce to a matter of opinion. And if that’s so, then there is no principled way to distinguish between divine revelation on the one hand and human opinion about the ‘sources’ thereof on the other. I’m sure that’s not a result you desire.”

    Several problems with this argument:

    i) The is an argument for a historical claim (i.e. what God has done in church history) which entirely eschews historical evidence. But we don’t normally prove historical events by a priori reasoning. Imagine Liccione applying that to type of reasoning to other historical claims, like the stock market.

    ii) The argument is regressive. The meaning which “the Church” assigns to Scripture then shifts to the meaning of “the Church’s” interpretation.

    iii) What, exactly, is so bad about “opinion”? After all, some opinions are right while others are wrong. What’s so bad about with having an opinion as long as you are right and the other guy is wrong? Does Liccione think all opinions command equal deference?

    iv) His objection is self-defeating. Liccione thinks the church of Rome is the true church, but, of course, that’s just his opinion. In the final analysis, his analysis reduces to a matter of opinion.

    v) A major reason that NT writers penned the NT is because the apostles couldn’t be everywhere–in time and space. So they communicate through the written word rather than the spoken word. For instance, John wrote to the Ephesian church (in 1 John) to settle a doctrinal crisis.

    But imagine one of troublemakers saying, you don’t have to pay attention to that letter, since the meaning of his words is always open to debate. John can’t settle the issue by writing a letter. You may think he condemns Docetism, but that’s just your opinion. Only the Church can settle this issue.

    So even though we have apostolic letters which were written with the express intention of settling an issue, Liccione has a loophole which gives 1C heretics permission to flout apostolic authority. It’s a license for insubordination.

    Liccione doesn’t develop his theory from actual apostolic practice. To the contrary, he has an armchair theory which subverts the very purpose of a written document like 1 John.

    vi) In fact, it’s striking that some letters were written even though oral transmission was available. Take the letters to the 7 churches in Asia Minor (Rev 2-3). Jesus doesn’t appear to the 7 churches, even though it certainly lay within his power to speak to them directly and individually.

    Instead, Jesus communicates to them via the written word. He dictates the letters to the apostle John. This illustrates the priority of the written word. Although Jesus could just as easily have bypassed the literary medium, appeared to the 7 churches in person, and spoken to the congregants face-to-face, he uses a writer (John) to express his will.

  300. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    October 11, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    Steve Hays, TurretinFan, Pastor King, Ron D., et al,

    Could you address the following excerpts from Dr. Liccione:

    “But when I explored various religious options as a college student, I eventually became convinced that the fundamental issue was authority. I submit that, if you come to look at the authority question carefully, your faith issues will gradually resolve themselves.

    ….

    Now if you’ll notice, I have said almost nothing about the actual content of any particular doctrine proposed by such an authority. When I was striving to decide what sort of Christian to be, I got nowhere with considering such doctrines one by one. It all struck me as a matter of opinion, when what was really needed was a reliable way to identify and interpret divine revelation by means of some ensemble of human authorities. It seems to me that you too are getting nowhere considering doctrines one by one. Just focus on the authority question. If and when you do, not all difficulties will evaporate right away; but you will find, as I did, a means of resolving them over time.”

  301. steve hays said,

    October 11, 2010 at 8:30 pm

    The unspoken assumption here is that divine revelation is hard to identify or interpret.

    He also doesn’t stop to ask himself if he’s approaching the issue in the way God would have us approach the issue.

  302. D. T. King said,

    October 11, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    TUAD,

    My response is very simple, but I am going to resist the urge to answer it solely because it’s off topic. I still hold out hope that our Romanist friends are going to provide sufficient reasons for their claim, not simply to oral traditions, but to apostolic oral traditions. They insist that we must hold to the apostle’s *purely* oral traditions on the basis of 2 Thessalonians 2:15, but they cannot prove to me that they themselves even know what they are, let alone hold to them, walk in them, and thus obey them. But it has been interesting to watch the Roman merry-go-round go round and round all in the name of catholicity. :)

  303. steve hays said,

    October 11, 2010 at 8:42 pm

    Nick said,

    “You’re confusing issues here. A person need not know each and every saving truth to be saved, and baptized infants are the epitome of this. Now, *if* Rome is the True Church and someone refuses to submit to it, it’s akin to refusing to submit to Christ, and thus they will indeed be damned. But that in iteslf says nothing itself of the content or extent of Divine Revelation, which is the subject we’re on.”

    So in your Looking Glass world you redefine saving truths as damning truths. Saving truths aren’t something one must believe to be saved; rather, saving truths are something one must believe to be damned.

    If that’s the case, if Roman church is The One True Church, then the Roman church is the most dangerous institution in the world. Catholic apologists are a dire threat to the immortal well-being of humanity. For the state of ignorance is far safer than disbelief.

    Therefore, by your reasoning, Roman Catholicism should be banned. Catholic literature should be burned. Catholics should be rounded up and quarantined. That way we won’t run the risk of learning saving truths which damn us. The less we know, the better our odds.

  304. steve hays said,

    October 11, 2010 at 8:51 pm

    Nick said,

    “Where did I say 1-2 Thess contain all things necessary for salvation?”

    I see that you have problems following the argument. Nothing new.

    Even if 1-2 Thes were insufficient, that doesn’t mean Scripture is insufficient. For even assuming that 1-2 Thes omit certain saving truths, if the omitted truths are stated elsewhere in Scripture, then that’s sufficient for sola Scripture.

  305. steve hays said,

    October 11, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    steve hays said,

    “So in your Looking Glass world you redefine saving truths as damning truths. Saving truths aren’t something one must believe to be saved; rather, saving truths are something one must believe to be damned.”

    That should read: “saving truths are something one must *disbelieve* to be damned.”

  306. October 11, 2010 at 9:01 pm

    “I always appreciate correction and am willing to always learn and be fair in what I say. I do think that what I wrote in reference to infant baptism, however, is true. The Presbyterian cannot and does not rely on an overwhelming and abundant number of passages to argue against the Reformed Baptist position. Thus, at some point the Presbyterian has to appeal to the Confession and history contra the Baptist position and not just Scripture.

    Tom,

    It is not true that paedobaptist position is lacking in an abundance of exegetical support. It is, also, not true that astute paedobaptists do do not rely solely upon that abundance of exegetical support. But even if you were correct that there is not an abundance of biblical support for the paedobaptist position, it does not follow that one is left to base his doctrinal position on a confessional standard. Would you really have us believe that paedobaptists are left to argue that the Bible teaches infant baptism because their Confession teaches infant baptism? That’s what your words suggest. You must mean something else.

    Best,

    Ron

  307. October 11, 2010 at 9:22 pm

    TUAD,

    That quote, taken in a naked sort of way, could mean many things to many people. There is always an authority element at work. Romanists (and Mormons for that matter) do not submit to Christ’s authority, otherwise they would not add to, subtract from and outright twist His words. True believers on the other hand accept the word of God because it is the word of God, and consequently they strive to weigh the teachings of denominations, sects and cults based upon what God says. But to say that if we examine the authority issue “carefully” then all matters of faith will get resolved seems to imply that man in his natural state can pursue God in truth and mark his word aright – as long as one is “careful”. Obviously I reject that sort of thinking. However, if carefulness presupposes regeneration and having the mind of Christ, then I would say yes Christ’s sheep hear his voice and follow him.

    Ron

  308. Sean said,

    October 12, 2010 at 6:57 am

    TFan.

    Although 2 Thessalonians 2:15 does not say those things explicitly, are you taking the position that it implies them? If so, how?

    Well, for one thing my interpretation of the passage is consistent with the ECFs (I cited several in # 1 and # 250 ) and the constant teaching of the Church.

  309. TurretinFan said,

    October 12, 2010 at 7:01 am

    Sean:

    Maybe you misunderstood my question. I meant, how is it that one would conclude from the text that 2 Thessalonians 2:15 implies them. I’m not asking who you think shares your opinion, although we will eventually get (I hope) to the issue of whether “the constant teaching of the Church” or the ECFs agrees with or differs from your interpretation.

    -TurretinFan

  310. Sean said,

    October 12, 2010 at 8:42 am

    TFan.

    TFan. I read the text with the Church, not apart from Her.

    Further, there is nothing in the text to suggest that the oral teaching was to cease at some point.

    Further, in the corpus of Pauline texts there is a teaching authority with the apostles and the gospels (Paul says that much Christian teaching is to be found in the tradition which is handed down by word of mouth (2 Tim. 2:2),Jesus sending out the twelve, He who hears you hears me etc). Christ tells us that he built a Church and the Holy Spirit came to Her at Pentecost.

    Furthermore since we are finding common ground, can we at least agree that the text does not say that the oral tradition is only for the Thessalonians? Can we agree that the text does not say that the oral tradition will cease? Can we agree that Paul does not say to obey the oral teaching until the bible is canonized? Can we agree that Christ built His Church? Can we agree that his apostles appointed successors?

  311. louis said,

    October 12, 2010 at 9:14 am

    “I got nowhere with considering such doctrines one by one. It all struck me as a matter of opinion, when what was really needed was a reliable way to identify and interpret divine revelation by means of some ensemble of human authorities.”

    Sounds like a direct admission that he couldn’t hear the word of God and so turned to human authority. Which is basically what we’ve been saying about them all along.

  312. TurretinFan said,

    October 12, 2010 at 9:15 am

    Sean:

    You wrote: “TFan. I read the text with the Church, not apart from Her.

    What does that mean here? Your church has not issued a binding interpretation of the text, so according to most of your co-religionists, this gives you a certain amount of liberty in how you interpret the text.

    You wrote: “Further, there is nothing in the text to suggest that the oral teaching was to cease at some point.

    a) Literally, the text tells them to hold fast to teachings they had already been given. The verb is an aorist verb speaking about a completed act.

    If you can give us a reason to read the verse more broadly …

    b) To the extent that the oral teaching is Paul’s teaching generally (i.e. if we expand the verse to include future teachings of Paul), it’s inherent that Paul’s oral teaching stops when Paul dies or is translated.

    c) To the extent that the oral teaching is the apostles’ teaching in general (i.e. if we expand the verse to include future teachings of the apostles), it’s again inherent that this will cease when the apostles are gone.

    d) If you want to expand the verse beyond either (b) or (c), we need to see some basis for this expansion from you.

    You wrote: “Further, in the corpus of Pauline texts there is a teaching authority with the apostles and the gospels (Paul says that much Christian teaching is to be found in the tradition which is handed down by word of mouth (2 Tim. 2:2),Jesus sending out the twelve, He who hears you hears me etc).

    Even conceding your contentions here for the sake of the argument, I don’t see how that would get you beyond (c) above — and, of course, you would have to give us some reason to expand the verse to (c) in the first place.

    You wrote: “Christ tells us that he built a Church and the Holy Spirit came to Her at Pentecost.

    Christ actually tells us that he will build his church, and the Holy Spirit came upon particular men at Pentecost. So again, even if the verse could be expanded to (c) above, this wouldn’t seem to justify a further expansion.

    You wrote: “Furthermore since we are finding common ground, can we at least agree that the text does not say that the oral tradition is only for the Thessalonians?”

    You’re right. It does not say that. Hopefully you will likewise admit that its silence on that point is just silence. That silence is not teaching that the oral tradition is for anyone else. Since you brought the verse into the discussion, you are in the position of telling us what it does say, not what it does not say.

    You wrote: “Can we agree that the text does not say that the oral tradition will cease?

    As noted above, the oral teachings mentioned are referenced with an aorist verb. They are past teachings that had ceased, not ongoing teachings. That’s what the text literally says. It does not explicitly say “they will cease,” but the use of the aorist to reference past teachings means that the particular teachings referred to had ceased.

    Moreover, generally see (a)-(d) above.

    You wrote: “Can we agree that Paul does not say to obey the oral teaching until the bible is canonized?

    a) More identification of silence, but yes, we can agree that you’ve identified another thing that Paul does not say.

    b) The idea of the Bible being “canonized” is a concept entirely foreign to apostolic thought. Notice that Paul does require them to hold fast what they have been taught by this letter, and also notice that Peter confirms that Paul’s letters are Scripture (before any church council “canonized” them). So, if you think Paul’s silence here helps you, think again.

    You wrote: “Can we agree that Christ built His Church?

    No. We cannot agree on that, for two reasons:

    1) Christ has begun to built his church; and

    2) “His Church” doesn’t mean the same thing to you and to me – so we don’t have agreement of ideas, even if we could have agreement of words.

    You wrote: “Can we agree that his apostles appointed successors?

    I suspect that we would need to have common understanding of what “successors” means, before we could have agreement on this point. There was a replacement apostle (Matthias), and there was one more apostle of Jesus, like a child born late, Paul. That’s not what you’re talking about, though, I think.

    If you simply mean that the apostles saw to the election of elders that lead the churches …

    -TurretinFan

  313. David Meyer said,

    October 12, 2010 at 9:42 am

    Steve Hays said:

    “why stipulate that visibility must be embodied in just one “church.” Why can’t several churches “visibly” embody the truth?”

    Because that entails the several “truths”. Church #1 proclaims doctrine A as the truth. Church #2 proclaims doctrine A false. Thus these two churches do not (cannot) visibly or otherwise embody the truth. Either one or neither is the true Church.

    Ron said:

    “Tom,
    It is not true that paedobaptist position is lacking in an abundance of exegetical support.”

    Does Turretin Fan agree with this statement? If not, which one of you is right?

  314. Sean said,

    October 12, 2010 at 9:50 am

    TFan.

    # 312…

    Your church has not issued a binding interpretation of this passage…

    The Catholic Church’s claim for teaching authority does not merely mean that the Church has a bible in the Holy See that has infallible foot notes.

    When we read scripture we conform our understanding to the teaching of the Church. This works without having a set of infallible foot notes. For example, if I read the nativity narrative and thought that the text allowed for Mary to be merely a ‘young woman’ and not really a virgin than I would be compelled to conform my understanding to the teaching of the church. That is what I mean by reading the text with the church.

    You continued harping on not having an ‘infallible interpretation’ of this passage or that passage is red herring.

    On the rest, you merely demonstrate a disagreement with interpretation on various passages. We believe (and the Church has always believed) that the apostles appointed successors and that the Church has existed since Pentecost. We believe this promise is evident in Scripture and testified by the early fathers. You, apparently, do not. Where does that leave us?

    I am done for the day. See ya’ll tomorrow, Lord willing.

  315. steve hays said,

    October 12, 2010 at 9:59 am

    David Meyer said,

    “Because that entails the several ‘truths’. Church #1 proclaims doctrine A as the truth. Church #2 proclaims doctrine A false. Thus these two churches do not (cannot) visibly or otherwise embody the truth. Either one or neither is the true Church.”

    You don’t seem to know much about the facts on the ground. To take an obvious counterexample, the OPC and the PCA are two different churches. The OPC adheres to the Westminster Standards, and the PCA adheres to the Westminster standards. Different churches, same doctrine.

  316. TurretinFan said,

    October 12, 2010 at 11:06 am

    Sean wrote: “The Catholic Church’s claim for teaching authority does not merely mean that the Church has a bible in the Holy See that has infallible foot notes.

    I agree it does not mean that, and I did not claim that it does mean that. You claimed you read the Bible with your church, and I’m simply pointing out that on this particular verse, your church hasn’t provided allegedly infallible guidance.

    Sean wrote: “When we read scripture we conform our understanding to the teaching of the Church.

    Your church does not have one official teaching as to what this verse means. The analogy of the faith is a negative constraint: it tells you what the verse cannot mean, not what it does mean.

    Sean wrote: “This works without having a set of infallible foot notes.

    Answered above.

    Sean wrote: “For example, if I read the nativity narrative and thought that the text allowed for Mary to be merely a ‘young woman’ and not really a virgin than I would be compelled to conform my understanding to the teaching of the church.

    That’s a bad example. Let me explain why. Your church doesn’t require you to believe that Scripture teaches (or certainly not that any specific passage of Scripture teaches) that Mary was a virgin, it simply requires you to believe that Mary was a virgin. Thus, the analogy of faith would not exclude such a bizarre misreading of the text, it would simply prevent you from subsequently concluding that Mary was not a virgin. It would prevent you from interpreting that text to mean that she was an active prostitute, or something like that, because such an interpretation would be in conflict with your church’s teaching on virginity.

    Sean wrote: “That is what I mean by reading the text with the church.

    So, as noted above, that doesn’t help you. Since your church hasn’t said “This is the meaning of this text,” you are not required to hold the interpretation that you apparently think is right. In other words, you could simply take the verse at face value as an instruction to the Thessalonians and stop there, without violating the analogy of faith. Your claim that you’re reading the verse with your church, therefore, is not an adequate justification for the expanded meaning you assign to the text.

    Sean wrote: “You continued harping on not having an ‘infallible interpretation’ of this passage or that passage is red herring.

    No, it’s not. Hopefully, in light of the explanation I’ve provided above, you’ll see why it is not.

    Sean wrote: “On the rest, you merely demonstrate a disagreement with interpretation on various passages.

    That’s not a very good summary, and it’s certainly not a rehabilitation of your currently undermined explanation. You still have not identified any reason from the text for interpreting the verse as broadly as you would like to interpret it. If you acknowledge that there is no reason for doing so in the text, then we are ready to move on to the other part of the analysis.

    Specifically, we can turn to evaluating whether there is some reason provided based on the fact that a couple men hundreds of years later thought something about it, and we can compare their interpretation to your interpretation.

    You wrote: “We believe (and the Church has always believed) that the apostles appointed successors and that the Church has existed since Pentecost.

    I’ve declined to explore the difference between the meaning you assign to those words and the meaning of those words in Scriptures and in the early Christian writings. It’s a tangent that’s interesting but not directly on the topic we’re discussing.

    I’m trying to avoid doing that, because you still haven’t addressed how you expand the meaning of 2 Thessalonians 2:15 to become a support for the doctrines that you seem to imagine that it teaches.

    Maybe there’s some reason that we need to discuss the difference between your view of apostolic succession and the view of the early church, and perhaps we also need to explain the difference between your view of what happened at Pentecost and what actually happened there, and maybe we will need to discuss how it is that the building of Christ’s church is not yet complete. Those all may need to be discussed, but I don’t see why they need to be discussed in order for you to try to persuade us to accept your view of the text.

    You wrote: “We believe this promise is evident in Scripture and testified by the early fathers. You, apparently, do not. Where does that leave us?

    My position is that you are using words in a sense different from that of Scripture. If your words were assigned their proper senses, they would probably be totally acceptable, but the reason for the disagreement is the wrong meaning you assign to them.

    But, as noted above, this is very much an aside.

    Even if your church’s view about succession were correct, that would not imply that 2 Thessalonians 2:15 is talking about that view.

    The analogy of faith is a negative limitation on bad interpretations, not a justification for importing your church’s doctrines into verses that don’t actually teach those doctrines.

    Do you have anything else either from the text itself or from your church’s official teachings? If not, we can turn to the questions of (a) whether the church fathers say what you think they say, and (b) whether we should agree with the church fathers (once we have figured out what they say).

    -TurretinFan

  317. TurretinFan said,

    October 12, 2010 at 11:11 am

    Ron had written: “Tom, It is not true that paedobaptist position is lacking in an abundance of exegetical support.”

    David Meyer responded: “Does Turretin Fan agree with this statement? If not, which one of you is right?”

    a) Why does it matter what I think? Are not the facts the thing that matters?

    b) Which one of us is right is dependent on which one of us holds an opinion that corresponds to the truth of the matter.

    Is there an attempt here to argue something based on the fact that sometimes Christians make mistakes with respect to understanding the Bible?

    - TurretinFan

    P.S. In point of fact, I agree with Ron, although my support for his opinion is not what is important – what is important is what Scripture says.

  318. David Meyer said,

    October 12, 2010 at 11:38 am

    Steve Hays said:
    “You don’t seem to know much about the facts on the ground. To take an obvious counterexample, the OPC and the PCA are two different churches.”

    Please enlighten me. (Seriously)
    Why are they two different churches then if they believe the exact same standards?

  319. steve hays said,

    October 12, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    David Meyer said,

    “Please enlighten me. (Seriously). Why are they two different churches then if they believe the exact same standards?”

    If you do a little study on the respective history of their founding (e.g. OPC, PCA), that question will answer itself.

  320. TurretinFan said,

    October 12, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    Bryan provides the following quotation from the 6th century Alexandrian Eulogius:

    “Neither to John, nor to any other of the disciples, did our Savior say, ‘I will give to thee the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven,’ but only to Peter.”

    The work itself is found in the “Library of Photius,” at item 280 (the last item in the collection), book II of Eulogius’ work against the Novations (per the citation here or here). It is the first line of the book, i.e. of book two (see the Greek here). There is a French translation of this work by René Henry, Photius: Bibliothéque, CNRS, Paris (1959), but no English translation of which I’m aware.

    In any event, this doesn’t say anything about primacy of Peter – it just says that it was only said to Peter “I will give thee the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven.” This quotation is quite far from contradicting anything that Congar said.

  321. TurretinFan said,

    October 12, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    Sorry to the moderators, the spam filter seems to have become clogged with another of my comments.

  322. D. T. King said,

    October 12, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    Can we agree that his apostles appointed successors?

    This raises a number of questions.

    What does one mean by successor . . . a successor in terms of apostolic authority, a successor to guard the apostolic deposit, the presupposition that all successors fulfill either one or all of the above? Apostles were not infallible in all that they said (e.g. Peter in Galatians), are we to assume that these successors are infallible? The NT informs us that Apostles chose presbyters/bishops for the oversight of Christ’s Church, and Paul in 1 Timothy gave instructions as to what the bishop/presbyter “must be…” (1 Tim. 3:2ff). You see, the Roman bishop can be none of those requirements and still be a bishop. He can be an adulterer, as many of the medieval popes were, and still hold this office of universal headship. Forget about the whole notion of infallibility, the bishop of Rome doesn’t even have to meet the moral requirements of 1 Tim 3:2ff. There is no way to discipline a pope who has fallen into moral sin. The apostles *never* appointed such a species of “successors!” Paul said, “the bishop must be…” and modern day Rome says, “he need not be…”

    This whole business of succession in this sense is not what the ECFs taught.

    Gregory of Nazianzus (329/330-389): Thus, and for these reasons, by the vote of the whole people, not in the evil fashion which has since prevailed, nor by means of bloodshed and oppression, but in an apostolic and spiritual manner, he is led up to the throne of Saint Mark, to succeed him in piety, no less than in office; in the latter indeed at a great distance from him, in the former, which is the genuine right of succession, following him closely. For unity in doctrine deserves unity in office; and a rival teacher sets up a rival throne; the one is a successor in reality, the other but in name. For it is not the intruder, but he whose rights are intruded upon, who is the successor, not the lawbreaker, but the lawfully appointed, not the man of contrary opinions, but the man of the same faith; if this is not what we mean by successor, he succeeds in the same sense as disease to health, darkness to light, storm to calm, and frenzy to sound sense. NPNF2: Vol. VII, Oration XXI – On the Great Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, §8.

    Moreover, the Council of Constantinople (381) violated the second canon of the Council of Nicaea with the election of a novice as the bishop of Constantinople to preside over the same before the man was even baptized. I guess that’s how apostolic succession works.

    Moreover, the same thing happened in the case of Ambrose of Milan . . . Listen to the man’s own testimony…

    Ambrose (c. 339-97): I make no claims, of course, to the glory of the Apostles—whoever could, other than those whom the Son of God himself chose? Nor do I claim to have the grace of the prophets, or the power of the evangelists, or the vigilance of the pastors. My wish is only to attain to the attention and diligence towards the divine Scriptures which the apostle ranked last of all among the duties of the saints, This is all I desire, so that, in my endeavor to teach others, I might be able to learn myself. For there is only one true Master, who never had to learn all that he taught everyone else: in this he is unique. Ordinary men must learn beforehand what they are to teach, and receive from him what they are to pass on to others.
    In my own case, not even this was allowed. I was snatched into the priesthood from a life spent at tribunals and amidst the paraphernalia of administrative office, and I began to teach you things I had not learnt myself. The result was that I started to teach before I had started to learn. With me, then, it is a matter of learning and teaching all at the same time, since no opportunity was given me to learn in advance. Ivor J. Davidson, Ambrose, De Officiis (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), Book 1, Chapter 1, §3-4, p. 119.
    Latin text: 3. Non igitur mihi apostolorum gloriam vindico. Quis enim hoc, nisi quos ipse Filius elegit Dei? Non prophetarum gratiam, non virtutem evangelistarum, non pastorum circumspectionem: sed tantummodo intentionem et diligentiam circa Scripturas divinas opto assequi, quam ultimam posuit Apostolus inter officia sanctorum, et hanc ipsam ut docendi studio possim discere. Unus enim verus magister est, qui solus non didicit quod omnes doceret: homines autem discunt prius quod doceant, et ab illo accipiunt quod aliis tradant.
    4. Quod ne ipsum quidem mihi accidit. Ego enim raptus de tribunalibus atque administrationis infulis ad sacerdotium, docere vos coepi, quod ipse non didici. Itaque factum est ut prius docere inciperem, quam discere. Discendum igitur mihi simul et docendum est; quoniam non vacavit ante discere. De Officiis, Liber Primus, Caput I, §3-4, PL 16:24-25.

    Now, don’t get me wrong, I admire Ambrose in many ways, but his claims as a bishop do not match Rome’s claims for apostolic succession.

    1) His promotion, as a novice, to the see of Milan violated 1 Tim 3:2ff, and again the 2nd canon of Nicaea, that universal binding council according to Rome?
    2) He confesses he was conscious of no apostolic deposit, and as a novice was learning himself (wow, Sean ought to like this guy – he’s his kind of guy).
    3) He was teaching people things he had not learned himself (Sean has got to like this guy more and more!)
    4) But on the fourth point, this is where Sean must abandon the ship of Ambrose – “My wish is only to attain to the attention and diligence towards the divine Scriptures which the apostle ranked last of all among the duties of the saints, This is all I desire, so that, in my endeavor to teach others, I might be able to learn myself.”

    You see, as long as Rome can make this very general claim, “Oh, we have the successors of the apostles! Look at church, it goes alllll the way back to ole Peter!” – It looks so impressive to the person contemplating conversion to Rome, “Look at all the grandiose claims of Rome, I am ‘wowed’ by that, I can’t get there fast enough!”

    You see, the Jews of Jesus’ day made a pretty impressive claim as well, “We have Abraham as our father!” (Luke 3:8). But the Lord Jesus had a word for them, and a word for Sean, “God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.” And so God has according to Galatians 3:8-9.

    But, that’s another one of those biblical pericopes that dies the death of a thousand qualifications in the hands of the Roman apologist, because he, the Romanist, doesn’t sweat that Bible stuff – he has mother Rome to tell him what to believe and what to do.

    The best I can tell from their own attempts, “apostolic oral tradition” from a Roman apologetic perspective is no more obtainable than Alice’s fabled cheshire cat, which appears here and there, and then vanishes without a trace!

  323. D. T. King said,

    October 12, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    Addendum.

    You see, when one convinces himself that he cannot, nor is expected, to understand that Bible stuff, then he believes he’s off the hook personally, and need never be held responsible for not submitting to Holy Scripture. But Augustine has a word for that kind of mindset as well…

    Augustine (354-430): Our volumes are put up for sale in public; the light never needs to blush. Let them buy them, read them, believe them; or else buy them, read them, make fun of them. Those Scriptures know how to hold people guilty who read them and don’t believe. John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., The Works of Saint Augustine, Newly Discovered Sermons, Part 3, Vol. 11, trans. Edmund Hill, O.P., Sermon 198.20 (Hyde Park: New City Press, 1997), pp. 195-196.

  324. michael said,

    October 12, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    If you simply mean that the apostles saw to the election of elders that lead the churches …

    Interesting response TurrentinFan and helpful in laying a foundational stone upon which to bring about clarity to the issues of this oral tradition debate!

    The question isn’t so much are there “elders and deacons”, “apostles and prophets”, bishops and cardinals” as the functioning and functional leadership today who God has raised up to provide and to fulfill a role of necessity in His House on the earth? That question it seems has operated [with/in] the Church polity since the canonization of Scripture and even from the beginning with Adam’s rule.

    Honestly, Adam is the one who got this debate started! :)

    God has never been without a Testimony or a Witness among men, ever, in any generation. After all, this is God’s created heavens and earth. He is the Master Steward of all His creations. He sets forth the rules creatures must abide by or they will be deemed rebellious against Him. There won’t be any lack of Godly leadership applying Godly rules now in this generation either!

    The question seems to me lies where it is found today. Do present day “Holy Spirit” raised leaders exist today whereby members of the Body of Christ can approach or come before out of weakness in their faith to clarify some difficult Scripture hard to understand or to settle a dispute between members of a particular Church group or to be assisted when they are called upon to render a decision in the Name of the Lord on His behalf personally or publicly? In a multitude of council there is safety. Our common salvation shared together is the shelter where we are kept safe from all harm and wickedness while we pass along through this world until we pass out of this world into the Kingdom of Heaven.

    And, does Scripture provide within its pages sufficient knowledge and wisdom and understanding to “qualify” a leader or leaders? Or, does Scripture teach or require that we need additional knowledge, wisdom or understanding to complete the perfection of the Saints for salvation or leadership?

    It seems this is where this question is heading that should be answered soon? Is there something more than Scripture God has provided the Church for obtaining our common salvation?

    I suppose you will have to agree that there is plenty of Biblical warrant within Scripture that one can read and learn from to guide you into sound judgment and truth when it comes to the question of who is qualified and who is not qualified for Godly leadership overseeing the Church Christ shed His blood for and redeems continually?

    When are ministers disqualified and who disqualifies them?

    Is it a task given to or by the Church to operate in the world yet not operate like the world so much so that there is to be no distinguishing qualifications or judgments made between what the world does and believes and what the Church does and believes?

    Are we to rely upon something more than the teachings of Scripture to make these distinguishing qualifications or judgments? I ask this in light of these Scriptures:

    2Co 3:1 Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you, or from you?
    2Co 3:2 You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all.
    2Co 3:3 And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
    2Co 3:4 Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God.

    The question of succession is a valid question. As has been noted above, it is the meaning of words as applied to the Church that we need to come into some sort of agreement on.

    I would think we could determine that true and qualified successors are in existence today by virtue of reading the Scriptures? Isn’t that old saw a valid saying here? If it looks like a duck, waddles like one and quacks all the time with its tail feathers fluttering back and forth, it ain’t no cow no how?

    I would hope as we go along, each side would begin to draw a word picture of just what their basis is being used to determine their premise for their respective leadership functions?

    Also, I would offer one idea from the many Scriptures we have at hand showing the tell tell marks of a person who is of the True Church seeking Her True leaders, who come out of the Church body not “hired’ by the Church body to lead:

    2Jn 1:6 And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it.
    2Jn 1:7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist.
    2Jn 1:8 Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward.
    2Jn 1:9 Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.
    2Jn 1:10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting,
    2Jn 1:11 for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.

  325. David Gadbois said,

    October 12, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    Here we are after 325 posts and we still are left without any identification much less documentation and proof of the existence of Roman Catholic oral tradition. It doesn’t exist. Their catechism doesn’t even claim it exists. All we have are self-appointed Romanist apologists who claim it exists.

    What they have is a “living transmission” which is simply synonymous with their concept of magisterial teaching authority. The magisterium simply decides what elements of church history it likes, builds on it as it sees fit under the guise of “doctrinal development”, and calls it “Tradition”. Well, one could say a lot of things about it , but that is certainly not to be confused with oral tradition, which is a fixed, objective historical deposit whose contents can be known and scrutinized historically in regard to its veracity. II Thessalonians has absolutely nothing to say about this nebulous conception of “living transmission” as defined in their catechism.

  326. David Meyer said,

    October 12, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    TFan said:
    “a) Why does it matter what I think? Are not the facts the thing that matters?

    b) Which one of us is right is dependent on which one of us holds an opinion that corresponds to the truth of the matter.

    Is there an attempt here to argue something based on the fact that sometimes Christians make mistakes with respect to understanding the Bible?”

    Yeah, I guess I am arguing that. Because the visible church of sola scriptura will be (is!) absolutely jam-packed with these “mistakes”. It must be, because every diference in doctrine puts a fork in the road where only one branch (or none) can be right. You are understating the gravity of the “mistake”. It is not just a “mistake understanding the Bible”, it is heresy for the one who makes the mistake.

    I thought you were a Reformed Baptist and therefore would agree that the “paedobaptist position is lacking in an abundance of exegetical support”. If you agree with that statement and still remain a Baptist that seems odd to me. Nevertheless, only one side of that issue is correct, and the other is in grave heresy. From there it is usually admitted (for the Protestant) that they are both part of the visible church. So the visible church ends up preaching heresy in this system. (the other guy of course)

    “Is there an attempt here to argue something based on the fact that sometimes Christians make mistakes with respect to understanding the Bible?”

    When the whole measure of orthodoxy is based on my interpretation of scripture then the fact that Spirit filled Christians make mistakes in that interpretation is quite a big deal. It means one can never be sure of holding the orthodox doctrine in that system. After all, the system itself (sola s.) allows for the fact that people make mistakes in interpretation. Therefore it allows for the fact that the visible church will have mutually exclusive doctrines included under the banner of “orthodox”.

    Correct me if I am wrong, but that last sentence just must be true under sola s. Let me ask it as a series of questions:

    Is paedobaptism an orthodox doctrine within the visible church?
    is credobaptism an orthodox doctrine within the visible church?
    Is one of these doctrines false?

    So either orthodoxy is drained of meaning or visible church is. How can this not be so?

  327. steve hays said,

    October 12, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    David Gadbois said,

    “Here we are after 325 posts and we still are left without any identification much less documentation and proof of the existence of Roman Catholic oral tradition.”

    That’s because you’re a godless outsider, David.

    It’s like Free Masonry. Just as you have to become a 33º Mason before they divulge the trade secrets, you have to learn the secret handshake, the countersign, solve a few riddles , take a blood oath, and sacrifice a two-headed frog under a blue moon before The One True Church admits you into the esoteric mysteries of the disciplina arcana.

  328. TurretinFan said,

    October 12, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    DM wrote: “Yeah, I guess I am arguing that. Because the visible church of sola scriptura will be (is!) absolutely jam-packed with these “mistakes”.”

    The mistakes are due to human error, not sola scriptura. But yes, there are lot of mistakes in the visible church. There is no promise from Christ, “You will never make mistakes.”

    DM wrote: “It must be, because every diference in doctrine puts a fork in the road where only one branch (or none) can be right.”

    That’s true of the most tiny differences over the most minute historical or theological details.

    DM wrote: “You are understating the gravity of the “mistake”.”

    You’re overstating the gravity of the mistake. Everybody makes mistakes.

    DM wrote: “It is not just a “mistake understanding the Bible”, it is heresy for the one who makes the mistake.”

    I don’t think that every error with respect to baptism is a damnable heresy, neither do most Presbyterians or most Reformed Baptists.

    DM wrote: “I thought you were a Reformed Baptist and therefore would agree that the “paedobaptist position is lacking in an abundance of exegetical support”. If you agree with that statement and still remain a Baptist that seems odd to me.”

    There’s really no need for this to be about me.

    DM wrote: “Nevertheless, only one side of that issue is correct, and the other is in grave heresy.”

    a) How did you conclude that one of those two sides is in “grave heresy”?
    b) Is “grave heresy” different from “damnable heresy”? If so, in what sense is it grave?

    DM wrote: “From there it is usually admitted (for the Protestant) that they are both part of the visible church. So the visible church ends up preaching heresy in this system. (the other guy of course)”

    I’m not sure why you see this as a distinction between Rome and Reformed churches. Or perhaps you don’t — I’m not sure. I’m really not sure why you’re even bringing this up.

    DM wrote: “When the whole measure of orthodoxy is based on my interpretation of scripture then the fact that Spirit filled Christians make mistakes in that interpretation is quite a big deal.”

    Why?

    DM wrote: “It means one can never be sure of holding the orthodox doctrine in that system.”

    a) That’s why trust in Christ is so necessary. We don’t place any of our trust for our Orthodoxy in ourselves, but entirely in our God.

    b) And you don’t escape your own human fallibility by turning to Rome. First of all, you have to interpret what Rome tells you. Second, your selection of Rome is itself a fallible judgment.

    Thus, again, this doesn’t seem to be a distinction that helps you.

    DM wrote: “After all, the system itself (sola s.) allows for the fact that people make mistakes in interpretation.”

    Every system should make that allowance.

    DM wrote: “Therefore it allows for the fact that the visible church will have mutually exclusive doctrines included under the banner of “orthodox”.”

    That’s the world you’re living in. In the world to come, we’ll have a perfection of knowledge etc. but in this world, the churches are composed of fallible men.

    DM wrote: “Correct me if I am wrong, but that last sentence just must be true under sola s.”

    And it’s also true in every system. It’s true in Romanism – take the debate between the Thomists and the Molinists as an example. Each side proclaims its own orthodoxy, and while each side has been forbidden by the pope from calling the other side heretics, only (at most) one of the two sides can be right. Thus, there are two different opinions under the banner of orthodoxy.

    And what is worse, those are two within the same church, as opposed to being in two different churches, where it would be more understandable.

    DM wrote: “Let me ask it as a series of questions: Is paedobaptism an orthodox doctrine within the visible church? is credobaptism an orthodox doctrine within the visible church? Is one of these doctrines false? So either orthodoxy is drained of meaning or visible church is. How can this not be so?”

    One of the doctrines is right, the other is wrong. If Orthodoxy means “having perfect doctrines” then those who hold to the wrong view are heterodox. The same goes for Thomism and Molinism – and whether the Bible is materially sufficient or not, or whether Purgatory is real place or not. And those are within the same church, not different churches. So, I’m not sure why you’re raising the issue, as it doesn’t seem to highlight anything more than the fact that human beings are fallible.

    The solution to human fallibility is trust in God. Trust Him to give you a sufficient knowledge of Scripture – pray to Him for that knowledge, for He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.

    -TurretinFan

  329. October 12, 2010 at 8:20 pm

    David,

    Let me try to untangle your line of questioning. :)

    Is paedobaptism an orthodox doctrine within the visible church?

    If you mean whether paedobaptism is a biblical doctrine, then YES it is. If we are to define “biblical” as “orthodox”, then again yes to your question.

    is credobaptism an orthodox doctrine within the visible church?

    Yes, credobaptism is a lawful practice. We Presbyterians love to see pagan heads of household receive the sign of the covenant. I think you meant to ask whether credo-only baptism is an orthodox doctrine within the visible church. It is a false doctrine held by many members and elders in the visible church. If you like, it’s an unorthodox doctrine held within the visible church, but hold off on your excitement. You’re operating under a false premise.

    Is one of these doctrines false?

    Yes, the doctrine of credo-only baptism is false.

    So either orthodoxy is drained of meaning or visible church is. How can this not be so?

    You’ve made an enormous leap in reasoning I’m afraid. Not all biblical doctrines define the church; nor are they each a test of orthodoxy in the common sense of the term. Moreover, to move from the orthodoxy of one doctrine to a defining orthodoxy for the institutional church is simply fallacious. The visible church is defined by less than the set of all orthodox doctrines, and the false doctrine of credo-only baptism does not come under the rubric of “test of orthodoxy”. Nor is the rejection of that false doctrine a mark of the true church. Accordingly, your questioning is not germane to the conclusion you would like to draw because orthodoxy as a label and the church as an institution are not defined by the orthodoxy of the single doctrine of infant baptism.

    Ron

  330. David Meyer said,

    October 12, 2010 at 9:48 pm

    TFan:
    Thanks for your straightforward answer. In my lumbering way, I am trying to make my point/ask questions using the baptism issue because it is so practical. It cannot be avoided in any way whatever. The Thomist Molinist debate is not like that. It is by nature a back burner issue (like Arminianism/Calvinism is in many evangelical churches.) But when my wife has a baby, I will be paedo OR creedo, no doubt about it. A choice WILL be made. Defining the mystery of how our will and God’s will interact can come close to the sin of Uzzah. So I suppose a Catholic would say the Holy Spirit doesnt want the Church to define that one.

    Ron said: “the false doctrine of credo-only baptism does not come under the rubric of “test of orthodoxy”.”

    Why not?

    Sorry for straying off topic somewhat. I just approach this from a perspective of “oral tradition is my only option” so I like discussing the other options like sola s. that led me to oral tradition/magisterium. So in that sense I am on topic.

    thanks,

    David M

  331. October 13, 2010 at 6:40 am

    Ron said: “the false doctrine of credo-only baptism does not come under the rubric of “test of orthodoxy”.”

    David replied: Why not?

    David,

    The reason infant baptism is not a test of orthodoxy or a sign of the true church is because the Bible doesn’t make it one and it implies the opposite. Are you willing to say that the Bible makes the practice of infant baptism a test for being a true church? Let me try to explain, even to your shame, what you would like to challenge from your armchair without any biblical precedence whatsoever. Had Israel neglected infant circumcision we are left to believe that she still would have been the visible people of God (to whom Jesus came) even though the infants themselves through parental neglect would have broken covenant. When we apply this principle of continuity to New Testament practice we may safely conclude that although Baptists formally exclude infants from being part of the visible church, they still maintain the mark of inclusion with some degree of biblical truth. Accordingly, the improper neglect of the sign as it pertains to infants is not sufficient to disqualify Baptist communions from being true churches, just as the neglect of infant circumcision would not have kept Israel from being the visible people of God. You see David biblical precedence defines the marks of the true church and certainly not the whims of individual Romanists or Protestants for that matter. Whether there is agreement or not is irrelevant to the question of what the truth is and whether it can be known. TF has labored that particular point with you with much clarity and patience.

    If you are acquainted with your English Bible at all then you know that Saint Paul rebukes arrogant Arminianism in Romans nine, but he doesn’t place his anathema upon it. He reserves God’s anathema for apostasy from the gospel – Galatians one. We may safely conclude thereby that to vehemently deny the gospel is to become no church at all, even a synagogue of Satan, but that there can be Arminian churches of God that embrace the substitutionary death of Christ. So again, it’s the Bible that defines truth for us in general and the truth in particular, and any tradition that would violate the Bible must be judged by the Bible. By grace Protestants are not scared to learn directly from God.

    Ron

  332. David Meyer said,

    October 13, 2010 at 7:19 am

    “the improper neglect of the sign as it pertains to infants is not sufficient to disqualify Baptist communions from being true churches, just as the neglect of infant circumcision would not have kept Israel from being the visible people of God.”

    Wait a minute, that is quite an asumption about Israel. No way is that true. If some segment of Israel decided to do “credo-only circumcision” they would have been booted outside the community for directly disobeying God’s command.

    By your method of determining what will be used as a “test of orthodoxy” a lot slips under the rug. I think Ananias and Sephira would go scot free by your standard. And it is YOUR standard after all. Unless you can show me this method from Scripture of course. (Which according to your method you should be able to do.)

  333. TurretinFan said,

    October 13, 2010 at 7:23 am

    “If some segment of Israel decided to do “credo-only circumcision” they would have been booted outside the community for directly disobeying God’s command.”

    Nearly the whole nation failed to practice infant circumcision during the wandering in the wilderness. The result was the hill of the foreskins mentioned in Joshua 5:3.

    What this has to do with the topic, however, beats me.

  334. October 13, 2010 at 8:49 am

    David,

    You’re simply making it up as you go along. God said to Abraham that if a parent did not circumcise his child, the child has broken covenant. Without any instruction to the contarty, the implication would be that the parent remained within the covenant community. Your whole position is based upon your other remark that disobedience against God’s command to circumcise infants places someone “outside the community”, but that is simply a hasty generalization, without proof no less, with respect to disobedience and how it pertains to covenant standing. Disobedience was ramped in Israel – against explict laws – yet they were still regarded as the people of God. So again, God must define for us which sins of disobedience require excommunication. You’re begging all the crucial questions and your conclusion is that there are no true churches within the baptist tradition.

    RD

  335. michael said,

    October 13, 2010 at 10:13 am

    TF: What this has to do with the topic, however, beats me.

    TF, HA!

    Me either. I have to say though, this is cutting edge! :)

    Oh, ok, but, remember, Jesus was sent to the “lost” sheep of Israel. Once some of them got turned around and began following the Spirit of Grace and Truth, [the True keys of the Kingdom], a lot of new oral traditions began to come into their respective dialectics after the diaspora. Some of these oral traditions were indeed refuted by those who would not repent and start to be led by the Spirit so they too would come into that Holy Communion of the Saints by the Faith once delivered to the Saints.

    It is remarkable when you think about it just how much of a fight those misguided souls put up against the Truth during those days!

    Act 14:4 But the people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews and some with the apostles.

    What seems remarkable to me, even more, is the soundness of the Grace through Faith those earliest Apostles retained within their hearts and minds even during the harshness of the persecution as it is reflected by this verse:

    Act 8:1 And Saul approved of his execution. And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.

    The Word of God is about as unchanging as the God of the Word.

    Onward soldier of Christ, there are many more battles to be fought!

    This battle will bring about the death of these present created heavens and earth, the utter destruction of Satan and his angels and those whose names are not found written in the book of Life!

    Stubbornness is as the sin of witchcraft, a sin mind you, for which Christ died as well!

    Repentance anyone?

    Luk 24:25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!
    Luk 24:26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”
    Luk 24:27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

  336. David Gadbois said,

    October 13, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    Re. #325. We are now at 337 posts and counting. Where’s the beef?

  337. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    October 13, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    Michael Liccione: “But when I explored various religious options as a college student, I eventually became convinced that the fundamental issue was authority. I submit that, if you come to look at the authority question carefully, your faith issues will gradually resolve themselves.”

    Obviously, if the fundamental issue is “Authority”, then if the Authority declares that there is “Oral Tradition”, then one will accept what the Authority has to say about Oral Tradition.

    Ron DiGiacomo: Romanists (and Mormons for that matter) do not submit to Christ’s authority, otherwise they would not add to, subtract from and outright twist His words.”

    Ron makes a direct rebuttal.

    But when I read Dr. Liccione’s analysis and his recap of his earlier college thoughts, I think back upon my college years. And I totally did not think it was a question of “Authority”. Not at all. Didn’t even occupy one microsecond of cpu time.

    For me, the issue was TRUTH.

    Absolute and Objective Truth, by implicit default and without conscious processing, was my True North.

    If something was false or a lie, I tossed it. Rejection! A lie or a falsehood had no “authority” with me.

    So while Michael Liccione was humping along looking for “Authority”, I was seeking and searching for “Truth”.

    He found his Authority while I found the Truth.

    To each his own.

  338. John Bugay said,

    October 13, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    David Gadbois #337: Funny you should ask, “where’s the beef?” Not long ago at Beggars All, we had a discussion about the early papacy (starting with a citation in the Shepherd of Hermas to the effect that the Roman church of about 140 was “presided over” by “presbyters”.)

    After a probably less lengthy discussion over there, the result was still, to ask the Roman Catholics, “Where’s the beef?”

    All I could say was, “it’s a pretty big bun.”

  339. David Meyer said,

    October 14, 2010 at 8:56 am

    Truth Unites… and Divides said in #338 that M. Liccione found authority but he found the Truth.

    Do you really think that this is what M. Liccione meant? Do you think he just *might* be thinking that Authority was the main issue because that would lead to the Truth? Why not deal with his actual point instead of triumphantly proclaiming he was just “humping along looking for authority” while you were looking for… (trumpets blaring…) Truth!

    Why not give other Christians the benefit of the doubt that they are seeking Truth? If you can’t do that it really puts a damper on any real understanding of each other. (I know, I already have a hard time understanding people and don’t need any further hindrances). The “you’re of the devil” (#173) and “you don’t care about Truth” comments on this site are totally unhelpful to any meaningful communication.

    -David M.

  340. John Bugay said,

    October 14, 2010 at 9:54 am

    David Meyer: The “you’re of the devil” (#173) and “you don’t care about Truth” comments on this site are totally unhelpful to any meaningful communication.

    The “satanically conceived” comment is a reference to something that Calvin said in Institutes 4.1.1, and this being a Reformed board, it is definitely something that would make that connection with readers. If you fancied yourself as having been Reformed, and you were not aware of that allusion, that’s your problem.

    If you want “meaningful communication” here, what specifically is it that you would like to communicate? I’ve watched your interactions with Ron D., and other than having communicated your notion that Protestants don’t have genuine unity, you don’t seem at all to have communicated what the purpose of this thread is for discussing.

    TUAD’s point is well taken. If you are “in search of an authority who can tell you what the truth is,” that is not the same thing as a search for the truth. (And your search for the authority comes following a dismissal of the actual “truth” — Scripture — as being the actual authority. So what you find in the wake of that search is going to be a mutated system like the Roman system, which has made a history of trying to convince people that it, itself, is in charge.

    But Rome saying “we’re the authority over the truth” in no way the same thing as having located “actual truth”.

    How many twisted things have you had to believe since becoming Catholic? How many genuine truths of Scripture have you had to force into a box because Rome’s “interpretation” does not give you the same information that Scripture gives you?

  341. TurretinFan said,

    October 14, 2010 at 10:26 am

    “Why not give other Christians the benefit of the doubt that they are seeking Truth?”

    While there may be Christians in the Roman communion, we don’t view their profession of faith as credible. That’s why, for example, we are forbidden to marry or give our daughters in marriage to those in that communion. (see WCF 24:3)

    The reason not to give someone the “benefit of the doubt” is their profession that they are serving Rome. We have to choose between taking them at their word and giving them the benefit of the doubt. The more loving approach is to take them at their word, and to lead them to Christ.

    -TurretinFan

  342. TurretinFan said,

    October 14, 2010 at 10:27 am

    John:

    A point of clarification – while David M. may seem very papally aligned (and his mind may actually be made up) he has not yet been received into Roman communion.

    -TurretinFan

  343. John Bugay said,

    October 14, 2010 at 10:58 am

    Thanks T-fan, I appreciate that clarification.

  344. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    October 14, 2010 at 11:07 am

    David Meyer,

    Can *you* conceive of an authority (both individual and institutional) who did not have the truth?

  345. October 14, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    Re: WCF 24.3

    What I find interesting is that when we look at the historical context of 24.3 in light of the fact that no other Reformed confession forbids marriage to papists, we find that the statement fits the political landscape at the time in England, which was indeed intertwined with the ecclesiastical landscape. Romanism did not legally exist in England yet the wife of Charles 1 (the Queen!) was a card-carrying papist (private masses etc.). The Puritans were obviously concerned about Popery being ushered back into England. The point, however, is that the term “papist” had not only ecclesiastical connotations but political and legal ones as well. Without the political landscape, does the instruction about marrying papists become of no relevance? No doubt, the Confession couches the language in spiritual terms, as that is primary but some might argue that there are no true papists today because the political landscape has changed. I cannot agree, but notwithstanding we do need to be very careful with the instruction of 24.3. We must read the Confession in its historical context.

    At the very least, the rule of the Confession cannot be a universal principle for all times and at all places, otherwise there could have been no Christian marriage in England from 597 to 1532 /3 since the church in England owed its church allegiance to the pope during that period. That point must be dealt with fairly, which I think it can. I don’t think that the Confession in this regard needs to be taken as a universal principle that must be tested against the time that preceded it being penned in order for us to get the correct interpretation. For one reason, the Roman church had changed for the worst in the eyes of the Puritans. There were many churches that had so degenerated in the eyes of the Puritans as to become no churches at all but “synagogues of Satan”. They became no churches, yet for a time under papal rule they were considered true churches. When we couple that conviction with the Puritan view that there is no ordinary possibility of salvation outside the visible church, we can safely conclude that to marry a papist was to marry one who had to be considered an unbeliever (outside the true church), which is clearly forbidden in the Confession

    Lingering questions have to do with whether Trinitarian baptism can be found within a communion that is not a true church. Most Reformed thinkers allow for Roman baptism. Accordingly, they must draw a distinction between an apostate church and a cult, which is fine. But our Confession also teaches that baptism is only to be administered by those lawfully called as a minister of the gospel, which no Roman priest who is true to his ordination vows can possibly be. I believe that presents an enormous problem for Reformed ministers who allow for Roman baptism while wanting to take no exception to the standards. Are we to forbid one to marry all Romanists, yet not require any Romanist to be re-baptized? Other questions that might arise could include should we judge a church by what it preaches or what its doctrinal standards happen to be? What’s worse, a PCUSA church that has the WCF as its standards and outwardly denies the gospel, or a Roman church that has Trent as her standards and doesn’t preach anything but the Trinity? Finally, does the Confession paint all of papal Rome with the same brush or does it suggest that a some (i.e. a percentage) of Roman churches have become no church at all. I think I know what I believe on these matters, and I also think this is very good cigar and scotch stuff.

    Cheers,

    Ron

  346. Bob Suden said,

    October 14, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    Uhh, I think the the question of authority vs. truth is a little confused. They are actually intertwined. Rather the question is, on the basis of what authority does anybody determine what is truth?

    That is to say David M has a point, but it’s pretty much moot if we are then going to appeal to the RC magisterium over and against the perspicuity and sufficiency of Scripture, insist on oral traditions and then, among many other problems with the RCM, be unable to tell us what those OT actually are.

    IOW, if the RC position is not irrational, it is one of a confused and blind faith in an inconsistent authority that professes to believe in Scripture and then openly contradicts it in so many places. That, as opposed to a reasonable faith commanded and taught in Scripture that rests in Christ and his Word alone.

    Believe it or not, I for one am willing to give the RC the benefit of the doubt. But once the RC – or Islam or Mormonism etc. – admit the authority of Scripture or profess to believe it, then all bets are off and that on the basis of the clear and plain statements of Scripture about itself. (Starting with John 1:12, you cannot separate what God has joined together: Christ and Scripture.) Better the pope were to claim to be a Hindu or whatever than to profess faith in Christ and his Word and then essentially deny it by everything else the papacy believes contra or along side Scripture – starting of course, with little papa/satan himself.

  347. michael said,

    October 14, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    Since it is all about “Who” sets the standards and who is called to live with them, how about this for a clear standard that can be judged by observation from those who have already attained to the standard now fully in the process of the sanctification work of the Holy Spirit:

    Tit 3:4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared,
    Tit 3:5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,
    Tit 3:6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,
    Tit 3:7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
    Tit 3:8 The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.
    Tit 3:9 But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.
    Tit 3:10 As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him,
    Tit 3:11 knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.

    The WCF 24 cited by TurrentinFan above is sound and rational wisdom from above!

    However, in this world below ruled temporarily by the devils, Satan being their head master, one’s marriage and one coming to Salvation by the Sanctification work of the Holy Spirit are not always in correct order!

    I am bearing up a friend now with much prayer and exhortations, whose flesh got the best of him and he married outside the Reformed Faith, marrying a Catholic girl. Let me tell you about traditions and oral traditions and four children later! No, you probably have enough burdens of your own to bear!

    Rom 15:1 We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.
    Rom 15:2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.

    What I am coming to love about the WCF is the soundness of reason it guides with in light of the charge Paul gave Titus, here, seeing these verses reflect the same practice:

    Tit 1:5 This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you–
    Tit 1:6 if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination.
    Tit 1:7 For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain,
    Tit 1:8 but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.
    Tit 1:9 He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.
    Tit 1:10 For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party.
    Tit 1:11 They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach.

    One gets a sense that reading the Bible and the WCF is synonymous. Both are sources, the Scriptures head over all, whereby one can bring this sort of marriage into Godly order; only as long as there is mutual goals established for the souls to prosper, be in health as their souls prosper in dignity, by, together. Order for one marriage is not the same as order for another. God saves at will. We who are saved and mature have our own obligations then to care for and equip and edify the immature Saints God brings us together with. After all, we ourselves were not born again fully mature Saints, now were we? :)

    Having been delivered from the RCC, I cannot truthfully say the same with regard to her confessions of faith when they are set side by side with Scriptures!!

    Sola Scriptura anyone?

  348. TurretinFan said,

    October 14, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    Ron:

    I agree that some of the implications are sufficiently intricate as to be good after-dinner conversation.

    -TurretinFan

  349. Reed Here said,

    October 14, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    David, no. 337: last time I checked, Wendy still has it.

  350. D. T. King said,

    October 15, 2010 at 6:14 pm

    I find it remarkable that this thread on oral debate begins with a Romanist simply quoting, with no magisterial exposition, 2 Thessalonians 2:15, by which he appears to be presupposing that the same text is formally sufficient to declare the Romanist position for oral tradition to be valid. The man offers (yes, as the typical Romanist, for typical it is) a proof text that his communion is holding to the traditions transmitted from the Apostle Paul to the church at Thessalonica, and yet when we inquire as to the identity of these alleged traditions, only the same man has ventured to suggest what any of them are, and without any Roman magisterial authority but his own assertions as a lay member of his communion. And after all the exchanges, there is still no authoritative list for these traditions that our Romanist friends insist are binding for all Christians.

    Now, the Romanists have contended time and time for an infallible Roman magisterium to preserve, hold, and transmit these traditions, and yet they cannot so much as identify them according to the binding nature of their own alleged source of ultimate authority, namely the Roman magisterium of the Roman communion. I don’t know how such a claim could be exposed any more clearly for the sham that it is.

    They have shown us the very difficulty that exists within the nature of their own contentions in this thread, and therefore it speaks volumes about their giving lip service to apostolic traditions that, apart from an individual here and there suggesting this or that, cannot be authoritatively identified for the average member of their communion. This cannot escape the criticism of their own apologetic with which they would censor us, viz., they have no authoritative magisterial authority to declare what these traditions are to which they insist we and they must submit.

    In fact, when one seeks to hold them to their own apologetic claim, and inquire after the identification of this alleged infallible list of infallible oral apostolic traditions, that challenge has even been met with mockery and disdain by at least one of their participants. Thus stands this thread of debate after over 350 comments. I don’t know how they could have more clearly demolished their own contention for oral apostolic traditions that they themselves cannot even identify, let alone observe. Maybe we would do just as well, as Reed suggests, to drive through Wendy’s – at least they make a fairly decent hamburger.

  351. Sean said,

    October 15, 2010 at 7:34 pm

    DT King.

    In fact, when one seeks to hold them to their own apologetic claim, and inquire after the identification of this alleged infallible list of infallible oral apostolic traditions.

    It is not the claim that oral tradition = an infallible list.

    I find it odd that some of you guys are celebrating that we could not produce a list of infallible oral doctrines because this is not even what is claimed about oral tradition in the first place.

    I do hope, by the way, that you keep your promise and produce your list of fathers that taught the formal sufficiency of scripture.

  352. D. T. King said,

    October 15, 2010 at 7:48 pm

    I find it odd that some of you guys are celebrating that we could not produce a list of infallible oral doctrines because this is not even what is claimed about oral tradition in the first place.

    Then let’s make it easy for you . . . Identify one, just one as promulgated by the alleged infallible Roman magisterium, just one that can be traced back to the Apostle Paul which he gave to the church at Thessalonica, verifiable with certainty apart from the special pleading of Rome’s apologists. And remember, none of us are interested in your own private judgment as a lay member of the Roman communion.

  353. TurretinFan said,

    October 15, 2010 at 9:45 pm

    Sean wrote:

    It is not the claim that oral tradition = an infallible list.

    No one said it was.

    Sean wrote:

    I find it odd that some of you guys are celebrating that we could not produce a list of infallible oral doctrines because this is not even what is claimed about oral tradition in the first place.

    What is interesting is how slow you guys are to simply come out and admit:

    “We don’t know what the apostles taught orally.”
    “We don’t know what Paul taught the Thessalonians by word of mouth.”
    “We can’t tell you which oral traditions are infallible.”

    Perhaps you realize that once you admit those things your appeal to 2 Thessalonians 2:15 becomes empty. You can’t insist that we hold to doctrines that you can’t identify for us. Moreover, this provides additional evidence that the correct interpretation of 2 Thessalonians 2:15 is a narrow interpretation. Those who actually received teachings from the apostles orally should hold fast to them — but no one alive today falls in that category. Those who received the apostles’ teachings in writing should hold fast to them — that’s all of us.

    Sean wrote:

    I do hope, by the way, that you keep your promise and produce your list of fathers that taught the formal sufficiency of scripture.

    My understanding is that Pastor King plans to provide a response to your request, though it is likely to be in the form of his choosing, not yours, and may or may not be what you want.

    -TurretinFan

  354. Michael said,

    October 16, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    Hi all, I have greatly benefited from this discussion. I am wondering if I could make a suggestion. I know it is off topic, but I believe all would benefit from this topic. Could there be a thread on the history and development of the doctrine of justification? I think it would be helpful for us Protestants to show how our doctrine of justification is continuous with the patristic church. I believe that the men on both sides could contribute to this issue profitably. I hope I am not out of line for suggesting this. If I am please forgive me. I do believe it would be helpful to me and others asking this question.
    Blessings,
    Mike

  355. October 17, 2010 at 9:45 am

    Michael, why would that be helpful? Roman Catholics superficially care about being “continuous” with the early church, but even they all but abandoned that standard with Newman (e.g. consider the “continuity” with the early church on the assumption of Mary).

    I also don’t think it promising that men on both sides could contribute profitably. The depth Roman Catholic lay-apologists bring to this subject is usually to trot out some out of context quote from McGrath’s Iustita Dei, claiming that our doctrine is completely and totally novel in every negative sense of the word.

    Consider, for example, how Sean from this thread did this over at Triablogue:

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2009/12/sola-fide-between-apostles-and.html

    (If you want to view what Sean said without depending on others quoting him, simply click “Post A Comment” and the thread will appear uncensored on the left.)

    In my experience, this is standard operating procedure. I have yet to read a lay-Catholic apologist deal with the complex questions of justification in the early church with anything more than simple denials offered in a spirit of mockery.

  356. Michael said,

    October 17, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    Matthew,
    I am sure they would disagree with that assessment, but that wasn’t so much why I thought it would be helpful. In am aware of the fact that some definitely have a superficial treatment of this question. The reason I think it would be helpful is because it would be nice for us Protestants to show the historical and logical lines of connection between Luther and the patristics on this point. I don’t think anyone would say that Luther taught justification in exactly the same way that they did. So it would be helpful to show exactly how the line of continuity flows. If it is deemed to not be helpful then that’s fine. i am merely making a suggestion.
    Thanks
    Mike

  357. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    October 19, 2010 at 12:32 am

    Oral Tradition

    Excerpts:

    One of the stock objections to sola Scriptura in Catholic apologetics is the claim that oral tradition preceded the composition of the NT. However, orality is not the norm in Scripture. Let’s take a few examples:

    [Numerous OT verses provided.]

    “Not only is the written word chronologically prior to the spoken word, but the written word is causally prior to the spoken word. For the speaker is simply reciting a text–like a speaker who delivers a prepared speech.

    The speaker doesn’t ad lib, then commit his extemporaneous speech to writing. The process is just the reverse. He’s like an actor reciting a script. A mouthpiece.

    Let’s move to the NT:”

    [Numerous NT verses provided]

    Conclusion: “Notice the sustained appeal to the written word. Jesus doesn’t tell John to pass along his message to the churches, by word of mouth. No. Jesus dictates a series of letters to the churches.

    And, of course, John will also commit his visions to writing.”

  358. TurretinFan said,

    October 29, 2010 at 8:06 am

    Pastor King’s comments on Formal Sufficiency, requested here and elsewhere by Sean Patrick, have begun to be posted over on my blog (link to first post in series).

  359. Bob Suden said,

    October 30, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    358

    One of the stock objections to sola Scriptura in Catholic apologetics is the claim that oral tradition preceded the composition of the NT.

    Not sure where you are going TU&D.

    While it is true that oral tradition or the oral word/revelation preceded some, but not all, of the written in the composition of the NT (the Gospels for egs.), it is a non sequitur to insist that since the oral precedes, it also supersedes the written.
    Rather the NT makes it clear that the oral was the basis of and incorporated in the NT. So Jn. 20:31, 1 Thess 2:12.

    So far so good, but the WCF 1:1 says further:

    ALTHOUGH the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence . . . leave men inexcusable; yet they are not sufficient to give that knowledge of God and of His will, which is necessary unto salvation.
    Therefore it pleased the Lord, at sundry times, and in divers manners, to reveal Himself, and to declare that His will unto His Church;c
    and afterwards. . . to commit the same wholly unto writing:
    which maketh the Holy Scripture to be most necessary; former ways of God’s revealing His will unto His people being now ceased.

    There was revelation in the OT before Moses began the process of inscripturation. Indeed before Moses all revelation was unwritten.

    IOW there are two points. One, the oral O/NT revelation doesn’t override the subsequent written O/NT revelation (contra Rome).. But two, neither is it any good to refuse to recognize that oral revelation preceded the written in both O and NT (contra the WCF). Jesus had to speak before it could be written down.


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