From Natural Revelation to Special Revelation

After a rather lengthy hiatus from Scripture studies, I want to come back with some Muller. I want to start with what seemed to me one of the very strongest arguments for the Bible being foundational to the church, rather than the church being foundational to the Bible. I would especially welcome my Roman Catholic readers to respond to this, because Muller doesn’t indicate what the standard Catholic response to this argument is, and I would like to know.

Muller goes to John Owen, in volume 16 of his works, in the work entitled Divine Original, for an argument that moves from general revelation to special revelation in a “how much more” fashion. Owen starts with something that Roman Catholics, Reformed and even Rationalists all agree on: the divine origin of natural revelation “declares itself to be from God by its own light and authority…: without further evidence or reasoning, without the advantage of any considerations but what are by itself supplied, it discovers its author, from whom it is, and in whose name it speaks…common notions are inlaid in the natures of rational creatures by the hand of God, to this end, that they might make a revelation of Him…, are able to plead their own divine original, without the least contribution of strength or assistance from without” (Owen, vol 16, p. 311). Muller’s comment on this: “If such a view of natural revelation is assumed, how much more ought its logic apply to Scripture!” (vol 2, p. 268). Then comes the killer quotation from Owen:


Now, it were very strange, that those low, dark, and obscure principles and means of the revelation of God and his will, which we have mentioned, should be able to evince themselves to be from him, without any external help, assistance, testimony or authority; and that that which is by God himself magnified above them…should lie dead, obscure, and have nothing in itself to reveal its Author, until this or that superadded testimony be called to its assistance (Owen, p. 311, quoted in Muller, pp. 268-269).

The substance of the argument, then, is that if natural revelation is acknowledged to be of divine origin and authority without the support of the church, then why shouldn’t special revelation also be acknowledged to have divine origin and authority without the support of the church, especially since the latter is much clearer than the former, and is given by God a higher priority and authority than natural revelation? Why would God not make natural revelation depend on humanity, but then make a more important revelation depend on humanity? Revelation is of God from first to last. God requires no human crutch to make His revelation authoritative. It is authoritative because of its Divine Author.

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372 Comments

  1. Ron said,

    November 16, 2010 at 8:44 pm

    (1) The substance of the argument, then, is that if natural revelation is acknowledged to be of divine origin and authority without the support of the church, then why shouldn’t special revelation also be acknowledged to have divine origin and authority without the support of the church, especially since the latter is much clearer than the former, and is given by God a higher priority and authority than natural revelation? (2) Why would God not make natural revelation depend on humanity, but then make a more important revelation depend on humanity? Revelation is of God from first to last. God requires no human crutch to make His revelation authoritative. It is authoritative because of its Divine Author.

    I’m not sure the Roman communion is represented accurately and, therefore, fairly here. I hope what I’ve marked as 2 is not supposed to be an elaboration of what I’ve marked as 1 because they seem to be addressing two very distinct matters. The argument seems to move from a question of whether divine authority can be acknowledged apart from the church to one that concerns itself with what Scripture’s authority depends upon. Concerning the latter, does Rome claim that the church makes Scripture authoritative, which is to say does she state that Scripture’s authority “depends” upon the church? If she does, then consistent with that teaching would be the premise that the Scriptures were not authoritative prior to the church receiving the Scriptures as such. I don’t think that is her teaching. There is a distinction of “what is the case” and “what is known to be the case.” It was the case that the word of God was the word of God and at a later time it was believed that …X, Y, Z books were indeed the word of God. And although Rome may like to think that God’s people require an infallible magisterium to discern Scripture from ordinary literature, it doesn’t follow that she must maintain that the Scriptures were not the Scriptures (and consequently intrinsically authoritative) prior to the reception of them by the church. In other words, it is not the position of the Roman communion, at least as far as I can tell, that the word of God became the Word of God upon the church’s say so. Coming at this from another angle, does Rome’s teaching suggest that if the church were gone from the world that the word of God would no longer have the same intrinsic authority as it does with the church in the world? Certainly she believes that heaven and earth may pass away but the word of the Lord must stand forever. Regarding the former, I think there is much more truth here. Even allowing that Rome teaches that men are able to acknowledge (i.e. recognize) the divine voice in Scripture, she in turn presents herself with what would seem to be an irreconcilable dilemma. If the voice of God cannot be understood with full assurance of faith on its own, apart from the church, then how can it be “acknowledged” to be the Word of God on its own authority? What is it after all to recognize an unintelligible voice? Now of course a Roman apologist might say that Rome’s position is that man can understand the Scriptures apart from the church but that if one disagrees with the church then they haven’t understood the Scriptures aright. But that would mean that man can know on his own but never know that he did.

    Ron

  2. David Gadbois said,

    November 16, 2010 at 9:17 pm

    Ron, Rome categorically denies that the Scriptures are self-authenticating. Lane rightly argues that if God speaking through natural revelation is self-authenticating, then God speaking through Scripture in special revelation is likewise self-authenticating. All divine revelation, all of God’s words, are indeed self-authenticating.

  3. D. T. King said,

    November 16, 2010 at 10:03 pm

    Ron asks: …does Rome claim that the church makes Scripture authoritative, which is to say does she state that Scripture’s authority “depends” upon the church? If she does, then consistent with that teaching would be the premise that the Scriptures were not authoritative prior to the church receiving the Scriptures as such. I don’t think that is her teaching.

    Ron,

    The expressions of Rome’s position on this have been inconsistent. In Owen’s day, the answer to your question above would be “yes.” John Eck (1486–1543) stated in writings that “Scripture is not authentic without the Church’s authority.” See John Eck, Enchiridion of Commonplaces: Against Luther and Other Enemies of the Church, trans. Ford Lewis Battles (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979), p. 13. Indeed, he went on to say in the same work to assert “the power of the Church over Scripture.” (Ibid., p. 14).

    Moreover, Cardinal Hosius (Stanislaw Hozjusz, 1504–1579) declared that “the Scriptures have only as much force as the fables of Aesop, if destitute of the authority of the Church.” Latin text: Scripturas valere quantum fabulas Æsopi, si destituantur auctoritate Ecclesiæ. Opera omnia, De Auctoritate Sacra Scripturæ, Liber III (Cologne: Apud Maternum Cholinum, 1584), 1:530.

  4. Ron said,

    November 16, 2010 at 10:54 pm

    Ron, Rome categorically denies that the Scriptures are self-authenticating. Lane rightly argues that if God speaking through natural revelation is self-authenticating, then God speaking through Scripture in special revelation is likewise self-authenticating. All divine revelation, all of God’s words, are indeed self-authenticating.

    David G.,

    1. No doubt, all divine revelation is self-authenticating. I have not disputed that truth.

    2. I never interacted with this idea: “if God speaking through natural revelation is self-authenticating, then God speaking through Scripture in special revelation is likewise self-authenticating.” But again, I agree with these two premise and never disputed them. Natural revelation and special revelation are, of course, self-authenticating (though I wouldn’t write it out in an if-then formulation as if it the authenticating properties of natural revelation should be viewed in terms of it being a sufficient condition for the authenticating properties of special revelation.) But again, I of course agree with the two points and I never disputed them.

    3. Self-authenticating (or self-attesting) pertains to the intrinsic authority of Scripture, which I think we’d be hard press to show that Rome denies. It’s not the denial of Scripture’s authority that Rome undermines but rather the perspicuity of that authority. Moreover, self authentication is not sufficient for persuasion even in Protestant doctrine. Self-authenticating and the efficacious work of the Spirit are sufficient (and necessary) for persuasion. Rome adds to the mix the teaching magisterium, but not for a condition for self-authentication (narrowly considered) but for our believing and embracing the Scriptures as the truth, i.e. our persuasion.

    Ron

  5. Ron said,

    November 16, 2010 at 11:07 pm

    “The expressions of Rome’s position on this have been inconsistent.

    David K.,

    I’m not questioning that per se, allowing of course for all the voices within Rome. My point is that given a view of self-authenticating as I articulated above, which is hardly esoteric (though I think blurred in Calvin, but not in Murray etc.), I have not read in any of Rome’s official teachings that she denies that the Scriptures are authoritative or believes that Scripture’s authority is derivative. That is not to say that her view of the magisterium doesn’t undermine Scripture’s authority, but that’s another matter. I am talking about her docrtrine of Scripture.

    Blessings,

    Ron

  6. Ron said,

    November 17, 2010 at 6:05 am

    Maybe this might helpsclarify things. Lane argued, or so it would seem, that Rome would concede that natural revelation shows itself to all men everywhere to be God’s revelation, yet while denying that Scripture shows itself in the same way, hence the need for the church. My point is that Rome in doing so is not denying the intrinsic authority of Scripture, but rather she denies that God’s revelation in Scripture penetrates in the same way it does in nature, hence the supposed need for the church. By raising the teaching magisterium to the place of divine interpreter, they have not so much challenged Scripture’s authority but rather the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Agreed, that an authority can be cloaked in that way is troublesome to say the least, but as troubling as it is, it doesn’t imply a non-authorative origin of Scripture. At the very least, I’d be interested in seeing where Rome has taught that the word of God became the word of God upon the declaration of certain canonical books. That would be one implication of a denial of the intrinsic authority (self-attestation) of the word of God.

    RWD

  7. greenbaggins said,

    November 17, 2010 at 7:40 am

    Ron, I am fairly certain that Rome’s claims for the church go beyond the perspicuity of Scripture, and extend to the very authority of Scripture itself. They have used phrases in the past like “The church is the foundation for Scripture, and not vice versa.” or words to that effect. Of course, we both agree that Rome denies the perspicuity of Scripture. I am still waiting for a Catholic to comment on this.

  8. The 27th Comrade said,

    November 17, 2010 at 11:09 am

    I believe that this argument for the primacy of Scripture—the argument that we need not justify Scripture by any other means—is the only valid one. It is, of course, not reasonable, and so those who are allergic to simple, child-like faith will have none of it. That includes Roman Catholics and indeed almost all Protestants.

    Every time you pin Roman Catholics on this, saying that if the Scriptures have no authority on their own, then they too do not have any authority, since their theology says the Scriptures set them up, they dare you to show an official document from Rome stating that the Scriptures are not perspicuous (which would damn the “keys of Peter” verse to the level of fabula Æsopi). It is all circular.

    Now, I and those like me, being fideists, have absolutely no problem just accepting Scripture as authoritative, and in that its 66-books shape, maintaining inerrancy, without needing to justify our position by anything more than our simple, blind, gut faith. I am certain that this is what Jesus did. But the Roman Catholics have burnt that particular bridge behind themselves.

  9. Ron said,

    November 17, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    Lane et al.,

    The official teaching of Rome is that both Scripture and tradition is authoritative. However (and it’s a big “however”) because Rome has made tradition the final interpreter of Scripture and because Scripture, being closed, cannot by the nature of the case interpret a living and ongoing tradition – by necessary consequence tradition becomes the ultimate authority over Scripture, rendering the authority of Scripture impotent. In that sense, Scripture is not authoritative and for all intents and purposes has no intrinsic authority. Notwithstanding, and to my original point, Rome would affirm that Scripture is God breathed and, consequently, did not become God’s word at a later time. It is in that (other) sense they may claim that Scripture is intrinsically authoritative, being the very word of God. What they give with one hand regarding the authority of Scripture, they take away with the hand of tradition. Maybe that addresses some of the confusion.

    Finally, Roman apologists will often say that Scripture is not self-attesting, but what they mean by that is that the books of the Bible don’t say “I’m Scripture, place me in the canon”. (By saying Scripture is not self-attesting they are not saying that Scripture does not come with God’s authority or that Scripture’s authority is derivative.) Then, when they launch into the claim that the church must be infallible in order to have cataloged the canon, what they are doing is attributing to the church with respect to the reception of the canonical books what we Protestants attribute to God’s sovereignty and providence. It’s all a mess to be sure.

    Best,

    Ron

  10. The 27th Comrade said,

    November 18, 2010 at 2:37 am

    Certainly, Scripture is not self-attesting. But their requiring something or someone to attest to Divine Revelation being indeed Divine Revelation only bares their discomfort with trusting to faith such matters. That is a bad sign. We should be able to say—due to the simple, blind, gut faith that also tells us of God by natural revelation—that this book is Scripture. We did it, anyway, even according to the Catholics: they say that they only codified the Scripture that was perceived to be so by the Church already. So, indeed, the councils strike me as unnecessary, if (as the Catholics say) they only codify what is already believed to be true.
    By faith we accepted the canon; the authority that declares that we should accept the canon is superfluous. (Not that it matters what makes it into the canon, when people are not sola scriptura.)

  11. David Gadbois said,

    November 18, 2010 at 4:22 am

    Thr 27th, there are no fideists here except yourself. As far as the Reformed tradition goes, fideism is unorthodox.

  12. The 27th Comrade said,

    November 18, 2010 at 6:10 am

    Yes, I know. I am the only fideist here. I did not include you. I am not a Reformed.

  13. Tom Riello said,

    November 18, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    I would say, as a Catholic, the fundamental disagreement lies in the belief that the Church is of human and not divine origin. If one takes the Church as a voluntary association of like-minded people, then, it makes no sense that God would entrust the deposit of the faith to it. The Church is, in the Catholic Church’s reflection, an extension of the Incarnation, in that Christ the Head is united to His Body, the Church. Therefore, the Church is not human in its origin and not merely human in its judgements. I would recommend Bryan’s Cross’ wonderful dialogue with Mike Horton to get a sense of the Church’s engagement with such matters.

  14. D. T. King said,

    November 18, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    I would say, as a Catholic, the fundamental disagreement lies in the belief that the Church is of human and not divine origin.

    Mr Riello, you have offered a straw man premise as the basis for “the fundamental disagreement” between us. Given this kind of reasoning, it’s no wonder that we do indeed have a fundamental disagreement, but not for this reason you’ve offered. Moreover, the divine origin of the church does not necessitate that the mystical body of Christ is the on-going incarnation of Christ. The presence of Christ with and in his people by His Spirit is not an incarnate presence. As the Apostle Paul put it, “So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord.” (2 Cor 5:6)

  15. Tom Riello said,

    November 18, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    Mr. King,

    It would strike me that how a Catholic and Protestant approaches the origin and authority of the Church is not a straw man argument. It seems that it is really at that point that all the other differences flow. I love how the late Father Neuhaus put it, “For the Protestant faith in Christ and then faith in His Church are two different acts. For the Catholic faith in Christ and faith in His Church is one act of faith.” I recommend for your consideration his enjoyable work “Catholic Matters”.

  16. D. T. King said,

    November 18, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    It would strike me that how a Catholic and Protestant approaches the origin and authority of the Church is not a straw man argument.

    Mr. Riello, repeating your assertion does not prove your assertion, and frankly, with all due respect, I could care less what Mr. Neuhaus said or thought.

  17. Tom Riello said,

    November 18, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    Mr. King,

    I really am not sure what you claim I am asserting. I did not think it controversial to say that Catholics understand the Church to be of divine origin with divine authority and that Protestants do not. It would seem that the author of the post, Lane (I presume), agrees with me. What do you think about the Church? Is it the voluntary association of like-minded individuals that agree to bind themselves together or is it divine in origin and authority? Is it’s structure established by Christ or by the vote of human beings?

  18. D. T. King said,

    November 18, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    I really am not sure what you claim I am asserting. I did not think it controversial to say that Catholics understand the Church to be of divine origin with divine authority and that Protestants do not.

    Then you are wrong, and I’ll let Lane speak for himself.

    What do you think about the Church?

    God by His word gave birth to His church. Romanists are always lecturing us on how we misunderstand Romanism, thus is it appropriate for me to point out that you do not understand Protestantism. But if you desire to cling to your caricature, then that’s your business.

    Is it the voluntary association of like-minded individuals that agree to bind themselves together or is it divine in origin and authority?

    Please name one member of the Roman communion, besides an infant or idiot (in the classical sense), who is not a voluntary member associating with like-minded individuals?

    Is it’s structure established by Christ or by the vote of human beings?

    1 Timothy 3:1ff, among other passages, gives us the divine structure of the church, and human beings didn’t vote on that God-given structure. That structure says that the “bishop must be…” while the history of Romanism demonstrates to us that the “bishop need not be…” in terms of what is prerequisite for that office.

    But this thread is not about ecclesiology.

  19. Ron said,

    November 18, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    I did not think it controversial to say that Catholics understand the Church to be of divine origin with divine authority and that Protestants do not….What do you think about the Church? Is it the voluntary association of like-minded individuals that agree to bind themselves together or is it divine in origin and authority? Is it’s structure established by Christ or by the vote of human beings?

    Tom,

    Your musings seem rather simplistic, which might be why you throw around either-or type statements so freely. Protestants consider the church God’s recreation in the world, which is united to its head, Christ. You cannot get much more divine in origin than that. That the church is also comprised of “like-minded individuals that agree to bind themselves together” is not at odds with it being of divine origin, born of the Spirit and in union with Christ. Indeed, it’s a “structure established by Christ” but it is also an organization that implements the “vote of human beings.” Even Rome cast votes, Tom. After all, isn’t the alleged successor of Peter voted into office?

    As for authority, it is God alone and any authority granted to the church is derivative, not original. Now tell me, what do you disagree with?

    Ron

  20. Reed Here said,

    November 18, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    Tom: I find myself quite dumbfounded that you don’t understand why Pastor King is objecting. I find myself further dumbfounded that you would propose such an outlandish error as not controversial.

    The RCC posits a divine origin for the Church, and Protestants do not? Seriously, you want to maintain that? I thought you studied us better than this.

    It is rather ridiculous to be having to give you a “whoa” on such a topic.

  21. Tom Riello said,

    November 18, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    Mr. King,

    How could the issue of ecclesiology not come up? The issue of authority is related to the question of ecclesiology, right? Lane posted about Owen and stated that “if natural revelation is acknowledged to be of divine origin and authority without the support of the church, then why shouldn’t special revelation also be acknowledged to have divine origin and authority without the support of the church.”

    As to answer the question about the faith and a voluntary association of like-mided people, I would say I am such a member. I do not make the faith, I do not decide what is the faith or not of the faith, what is essential or not-essential. I do not get to be the arbiter of the faith. I accept the Church’s faith as something given, as Father Neuhaus so wondrously stated in the aforementioned work. The Church’s Faith precedes my faith, thus, at every Mass it is said to God in prayer, “look not upon our sins but on the faith of Your Church…” In fact, as Augustine so beautifully remarked that in Baptism we are baptized into the Church’s faith.

  22. Tom Riello said,

    November 18, 2010 at 3:29 pm

    Reed,

    It would be great to have you come to the cigar shop for some personal dialogue.

    Is the visible Church’s authority and origin of God such that when the Church speaks with God’s authority?

  23. D. T. King said,

    November 18, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    I do not make the faith, I do not decide what is the faith or not of the faith, what is essential or not-essential. I do not get to be the arbiter of the faith. I accept the Church’s faith as something given, as Father Neuhaus so wondrously stated in the aforementioned work.

    I think I see your point now, but I do not grant it. You made a personal decision to unite with the Roman communion, and to agree with its faith claims, even if you did thereafter check your intellect at the door, whether Mr. Neuhaus wondrously stated it or not.

  24. D. T. King said,

    November 18, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    Salmon stated it more clearly than myself…

    George Salmon: That submission to the Church of Rome rests ultimately on an act of private judgment is unmistakeably evident, when a Romanist tries (as he has no scruple in doing) to make a convert of you . . . What does he ask you to do but to decide that the religion of your fathers is wrong; that the teachers and instructors of your childhood were all wrong; that the clergy to whom you have looked up as best able to guide you are all mistaken . . . Well, if you come to the conclusion to reject all authority which you have reverenced from your childhood, is not that the most audacious exercise of private judgment? But suppose you come to the opposite conclusion, and decide on staying where you were, would not a Romanist have a right to laugh at you, if you said that you were not using your private judgment then; that to change one’s religion indeed is an act of private judgment, but that one who continues in his father’s religion is subject to none of the risks to which every exercise of private judgment is liable? Well, it is absurd to imagine that logic has one rule for Roman Catholics and another for us; that it would be an exercise of private judgment in them to change their religion, but none if they continue in what their religious teachers have told them. George Salmon, The Infallibility of the Church (London: Sherratt and Hughes, reprinted 1923), pp. 48-49.

  25. John Bugay said,

    November 18, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    The equivocation, or the potential for equivocation, when someone like Tom Riello enters a site like this one, is incredible.

    The very first thing that should be done, especially by someone like Tom Riello, who is going to be spouting off how wonderful his religion is, is to merely state his definitions for these words that he is using as a Roman Catholic, which is by far in some cases different from how Reformed use these.

    Look at Tom Riello’s simple, but not-so-simple statement:

    I accept the Church’s faith as something given, …. The Church’s Faith precedes my faith, thus, at every Mass it is said to God in prayer, “look not upon our sins but on the faith of Your Church…”

    For Tom to come here, and use these words in his own sense, without bothering to (a) provide some kind of disclaimer that he is changing the language, and (b) to fail to note the nuance of meaning he’s assigning to them, that Reformed folks don’t, is almost criminal.

    “The Church”
    “The Church’s faith”
    “my faith”
    “our sins”
    “the faith of Your Church”

    This is such a fundamental issue — and Tom Riello, if you are going to come here, to a Reformed discussion and have a simple discussion, it is incumbent upon you to define these terms, and argue for them, rather than just to assume you’re right about them.

    There is a reason why Roman Catholics think they need “an interpreter.” The very language that they use is loaded.

  26. sean said,

    November 18, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    I am on blackberry so pardon any typos.

    In defense of Tom, in several of his comments he has offered sources for further reading on the point he is discussing: Cross/Horton debate and Neuhaus.

    Therefore, John, your calling him ‘criminal’ for not defining his terms enough to satisfy you is lost on us.

    If you want clarification on what one means than better to ask for clarification rather than just call that person names.

  27. Ron said,

    November 18, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    “Is the visible Church’s authority and origin of God such that when the Church speaks with God’s authority?”

    Tom,

    When the preacher preaches God’s truth found in Scripture we are to receive it as the very word of God. That’s just one sense in which the church speaks with God’s authority. (It also does so when it pronounces censures that are in accordance with God’s word.)

    Note the WLC on preaching:

    Question 160 (WLC): What is required of those that hear the Word preached?

    Answer: It is required of those that hear the Word preached, that they attend upon it with diligence, preparation, and prayer; examine: What they hear by the Scriptures; receive the truth with faith, love, meekness, and readiness of mind, as the Word of God; meditate, and confer of it; hide it in their hearts, and bring forth the fruit of it in their lives.

    —-

    Now then, if the priest preaches something false, are you to receive it as the very word of God? Obviously not, but how can you distinguish between truth and error given your views? You may not judge by the Spirit whether the text that is being preached is a reflection of the truth. At best, by your own standards you can only think you know whether that which has been preached is consistent with your subjective opinion of what the Roman communion teaches. Even if you think what you just heard is consistent with the Romanism, the text itself could have been mutilated by the priest.

    Ron

  28. greenbaggins said,

    November 18, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    Tom, I agree with you that ecclesiology is related to the topic. However, you seemed to have stopped there, rather than relate how the question of ecclesiology is joined to the question about authority. I would agree one hundred percent that the church is divine in origin: how else could the church have survived all these centuries? But I am puzzled as to how that relates to the question in the post, which is this: if the church’s authority is not needed to support natural revelation, then why is it needed to support special revelation? That’s the particular question at issue.

  29. Brian said,

    November 18, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    You guys make is sound as if Tom is shoving this stuff down your throats. The author says he’d welcome Catholic responses to this, then Tom responds and it becomes clear that his response isn’t welcome after all.

    Ron says, “What they give with one hand regarding the authority of Scripture, they take away with the hand of tradition.” Could we say of protestantism that “What they give with one hand regarding the authority of Scripture, they take away with the hand of interpretation”? Bugay says that RC’s think they need an interpreter. First, as a Catholic, I’d actually say thank God we have an interpreter. On the contrary, the messiness of protestanism largely results from lack of an interpretive authority.

    For clarification, a RC doesn’t need an interpretive authority always and everywhere. We can read the Bible much like you, for personal edification and pricking of one’s spirit. God speaks to us privately through scriptures, and he speaks to his Church corporately through scriptures.

    Yes, like Tom I made the decision to unite with the Roman comminion, but more striking is that I made the decision to SUBMIT to her teaching authority.

    D.T. King: You mentioned the 1 Tim scripture that says a “bishop must be…” . Your church got bishops? If not, does that pose a problem? May God bless gents.

  30. greenbaggins said,

    November 18, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    I am personally welcoming comments directed at the particular point at issue, Brian. I have approved your comment and all. However, neither you nor Tom have actually addressed the point at issue.

    As a side note, are you claiming that Roman Catholic interpretation of Scripture is more monolithic than Protestant interpretation? You claim that Protestantism is messy. I’m not so sure that Catholicism is not messy also.

  31. D. T. King said,

    November 18, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    Ron said: Now then, if the priest preaches something false, are you to receive it as the very word of God?

    I could not agree more. Given Mr. Riello’s paradigm, no Christian can make conscience of a passage like Test all things; hold fast what is good. (1Thess 5:21).

    Given Mr. Riello’s paradigm, no believer can make conscience of Ambrose’s instructions…

    Ambrose (c. 339-97) commenting on ‘And whatsoever house ye enter into, there abide.’ (Lk. 9:4): So the faith of the Church must be sought first and foremost; if Christ is to dwell therein, it is undoubtedly to be chosen. But lest an unbelieving people or heretical teacher disfigure its habitation, it is enjoined that the fellowship of heretics be avoided and the synagogue shunned. The dust is to be shaken off your feet [cf. St. Luke 9:5], lest when the drynesses of barren unbelief crumble the sole of your mind it is stained as if by a dry and sandy soil. For a preacher of the Gospel must take upon himself the bodily weaknesses of a faithful people, so to speak, and lift up and remove from his own soles the worthless actions like to dust, according as it is written: “Who is weak, and I am not weak?” [II Corinthians 11:29]. Thus, any Church which rejects faith and does not possess the foundations of Apostolic preaching is to be abandoned, lest it be able to bespatter some stain of unbelief. This the Apostle also clearly affirmed, saying, “A man that is an heretic after the first admonition reject” [Titus 3:10]. Saint Ambrose of Milan, Exposition of the Holy Gospel according to Saint Luke, trans. Theodosia Tomkinson (Etna: Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies, 1998), Book VI, §68, pp. 216-217.
    Latin text: Fides igitur imprimis Ecclesiae quaerenda mandatur, in qua si Christus habitator sit, haud dubie sit legenda. Sin vero perfidus populus, aut praeceptor haereticus deformet habitaculum, vitanda haereticorum communio, fugienda Synagoga censetur. Excutiendus pedum pulvis, ne fatiscentibus perfidiae sterilis siccitatibus, tamquam humi arido arenosoque mentis tuae vestigium polluatur. Nam sicut corporeas infirmitates populi fidelis suscipere in se debet Evangelii praedicator, et tamquam propriis inania gesta pulveri comparanda, allevare atque abolere vestigiis, juxta quod scriptum est: Quis infirmatur, et ego non infirmor (II Cor. XI, 29)? Ita si qua est Ecclesia quae fidem respuat, nec apostolicae praedicationis fundamenta possideat; ne quam labem perfidiae possit aspergere, deserenda est. Quod Apostolus quoque evidenter asseruit dicens: Hoereticum hominem post unam . . . . correptionem devita (Tit. III, 10). Expositio Evangelii secundum Lucam, 6.68, PL 15:1686.

  32. D. T. King said,

    November 18, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    D.T. King: You mentioned the 1 Tim scripture that says a “bishop must be…” . Your church got bishops? If not, does that pose a problem? May God bless gents.

    Of course we do, like the NT authors, we follow their equating of bishops with presbyters, who occupy the same office. Again, this demonstrates to us that members of the Roman communion do not understand Reformed ecclesiology.

  33. Ron said,

    November 18, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    “For clarification, a RC doesn’t need an interpretive authority always and everywhere. We can read the Bible much like you, for personal edification and pricking of one’s spirit. God speaks to us privately through scriptures, and he speaks to his Church corporately through scriptures.

    Brian, if Rome teaches something contrary to what God speaks to you “privately through Scripture” what would you do? You will of course say that your interpretation must have been wrong and that God did not really speak. You would ask yourself in other words that question of old, “Did God say?” Consequently, your precommitment to Rome prohibits you from a loyal commitment to God’s word. To this you say: “First, as a Catholic, I’d actually say thank God we have an interpreter.” Brian, Brian, Brian…that’s very poor procedure. (The Mormons do the same sort of thing by the way, as do the JW’s and all the other cults that practice mind control, but I guess you already knew that.

    Ron

  34. Brian said,

    November 18, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    DT King,
    “Of course we do, like the NT authors, we follow their equating of bishops with presbyters, who occupy the same office. Again, this demonstrates to us that members of the Roman communion do not understand Reformed ecclesiology.”
    I’m new to the blog, so I didn’t know that you are… whatever you are… Presbyterian I suppose since you mention presbyters. So, as Andy told Ernest T. Bass… you’re not stupid, you’re just ignorant (refering to myself here). Man, you guys have a hair trigger when it comes to pouncing on folks. Makes sincere dialogue a bit challenging.
    Green Baggins:
    “As a side note, are you claiming that Roman Catholic interpretation of Scripture is more monolithic than Protestant interpretation? You claim that Protestantism is messy. I’m not so sure that Catholicism is not messy also.”
    Sure, Catholicism has lots of messiness, but yes, Catholicism is waaaay more monolithic. Let’s take homosexuality, or contraception, or abortion, or any number of things. In matters of moral proclamation, whether one agrees or disagrees, one surely knows where the RCC stands and what she teaches. Protestantism is squishy and mailiable on these, depending on the denomination.

  35. D. T. King said,

    November 18, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    I’m new to the blog, so I didn’t know that you are… whatever you are… Presbyterian I suppose since you mention presbyters. So, as Andy told Ernest T. Bass… you’re not stupid, you’re just ignorant (refering to myself here). Man, you guys have a hair trigger when it comes to pouncing on folks. Makes sincere dialogue a bit challenging.

    Talk about thin skin! You certainly don’t take kindly to correction. I suggest you cultivate a little rhino hide instead of taking offense so easily and trying to vilify those with whom you disagree. No one is pouncing on anyone.

  36. Ron said,

    November 18, 2010 at 10:33 pm

    “…Catholicism is waaaay more monolithic. Let’s take homosexuality, or contraception, or abortion, or any number of things. In matters of moral proclamation, whether one agrees or disagrees, one surely knows where the RCC stands and what she teaches.

    Brian,

    Now that’s something we can agree on. One certainly does know where the RCC stands on homosexuality. As you say, she is quite “monolithic” on that one. http://www.bishop-accountability.org/

    Ron

  37. Brian said,

    November 19, 2010 at 8:39 am

    Green Baggins
    I am personally welcoming comments directed at the particular point at issue, Brian. I have approved your comment and all.

    Yes, thank you. I wasn’t referring to you when I mentioned Tom’s comments didn’t seem welcome.

  38. Ron said,

    November 19, 2010 at 9:59 am

    Brian,

    It’s not as if Tom has gotten a minor point wrong here and there. Tom continues to parade his utter lack of appreciation for the position he thinks he disdains. Given that context, what would it look like to “welcome” Tom’s comments? One Protestant minister noted that Tom had erected and beat up on a straw man and another Protestant minister voiced that he was dumbfounded by Tom’s assertions. Won’t you grant any latitude to these men of God as they deal with the silliness of Tom’s posts? My posts (19 and 27) I stand by as well.

    Best wishes,

    Ron

  39. Tom Riello said,

    November 19, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    Ron,

    What silliness? That you don’t agree with it, I can go with that. I will stand by what I said: in the post it is suggested very strongly that if special revelation is entrusted to the Church it is entrusting it to mere human beings: “Why would God not make natural revelation depend on humanity, but then make a more important revelation depend on humanity?” What does that quote mean? Please tell me? This is a fundamental difference between us: we do not see entrusting divine revelation to the Church as a dependence upon humanity but rather as the divinely instituted, given authority established by Christ. When the Church speaks, she has the authority of Christ. To entrust the defining and interpreting of doctrine to the Church is NOT to entrust it to humanity.

    To answer what Lane asked earlier about “if the church’s authority is not needed to support natural revelation, then why is it needed to support special revelation?” First, who is to say that the Church’s authority is not needed to support natural revelation? How about where special revelation is silent, for example, contraception or even cloning, but the natural law together with the divinely given authority of the Church is able to define dogmatically a teaching of the faith, much like Pope Paul VI in Humane Vitae, “This kind of question requires from the teaching authority of the Church a new and deeper reflection on the principles of the moral teaching on marriage—a teaching which is based on the natural law as illuminated and enriched by divine Revelation. No member of the faithful could possibly deny that the Church is competent in her magisterium to interpret the natural moral law” (#4).

    Also, if we concede the point about Natural revelation, for the sake of discussion, I don’t see how this would be relevant to the necessity of the Church to support, interpret and define the special revelation. The supernatural revelation is of greater importance as the matter of special revelation concerns special truths that man must know pertaining to his salvation (St. Thomas Article 1 of the Summa). Therefore, since it is of greater importance we should expect that God, in order to ensure that the revelation be correctly taught interpreted, would be provide the Church and endow the Church with His authority and protect her from teaching contrary to God’s revelation. I recommend for your reading articles by Bryan Cross on St. Thomas Aquinas at the Called to Communion website. The fact is, I am the Mario Mendoza of the Called to Communion team and Bryan’s work is simply better than what I can offer as it relates to St. Thomas.

    One of the contributors here, Reed, lives in my town, Montgomery, Alabama. I would much appreciate the honor if he would join Brian, me and others for a nice discussion at a local cigar shop. I can assure you, Ron (and John), when we gather for these events nobody accuses the other of engaging in criminal behavior, or silliness or whatever else gets expressed through the medium of the internet. I enjoy discussing such important matters and I recognize the importance of them and yearn for unity. However, I do not assume the worst of think the worst of those I disagree with.

  40. Reed Here said,

    November 19, 2010 at 6:40 pm

    Tom, thank you for your multiple invites via email. I’ve graciously declined for a number of reasons that I’d rather have kept private. Yet since you’ve reiterated the invite twice in public now, I think I have no choice but to respond publicly. I mean no unnecessary offense in the following explanation.

    I’ve declined your offer for two reasons, one essential and the other incidental. The essential reason is based on my assessment of my current obligations to God for the use of my time.

    I am pastoring a small struggling church seeking to be restored from the weaknesses common in the Evangelical church for the last 50-60 years. As such, I routinely put in 60 hour weeks (occasionally 70-80) and still do not have enough time to get everything done.

    In addition I have five children at home, three in the junior-senior high range. For the senior high in particular this means that I oversee almost all their school work.

    In addition I’m routinely seeking to reach neighbors who either do not know Christ or whose profession seems weak in terms of the evidence of the Spirit in their lives.

    In addition I regularly give some time to the homeless shelter on the west side of our city, preaching the gospel for them (an actual honor to me).

    In addition I am teaching beginner’s Greek at a local Christian school.

    After all these I get to consider all the other opportunities to spend my time on. On the surface, being invited to discuss religion with y’all might seem like a great witnessing opportunity for me. Yet I’m persuaded otherwise. Here is why:

    > I believe y’all are apostates. Now, I’m not saying that folks can’t find Christ in the RCC. I am saying that y’all (Called to Communion crowd) knowingly and with understanding left the reformed faith for the RCC. Since I am persuaded (ala Spurgeon) that the reformed faith is simply another label for the faith taught in the Bible, by conviction I necessarily believe you left the truth for a lie.

    > Given the way y’all engage here in these discussions, I do not expect the conversation at the cigar shop will be all that different. You misread and mischaracterize the reformed position time and time again. It may be that you are just ignorant. However, given the background some of you have, I am doubtful of that. Instead I think y’all seem to read everything thing we say through your system, and find it logically insufficient on that basis. I admit some on our side are wont to do the same. Yet y’all are amazing consistent at it.

    > Given that, I expect my time spent at the cigar shop would be nothing more than polemical apologetics – on both sides. Now, there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, I kind of enjoy it. Yet given what I see as your apostate status, and the warnings in Scripture about engaging such men, I hesistate to prioritize taking up your invitation as a wise use of what little time I have available to me.

    Please do not take offense at what I’ve said here. I do not expect your opinion of my beliefs is as stark and bad as I’ve expressed of yours. I do expect you are at least as equally persuaded of my error as I am of yours.

    My second reason for declining your invite is that tobacco smoke almost immediately makes me sick (nauseua and headache). I’m not opposed to others’ smoking, and relish the environment (assuming there is a good draft to occupy my hand as I wil not be holding a cigar). Yet I do need the availability of some ventilations that is usually not available in your average smoke filled pub. :-)

    Having said all this I do want to stress that I have been and continue to be grateful for the invite. I am glad we are fellow Montgomerians and would indeed value some face to face time. Yet given the prioritites of my life, and what I expect would be the use of my time with y’all, I just can’t in good conscience say yes … yet.

    Please, by all means, continue inviting me. I do promise to prayerfully seek my way to accept the same at some point in the future.

    Again, pLease do not let my frankness be opportunity for taking offense. I mean nothing untowrd.

  41. Tom Riello said,

    November 19, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    Reed,

    I appreciate your honesty and I apologize for giving the impression that you will not meet with us. My intention, which I should have made more clear, is that the internet venue sometimes allows for people to assume the worst about people, their motives etc… (e.g. Bryan is attacked for not really wanting unity etc…). I wanted to make the point that face to face conversation is always best and a group of us do just that (PCA, RCC, Luth, Angl, non-denom etc…) without anyone accusing the other of ulterior motives, or name calling, or disparaging remarks about character.

    Your labeling me an Apostate is NOT name calling, it is an honest, heart felt belief that you hold and given your beliefs I respect that you would believe that. I accept that and respect that and most of appreciate you caring for me enough to say it. As for time, I too often feel pressed in. That is why I am sometimes online and most times not (I have to budget time). I teach six classes a day, two evenings a week and prep, and more importantly am the father of six, which brings me more joy living out my vocation as a married man.

    As to labeling us at CtC apostates, I do have to quibble with the use of the term “apostate”. An Apostate is someone who, it seems, has lost faith in Jesus Christ as the eternal Son of God, and the only hope for salvation in the world. As a dear friend of mine, a local priest, once told a local Protestant Pastor at an event, “find me anywhere in the Catholic Catechism where it says I am saved by anyone or anything other than Jesus Christ and I’ll leave tomorrow.” Now, I do think I am certainly a heretic according to the Reformed and Presbyterian tradition and I am not bothered by that in the least. Of course, I wear that as a badge of honor, in that I believe that the Catholic Church is the Church, as Father Neuhaus so beautifully used to say, we mean when we say “Church.” I believe it is the Church intended and established by Jesus Christ and for me to refuse to enter Her would be grave sin on my part and a lack of faith in Jesus Christ. I too, as a Catholic, would see your position as a heretic and as schismatic in an objective sense. As to the subjective sense, you may just be ignorant of what the Church really teaches, there may be other circumstances such as poor catechesis, bad witness, whatever, that led you out of the Catholic Church. I do not pretend to be able to say you are subjectively guilty of sin in this matter, all the while affirm, that in the objective sense you have embraced heresy and schism.

    Again, I took no offense, and do pray that maybe one day we could get together for a coffee. I do ask your forgiveness for my insensitivity to making it seem like you are avoiding us.

    Truly,
    Tom

  42. Brian said,

    November 19, 2010 at 7:52 pm

    Reformed gents,

    Serious question: Where does one draw the line with regard to association with Catholics? For example, I know MacArthur strenuously makes the point there should be no association with Catholics. Then, I wonder, why is it acceptable to associate in writing via electronic format, but not acceptable to be friends in person? What about snail mail correspondence? What about phone conversations? Skype? Where’s the line? What if one of your kids was buddies with one of Tom’s kids, and was invited to a birthday party at a pizza place? Would you prohibit this, or would you show up and exchange pleasantries nontheless? I’m sincerely curious. Or, perhaps I’m totally misconstruing Reed’s comments (which is likely given that I’m on the tail end of a long work day & week). God’s peace.

  43. Ron said,

    November 19, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    “What silliness?

    Tom,

    Your question underscores my point. The silliness that I referred to is the same sort of silliness that your last post demonstrates in spades. It has to do with your apparent inability or unwillingness (you choose) to understand (let alone interact with) what anyone is ever talking about. You erect straw men only to knock them down. Then when it is pointed out to you how you can’t be taken seriously because you habitually misrepresent the position you think you disdain, rather than deal with the objections and corrections, you simply ignore them only to say something even more indicative of your understanding, like “what silliness?”

    “That you don’t agree with it, I can go with that….”

    That’s just another fine example of what you have yet to grasp. We can’t even agree in the most basic terms on the position you think you disdain. Go back and actually read the thread, Tom. Go back and see why Reed and DTK took you to task for your absurd caricatures. Go back and see if you interacted with their points, let alone my two posts to you.

    I harbor no ill feelings toward you, Tom. I sincerely pity you.

    In His grace,

    Ron

  44. Ron said,

    November 19, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    Better formatting here:

    “What silliness?

    Tom,

    Your question underscores my point. The silliness that I referred to is the same sort of silliness that your last post demonstrates in spades. It has to do with your apparent inability or unwillingness (you choose) to understand (let alone interact with) what anyone is ever talking about. You erect straw men only to knock them down. Then when it is pointed out to you how you can’t be taken seriously because you habitually misrepresent the position you think you disdain, rather than deal with the objections and corrections, you simply ignore them only to say something even more indicative of your understanding, like “what silliness?”

    “That you don’t agree with it, I can go with that….”

    That’s just another fine example of what you have yet to grasp. We can’t even agree in the most basic terms on the position you think you disdain. Go back and actually read the thread, Tom. Go back and see why Reed and DTK took you to task for your absurd caricatures. Go back and see if you interacted with their points, let alone my two posts to you.

    I harbor no ill feelings toward you, Tom. I sincerely pity you.

    In His grace,

    Ron

  45. Ron said,

    November 19, 2010 at 8:46 pm

    “Serious question: Where does one draw the line with regard to association with Catholics? For example, I know MacArthur strenuously makes the point there should be no association with Catholics.

    Brian,

    That’s simply not true. He was my wife’s pastor for years and I am quite familiar with his ministry. Grace Community has a great outreach to Romanists given the Mexican population in So. Cal. He will not yoke with Romanists in ministry, obviously, but he will try to win them to the Lord.

    The bottom line is, there is a differnce bewtween the Judaizers and those who are being bewitched. Brian Cross, for instance, is in my estimation an outright enemy of the cross of Christ and his ministry aims to make others twice the child as hell has he appears to be. Then there are the baby papists, like Sean, who are Brian’s in training. Then there are those who are culture Romanists. I can go and on but you get the point. We don’t paint with a broad brush. It’s not a one size fits all mindset.

    In the bonds of Christ,

    Ron

  46. Andrew McCallum said,

    November 20, 2010 at 6:05 am

    Tom – I may have missed your retraction, and if so I apologize, but when you say in #39 that, “I will stand by what I said…,” do you mean that you will not back off your assertion that Protestants don’t believe that the Church is of divine origin? If so, do you appreciate the fact that you have ended any possibility of dialogue? If we cannot convince you of what we believe then there is no point in proceeding to any comparison of what our respective communions believe.

    Brian said: Catholicism is waaaay more monolithic. Let’s take homosexuality, or contraception, or abortion, or any number of things. In matters of moral proclamation, whether one agrees or disagrees, one surely knows where the RCC stands and what she teaches. Protestantism is squishy and mailiable on these, depending on the denomination.

    Brian – All of us Protestants know lots of Catholics, and very few of them are conservatives of the stripe of the folks at CTC. The difference between what Catholics believe and what Protestants believe concerning issues of homosexuality, abortion, etc is nil from what I can see. Now, when I say this at CTC I’m told that the Catholics at CTC are the orthodox ones and all other Catholics who disagree with them are in error (at least on the aforementioned issues). Now of course there is a reason why they think they are the orthodox Catholics but the reasons for this belief are at the core of our differences and cannot be used as assumptions to prove that they are indeed the orthodox ones.

    There is a Nov. 6 posting at Greenbaggins which you might find interesting. You will find in this post a link to an interview by a conservative Catholic turned Protestant. In the interview he notes that Catholicism is often thought of as the Hinduism of the West since it can absorb such a great many belief systems. To us Protestants this just gets right to the heart of the matter. Catholicism has this amazing chameleon-like ability to take on the philosophical and cultural trappings of whatever environment it finds itself in. So not surprisingly, in modern liberal democracies we find all sorts of Catholics (in good standing with the RCC mind you) who defend abortion, homosexuality, etc. And who is to say that they are wrong and you are right given the tradition of the RCC? Of course you would appeal to the we-have-Peter-as-our-Father sorts of arguments, but these are of course something that we have not begun to concede. Catholicism is to us what Catholicism practices rather than the theological system of a relatively small band of conservative Catholics.

  47. Andrew McCallum said,

    November 20, 2010 at 6:13 am

    And who is to say that they are wrong and you are right given the tradition of the RCC?

    Hmmm…, wish I could edit comments, this is not what I meant. OK, let me rephrase this to “And who is to say that they are wrong and you are right given the latitude of tolerated practices within the RCC?” Think that’s better….

  48. Brian said,

    November 20, 2010 at 6:41 am

    Ron,

    You may be right… maybe it’s Sproul rather than MacArthur. At any rate, I’ve heard talks from well known fellows saying such. Sorry I don’t recall correctly.

    Andrew,

    You miss my point and make my point at the same time. You miss the point because there’s a clear distinction between official Church teaching and the behavior of fallen, sinful Catholics. You make the point because despite all of these fallen, sinful Catholics NOT living out what the Church teaches, it still remains that it’s very clear WHAT the Catholic Church teaches regarding these moral issues. The Church cannot teach error, so you’ll never hear the official Church teaching as saying that homosexuality isn’t a sin, or abortion, etc. (Despite what her depraved, fallen members do/say.) That’s very comforting and reassuring… to know that it’ll never, ever, happen. She keeps our eyes fixed on what is good, and that to which we should strive toward.

  49. David Gadbois said,

    November 20, 2010 at 7:24 am

    Brian said You make the point because despite all of these fallen, sinful Catholics NOT living out what the Church teaches, it still remains that it’s very clear WHAT the Catholic Church teaches regarding these moral issues.

    The good news for these sinful Catholics is that they don’t have to worry about ever actually being excommunicated for either their “unorthodox” beliefs or openly sinful lifestyles. Indeed, if they are learned they stand a fair shot at being appointed to the Pontifical Biblical Commission. The point is that all of the supposed wondrous advantages of having a top-down, hierarchical teaching authority that is infallible doesn’t have much cash value if one takes even a cursory glance at reality.

  50. Andrew McCallum said,

    November 20, 2010 at 8:04 am

    You make the point because despite all of these fallen, sinful Catholics NOT living out what the Church teaches, it still remains that it’s very clear WHAT the Catholic Church teaches regarding these moral issues.

    No Brian, my point stands. What you are telling us above is that your relatively small group of conservative Catholics (those who you understand those who follow “what the Church teaches”) are the orthodox ones. Yes, I understand that you believe that the Catholic folks you hang out with are the orthodox ones and all other Catholics are not. What I’m trying to get you to do is look at it from our perspective rather than yours. You judge other Catholics of different persuasions by the what the current pope and the current bishops decide is true, right? But we don’t accept such an authority so we cannot make such judgments on your brand of Catholicism vs other brands. You are all just Catholics to us. And for us Catholicism is what Catholicism does, and Catholicism does a great many things and absorbs a great many belief systems.

    Appeals to the unity of Catholicism are really just appeals to the common administration of Rome and perhaps a common liturgy. This is the sum total of Roman Catholic unity. As far as a unity of belief, even over the most basic aspects of Christian theology and practice, there is no more unity in Catholicism than there is in Protestantism.

  51. Sean said,

    November 20, 2010 at 8:39 am

    No Brian, my point stands. What you are telling us above is that your relatively small group of conservative Catholics

    Since we are pointing out silly comments…

    There are over a billion Catholics in the world Andrew. All of the PCA could fit into talladega motor speedway. Compared to the PCA, their may be more viewpoints than we’d find in the PCA but that is just a numbers issue. Compared to Westboro Baptist Church the PCA is not united on things.

    Further, you act as if orthodox Catholics are the minority. I beg to differ. My parish is packed with orthodox Catholics. Not many of them post on Reformed blogs though!

  52. Sean said,

    November 20, 2010 at 8:40 am

    pardon grammar/spelling…got my hands full with kids today

  53. Sean said,

    November 20, 2010 at 8:42 am

    Lastly – ahem, we are not claiming that all Catholics perfectly unite themselves to the teaching of the church so really this is a straw man.

  54. Brian said,

    November 20, 2010 at 8:43 am

    Andrew,

    As for excommunication, it can occur automatically in cases of grave sin. I wouldn’t take communion when in a state of grave sin, and am in a sense, not in communion with the Church until reconciled thru confession.

    I see what you’re saying about looking at the Church from your perspective. You see sinful folks, not on the same sheet of music, moving through life in disparate ways that seem out of accord with what the “orthodox” Catholics claim is the magisterial teaching. I get that. Regardless, of whether the Church body is orthodox or not, is living out the Church’s teaching or not, or is in rebellion or in full communion with one another and with Christ, the fact still remains that we can rest in the fact that official Church moral teachings will not include error. You’ll never pick up the RCC catechism and find that the Church has reversed course on afformentioned sins. Corrupt popes can’t/won’t change that fact, perverted priests won’t change that fact, and my disgusting personal sin that pollutes my life in Christ won’t change that. The Church has set the bar, and so as one who puts my faith in Christ, I strive for that which she tells me is worthwhile, and I try to avoid that which she tells me is sinful. Don’t always do that worth a flip, but praise God that he shows us the way through this unwaivering, unerring, institution. In this, he remains faithful to his people, though his people may act as harlots and adulterers.

  55. Ron said,

    November 20, 2010 at 9:07 am

    “You may be right… maybe it’s Sproul rather than MacArthur. At any rate, I’ve heard talks from well known fellows saying such. Sorry I don’t recall correctly.

    No Brian, it’s not Sproul either. Please be more careful. It’s my guess that you’ve probably misunderstood the person, whoever he is. Evangelicals do not disassociate themselves from Romanists anymore than from Jews or Hindus. It’s the outright disorderly we are not to keep company with and even that has to be qualified to some extent. We’d have to leave this world if we couldn’t associate with non-Christians including many Romanists. Many evangelicals won’t labor in the Lord with Romanists, but that’s not to say that we won’t have anything to do with them. Please don’t come back with “I think it might have been Horton.” You don’t remember the person and you probably don’t remember what he said.

    Ron

  56. Tom Riello said,

    November 20, 2010 at 9:17 am

    It was asked in the post what a Catholic would think and I quoted Pope Paul VI as to how a Catholic would respond to what Lane said about revelation. If anyone cares they could go back a read the post. I was asked to answer this: “the question in the post, which is this: if the church’s authority is not needed to support natural revelation, then why is it needed to support special revelation? That’s the particular question at issue.” And I did with the Holy Father of Blessed Memory, Paul VI.

    As to my standing by my point, Andrew, the post stated the following: “Why would God not make natural revelation depend on humanity, but then make a more important revelation depend on humanity?” I am sorry, but as a Catholic, I would never ever think that special revelation being entrusted to the Church to define, interpret and apply etc… would be to depend on humanity. If God did this, God would NOT be depending on humanity! I do get, as Bryan Cross pointed out about Ecclesial Deism, how a Protestant would see the Church’s authority is not needed as regards Special Revelation. Again, let me stress, it was and is Lane making this claim, not me.

    I know Presbyterians believe that the Church, namely the invisible elect of God, is of divine origin. I am not sure of many who believe the visible Church, namely her structure, institution, authority etc… is of divine origin. When I was in seminary, one prof (Greenville Presbyterian) who has since left this world, made it clear that the NT was unclear as to the government of the Church and that the earliest evidence post- NT was episcopal. He was a Presbyterian professor. I should ask directly, do Presbyterians believe the Presbyterian system of government is divinely instituted by Christ? If yes, what does that say about Congregationalism or other systems of government?

    I would be interested to see what is thought of Pope Paul VI about the Church having the authority and responsibility to interpret the natural revelation.

  57. Reed Here said,

    November 20, 2010 at 9:28 am

    Tom: thanks for the apology. I was confident that the appearance was unintentional, so no hurt feelings.

    Yes, of course, friendly towards one another is my expectation.

    I appreciate your quibble with the apostate tag. No need to debate it here.

  58. Brian said,

    November 20, 2010 at 9:36 am

    Ron,
    Agreed. Perhaps I’ll dig through my CD’s so that I can be precise. But, no, I didn’t imagine it, and I think you’ll agree that there are more than a few who say association with apostates, like RCC members, shouldn’t occur.

    Also, despite my use of hyperbole in a previous post, like Sean, by Church is overflowing with orthodox Catholics, and all of the priests I know are humble, large hearted servants of their flock. Wonderful men.

  59. Ron said,

    November 20, 2010 at 9:48 am

    “I think you’ll agree that there are more than a few who say association with apostates, like RCC members, shouldn’t occur.

    Brian,

    I hade to disappoint you but I have never heard anyone make such a claim and I have never heard anyone except yourself say that they’ve heard such a claim, let alone that it’s a common claim. The most shoot-‘em-up separatists I’ve known have had Romanists for relatives and they have no problem spending time with them.

    Ron

  60. Ron said,

    November 20, 2010 at 9:53 am

    For what it’s worth, I think the phrased “depend upon” should be defined if communication is a desired goal. Even if it’s defined well, communication will remain a challenge no doubt.

  61. Ron said,

    November 20, 2010 at 9:55 am

    As to my standing by my point, Andrew, the post stated the following: “Why would God not make natural revelation depend on humanity, but then make a more important revelation depend on humanity?”

    Would Tom and Andrew define what is in bold?

    Ron

  62. Tom Riello said,

    November 20, 2010 at 11:45 am

    Ron,

    I take Lane to be equating his “depend upon humanity” with what he also said (asked me) here: ” if the church’s authority is not needed to support natural revelation, then why is it needed to support special revelation? That’s the particular question at issue.” Thus, depend upon humanity is equated with Church authority. Am I right or am I wrong? I concede that I may be reading Lane wrong.

  63. Ron said,

    November 20, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    Tom,

    Lane’s question per Lane is, “If the church’s authority is not needed to support natural revelation, then why is it needed to support special revelation?”

    I’d prefer to leave authority out of the question, at least for the moment, if you will agree that authority does not bring forth clarity anymore than clarity brings forth authority. I trust you will gladly concede that all God’s revelation is intrinsically authoritative – even if not understood aright. With agreement there, I would simply ask: Why can’t Scripture (granting all the force of its divine authority) be understood apart from an infallible magisterium if natural revelation can be?

    Thanks,

    Ron

  64. Jeff Cagle said,

    November 20, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    Tom (#56): I know Presbyterians believe that the Church, namely the invisible elect of God, is of divine origin. I am not sure of many who believe the visible Church, namely her structure, institution, authority etc… is of divine origin. When I was in seminary, one prof (Greenville Presbyterian) who has since left this world, made it clear that the NT was unclear as to the government of the Church and that the earliest evidence post- NT was episcopal. He was a Presbyterian professor. I should ask directly, do Presbyterians believe the Presbyterian system of government is divinely instituted by Christ? If yes, what does that say about Congregationalism or other systems of government?

    I think there’s conflation of several separate issues here.

    First, do Presbies believe that the visible Church is of divine origin?

    Absolutely:

    The visible Church, which is also catholic or universal under the Gospel (not confined to one nation, as before under the law), consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion; and of their children: and is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation.

    Unto this catholic visible Church Christ hath given the ministry, oracles, and ordinances of God, for the gathering and perfecting of the saints, in this life, to the end of the world: and doth, by His own presence and Spirit, according to His promise, make them effectual thereunto. — WCoF 25.2-3.

    I think we would agree that this a clear affirmation of the divine origin of the visible Church.

    And for what it’s worth, I consider your hard separation between invisible and visible churches, and tremendous emphasis on the latter, to be an outgrowth of the Thornwellian branch of Presbyterianism that gave birth to Greenville. A more Hodgian (or Nevinsian, or Murrayitish) view of the church would strongly uphold the divine origin and complementary natures of both visible and invisible church.

    In other words, you may have a somewhat skewed perspective on the state of things Presbyterian.

    The second issue is whether the divine origin of the visible Church requires a divine specification of its government. I would argue, Yes, God does specify the government of the church: elders and deacons.

    Additions to that government (“superelders” — bishops) are suspect. As are subtractions such as one pastor, many deacons.

    What about churches that do not order their governments in the divinely specified way? Do they forfeit their churchliness thereby? Not as long as they retain the marks of the true church — the preaching of the Gospel, Biblical worship practices and sacramental practices, the practice of discipline. But it does mean they are in error, further away from “dead center” as churches go.

    Finally, there is this question: Does the divine nature of the Church vest it with infallible authority? It has been repeatedly pressed by RC apologists here that this issue is all-or-nothing: either the divinely ordained visible church has plenary authority in regard to faith and morals, or else it has no authority at all.

    And it has been just as vigorously pressed by Presbie apologists that this argument is a mistake. Some authority is subordinate; and the authority of the Church is of that kind. It is subordinate to Scripture: the very words of Scripture, not the individual’s interpretation of those words.

    Within that subordinate role, the church has the authority to determine controversies of faith, and cases of conscience; to set down rules and directions for the better ordering of the public worship of God, and government of His Church; to receive complaints in cases of maladministration, and authoritatively to determine the same: which decrees and determinations, if consonant to the Word of God, are to be received with reverence and submission; not only for their agreement with the Word, but also for the power whereby they are made, as being an ordinance of God appointed thereunto in His Word. (WCoF 31.2).

    RC apologists retort that this is simply back-door individualism. Presbie apologists parry that the issue is a completely different understanding of authority.

    Until and unless something breaks this log-jam, we are destined to 800-comment threads until the Lord returns.

    But for my part, I no longer give heed to “back-door individualism” arguments. I am fully satisfied that they are not coherent and not valid.

    I hope that helps clarify the state of things, at least from this Presbie.

  65. Andrew McCallum said,

    November 20, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    I am sorry, but as a Catholic, I would never ever think that special revelation being entrusted to the Church to define, interpret and apply etc… would be to depend on humanity.

    Tom – I think that’s a reasonable start to answering what the author of this thread first asked the Catholics to weigh in on. But then you go on to say that you understand the Protestants to be saying that only the invisible Church is of divine origin But as Jeff Cagle says in #64, this is just not true. We believe that the visible as well as the invisible Church are of divine origin. The folks at CTC often ask the question as to what Church is THE Church that Christ founded if it is not the RCC. This is would seem to me is a loaded question. I think it would be much better to ask what system of ecclesiology do the Scriptures teach, what was the ecclesiological practices of the Apostolic Church, and then secondarily what was the practice of the Church immediately following the Apostolic era? For us Protestants (and incidentally for the EO) the system of ecclesiology we see taught and practiced was not what came to be that system later promulgated by the Church of Rome. But note that we believe that Christ Himself ordained this visible Church. It is of divine origin. So it’s not that we don’t believe in the divine origin of the visible Church while you do, but rather we see that Rome’s understanding of the visible Church has no basis in Scripture or the early centuries of Church tradition.

    You then move into one of those intramural debates between historic Presbyterian and Anglican systems of ecclesiology. Do the Scriptures teach that the office of the episkopos to be something separate from the office of the presbuteros? The debate is an interesting one and I could go into the details, but the important point to note is that historically the two sides do not see that the Scriptures are insufficient to teach one side or another. When I’m in London I worship at a great Anglican congregation and the difference between the systems of government do not separate them from me in any substantive sense. So don’t don’t make too much of these differences. Catholic apologists seem to love trying to delve into such distinctions but I think they rarely understand what they are getting into.

  66. David Gadbois said,

    November 21, 2010 at 2:42 am

    Ron said Self-authenticating (or self-attesting) pertains to the intrinsic authority of Scripture, which I think we’d be hard press to show that Rome denies. It’s not the denial of Scripture’s authority that Rome undermines but rather the perspicuity of that authority. Moreover, self authentication is not sufficient for persuasion even in Protestant doctrine. Self-authenticating and the efficacious work of the Spirit are sufficient (and necessary) for persuasion. Rome adds to the mix the teaching magisterium, but not for a condition for self-authentication (narrowly considered) but for our believing and embracing the Scriptures as the truth, i.e. our persuasion.

    What you (and the Romanists) fail to see is that by denying our ability to 1. identify and 2. interpret the very revelation that God has spoken to us, it in effect denies the authority of God and his Word (both considered as general and special revelation). Let’s say my boss puts a letter on my desk at work when I am not there, full of various instructions I am to carry out. It doesn’t have his signature on it, and, in fact, is written in a bizarre, coded language that I cannot make out. Does that letter have “authority” in any meaningful sense? It has no authenticating mark or signature that identifies my boss as the author. And since it is written in a language I cannot translate, I don’t even know what it is trying to communicate to me. The Romanists are trying to tell us that this is indeed the nature of divine revelation, in effect. But Paul says in Romans 1 & 2 that this is false – God has revealed his general revelation clearly to all. All men know it and therefore are without excuse.

    And, by implication, the special revelation of Scripture is the same. No magisterium needed to identify, authenticate, and interpret general revelation, therefore no need for a magisterium to identify and interpret Scripture for it to have authority to those who hear it (believer and unbeliever alike who are in some way exposed to the Bible).

  67. Andrew McCallum said,

    November 21, 2010 at 5:42 am

    David G,

    I agree with your #66 above, special revelation is not a product of the Church. But I think that the way you and the author of this thread describe it, the RC’s commenting here could come away with the idea that the Church has no necessary relation to special revelation. So I just wanted to qualify this discussion by saying that while special revelation does not find it’s origin in the Church, there is a vital role that the Church plays in ministering special revelation to God’s people. I think this is an important qualification since the RC’s are forever misunderstanding the concept of sola scriptura as something peculiar to the individual Christian rather than to the Church.

    Then of course we get this question from the RC’s as to what Church is THE Church doing the administration if it is not the RCC, and by this question they want us to define what one administrative entity is the Church. And as I have stated in #65, as well as to the folks at CTC, this is a loaded question – we don’t accept the assumption that the Church of Scriptures, and for that matter of the centuries proceeding the Apostolic age, was governed by one administrative entity. Anyway, I just wanted to point out what I see as the importance of making such a qualification when in the presence of the RCC apologists who always seem to be convinced that our concept of special revelation must in the end boil down to something of an individualistic nature. I’m often intrigued by how these Reformed turned RCC folks who went to Reformed seminaries got all the way through seminary without understanding the relationship of Church to Scripture. But there you have it….

  68. David Gadbois said,

    November 21, 2010 at 6:29 am

    Andrew said But I think that the way you and the author of this thread describe it, the RC’s commenting here could come away with the idea that the Church has no necessary relation to special revelation. So I just wanted to qualify this discussion by saying that while special revelation does not find it’s origin in the Church, there is a vital role that the Church plays in ministering special revelation to God’s people

    To extend my metaphor a bit more, the church would be equivalent to a messenger or ambassador, who delivers my boss’ letter to me. Providentially, I need that messenger to deliver the letter to me. But the messenger can’t authenticate the letter. That must be accomplished by a seal or signature on the letter itself, proving the letter to be authored by my boss. The messenger is just a hireling who is doing the footwork of delivering the letter. I do not believe that the letter is from my boss just because he says so. He could be mistaken, or he could be lying. Or another messenger could come along and deliver to me a contradictory letter. So how would I sort out the truth? It must be something about the letter itself that leads me to believe that the letter is authentic. And the messenger, even if he is bringing a genuine letter from my boss, dare not presume to “interpret” it for me. My boss is no dummy, he can communicate clearly what he wants and doesn’t need some messenger boy substituting his own paraphrase or elaboration on what is contained in the letter. How much more able is God Almighty to communicate clearly and effectively through the inspired Scriptures?

  69. Paige Britton said,

    November 21, 2010 at 7:05 am

    I am not sure if this muddies the waters or clarifies things by narrowing the focus a bit, but reading on from Lane’s block quote above (in the Muller), I note that Owen (and Muller) are also concerned with the canonical authority of Scripture here, which seems implicitly to refer to the whole “which Bible are we talking about?” debate. IOW, the point being that the external authority of the RCC is needed neither to show us which books are canonical, nor just to show us the basics, i.e. that the Bible itself is authoritatively from God.

    Muller writes:

    Scripture, then, broadly and canonically understood, in all its parts but primarily in the whole, is Divine and authentic in itself and needs no human assent in order to be so — as the sun is light even if all men were blind.” (269)

    So now we go to Whitaker, to dispute about the canon…

  70. Ron said,

    November 21, 2010 at 7:40 am

    “What you (and the Romanists) fail to see is that by denying our ability to 1. identify and 2. interpret the very revelation that God has spoken to us, it in effect denies the authority of God and his Word (both considered as general and special revelation).

    David G.,

    You’ve misread me twice now. I do not deny our ability to identify and interpret God’s word.

    As for Rome, I have noted, and nobody has yet to produce anything to the contrary, that they do not formally deny that the Scriptures were the Scriptures prior to their recognizing them as such. Their issue is not that the Scriptures don’t have intrinsic authority but rather that the authority contained within cannot be interpreted. Yes, that in essence renders them useless, which I’ve noted already, but the denial of the Scripture’s authority is an implication that is due to the elevation of tradition.

    Ron

  71. Andrew McCallum said,

    November 21, 2010 at 8:13 am

    As for Rome, I have noted, and nobody has yet to produce anything to the contrary, that they do not formally deny that the Scriptures were the Scriptures prior to their recognizing them as such.

    Ron – I just wanted to note that that the RC’s would say that the Church does not just recognize the canon, she defines the canon. The Protestants have historically utilized Athanasius’ term of “receiving” the canon, but to the RCC the power of the Church extended far beyond a mere reception of the canonical books.

    And furthermore, to the Roman Catholic mind, the Church which did the defining of the canon could not conceptually be administratively fragmented. For the RC’s even the EO notion of the power of the bishops of the Church is too weak to guarantee that the canon would not change. So with the even more decentralized ecclesiology of the Reformed congregations there is just no way in their minds that we could possible have an eternal canon. The example that is brought up again and again is that of Luther and the Book of James. But no matter how many times we try to straighten them out on this front, there is this idea indelibly etched in their minds that the canon for us is an open matter and someday we could just decide to jettison some portion of Scripture that we did not like. The point that they push here is something distinctly philosophical rather than exegetical or historical – for the RC’s, without a hierarchical understanding of the Church there will never be a way to fully resolve theological debates, most notably that of the canon. As I remember this one issue over the perceived uncertainty of the canon was a driving force to push some of the Reformed turned Catholic folks over the edge. So it’s an important matter to talk about when the RC’s are listening in.

    Cheers…..

  72. Ron said,

    November 21, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    Ron – I just wanted to note that that the RC’s would say that the Church does not just recognize the canon, she defines the canon.

    Andrew,

    I wonder if you can discern the difference between 1 and 2.

    1. Without the church defining for us what God’s word is (and what it is not) we could not distinguish God’s word from man’s word.

    2. To define God’s word is to turn something into God’s word by virtue of defining it as such – by divine fiat, if you will.

    Rome’s position is 1, not 2. It is not as though she says that the Scripture is Scripture because she says so, which is 2, but rather her claim is that we can only come to know what is God’s word because she has revealed God’s word as such (which is 1).

    At the very least, Rome’s claim that she alone can discern what is actually the Word presupposes that she had to discern God’s word from that which was not God’s word, which in turn presupposes that she believes the Word was already the Word prior to her alleged infallible discovery and proclamation! That alone undermines any claim that she defined the canon in the sense of turning non-Word into Word. This (rather elementary) distinction is commonly known as distinguishing what is the case from that which is known to be the case. Rome does not claim that she made it the case that the Scripture is the Scripture; rather her claim is that without her we could not know what Scripture is.

    Ron

  73. Ron said,

    November 21, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    “What you (and the Romanists) fail to see is that by denying our ability to 1. identify and 2. interpret the very revelation that God has spoken to us, it in effect denies the authority of God and his Word (both considered as general and special revelation).

    David G.,

    We are in agreement in principle. As I wrote above:

    “That is not to say that her view of the magisterium doesn’t undermine Scripture’s authority, but that’s another matter. I am talking about her docrtrine of Scripture.

    “…because Rome has made tradition the final interpreter of Scripture and because Scripture, being closed, cannot by the nature of the case interpret a living and ongoing tradition – by necessary consequence tradition becomes the ultimate authority over Scripture, rendering the authority of Scripture impotent. In that sense, Scripture is not authoritative and for all intents and purposes has no intrinsic authority.

    RWD

  74. Ron said,

    November 21, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    Paige,

    You are absolutely correct. It is the case that Scripture is Scripture – it has a divine origin and is authentic even if nobody existed, or even did exist yet refused to acknowledge it as such. As Muller rightly notes, Scripture is Divine and authentic in and of itself (i.e. intrinsically authoritative) and needs not human assent “in order to be so.” That observation pertains to what is the case, which as I’ve argued, Rome does not deny. Now then, by placing the teaching magisterium on par with Scripture, they undermine the authority of Scripture utterly and completely. Tey pay lip service to Scripture’s authority in a deceitful manner. They accomplish this slight of hand by introducing the mother of all lies, which would have us believe that Scripture being unclear must be interpreted according to their infallible understanding and tradition. Not well that it is the denial of the clarity of Scripture (has God said?) that gives way to the elevation of the need for an infallible interpreter (Satanic), which in turn renders Scripture’s authority inoperative. As soon as the authority of Scripture requires an infallible interpreter, Scripture itself, for all intents and purposes, is no longer authoritative. As I said, they take away with the hand of tradition that which they readily acknowledge as being God’s word and authoritative.

    Ron

  75. Ron said,

    November 21, 2010 at 6:06 pm

    DOGMATIC CONSTITUTION ON DIVINE REVELATION
    DEI VERBUM SOLEMNLY PROMULGATED BY HIS HOLINESS POPE PAUL VI ON NOVEMBER 18, 1965

    Per Rome: What is the case:

    “Those divinely revealed realities which are contained and presented in Sacred Scripture have been committed to writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. For holy mother Church, relying on the belief of the Apostles (see John 20:31; 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Peter 1:19-20, 3:15-16), holds that the books of both the Old and New Testaments in their entirety, with all their parts, are sacred and canonical because written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author and have been handed on as such to the Church herself.

    Per Rome: How “what is the case” comes to be known as being the case:

    “But the task of authentically interpreting the word of God, whether written or handed on, has been entrusted exclusively to the living teaching office of the Church, whose authority is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ. This teaching office is not above the word of God, but serves it, teaching only what has been handed on, listening to it devoutly, guarding it scrupulously and explaining it faithfully in accord with a divine commission and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it draws from this one deposit of faith everything which it presents for belief as divinely revealed.”

    ——

    In other words, Rome teaches that the Bible is sacred and canonical because it is the case that God is its author. The authority is intrinsic to the Word. the problem is that Rome has the key to unlock the authoritative Word. So, where we part ways with Rome is in her teaching that suggests that the Roman communion has been exclusively entrusted to be the living teaching office of the Church. Because of their claims regarding the teaching authority of Rome, they undermine the sole authority of Scripture.

    RWD

  76. David Gadbois said,

    November 21, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    Ron said You’ve misread me twice now. I do not deny our ability to identify and interpret God’s word.

    I never claimed that you denied our ability to do so.


    As for Rome, I have noted, and nobody has yet to produce anything to the contrary, that they do not formally deny that the Scriptures were the Scriptures prior to their recognizing them as such. Their issue is not that the Scriptures don’t have intrinsic authority but rather that the authority contained within cannot be interpreted.

    This is not the issue, and I never cast the debate in these terms. The issue is whether or not Rome considers the Scriptures to be self-authenticating and self-attesting. Rome says no, thus denying the authority of Scripture. It is not so much the interpretation of Scripture, but rather the identification of Scripture that is in play here.

  77. Andrew McCallum said,

    November 21, 2010 at 7:25 pm

    Ron,

    Concerning #72 above, I agree with you that the RCC does not believe that she can turn something into God’s Word. Like us, the Catholics believe that the Scriptures are inspired by God and thus He is the sole author. But then of course there is a difference between what they call “defining” and what Athanasius and later the Protestants called “receiving.” And the difference comes from what they understand to be the a charism of infallibility that the Church has been given to the Church to do things such as defining the canon. In their minds if the Church had no ability to define certain matters under certain conditions infallibly then we would never be able to fully resolve issues which are central to the Christian faith (matters of de fide importance or those of similar theological certainty). I’ve pointed out to them that the canon would be infallible if God, who works through the Church, is infallible whether or not the Church is infallible in this defining/receiving role. Thus positing ecclesiastical infallibility is superfluous at best. But these kinds of debates go on interminably and the RC’s are not going to give any ground on this matter despite the fact that ecclesiastical infallibility has no obvious basis in the history of the Early Church whose practices they claim to follow in principle.

  78. Andrew McCallum said,

    November 21, 2010 at 7:32 pm

    As soon as the authority of Scripture requires an infallible interpreter, Scripture itself, for all intents and purposes, is no longer authoritative.

    Yes, this is so true. I would also add that once the RCC has effectively replaced the infallible Scriptures with the infallible tradition of the Church she now has a new set of infallible pronouncements to interpret. The problem for the average Catholic parishioner is that they don’t understand the “infallible” pronouncements of the Church and these have to be interpreted by an infallible interpreter. The essence of the problem is the interpretation that the RCC gives never gets any more perspicuous than what they started with.

  79. D. T. King said,

    November 21, 2010 at 8:04 pm

    Dear Men,

    I think Ron’s point is that the Roman denial of the perspicuity of Holy Scripture, i.e. in essence the denial of God’s ability to speak efficaciously through His inscripturated word is how Rome makes void the word of the true and living God, and thus undermines its authority.

    As for the canon, I do not see the canon (i.e., the canonical list of books) as an object of revelation. In other words, historically speaking, Protestants have not viewed a canonical list of books to be an object of revelation. The canonical list of books is, I think, properly put, what we could describe as an artifact of revelation rather than revelation itself. This is where we differ from Rome. We believe Holy Scripture to be self-attesting as the word of God. Moreover, contrary to what some Roman apologists suggest, many ECFs also bore witness to the self-authenticating nature of Holy Scripture…

    Justin Martyr (wrote after 151): Chapter I.—The Self-Evidencing Power of Truth: The word of truth is free, and carries its own authority, disdaining to fall under any skilful argument, or to endure the logical scrutiny of its hearers. But it would be believed for its own nobility, and for the confidence due to Him who sends it. Now the word of truth is sent from God; wherefore the freedom claimed by the truth is not arrogant. For being sent with authority, it were not fit that it should be required to produce proof of what is said; since neither is there any proof beyond itself, which is God. For every proof is more powerful and trustworthy than that which it proves; since what is disbelieved, until proof is produced, gets credit when such proof is produced, and is recognised as being what it was stated to be. But nothing is either more powerful or more trustworthy than the truth; so that he who requires proof of this is like one who wishes it demonstrated why the things that appear to the senses do appear. ANF: Vol. I, Fragments of the lost Work of Justin on the Resurrection, Chapter I.

    Clement of Alexandria (150 – c. 215): He who believeth then the divine Scriptures with sure judgment, receives in the voice of God, who bestowed the Scripture, a demonstration that cannot be impugned. Faith, then, is not established by demonstration. “Blessed therefore those who, not having seen, yet have believed.” ANF: Vol. II, The Stromata, Book II, Chapter II.—The Knowledge of God Can Be Attained Only Through Faith.

    Clement of Alexandria (150 – c. 215): It will naturally fall after these, after a cursory view of theology, to discuss the opinions handed down respecting prophecy; so that, having demonstrated that the Scriptures which we believe are valid from their omnipotent authority, we shall be able to go over them consecutively, and to show thence to all the heresies one God and Omnipotent Lord to be truly preached by the law and the prophets, and besides by the blessed Gospel. ANF: Vol. II, The Stromata, Book IV, Chapter 1.
    Greek text: Οἷς ἑπόμενον ἂν εἴη μετὰ τὴν ἐπιδρομὴν τῆς θεολογίας τὰ περὶ προφητείας παραδεδομένα διαλαβεῖν, ὡς καὶ τὰς γραφὰς αἷς πεπιστεύκαμεν κυρίας οὔσας ἐξ αὐθεντείας παντοκρατορικῆς ἐπιδείξαντας προϊέναι διʼ αὐτῶν εἱρμῷ δύνασθαι, καὶ ἁπάσαις ἐντεῦθεν ταῖς αἱρέσεσιν ἕνα δεικνύναι Θεὸν, καὶ Κύριον παντοκράτορα τὸν διὰ νόμου καὶ προφητῶν, πρὸς δὲ καὶ τοῦ μακαρίου εὐαγγελίου γνησίως κεκηρυγμένον. Stromata, Liber IV, Caput 1, PG 8:1216.

    Lactantius (260-330): For since all error arises either from false religion or from wisdom, in refuting error it is necessary to overthrow both. For inasmuch as it has been handed down to us in the sacred writings that the thoughts of philosophers are foolish, this very thing is to be proved by fact and by arguments, that no one, induced by the honourable name of wisdom, or deceived by the splendour of empty eloquence, may prefer to give credence to human rather than to divine things. Which things, indeed, are related in a concise and simple manner. For it was not befitting that, when God was speaking to man, He should confirm His words by arguments, as though He would not otherwise be regarded with confidence: but, as it was right, He spoke as the mighty Judge of all things, to whom it belongs not to argue, but to pronounce sentence. He Himself, as God, is truth. But we, since we have divine testimony for everything, will assuredly show by how much surer arguments truth may be defended, when even false things are so defended that they are accustomed to appear true. Wherefore there is no reason why we should give so much honour to philosophers as to fear their eloquence. For they might speak well as men of learning; but they could not speak truly, because they had not learned the truth from Him in whose power it was. ANF: Vol. VII, The Divine Institutes, Book III, Chapter I. See also FC, Vol. 49, The Divine Institutes, Book III, Chapter 1 (Washington D.C.: The Catholic University Press, 1963), pp. 165-166.

    Athanasius (297-373): The Christian faith carries within itself the discovery of its own authority, and the Holy Scriptures which God has inspired are all-sufficient in themselves, for the evidence of their own truth. For translation, see James H. Thornwell, The Apocryphal Books of the Old Testament Proved to be Corrupt Additions to the Word of God: The Arguments of Romanists from the Infallibility of the Church and the testimony of the Fathers in Behalf of the Apocrypha, Discussed and Refuted (New York: Leavitt, Trow & Company, 1845), p. 44.
    Greek text: Αὐτάρκεις μὲν γάρ εἰσιν αἱ ἅγιαι καὶ θεόπνευστοι γραφαὶ πρὸς τὴν τῆς ἀληθείας ἀπαγγελίαν• Contra Gentes, §1, PG 25:4.

    Nemesius of Emesa: But for us the sufficient demonstration of the soul’s immortality is the teaching of Holy Scripture, which is self-authenticating because inspired of God. William Telfer, ed., The Library of Christian Classics, Vol. IV, Cyril of Jerusalem and Nemesius of Emesa: On the Nature of Man, Chapter 2 Of the Soul (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1955), p. 292. It is believed that Nemesius of Emesa wrote this work sometime between the years 392-400 AD (p. 206).
    Greek text: ἡμῖν δὲ ἀρκεῖ, πρὸς ἀπόδειξιν τῆς ἀθανασίας αὐτῆς, ἡ τῶν θεῖων λογῖων διδασκαλία, τὸ πιστὸν ἀθ’ ἑαυτῆς ἔχουσα, διὰ τὸ θεόπνευστος εἶναι• De Natura Hominis, Caput II.18, Migne PG 40:589.

    Epiphanius of Salamis (310/320-403): But the truth is always steadfast and needs no assistance. It is self-authenticating, and always established in the sight of the true God. Frank Williams, trans., The Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis: Book I (Sects 1-46) 44. Against Apelleans, 1,3 (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1994), p. 340.
    Greek text: τῆς ἀληθείας ἀεὶ ἑδραίας οὔσης καὶ μὴ χρείαν ἐχούσης βοηθείας, ἀλλὰ αὐτοσυστάτου οὔσης καὶ παρὰ θεῷ τῷ ὄντως ὄντι ἀεὶ συνιστωμένης. Adversus Haereses, Liber I, Tom. III, XLIV, §1, PG 41:821C.

    Epiphanius (310/320-403): The truth is self-authenticating and cannot be overthrown even if wickedness shamelessly opposes the precept of truth. Frank Williams, trans., The Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis, Books II and III (Sects 47-80, De Fide), 66. Against Manichaeans, 10,4 (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1994), p. 230.
    Greek text: αὐτοσυστάτης οὔσης τῆς ἀληθείας, καὶ μὴ δυναμένης καθαιρεῖσθαι, κἄν τε ἀντιπράττοι ἡ ἀνομία ἀναισχυντίᾳ φερομένη τῷ τῆς ἀληθείας θεσμῷ, Adversus Haereses, Liber II, Tom. II, LXVI, §10, PG 42:44D.

    Chrysostom (349-407): If, however, you do not believe the biblical authors, we can supply clear, unmistakable evidence that they were inspired, and that they told us nothing on their own account but with the inspiration coming from that divine love which is higher even than the heavens. Everything said by them achieves its purpose, and everything reaches fulfillment in the truth of reality, whether it is a question of ancient things or recent. What was said by the inspired authors about the Jews came true, and the fulfillment of it was clear to everyone; likewise what was said about Christ in the New Testament — which demonstrates above all the divine character of both Scriptures. Now, if what is said about God in Scripture comes from God, it is all true. Robert Charles Hill, trans., St John Chrysostom: Commentary on the Psalms, Vol. 1, Psalm 4 (Brookline: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 1998), p. 68.

    Theodoret of Cyrrhus (393-466) commenting on the canonicity of The Song of Songs: Now, some commentators misrepresent the Song of Songs, believe it to be not a spiritual book,… They should have acknowledged, therefore, that the blessed fathers, who ranked this book with the divine scriptures, included it in the canon as being spiritual, and judged it to be befitting the church, happen to be much wiser and more spiritual than they. After all, had they formed a different opinion, they would, on the basis of its licentousness and eroticism, not have listed it with the holy scriptures. Why must one cite the fathers here below when it is possible to invoke the testimony of the divine Spirit himself? Robert C. Hill, Theodoret of Cyrus: Commentary on the Song of Songs, Preface (Brisbane: Centre for Early Christian Studies, Australian Catholic University, 2001), p. 22.

    Salvian the Presbyter (5th century): I need not prove by arguments what God Himself proves by His own words. When we read that God says He perpetually sees the entire earth, we prove thereby that He does see it because He Himself says He sees it. When we read that He rules all things He has created, we prove thereby that He rules, since He testifies that He rules. When we read that He ordains all things by His immediate judgment, it becomes evident by this very fact, since He confirms that He passes judgment. All other statements, said by men, require proofs and witnesses. God’s word is His own witness, because whatever uncorrupted Truth says must be the undefiled testimony to truth. FC, Vol. 3, The Writings of Salvian, The Presbyter, The Governance of God, Book 3.1 (New York: CIMA Publishing Co., Inc., 1947), pp. 68-69.
    Latin text: Neque enim necesse est ut argumentis a me probetur quod hoc ipso quia a Deo dicitur comprobatur. Itaque cum legimus dictum a Deo quia aspiciat jugiter omnem terram, hoc ipso probamus quod aspicit quia aspicere se dicit; cum legimus quod regat cuncta quae fecit, hoc ipso approbamus quod regit, quia se regere testatur; cum legimus quod praesenti judicio universa dispenset, hoc ipso est evidens quod judicat quia se judicare confirmat. Alia enim omnia, id est, humana dicta, argumentis ac testibus egent. Dei autem sermo ipse sibi testis est, quia necesse est quidquid incorrupta veritas loquitur, incorruptum sit testimonium veritatis. Sancti Salviani Massiliensis Presbyteri De Gubernatione Dei, Liber Tertius, I, PL 53:1567.

  80. Ron said,

    November 21, 2010 at 8:18 pm

    But then of course there is a difference between what they call “defining” and what Athanasius and later the Protestants called “receiving.” And the difference comes from what they understand to be the a charism of infallibility that the Church has been given to the Church to do things such as defining the canon. In their minds if the Church had no ability to define certain matters under certain conditions infallibly then we would never be able to fully resolve issues which are central to the Christian faith (matters of de fide importance or those of similar theological certainty). I’ve pointed out to them that the canon would be infallible if God, who works through the Church, is infallible whether or not the Church is infallible in this defining/receiving role. Thus positing ecclesiastical infallibility is superfluous at best. But these kinds of debates go on interminably and the RC’s are not going to give any ground on this matter despite the fact that ecclesiastical infallibility has no obvious basis in the history of the Early Church whose practices they claim to follow in principle.

    Andrew,

    Everything you said above I have agreed with and defended. Defining, in the sense you are using the term above, is agreeable and I’ve made that clear since post #1. By defining Scripture they are not, as you admit, turning non-Scripture into Scripture. Their role, so they think, in “defining” Scripture is due to the claim that Scripture cannot be recognized, let alone understood, and that a supposed deposit of infallibility has been divinely instituted within the church by God in order for God’s people to have and understand God’s word. In other words, their claim is not that they make Scripture what it is but that they are needed to define for us which books actually are – already – Scripture. That basic tenet, if you go back through the thread, has been met with resistance from a couple of Protestants. Where Protestants are to be disagreeing with Rome is not on the question of whether Scripture is divinely inspired and, therefore, God’s very word – which the papal pronouncement I produced clearly states, but rather our difference is to be over the need for an infallible magisterium, which in turns undermines Scripture’s authority by introducing the claim that Scripture is not for the common man to understand.

    Regarding the reception of the canon, again what you say above is correct. God’s sovereign intent and providence is infallible, which is the source of our confidence that a fallible church has received the Scriptures.

    RWD

  81. Ron said,

    November 21, 2010 at 8:26 pm

    Scripture itself, for all intents and purposes, is no longer authoritative.

    “I would also add that once the RCC has effectively replaced the infallible Scriptures with the infallible tradition of the Church she now has a new set of infallible pronouncements to interpret. The problem for the average Catholic parishioner is that they don’t understand the “infallible” pronouncements of the Church and these have to be interpreted by an infallible interpreter. The essence of the problem is the interpretation that the RCC gives never gets any more perspicuous than what they started with.

    Again Andrew, I agree. I’ve argued this point on many threads. If then can’t understand Peter and Paul, how can they understand the popes, let alone the priests if and when they try to exegete Scripture or the Roman Catechism.

    Ron

  82. Andrew McCallum said,

    November 21, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    David (re: #79),

    I appreciate this list of quotes, I will save this for future reference. This from Clement of Alexandria: He who believeth then the divine Scriptures with sure judgment, receives in the voice of God, who bestowed the Scripture, a demonstration that cannot be impugned.. To me this is just what we mean when we say that the Scriptures are self-authenticating. But when the Catholics read us saying this they get the idea that we are divorcing the work of the Church in receiving the canon from the testimony of the Spirit in putting His stamp on the books which comprise the Word of God. So again I just wanted to re-emphasize the importance of discussing the role of the Church in the process of inscripturation.

    Bryan Cross has just posted something on CTC saying that “Protestants must appeal to an immediate work of the Spirit in each individual, to testify that any particular book belongs to the canon of Scripture.” I guess he genuinely believes that all Protestants make this individual assessment as to what books belong in the Bible and what don’t. With some of the CTC guys it’s a hopeless cause trying to reason with them.

  83. D. T. King said,

    November 21, 2010 at 11:51 pm

    Bryan Cross has just posted something on CTC saying that “Protestants must appeal to an immediate work of the Spirit in each individual, to testify that any particular book belongs to the canon of Scripture.” I guess he genuinely believes that all Protestants make this individual assessment as to what books belong in the Bible and what don’t. With some of the CTC guys it’s a hopeless cause trying to reason with them.

    Agreed Andrew. I think that the Romanists are in love with this kind of caricature, and that they need to keep convincing themselves of it in order for them to maintain the charade of the Emperor’s new clothes. They’re in love with their “never-never-land” of apologetics. You see, even Mr. Riello has yet to acknowledge that the premise with which he began here in this thread is but a straw man caricature. He has this need to maintain it even after being corrected. For them, God can do nothing if not through the Roman magisterium, which for them is the real beginning and end for their definition of the church.

    When you ask them how it is that the ancient church of Israel managed to recognized what was Scripture without an infallible magisterium, they have no meaningful response. They would have us to believe that, before Trent officially identified the canon, the church couldn’t have known what books were Holy Scripture. Yet before any council had ever, as they put it, “defined” the canon, Alexander of Alexandria (d. 328) could testify of the Arian heretics: “They are not ashamed to oppose the godly clearness of the ancient scriptures.” NPNF2: Vol. III, Theodoret’s Ecclesiastical History, Book 1, Chapter 3, or the translation of this phrase as the letter is preserved in ANF: Vol. VI, Epistle to Alexander, Bishop of the City of Constantinople, §10, “The religious perspicuity of the ancient Scriptures caused them no shame . . .”
    Greek text: Οὐ κατήδεσεν αὐτοὺς ἡ τῶν ἀρχαίων Γραφῶν φιλόθεος σαφήνεια . . . Theodoreti Ecclesiasticae Historiae, Liber I, Caput III, PG 82:904.

    How did Alexander know this in the absence of any conciliar pronouncement on the canon of Scripture? Answer: God’s people, the church, recognize the voice of their Lord. 27 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” (John 10:27).

    The Roman communion favors this fallacy of special pleading, because without it their whole apologetic collapses. It reminds me of liberal politicians who invent this or that crisis, and then rush in with what they contend is the only answer for resolving the crisis of their own creation. For them, this whole approach exists for a particular agenda.

  84. greenbaggins said,

    November 22, 2010 at 8:33 am

    I agree, David, that is a great list of quotations. I would like to see the Catholics address these particular quotes (rather than producing other quotes that might seem to support their position).

    Tom, to answer your 39 (I’m on vacation, so I’m afraid my answers have been a bit slow in coming). It has never been the position of any branch of Christendom that the church’s authority is necessary to support the authority of natural revelation. This is easily proven by the fact that natural revelation has been around since the creation itself, therefore existing before mankind even existed. I have never even seen that argued. You seem to be making up a doctrine for the sake of supporting the Catholic position. This makes it seem a bit obvious to me that you feel the weight of my original argument. You also equivocate on the position of the church vis-a-vis natural revelation. Is the church competent to interpret natural revelation. Of course. That is quite different from saying that the authority of natural revelation depends on the church as well.

    You assert that because special revelation is more important, that therefore God would ensure that the church would be protected from teaching contrary to the Scripture. However, this is not the issue, even though I would disagree with your position. NO human is infallible. No group of humans is infallible. But that is not my point. Again, interpreting Scripture is different than giving authority to Scripture. You need to separate these two issues in your mind if you are to understand the Protestant position. Therefore I don’t see that you have addressed the heart of my argument yet.

  85. Ron said,

    November 22, 2010 at 8:58 am

    You assert that because special revelation is more important, that therefore God would ensure that the church would be protected from teaching contrary to the Scripture. However, this is not the issue, even though I would disagree with your position. NO human is infallible. No group of humans is infallible.

    Clarification: Of course God did ensure that the church would be without error on an “important” matter – the reception of the canon; so we don’t want to suggest that God can’t or hasn’t ever protected the church from error. Nor do we want to imply that in order to protect the church from error God must make the church infallible.

    Ron

  86. greenbaggins said,

    November 22, 2010 at 9:21 am

    Ron, God has not protected the Roman Catholic Church from errors even on the canon. Of course, God has protected the church from error in the past. I agree with that. I further agree that God need not make the church infallible in order to protect the church from error. My point was not that God had never protected His church, but that God has never promised that the church will be free from error. Therefore the hubris of the Roman Catholic church stands out in an even more clear light.

  87. Ron said,

    November 22, 2010 at 9:42 am

    Yes, God did not protect the Roman communion from error on the canon since they have placed in the canon non-canonical books! :)

    I understood your intent on all of that…

    Ron

  88. Bryan Cross said,

    November 23, 2010 at 6:08 am

    Andrew, (re: #82)

    Bryan Cross has just posted something on CTC saying that “Protestants must appeal to an immediate work of the Spirit in each individual, to testify that any particular book belongs to the canon of Scripture.” I guess he genuinely believes that all Protestants make this individual assessment as to what books belong in the Bible and what don’t.

    That last sentence is incorrect, and does not follow from what I did say. What I described as the Protestant position regarding Scripture is straight out of the WCF:

    We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the Church to an high and reverent esteem of the Holy Scripture. And the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole (which is, to give all glory to God), the full discovery it makes of the only way of man’s salvation, the many other incomparable excellencies, and the entire perfection thereof, are arguments whereby it does abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God: yet notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts. (WCF I.5)

    In Protestant theology, knowledge of the divine inspiration of any book comes not ultimately from the Church, but from the Spirit speaking in one’s heart. I never claimed, nor do I claim, that all Protestants make an individual assessment as to which books belong in the Bible and which don’t, or that all Protestants have gone through each book of the [Protestant] Bible and gotten a verifying bosom-burning for each book in order to accept its divine authority. Presumably most Protestants accept the divine inspiration of the [Protestant] canon simply because that has been presupposed in what their faith tradition has taught, but I have not conducted a survey.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  89. D. T. King said,

    November 23, 2010 at 8:38 am

    In Protestant theology, knowledge of the divine inspiration of any book comes not ultimately from the Church, but from the Spirit speaking in one’s heart.

    Yes, it was precisely the same in ancient catholic theology too…

    Augustine (354-430): In the next place, if faith is what is required of me, I should prefer to keep to the Scripture, which tells me that the Holy Spirit came and inspired the apostles, to whom the Lord had promised to send Him. You must therefore prove, either that what Manichaeus says is true, and so make clear to me what I am unable to believe; or that Manichaeus is the Holy Spirit, and so lead me to believe in what you cannot make clear. For I profess the Catholic faith, and by it I expect to attain certain knowledge. Since, then, you try to overthrow my faith, you must supply me with certain knowledge, if you can, that you may convict me of having adopted my present belief without consideration. You make two distinct propositions,–one when you say that the speaker is the Holy Spirit, and another when you say that what the speaker teaches is evidently true. I might fairly ask undeniable proof for both propositions. But I am not greedy and require to be convinced only of one. Prove this person to be the Holy Spirit, and I will believe what he says to be true, even without understanding it; or prove that what he says is true, and I will believe him to be the Holy Spirit, even without evidence. Could anything be fairer or kinder than this? But you cannot prove either one or other of these propositions. You can find nothing better than to praise your own faith and ridicule mine. So, after having in my turn praised my belief and ridiculed yours, what result do you think we shall arrive at as regards our judgment and our conduct, but to part company with those who promise the knowledge of indubitable things, and then demand from us faith in doubtful things? while we shall follow those who invite us to begin with believing what we cannot yet fully perceive, that, strengthened by this very faith, we may come into a position to know what we believe by the inward illumination and confirmation of our minds, due no longer to men, but to God Himself. NPNF1: Vol. IV, Against the Epistle of Manichaeus Called Fundamental, Chapter 14.

    You see, as Protestants we acknowledge with Augustine, as he stated earlier in this same work, that the Church is most often the initial and outward means by which men are called to faith in Christ, and to belief in the Scriptures. The Church of Jesus Christ directs us, as she should, to Holy Scripture. But that does not make the Church the grounds for the infallible bulwark of our faith, any more than the woman in John 4 who testified to the men of her town concerning the Christ. After having dealings with Christ, the woman of Samaria returns to her city, and there bears witness to Christ. John 4:39-42:

    39 And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all that I ever did.”
    40 So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days.
    41 And many more believed because of His own word.
    42 Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.”

    We see, then, that though it was the woman’s witness which intially induced belief in Christ, nonetheless, the confirmation of their faith came to rest in the testimony of Christ’s own word. While the woman’s witness was true and sufficiently credible to move the inhabitants of the city, it does not follow that she became the infallible basis for their subsequent faith. They came to rest, not in her word, but Christ’s.

  90. Paige Britton said,

    November 23, 2010 at 11:08 am

    Now, I was under the impression that WCF I.5, which Bryan quotes above with reference to recognizing “the divine inspiration of any book” of Scripture, has more to do with conversion than with canon formation. That is, the Confession is describing the softening of the human heart towards God’s Word as a whole because of regeneration. Is this really where we go to understand why Protestants (past or present) recognize particular books and not others as part of the canon?

  91. rfwhite said,

    November 23, 2010 at 11:22 am

    88 Bryan Cross: You state, In Protestant theology, knowledge of the divine inspiration of any book comes not ultimately from the Church, but from the Spirit speaking in one’s heart.

    In the Catholic theology that you confess, from where does your knowledge of the divine inspiration of any book come ultimately?

  92. Ron said,

    November 23, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    That’s the million dollar question, rfwhite. Glad you asked it.

    Bryan, keep in mind that in Protestant theology the Spirit’s testimony works in conjunction with the self-attesting Word. Also, it’s not an idiosyncratic matter given to this or that individual Christian, but rather this testimony is given to the corporate church. With that said, in your answer to rfwhite, would you mind telling us – if the Spirit indeed plays a part in your knowledge of the trtuth, whether He works in conjunction with Scripture and if so, why can’t it be Scripture alone?

    Ron

  93. Ron said,

    November 23, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    Rebecca,

    If I may, the canon reception (what you called formation) has to do w/ Divine intention, sovereignty and providence as well as Word and Spirit working together to bring to pass the church’s reception of the canon, which now is a matter of history.The portion of the Confession to which I believe you are referring speaks to the justification for our trust and confidence in the Bible as God’s word. I’m sure others like Reed, DTK, TF, Gadbois etc. can put it better, but that’s what I would say.

    Ron

  94. Ron said,

    November 23, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    Oops, I guess I was writing to Paige, not Rebecca. Sorry…

  95. Bryan Cross said,

    November 23, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    rfwhite (re: #91)

    In the Catholic theology that you confess, from where does your knowledge of the divine inspiration of any book come ultimately?

    Ultimately, all knowledge comes from God. But I think that’s not the question you are trying to ask. I think you’re intending to ask me to explain the difference between the way the Protestant knows a book of the Bible to be divinely inspired (i.e. “from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts”) and the way a Catholic knows a book of the Bible to be divinely inspired. The Catholic knows it not through an internal witness of the Spirit, but through the Church.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  96. Ron said,

    November 23, 2010 at 9:21 pm

    Bryan,

    You took care to note that Protestants claim to know that a book is inspired not from one but two sources working in harmony – “the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts.” You also said that a “Catholic” knows a book of the Bible to be divinely inspired “not through an internal witness of the Spirit, but through the Church.” You also said that a “Catholic knows it not through an internal witness of the Spirit.” Given that you took great care to cite both sources working as one for the Reformed position and even seemed to exclude the Spirit’s work in the apprehension of knowledge from a Romanist position, may I take you to mean regarding your own communion that the knowledge you say “comes from God” is void of both the work of the Spirit and the Word? If not, does this knowledge of which you speak include a work of Scripture and / or Spirit in any way? If so, maybe you might care to elaborate.

    Thank you,

    Ron

  97. Andrew McCallum said,

    November 23, 2010 at 10:45 pm

    Bryan,

    Paige has got it just right in #90. We are not speaking of the delineation of the canon in WCF 1:5, we are speaking of God’s work in our hearts. This passage of the WCF notes that there is much to be awed by in the majesty and style of the Scriptures even as some non-believing scholars will sometimes note, but it is the fact that the Scriptures actually changes hearts which is the final testimony to it’s truth. God’s Word, as it promises, really does what it claims to do! Please do take a look at the quotes from various Fathers that David King lays out in #79 and #89 – what is said in WCF 1:5 of Scripture is very similar to what has been said about Scripture from the beginning.

    Now on the specific delineation of the books of the canon, there are no Reformed or even Evangelical who would follow the process that you indicate in your quote about Protestants appealing to the immediate work of the Spirit to determine what is and what is not in the canon. What we appeal to is an infallible God who worked in history through his Church to bring us His canon. And we are convinced of this work is perfect because God is infallible rather than the Church being infallible. Now there are certainly many sincere Evangelicals who have this idea in their minds that Scripture must have dropped from Heaven in a finished form and there is often little appreciation of the historical sifting process by which, in God’s providence, the canon came to be. But I have yet to hear of any Evangelical (let alone Reformed) who is waiting for God to testify to Him whether or not a given book is or is not in the canon.

    Now the example of Luther and The Book of James is constantly thrust before us, but Luther’s doubts about this book were largely an anomaly in the history of Protestant thought. It should also be noted that he struggled with canonical questions in a time when even in the Catholic Church there were questions over the authenticity of certain books. As an example I think here of Thomas Cajetan.

    Please forgive me impatience with your comment I quoted in #82 above, but I do sometimes grow tired of debating with Catholics what the Reformed position is, in other words MY position.

  98. Bryan Cross said,

    November 23, 2010 at 11:07 pm

    Andrew, (re: #97)

    but it is the fact that the Scriptures actually changes hearts which is the final testimony to it’s truth.

    One problem with this “changes hearts” criterion for canonicity is that as soon as someone feels that something else “changes hearts,” then it too must be admitted to the canon. And so episodes of Oprah, or Deepak, or Chicken Soup for the Soul, or Star Trek, or The Shack, or what-have-you, could then be inserted into the canon. Likewise, as soon as a person feels that Leviticus or Nahum no longer “change hearts,” those books can be removed from the canon.

    Another problem with this “changes hearts” criterion for canonicity, is that you just made it up; this criterion of canonicity was not delivered to you by the Apostles or the Church.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  99. BSuden said,

    November 24, 2010 at 12:45 am

    Another problem with this “changes hearts” criterion for canonicity, is that you just made it up; this criterion of canonicity was not delivered to you by the Apostles or the Church.

    Dear Bryan,

    I know you think and have said (protestant) confessions are man made statements that have no authority whatsoever – inasmuch as you deny the good and necessary consequences of Scripture (WCF 1:6) – but there are some things that are vulgarly called “proof texts” appended to the WCF, including Par.5. Perhaps you might care to redirect your criticisms at them specifically i.e. 1Jn 2:20,27, Jn 16:13,14, 1 Cor.2:10-12, Is. 58:21 – my apologies in that the last, Isaiah, is not an Apostle – rather than the nebulous protestant burning in one’s bosom that an Oprah episode provokes and we can see first hand what the Roman exegesis/exposition truly is.

    Or better yet you could give us the ECF consensus on the same passages.
    (Likewise the consensus on Matt. 16:18 in which the ancients are hardly unanimous that the rock is Peter, as opposed to Christ or Peter’s confession. But that would be wishful thinking on my part, eh?) Or is that the Roman consensus, never mind the real ECF lack thereof? (I know, I know. Christ did not repeatedly say “Search the Scripture”, but rather “Search the ECF’s”, if not “Search the papal bulls, for they shall set you free”.)

    Or you could do a better job of persuading us of the joys and warm happiness of blind/implicit faith in Rome/ecclesiastical deification, rather than having to accept your ipsit dixit assertion at face value and save us all the bother of this discussion in the first place.

    Oh, I get it. That’s what you have been doing all along.
    My bad.

  100. AJ said,

    November 24, 2010 at 2:18 am

    DT King said, “When you ask them how it is that the ancient church of Israel managed to recognized what was Scripture without an infallible magisterium, they have no meaningful response.”

    A Classic James White.

    Well, at least the jewish people don’t have to question whether a book belongs to their OT or not because they follow their Inspired Oral tradition set from Moses, Patriarchs and Prophets above them even when they have the written Torah.

    Individual jews don’t settle for themselves which one is or not.

    The oldest version of the Bible is the Septuagint (Bible of Jesus and the Apostles) which date between 168 B.C. and A.D. 100 had been confirmed as God-inspired by all those Catholic Councils which included the 7 books until 1,500 years later by the later by authority of Martin Luther removed those books. (His justification was the 7 books were not sanctioned by the Jewish council of Jamnia in 70 AD which by the way was the same jewish council that rejected the Deity of Jesus Christ!)

    Scripture itself is a Tradition a written Tradition.

  101. Ron said,

    November 24, 2010 at 6:11 am

    One problem with this “changes hearts” criterion for canonicity is that as soon as someone feels that something else “changes hearts,” then it too must be admitted to the canon.

    Caricature – the “criterion for canonicity” is actually irrelevant. Even if the church wanted to get it wrong they couldn’t. Indeed, we can assume that there was the Spirit’s confirmation working in and through the Word at the time(s) of reception, but that speaks to the means by why certain books might or might not have been chosen, but the confidence we have is in God’s intent to build his church on the Word and his ability to bring his intention to pass through sovereign providence, which again is a matter of history.

  102. Bryan Cross said,

    November 24, 2010 at 6:35 am

    Ron, (re: #100)

    the “criterion for canonicity” is actually irrelevant. Even if the church wanted to get it wrong they couldn’t.

    That entails that Protestant publishers are mistaken in leaving books like Sirach, Baruch, Wisdom out of the Bible, since the Church (at the fourth session of the Council of Trent) included those books in the canon, as she had done at the Council of Florence in the fifteenth century.

    But if by ‘church’ you just mean “those who agree with me,” then in claiming that the church can’t get it wrong even if it wanted to, you are in effect ascribing papal infallibility to yourself, and derivatively to all those who maintain agreement with you.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  103. Paige Britton said,

    November 24, 2010 at 6:42 am

    Bryan #98 —
    One problem with this “changes hearts” criterion for canonicity is that as soon as someone feels that something else “changes hearts,” then it too must be admitted to the canon.

    Did you even read what Andrew just wrote? This “changed hearts” bit has NOTHING to do with canonicity. We never claimed that it did! If we had, you’d have been spot on to say such a subjective criterion is bogus.

    Canonicity was established by a historical process providentially overseen by God.

    Our hearts’ reaction to the Bible as a whole is determined by whether or not the Spirit has regenerated us. This is about conversion, or being able to hear and respond to the very words of God.

  104. johnbugay said,

    November 24, 2010 at 7:08 am

    In his work, “Scripture and Tradition,” (c) 1956, Oscar Cullman outlined the early process of first, the recognition of the need for a canon of the New Testament scriptures, and then the development of one. It followed this process:

    1. For Paul, the paradosis (“oral tradition”), in so far as it refers to the confession of faith and to the words and deeds of Jesus, has a parallel in the Jewish concept of 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.

    4. The development of the canon was a conscious decision on the part of the earliest church, born from the consciousness of the heresies spinning out of control, to establish a superior written norm, and to stake out the boundaries of orthodoxy and heresy.

    Essentially, he says, the early church made a key distinction between “apostolic tradition,” that is, what the Apostles taught orally and in writing, and “post-apostolic” or “ecclesiastical” tradition.

    There was no “Roman Catholic Church” which authoritatively sat down and wrote up a canon.

    We must recall the situation that led the Church to conceive the idea of a canon. About the year 150 there is still an oral tradition. We know this from Papias, who wrote an exposition of the words of Jesus. He tells us himself that he used as a basis the viva vox and that he attached more importance to it than to the writings. But him we have not only this declaration of principle; for he has left us some examples of the oral tradition as he found it, and these examples show us well that we ought to think of an oral tradition about the year 150! It is entirely legendary in character. This is clear from the story that Papias reports about Joseph Barsabbas, the unsuccessful candidate, according to Acts 1/23 f., for the post of twelfth disciple rendered vacant by Judas’s treason. Above all there is the obscene and completely legendary account [in Papias] of death of Judas Iscariot himself.

    The period about 150 is, on the one hand, relatively near to the apostolic age, but on the other hand, it is already too far away for the living tradition still to offer in itself the least guarantee of authenticity. The oral traditions which Papias echoes arose in the Church and were transmitted by it. For outside the Church no one had any interest in describing in such crude colours the death of the traitor. Papias was therefore deluding himself when he considered viva vox as more valuable than the written books. The oral tradition had a normative value in the period of the apostles, who were eye-witnesses, but it had it no longer in 150 after passing mouth to mouth (Cullmann, 88-89).

    To establish a canon is equivalent to saying this: henceforth our ecclesiastical tradition needs to be controlled; with the help of the Holy Spirit it will be controlled by the apostolic tradition fixed in writing; for we are getting to the point where we are too distant from the apostolic age to be able to guard the purity of the tradition without a superior written norm, and too distant to prevent slight legendary and other deformations creeping in, and thus being transmitted and amplified(90).

    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.

    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 (96).

    I’ve written more about this here and
    here.

    For a very fine and thorough contemporary account of the historical process of the development of the canon of the NT, see Andreas Kostenberger and Michael Kruger, The Heresy of Orthodoxy. In this work, the authors primarily address the Walter Bauer/Bart Ehrman thesis. But the historical process that they describe of the “development of the New Testament canon” completely flies in the face of the account that Bryan Cross would have us believe.

  105. Bryan Cross said,

    November 24, 2010 at 7:09 am

    Paige, (re: #102)

    Canonicity was established by a historical process providentially overseen by God.

    So was Roe vs. Wade. So are all my students’ papers. Obviously providence does not entail the inerrancy of the result of an historical process. For that reason, in order to know that the Church got the canon right, it is not enough to know that all things are under God’s providence. We have to know in addition that the Church has a gift (or charism) of infallibility in matters of faith and morals. If we deny that the Church has such a gift, then we are left with a subjective, individualistic, “changes hearts” criterion of canonicity, and such a subjective criterion is, as you say, bogus. But the implications of acknowledging that the Church has such a gift are incompatible with Protestantism.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  106. Ron said,

    November 24, 2010 at 7:40 am

    Bryan,

    If God intended to establish the NT church on the sure word of God and didn’t bring to pass the foundation for that building project until fifteen centuries later, then he failed and the church was built upon shifting sand. Protestants assume he didn’t fail; you must assume he did or that he had no intention of establishing the NT church on the sure word of God – which of course is your position and speaks to why Romanism places no premium on the Word and may contradict it whenever it suits her.

    Ron

  107. rfwhite said,

    November 24, 2010 at 8:19 am

    91 Bryan Cross: In answer to my question — In the Catholic theology that you confess, from where does your knowledge of the divine inspiration of any book come ultimately? — you wrote: Ultimately, all knowledge comes from God. … I think you’re intending to ask me to explain the difference between the way the Protestant knows a book of the Bible to be divinely inspired … and the way a Catholic knows a book of the Bible to be divinely inspired. The Catholic knows it not through an internal witness of the Spirit, but through the Church.

    My intent is to understand what you confess and what you would have us believe. The question I asked arose because in 88 you introduced the language of ultimacy into the question of how one knows the divine inspiration of any book. You identified the Church and the Spirit (speaking in one’s heart) as two alternative ultimate sources for this knowledge. Then, in 95, you stated, “Ultimately, all knowledge comes from God.” My questions now are these: is it your claim that the knowledge of the divine inspiration of any book cannot be anything other than mediated through the Church?

  108. rfwhite said,

    November 24, 2010 at 9:58 am

    107 In my haste I wrote my “questions are these” and should have added a second question. So here goes: what contribution, if any, do you believe that 1 Cor 2:12-16 makes to our understanding of the Spirit’s role in one’s knowledge of the divine origin of a book?

  109. Ron said,

    November 24, 2010 at 10:29 am

    Paige,

    Bryan is very selective in what he responds to of mine, so make sure you follow-up with the additional premise to your historical-providential polemic, that being God’s intent. That is the premise he ignores with his retorts (e.g. RV Wade) that deal solely with providence as a sufficient condition.

    Cheers,

    Ron

  110. Bryan Cross said,

    November 24, 2010 at 10:48 am

    Ron, (re: #106)

    The argument you put forward is a philosophical argument. The first premise is that if God intended to establish His Church on Scripture, He would guide His Church infallibly (and without delay) to the true canon of Scripture. Your second premise is that God intended to establish His Church on Scripture. And your conclusion is that He guided His Church infallibly (and without delay) to the true canon of Scripture.

    The argument in itself is not a bad argument, but the use of it necessarily opens the door to other similar arguments. For example, if Christ intended to protect His Church from heresy, He would have given His Church a protection from heresy at ecumenical councils. Christ intends to protect His Church from heresy. Therefore, He gave to His a Church a protection from heresy at ecumenical councils. Here’s another similar argument. If Christ intended His Church to be a light to the world, He would give to it an essential visible unity by way of an essentially unified visible magisterium. Christ intended His Church to be a light to the world. Therefore, He gave to it an essential visible unity by way of an essentially unified visible magisterium. Here’s another. If Christ poured out all His blood on the cross for His Church, then surely He would prevent His Church from falling into doctrinal error from the day of Pentecost in AD 33 at least until 1517. Christ poured out all His blood on the cross for His Church. Therefore, He prevented His Church from falling into doctrinal error from the day of Pentecost in AD 33 at least until 1517. But Protestants reject the conclusions of all three of these arguments. The problem is that it is ad hoc to accept the argument you made, but reject the three similar arguments I just presented. In other words, to accept the one you made, while rejecting the three I presented, is simply to make the Church what you want it to be. To avoid this problem, you would need a principled reason to accept the argument you made, while rejecting all arguments of the sort I presented in the three just above.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  111. Bryan Cross said,

    November 24, 2010 at 10:59 am

    rfwhite, (re: #107,108)

    In #88, I was pointing out that in Protestant theology, the basis or ground of one’s conviction and persuasion concerning the divine inspiration of the various books of Scripture is not the authority of the Church as the divinely authorized witness to the divine inspiration of those books, but is the “inward work of the Holy Spirit … in our hearts.” By contrast, in Catholic theology, the basis or ground of one’s conviction and persuasion concerning the divine inspiration of the various books of Scripture is the authority of the Church as the divinely authorized witness to the divine inspiration of those books.

    My questions now are these: is it your claim that the knowledge of the divine inspiration of any book cannot be anything other than mediated through the Church?

    Given God’s omnipotence, He could reveal to each person individually and directly, the list of books belonging to the canon of Scripture. God is capable of doing that. So if by “cannot” you are asking whether I believe that God has the power to reveal the contents of the canon to each person directly, then the answer is yes — God could (i.e. has the power to) do that. But I believe that God does not in fact reveal the identity of the canon of Scripture to each person directly. I believe that God has chosen to reveal these things to us through the Church, and therefore that the only way to know the canon of Scripture as the canon of Scripture is through the Church.

    [W]hat contribution, if any, do you believe that 1 Cor 2:12-16 makes to our understanding of the Spirit’s role in one’s knowledge of the divine origin of a book?

    These verses, as well as 1 John 2:20ff are often used in an either/or paradigm, as though they imply that Christians do not need pastors or bishops. But we are to “obey our leaders and submit to them” because they keep watch over our souls. (Heb 13:17) Here grace imitates nature. Just as with respect to natural law our conscience must be properly formed, in order for it to be a good guide in moral questions, so we need to be properly formed by the Church and the sacred Tradition, in order rightly to discern the guidance of the Spirit in matters of theological doctrine. These verses do not teach or sanction the permissibility of rebelling against Church authority when one experiences an opposing burning in one’s bosom. And the widespread disagreement between many Christians on many theological questions each person believes to be essential indicates most obviously that either the Spirit is not the Spirit of Truth, and hence can lead different persons to contradictory positions concerning what is essential, or that only those who agree with “me and those who think just like me” have the Spirit. And yet we know that no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. (1 Cor 12:13) And we know that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth (John 14:17, 15:26, 16:13). So it cannot be that only one group of Christians has the Spirit, or that the Spirit is contradicting Himself, since truth cannot contradict truth. The explanation is what I have just said above, namely, that we need formation by the Church in order rightly to discern and follow the Spirit. The more we are formed according to the teaching of the Church, the more we know the mind of Christ and the voice of the Spirit, and can recognize as false what is contrary to the Truth. The Apostle John shows us this relation between the Spirit and the Church, when he says:

    “We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood. (1 John 4:6)

    Those who listen to the Church have the Spirit of Truth. The more a person listens to the Church, the more he has and follows the Spirit of Truth. The more he rejects the Church, the more he rejects the Spirit of Truth. The Spirit and the Church go together, and a person cannot appeal to one to ‘trump’ the other. This was the error of the Montanists, who appealed to the Spirit to oppose the Church at the end of the second century and the beginning of the third.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  112. TurretinFan said,

    November 24, 2010 at 11:15 am

    Bryan:

    You wrote:

    If we deny that the Church has such a gift [a gift (or charism) of infallibility in matters of faith and morals], then we are left with a subjective, individualistic, “changes hearts” criterion of canonicity, and such a subjective criterion is, as you say, bogus.

    This false dichotomy is fairly easily smoked out.

    It can be smoked out a few ways.

    I. Historical Example

    The Roman church did not claim to infallibly define the canon of Scripture before Trent, and yet people (both in the Roman communion and outside it) felt perfectly comfortable having a fallible canon. It worked for over 1500 years.

    Ignatius was satisfied with a canon that was not based on a church having a gift of infallibility. So were all the church fathers and all the medieval theologians.

    The North African councils produced a canon themselves rather than attempting to seek an ecumenical decision on the question. Before them, Athanasius provided a list of the canon of Scripture without even relying on a church council!

    And then, after the Reformation comes along, Trent tries to infallibly define the canon. And when they define it, they contradict two leading cardinals of the immediately previous generation (Cardinals Ximenez and Cajetan) – cardinals who affirmed Jerome’s (and the Protestants’) canon.

    II. Analogical Counter-Example

    What you (Bryan) are arguing for on the level of books is also an issue with respect to parts of books – to the issue of the text of the books themselves. Is the story of the woman found in adultery in the original text? Is the famous passage in 1 John 5:7-8 part of the original text?

    You (Bryan) could try to argue that “If we deny that the Church has such a gift [a gift (or charism) of infallibility in matters of faith and morals], then we are left with a subjective, individualistic, “changes hearts” criterion of [textual authenticity], and such a subjective criterion is, as you say, bogus.”

    But it should be readily apparent that one can have a knowledge of the text of Scripture and reach conclusions of textual authenticity without resorting to completely subjective and individualistic exercises of authority.

    Trent itself originally attempted to define not only the books themselves but also the parts of books (with a focus on things like the apocryphal additions to Daniel and Esther). However, Rome has subsequently issued a New Vulgate that does not entirely follow the text of the Clementine Vulgate.

    III. Logical Analysis

    Obviously, the portion of your (Bryan’s) comment I’ve quoted above is simply a fragment of a larger argument. As such, it is a little informal. On the one hand, we could simply insist that you (Bryan) should formalize your argument. However, until you do so, we can explore your argument in the form in which it has been presented.

    As presented, it seems to suggest that there are really only two options:

    1) Infallible Church
    2) Subjective, Individualistic Judgment

    This set is not well-defined. At least, it does not appear to be well-defined.

    Is our knowledge of the facts of history generally simply a matter of subjective, individualistic judgment? Is our knowledge of which books Homer wrote the domain of subjective, individualistic judgment? Is our knowledge of which are the previous presidents of the United States merely a matter of subjective, individualistic judgment?

    Unless the words “subjective” and “individualistic” are simply epithets (which is a real possibility), then there is a third way – a way in which we conclude that historical facts (God inspiring 66 books, Homer composing two epic poems, 40+ men becoming president of the U.S.) are true, without either resorting to subjective, individualistic means or relying on an infallible church.

    IV. Scriptural Analysis

    Scripture does not, of course, directly address your (Bryan’s) complaint. However, Scripture does provide teachings that undermine your (Bryan’s) complaint.

    One of the areas of teaching relates to the fact that the elect, upon regeneration, are sheep that hear the voice of the shepherd:

    John 10:16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.

    John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:

    Psalm 95:7-9
    For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To day if ye will hear his voice,harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness: when your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work.

    You (Bryan) cannot deny that the Scriptures are the voice of the Shepherd, and consequently we conclude that the elect will recognize and follow the Scripture. This does not mean that they will always do this perfectly. They remain human and fallible. There have been great men of God who have erred with respect either to rejecting an inspired book or accepting as inspired a book that is not.

    Deuteronomy 33:3 Yea, he loved the people; all his saints are in thy hand: and they sat down at thy feet; every one shall receive of thy words.

    John 17:8 For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.

    1 Thessalonians 2:13 For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.

    The point here is that the people of God do receive the Word of God. That’s true whether it is in preached form (as in a sermon that conveys the Word of God) or in written form (principally in the Scriptures).

    This recognition of God’s word for what it is, a recognition that the Holy Spirit gives to all believers to a greater or lesser degree, does not translate into an infallible ability. The Thessalonians were fallible human beings. Nevertheless, they were able to receive Paul’s message for what it was. According to the same principle, we can receive the Scriptures for what they are.

    -TurretinFan

  113. TurretinFan said,

    November 24, 2010 at 11:16 am

    Incidentally, in case the issues raised in my response to Bryan would take this thread off course, I’ve posted it as a stand-alone thread (at this link).

  114. Bryan Cross said,

    November 24, 2010 at 11:46 am

    TF, (re: #112)

    I claimed that if the Church does not have a charism of infallibility, in matters of faith and morals, we are left with a subjective, individualistic, criterion of canonicity. In response, you claimed that my claim can be shown to be a false dichotomy. But none of the pieces of evidence to which you appeal shows that if the Church does not have a charism of infallibility, then we are not left with a subjective individualistic, criterion of canonicity. In other words, all the evidence to which you appealed, is fully compatible with the truth of my claim.

    The fact that the Catholic Church did not formally define the canon until Trent is fully compatible with my claim. (You falsely conclude from the fact that the Catholic Church did not formally define the canon until Trent that prior to Trent, the Catholic Church had a “fallible canon,” but that’s another discussion.) Whether or not St. Ignatius (and the other Church Fathers) were “satisfied” with the canon they had at that time, is fully compatible with my claim. The non-ecumenical status of the North African councils regarding the canon, is fully compatible with what I claimed. St. Athanasius providing a list of the canon, without relying on a Church council, is fully compatible with what I claimed. Likewise, the fact that there is a field of textual criticism, by which one can reach conclusions about the provenance and authenticity of particular parts of texts (e.g. 1 John 5:7-8) is fully compatible with my claim. So is the fact that there are academic disciplines by which we can (publicly, and communally, not merely individualistically) determine which books Homer wrote, and who were the previous presidents of the United States. And likewise, all the Scripture verses you listed are also compatible with my claim. So, I think that you are not understanding my claim, if you think that all those pieces of evidence to which you appeal are somehow incompatible with my claim.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  115. Ron said,

    November 24, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    The argument you put forward is a philosophical argument. The first premise is that if God intended to establish His Church on Scripture, He would guide His Church infallibly (and without delay) to the true canon of Scripture.

    Brian,

    One doesn’t dig the basement of a house after the second floor has been erected. In the like manner, the Lord Jesus would not have been building the NT church on the Word if he had delayed fifteen hundred years to give us his Word. Your response reduces to God could have established the church on the Word without having given us the Word. Moreover, would you have us believe that the saints at Ephesus should not have received the Word prior to a counsel?

    The argument in itself is not a bad argument, but the use of it necessarily opens the door to other similar arguments.

    Bryan, that “similar” arguments and claims can be made to a position is not a refutation of a position. All you are saying by that is you don’t like the position.

    For example, if Christ intended to protect His Church from heresy, He would have given His Church a protection from heresy at ecumenical councils.

    Ah, but that assertion of yours, along with all the other ones – every one of them, Bryan, goes beyond the scope of the biblical intention to build the church upon the Word. You are simply assuming further gnostic premises, such as God must build his church through the means of an infallible magisterium, which Scripture nowhere indicates he would do; yet the very opposite is implied throughout Scripture, like there must heresies among us and that the people of God are to test the spirits to see if they are of God. Why no mention of a perpetual, infallible papacy to settle heresies?

    Bryan, let’s reach down to the bottom of the funnel, shall we? Give me a simple argument from Scripture that leads you to the conclusion of a perpetual, infallible magisterium. I’ll begin your argument with premise 1: Peter was infallible.

    Ron

  116. Ron said,

    November 24, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    I claimed that if the Church does not have a charism of infallibility, in matters of faith and morals, we are left with a subjective, individualistic, criterion of canonicity.

    Brian,

    You can’t avoid the “subjective…” in the sense you are employing the phrase because each individual would have to decide for himself which church is the infallible one. Keep in mind too that claiming to be infallible is not a necessary condition for infallibility. Consequently, a church that doesn’t claim infallibility could be the infallible church, which means that you must exercise “subjective” and “individualistic” judgments to choose Romanism.

    In response, you claimed that my claim can be shown to be a false dichotomy. But none of the pieces of evidence to which you appeal shows that if the Church does not have a charism of infallibility, then we are not left with a subjective individualistic, criterion of canonicity.

    I just showed above that subjective judgment is not relieved by an infallible magisterium since all magisteriums would have to be considered subjectively. Secondly, our confidence in the canon, which has been repeatedly stated, is not based upon a changed-heart premise, but on God’s intention and sovereignty.

    RD

  117. Bryan Cross said,

    November 24, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    Ron,

    Your reply in #115 misses the point of my argument in #110. In #110, I showed, by way of argumentation, that your position is ad hoc, because you make use of a philosophical argument to reach the conclusion that the canon is infallible, while at the same time, without a principled basis you disallow similar arguments that would reach additional conclusions about the Church, her essential visible unity, her indefectibility, the infallibility of ecumenical councils, etc. An ad hoc use of philosophical arguments concerning theology and the Church entails that one is constructing theology and ecclesiology in one’s one image, i.e. as one wants it to be.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  118. Ron said,

    November 24, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    Bryan,

    The argument being logical is philosophical by the nature of the case. The premises are Scriptural, which is relevant, and the reason I disallow “similar” arguments, such as your argument from councils, is because they employ premises that exceed the scope of biblical premises making the “similar” arguments not so similar at all but gratuitous.

    I might suggest you put down your canned play book and begin reading what people are saying.

    Ron

  119. Andrew McCallum said,

    November 24, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    Bryan,

    At the beginning of the year Tom Brown wrote an article at CTC on the canon question (http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2010/01/the-canon-question/) which I know you are well acquainted with. I commented on that article (see comment #25) and laid out a number of logical possibilities as to how a Christian might justify the canon. The first two of these were:

    1) An infallible God worked through an infallible Church to produce the canon
    2) An infallible God worked through a fallible Church to produce the canon

    I identified the first as being the Catholic position and the second as being the Protestant position and Tom had no problems with this. Tom also conceded that in both cases that we would end up with an infallible canon (Tom’s problem was that he felt I was being ad hoc in that I was choosing just one action of the Church to be infallible – I spent some time showing why this was not true, but I won’t go into the details here). The important point here is firstly that he conceded that both the Protestant position and the Catholic position ended up with canons which are infallible. But secondly and even more to the point, Tom did not debate with me that the Protestant justification for the canon looks to the same historical process that the Catholic justification does. The difference between the positions is of course that for the Catholic the grounds of this justification are the charism of infallibility given to the Church while for the Protestant the grounds are the infallible nature of God Himself. So note that, concerning justification of the canon, there is no Evangelical, let alone Reformed, who is looking to the immediate work of the Spirit today.

    There are a number of issues that come out of this discussion such as 1) the Protocanonicals vs the Deuterocanonicals/Apocrypha (of both RCC and EO varieties) and 2) the nature and remit of the Church that Christ founded. These are all good and necessary questions, but I hope you can at least agree with me that we do not need to go back over what is in bold above. In so many of these discussions we never get to talking about who is right because we can never agree what I’m supposed to believe. So I’m merely asking for the privilege of defining my own position. Surely this is not too much to request.

  120. Bryan Cross said,

    November 24, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    Ron, (re: #118)

    and the reason I disallow “similar” arguments, such as your argument from councils,

    This just shows that you don’t understand what I am saying, or perhaps haven’t read it closely enough, because I have not made any “argument from councils.”

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  121. Bryan Cross said,

    November 24, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    Andrew (re: #119),

    I understand your position, namely, that an infallible God worked through a fallible Church to infallibly produce the [Protestant] canon. And of course I grant you the right to define your own position. The problem is that your position is ad hoc, as I have explained to you before, and similarly pointed out in #110 in this thread.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  122. Ron said,

    November 24, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    Brian,

    Rather than dismiss what I said, why not try to understand its meaning, which should have been clear given the context. You wrote: “For example, if Christ intended to protect His Church from heresy, He would have given His Church a protection from heresy at ecumenical councils. Christ intends to protect His Church from heresy. Therefore, He gave to His a Church a protection from heresy at ecumenical councils.”

    I told you that “similar” arguments such as those are not similar at all because they introduce premises that are not found in Scripture, like your argument that refers to councils. Is that better?

    It seems to me that you take any excuse possible to avoid the arguments that are before you.

    Ron

  123. Bryan Cross said,

    November 24, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    Ron (re: #122)

    You think your position is not ad hoc, because you think that the premises of your argument (summarized in #110), are found in Scripture, while you think the premises of the other three arguments presented in #110 are not found in Scripture. But Scripture nowhere says that if God intended to establish His Church on Scripture, He would guide His Church infallibly (and without delay) to the true canon of Scripture. That’s why your argument is a philosophical argument, because it is not based on Scripture or derived from Scripture. It is based on reason. That is, it is reasonable to believe that if God intended to establish His Church on Scripture, He would guide His Church infallibly (and without delay) to the true canon of Scripture. But that argument is no more reasonable than the other three arguments I listed in #110. Hence to accept the one, but not the other three, without a principled reason, is ad hoc.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  124. David Weiner said,

    November 24, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    Bryan,

    In #111 you referenced 1 John 4:6. Well amid the onslaught here, I though I would give you a break with a few very simple questions:

    John seems to believe that the people of God listened to him. I assume this would be true for the other Apostles also? Well, were the Apostles satisfied that people listened but may not have understood? What do you think, did God’s people in fact understand them when they spoke? Did the Apostles write something different in their letters which the people of God now can not understand? Is there something about the spoken word that makes it more easily understood than the written word?

  125. Ron said,

    November 24, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    Bryan,

    If God intended to build his NT church on Scripture then it is false that he would not build his NT church on Scripture. To have waited 1500 years to provide chunks of Scripture would not have been to build his church on Scripture. What you are trying to deny me of is the law of non-contradiction, which only tells me how desperate you must be. Added to that, if God intended to build his church on the truth of Scripture, then he would have needed to ensure that the church received the truth of Scripture without error. Yet you would like to call that too philosophical too. Basically, you are against any argument that counters Romanism. Finally, you would like to introduce the need for an infallible magisterium in order to avoid subjectivism, but as it has been pointed out above, you must decide for yourself which is the true infallible church, keeping in mind that the claim of infallibility is not a necessary condition for the quality of infallibility. Accordingly, you cannot escape your own strictures. This has been pointed out to you for years…

  126. Bryan Cross said,

    November 24, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    David (re: #124)

    If you don’t mind me pointing you elsewhere (so that I don’t need to type it again) I laid out my answer to that question in sections II and III of my reply to Michael Horton.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  127. D. T. King said,

    November 24, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    DT King said, “When you ask them how it is that the ancient church of Israel managed to recognized what was Scripture without an infallible magisterium, they have no meaningful response.”

    Mr. AJ said: A Classic James White.

    Actually, it isn’t; it is a classic, historic Protestant response which in turn demonstrates a failed non-Protestant apologetic.

    Mr. AJ said: Well, at least the jewish people don’t have to question whether a book belongs to their OT or not because they follow their Inspired Oral tradition set from Moses, Patriarchs and Prophets above them even when they have the written Torah.
    Individual jews don’t settle for themselves which one is or not.

    I love this response, because the “at least” clause underscores my point so beautifully, and proves that there was no need for any infallible conciliar authority needed to define the canon of Scripture. Moreover, the assertion which follows begs the question of an alleged “Inspired Oral tradition” beginning with Moses, the Patriarchs and Prophets was at work in the reception of the canon by the ancient church of Israel. Moreover, the implication by analogy that individual Protestants settle the canon for themselves is indeed the very caricature of the Roman apologetic that has already been addressed in this thread. But the Romanist must keep insisting on his straw man argument because he has no meaningful response to the Protestant view concerning the reception of the canon.

    But let us, for the sake of argument, just suppose that the caricature is true (though we don’t concede it for a moment) . . . Isn’t it amazing that, in the infallible providence of God, all mainline Protestant churches agree on precisely the same canon? We as Protestants have complete unanimity on the canon, whereas the communions that claim conciliar authority, and an “inspired oral tradition” disagree on the list of canonical books, viz., the Roman communion and Eastern Orthodoxy. Yet both parade this argument as if it were the silver bullet for the defeat of Protestantism. Both Romanism and Eastern Orthodoxy claim pedigree of apostolic succession, an inspired oral tradition, and conciliar authority, and no unanimity exists between them for establishing infallibly the canonical list of books. Yet, as a general rule, they never employ this argument against each other; they use it only when seeking to contend with Protestants. Thus, the Protestant canon, far from being the hopeless mire of an alleged subjectivism (a contention designed for the purposes of an apologetic agenda), is the result of an objective providential reality.

    Mr. AJ said: The oldest version of the Bible is the Septuagint (Bible of Jesus and the Apostles) which date between 168 B.C. and A.D. 100 had been confirmed as God-inspired by all those Catholic Councils which included the 7 books until 1,500 years later by the later by authority of Martin Luther removed those books. (His justification was the 7 books were not sanctioned by the Jewish council of Jamnia in 70 AD which by the way was the same jewish council that rejected the Deity of Jesus Christ!)

    There are a number of reasons why this objection has no teeth to it, but I’ll offer 2.
    1) If all the books of this “oldest version of the Bible” (the LXX) were indeed inspired, then why has Rome not accepted all the books of this version that you claim is inspired? For example, why has Rome rejected the 1 Esdras of the LXX (designating it as 3 Esdras)? Why did Rome reject 3 & 4 Maccabees, Enoch, the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, the Assumption of Moses, the Ascension of Isaiah? Why did Pope Gregory the Great reject 1 Maccabees as canonical (I could ask the same concerning many other ancient witnesses)? You see, this is a stupid argument, and the Roman apologetic never seems to improve itself when confronted with its inconsistencies. Therefore, perhaps you can learn something, and it’s this – if your position can be undermined by your own argument, then it is not a sound argument.

    2) Virtually every credible scholar today has rejected Sundberg’s theory that Jamnia/Yavneh was and/or represented some kind of Jewish council which rendered a conclusive decision on the Jewish canon. I could quote several authors, but I’ll offer you a Jesuit scholar…

    Daniel J. Harrington, S.J.: To explain these developments, modern scholars have proposed that the Jewish canon was fixed and closed at the Council (or Synod) of Jamnia/Yavneh in the late first century C.E., and that early Christians were following the more inclusive canon current in the Jewish community of Alexandria. These two explanations suffer from lack of hard evidence. While there was surely a movement to reconstruct Jewish life after 70 C.E. that was based in Jamnia/Yavneh, the idea of a special meeting analogous to a church council or synod to determine authoritatively the limits of the Hebrew canon of scripture has no firm foundation. The theory that the wider Christian canon was borrowed from the Jews of Alexandria also lacks any firm foundation. The historical realities were undoubtedly more complex.
    These scholarly theories of the past are regarded by scholars today as “myths.” But myths often convey some important truths. The Jamnia myth seeks to explain the movement among Jews in the late first century C.E. to fix definitively the wording and the extent of the authoritative scriptures of Israel. The Alexandria myth seeks to explain why Christians gradually embraced certain Jewish books beyond those of the Hebrew Bible and serving, for the most part, little or no obvious Christian theological purposes. See his chapter “The Old Testament Apocrypha in the Early Church and Today” in Lee Martin McDonald and James A. Sanders, eds., The Canon Debate (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 2002), pp. 203-204.

    One could easily present more scholarly assessments which draw the same conclusion. Yet, time and time again, the Roman apologetic community, when confronted with the evidence against this debunked theory of Jamnia, never improves its apologetic! It’s simply parroted over and over again as you’ve chosen to do here.

    Mr. AJ said: Scripture itself is a Tradition a written Tradition.

    So? We love and affirm true, inscripturated tradition!

    Thanks for sharing Mr. AJ.

  128. Bryan Cross said,

    November 24, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    Ron (re: #125),

    What you are trying to deny me of is the law of non-contradiction,

    Unfortunately, I think this medium (i.e. the internet) is not allowing me to communicate adequately. I am in no way trying to deny you (or anyone) the law of non-contradiction. I think it would be best for me to conclude my conversation with you. Thank you very much for discussing this with me. May God help us overcome that which divides us.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  129. Ron said,

    November 24, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    Bryan, you always conclude without addressing a single point. You do address points not made by your opponents though. That much I will say for you.

    So long.

    Ron

  130. D. T. King said,

    November 24, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    Mr. Cross suggested (among other things): For example, if Christ intended to protect His Church from heresy, He would have given His Church a protection from heresy at ecumenical councils. Christ intends to protect His Church from heresy. Therefore, He gave to His a Church a protection from heresy at ecumenical councils.

    Non sequitur, because Scripture has revealed, and the history of the church has demonstrated, otherwise. The Apostle Paul stated: “For there must also be factions (αἱρέσεις) among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you.” (1Cor 11:19), and the churches of Asia Minor in Revelation 2 and 3, all of which enjoyed the very presence of Christ by His Spirit, had no infallible guarantee that they would, as individual congregations, be preserved from Christ’s judgment. To argue that the communion of Rome is an exception is simply a case of special pleading.

    Mr. Cross also suggested: “I claimed that if the Church does not have a charism of infallibility, in matters of faith and morals, we are left with a subjective, individualistic, criterion of canonicity.”

    This claim is a case of special pleading. This was de facto not the case for the ancient church of Israel; and history has vindicated, in terms of unanimity, that this is not the case for the Protestant canon, as I’ve already shown. There is nothing individualistic about the Protestant canon. The Romanist must maintain this claim only for the sake of an apologetic agenda.

  131. TurretinFan said,

    November 24, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    Bryan:

    You wrote:

    I claimed that if the Church does not have a charism of infallibility, in matters of faith and morals, we are left with a subjective, individualistic, criterion of canonicity. In response, you claimed that my claim can be shown to be a false dichotomy. But none of the pieces of evidence to which you appeal shows that if the Church does not have a charism of infallibility, then we are not left with a subjective individualistic, criterion of canonicity. In other words, all the evidence to which you appealed, is fully compatible with the truth of my claim.

    On the contrary, for the reasons already stated, they do show that your dichotomy is false.

    I see no particular reason to repeat the arguments against which you have simply waved your hands in this way.

    You wrote:

    The fact that the Catholic Church did not formally define the canon until Trent is fully compatible with my claim.

    No, it is not – for the reasons already given. Again, no need for me to repeat my original argument.

    You wrote:

    (You falsely conclude from the fact that the Catholic Church did not formally define the canon until Trent that prior to Trent, the Catholic Church had a “fallible canon,” but that’s another discussion.)

    There are only three ways that something can be taught infallibly in your religion, Bryan. By the exercise of ecuminical or papal infallibility, or by the exercise of the ordinary and universal magisterium. Both the patristic and medieval evidence is strong enough to sink any attempted appeal to the O&UM.

    There was no exercise of infallibility by any pope or council before Trent. Although Florence did provide a list of books, the list was not intended as an exercise of infallibility (the same goes for the various papal lists – or parts – that can be found).

    You continued:

    Whether or not St. Ignatius (and the other Church Fathers) were “satisfied” with the canon they had at that time, is fully compatible with my claim.

    No, it is not – for the reasons already stated.

    The non-ecumenical status of the North African councils regarding the canon, is fully compatible with what I claimed.

    No, it is not – for the reasons already stated.

    St. Athanasius providing a list of the canon, without relying on a Church council, is fully compatible with what I claimed.

    No, it is not – for the reasons already stated.

    Likewise, the fact that there is a field of textual criticism, by which one can reach conclusions about the provenance and authenticity of particular parts of texts (e.g. 1 John 5:7-8) is fully compatible with my claim.

    No, it is not – for the reasons already stated.

    So is the fact that there are academic disciplines by which we can (publicly, and communally, not merely individualistically) determine which books Homer wrote, and who were the previous presidents of the United States.

    No, it is not – for the reasons already stated.

    And likewise, all the Scripture verses you listed are also compatible with my claim.

    No, they are not – for the reasons already stated.

    So, I think that you are not understanding my claim, if you think that all those pieces of evidence to which you appeal are somehow incompatible with my claim.

    I’ll reserve my thoughts about what’s going on here and invite you to do more in terms of interacting than merely waving your hands.

    -TurretinFan

  132. TurretinFan said,

    November 24, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    Perhaps the problem is that you don’t see the reasons clearly enough in previously posted comments, Bryan. So I will try to provide a little more clarification.

    You wrote: “if the Church does not have a charism of infallibility, in matters of faith and morals, we are left with a subjective, individualistic, criterion of canonicity.”

    Evidence incompatible with this false dichotomy would be evidence of people obtaining the canon without recourse to ecclesiastical infallibility or subjective, individualistic judgment.

    Evidence also incompatible with this false dichotomy would be evidence of people obtaining knowledge about the contents of Scripture without recourse to ecclesiastical infallibility or subjective, individualistic judgment.

    Evidence also incompatible with this false dichotomy would be evidence of people obtaining knowledge in general without recourse to ecclesiastical infallibility or subjective, individualistic judgment.

    In case there was some lack of clarity before, perhaps this clarification will help to advance the dialog.

    -TurretinFan

  133. David Weiner said,

    November 24, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    Bryan re #126,

    No problem with reuse. Well, there was a lot in those two sections; not to mention all the other sections of your response to Horton. Would it be fair to say that your following statement is a fair encapsulation of your answer to my questions? “A living person can engage in genuine personal dialogue with the reader, whereas a book cannot.”

    Very reasonable. Of course, neither of us were there; but, what I had thought was that the Apostles (with God’s assistance) spoke these messages many times before they wrote them down. Sort of like many dry runs, if you will. Further, my guess is that most of the confusing parts would have come up in discussions with the live listeners. These interchanges leading to the Apostles being satisfied that the people of God did understand their message and were not just blindly listening.

    Therefore, after many live presentations with Q&A wouldn’t the Apostles have gotten pretty good at being able to write down their messages in a manner that most (if not all) of God’s people could understand without any other help?

  134. Bryan Cross said,

    November 24, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    TF (re: #132)

    I had written a reply to #131, but I deleted it when I saw #132, because I think #131 doesn’t advance the dialogue, while I think #132 does advance the dialogue.

    Evidence incompatible with this false dichotomy would be evidence of people obtaining the canon without recourse to ecclesiastical infallibility or subjective, individualistic judgment.

    True, if by “obtaining” you mean knowing it as divine revelation (as opposed to, for example, selecting the actual canon by ‘luck’ from a list of all the existing writings from before the second century). But none of the pieces of evidence to which you appeal are examples of knowing the canon as the canon, apart from the charism of ecclesial infallibility.

    Evidence also incompatible with this false dichotomy would be evidence of people obtaining knowledge about the contents of Scripture without recourse to ecclesiastical infallibility or subjective, individualistic judgment.

    No, Pilate obtained knowledge of the contents of Scripture when Jesus spoke to him words that were later recorded in the gospels. But Pilate’s obtaining this knowledge of the contents of Scripture does not entail that we can come to know the complete list of books that belong to the canon of Scripture in some other way than either through divinely authorized persons (i.e. the Church) or through direct, immediate revelation by the Holy Spirit testifying in our heart that this list of books is the full and complete canon of Scripture.

    Evidence also incompatible with this false dichotomy would be evidence of people obtaining knowledge in general without recourse to ecclesiastical infallibility or subjective, individualistic judgment.

    No. Knowledge of precisely which books belong to the canon of Scripture is divine revelation, not something human reason can determine on its own; what is supernatural cannot be known by what is natural, without supernatural aid. That’s why knowledge of the list of books that belong to the canon must either come from God through some subset of divinely authorized persons (i.e. the Church) or to all men individually and directly by way of an internal witness from the Holy Spirit. The fact that we can know the truths of reason [e.g. the Pythagorean theorem (x2 + y2 = z2)] without recourse to ecclesiastical infallibility or subjective, individualistic judgment, is fully compatible with the fact that in matters of supernatural revelation, we either obtain such knowledge from a subset of divinely-authorized persons, or we each obtain it individually by direct revelation from God to our heart.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  135. Andrew McCallum said,

    November 24, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    The problem is that your position is ad hoc, as I have explained to you before, and similarly pointed out in #110 in this thread.

    Ah yes, Bryan, the ole’ ad hoc fallacy which indeed you have pointed out before and which I have answered before a more than just a few occasions in excruciating detail In fact you can see how I answer it in my response to Tom in the aforementioned post. Tom challenges me with this:

    It would be ad hoc to claim that the “church” infallibly established the canon through widespread acceptance while otherwise being unable to arrive at any infallible conclusions, without a principled basis for affirming infallibility in the one case and denying it in all others. If the Church was not infallibly preserved from error in its early teachings on ecclesiology, iconography, justification, etc., there is no reason to believe it was so preserved from error when its canon came into widespread acceptance.

    And I answer him with the following (#36):

    ….It is not ad hoc to hold that the production of the Scriptures in infallible while other action of the Church are not. God promised that the production of the Scriptures were theopneustos so our claiming infallibility for the Scriptures via the agency of the Church stems from God’s promise that Scriptures are His words. But he never said that tradition was theopneustos and the RCC does not claim that tradition is inspired. There is a distinction between Scripture and tradition and thus we distinguish the work of the Church in receiving the canon and her forming traditions outside of Scripture. Could there be any more principled distinction than that God distinguishes the Scriptures? Now you may be able to come up with some reason why you think that de fide pronouncements of the Church are infallible, but I think you can hardly say that there is no principled distinction between the Church’s work in receiving inspired books and her work in writing uninspired traditions.

    Now I think I have a pretty good idea of how you would answer my paragraph above and I bet you have a pretty good feel for what I would say in return! It’s no easy question is it?

    But it sounds like you have enough on your plate right now with some of the other Protestant folks here, so no need to answer me back if you don’t like.

  136. Bryan Cross said,

    November 24, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    David (re: #133)

    Would it be fair to say that your following statement is a fair encapsulation of your answer to my questions? “A living person can engage in genuine personal dialogue with the reader, whereas a book cannot.”

    That’s a fair encapsulation of the reason why a living visible magisterium is not subject to the infinite hermeneutical regress, and can give definitive answers to interpretive questions. But I think your questions (in #124) are more about perspicuity, which I addressed in section II.

    You wrote:

    Very reasonable. Of course, neither of us were there; but, what I had thought was that the Apostles (with God’s assistance) spoke these messages many times before they wrote them down. Sort of like many dry runs, if you will. Further, my guess is that most of the confusing parts would have come up in discussions with the live listeners. These interchanges leading to the Apostles being satisfied that the people of God did understand their message and were not just blindly listening.

    I do not assume that the purpose of the NT authors in writing Scripture was to repeat in writing what they had already said orally once or many times. I don’t want to bring <a priori assumptions to Scripture. It seems reasonable to believe that many of the things they wrote about they had also preached. But it also possible that in some cases their writing presupposes that their readers had already heard their preaching, and so their writing takes for granted that the readers already know what had been delivered to them orally, and builds on that, rather than simply repeats it. So, it seems to me that we can’t just assume that the purpose of the writing of the NT was to present the gospel in a clear way to those who had never heard it. At least, I don’t think that’s a justified a priori assumption to bring to the text.

    The history of interpretive disagreements shows that if the Apostles had been intending to write a text that didn’t require an interpretive authority to adjudicate the disputes, they failed miserably. Otherwise, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion (i.e. Protestant-Catholic disagreement). What allowed (and allows) Scripture to be interpreted in unity is the shared Tradition by which and in which Scripture has previously been interpreted and understood. The more removed a reader is from that Tradition, the more possible ways he or she (and will) [mis]interpret Scripture. This is a problem in China right now, where many underground house-churches have had access only to the Bible, not to any of the Tradition. And the problem they are having is that different house-churches are coming to different (incompatible) interpretations of Scripture, so much so that they are each like their own little sect. The doctrinal disunity is a demonstration that maintaining unity of faith and orthodoxy in interpreting Scripture requires holding the same Tradition, and this in turn requires the authoritative guidance of the Church, when doctrinal questions arise.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  137. Ron said,

    November 24, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    That’s why knowledge of the list of books that belong to the canon must either come from God through some subset of divinely authorized persons (i.e. the Church) or to all men individually and directly by way of an internal witness from the Holy Spirit.

    Even if God reveals the list of books that belong to the canon only to a subset of authorized persons, for that knowledge to be dispersed from the few to the many, there must be an internal witness from the Holy Spirit to all men individually!

    When Bryan speaks of knowledge, I trust he is speaking of a person knowing. So, his statement can be written “For one to know the list of books that belong to the canon, said knowledge must come either through (a) some subset of divinely authorized persons (i.e. the Church) or (b) to all men individually through the Spirit’s testimony.” Bryan’s position is (a), not (b) so I’ll deal with that, and then his either or fallacy. Now what is it that the church supplies to the mind with respect to the conditions for knowledge? Does the church take the Spirit’s place of granting warrant for belief? Does the church do the believing for the knower? Or does the church merely provide the proposition that is to be believed (i.e. “these books are canonical”), but if that’s all it supplies, then who justifies the belief in man’s mind and how can that belief not be individually to all men who believe?

    Secondly, Bryan’s dichotomy is most certainly fallacious. The witness of the Spirit need not be to each person regarding each book in order for each person to know the church has received the canon. The witness of the Spirit only needs to affirm for knowledge to obtain on that particular proposition that whatever the church received, it was from God and infallible. In other words, if God’s word presupposes and teaches that the church would receive the Word at the beginning of its inception, then all one needs to know is that truth, even without having read Habakkuk. That knowledge comes by way of knowledge of God’s sovereignty and intention.

    Ron

  138. Bryan Cross said,

    November 24, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    Andrew (re: #135),

    Here’s your argument from #135, in syllogistic form, intending to demonstrate that your position is not ad hoc:

    (1) God promised that the production of the Scriptures were theopneustos

    Therefore,

    (2) Our claiming infallibility for the Scriptures via the agency of the Church stems from God’s promise that Scriptures are His words.

    Therefore,

    (3) It is not ad hoc to hold that the production of the Scriptures in infallible while other action of the Church are not.

    I’ll just point out that the move from (1) to (2) is a non sequitur, and the move from (2) to (3) is a non sequitur.

    The reason your position is ad hoc is that you claim that this one action of the Church (determining which books belong to the canon) was infallibly protected from error by God, while also claiming that every other action of the Church was not infallibly protected from error by God, without any principled reason why God would protect the Church from error in the former case, but not do so in all other cases.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  139. steve hays said,

    November 24, 2010 at 6:46 pm

    Bryan Cross said,

    “The Catholic knows it not through an internal witness of the Spirit, but through the Church.”

    Assuming, for the sake of argument, that we can only know the Bible through the church, by what prior authority can we know the church?

    “For that reason, in order to know that the Church got the canon right, it is not enough to know that all things are under God’s providence. We have to know in addition that the Church has a gift (or charism) of infallibility in matters of faith and morals. If we deny that the Church has such a gift, then we are left with a subjective, individualistic, ‘changes hearts’ criterion of canonicity, and such a subjective criterion is, as you say, bogus. But the implications of acknowledging that the Church has such a gift are incompatible with Protestantism.”

    Among other problems with this argument, keep in mind that Bryan always uses “the Church” as a euphemism for “the church of Rome.”

    So this is what his claim really amounts to: “If we deny that the church of Rome has such a gift, then we are left with a subjective, individualistic, ‘changes hearts’ criterion of canonicity…”

    Yet that’s absurd. To take just one counterexample, where does that leave Inter-Testamental Jews?

    “These verses, as well as 1 John 2:20ff are often used in an either/or paradigm, as though they imply that Christians do not need pastors or bishops. But we are to ‘obey our leaders and submit to them’ because they keep watch over our souls. (Heb 13:17).”

    Notice that Bryan isn’t quoting from any Magisterial interpretations of Heb 13:17. Notice how he assumes the perspicuity of Scripture whenever that suits his agenda.

    “No. Knowledge of precisely which books belong to the canon of Scripture is divine revelation, not something human reason can determine on its own; what is supernatural cannot be known by what is natural, without supernatural aid.”

    That’s a claim you need to defend. Since the books of Scripture are inspired, there’s a sense in which they are supernatural (i.e. supernaturally produced). The effect of a supernatural cause.

    Yet their production also involves mundane second causes. Human agents.

    Likewise, historical events ultimately have a supernatural cause. Yet they are also the result of second causes.

    So, by parity of argument, you couldn’t know historical events apart from supernatural aid.

    “The history of interpretive disagreements shows that if the Apostles had been intending to write a text that didn’t require an interpretive authority to adjudicate the disputes, they failed miserably.”

    Suppose Bryan were a Judaizer. (As a matter of fact, there are significant parallels.) When Galatians arrives by courier, Bryan says, “I can ignore Galatians because everything Paul says is open to interpretation.”

    On Bryan’s view, Paul has no authority to settle disputes by letter, even though that was his express intention when he wrote Galatians.

    Instead, Bryan the Judaizer would challenge Paul’s authority. Bryan would attempt to pull rank on Paul by appealing to the church of Rome. Ultimately, only Peter would have the “interpretive authority” to settle the dispute.

    Even though we see Apostles like Paul using the written medium to settle disputes, that isn’t good enough for Bryan. Bryan is fundamentally insubordinate to the modus operandi of the Apostolate.

    On a final note, suppose, for the sake of argument, that Protestants only have a fallible list of infallible books.

    (I, myself, regard that characterization as deeply misleading. But I’ll waive that for now.)

    Yet on their own terms, papists only have a fallible list of infallible teachings.

    So why does a fallible list of infallible books undermine the Protestant position, but a fallible list of infallible teachings doesn’t undermine the position of the papist?

  140. steve hays said,

    November 24, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    BTW, Bryan loves to talk in abstractions about the necessity of a papal “interpretive authority” to resolve disputes. But let’s bring this down to earth. Over at Called to Communion, there’s an ongoing thread in which various CTC contributors, as well as commenters, can’t agree with each other on what the pope meant by his statement about condom use. A Vatican spokesman subsequently issued a “clarification,” but the “clarification” simply raised some new questions without even resolving all of the preexisting questions already raised by the pope’s statement. Bryan’s interpretive authority is a Penelope’s web.

  141. Paige Britton said,

    November 24, 2010 at 9:13 pm

    Ron #109 —
    Woah, I am way late in the game here to continue the suggestion of a polemic that I wrote very quickly early this morning (re. canonicity being the result of historic process & God’s providence) — you guys have filled in the blanks quite well since then. And I was mainly irked that Bryan was using WCF 1.5 so very individualistically, to wrest from it the second half of his helpful dichotomy.

    But YES, the issue is founded on the question of God’s intent. Bryan offers only two possibilities, but here’s another: If God did not supply the world with an infallible magisterium, yet he intended the church to know his mind, why should he not have chosen to do this by historically verifiable, even reasonable, means, right from the start? Like, say, Jesus’ personal endorsement of the Tanak? Or the early church’s personal knowledge of the NT authors?

    Is there some reason why we are shut up to absolute certainty on the one hand, or complete subjectivity (to be repeated with every new convert! Oy vay!) on the other? Lack of imagination, maybe?

    I always find myself returning to the bottom line: which universe are we living in, anyway? The one where God has appointed somebody to give us all the important answers, or the one in which we are intended to walk by faith, with the very good helps of the Spirit and the Word?

  142. Andrew McCallum said,

    November 25, 2010 at 6:18 am

    In #138 Bryan says:
    The reason your position is ad hoc is that you claim that this one action of the Church (determining which books belong to the canon) was infallibly protected from error by God, while also claiming that every other action of the Church was not infallibly protected from error by God, without any principled reason why God would protect the Church from error in the former case, but not do so in all other cases.

    But Bryan, I was not in my post #135 trying to show that “every other action of the Church was not infallibly protected from error…” I was only attempting to demonstrate that there is a principled difference between appeals to statements that are inspired by God and appeals to those statements that are not. Statements that are inspired by God must be infallible while those that are not inspired could be be infallible, but we cannot ground their infallibility in the very nature of God.

    The Catholic apologist wants to make the point that inspiration is not necessary to infallibility. Well, maybe that’s true and the demonstration of that truth is the challenge for the RC apologist. But whether it is or is not true does not affect my appeal to the distinct epistemic class that the Church has historically reserved for statements which are from the very mouth of God.

    And as previously noted, this is not principally about judgments that we as individuals make but rather about the judgments that the Church has made. And the Church is the entity which is defined for us as such in Scripture.

  143. Andrew McCallum said,

    November 25, 2010 at 6:47 am

    I always find myself returning to the bottom line: which universe are we living in, anyway? The one where God has appointed somebody to give us all the important answers, or the one in which we are intended to walk by faith, with the very good helps of the Spirit and the Word?

    Paige – That’s an interesting observation. I have made the point to some of the RC apologists that in every other facet of human existence we don’t require an infallible human interpreter to give us the required knowledge to operate in whatever sphere we are speaking of. The Catholic philosophers like to say that theology is unique, but we agree with them here. Statements about God are unique, but this to me never justifies the kind of human interpreter that has become part of the RCC dogmatic system. The philosophers in the RCC have historically attempted to come up with a system where their particular human authority is not just part of the way the God has ordained things, but also an epistemological necessity. According to the philosophers, we must accept this authority if we are ever to arrive at the kind of certainty that God intended.

    But does God really want us to have the kind of certainty that the Catholic philosophers are shooting for? And maybe more importantly, does their system really give us any more certainty? It seems to me that the Catholic parishioner sitting in the pew who hears the words of the “infallible” Magisterium of Rome is still left with how to interpret this tradition in the context of his existence. Instead of trying to understand and apply the infallible Word of God he is now trying to understand and apply the “infallible” words of the Magisterium. And I think many Catholics just sort of give up because the clear words of Scripture have been made obscure by the convoluted reasoning of the magisterial teachings of Rome. As we noted somewhere higher up in this thread, the interpretations of Rome never seem to get any more perspicuous than what they they were interpreting.

  144. Reed Here said,

    November 25, 2010 at 7:05 am

    Possibly one of the best statements in this whole series of RCC-Prot. debates:

    I always find myself returning to the bottom line: which universe are we living in, anyway? The one where God has appointed somebody to give us all the important answers, or the one in which we are intended to walk by faith, with the very good helps of the Spirit and the Word?

    Well said Paige, well said. One of the things I find troubling about our RCC friends I also find troubling about most Evangelicals: they believe in order to walk by faith they must have in their possession a degree certainty of things that looks more like the demands for certainty of a rebel than of a child.

    Here’s to a child’s certainty. I may not know ALL the what’s, why’s and wherefore’s, but I do know the Who.

    What a great thing for thanksgiving!

  145. steve hays said,

    November 25, 2010 at 7:26 am

    Bryan says:

    “The reason your position is ad hoc is that you claim that this one action of the Church (determining which books belong to the canon) was infallibly protected from error by God, while also claiming that every other action of the Church was not infallibly protected from error by God, without any principled reason why God would protect the Church from error in the former case, but not do so in all other cases.”

    Isn’t that just like Bart Ehrman’s argument against the inspiration of Scripture? According to Ehrman, it’s ad hoc to claim that God inspires the Bible writers, but he doesn’t inspire every scribe.

  146. Ron said,

    November 25, 2010 at 8:35 am

    Ron #109 –
    Woah, I am way late in the game here to continue the suggestion of a polemic that I wrote very quickly early this morning (re. canonicity being the result of historic process & God’s providence) — you guys have filled in the blanks quite well since then.

    Yea Paige, but that’s largely due to a Roman apologist hangin’ us slow curves up in the wheelhouse. The obvious double standards, question begging, special pleading, false dichotomies, straw men caricatures, and even ad hoc arguments from their side of the aisle have created quite a smorgasbord for the Protestants.

    In God’s wise providence he has given us Roman apologists in order to sharpen our appreciation for the biblical solas. So, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, we can in some sense give thanks to God for Romanism! :)

    Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

    Ron

  147. Bryan Cross said,

    November 25, 2010 at 9:11 am

    Paige (re: #141),

    Or the early church’s personal knowledge of the NT authors? … I always find myself returning to the bottom line: which universe are we living in, anyway? The one where God has appointed somebody to give us all the important answers, or the one in which we are intended to walk by faith, with the very good helps of the Spirit and the Word?

    The problem with the rejection of the possibility of divinely appointed persons, is that such a rejection would have put you out of the very early church to which you wish to appeal for knowledge of the NT authors. Jesus established certain “somebodies” in the early Church: “The one who listens to you listens to Me, and the one who rejects you rejects Me; and he who rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me.” (Luke 10:16) In denying visible living ecclesial authority, your position is more like that of the Montanists, the rigorists who sought the Spirit apart from the succession from the Apostles. I addressed this in sections IX and XI of Sola Scriptura: A Dialogue Between Michael Horton and Bryan Cross”.

    If God did not supply the world with an infallible magisterium, yet he intended the church to know his mind, why should he not have chosen to do this by historically verifiable, even reasonable, means, right from the start? Like, say, Jesus’ personal endorsement of the Tanak? Or the early church’s personal knowledge of the NT authors?

    Using historical, reasonable, means, you could pull together a list of documents that are highly likely to have been written by people who knew Jesus. But using historical, reasonable means, you could not show that they are divinely inspired. Nor could you demonstrate that your list was an exhaustive list of the divinely inspired books God intended His Church to have. So you could not establish the canon as the canon of Scripture; you could only compile a fallible list of books that to the best of your knowledge are historically reliable records of what Jesus said and did.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  148. Bryan Cross said,

    November 25, 2010 at 9:13 am

    Andrew, (re: #142)

    But Bryan, I was not in my post #135 trying to show that “every other action of the Church was not infallibly protected from error…” I was only attempting to demonstrate that there is a principled difference between appeals to statements that are inspired by God and appeals to those statements that are not. Statements that are inspired by God must be infallible while those that are not inspired could be be infallible, but we cannot ground their infallibility in the very nature of God.

    Of course there is a difference between appealing to a divinely inspired statement, and appealing to a statement that is not divinely inspired. But that difference does not make your position any less ad hoc. You claim that God protected the Church from error in her determination of the canon, while denying that God protected the Church from error in her determination at Nicea that Christ is homoousious with the Father. For you as a Protestant, that latter determination is not infallible, since for you, as a Protestant, no ecumenical councils have been divinely protected from error. But you can give no principled reason to believe God protected the Church from error in her determination of the canon while denying that God protected the Church from error in her determination at Nicea that Christ is homoousious with the Father. You have no more reason to believe that the Church was infallible in her determination of the canon than she was in her determination that Christ is homoousious with the Father. Yet you believe the former and deny the latter. Hence, your position is ad hoc.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  149. greenbaggins said,

    November 25, 2010 at 9:28 am

    Bryan, in answer to your 147, I would say that you have extended Paige’s argument quite beyond its own limits, and have rejected the extension, and not the heart of the argument. You seem to think that if anyone does not ascribe to the Roman Catholic magisterium, then they are rejecting “visible living ecclesiastical authority.” This is not what Paige said. It is quite possible to accept visible living ecclesiastical authority without giving that authority the same level of authority as the Bible has. When Paige posits her dichotomy, therefore, between ecclesiastical authority and the voice of God, it is only in an ultimate sense that she means this. She is unwilling to put them on the same level. To you that sounds like complete rejection of the church. But the many early church father quotations that David King has adduced prove only that they highly regarded the church. They do NOT prove that the ECF put the church on the same level as the Bible. That is pure eisegesis.

  150. Ron said,

    November 25, 2010 at 10:17 am

    Perfect, Lane.

    Bryan says:Jesus established certain “somebodies” in the early Church: “The one who listens to you listens to Me, and the one who rejects you rejects Me; and he who rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me.”

    That means to Bryan – If Jesus established certain somebodies, then Jesus instituted the papacy to be the perpetual, infallible vicar for Christ on earth. Bryan does not see in his position the caricature that “if anyone does not ascribe to the Roman Catholic magisterium, then they are rejecting ‘visible living ecclesiastical authority.'” It’s hard though to imagine that he does not see this, but rather it seems more likely that he will not admit this. As I’ve asked Bryan before, how does one get from an infallible Peter to a perpetually infallible papacy? The papacy seems to be his axiom (even his transcendental that makes sense of everything) and not his conclusion, but his belief in this rule over his life cannot be derived from Scripture. His belief and loyalty to the popes is purely subjective and individualistic to use his own terminology. It’s a wish.

    Ron

  151. Bryan Cross said,

    November 25, 2010 at 10:24 am

    Lane, (re: #149)

    It is quite possible to accept visible living ecclesiastical authority without giving that authority the same level of authority as the Bible has.

    I agree. But no one is doing that. (And it is a strawman that should be avoided.) Luke 10:16 does not make the Apostles equal in authority to Christ. But, nevertheless, it does show that to reject the Apostles is to reject Christ, because Christ authorized them to speak for Him. For example, to reject the decision of the Jerusalem Council, even before Luke by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote down his account of that Council, would have been to reject Christ. The requirement of obedience to the divinely established stewards of Christ’s gospel does not entail that such stewards are equal in authority to Christ. In fact, they are not equal in authority to Christ, because they have their authority from Christ. Nevertheless, if a person rejects them, even on the rationalization of obedience to [his own interpretation of] Christ’s word, such a person has rejected Christ by rejecting that which Christ Himself established as the way by which His word is to be known and understood.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  152. Ron said,

    November 25, 2010 at 10:32 am

    “But, nevertheless, it does show that to reject the Apostles is to reject Christ, because Christ authorized them to speak for Him.

    Bryan,

    Would it have been to reject Christ if one rejected the apostle Peter’s implied error when he began to crack under the pressure and negotiate the implications of the gospel? Of course not, lest Paul rejected Christ. Therefore, to truly reject Christ through the rejection of “somebodies” is to reject Christ’s teachings and not his servants. You, however, place certain servants of Christ on the same level of Christ’s Word, which is what binds you to teachings that contradict Christ.

    Ron

  153. greenbaggins said,

    November 25, 2010 at 10:57 am

    Nice move, Ron. Is Peter infallible? Galatians 2 says no. Bryan, Roman Catholics have often claimed that their view of tradition and the Pope does not put them on a level with Scripture. But the nature of the authority that you invest in tradition and the Pope belies that claim. The authority of Scripture itself rests on the church, according to Romanists. How can the magisterium be inferior to Scripture and yet be foundational to Scripture? Can you at least see why Protestants see two contradictory statements here?

  154. Bryan Cross said,

    November 25, 2010 at 11:03 am

    Ron, (re: #152),

    You, however, place certain servants of Christ on the same level of Christ’s Word,

    That is not true; it is the very strawman I mentioned in #151. Earlier Andrew mentioned the importance of letting him define his own position, and I agreed with him about that. Here too, it seems to me important to let Catholics define their own position, so as to avoid criticizing a strawman. The servants of Christ are servants of Christ, having their authority from Him, and therefore are subordinate in authority to Him, just as angels are subordinate in authority to God, even when they bring His message to men (Luke 1:11-20)

    If I said of your position that you make all the human authors of Scripture equivalent in authority to the divine Author of Scripture, you would recognize that I was setting up a strawman of your position. But you seem not to realize that in claiming that Catholic doctrine makes the Apostles equal in authority to Christ, you are setting up a strawman of Catholic doctrine. It seems to me that we (all), myself included, should be striving to avoid setting up strawmen.

    (Lane, I just saw your latest related comment; I’ll respond to that in bit.)

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  155. Ron said,

    November 25, 2010 at 11:29 am

    Bryan,

    You’re drawing a distinction without a relevant difference but I’ll play along. Your position is that the servants of Christ are not on the same level of Christ since the authority of the servants is derived from Christ. I get it. Your position also entails that to reject the servant is to reject Christ since the servant speaks for Christ. My point is that we have biblical precept to reject a servant’s teaching when it is in error. Funny you mentioned angels in your post because we’re even to reject and angel from heaven should he speak contrary to Paul’s gospel, which is after Christ. Now of course you will resort to your dogma which informs you that Peter was not “speaking from the chair” when he denied the gospel, but on what non-arbitrary principle are we to conclude that we are only to take as “gospel” that which Christ’s servant first qualifies by saying he is speaking Ex Cathedra? Biblical precept would have us eagerly to examine the Scriptures to see whether Christ’s servants are teaching the truth. Acts 17:11 There is no biblical precept that suggests we are to believe Christ’s servants without question if and only if the say something like “listen up now, I’m really serious – I’m now speaking from the chair.”

    Now then, by God’s grace I’m going to show some restraint by turning off my computer. I hope we all will enjoy our families and friends with thanksgiving this day.

    Ron

  156. Ron said,

    November 25, 2010 at 11:31 am

    Bryan,

    You’re drawing a distinction without a relevant difference but I’ll play along. Your position is that the servants of Christ are not on the same level of Christ since the authority of the servants is derived from Christ. I get it. Your position also entails that to reject the servant is to reject Christ since the servant speaks for Christ. My point is that we have biblical precept to reject a servant’s teaching when it is in error. Funny you mentioned angels in your post because we’re even to reject and angel from heaven should he speak contrary to Paul’s gospel, which is after Christ. Now of course you will resort to your dogma which informs you that Peter was not “speaking from the chair” when he denied the gospel, but on what non-arbitrary principle are we to conclude that we are only to take as “gospel” that which Christ’s servant first qualifies by saying he is speaking Ex Cathedra? Biblical precept would have us eagerly to examine the Scriptures to see whether Christ’s servants are teaching the truth. Acts 17:11 There is no biblical precept that suggests we are to believe Christ’s servants without question if and only if the say something like “listen up now, I’m really serious – I’m now speaking from the chair.”

    Now then, by God’s grace I’m going to show some restraint by turning off my computer. I hope we all will enjoy our families and friends with thanksgiving this day.

    Ron

  157. Bryan Cross said,

    November 25, 2010 at 11:43 am

    Lane (re: #153)

    Is Peter infallible? Galatians 2 says no.

    St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians shows that St. Peter was not always infallible. But, the Church has always known that, and there is no disagreement about it. The epistle to the Galatians does not show that St. Peter wasn’t infallible under certain conditions. So Galatians 2 is fully compatible with the Catholic doctrine regarding magisterial infallibility.

    Bryan, Roman Catholics have often claimed that their view of tradition and the Pope does not put them on a level with Scripture. But the nature of the authority that you invest in tradition and the Pope belies that claim. The authority of Scripture itself rests on the church, according to Romanists. How can the magisterium be inferior to Scripture and yet be foundational to Scripture? Can you at least see why Protestants see two contradictory statements here?

    Yes, I see why Protestants perceive it this way, but it is based on a misunderstanding. In one respect Scripture is authoritative because it is theopneustos, i.e. God-breathed. In that respect, the authority of Scripture does not rest on the Church; it is a per se authority. But, in a different (note that word) respect, the authority of Scripture depends upon the authority of the Church. For example, the authoritative determination of the canon (i.e. of which books belong to the canon of Scripture) comes to us by way of the authority God gave to the Church. Likewise, the authoritative determination of the Tradition in which and by which Scripture is to be interpreted and understood, comes to us by way of the authority of the Church. In these ways (i.e. the determination of the canon and of the Tradition) the functional authority of Scripture depends on the magisterial authority of the Church. If one didn’t distinguish between the per se authority of Scripture and the functional authority of Scripture, then the Catholic position would seem to be contradictory in just the way you describe. But because the ways Scripture depends on the Church are different from the way Scripture does not depend on the Church, there is no contradiction in saying that the Magisterium is inferior to Scripture (per se) and yet that at the same time, Scripture is functionally dependent on the magisterial authority Christ gave to the Church.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  158. greenbaggins said,

    November 25, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    In order for this argument to work, Bryan, you have to posit that there is no interdependence of the functional authority and the per se authority of Scripture when it comes to Scripture’s relationship to the church. Would you claim that if the functional authority of Scripture were eliminated, that it would not affect the per se authority of Scripture at all?

  159. Bryan Cross said,

    November 25, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    Lane, (re: #158)

    Would you claim that if the functional authority of Scripture were eliminated, that it would not affect the per se authority of Scripture at all?

    If the functional authority of Scripture were eliminated, by eliminating the authority of the Church, that would not affect the per se authority of Scripture at all. That’s the very nature of what is intrinsic, or per se. Every divinely-inspired statement would remain divinely-inspired, and would therefore retain its intrinsic divine authority.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  160. Jesse Toler said,

    November 25, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    The ‘reformed’ folk just can’t help themselves. Like the Donatist, they use our sources as props to publish attacks against the Church that are picked up by the blind and carried into oblivion by the wicked.

  161. Bryan Cross said,

    November 25, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    Ron, (re: #156)

    My point is that we have biblical precept to reject a servant’s teaching when it is in error.

    Of course I agree. But St. Paul is not saying there that “error” is “whatever is contrary to one’s interpretation of Scripture,” as I explained in the last two paragraphs of section XI: XI. The Authority of the Magisterium in Relation to Scripture.

    As for the Bereans, it would not be warranted to assume that the stance of Jewish non-Christians in determining whether or not to believe that St. Paul and St. Silas were credible, and whether these prophesies and types that they were claiming had been fulfilled in Christ were truly in the Old Testament, is normative or exemplary as a stance of Christians already in the Church toward their divinely ordained ecclesial authorities. What is noble for those not yet knowing and having the Christian faith, is not necessarily noble for those already knowing and having that faith. That is why it is not justified to take the Berean passage as teaching that we should submit to our leaders only when what they say agrees with our own interpretation of Scripture.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  162. D. T. King said,

    November 25, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    Mr Cross contends: What is noble for those not yet knowing and having the Christian faith, is not necessarily noble for those already knowing and having that faith. That is why it is not justified to take the Berean passage as teaching that we should submit to our leaders only when what they say agrees with our own interpretation of Scripture.

    Augustine disagreed with Mr. Cross…

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

    Mr. Cross is making this up as he goes along. And given the principle that Mr. Cross is laboring, no Romanist (as I noted above in this thread) can make conscience of the following exposition of Ambrose…

    Ambrose (c. 339-97) commenting on ‘And whatsoever house ye enter into, there abide.’ (Lk. 9:4): So the faith of the Church must be sought first and foremost; if Christ is to dwell therein, it is undoubtedly to be chosen. But lest an unbelieving people or heretical teacher disfigure its habitation, it is enjoined that the fellowship of heretics be avoided and the synagogue shunned. The dust is to be shaken off your feet [cf. St. Luke 9:5], lest when the drynesses of barren unbelief crumble the sole of your mind it is stained as if by a dry and sandy soil. For a preacher of the Gospel must take upon himself the bodily weaknesses of a faithful people, so to speak, and lift up and remove from his own soles the worthless actions like to dust, according as it is written: “Who is weak, and I am not weak?” [II Corinthians 11:29]. Thus, any Church which rejects faith and does not possess the foundations of Apostolic preaching is to be abandoned, lest it be able to bespatter some stain of unbelief. This the Apostle also clearly affirmed, saying, “A man that is an heretic after the first admonition reject” [Titus 3:10]. Saint Ambrose of Milan, Exposition of the Holy Gospel according to Saint Luke, trans. Theodosia Tomkinson (Etna: Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies, 1998), Book VI, §68, pp. 216-217.
    Latin text: Fides igitur imprimis Ecclesiae quaerenda mandatur, in qua si Christus habitator sit, haud dubie sit legenda. Sin vero perfidus populus, aut praeceptor haereticus deformet habitaculum, vitanda haereticorum communio, fugienda Synagoga censetur. Excutiendus pedum pulvis, ne fatiscentibus perfidiae sterilis siccitatibus, tamquam humi arido arenosoque mentis tuae vestigium polluatur. Nam sicut corporeas infirmitates populi fidelis suscipere in se debet Evangelii praedicator, et tamquam propriis inania gesta pulveri comparanda, allevare atque abolere vestigiis, juxta quod scriptum est: Quis infirmatur, et ego non infirmor (II Cor. XI, 29)? Ita si qua est Ecclesia quae fidem respuat, nec apostolicae praedicationis fundamenta possideat; ne quam labem perfidiae possit aspergere, deserenda est. Quod Apostolus quoque evidenter asseruit dicens: Hoereticum hominem post unam . . . . correptionem devita (Tit. III, 10). Expositio Evangelii secundum Lucam, 6.68, PL 15:1686.

    Mr. Cross labors against the witness of the Early Church in his unwarranted presupposition to equate the Church with the Roman clergy. He has no warrant for doing so, and by his own articulated principles he has no business suggesting what is normative or warranted for Christians based upon his own private judgment.

    The early church fathers never operated under the presupposition that the clergy were infallible, or beyond question, or that they were not subject to examination by the faithful. For Ambrose informs us elsewhere in one of his sermons on the 118th (119) Psalm, as well as in his commentary on the Song of Psalms that there have been times in the church when the clergy erred, and the people preserved the faith…

    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.

    Mr. Cross is simply demonstrating how Roman principles have departed from the catholicity of the Church. Thus Steve Hays’ critique is correct when he said, “Among other problems with this argument, keep in mind that Bryan always uses ‘the Church’ as a euphemism for “the church of Rome.” The only thing I would add to what Mr. Hays said, by way of refining his statement, is that Mr. Cross always uses ‘the Church’ as a euphemism for the Roman magisterium. Thus, there is nothing “catholic” about Mr. Cross’ principles.

    In essence, though he gives lip service to the distinction, nonetheless Mr. Cross functionally adheres to this breakdown of the Creator/creature distinction in insisting that no appeal can be made against the interpretation of the Roman clergy. Mr. Cross is loathed to make it clear that what he intends by the church is the Roman magisterim. Given the fact that this has been pointed out to him betimes, I can only assumed that he is either ashamed of what he really intends, or that he ignores all correction to clarify his intent. And that is the most charitable construction to be rendered in his favor.

    He refuses to acknowledge that there is ever justified dissent against his understanding of “divinely ordained ecclesial authorities.” Yet even the apostles exhorted their readers/hearers to “Test all things; hold fast what is good.” (1Thess 5:21). No one (and this need not imply the exclusive judgment of one person), according to Mr. Cross, is warranted in making conscience of this apostolic norm. It never ceases to amaze me how it is that Romanists depart not only from biblical principles, but from the principles of members of the magisterium of the ancient church itself. This is why I keep insisting that Romanism is a de facto denial of the catholicity of the Church.

  163. Bryan Cross said,

    November 25, 2010 at 3:45 pm

    D.T. King (re: #161),

    The St. Augustine quotation you cited is fully compatible with what I said in #160, because St. Augustine is there primarily addressing those outside the Church, just as St. Paul and St. Silas were doing in Acts 17. St. Augustine is not saying that Catholics should submit to their bishop only when they agree with their bishop’s interpretation of Scripture. Of course bishops can be wrong and even heretical, and St. Augustine is fully aware of that. He had to deal with such bishops in the Donatist controversy. But I explained in the link at #160 how the possibility of heretical bishops does not entail that orthodoxy is reduced to one’s own interpretation of Scripture. The Magisterium and the Tradition retain authority, even when individual bishops go astray. The fact that individual bishops can go wrong, does not mean or entail for St. Augustine that the bishops in ecumenical council can teach a heresy. And that’s the Catholic position to this day.

    The quotations from St. Ambrose are fully compatible with what I said, and I completely affirm them.

    You criticize a straw man when you point to the possibility of individual bishops erring, and then say that the doctrine of ecclesial infallibity entails a denial of the Creator/creature distinction. It does no such thing, just as God protecting a human author (e.g. St. Paul) from error when he is writing divinely inspired words (e.g. the letter to Titus) does not deny the Creator-creature distinction between God and St. Paul. You do not think St. Paul temporarily became God, while writing the letter to Titus, and then became human again, when he finished the letter. Therefore, there is no need to think that the charism of infallibility given to the Magisterium of the Church denies the Creator/creature distinction between God and the Magisterium.

    Likewise, you criticize a strawman when you imply that the fact that individual bishops can err is somehow incompatible with the Catholic doctrine concerning infallibility. The fact that individual bishops can err (and have erred) does not entail that the Magisterium of the Church Christ founded can err under the conditions specified by the Catholic doctrine of infallibility.

    Mr. Cross is loathed to make it clear that what he intends by the church is the Roman magisterim.

    I’m not “loathe” to make anything clear. If there is anything you want me to make clear, feel free to ask. Of course the Church is not merely “the Roman magisterium,” but the Magisterium of the Church has an authority that the laity does not have. If that doesn’t make it clear, just let me know.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  164. D. T. King said,

    November 25, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    Mr. Cross, anyone who has been following this thread can plainly see that Augustine’s exegesis of Acts 17:11 is not compatible with your principles. Augustine refutes your contention concerning the Berean passage, where you insisted: “That is why it is not justified to take the Berean passage as teaching that we should submit to our leaders only when what they say agrees with our own interpretation of Scripture.”

    What you fail to grasp is that the Holy Spirit underscored the nobility of the Bereans because their examination of the Scriptures was not viewed through the lens of your pessimism regarding the formal sufficiency of Holy Scripture. Here they were reading the Scriptures as unconverted Jews, yet the Scriptures were plain enough to them to examine Paul’s teaching by them.

    The Donatists were professing Christians, as we the Reformed are. Your whole contention is that we are outside the church. Yet Augustine, unlike you, appeals to Holy Scripture to adjudicate their disagreement, and he calls on them to “Search [i.e. the Scriptures], then, all these, and bring forth something manifest, by which you may prove the Church to have remained only in Africa…” Mr. Cross, your principles preclude any such appeal as urged by Augustine because you insist that no interpretation of Scripture can trump the Roman magisterium. Augustine did not operate under your modern day pessimism, and you’re only deceiving yourself if you claim compatibility with Augustine or Ambrose on these points.

    Try taking Augustine’s words, and in the place of Africa, put the word “Rome” in it. Your whole apologetic is built on the Roman magisterium via apostolic succession, and that Rome alone possesses the only authentic interpretation of Holy Scripture to the exclusion of the interpretation of all other communions. The Donatists, like the adherents to Rome, were essentially claiming to be the only true church to the exclusion of all other communions.

    Augustine’s point was, “For we do not say that we ought to be believed because we are in the Church of Christ, or because that Church to which we belong, was commended to us by Optatus, Ambrose, or other innumerable Bishops of our communion; or because miracles are everywhere wrought in it. . . . These things are indeed to be approved, because they are done in the Catholic Church, but it is not thence proved to be the Catholic Church, because such things are done in it.” The Donatists were not in the same position as the Jewish hearers of Paul. Like you, they professed to be the members of the only true church. Augustine’s point was essentially, “Alright, then let the Donatists prove their position from the Scriptures.” Mr. Cross, you’re insisting that we can’t do that. Your starting point, without warrant, has been repeatedly that the church (the question of which is begged by you) is equivalent to the Roman magisterium.

    There is nothing compatible in your view with Ambrose who insisted, “Thus, any Church which rejects faith and does not possess the foundations of Apostolic preaching is to be abandoned.” This scenario can’t even exist in the Walter Mitty world of Roman ecclesiology. It’s a possibility that you deny for the Roman magisterium.

    You claim: The Magisterium and the Tradition retain authority, even when individual bishops go astray. The fact that individual bishops can go wrong, does not mean or entail for St. Augustine that the bishops in ecumenical council can teach a heresy. And that’s the Catholic position to this day.

    This misses the point. Place all your boasted confidence in an ecumenical council aside for a moment (as Rome historically has in its own violations of the “conciliar authority” of Nicaea). Augustine would never have argued as you are arguing. In fact, when dealing with the Arian heretic, Maximinus, he stated…

    Augustine (354-430): What does “homoousios” mean, I ask, but The Father and I are one (Jn. 10:30)? 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. See John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., The Works Saint Augustine, Answer to Maximinus, Part I, Vol. 18, trans. Roland J. Teske, S.J. (New York: New City Press, 1995), p. 282.

    Your whole contention is that appeal cannot be made to Scripture against the interpretation of the Roman magisterium. Augustine did not share your modern day Roman pessimism concerning the inability of the Scriptures to adjudicate doctrinal controversies. In his dispute with the Donatists in his work, De Unitate Ecclesiae, he calls on the Donatists time and time again to bring forth clear evidence from the Scriptures, and that is the way he exegetes the Berean passage. You, sir, do not share Augustine’s sentiments. His arguments to those outside of the church are not consistent with yours, and you’re fooling no one here but yourself with that charade.

    Moreover, in his dispute with Maximus, unlike you, he did not claim that the Scriptures are the sole property of the church (read here the Roman magisterium). Augustine declared that “the scriptures that are not the property of anyone.” You are inconsistent with the principles of Augustine.

    You said: I’m not “loathe” to make anything clear. If there is anything you want me to make clear, feel free to ask. Of course the Church is not merely “the Roman magisterium,” but the Magisterium of the Church has an authority that the laity does not have. If that doesn’t make it clear, just let me know.

    You should not have to be asked, and I don’t believe you to be that dense. Everyone reading this can plainly see that you have been equating the word “Church” with the Roman clergy, and this is the first time you’ve actually made the distinction which, up till now, you’ve been loathed to draw.

    “There is no peace,” says the LORD, “for the wicked.” Isa 48:22.

    DTK

  165. johnbugay said,

    November 25, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    Lane said (149):

    It is quite possible to accept visible living ecclesiastical authority without giving that authority the same level of authority as the Bible has.

    And then Bryan said (151):

    I agree. But no one is doing that. (And it is a strawman that should be avoided.) Luke 10:16 does not make the Apostles equal in authority to Christ. But, nevertheless, it does show that to reject the Apostles is to reject Christ, because Christ authorized them to speak for Him. For example, to reject the decision of the Jerusalem Council, even before Luke by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote down his account of that Council, would have been to reject Christ. The requirement of obedience to the divinely established stewards of Christ’s gospel does not entail that such stewards are equal in authority to Christ. In fact, they are not equal in authority to Christ, because they have their authority from Christ. Nevertheless, if a person rejects them, even on the rationalization of obedience to [his own interpretation of] Christ’s word, such a person has rejected Christ by rejecting that which Christ Himself established as the way by which His word is to be known and understood.

    Ron then said (152):

    Would it have been to reject Christ if one rejected the apostle Peter’s implied error when he began to crack under the pressure and negotiate the implications of the gospel? Of course not, lest Paul rejected Christ. Therefore, to truly reject Christ through the rejection of “somebodies” is to reject Christ’s teachings and not his servants. You, however, place certain servants of Christ on the same level of Christ’s Word, which is what binds you to teachings that contradict Christ.

    What got missed in this exchange was the fact that Bryan is equating Bishops of the Roman Church with Apostles. I believe no Protestant has caught that, and this is one of the things that Bryan is failing to explain.

    And here is how that gets translated to contemporary Roman ecclesiology:

    880 When Christ instituted the Twelve, “he constituted [them] in the form of a college or permanent assembly, at the head of which he placed Peter, chosen from among them.” Just as “by the Lord’s institution, St. Peter and the rest of the apostles constitute a single apostolic college, so in like fashion the Roman Pontiff, Peter’s successor, and the bishops, the successors of the apostles, are related with and united to one another.”

    881 The Lord made Simon alone, whom he named Peter, the “rock” of his Church. He gave him the keys of his Church and instituted him shepherd of the whole flock. “The office of binding and loosing which was given to Peter was also assigned to the college of apostles united to its head.” This pastoral office of Peter and the other apostles belongs to the Church’s very foundation and is continued by the bishops under the primacy of the Pope.

    882 The Pope, Bishop of Rome and Peter’s successor, “is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful.” “For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered.”

    883 “The college or body of bishops has no authority unless united with the Roman Pontiff, Peter’s successor, as its head.” As such, this college has “supreme and full authority over the universal Church; but this power cannot be exercised without the agreement of the Roman Pontiff.”

    http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p123a9p4.htm#880

    This is a far cry from what you gentlemen may have heard in the past, because it’s one of the Vatican II “fallbacks” from the heady days of 1950, when the only actual ex cathedra papally infallible statement was ever made that Bryan actually has to admit to. All of the others can sort of be hedged and fudged and whatnot.

    Every other papal statement (except maybe the Immaculate Conception of Mary statement, which came before Vatican I) can sort of be wished away, or explained away, as not truly being an “ex cathedra” statement.

  166. johnbugay said,

    November 25, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    Here is how Vatican II defined Roman ecclesiology, from the document “Lumen Gentium”

    8. Christ, the one Mediator, established and continually sustains here on earth His holy Church, the community of faith, hope and charity, as an entity with visible delineation through which He communicated truth and grace to all. But, the society structured with hierarchical organs and the Mystical Body of Christ, are not to be considered as two realities, nor are the visible assembly and the spiritual community, nor the earthly Church and the Church enriched with heavenly things; rather they form one complex reality which coalesces from a divine and a human element. For this reason, by no weak analogy, it is compared to the mystery of the incarnate Word. As the assumed nature inseparably united to Him, serves the divine Word as a living organ of salvation, so, in a similar way, does the visible social structure of the Church serve the Spirit of Christ, who vivifies it, in the building up of the body.

    This is the one Church of Christ which in the Creed is professed as one, holy, catholic and apostolic, which our Saviour, after His Resurrection, commissioned Peter to shepherd, and him and the other apostles to extend and direct with authority, which He erected for all ages as “the pillar and mainstay of the truth”. This Church constituted and organized in the world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him, although many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside of its visible structure. These elements, as gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, are forces impelling toward catholic unity.

    http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19641121_lumen-gentium_en.html

    There was some hope for a time among some Roman Catholics that the phrase “subsists in,” which at the time seemed to be a fall-back from the earlier “is,” might lead to some ecumenism on the part of Rome. But the 2000 document “Dominus Iesus” quite effectively minimizes the notion of those “many elements of sanctification” outside of the Roman sacramental system.

  167. johnbugay said,

    November 25, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    As for “special Revelation,” note what is said in CCC #66:

    Yet even if Revelation is already complete, it has not been made completely explicit; it remains for Christian faith gradually to grasp its full significance over the course of the centuries.

    http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc.htm

    This gives Rome license to use the Scriptures and Tradition as a “wax nose” — through their interpretive power to “properly interpret” both.

    http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p1s1c2a2.htm#80

    II. THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN TRADITION AND SACRED SCRIPTURE

    One common source. . .

    80 “Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture, then, are bound closely together, and communicate one with the other. For both of them, flowing out from the same divine well-spring, come together in some fashion to form one thing, and move towards the same goal.” Each of them makes present and fruitful in the Church the mystery of Christ, who promised to remain with his own “always, to the close of the age”.

    . . . two distinct modes of transmission

    81 “Sacred Scripture is the speech of God as it is put down in writing under the breath of the Holy Spirit.”

    “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.”

    82 As a result the Church, to whom the transmission and interpretation of Revelation is entrusted, “does not derive her certainty about all revealed truths from the holy Scriptures alone. Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence.”

    Apostolic Tradition and ecclesial traditions

    83 The Tradition here in question comes from the apostles and hands on what they received from Jesus’ teaching and example and what they learned from the Holy Spirit. The first generation of Christians did not yet have a written New Testament, and the New Testament itself demonstrates the process of living Tradition.

    Tradition is to be distinguished from the various theological, disciplinary, liturgical or devotional traditions, born in the local churches over time. These are the particular forms, adapted to different places and times, in which the great Tradition is expressed. In the light of Tradition, these traditions can be retained, modified or even abandoned under the guidance of the Church’s Magisterium.

    III. THE INTERPRETATION OF THE HERITAGE OF FAITH

    The heritage of faith entrusted to the whole of the Church

    84 The apostles entrusted the “Sacred deposit” of the faith (the depositum fidei), contained in Sacred Scripture and Tradition, to the whole of the Church. “By adhering to [this heritage] the entire holy people, united to its pastors, remains always faithful to the teaching of the apostles, to the brotherhood, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. So, in maintaining, practicing and professing the faith that has been handed on, there should be a remarkable harmony between the bishops and the faithful.”

    The Magisterium of the Church

    85 “The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone. Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ.”47 This means that the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome.

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

    87 Mindful of Christ’s words to his apostles: “He who hears you, hears me”, the faithful receive with docility the teachings and directives that their pastors give them in different forms.

    One of the reasons these things get so confused is because nobody really knows what “the content” of “Sacred Tradition” is — we can only rely on the official pronouncements of “the Magisterium” to understand what “the content” of it is.

    And because “the content” of “Sacred Tradition” is equivalent in authority to “Sacred Scripture”, the “fudge factor” [a lack of perspicuity] increases exponentially.

    We are directed to a document like “The Catechism” kind of in a way that Protestants might be directed toward the Bible as “the source” — except that within “The Catechism” is just so much more

    Please note that it is true, it is defined that “this Magisterium is not superior to the Word of God, but is its servant.”

    But “the content” of all of these words is so nebulous, that they’re just that — so many words, and in practice, “this Magisterium” is said to be able to issue the only “genuine interpretation” of the whole mish-mosh of “Sacred Scripture and Tradition”.

    In that sense, while “this Magisterium” claims to be “servant” of the Scriptures, it is, in practice, the only real master. It is the only thing that anyone is supposed to be able to understand.

  168. johnbugay said,

    November 25, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    Note how the “deposit of faith” has yet “not been made completely explicit; it remains for Christian faith gradually to grasp its full significance over the course of the centuries.”

    And so “the living teaching office alone” can provide “authentic interpretation.”

    What this means, in practice, is that, as the tidal-wave of homosexual bishops begin to “authentically interpret” “what has been handed on,” they may indeed elect a homosexual pope and “authentically interpret” “Sacred Tradition” in such a way that

    Even now, homosexuals are not challenged to “repent” from that lifestyle, but they are only “gradually and resolutely” “called to chastity”.

    2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

    http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p3s2c2a6.htm#2359

    This, of course, is the old Roman teaching that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered”. This is the “wax nose” effect — the “infallible Magisterium” — the “living voice du jour” “gradually grasping” the “full significance” of this undefined “Living Tradition”:

    2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

    Note that the second paragraph I cited (2357) is explained by the prior one (2359) This is just one example of many that could be cited.

    Raymond Brown, in “The Critical Meaning of the Bible,” explains how this process works:

    Essential to a critical interpretation of church documents is the realization that the Roman Catholic Church does not change her official stance in a blunt way. Past statements are not rejected but are requoted with praise (see 2357) and then reinterpreted at the same time (2359)

    Raymond Brown, “The Critical Meaning of the Bible,” New York, Paulist Press (pg 18, n 41). This work received the Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur in 1981.

    “The Nihil Obstat and Imprimature are official declarations that a book or pamphlet is free of doctrinal or moral error. No implication is contained therein that those who have granted the Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur agree with the contents, blah blah blah.”

    And Brown was an insider. He knew how these things were (and are) done.

  169. johnbugay said,

    November 25, 2010 at 6:38 pm

    And of course, Bryan seems to glory in saying, “oh, no no no no no, you don’t understand” or “you’ve set up a straw man.”

    But Ignatius, who never tired from telling people how important “bishops” were, nevertheless could point out the distinction between Apostles as the unique eyewitnesses to Christs life, and placed himself clearly outside of their circle, with none of their authority, as I related in #104: “Peter and Paul commanded you, but I am a convict…” (Letter to the Romans, 4:3).

    So at some point, in this nebulous, “not completely explicit” “Tradition,” some Bishop figured out that his word was as authoritative as that of an apostle (you can’t know what the Apostles said without the word of the Bishop), and some Bishop of Rome figured out that he was just as authoritative as Peter (likely this happened in the late fourth or early fifth century).

  170. Andrew McCallum said,

    November 25, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    In #148 Bryan says: But you can give no principled reason to believe God protected the Church from error in her determination of the canon while denying that God protected the Church from error in her determination at Nicea that Christ is homoousious with the Father.

    But Bryan, I was not trying to to provide such a reason at this point. In #148 you quoted me saying just this. I am only at this point trying to demonstrate that it is not necessarily ad hoc to differentiate between those actions where the Church is involved that are grounded in the inspiration of God vs. those Church actions that are not so grounded. But I think that maybe you have already conceded this now.

    And as stated, the other actions of the Church could be infallible but that is up to the Catholic apologist to demonstrate. Given the above, one way NOT to demonstrate this is to lump together all actions of the Church whether or not God’s inspiration is involved. So on the case of Nicea that you raise, for us Protestants there is no reason for these pronouncements to be infallible in order to be authoritative. We’ve certainly been through the historical and epistemological reasons for not ascribing infallibility to Rome.

    I hope you had a good Thanksgiving.

    Cheers…..

  171. Ron said,

    November 25, 2010 at 9:27 pm

    What got missed in this exchange was the fact that Bryan is equating Bishops of the Roman Church with Apostles. I believe no Protestant has caught that, and this is one of the things that Bryan is failing to explain.

    John,

    It’s not that I didn’t catch that Bryan equates the papacy with the apostles (how could one miss it?). Rather, I intentionally passed on that error because I thought to have addressed it would have detracted from the argument I was trying to put forth. Indeed, it can be said (a maiore ad minus) that if the apostles were to be disagreed with when in error, then how much more the popes? However, I’d prefer to grant Bryan’s view of apostolic succession and authority – if he limits the authority of the popes to that of the apostles, but as I suggest below he grants even greater authority to the popes than the apostles themselves, and even Christ. Even if the popes had the influence of the apostles (and no further), it doesn’t undermine the point that the teachings and practice of the apostles may at times have been in error but not Scripture. The apostle Paul under the inspiration of God does not give us a pass, nor will Christ at the judgment for not wrestling with God’s word ourselves. We are not to believe every spirit, but rather “test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1)

    Regarding Bryan’s remarks to me:

    Bryan says (in #160) that he agrees with me that “we have biblical precept to reject a servant’s teaching when it is in error.” Yet he goes on to note that the latitude we get from God through Paul to reject error is not license to reject any doctrine that is “contrary to one’s interpretation of Scripture.” Although true, it’s a rather uninteresting statement taken at face value, but of course Bryan has something else in mind (read on)… Of course we don’t have liberty to reject truth, but that was never in dispute. For Bryan, we may not reject any doctrinal pronouncement of Rome’s, yet those under the spell of the Judaizers were to reject Peter’s temporary error! Does Bryan admit that it can be under good regulation to reject papal decrees, or are they impervious to doctrinal error unlike Peter?! This is when a Romanist must play “the chair” card. Bryan will say that Peter and the popes can make error – but not when they formally declare that they are speaking from “the chair” on matters of faith and morals. But where is that qualification found in Sacred Writ? Where do we learn that we may question ecclesiastical pronouncements unless they are spoken Ex Cathedra?

    Finally, Bryan proceeded to pontificate about his personal views on what is normative regarding the rejection of doctrine, suggesting that the latitude in the early church is not the latitude for today since we now have the faith. But where is that faith deposited? Well in Rome of course. At the end of the day – Bryan rejects the biblical precept that instructs (yes, commands!) Christians everywhere to test the teachings of Rome against Scripture alone. Rome says “trust me.” The Bible says don’t.

    Ron

  172. Ron said,

    November 25, 2010 at 9:50 pm

    Brian says to DTK: “…there is no need to think that the charism of infallibility given to the Magisterium of the Church denies the Creator/creature distinction between God and the Magisterium.

    Bryan,

    Since everything you ever say hangs on it, will you prove for us that (a) there is a charism of infallibility given to one magisterium; (b) this magisterium is to be equated with Rome; and (c) you don’t have to discern the one true magisterium among many by use of subjective, individualistic faith?

    Ron

  173. johnbugay said,

    November 26, 2010 at 12:54 am

    Hi Ron, I didn’t intend to steal your thunder, but I believe that unless you put Rome’s claims precisely on the table for Bryan to respond to, that he’ll just dance around and say “But Rome doesn’t teach that.” Or “But you don’t understand.” Or, “But you have created a straw man.”

    All such things will enable him to avoid dealing in an honest and historical way with the process of how Roman doctrines “developed.”

    I do think that Bryan Cross should be forced to defend the actual words of such Roman doctrines as he is trying to “soft-pedal” in public here, in the face of such evidence as Pastor King has put up in post #163.

    For he does not have the ability to state firmly, “this is what the Church has always believed.” He must, because of the nature of the bold claims that Rome has made for itself, find some fuzzy language (such as “fully compatible with” — even when the contrary has been clearly demonstrated to him) on which to stand.

    He cannot make bold claims from Scripture because his case is not built on Scripture; he is having to defend Rome’s having twisted Biblical doctrine beyond recognition. It is that twisting of the language that provides the “firm foundation” for his faith. That is the ground he must be forced to defend.

  174. BSuden said,

    November 26, 2010 at 1:18 am

    Much more could be said, but for the moment suffice it to state the obvious: for Bryan, who heroically bears the cross for Rome here against all comers, “in the peace of Christ” only means “submission to Rome”.

    As one, like others here, born in that communion and with family members still caught in its coils, I consider that sad beyond words.

    Further, if there is no peace for the wicked Is. 48:22, perhaps that explains their zeal to cross land and sea to make converts and then to make them twice the son of hell that they are Matt. 23:15. So I take Mr. Cross’s diligent efforts.

  175. Ron said,

    November 26, 2010 at 1:26 am

    I didn’t intend to steal your thunder, but I believe that unless you put Rome’s claims precisely on the table for Bryan to respond to, that he’ll just dance around and say “But Rome doesn’t teach that.”

    John,

    I’m not sure I have any thunder to steal but steal away. :) I agree that we should try to get Bryan to defend many of Rome’s claims and that we should strive to keep him from saying “But Rome doesn’t teach that.” That’s precisely why I was willing to go grant claim “A” for argument’s sake in order to focus on claim “B”. It’s my experience that by not putting too many issues on the table at once it’s easier to avoid a barrage of frothy denials. One does hope to preach another day! :)

    Cheers,

    Ron

  176. johnbugay said,

    November 26, 2010 at 1:29 am

    Thanks Ron, I understand. I’m just going to hang up now and listen to the response.

  177. Bryan Cross said,

    November 26, 2010 at 8:53 am

    Andrew, (re: #170)

    Of course it is not ad hoc to “differentiate” between different actions. But it is ad hoc to posit that God infallibly protected the Church in one action (i.e. determining the canon), while allowing that He did not do so in any other, without any evidence that God infallibly protected the Church in that one action, or by way of evidence or argumentation that applies equally to other Church actions. But the argumentation you use to conclude that God protected the Church from error in her determination of the canon, applies equally to other Church actions. Therefore your position is ad hoc.

    The other problem with your position is that in determining the canon over the first four centuries, the Church arrived at the Catholic canon, not the Protestant canon. (This is why the OT ‘Deuterocanonical’ books are considered canonical by the Eastern Orthodox Churches, which wouldn’t be the case if the Catholic Church had added them to the canon after the Orthodox schism.) All through the middle ages, the Scriptural readings in the liturgy of the universal Church included as “the Word of the Lord” readings from Wisdom, Sirach, Tobit, etc. And that was restated at the Council of Florence in the fifteenth century, and again at the Council of Trent in the sixteenth century. So, a problem with your position is that you claim that the Church infallibly determined the canon of Scripture, and yet you reject the Church’s infallible determination of the canon of Scripture. To avoid this, you have to designate as ‘Church,’ that set of persons who happen to agree with your own determination of what is the canon of Scripture. And defining the ‘Church’ in terms of those who agree with you, is ad hoc.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  178. D. T. King said,

    November 26, 2010 at 9:19 am

    Mr Cross asserts: The other problem with your position is that in determining the canon over the first four centuries, the Church arrived at the Catholic canon, not the Protestant canon. (This is why the OT ‘Deuterocanonical’ books are considered canonical by the Eastern Orthodox Churches, which wouldn’t be the case if the Catholic Church had added them to the canon after the Orthodox schism.)

    This simply is not true. The canon was neither Romanist nor Protestant. There were no conciliar affirmations of any canonical list until the fourth century. There were none in the first three centuries. And this “general” claim for the Eastern Orthodox Churches is simply an irresponsible handling of the facts of history. Melito of Sardis, Hilary of Poitiers, Cyril of Jerusalem, Athanasius, Epiphanius, Gregory of Nazianzus, Basil the Great, Rufinus, Jerome, and John of Damascus all rejected the majority of the deutero-canonical books as inspired Scripture. And Pope Gregory the Great rejected Macabees.

    Furthermore Eastern Orthodox scholars contradict your claims for those communions…

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

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

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

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

    You see, this is what really becomes tiresome with such grandiose, gratuitous claims by Roman apologists such as Mr. Cross. They cannot be trusted to represent the history of the early church responsibly. They have this perfectionist paradigm which they attempt to read back into the early history of the church, and it is simply irresponsible and misleading, and they ought to be ashamed of themselves.

  179. Ron said,

    November 26, 2010 at 9:53 am

    Andrew,

    David King addressed Bryan’s second paragraph to you, and if you don’t mind I’ll take a crack at the first. We know we are not your “sent ones” so please do weigh in when you have time. :)

    Bryan States: Of course it is not ad hoc to “differentiate” between different actions. But it is ad hoc to posit that God infallibly protected the Church in one action (i.e. determining the canon), while allowing that He did not do so in any other, without any evidence that God infallibly protected the Church in that one action, or by way of evidence or argumentation that applies equally to other Church actions.

    Bryan,

    That the church was preserved from error in the historical reception of the canon can be inferred from Scripture, whereas that he preserved the canon through the employment of an infallible magisterium cannot. If true, then the Protestant claim is not ad hoc due to a lack of Scriptural evidence. Now if “similar” arguments can be levied, then they too will have to be Scriptural since the canon argument is Scriptural, yet Scriptural arguments Protestants do not fear; so your internal critique of the Protestant position is an utter failure. The basic argument, which can be found throughout the thread can be summarized as follows: Jesus promised to build his church. (Matt. 16:18) Jesus also told his apostles that those who received them received Him. (Matt. 10:40) The implication is that the building project of the Lord was to be founded upon the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus being the chief cornerstone. (Eph. 2:20) Consequently, the words of the apostles and Christ had to be received without error because Jesus promised to build his church upon them. The apostolic tradition was both oral and written (II Thess. 2:15) but only the written apostolic tradition has been providentially preserved. Accordingly, Scripture alone is what the church is to be built upon, which must have been God’s intention since Scripture alone is all he left us in keeping with Christ Jesus’ promise to build his church. Now of course you will find this too “philosophical” but I have found no way to employ Scriptural rationally without employing Scripture rationally.

    Bryan, maybe you might now go back through the thread and begin answering some of the many questions that have been asked of you. You might begin with answring how Scripture allows you to reason from Peter’s alleged infallibility to a perpetually infallible papacy? You wouldn’t want to appear “ad hoc in your claim.

    RWD

  180. Bryan Cross said,

    November 26, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    D.T. King (re: #178)

    Yes, among the Orthodox the deuterocanonical books typically have a lower status than do the protocanonical books of the Old Testament, as the Old Testament has a lower status than does the New Testament, and the Pauline epistles have a lower status than do the gospels. But it would be a mistake to infer from this lower status that that the Orthodox consider the deuterocanonical books to be not divinely inspired or to be not genuinely part of holy Scripture. Even Meyendorff cannot deny that the deuterocanonical books:

    are considered part of Scripture and are read in church liturgically

    The Scriptural status of the books that are in the Catholic canon but which are no longer in Protestant Bibles (removed by British publishers in the 1820s), are not in dispute among any of the fifteen autocephalous Orthodox Churches. These books are considered by each of the Orthodox Churches to be both canonical and divinely inspired, because they were included in the LXX, and the LXX is the authoritative version of the Old Testament for the Orthodox Churches, because the LXX was the version of the Old Testament used by Christ and the Apostles and the early Church. None of the fifteen Orthodox Churches has denied that the deuterocanonical books are divinely inspired or that they are genuinely part of holy Scripture. At the Councils of Jassy (1642) and Jerusalem (1672), in response to challenges from Protestantism, the Orthodox declared the deuterocanonical books to be genuine parts of Scripture. That latter Council (led by Dositheus, Patriarch of Jerusalem) taught that the deuterocanonical books had been recognized by the Church’s tradition as authoritative parts of holy Scripture.

    If you participate in Orthodox liturgy, you will find these books read as Scripture in the liturgy, depending on the liturgical season. Here’s the statement of the Orthodox Church in America from the OCA website:

    The Old Testament books to which you refer — know in the Orthodox Church as the “longer canon” rather than the “Apocrypha,” as they are known among the Protestants — are accepted by Orthodox Christianity as canonical scripture. These particular books are found only in the Septuagint version of the Old Testament, but not in the Hebrew texts of the rabbis.

    These books — Tobit, Judah, more chapters of Esther and Daniel, the Books of Maccabees, the Book of the Wisdom of Solomon, the Book of Sirach, the Prophecy of Baruch, and the Prayer of Manasseh — are considered by the Orthodox to be fully part of the Old testament because they are part of the longer canon that was accepted from the beginning by the early Church.

    And this position concerning the deuterocanonical books is shared by the other fourteen Orthodox Churches. The OCA is not at odds with the other fourteen on this point.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  181. Bryan Cross said,

    November 26, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    Ron, (re: #179)

    You said, “That the church was preserved from error in the historical reception of the canon can be inferred from Scripture.” I assume that your account of this inference from Scripture is found in what you say next:

    The basic argument, which can be found throughout the thread can be summarized as follows: Jesus promised to build his church. (Matt. 16:18) Jesus also told his apostles that those who received them received Him. (Matt. 10:40) The implication is that the building project of the Lord was to be founded upon the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus being the chief cornerstone. (Eph. 2:20) Consequently, the words of the apostles and Christ had to be received without error because Jesus promised to build his church upon them. The apostolic tradition was both oral and written (II Thess. 2:15) but only the written apostolic tradition has been providentially preserved. Accordingly, Scripture alone is what the church is to be built upon, which must have been God’s intention since Scripture alone is all he left us in keeping with Christ Jesus’ promise to build his church.

    Here’s your argument in syllogistic form:

    (1) Jesus promised to build His Church.
    (2) Jesus also told his apostles that those who received them received Him.
    Therefore, [from (1) and (2)]
    (3) The building project of the Lord was to be founded upon the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus being the chief cornerstone.
    (4) Jesus promised to build his church upon the words of the apostles and Christ.
    Therefore [from (3) and (4)]
    (5) The words of the apostles and Christ had to be received without error.
    (6) The apostolic tradition was both oral and written. (II Thess. 2:15)
    (7) Only the written apostolic tradition has been providentially preserved.
    Therefore, [from (6), and (7)]
    (8) Scripture alone is what the church is to be built upon.
    Therefore, [from (5), (8)]
    (9) God must have preserved Scripture without error, including the Church’s determination of the canon.

    There are two problems with this argument. The first problem concerns premise (4). Jesus never promised to build His Church on the words (per se) of anyone. Ephesians 2:20 says that the foundation of the Church is the Apostles and prophets, Christ being the cornerstone. It does not say “the words of the apostles and prophets,” or “the words of Christ the cornerstone.” That the foundation stones are persons, not propositions, can be seen also in Revelation 21:14, where the twelve foundation stones of the New Jerusalem (which is the Church) are not twelve words of the twelve Apostles or twelve books of the twelve Apostles, but the twelve Apostles themselves. And the twelve foundation stones described there (in Rev 21:14) have to be the twelve Apostles themselves (rather than written words of all Twelve), because some of the Twelve Apostles did not write anything that was included in the canon of Scripture.

    The second problem with this argument concerns premise (7). You claimed that this argument was going to be derived from Scripture, but you included a premise that is not in Scripture, namely, “only the written apostolic tradition has been providentially preserved.” As you know, for Catholics, the oral Apostolic Tradition has been preserved, because God would not allow it to be lost. It has been preserved in the Church Fathers and in the teachings and liturgy and life of the Church. Denying that the oral Tradition has been preserved is not a statement of objective fact, but a loaded statement, one that presumes that oral Tradition has not been preserved in the ways I just mentioned. That is, from a Catholic point of view, premise (7) is an expression of a lack of faith in the God who is able to prevent even one “letter or stroke” of the law from passing away, and who is thereby able to prevent one word or syllable from the oral Tradition from passing away. The argument could be modified to:

    (7′) God must have established a way to preserve the Apostolic tradition in both its written and oral forms.

    But the reason you add (7), and not (7′), is not from Scripture, but from a form of ecclesial deism, i.e. the faith-deficient assumption that Christ failed to preserve the oral Tradition handed down by the Apostles.

    In #177, I explained that “it is ad hoc to posit that God infallibly protected the Church in one action (i.e. determining the canon), while allowing that He did not do so in any other, without any evidence that God infallibly protected the Church in that one action, or by way of evidence or argumentation that applies equally to other Church actions.” As I pointed out in #110 and #117, the type of argument you have offered here, could (after cleaning up the mistakes) also be used to argue that God would protect the Church from formally teaching heresy, from losing any true sacraments (or adding any false sacraments), and from losing her essential visible unity. To accept your argument for the infallible determination of the canon, while rejecting such arguments for the protection of the Church in these other respects, is ad hoc.

    (I have to attend to some other responsibilities, so I may be silent for a while.)

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  182. Ron said,

    November 26, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    Bryan,

    Your post is most painful to read, but let me deal with the two premises that your entire retort is based upon.

    “Jesus never promised to build His Church on the words (per se) of anyone.

    The foundation of the church is the apostles and Christ. What can this mean – that the church is built upon their bones or their “sound pattern of words” which will never pass away? I know Romanists like relics but that’s a bit of a stretch, though my uncle does think he has a chip of one of Saint Peter’s bones, which he keeps in a closet. Maybe you’d like to make a pilgrimage to my Uncle Joe’s house in New York. Just let me know.

    “The second problem with this argument concerns premise (7). You claimed that this argument was going to be derived from Scripture, but you included a premise that is not in Scripture, namely, “only the written apostolic tradition has been providentially preserved.”

    Indeed that is a premise not found in Scripture, but if you’d like to refute it then please bring forth and prove that you have access to non-written apostolic tradition and as soon as you do, I’ll take you to another uncle’s house to show you his apostolic tradition that never made its way to Rome. Then you can subjectively determine which apostolic tradition is true, yours or Uncle Anthony’s. Also, why wasn’t your apostolic tradition available to the church fathers? Anthony says that his was but that it put forth nothing more than contained in Scripture.

    In closing, I’m still waiting for your justification for the dogma of speaking from “the chair” and how you get from an infallible Peter to a perpetually infallible magisterium.
    Finally, God told me that the Westminster Standards are infallible and since the Divines did not produce any formal contradictory standards, such as is the case with Rome’s Vatican II undermining Vatican I, I’m inclined to think that the standards for the OPC are infallible though we don’t assert it as such.

    RWD

  183. Bryan Cross said,

    November 26, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    Lane,

    I commented here in this thread in response to a comment by Andrew, without actually having read your post. So, I’ve just finally read your post, and saw that you were looking for a Catholic response to Muller’s argument. You wrote:

    The substance of the argument, then, is that if natural revelation is acknowledged to be of divine origin and authority without the support of the church, then why shouldn’t special revelation also be acknowledged to have divine origin and authority without the support of the church, especially since the latter is much clearer than the former, and is given by God a higher priority and authority than natural revelation? Why would God not make natural revelation depend on humanity, but then make a more important revelation depend on humanity?

    The question treats natural revelation and special revelation as though they differ only in content, like two propositions, each having different content. But what man can know about God by human reason alone is qualitatively different from what man can know about God only by supernatural revelation and the aid of supernatural grace. In other words, the nature of what man can know about God from creation by human reason alone, is altogether different from the nature of what man can know about God only by supernatural revelation and the aid of supernatural grace. To deny this, is a kind of pelagianism which either makes man capable, by his own unaided reason, of reaching up into the Trinity and penetrating the depths of the divine mind and the communion of divine Persons, or drags God out of heaven and reduces him to a mere man whose mind can then be penetrated by our natural capacity for pyschoanalysis. Grace is not nature. The supernatural is not natural, but transcends nature. Likewise, “special revelation” is not just natural revelation brought to us by special delivery. Special revelation is supernatural, which is why man cannot recognize it or know it or understand it, without the aid of grace. This is why St. Paul says, “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.” (1 Cor 2:14) Without the aid of grace, by which the veil is removed, supernatural revelation is invisible, impenetrable, and incomprehensible.

    But, that doesn’t yet answer your question, because you could acknowledge all that, and say,

    “Sure, no disagreement there — I agree that man needs grace in order to grasp supernatural revelation. But nevertheless, given that supernatural revelation is of greater importance than natural revelation, God could give grace to everyone to recognize supernatural revelation. That still doesn’t explain why He would (allegedly) put all this in the hands of men, and choose to work through men, and through the matter of sacraments, and through an institution composed of humans. The necessity of grace to grasp special revelation does not explain why God would make the Church (and the sacraments) the ordinary means by which this grace is received.”

    Indeed it does not. To keep this reply short, I’ll skip the sacraments, and just answer the “Why did God choose to use the Church as the ordinary means of grace?” question.

    Let’s consider what St. Thomas Aquinas says about this. Regarding our genuine participation in God’s providential governance of the world, St. Thomas argues that it is more perfect for God to give causality to creatures than to make creatures but withhold causality from them. That latter position is called ‘occasionalism.’ Historically, occasionalism has been motivated by an attempt to give God all the glory, by giving God all the causality. But according to St. Thomas, occasionalism in fact robs God of glory, because it would make Him to be either deficient in goodness (not wanting to share any causal power with any creature) or deficient in power, i.e. incapable of making creatures with genuine [secondary] causal power. St. Thomas writes:

    “[T]here are certain intermediaries of God’s providence; for He governs things inferior by superior, not on account of any defect in His power, but by reason of the abundance of His goodness; so that the dignity of causality is imparted even to creatures [ut dignitatem causalitatis etiam creaturis communicet].” (Summa Theologica I Q.22 a.3)

    “If God governed alone, things would be deprived of the perfection of causality [subtraheretur perfectio causalis a rebus].” (Summa Theologica I Q.103 a.6 ad 2.)

    “Some have understood God to work in every agent in such a way that no created power has any effect in things, but that God alone is the ultimate cause of everything wrought; for instance, that it is not fire that gives heat, but God in the fire, and so forth. But this is impossible. First, because the order of cause and effect would be taken away from created things: and this would imply lack of power in the Creator: for it is due to the power of the cause, that it bestows active power on its effect. Secondly, because the active powers which are seen to exist in things, would be bestowed on things to no purpose, if these wrought nothing through them. Indeed, all things created would seem, in a way, to be purposeless, if they lacked an operation proper to them; since the purpose of everything is its operation. … We must therefore understand that God works in things in such a manner that things have their proper operation.” (Summa Theologica I Q.105 a.5)(my emphasis)

    It takes a greater power to make a creature with actual causal powers than to create a virtual reality in which God is the only causal agent. Therefore, creating creatures that have actual causal powers gives God more glory than creating creatures having no causal powers, or that do not contribute casually to the course of events. Since natural causal activity on the part of creatures does not detract from God’s glory but further reveals His great power and thus enhances His glory, so also the causal activity of rational creatures in cooperation with grace does not detract from God’s glory, but likewise enhances it, because in allowing us to participate in His redemptive work, God bestows upon us a tremendous dignity, far above the dignity we have already as creatures with genuine causal powers. Regarding our genuine participation in God’s salvific work, St. Thomas writes:

    “In this way God is helped by us; inasmuch as we execute His orders, according to 1 Corinthians 3:9: “We are God’s co-adjutors.” Nor is this on account of any defect in the power of God, but because He employs intermediary causes, in order that the beauty of order may be preserved in the universe; and also that He may communicate to creatures the dignity of causality [ut etiam creaturis dignitatem causalitatis communicet].” (Summa Theologica I Q.23 a.8 ad 2.)(my emphasis)

    St. Thomas quotes St. Paul’s statement that [the Apostles] are God’s “co-adjutors.” In the Greek this reads: θεοῦ γάρ ἐσμεν συνεργοί. “For we are God’s co-workers.” St. Paul is speaking about the work of preaching the gospel and building up the Church through prayer, preaching, administering the sacraments, teaching and service. The reason God entrusts this to men, is not because of any limitation on God’s part, but because in His goodness, He wishes to bestow upon us men the unfathomable dignity of being genuine causal agents in the supernatural order, i.e. in the order of grace, not just in the order of nature. St. Thomas continues:

    “Now it is a greater perfection for a thing to be good in itself and also the cause of goodness in others, than only to be good in itself. Therefore God so governs things that He makes some of them to be causes of others in government; as a master, who not only imparts knowledge to his pupils, but gives also the faculty of teaching others.” (Summa Theologica I Q.103 a.6)

    So God makes use of the Church, to be the ordinary means of grace to the world, in order to give us in the Church the greater perfection of not only being made righteous by His work on the cross through which we receive grace, but also real, genuine causes of righteousness in others, through that same gift of grace. Hence Colossians 1:24, where St. Paul speaks of filling up in his flesh that which is lacking in Christ’s afflictions. When God allows us to participate in His redemptive work of bringing the gospel to the whole world, He is more greatly glorified, just as God is more greatly glorified in the natural order when He makes creatures that have genuine causal powers, than if occasionalism were true. So the answer to your [hypothetical] “Why did God choose to use the Church as the ordinary means of grace?” question, is” To grant us a greater share in His goodness, grace and perfection, by granting to us the dignity of being genuine co-workers with Him in the supernatural order.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  184. Andrew McCallum said,

    November 26, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    Bryan,

    Re #177, given Ron’s comments,I won’t say anything more about the specific books in the canon except that I think we can talk just about the Protocanonicals and the justification for their canonicity without reference to the disputed books. The general question of canonicity can be debated without getting into the matter of the canonical status of the Deuterocanonicals/Apocrypha. I feel reasonably safe taking this approach since at the time leading up to and during the Reformation there was nobody, Catholic or Protestant, who debated the canonical status of any of the Protocanonicals, but the Deuteros/Apocrypha were still being debated even in Catholic circles at this point. D.T. King has provided evidence here although perhaps you already agree with us here?

    Concerning canonicity in general, I feel like we are repeating ourselves here (not the first time, huh?), I am hearing you to say that you have no issues with differentiating between ecclesiastical matters where God inspired what was under consideration from ecclesiastical issues where there was no inspiration involved. But then on the other hand you not allowing for such differentiation when considering 1) the judgment of the Church on the canon vs 2) the judgment of the Church on other matters. This does not compute with me.

    Remember I am not trying to disprove ecclesiastical infallibility in general at this point, only making the point that we can be guaranteed that an ecclesiastical action must be infallible if such action is inspired by God. Some other ecclesiastical action could be infallible but you cannot use inspiration to prove it. So the ball is in the Catholic court as I see. It is up to the Catholic apologist to provide justification for ecclesiastical infallibility for issues where no inspiration is involved. The apologetic tactic to take the reception of the canon by the Church as a basis for other actions of the Church doesn’t work since God’s inspiration was involved only with the Church’s involvement in the reception of the canon . And as you point out, it’s proper to differentiate between God working through the Church in an inspired vs a non-inspired manner.

  185. D. T. King said,

    November 26, 2010 at 7:32 pm

    Mr. Cross had claimed in a previous post: ”The other problem with your position is that in determining the canon over the first four centuries, the Church arrived at the Catholic canon, not the Protestant canon.”

    This historical claim is bogus, as I’ve already demonstrated in my first response to it. I only repeat it because Mr. Cross appears to be confused as to what I was responding the first time. Now then, I am inclined to accept the words of Meyendorff and Constantelos, rather than some web site that may be just as marginal as another that comes readily to mind. But be that as it may, the modern day confusion of the Eastern Orthodox among themselves over the status of their canon is not my problem, nor was it the thrust of my previous point. My point was how Mr. Cross plays fast and loose with the witness of the ancient church on the canon. It was both complex and diverse, and the historicity was far more involved than his over-generalization.

    Mr. Cross said: …because they were included in the LXX, and the LXX is the authoritative version of the Old Testament for the Orthodox Churches, because the LXX was the version of the Old Testament used by Christ and the Apostles and the early Church.

    This is a common Romanist contention. The problem with this emphasis on the LXX as being “the authoritative version of the Old Testament for the Orthodox Churches,” is another example of over-generalization. . . . To be sure again, in my previous post, I was addressing, not the view of the modern day Orthodox Churches, but the witness of the ancient church. When one reads cover to cover a single commentary of any of the eastern early church fathers, one discovers, if one observes closely, that there was no uniform text of the LXX among the early church fathers. Jerome in his Praef. in Paral. (PL 28:1324-25) refers to three contemporary, different forms of the LXX of which he was aware, to be found in Alexandria, Constantinople-Antioch, and “the provinces in between.” He observed that they all had their differences. In other words, there was no monolithic form of the LXX. Moreover, in addition to the LXX, they also made use of three other Greek translations of the OT by Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion, and occasionally, they favored the textual reading of one of these to that of whatever LXX “version” they had in their possession. Thus, to appeal to the LXX as *the* version is meaningless because there were multiple versions of the LXX in their day.

    As for the LXX version employed by the Lord Jesus and the NT writers, they were not uniform in their use of it. Notice basically two points…
    1) The LXX was not used exclusively as the source for OT citations either by our Lord or the NT writers. To claim that the LXX was *the* version for Christ and His apostles is painting, once again, with an irresponsible broad brush. Romanists often engage in this kind of over-generalization in order to give the impression that the LXX was *the* authoritative standard for the NT writers. This isn’t the case for the following reasons, and I’m not going to cite every NT scholar from whom I’ve drawn for the sake of brevity and my own time.
    a. With respect to our Lord, whether drawing from the Hebrew or the Greek (LXX), the quotations of Christ are very often free (e.g. Jn 8:17; Matt 19:5; 22:37-39) and sometimes interpretive (Matt 11:10; Lk 7:27). In other instances, our Lord also exhibited a great exegetical profundity, for example, in Matt 15:9 (Is 29:13), he combines both the Hebrew version and the LXX by saying: “teaching as their doctrines the precepts of men,” or in Matt 13:14-16 (Is 6:9-10) he gives preference to the Greek version because the historic aorists “is waxed gross,” “are dull of hearing,” “their eyes they have closed,” express exactly that which he wished to emphasize. In His sermon on the mount, the formulas “it was said” (Matt 5:27, 31, 38, 43) or “it was said to them of old time (21, 33) are quite different in form from those which introduce genuine citations of Scripture.
    b. The NT writers had to translate their quotations (one ought not to have to make this point, but one must remember that we’re dealing with Romanists). After all, the NT writers wrote in Greek and the source of their quotations was in Hebrew. Thus they needed either to translate the OT for themselves or use existing translations. Their frequent use of the LXX did not impose upon the NT authors any obligation to quote the OT uniformly with that “version.” For example, certain citations in the first Gospel are either independent of the LXX, or demonstrate only a slight influence of it. At times, the Gospel of Matthew differs widely from the LXX and the Massoretic text, and on the other hand has points of agreement to both.
    c. There is also the occasional tendency in some NT quotations to support the Theodotion Greek translation against the LXX.
    d. The NT writers often paraphrased their OT quotations.
    e. The NT writers often summarized their references to the OT.
    f. The NT writers often only alluded to OT passages without intending to quote them.
    g. More than half of the direct quotations from the OT as cited by Paul in his epistles are drawn from the LXX. In other passages the apostle departs from the LXX, quoting freely, or paraphrasing, or combining two distinct passages into a single citation.

    Therefore, the textual evidence is much more complicated than the broad brush of over-generalization with which Mr. Cross has painted his picture of misrepresentation. Thus Mr. Cross has no warrant for the common but failed apologetic of Roman apologists who gratuitously assume that the LXX was the version used by Christ and the Apostles and the early Church as though it was their exclusive authoritative version. Rather, the willingness of the NT writers to make use of the Septuagint, in spite of its occasional defects, teaches us the important lesson that the basic message which God purposed to deliver can be conveyed even through a translation, and that appeal can be made to a version to the extent that it agrees with the original.

    2) Inclusion in the LXX has never guaranteed the canonical status of the apocrypha for any communion; because, if it did, then Rome and Eastern Orthodoxy would have accepted all the books of this “version” that you claim was/is their authoritative version? For example, why has Rome rejected the 1 Esdras of the LXX (designating it as 3 Esdras)? Why did Rome reject 3 & 4 Maccabees, The Odes of Solomon, the Book of Jubilees the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, the Assumption of Moses, the Ascension of Isaiah? Why did Pope Gregory the Great reject 1 Maccabees as canonical? The inherent contradiction of this claim renders it so ludicrous as being unworthy of serious consideration. If inclusion in the LXX determines canonical status for an ancient book, then this argument, as such, undermines its own claim.

    Now, all we have seen from Mr. Cross is his own version of name it/claim it on behalf of the “infallible” Roman magisterium under the guise of that fabled Cheshire cat to which he assigns the name of “oral apostolic tradition.” Neither he nor his co-religionists can identify, define, or trace this nebulous “oral apostolic tradition” back to the apostles, but he would have us, with him, check our intellects at the door, and file in docilely, capitulating to the Gnostic-like viva voce of the modern day Roman magisterium, which he also, in gratuitous fashion, assumes. And you notice that his ecclesial skepticism works in only one direction. Rome’s ultimate “infallible” authority is never subject to the same critical assessment of Protestantism, which he labels “ecclesial deism.” Given the heretical and anti-catholic claims of the papacy, I suppose it’s never occurred to him that his communion is guilty of “ecclesial decapitation,” wherein the crown prerogatives of the only head and king of the church has been usurped by mortal imposters.

    Furthermore, one wonders why a Romanist would make any claims about the Bible, since it holds no practical authority for him or his co-religionists. In essence, as was suggested to me years ago, Romanists don’t sweat that Bible stuff, but they are fanatical when it comes to pontificating to us what books belong in it. If one had no greater reason for rejecting the claims of Rome than observing how the Scriptures suffer in their hands, that in itself is enough to reject their professed religiosity prima facie. I chuckle every time they insist that we cannot know what books belong in the Bible, while they “genuflect” before a body of “oral apostolic traditions” that none of them can identify, define, or articulate in any meaningful way. They remind me of the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster from the 19th century, Henry Edward Manning, who at least was honest enough to profess…

    It is not enough that the fountain of our faith be Divine. It is necessary that the channel be divinely constituted and preserved. …I may say in strict truth that the Church has no antiquity. It rests upon its own supernatural and perpetual consciousness. Its past is present with it, for both are one to a mind which is immutable. Primitive and modern are predicates, not of truth, but of ourselves. The Church is always primitive and always modern at one and the same time; and alone can expound its own mind, as an individual can declare his own thoughts. …The only Divine evidence to us of what was primitive is the witness and voice of the Church at this hour. Henry Edward Manning, The Temporal Mission of the Holy Ghost: Or Reason and Revelation (New York: J.P. Kenedy & Sons, originally written 1865, reprinted with no date), pp. 227-228.

    Now there is the declaration of sola ecclesia with a vengeance, otherwise known as a body severed from the Head, and by no one less than a cardinal, who is hailed as a successor to the apostles.

  186. Bryan Cross said,

    November 26, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    Andrew, (re: #184)

    As I said in #177, it is ad hoc to posit that God infallibly protected the Church in one action (i.e. determining the canon), while allowing that He did not do so in any other, without any evidence that God infallibly protected the Church in that one action, or by way of evidence or argumentation that applies equally to other Church actions. I pointed out that the argumentation you use to conclude that God protected the Church from error in her determination of the canon applies equally to other Church actions. So, if you want to show that your position is not ad hoc, then you need to show why the argument by which you conclude that God protected the Church from error in her determination of the canon does not apply to any other Church action.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  187. Bryan Cross said,

    November 26, 2010 at 8:26 pm

    D.T.King, (re: #185)

    I’m fully aware that there were different versions of the LXX, and I wasn’t suggesting that the presence of a book in one of them is a sufficient condition for its inclusion in the OT canon. The fact that there were different versions of the LXX (and other Greek versions of the OT) is fully compatible with my point, namely, that the OT texts used by Jesus, the Apostles and the early Church included more books than the Masoretic, and that this “longer canon” was functionally the authoritative OT of the early Church, even though the determination of the OT canon was not resolved until centuries later. So, what you added in #185 is quite compatible with my point in #180.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  188. steve hays said,

    November 26, 2010 at 9:03 pm

    Bryan is anachronistically backdating what we find in copies of the LXX which date from centuries into the church era to the edition in use by the NT church.

  189. rfwhite said,

    November 26, 2010 at 10:02 pm

    Since 1 Corinthians 2 has resurfaced in the discussion (see 183), I’d like to pick up a piece of thread that was dropped back in 111.

    111 Bryan: You are quite right, of course, that my questions in 107-108 were not asking you whether God has the power to give persons, individually and directly, the knowledge of the divine origin of the canon, but whether it is His will to do so. I’m not here to waste your time by denying the distinction, much less the harmony, between divine power and divine will. Your view, then, is that God has not willed to give persons, individually and directly, the knowledge of the divine origin of His word. Nor will I waste your time by espousing views such as those that take 1 Cor 2.12-16 or 1 John 2.20ff. as pretexts to imply that Christians do not need pastors or bishops or to teach or sanction the permissibility of rebelling against Church authority when one experiences an opposing burning in one’s bosom. Nor will I dispute with you over notions like this: that only one group of Christians has the Spirit, or that the Spirit is contradicting Himself. Moreover, as you point out, the widespread disagreement between many Christians is a cause of grief.

    With this concern about widespread disagreement, it seems to me, your comments intersect the Apostle’s concerns in 1 Corinthians. As you well know, disagreements/divisions/quarrels afflicted the church of God that was in Corinth (1 Cor 1.10-4.21). Such was the party spirit there that the carnal partisans, particularly that disobedient minority who appealed to their possession of ‘the Spirit’ to oppose (of all things) the Apostle Paul, set themselves against all other churches as well as the Apostle and thus laid claim to be uniquely ‘the Church’ who discerns and follows ‘the Spirit.’ Whether they invoked ‘the Spirit’ or ‘the Church’ as the reason for their self-identity, it was the Apostle Paul’s burden that they not go beyond that which is written (1 Cor 4.6-21).

    In that context, it seems to me that 1 Cor 2.12-16 contributes to our understanding of the Spirit’s proper role in one’s knowledge of the divine origin of God’s revelatory word as follows. So much is the Spirit indispensable to the communication of God’s special revelation that it is He who must and does create not only its proper messengers and content – it is the “we [who are spiritual]” who “impart [the things of the Spirit] in words … taught by the Spirit” – but also its proper audience – it is not the “merely human” (not “natural”; not “carnal”) who receive the things of the Spirit but the “spiritual.” It is only the “spiritual man” who “discerns all things … judges all things.” He alone, because he possesses the Spirit, has the ability to appraise and assess all that the Spirit reveals properly – that is, Spiritually – for what it is: the revelation of God. Moreover, it is the “spiritual man” who is “judged by no one”: the “spiritual man” recognizes the Mind-Spirit of the Lord as the ultimate authority and submits to no ultimate authority other than the Spirit and to no authority other than that which derives from the unbreakable bond between the Spirit and the “words … taught by the Spirit.”

    Certainly, we can agree that the Spirit and the Church should go together, and people should not appeal to one to ‘trump’ the other. Yet, as the Corinthian correspondence shows, partisans, whether from a natural or carnal state, will appeal to ‘the Spirit’ to trump the Church and to ‘the Church’ to trump the Spirit. Following 1 Cor 2.12-16, those who would be the Church indeed must be first formed as “spiritual persons” by the Spirit and in accord with the “words … taught by the Spirit.”

  190. D. T. King said,

    November 26, 2010 at 10:17 pm

    I’m fully aware that there were different versions of the LXX, and I wasn’t suggesting that the presence of a book in one of them is a sufficient condition for its inclusion in the OT canon.

    Yes, Mr. Cross would have us believe post ex facto that he was fully aware of the “different versions” of the LXX, and that when he said “because they were included in the LXX” he really didn’t mean what we were led to believe by that gratuitous assertion, namely that the inclusion of the apocrypha in the LXX gave them canonical status.

    The fact that there were different versions of the LXX (and other Greek versions of the OT) is fully compatible with my point, namely, that the OT texts used by Jesus, the Apostles…

    Once again, this is Mr. Cross’ version of name it/claim it, without any shred of proof that they recognized the apocrypha as canonical. I agree that everything is “fully compatible with your claim”, but that’s all it is, a claim. And what is gratuitously asserted can be gratuitously denied.

    …and the early Church included more books than the Masoretic, and that this “longer canon” was functionally the authoritative OT of the early Church, even though the determination of the OT canon was not resolved until centuries later.

    Let’s consider the “full compatibility” of these claims…

    1) Melito of Sardis in the mid-second century numbered the OT as 22 books, rejecting Esther and all of the deuterocanonicals, but we are informed by Mr. Cross that this is “fully compatible” with his claims.

    2) Alexander of Alexandria needed no conciliar authority to recognize the books of Holy Scripture, stating of the Arians; “They are not ashamed to oppose the godly clearness of the ancient scriptures.” NPNF2: Vol. III, Theodoret’s Ecclesiastical History, Book 1, Chapter 3, yet Mr. Cross asserts gratuitously that this is “fully compatible” with his claims.

    3) Athanasius informs us that the canon of the church of his day included all the protocanonical books, including Baruch and rejecting Esther and the rest of the apocrypha, yet Mr. Cross asserts gratuitously that this is “fully compatible” with his claims.

    3) Cyril of Jerusalem receives the numbering of the Hebrew canon, rejecting the apocrypha, yet Mr. Cross asserts gratuitously that this is “fully compatible” with his claims.

    4) Hilary of Poitiers subscribed to the traditional Jewish numeration of twenty-two books, although he appended the Epistle of Jeremiah to Jeremiah, and stated that some in his day received Tobit and Judith, yet Mr. Cross asserts gratuitously that this is “fully compatible” with his claims.

    5) Patristic scholar J. N. D. Kelly noted that Gregory of Nazianzus and Epiphanius both affirmed that the deutero-canonical books should be relegated to a subordinate position outside the canon proper, yet Mr. Cross asserts gratuitously that this is “fully compatible” with his claims.

    6) Jerome rejected the apocrypha, holding to the Hebrew verity, yet Mr. Cross asserts gratuitously that this is “fully compatible” with his claims.

    7) Rufinus described Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Tobit, Judith and 1 and 2 Maccabees as “not canonical, but ecclesiastical,’ i.e. to be read by Christians but not adduced as authoritative for doctrine, yet Mr. Cross asserts gratuitously that this is “fully compatible” with his claims.

    8) As late as the 8th century, John Damascene likewise affirmed the Hebrew canon of twenty-two books and ecluding Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus, although he was ready to acknowledge their admirable qualities, yet Mr. Cross asserts gratuitously that this is “fully compatible” with his claims.

    9) Jesuit controversialist Robert Bellarmine wrote concerning the LXX version of 1 Esdras, which Trent rejected as canonical: “No less is the difficulty of the book of 3 Esdras: for in the Greek codices it is that which is called “first Esdras”, and that which is among us called first and second, in Greek is called second Esdras. Wherefore it appears to be true, the ancient councils and fathers, when they placed in the canon the two books of Esdras, understood by the name of the two books all three. Following their version of the Septuagint interpretation, among which our three, they named two books of Esdras. And for further support, because third Esdras is cited by Athanasius [in] Oration 3 Against the Arians, by Augustine [in] Book 18 of the City of God (Chapter 36), by Clement of Alexandria [in] the Stromata Book 1, by the author of the incomplete homily 1 on Matthew, and by Saint Cyprian in the letter to Pompey.”
    Latin text: Nec minor est difficultas de lib. 3 Esdrae: nam in graecis codicibus ipse est qui dicitur primus Esdrae: nam in graecis codicibus ipse est qui dicitur primus Esdrae, et qui apud nos dicuntur secundus Esdrae. Quocirca verisimile est, antique concilia et Patres, cum ponunt in canone duos libros Esdrae, intelligere nominee dourum librorum omnes tres. Sequebantur enim versionem septuaginta interpretum, apud quos tres nostril, duo libri Esdrae nominantur. Accedit etiam, quod citatur hic tertius Esdrae ab Athananasio orat. 3. contra Arianos, ab Augustino lib. 18. de Civitate Dei cap. 36. a Clemente alexandrine lib. Stromat. 1. ab auctore operas imperfecti homil. 1. in Matth., et a sancto Cypriano in epist. ad Pompejum. Roberti Bellarmini, Opera Omnia, De Controversiis, Tomus Primus, De libris sacris et apocryphis (Neapoli: Apud Josephum Giuliano, 1856), Liber Primus, Caput 20, p. 59, first column.
    Yet Mr. Cross would have us to believe gratuitously that this is “fully compatible” with his claims.

    It’s a Walter Mitty world in the field of Roman apologetics. :)

  191. Andrew McCallum said,

    November 26, 2010 at 11:10 pm

    if you want to show that your position is not ad hoc, then you need to show why the argument by which you conclude that God protected the Church from error in her determination of the canon does not apply to any other Church action.

    Bryan – As stated, because in one case the judgment is rendered on the basis of God’s inspiring while in the other cases it is not. And you have already conceded that it’s proper to distinguish between statements that are contingent on the God’s inspiration and those that are not. And again, I have not gotten to the point of refuting the claim of the Church being infallible in things the don’t involve God’s inspiration, but only noted that the Catholic apologist needs to come up with something besides inspiration to justify his conclusion on the general infallibility of the Church

    And I think rather than stating that it is God protecting the Church from error in the case of the formation of the canon, it would be better to say that God worked through the Church to produce the canon. The way you state it makes it sound like the formation of the canon is primarily the work of the Church using God as a resource rather than primarily the work of God using the Church as a conduit. Athanasius’ usage of “receiving” the canon is right on target here – the Church was the passive receiver, not the active definer

    So have we beat this one to death yet?

  192. Bryan Cross said,

    November 26, 2010 at 11:22 pm

    rfwhite (re: #189)

    Thanks for your reply. I agree with pretty much everything you wrote.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  193. Bryan Cross said,

    November 26, 2010 at 11:27 pm

    Andrew (re: #191)

    As stated, because in one case the judgment is rendered on the basis of God’s inspiring while in the other cases it is not.

    I assume we agree that God does not inspire the canon. He inspires the words of each book that is included in the canon. But the table of contents in the Bible is not divinely inspired. So in order to go from “the books of the canon were divinely inspired” to “the Church’s determination of the canon of Scripture was protected from error,” you need some argument, such as the one in the first paragraph of comment #110. Otherwise, you don’t have any evidence or argumentation for your claim that the Church’s determination of the canon of Scripture was protected from error. And in that case, by claiming that in this one action (i.e. determining the canon) the Church was infallible, while allowing that she was fallible in all other actions, your position would be ad hoc.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  194. Ron said,

    November 26, 2010 at 11:54 pm

    Bryan,

    It’s already been proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that God kept the church from error regarding the reception of the canon. Your problem has been with the plain meaning of words. One of the premises of the argument was Ephesians 2:20, which teaches that the foundation of the church is the apostles and prophets, Christ being the chief cornerstone. Rather than repent of your position, you hardened yourself to the plain meaning of words and replied that the Scriptures are not speaking of the “words (per se) of anyone.” You even went on to say that “It does not say ‘the words of the apostles and prophets,’ or ‘the words of Christ the cornerstone.'” But if not their gospel, then what about the Christ and the apostles is the church built upon? You’re only other rejoinder was that you believe that the unwritten tradition of the apostles has been preserved within the Roman magisterium, but that is just an assertion and even if it were true, it does not undermine the argument for the reception of the written tradition(!), or did that escape your notice along with everything else that’s been said?

    Bryan, your position has been refuted throughout this thread. Moreover, you have refused to tell us why Scripture never speaks of a doctrine of “the chair” and how you can conclude a perpetually infallible papacy from an infallible Peter, yet your entire position is based upon such nonsense. I must believe that your hardness of heart and dullness of mind must be judicial.

    Ron

  195. Bryan Cross said,

    November 27, 2010 at 9:10 am

    Ron, (re: #182, #194)

    “The foundation of the church is the apostles and Christ. What can this mean – that the church is built upon their bones or their “sound pattern of words” which will never pass away? [#182]

    “But if not their gospel, then what about the Christ and the apostles is the church built upon?” [#194]

    What is odd is that when in #181 I explained from Eph 2:20 and Rev 21:14 that the foundation stones of the Church are Christ (the cornerstone), and the apostles and prophets, the only way you seemingly can conceive of this is to mean either their words or their bones. The category which seems to be absent from your ontology is the one most nobly bequeathed to us by the whole Christian tradition, namely, the category of person. The possibility that St. Paul and St. John are saying that the Church is built on persons, Christ the Cornerstone being a divine Person, seems not to be within your conceptual horizon. That’s why you (seemingly) have to force passages like Eph 2:20 and Rev 21:14 to be referring to the apostles words or their bones, and when I don’t force those passages into one of those two categories, you accuse me of “hardening myself to the plain meaning” of these passages. Persons are neither reducible to their words, nor reducible to their bones. We believe that it is through a succession of persons that Christ governs His Church as its Head, living in His Church by His Spirit, preserving the words He entrusted to His Apostles, and feeding the Church with the grace which is a participation in His divine Life. We know that Christ is not a human idea, but a Person. And He rules His Church fundamental through persons whom He graciously appoints and authorizes, not fundamentally through abstract ideas or propositions that are left free for anyone to interpret as he or she wishes. Once it is clear that Christ rules His Church through persons, then the significance of Matthew 16:13-19 also becomes clearer. But that’s a discussion for another day; because I must attend to other responsibilities.

    May Jesus Christ who is Lord of all, bring us to agreement in the truth in and through the agape which is from above. Amen.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  196. Ron said,

    November 27, 2010 at 11:14 am

    Bryan,

    As has been pointed out to you already, whether the apostolic unwritten tradition exists today or not is irrelevant to the question of whether we can know without an infallible magisterium telling us that God preserved the church in the reception of the canon. Let’s assume, however, that the unwritten tradition still exists even though it has never been produced. Jesus promised to build his church and we’ll say that he promised to build it upon both Scripture and unwritten tradition. (I of course would say that if Jesus promised to build his church on the unwritten tradition then he failed since there is no preserved unwritten tradition that the church has been built upon; yet for argument’s sake let’s assume the tradition is intact.)

    As I’ve pointed out, whether we have the unwritten tradition or not has zero impact on the argument from “intent and providence” for the reception of the written tradition. Think about it. Now in a last ditch desperation you have resorted to saying that the texts in view are not just speaking about the teachings of Christ and his apostles (even oral traditions) as being the foundation of the church, but rather the texts mean that we are to receive for the foundation of the church the teachings of their alleged successors, both written and oral. In passing I’ll note that to have to receive the teaching of a pope 2,000 years after the teachings of the apostles and Christ would clearly deny the import of “foundation of the church.” But aside from the obvious, even if I grant your point, the reception of the written canon through divine intent and providence is not affected by your “exegesis” of Ephesians 2 regarding popes; just like the alleged preservation of the unwritten tradition does not affect the question of whether written tradition was received and recognized apart from an infallible magisterium. So, if you want to expand on what you think is my narrow understanding of Ephesians 2, then go for it. The point you are missing is that by including in your understanding of the texts that we must not only receive Christ and the apostles but also the popes as the foundation of the church, it still doesn’t undermine Christ’s intent and promise for the church to be at least partially built upon the written words of the apostles and Christ. You see Mr. Cross, to “refute”” the Protestant position on the canon in a non-arbitrary non-ad hoc fashion you will have to deny that Jesus had any intent whatsoever for the church to be at least partially built upon his written words and the written words of the apostles. To introduce your Gnostic dogmas regarding unwritten traditions and the succession of bishops is simply to throw up Red Herrings in the sophist manner you are accustomed.

    Mr. Cross, your twisting of Scripture is more than deplorable, which is why I have only one more thing to say to you in all sobriety of mind. Get behind me Satan.

    Ron

  197. Bryan Cross said,

    November 27, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    Ron (re: #196),

    Thank you for discussing this with me. May God the Father bless you, and deepen your love for our Lord Jesus Christ, and by His grace renew your joy and peace in the unity of the Holy Spirit, with all His angels and saints, unto life eternal. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  198. D. T. King said,

    November 27, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    Once it is clear that Christ rules His Church through persons, then the significance of Matthew 16:13-19 also becomes clearer. ..

    There we have it, from the self-appointed magisterium of one. Once this unwarranted gigantic leap is made (for sake of a self-serving apologetic founded upon special pleading, as made clear to us by the repeated gratuitous claims of this magisterium of one), and that contrary to the overwhelming consensus of the members of the ancient church, then all things become possible, even the decapitation of the body from the head. I am reminded of the words of Tertullian…

    Tertullian (AD 160-220): For to the Son of God alone was it reserved to persevere to the last without sin. But what if a bishop, if a deacon, if a widow, if a virgin, if a doctor, if even a martyr, have fallen from the rule (of faith), will heresies on that account appear to possess the truth? Do we prove the faith by the persons, or the persons by the faith?

    And Augustine reminds us…

    Augustine (354-430): To be sure, if the truth is revealed so clearly that it cannot come into doubt, it ought to be preferred to all the things by which I am held in the Catholic Church. John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., The Works of Saint Augustine, The Manichean Debate, Part 1, Vol. 19, trans. Boniface Ramsey, Answer to the Letter of Mani Known as the Foundation, 4,5 (Hyde Park: New City Press, 2006), p. 236.

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

    But I’m sure that these words of Tertullian and Augustine are “fully compatible” with the claims of Mr. Cross.

    I’m inclined to agree with the Cappadocian…

    Gregory of Nazianzus (329/330-389): Disagreement motivated by piety is superior to concord held together by sentiment. See Fathers of the Church, Vol. 107, St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Select Orations, Oration 6.11 (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 2003), p. 11.
    Greek text: κρείσσων γὰρ ἐμπαθοῦς ὁμονοίας ἡ ὑπὲρ εὐσεβείας διάστασις• Oratio 6.11, De Pace, PG 35:736.

    For Gregory observed in his day…

    Gregory of Nazianzus (329/330-389): But, as it is, there is a danger of the holiest of all offices being the most ridiculous among us. For promotion depends not upon virtue, but upon villainy; and the sacred thrones fall not to the most Worthy, but to the most powerful. NPNF2: Vol. VII, Oration 43, §26.

    and…

    Gregory of Nazianzus (329/330-389): 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.

    But I’m sure that all of this is also “fully compatible” with the claims of Mr. Cross, because, after all, in the Walter Mitty world of Roman apologetics, all things are possible.

  199. BSuden said,

    November 27, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    Walter Mitty?
    You are too kind, Mr. King.
    I would have thought drug testing was called for, though after a fashion it resembles a spiritual psychosis complicated by delusions of grandeur.

    But between the theology of glory and the theology of the cross there is an impassable abyss. The only known cure for either condition is that of Abraham to the rich man, “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead” Lk.16:31. But Christ, the Word of God become flesh has risen from the dead and Bryan is still deaf to his Word.

    John 8:47  He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.

  200. D. T. King said,

    November 27, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    Mr. Suden,

    Unlike our magisterium of one here, our Lord always spoke coherently and consistently. And contrary to those “called to confusion,” our Lord calls us and causes us to understand his words, which we need not understand exhaustively or infallibly in order to understand them sufficiently. I am grateful for your citation of John 8:47 He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.

    I am reminded again of the words of Clement of Alexandria…

    Clement of Alexandria (150 – c. 215): But godliness, that makes man as far as can be like God, designates God as our suitable teacher, who alone can worthily assimilate man to God. This teaching the apostle knows as truly divine. “Thou, O Timothy,” he says, “from a child hast known the holy letters, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation, through faith that is in Christ Jesus.” For truly holy are those letters that sanctify and deify; and the writings or volumes that consist of those holy letters and syllables, the same apostle consequently calls “inspired of God, being profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished to every good work.” No one will be so impressed by the exhortations of any of the saints, as he is by the words of the Lord Himself, the lover of man. ANF: Vol. II, Exhortation to the Heathen, Chapter 9.

    The Romanists are far too enamored with the words of men. Yet it was the practice of the ECFs time and time again to draw us back to the words of Holy Scripture, because as Jesus said, “The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.” John 6:63). Our Lord goes on to inform us elsewhere, “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him– the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.” John 12:48.

    And when we stand before God on that day of all days, we’ll not be judged based upon the words of someone claiming to be the successor of our Lord and His apostles, but as Basil of Caesarea reminds us all…

    Basil of Caesarea (Ad 329-379): And since, then, we know that the words of divine Scripture will rise up before us at the judgment seat of Christ—“For I will reprove thee,” He says, “and set before thee thy sins”—let us hearken diligently to that which is spoken, and seek earnestly to carry out the divine decrees; for we know not on what day or at what hour the Lord will come. W. K. L. Clarke, The Ascetic Works of Saint Basil, Translations of Christian Literature Series I, Greek Texts (London: S.P.C.K., 1925), Preface to the Longer Rules, pp. 150-151.
    Greek text: Εὐξώμεθα οὖν ἐμοὶ τὴν οἰκονομίαν τοῦ λόγου ἄμεμπτον, καὶ ὑμῖν ἔγκαρπον τὴν διδασκαλίαν γενέσθαι. Ὡς οὖν εἰδότες, ὅτι ἀντιπρόσωποι ἡμῖν οἱ τῆς θεοπνεύστου Γραφῆς λόγοι στήσονται ἐπὶ τοῦ βήματος τοῦ Χριστοῦ (Ἐλέγξω γάρ σε, φησὶ, καὶ παραστήσω κατὰ πρόσωπόν σου τὰς ἁμαρτίας σου), οὕτω καὶ πρόσχωμεν νηφόντως τοῖς λεγομένοις, καὶ εἰς ἔργον προαγαγεῖν τὰ θεῖα διδάγματα σπουδαίως ἐπειχθῶμεν, ὅτι οὐκ οἴδαμεν ποίᾳ ἡμέρᾳ ἢ ὥρᾳ ὁ Κύριος ἡμῶν ἔρχεται. Regulæ Fusius Tractatæ, Proœmium, PG 31:900-901.

    This is why we “sweat that Bible stuff.” Christ’s words are those that make for our peace, not the false peace to which the Romanists summon us, all the while invoking the name of Christ, as though it excuses them from driving a wedge between Christ’s person and His words.

  201. Ron said,

    November 27, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    Mr. Suden et al.,

    I can’t tell you how many times I thought of that passage because of this thread. On several occasions I thought of making application. Unless God sees fit to grant Mr. Cross repentance, I’m afraid that he will try to lecture the Lord himself on the foundation of the church, not unlike the rich man’s lecturing of Abraham. For Mr. Cross, Scripture is not even a grain of sand in the church’s foundation; nor is Scripture in view in Ephesians 2:20. Indeed, it cannot be for Mr. Cross, for if it was he would then have to acknowledge that the divine intent to build the church on Scripture at least in part (I accommodate Mr. Cross) would have needed to come to pass for Ephesians 2:20 to be fulfilled! Mr. Cross needs to avoid the divine intent at all cost; for as soon as he acknowledges Christ Jesus’ intent to build His church “at least in part” on Scripture, Mr. Cross is then constrained to show why God’s intent could not have come to pass without an infallible magisterium (according to the same divine providence by which the rest of the eternal decree comes to pass). Since Mr. Cross cannot possibly succeed in showing that God could not bring to pass the reception of the canon without an infallible magisterium, Mr. Cross was left no other choice (short of becoming Protestant) than to bring into question the divine intent. (Yes, Mr. Cross is very sly.) So you see, and you do see, Mr. Cross needed to bring into question the prophetic promise (the intent) to bring to pass the reception of the canon, which is necessarily implied by Scripture’s promise that the church would be established (“at least in part”) upon Scripture. Mr.Cross tried to do this by unwittingly arguing by false-disjunction, introducing non-mutually exclusive premises to the promise of building the church “at least in part” on the canon; these Red Herring premises were the intent (a) to bring to pass the reception of the apostolic oral tradition, and (b) of establishing a succession of infallible bishops, neither of which undermine the divine intent to bring to pass the reception of the canon for the establishment of the NT church. Yet even allowing for those unjustified premises, Mr. Cross still could not with any valid argumentation undermine the divine intent, which presuppose the necessity of bringing to pass the reception of the canon. Mr. Cross could only suggest “Has God said?”

    Blessings,

    Ron

  202. Andrew McCallum said,

    November 27, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    But the table of contents in the Bible is not divinely inspired…

    Bryan,

    It sounds like you are pulling out of the thread (which has undoubtedly gone on long enough). But I will say that I’m glad we are able to agree on some things and that you agree with me that Reformed Protestants (like Catholics) look to the historical process of God’s working through the Church to validate the canon. Of course we disagree as the locus of infallibility and we did not this time get into why Protestants don’t accept ecclesiastical infallibility in general, but that’s OK. I think perhaps we have made some progress. We Protestants will take what we can get….

  203. Ron said,

    November 27, 2010 at 6:27 pm

    Hi Andrew,

    I’d sincerely like to know what progress has been made because I’m sure we could all use a little encouragement. :) I haven’t learned anymore about Romanism and I can’t imagine that Bryan has learned anything new about the Reformed tradition. Certainly you might have been able to agree on some things with Bryan but progress? Was there something anyone agreed upon that was new to either person? Again, my question is asked in all sincerity.

    Thanks brother.

    Ron

  204. steve hays said,

    November 27, 2010 at 9:29 pm

    Bryan Cross said,

    “But the table of contents in the Bible is not divinely inspired.”

    That glib one-liner is popular among pop apologists for Rome. However, it’s a deeply deceptive statement.

    One of the features of the Bible is intertextuality. Intertextuality between books of the OT, between the OT and the NT, between books of the NT.

    So there’s an elaborate network of cross-referencing in Scripture, where one book cites, quotes, foreshadows, presupposes, alludes to, picks up from, or carries over, another book.

    That’s an implicit table of contents. One that’s internal to Scripture. Given in Scripture, and about Scripture.

    We could debate various refinements of that principle. My immediate point is that Bryan is overlooking a basic line of internal evidence.

  205. Paige Britton said,

    November 27, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    Thanks, Lane, for defending my thinking in #149 — I have been away and did not see that till today. Sure enough, I was contrasting “Ongoing office of Pope/Magisterium” and Scriptures, and did not mean to imply by my words a total rejection of the office of elder (or the Apostles themselves).

    Here’s some of Bryan’s response from #147:

    Using historical, reasonable, means, you could pull together a list of documents that are highly likely to have been written by people who knew Jesus. But using historical, reasonable means, you could not show that they are divinely inspired. Nor could you demonstrate that your list was an exhaustive list of the divinely inspired books God intended His Church to have. So you could not establish the canon as the canon of Scripture; you could only compile a fallible list of books that to the best of your knowledge are historically reliable records of what Jesus said and did.

    Some thoughts — and please, brothers, correct me if I’m off in any of my thinking here:

    1. I personally do not need to “pull together” any lists or “establish” any books as the canon, nor prove that they are divinely inspired. This is work that was finished when the canon was closed at the end of the Apostolic age. The early church — meaning simply, the first believers — recognized which books were inspired because these texts had the imprimatur of Jesus (the Tanak) or the apostles (the NT). (And if we want to talk internal evidence, it was also in many cases because these texts self-identified as being God’s Word.) So already the ECF’s could refer to “the Scriptures” and basically know what each other was talking about, minus a book or two sometimes for geographical reasons.

    2. The church (of any age) did not need to “establish” a canon. The early believers received the canon, and we can even say the church was established by the canon. As time went on, for polemical reasons, some leaders found it imperative to list the canon, but they did not in listing it make it so.

    3. Saying, “Ha ha ha, you don’t have an infallible magisterium, so therefore you don’t know for sure that you have an infallible canon!” does not in itself prove that such an infallible magisterium exists.

    4. Help me out with this one, everybody: If God didn’t leave us with an infallible magisterium to put the official stamp of approval on the list, then we are taking it on faith that the true canon of Scripture was received by the early believers and passed along to us. This is, in the absence of a Pope, an extremely reasonable thing to do. But is it fair to say that God’s intention for us includes an element of trust, rather than absolute certainty, in this matter? (I don’t want to give away the farm, here; but if this is the true picture of our life in God’s universe, I want to be able to say it like it is.)

    Thanks, all.

  206. Ron said,

    November 27, 2010 at 10:31 pm

    Paige,

    Real quickly, I like very much 1-3. As for 4, I would say that our “trust” or “faith” (same thing) is in the absolute truth of Christ’s promised intention. When we add in the premises that our Savior cannot lie and that God is sovereign over the choices of men, I would dogmatically say that we can know with certainty that we have the canon that God had intended to leave with the church.

    May God’s peace be with you.

    Ron

  207. MarkS said,

    November 27, 2010 at 11:01 pm

    Ron, Lane, and/or Bryan;
    I have an honest question as a reformed guy who is trying to sort through all of this. The question is relative to the discussion on the biblical precendent for rejecting a servant’s teaching when it is in error. Jesus told the apostles, whatever you bind on earth is bound in heaven. In Acts 16:28-29, the apostles and elders, gathered at the council of Jerusalem, appear to explicitly bind the gentile christians in Antioch to certain things. Yet, there is no reference to Peter explicitly binding anyone to emulate the behavior referenced in Gal’s 2 that is condemned by Paul. Does this at least somewhat answer Ron’s request for a “non-arbitrary principle” from the Bible that helps us conclude when a RC would say we can take an apostle’s teaching as gospel and when we cannot? The principle being – when the apostles say it is binding? I’m assuming Ron and Lane will say no and Bryan might say yes, but I would really appreciate hearing the reasons for either answer.
    Secondly, to give an example of an individual apostle, Paul’s epistles are full of all sorts of commands to the churches he addressed. I think we can agree that these commands were binding at the time, which means Paul had authority to give explicit and binding commands. Those letters were inspired by the Holy Spirit at the moment they were written, but it’s questionable whether the churches, to which the letters were addressed, could have known that in reading the letters they were reading the very inerrant Word of God. Paul himself never started a letter saying, “Thus says the Lord.” So it seems that Paul had authority to bind, at least to some degree. However, I would guess his authority did not extend to the same degree as that of the council at Jerusalem. He didn’t have to say, this letter is Scripture, therefore it is binding. He was an apostle and therefore his explicit commands were binding.
    So IF apostolic succession is true, and I am certainly not saying that it is, are these biblical facts not precedent for present-day office holders making explicit (i.e. ex cathedra) binding statements? And if they are binding because Christ gave them authority and power to bind, then what they bind would have to be without error. Christ would not give someone power to bind things that are in error, right? Thank you.

  208. BSuden said,

    November 28, 2010 at 1:54 am

    (If player- coach Bryan Cross has other business to take care of, I’m waiting to see who he gives the nod for the seventh inning. Can’t believe there isn’t a swarm of them over here.)

    Seriatum,

    Thank you once again for your comments, Mr. King. Your knowledge of and input on the ECFs in the ongoing discussion has been very helpful. As someone raised on the Baltimore Catechism, I assume as a pastor in Maryland, you might run into more than your fair share of Romanists and it shows. Again, I appreciate that. Early on, the majority response in the combox to Bryan seemed to be ‘Oh what nice manners you have’ and those of us who thought different were the bad guys. I think that tide has turned. If Bannerman could refer to Mohler as an example of “what can be done by a thoroughly efficient and dextrous controversialist in the way of omission, modification, plausible explanation, and defence, to maintain the cause of the Papacy (Church of Christ II:431, BoT) in the same vein, Bryan is a definite wannabe and folks got to see it up close right here. If they were paying attention they came away better equipped to see through the fork tongued slitherings of the Roman chameleon.

    Ron, I am not sure I quite follow you on divine intent. The way it seemed to me was that regarding premise 4, Bryan was doing everything he could to avoid stating the obvious. No, Eph. 2:20 doesn’t state explicitly that Christ is the Word of God become flesh, but Jn. 1:12 does. Likewise that the apostles were ministers of the word, man does not live by bread alone . . . and the whole slew of passages in John etc. make it pretty clear what the church is built on. The least he could do is state the argument properly even if he didn’t agree with it and that includes the enthymes or missing propositions.

    For that matter, romanists assume Matt.16:18 is the perspicuous carte blanche for them to do as they please with the rest of Scripture – as in ignore it. But if context is king – remember the pope and his comments on condoms – and Christ calls Peter “Satan” five verses later in 16:23, the almost immediate inference is that in both cases we are talking about something Peter said, otherwise his supposed installation as pope by Christ in the first instance is a real contradiction. Again, it’s all about words, something Peter said, if not his confession of Christ. So too, many, but not all of the ECFs

    But Bryan has to use words to undercut the authority of Word of God and he has to use his private judgement even to attempt to sway our private judgement. As for the infallible canon of the invisible apostolic oral traditions – long rumored, highly venerated but never seen and consequently an ad hoc opportunistic and implicit grab bag of excuses and justifications for anything and everything papal in Bryan’s arguments – , by definition the same traditions were exactly that, unwritten words (oops). In principle, Bryan’s entire modus operandi is in conflict with itself, if not just downright hypocritical. As Mr. King stated, Rome attempts to use the word of God to divide Christ the word of God from the word of God. (Likewise the pentecostals would like to separate the Holy Spirit from Scripture and Bryan once was a pentecostal but whatever . . .)

    As far as the standard Roman assumption that there is one to one correspondence between the apostles and those they ordained along with something about the transmission of a supposed infallible chrism, not only is it an amateurish blunder, it is also a fallacy of the undistributed middle term. Bryan and Rome fail entirely to distinguish between the apostles – as eyewitnesses of Christ, personally chosen by him and likewise inspired to produce the New Testament (which has something to with a bunch of words I’m told) – and those who came after Christ ascended and the New Testament had been written, the sacrosanct apostolic succession leading up to tada! the infallible Roman magisterium. It is these kinds of sleight of reasonings that Bryan must stoop to in order to avoid the clear testimony of Scripture to itself and its authority, sufficiency and clarity. Further as a MDiv grad of a presbyterian seminary (OK lately, Covenant has not been getting good press, though I always thought highly of Rock Reymond who used to be there) Bryan is not aware of the P&R distinction between extraordinary and ordinary officers clearly taught in Eph. 4:11? When a guy leads with his chin, what does he expect?

    steve hays (i think i spelled it right) good comment on the canon. If Whitaker says it is the stickiest question I defer to his judgement. I had always heard that every OT book was quoted in the NT somewhere and Christ never faulted the Jews for corrupting the Scripture, though he had plenty of critical things to say. Again, as mentioned, the early church was not the Roman church though Bryan consistently assumes it and it received the canon that we have to day. . .

    Thank you

  209. johnbugay said,

    November 28, 2010 at 7:21 am

    Bob Suden #207 — hear hear!

    romanists assume Matt.16:18 is the perspicuous carte blanche for them to do as they please with the rest of Scripture – as in ignore it.

    This verse is not the “carte blanche” they think it is. I’ve recently had a chance to compile some exegetical comments (and there are a lot more where these came from).

    For example, one epologist said this:

    Scriptural Foundation:
    Matthew 16:18 – “And I say to thee, thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I build My Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” Here we have Jesus bestowing upon Peter (whose name means “rock”) the foundation of the Church. In fact, in the Aramaic, which is what Jesus was likely speaking when speaking to His Apostles, and also the likely original language that the book of Matthew was written in, there is no distinction between the name “Peter” (Kepha) and the term for “rock” (kepha). Hence, if we stuck closer to the original language (instead of transliterating it to Greek and then English), that same verse would read something like: “… thou art Kepha, and upon this kepha will I build My Church.” This one verse alone is enough for one who has The Faith….

    And if you grew up Roman Catholic, you probably heard that same thing many times over. But it’s simply not the case. But there are recent studies into the Syriac (a later variation of Aramaic) where manuscript evidence shows that translators into Syriac (who would have known of the Aramaic wordplay) consciously chose two different Syriac words (“kepha/tnra”) instead of “kepha/kepha”:

    David Garland (“Reading Matthew”, New York: Crossroad Publishing, 1995) contend[s] that the possible “underlying Aramaic” for the “petros/petra” wordplay (possibly “kepha/kepha” in the unknown Aramaic) may well have been “kepha/tnra” – which then separates the Greek “petros/petra” by more than just gender issues; it changes the whole meaning of the wordplay. And this “changed wordplay” greatly advances the (already likely) scenario that Peter is not “the rock” of that verse.

    Everett Ferguson also cites this same study:

    The Greek text of Matthew and some strands of the Syriac tradition (pertinent here because Syriac is a later form of Aramaic) make a distinction between the words for Peter and the Rock. They seem to understand a different referent for Jesus’ words.

    Aramaic perhaps could have made a distinction, as Syriac did, either by different words or by the distinction between masculine and feminine (preserved in Greek by different endings).

    At any rate, if Jesus used the same word with the same sense in both cases, the wordplay is lost. There is no wordplay if the same word is used twice with the same meaning [“kepha/kepha”]. A play on words requires similarities of sound, different meanings of the same word (possible here if Jesus used the same word, once for Peter and once for another “rock”), or different words with the same idea (again possible here if Jesus used two different expressions represented by different but similar words in Greek). The difference in Greek and some Syriac texts indicate that a wordplay was intended here.

    All reasons why “kepha/kepha” is very unlikely and that whole line of reasoning is simply just ecclesiastical vaporware.

    http://beggarsallreformation.blogspot.com/2010/11/built-on-sinking-sand-scriptural.html

    http://beggarsallreformation.blogspot.com/2010/11/built-on-sinking-sand-scriptural_27.html

  210. Ron said,

    November 28, 2010 at 7:33 am

    Hi Bob,

    Please let me know what is vague to you on “divine intent” and I’ll try to explain. All I’m saying is we know from good and necessary inference that God intended on providing his people Scripture without error, otherwise the church could not have been built upon the Word as explicitly promised. The explicit promise to build the church on the Word presupposes the divine intent to provide the Word.

    Good Lord’s Day.

    Ron

  211. Tom Riello said,

    November 28, 2010 at 8:16 am

    Now coming in to pitch….Pedro Borbon. Not really…but to “pitch” a couple of works. To those who may be here but are silent, watching the discussion unfold, I would recommend to you a great book, “Not By Scripture Alone” and especially the chapter by former Westminster graduate and current professor at Sacred Heart Seminary Dr. Phil Blosser. You may disagree, you might wind up agreeing but one thing you will be able to say after reading Blosser’s chapter is he did his homework and makes excellent points.

    Taylor Marshall’s newest book is now out. This is part of Taylor’s Trilogy on the Origins of the Catholic faith. The book is The Catholic Perspective on Paul. As some of you may know, Taylor, like Dr. Blosser, is also a graduate of Westminster. What is excellent about Taylor’s work is that he for the most part limits himself to the Pauline corpus when making the case for Catholic doctrine on a variety of matters, including Baptism, the Eucharist, the priesthood. Taylor’s work will contribute to the current conversation on the Apostle Paul and help others see that much of Catholic doctrine comes from the pen of Paul.

    One of the more interesting aspects of the Protestant principle of Sola Scriptura is that a Catholic can use it to make a very strong case for a variety of Catholic teachings including the Papacy (the Petrine texts fro Matthew 16, Luke 22, and John 21), the Eucharist and Eucharistic Sacrifice, Mary etc… By the Protestant criteria there really should be no problem with some of these Catholic teachings. For example, the Catholic teaching of confession can be demonstrated from John 20. You may disagree with it but please do not think that the Catholic cannot make a case for it from Scripture.

    The internet, in particular, a blog combox is not really the best forum to present positions, as it very easily becomes personal, biting, and downright nasty at times. Why? I suppose the best answer is that we are faceless to each other and we have a natural tendency to de-humanize those we disagree with.

  212. johnbugay said,

    November 28, 2010 at 8:50 am

    Since there are folks pitching books on a Sunday morning, when Protestant ministers are not likely to be able to respond, I thought I’d mention a couple of things:

    Steve Hays responded to Philip Blosser’s work at length in this ebook:

    http://www.triapologia.com/hays/SolaEcclesia.pdf

    In addition the whole “Holy Scripture” series by William Webster and David King (who posts here) is an extraordinarily thorough response Not By Scripture Alone”.

    You can get the whole trilogy here:

    http://www.aomin.org/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=65

    As for Taylor Marshall’s “Catholic Perspective” on Paul, I’m wondering what “perspective” is he going to take? Likely it’s full of Wright/New Perspective stuff. Is that what you’re “pitching” here, Tom Riello?

    For information on “petrine texts,” I’ll refer readers to my own post, #207 above, to show just how vacuous the Roman use of these texts actually are.

    And finally, you’re interested in really “presenting positions,” why are you here hawking books instead of actually addressing some of the “positions” that Bryan Cross has taken here, which also have been shown to be fairly vacuous? What do you really have to offer?

  213. Bryan Cross said,

    November 28, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    MarkS (re: #207),

    That accurately describes how a Catholic would respond to that question. See the last paragraph of Jimmy Akin’s Peter in Galatians, for an example.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  214. MarkS said,

    November 28, 2010 at 2:02 pm

    Bryan: Thank you.
    Ron or other fellow reformed folks: I would greatly appreciate your thoughts about my post (#207). It looks like this thread is starting to branch off topic so I’m hoping my post does not get buried. Thanks in advance.

  215. Ron said,

    November 28, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    MarkS,

    You say you’re “a Reformed guy” but later you say that you are not saying apostolic succession is true. You don’t say it is false though, which makes me think you might do well to sit down with your pastor. In any case, I am going to suggest you speak to your pastor about this because the question is an easy one for Reformed guys who are apt to teach. If you like, please feel free to let me know how he responds. Maybe he’d even like to go on the record. If he has no answer, then I’ll be happy to talk with you and him.

    Best wishes,

    Ron

  216. MarkS said,

    November 28, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    Ron,
    Thank you, but I am not trying to understand how we reformed respond to apostolic succession claims. I feel comfortable with that and included the disclaimer in 207 just so no one would misunderstand what I was trying to do. What I am trying to understand is how the Catholic Church understands itself with regard to your question about a biblical precedent for distinguishing teachings that are “ex cathedra” and teachings that are not. Which I thought was a good question from you, by the way. I would also like to understand how the reformed camp would respond to what Cath’s would put forward as being Biblical precedent. So I put forward what I thought Cath’s might say. Bryan confirmed that it is accurate. Can you or someone else provide a reformed response? Thank you.

  217. johnbugay said,

    November 28, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    MarkS: Ridderbos puts it this way:

    The apostles were not simply witnesses or preachers in a general, ecclesiastical sense. Their word is the revelatory word; it is the unique, once-and-for-all witness witness to Christ to which the church and the world are accountable and by which they will be judged. (“Redemptive History and the New Testament Scriptures” Phillipsburg, NJ: Reformed and Presbyterian Publishing, pg 15).

    Oscar Cullmann noted the way that this is important in the development of the New Testament Canon, and I’ve outlined that in comment #104.

    I also noted in #169 that Ignatius never believed in the Roman version of “succession.” He placed a clear distinction between the authority of an apostle [unique eyewitness to Christ] and any authority he had as a “bishop”.

    The “binding” authority of the Apostles was unique and non-repeatable.

  218. Andrew McCallum said,

    November 28, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    Paige says in #205: 4. Help me out with this one, everybody: If God didn’t leave us with an infallible magisterium to put the official stamp of approval on the list, then we are taking it on faith that the true canon of Scripture was received by the early believers and passed along to us. This is, in the absence of a Pope, an extremely reasonable thing to do. But is it fair to say that God’s intention for us includes an element of trust, rather than absolute certainty, in this matter? (I don’t want to give away the farm, here; but if this is the true picture of our life in God’s universe, I want to be able to say it like it is.)

    Paige,

    On point #4, I think our Catholic friends would say that there is also an element of trust in their reliance on the Magisterium, but there is no doubt that they are looking for more of a mechanism (think that’s the right word) that explains how the individual books became the collection of books of the canon of Scripture. Absent any challenge from the RCC, you and I would probably just say that the God who inspired the individual books is the same God who oversaw their collection into a canon. Inscripturation is the process of God bringing His Word to His people and includes the writing AND collecting processes (what reason do we have to think otherwise?). We don’t drive a wedge between inspiration and collection of the texts, and so our doctrine of the canon is a necessary corollary of our doctrine of inspiration.

    For the Catholics our position sounds like we are making up the canon based on our own conception of what books have the stamp of canonicity and which ones do not. The example which is brought up again and again is that of Luther and the Book of James. This unusual episode in the history of Protestantism is thought to be a paradigm for us Reformed folks. My complaint about Bryan’s comment which brought him into this thread several days ago was that he was speaking in this manner. But without saying so explicitly, it seemed that he backed off this claim. But what the Catholics hold onto tenaciously is the idea that by allowing for infallibility with the reception of the canon, but not allowing for it in any other action that the Church is involved in, we are guilty of ad hoc reasoning. I certainly understand why they are saying this and it makes sense given the RCC conception of “Church.” And it is true that we are arguing for something unique but of course we know that it is a uniqueness that is bound up in the uniqueness of God’s inspiration. The process of inscripturation is in the hands of God from beginning to end, and we hold that it is entirely artificial to suppose that God only inspires the actual writing of the text and not the collection of the text into the canon of Scripture. But it is this distinction between the writing and collection that is at the heart of the debate between Catholic and Protestant, so we need to take note. There are quite of number of Protestant turned Catholic folks who have swum the Tiber at least partly over the issue of their inability to resolve perceived problems of the canon utilizing Protestant justifications.

    The Catholic apologist has a need to establish the general infallibility of the Church from ancient sources and the immediate problem for him is that there is no obvious case to be made for such a claim from the standpoint of Scripture and early Christian tradition. So he turns to a more philosophically denominated argument and tries to show that if we accept infallibility in just the case of the formation of the canon we are selectively allowing ecclesiastical infallibility with no proper justification for doing so. The Catholic apologist sees that the infallibility of the canon is a touch point between Protestant and Catholic and tries to argue from the specific to the general as he moves from arguments for the infallibility of the Church’s pronouncement of the canon to the Church’s pronouncement on a number of other matters. And if the Catholic apologist concedes our counterarguments here he is left without much of anything to present to the Protestant in terms of an argument that has any apologetic force.

    So on your point #4, I don’t think that there is any less trust rendered in our case vs that of the Catholic. The difference lies in exactly what we are trusting in and whether it something that is truly unique in the history of God’s dealings with mankind.

  219. Bryan Cross said,

    November 28, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    John, (re: #217)

    The Cullmann quotation is not at odds with Catholic doctrine. As for your comment regarding St. Ignatius, you are inferring from the fact that St. Ignatius distinguished between the authority of an apostle [unique eyewitness to Christ] and the authority of a bishop, that therefore “the binding authority of the Apostles was … non-repeatable.” That conclusion does not follow from those premises (for the reason I explain below). And the distinction St. Ignatius makes is fully compatible with Catholic doctrine. As I wrote in my recent exchange with Michael Horton:

    With regard to the apostolic office, the Catholic Church makes a distinction. To be an apostle, one had to have seen the Lord. This gave the apostles the unique authority that comes from being an eyewitness of the incarnate Christ. But being an eyewitness was not sufficient to be an apostle. One also had to be sent by Christ. This conferred a different kind of authority from the authority of an eyewitness. The two kinds of authority do not compete; they are fully compatible and were both present in the first apostles. This second kind of authority we call “Holy Orders.” Eyewitness authority could only endure for seventy years or so after the resurrection of Christ, and in that sense the apostolic office came to an end and with it the possibility of further revelation. But, Holy Orders is not limited to eyewitnesses, because the authorization of commission and stewardship could be handed down by the apostles, and it endures to this day by a continuous succession from the apostles. These successors of the apostles are not apostles in the eyewitness sense but possess the apostolic authority the apostles themselves received from Christ through Holy Orders—that is, the divine authorization to teach and govern the church in Christ’s name as his representatives, binding and loosing with his authority.

    So while I agree with you that the successors of the apostles are not themselves apostles in that same sense, it does not follow that the successors of the apostles do not have magisterial authority to provide the authoritative interpretation of the deposit of faith. In other words, the end of the apostolic office in the eyewitness sense of apostle does not entail the termination of the authority of commission, by which the successors of the apostles preserve and authoritatively interpret the deposit of faith entrusted to them by the apostles. (“Solo Scriptura: A Dialogue between Michael Horton and Bryan Cross,” Modern Reformation, Nov/Dec 2010, p. 44)

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  220. Andrew McCallum said,

    November 28, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    I’d sincerely like to know what progress has been made because I’m sure we could all use a little encouragement.

    Ron – It seemed that Bryan backed off on his representation of our position as being “Protestants must appeal to an immediate work of the Spirit in each individual, to testify that any particular book belongs to the canon of Scripture.” If he really did so this is progress.

    The curious thing to me in all of these discussions is many of the folks at Called to Communion either went to Reformed seminaries and were in Reformed churches for many years. But they seem to have rather odd ideas on what it means to be Reformed and they take these odd ideas into their work as Catholic apologists. And hence the majority of the time we spend with them is focused on arguing what Reformed theology is rather than what the differences between our respective communities are.

  221. Bryan Cross said,

    November 28, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    Andrew (re: #220),

    It seemed that Bryan backed off on his representation of our position as being “Protestants must appeal to an immediate work of the Spirit in each individual, to testify that any particular book belongs to the canon of Scripture.”

    I never made a claim about what is necessary in order for a Protestant to “testify” that any particular book belongs to the canon of Scripture. In order to know that any particular book belongs to the canon of Scripture, and avoid being ad hoc, the Protestant must appeal to an internal witness in his heart which he must ascribe to the Holy Spirit. You are avoiding resorting to bosom-burning to know the inerrancy of the Protestant canon, but you have yet to present a position that is not ad hoc.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  222. Ron said,

    November 28, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    Andrew,

    Thanks for the response. Given BC’s subsequent response all I can say is so much for progress. He’s as ignorant as he ever was, but I can appreciate your desire to hope all things.

    Blessings,

    Ron

  223. johnbugay said,

    November 28, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    Bryan, there is not compatibility with these two statements:

    To establish a canon is equivalent to saying this: henceforth our ecclesiastical tradition needs to be controlled; with the help of the Holy Spirit it will be controlled by the apostolic tradition fixed in writing; for we are getting to the point where we are too distant from the apostolic age to be able to guard the purity of the tradition without a superior written norm, and too distant to prevent slight legendary and other deformations creeping in, and thus being transmitted and amplified (Cullman, 90).

    and your statement:

    But, Holy Orders is not limited to eyewitnesses, because the authorization of commission and stewardship could be handed down by the apostles, and it endures to this day by a continuous succession from the apostles.

    Ignatius’s statement clearly had to do with a break in authority between the two different kinds of authority, that you are just simply rolling into one.

  224. Ron said,

    November 28, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    Andrew,

    I said in 137: “The witness of the Spirit need not be to each person regarding each book in order for each person to know the church has received the canon. The witness of the Spirit only needs to affirm for knowledge to obtain on that particular proposition that whatever the church received, it was from God and infallible. In other words, if God’s word presupposes and teaches that the church would receive the Word at the beginning of its inception, then all one needs to know is that truth, even without having read Habakkuk. That knowledge comes by way of knowledge of God’s sovereignty and intention.”

    That argument addresses a common Romanist misunderstanding.

    Ron

  225. Sean said,

    November 28, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    Ron.

    As much as you disagree with Bryan, he is clearly not ‘dull’ or ‘ignorant.’ He teaches graduate level philosophy at a very well regarded university and holds an MDiv from Covenant Theological Seminary.

    You have no idea how poorly it reflects on your position for you and others to resort to name calling and/or accusations of ‘dishonesty’ or ‘ignorance’ when you can’t refute the other person.

  226. johnbugay said,

    November 28, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    Regarding the canon, there is not just an “internal witness.” The “internal witness” is that with which the Holy Spirit testifies to us as we hear God’s word. It is an individual witness to us today. We hear the Word, and the Spirit testifies to its authority.

    But in the early church, the test of “canonicity” was Apostolic authority — either written by or authorized by an Apostle. Generally, this process was facilitated by dating — that is, there were not “apostolic” writings after the end of the first century (and much earlier in the case of some of the epistles). It wasn’t the sitting down and writing “the list”; it was an individual process of recognizing that yes, this work had Apostolic authorization or no, it didn’t.

    In fact, the Muratorian canon of approximately 170 AD lists 23 of the 27 works that are in our New Testament today; Origen himself had a list of the same 27 books that we have today. Later writings somewhat muddied the issues, but as D.T. King has noted, these works were sufficient to establish every major doctrine of the next several centuries. The fact that a canon

    There is a huge resource on the development of the New Testament Canon, which should answer any question you or anyone might have about this process, here:

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

    Just a few of the items summarized (but presented in more detail at the (source) links:

    In the introductory post, I recommended some resources, and I cited some examples of comments made about the New Testament canon by critics of Evangelicalism. (source)

    The earliest extant source to advocate the twenty-seven-book New Testament probably was Origen, around the middle of the third century. (source)

    That canon seems to have also been held by other sources between Origen and Athanasius’ Festal Letter 39. (source)

    The evidence we have for the New Testament canons of the earliest Christians is highly fragmentary. That some Christians held the twenty-seven-book canon prior to Origen is a reasonable possibility. (source)

    Some Christians before Origen’s time are known to have believed in the canonicity of at least the large majority of the New Testament documents, sometimes more than twenty of the books. (source)

    Twenty-two of the twenty-seven documents were widely accepted in the second century, and the other five seem to have been accepted by a majority, though a smaller majority, in the ante-Nicene era. (source)

    Books like First Clement, The Shepherd Of Hermas, and The Epistle Of Barnabas weren’t accepted as scripture by as many people as is sometimes suggested. They seem to have been accepted by only a minority. No document outside of the twenty-seven that make up the canon today seems to have ever been accepted as scripture by a majority. (source)

    No ruling by a Roman bishop or a council in the first five centuries was widely perceived as having settled the canon. The New Testament canonical consensus that scholars often date to the timeframe of the fourth and fifth centuries was accomplished without the sort of church ruling that modern critics of Evangelicalism often appeal to. (source)

  227. johnbugay said,

    November 28, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    For anyone who is interested in a fairly comprehensive look at the formation of the New Testament Canon, there is a fantastic resource here:

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

    Just a few of the items summarized (but presented in more detail at the (source) links:

    In the introductory post, I recommended some resources, and I cited some examples of comments made about the New Testament canon by critics of Evangelicalism. (source)

    The earliest extant source to advocate the twenty-seven-book New Testament probably was Origen, around the middle of the third century. (source)

    That canon seems to have also been held by other sources between Origen and Athanasius’ Festal Letter 39. (source)

    The evidence we have for the New Testament canons of the earliest Christians is highly fragmentary. That some Christians held the twenty-seven-book canon prior to Origen is a reasonable possibility. (source)

    Some Christians before Origen’s time are known to have believed in the canonicity of at least the large majority of the New Testament documents, sometimes more than twenty of the books. (source)

    Twenty-two of the twenty-seven documents were widely accepted in the second century, and the other five seem to have been accepted by a majority, though a smaller majority, in the ante-Nicene era. (source)

    Books like First Clement, The Shepherd Of Hermas, and The Epistle Of Barnabas weren’t accepted as scripture by as many people as is sometimes suggested. They seem to have been accepted by only a minority. No document outside of the twenty-seven that make up the canon today seems to have ever been accepted as scripture by a majority. (source)

    No ruling by a Roman bishop or a council in the first five centuries was widely perceived as having settled the canon. The New Testament canonical consensus that scholars often date to the timeframe of the fourth and fifth centuries was accomplished without the sort of church ruling that modern critics of Evangelicalism often appeal to. (source)

  228. johnbugay said,

    November 28, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    Jason Engwer has compiled a hugely detailed series on the formation of the New Testament canon. For anyone interested, that’s here:

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

    And I would bet that it would answer every single question anyone here might have.

  229. Andrew McCallum said,

    November 28, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    I never made a claim about what is necessary in order for a Protestant to “testify” that any particular book belongs to the canon of Scripture. In order to know that any particular book belongs to the canon of Scripture,…

    Bryan, if we testify what we do not know then we are deluded or dishonest or both. But I’m confident that I, and the other Reformed folks here, know the Reformed mind and know how we think about this matter. While we do appeal to the Spirit’s work in our hearts utilizing the Scriptures in general (as summarized in the WCF), we don’t appeal at all to an internal witness in the context of the knowledge we have of the specifics of the canon. You are reading that into our argument or our thought process or both. What we do appeal to is the same historical process that you do, and where we differ is over the precise locus of infallibility that justifies what we know. I don’t know why you cannot accept this. If you did then the discussion over the role of the Church in the matter could proceed, but this discussion is killed if you insist of ascribing to us something we know is not true.

    Now it could be that as a Protestant you believed what you are trying to ascribe to us, but that’s a different story.

    Anyway, it seems that Ron is right and that we have not made any progress, so I take back what I said before to Ron. Pity…

  230. Bryan Cross said,

    November 28, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    John, (#223)

    Sorry — my mistake; in #219 I said “Cullman” but I meant the Ridderbos quotation in #217. What I meant to say in #219 is that the Ridderbos quotation in #217 is not at odds with Catholic doctrine.

    Regarding the Cullman quotation in #223, if you think Cullman is saying that establishing a canon “is equivalent to saying” that there cannot be apostolic succession, then there is no reason to believe his statement to be true, or at least to believe your interpretation of it. Establishing a canon is not equivalent to saying that there is no apostolic succession. Establishing a canon is fully compatible with the practice of apostolic succession.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  231. Ron said,

    November 28, 2010 at 8:10 pm

    “As much as you disagree with Bryan, he is clearly not ‘dull’ or ‘ignorant.’ He teaches graduate level philosophy at a very well regarded university and holds an MDiv from Covenant Theological Seminary.”

    Sean,

    When one is foolish enough to reject God’s word with all his heart, soul, mind and strength in order to embrace myths and fables he cannot help but show himself dull and ignorant, even if God has granted some natural ability to reason.

    “You have no idea how poorly it reflects on your position for you and others to resort to name calling and/or accusations of ‘dishonesty’ or ‘ignorance’ when you can’t refute the other person.”

    For me to have called an honest man dishonest and a man with understanding ignorant would reflect poorly on me. I couldn’t agree more.

    Thank you for sharing.

    Ron

  232. Bryan Cross said,

    November 28, 2010 at 9:01 pm

    Andrew, (re: #226)

    What I have given you is an argument in the form of a dilemma: Without ecclesial infallibility, then in order to know that any particular book belongs to the canon of Scripture, you must either appeal to an internal witness in your heart which you must ascribe to the Holy Spirit, or take up an ad hoc position. You have chosen to take the ad hoc horn of that dilemma. If you can show that your position is not ad hoc, I’ll retract my claim. (My explanation of why your position is ad hoc can be found in comments #110, #138, #148, #177, #186, and #193.)

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  233. Andrew McCallum said,

    November 28, 2010 at 9:21 pm

    Bryan,

    I and several others have shown you again and again and again why there is a principled to difference to the justifications for the Church’s reception of the canon on one hand and other matters that the Church was historically involved in on the other. And your reaction to us is to repeat the claim that our reasoning is ad hoc. I don’t know why you are doing this other than perhaps you are trying to save a certain RC apologetic tactic. Why any reasonable person would think that there is no principled difference I just don’t know. But there you have it – you don’t for whatever reason. But in the end you are killing any hope of meaningful dialogue.

    Maybe we are all blind, Bryan, and you are the only one here who sees matter clearly. Or maybe, you are beating a dead horse that never had much life in it to begin with.

  234. Ron said,

    November 28, 2010 at 9:25 pm

    “Andrew, (re: #226)… If you can show that your position is not ad hoc, I’ll retract my claim…

    Translation: If you can get me to quit ignoring the sound arguments that are before me, I’ll retract my claim.

  235. Bryan Cross said,

    November 28, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    Andrew (re: #230)

    I and several others have shown you again and again and again why there is a principled to difference to the justifications for the Church’s reception of the canon on one hand and other matters that the Church was historically involved in on the other.

    Please point me to the comment here where you think you showed why it is not ad hoc to claim that the Church’s determination of the canon was infallible, while treating all the Church’s other actions as fallible. Perhaps I missed it.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  236. Ron said,

    November 28, 2010 at 10:02 pm

    Andrew,

    This is probably the best post in the thread.

    http://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2010/11/16/from-natural-revelation-to-special-revelation/#comment-80338

    BTW, Reed lived in my area before taking the call in Montgomery. His wife and family are a wonderful testimony to God’s word put into practice and given increase by the Almighty. By grace, Reed knows his home is a result of grace, not works. Being raised a Romanist, I never saw godly households in the Roman communion – never once. I still haven’t. Looking back, I now know why. The homes are not built upon the bedrock of God’s word and the ordinary means of grace. I say all that to say this… If one is blind to biblical doctrine, he might be able to see the fruit of the gospel, which in my experience doesn’t exist within Romanism. I suspect that the true converts come out of her and grow in grace elsewhere. What does a Romanist teach his children?

    Reed, please forgive me for using you as an example.

    Ron

  237. BSuden said,

    November 29, 2010 at 1:27 am

    #225 Sean,
    While nobody expects a papist to agree with protestant doctrine, it is not unreasonable to expect and demand the honesty and decency to present it fairly and acknowledge the objections to the popish position that certain individuals have to know or should if they really are, as is claimed, a former protestant and genuine MDiv grad from a P&R seminary.

    Likewise Tom’s comments in #211. While a combox is not the best place for a serious drawn out discussion, if we don’t understand that religion is not ultimately about sociology, but about Scripture and truth, we know nothing. And in the pursuit for truth, ultimately there is no quarter given. The truth of the gospel is literally a matter of life and death. The discussion doesn’t have to degenerate to the ad hominem level, but if at times it does, what of it? Is that of the essence of the love and pursuit of truth or an abuse of it? To ask is to answer.

    Further and more to the point, offences are taken as well as given, much more those who are on the losing end of things find it easy to complain, which is pretty much where the CTC complaints get pigeonholed IMO. CTC is over here generally patronizing protestant positions, not vice versa and as roman laymen defending the infallible magisterium in the first place, as steve hays put it, what’s with that? It is protestantism that believes in private judgement, the priesthood of the believer and examining all things in light of Scripture, not romanism. That is the fundamental glaring conflict that presupposes and undergirds all the CTC interaction and “dialogue”.

    FTM if Scripture tells us that the heart is deceitful and wicked, who can know it? I’m inclined to think all this zeal is indicative of a bad conscience and certain ex protestants are trying to feel better by getting other people to join them in their private judgement in favor of apostasy from the true catholic faith and biblical Christianity – you know the sociology thing, because how can the Roman church be wrong when so many people believe it? – but that of course is just my you know what.

    You will also note in #219 under duress and challenge (NB not mine) the philosophy professor finally does acknowledge that the apostles were eyewitnesses and personally chosen by Christ, two of the three items that make up the undistributed middle term in his erroneous equation in which the successors of the apostles share a chrism of infallibility with the apostles and therefore are on par with them in order to secure to the Roman magisterium, apostolic infallibility and authority. (No self serving ad hoc opportunism there, right?) Yet the astute observer will note that he adroitly avoids any mention of the third item, that of the apostolic authorship of the New Testament. IOW the fallacy still stands and MDiv grad’s argument falls accordingly re. premise 4 in his #181. More could be said about premise 7 of #181 and sufficiency, but later DV.

    As for the ad hoc red herring which is getting a lot of play, rather the real point is that not only was the early church not the Roman church, the early church received/recognized the canon of Scripture. It could do no less that this because the Word of God, the gospel of Jesus Christ is that by which God calls into being that which is not Rom. 4:17. And that church called out of the world and built on the foundation of Christ and the apostles, after the death of the apostles was provided for by God with an infallible record of the same gospel and the apostolic tradition/witness in the apostolic New Testament.

    Was all this infallible? Yes, but not in the way of an infallible and impeccable magisterium which is an over realized eschatological and instantaneous perfectionism that refuses to recognize indwelling sin, but rather a genuine ecumenical affair and a slow accretion of doctrinal progress even through heresies. So too the decisions/attainments regarding the Trinity and the deity of Christ which is where I would disagree with Andrew (Salut bro).

    Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. John 8:31,32

    Jesus answered and said unto him . . . But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. John 14:23,26

    For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you. 1 Peter 1:24,25

    cordially yours,

    Hi John!
    Hi Ron!

  238. Andrew McCallum said,

    November 29, 2010 at 5:17 am

    Come on, Bryan, this is what we have been talking about for much of this thread. You didn’t miss anything, and you answered me on this point in #193 (and elsewhere) where you just flatly denied that there is any inspiration connected to the selection of the books of the canon. I repeat your argument to Paige in #218 (and elsewhere) and agreed with her statements about why it does not work. But it’s not as if you really argue for your position, you just state it. But contrary to what you state, of course it is not just the writing of the individual books that are inspired, it is Scripture which is inspired. The formation of Scripture is the writing of the books and their collection and preservation. As I say to Paige (and you a number of times before) driving a wedge between writing and collection is entirely artificial. It makes absolutely no sense to apply the concept to just one part of the inscripturation process. The only reason why perhaps the Catholic apologists do this is to preserve a particular tactic of Catholic apologetics which is to argue from the specific to the general as they argue from the Church’s role in receiving the canon to a generalized role of ecclesiastical infallibility.

    So both Catholic and Protestant are again back to both looking to the same historical process of the collection of the books as their justification. You look to the Church to guarantee the correctness of the collection. but as pointed out there was no reason to assume ecclesiastical infallibility, either biblical or historically or philosophically. The books were known and received by the Church of the early centuries without positing any gift of infallibility that was peculiarly given to the Church.

    And no doubt here is where you try to prolong things again by stating that we cannot know what the books are unless the Church told us infallibly. You’ve said it so many times before, so why not say it again….

  239. Sean said,

    November 29, 2010 at 7:08 am

    Andrew – # 230.

    You seem to think that you have demonstrated that it is not ad hoc to state the church acted infallibly when determining the canon.

    Can you explain how you know that the church acted infallibly when establishing the canon but not infallibly when the church wrote the Nicene Creed?

    You have basically assumed that position that your Protestant canon must be infallible therefore you are claiming that the church (our rather Protestant churches) acted infallibly when determining the canon. Then there are other matters in church doctrine where you don’t think it is necessary that the church speak infallibly so in those instances you say that the church did not speak infallibly. For you, when the church needs to be infallible, according to what you think – she is infallible but when you don’t think she is infallible, she is fallible.

    Everything points back to what you believe was inspired by the church based on what you believe.

  240. Sean said,

    November 29, 2010 at 7:13 am

    I mean think about it:

    What if there were a church in your town that was several generations old. Imagine that they were pretty much run of the mill Protestant except for one thing: They rejected the book of James from the canon.

    If you went to them and argued that James should be included they could follow your argument and claim that the Holy Spirit inspired their session to infallibly fix the canon.

    You would be left with say, ‘No they didn’t. The Holy Spirit inspired my church to infallibly fix the canon and the canon includes James.’

    That would be it. Without a principled difference in determining how and why the church is infallible for you or the other guy you would be left claiming the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in mutually exclusive directions.

    You can’t see this?

  241. johnbugay said,

    November 29, 2010 at 7:14 am

    Sean, the point is rather that God is able, not that the church is infallible. There’s your principle. Big difference.

  242. Bryan Cross said,

    November 29, 2010 at 7:16 am

    Andrew (re: #235),

    You are claiming that the canon (i.e. the list of books belonging to the Bible) is God-breathed. But since God has the power to inspire two or more books without collecting them into a canon (or with the intention of not collecting them into a canon), and He has the power to protect the Church from error in determining the canon without divinely inspiring the canon, therefore it does not follow from the divine inspiration of two or more books that the canon is divinely inspired. So if you want to claim that the canon is divinely inspired, you would need to give some argument for the divine inspiration of the canon. The closest you have come is this:

    (1) The formation of Scripture is the writing of the books and their collection and preservation.

    [Therefore]

    (2) [I]t is not just the writing of the individual books that are inspired, it is Scripture which is inspired.

    Therefore,

    (3) The canon (i.e. list of books) is divinely inspired.

    The problem with that argument is that (2) does not follow from (1). The fact that the formation of Scripture includes the collecting of the various inspired books, does not entail that if Scripture is inspired, then the collecting of the books was inspired. Scripture can be inspired, without the canon being inspired. That’s why Sproul refers to it as a “fallible collection of infallible books.” So in order to show that the canon too is divinely inspired, you need an argument showing that, not a premise merely presuming it.

    The question is ultimately not about the inspiration of the canon, but about whether the Church was protected from error in her determination of the canon. Your way of trying to get an inerrant canon, is by having it be divinely inspired. But, you have not yet provided a sound argument that the canon of Scripture is divinely inspired. So that leaves you in Sproul’s position, unless you want to appeal to an internal witness in your heart regarding each book of the [Protestant] canon, or you want to make an argument of the sort in the first paragraph of #110.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  243. steve hays said,

    November 29, 2010 at 7:38 am

    Bryan Cross said,

    “So that leaves you in Sproul’s position, unless you want to appeal to an internal witness in your heart regarding each book of the [Protestant] canon.”

    Notice how Bryan repeats the same falsehood. Bryan doesn’t try to argue in good faith.

    Let’s take a couple of obvious counterexamples. Other examples are more subtle, but we’re start with these to illustrate the point:

    Luke and Acts form a literary unit. They are mutually attesting. It would be utterly artificial to treat Luke and Acts in isolation as canonical candidates. Either both are canonical, or neither is.

    Same thing with the Pentateuch. That’s a literary unit. The books are internally related to each other through a continuous narrative. Likewise, Genesis foreshadows various developments in subsequent books of the Pentateuch while subsequent books build on, presuppose, and refer back to, Genesis and other (earlier) parts of the Pentateuchal narrative.

    These books are not discrete, self-contained units. One could cite many other examples of the weave and cross-weave of Scripture.

    But Bryan doesn’t care. Bryan refuses to deal with that. He studiously ignores counterevidence. He resorts to crude, deceptive all-or-nothing arguments, when that’s simply untrue.

  244. Paige Britton said,

    November 29, 2010 at 8:12 am

    The question is ultimately not about the inspiration of the canon, but about whether the Church was protected from error in her determination of the canon.

    Bryan keeps making this an issue of ecclesiology, while we (as per John’s comment #238) see canonicity as a theological confession about God’s intent, ability, and historical providence. Bryan has the church “determining” and “establishing” the canon; we see the early believers “recognizing” and “receiving” what God provided (through the Tanak and the apostles & co.), and then fencing the canon from outsiders for polemical reasons.

    Forgive me if I missed something, but in all the “ad hoc”-ness, did we ever claim that the church did something infallible?

    Bryan’s religious world is always mediated through the RCC: it seems that he is insisting that our world also must be functioning in a strictly church-mediated way.

  245. Bryan Cross said,

    November 29, 2010 at 8:13 am

    Steve, (re: #240)

    One could cite many other examples of the weave and cross-weave of Scripture.

    I agree. But that does not show or entail that the list of books in the Protestant Bible is divinely inspired. So, it doesn’t advance or establish Andrew’s claim. To get beyond Sproul’s “fallible list of infallible books” one needs more than examples of “weave and cross-weave.” If you don’t agree, then feel free to provide the argument from “weave and cross-weave” to “the list of books in the Protestant Bible is divinely inspired,” or to “the list of books in the Protestant Bible is inerrant.”

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  246. steve hays said,

    November 29, 2010 at 8:48 am

    i) One can generate a “list” from inspired intertextual attestation. And that would be internal to Scripture.

    ii) However, your statement is equivocal since you are oscillating between two very different claims:

    a) It is impossible to generate a *complete* list intertextually.

    b) It is impossible to generate *any* list intertextually.

    You set up a false antithesis when you claim a Protestant must fall back on the witness of the Spirit to attest each book, as if each book must be treated separately and independently attested.

    However, *any* list (complete or incomplete) which one can generate intertextually would be an “inspired” list inasmuch as it would derive from inspired cross-attestation.

    So you need to radically scale back your argument.

    iii) I’m also confining myself to intertextuality since it’s best to deal with one issue at a time, before we move onto the next issue. However, that’s not the only type of self-attesting evidence we have for the canon of Scripture. In addition:

    a) There is the intratextual evidence, involving the self-witness of this or that Bible writer.

    b) There is the paratextual evidence, in terms of how the books have been sequenced.

  247. Ron said,

    November 29, 2010 at 9:01 am

    Jesus promised to build his church on the foundation of the prophets, apostles and himself. Even if we allow the gratuitous Romanist assertion that the prophets, apostles and the Lord extends to the popes as well as the lost oral tradition, it is undeniable that the “apostles” also includes the written NT. (Let a Romanist deny that premise.) Therefore, by Romanist standards Jesus promised that the foundation of the church would include the canon. If Jesus was true to his word and the foundation of the church has been laid, then the church has received the intended canon and we can know that she has because God cannot lie. The only reason to believe that God accomplished this work through an infallible magisterium is if he could not have accomplished this work through ordinary providence.

    Ron

  248. Sean said,

    November 29, 2010 at 9:42 am

    Steve –

    Let’s put your texting and weaving into practice.

    Why is Esther in your canon? How do you know that Esther belongs in your canon?

    It is never quoted in the New Testament. We do not know the author. The book never even says the word “God.” Even the 1st century Jews did not agree on its place.

  249. Sean said,

    November 29, 2010 at 9:49 am

    Ron –

    Therefore, by Romanist standards Jesus promised that the foundation of the church would include the canon. If Jesus was true to his word and the foundation of the church has been laid, then the church has received the intended canon and we can know that she has because God cannot lie.

    I take it that you catagorically exclude the Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Churches from ‘the church’ because their canon is different than your canon? So, the claim you are making is that over half of the professing Christians on the planet are not really members of the church because otherwise they would have received the *correct* canon?

  250. steve hays said,

    November 29, 2010 at 9:55 am

    Sean,

    I’ve addressed the canonicity of Esther on my blog. Try asking a question I haven’t answered before.

  251. Sean said,

    November 29, 2010 at 10:05 am

    Steve – I am sorry. I didn’t realize that in order to engage you I had to be completely acquainted with the entire Steve Hays corpus.

  252. D. T. King said,

    November 29, 2010 at 10:12 am

    Opps, we’re sorry,

    We didn’t know that to engage Romanists that we have to accept their unproven claims to infallibility simply because they name it/claim it repeatedly. :)

  253. Sean said,

    November 29, 2010 at 10:18 am

    David T King,

    Imagine you having a conversation with an atheist about the bible and he said: “We didn’t know that it engage with Christians that we have to accept their unproven claims to the inherency of scripture just because they keep repeating it.”

    Further, in this current discussion, the matter is not really so much that we are trying to show that the church is infallible but rather without the infallible church you have no way to affirm that the canon is infallible in a non ad-hoc/question begging manner.

  254. D. T. King said,

    November 29, 2010 at 10:24 am

    Opps, we’re sorry,

    We didn’t know that to engage Romanists that we have to accept their unproven claims to infallibility simply because they name it/claim it repeatedly. :)

  255. Ron said,

    November 29, 2010 at 10:31 am

    I take it that you catagorically exclude the Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Churches from ‘the church’ because their canon is different than your canon? So, the claim you are making is that over half of the professing Christians on the planet are not really members of the church because otherwise they would have received the *correct* canon?

    Sean,

    May I take by your question that you admit that the canon was received by at least some tradition without the need of infallible magisterium? If not, then point me to the flaw in the argument.

    Ron

  256. Paige Britton said,

    November 29, 2010 at 10:35 am

    Ron wrote: The only reason to believe that God accomplished this work through an infallible magisterium is if he could not have accomplished this work through ordinary providence.

    So, which came first, an infallible magisterium, or dissatisfaction with ordinary providence?

  257. ray kikkert said,

    November 29, 2010 at 10:43 am

    Well that is one thing the atheist and the Roman Catholic have in common regarding the infallibility of Scripture … they both hold down the truth in unrighteousness and base it on carnal argumentation and the works of men, instead of taking the Lord at His Word and trusting His work in the Holy Spirit throughout history to uphold that truth … the sharp two edged sword which will not return to Him void. Rather levels of understanding of the wicked, sinful mind are the altar on which both offer up their sacrifices of philosophical idolatry.

    In fact … the Roman Catolic and the Jehovah Witness are both pathetic at reinventing God’s Word to mean something their carnal minds advocate … regardless what their Creator has stated front and center to be the truth of the matter. Both are pretty pathetic in denying the Headship of Christ as well… one requires the pope and mary in some co redemptix scheme…. the other denys His Godhead outright.

    The Triune God’s curse is upon such as these who hold down the truth in unrighteousness … blinded to the truth … and given over to a reprobate mindset.

  258. Ron said,

    November 29, 2010 at 10:43 am

  259. Ron said,

    November 29, 2010 at 10:45 am

    So, which came first, an infallible magisterium, or dissatisfaction with ordinary providence?

    *Big grin*

  260. greenbaggins said,

    November 29, 2010 at 10:52 am

    Guys, I have traditionally allowed a fairly free hand on comments. The temperature, however, needs to cool down a bit here. I much prefer when we stick to the debate and the topic, rather than flinging insults at the other side.

  261. steve hays said,

    November 29, 2010 at 10:53 am

    Sean said,

    Since you want to make Esther your paradigm-case, fine. Let’s spend a bit time on that.

    i) Sean cites Esther because he thinks that’s a weak link (maybe the weakest link) in the Protestant canon.

    ii) Notice that his challenge evades the point I made to Bryan. Suppose for the sake of argument, that Esther is a weak link. Suppose, for the sake of argument, that Protestants cant justify the canonicity of Esther. Would that undermine the Protestant canon as a whole? No. It would just mean that some books enjoy better attestation than others.

    “It is never quoted in the New Testament.”

    Irrelevant. Intertextuality operates at different levels. For instance, if Esther is intertextually attested in the OT, and the OT is intertextually attested in the NT, then Esther is intertextually attested in the NT via the NT attestation of the OT generally. A second-order attestation.

    “We do not know the author.”

    An authorial self-attribution is one form of internal attestation, but not the only form.

    “Even the 1st century Jews did not agree on its place.”

    You don’t cite your sources. For a compact treatment of the extracanonical Jewish attestation, see p254 of Clines’ commentary on Esther (bound with Ezra/Nehemiah).

    “The book never even says the word ‘God.’”

    Which completely misses the point. God is the unseen, but major actor in Esther. Esther is all about the special providence of God. Instead of God manifesting himself through visible signs and wonders, he manifests himself through a discreet, but opportune pattern of timely events.

    “Let’s put your texting and weaving into practice. Why is Esther in your canon? How do you know that Esther belongs in your canon?”

    Esther is a chapter in the historical narrative arc of OT Scripture. It narrates a conflict between Mordecai the Benjamite and Haman the Agagite. To a Jewish reader, that would instantly evoke historical precedent, involving a similar match-up (1 Sam 15). And that, in turn, refers back to the ancestral enmity between the Israelites and the Amalekites, which provoked a prophetic curse on the descendents of the Amalekite tribe (Exod 17:8-16; Deut 25:17-19).

    The contest between Haman and Mordecai, resulting in a reversal of fortunes, whereby Haman is deposed and executed, while Haman is vindicated, carries the story forward, in a pattern of promise and fulfillment. So Esther quite nicely illustrates the weave and crossweave of Scripture.

  262. Sean said,

    November 29, 2010 at 10:56 am

    Ron.

    # 255 – if you answer my question first I’ll be happy to answer your question.

  263. Ron said,

    November 29, 2010 at 11:04 am

    Sean, you have no answer.

    Ron

  264. Sean said,

    November 29, 2010 at 11:15 am

    Ron

    # 263.

    This is why discussion in this medium is challenging. You state that ‘the church’ received the canon through inspiration. I asked a question about which churches constitute ‘the church.’ You don’t answer but instead ask me a question.

    This makes having any kind of rational dialog difficult.

  265. Ron said,

    November 29, 2010 at 11:40 am

    Sean,

    Let me make it real simple for you. The Roman communion got the canon right according to the means by which I said the canon was received. Now refute the means I put forth. Tell us why ordinary providence could not have been employed by God. I’ll wait while you get up to speed on what we’re supposed to be discussing.

    RD

    Ron

  266. Ron said,

    November 29, 2010 at 11:42 am

    Brethren,

    Apparently we must grant every irrelevent point in order to get to the nub of the matter with our Romanist opponents.

    Ron

  267. Andrew McCallum said,

    November 29, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    The fact that the formation of Scripture includes the collecting of the various inspired books, does not entail that if Scripture is inspired, then the collecting of the books was inspired. Scripture can be inspired, without the canon being inspired. That’s why Sproul refers to it as a “fallible collection of infallible books.” So in order to show that the canon too is divinely inspired, you need an argument showing that, not a premise merely presuming it.

    Bryan – The problem we are facing is that your concept of Scripture, and more specifically your concept of the canon of Scripture, has been imposed on the history of Christianity. You want me to prove that we should not carve up the concept of Scriptures into firstly the initial writing and then secondly the collection of the books!? This is just a bizarre request, Bryan. I am assuming the when God speaks of inspiring His Word He is talking about His complete Word, not a group of disparate writings that get dumped on the Church for the Church to muddle through. To assume that God only inspired the individual texts and then left the collection matter alone for the Church to determine is completely without biblical or historical warrant.

    The question is ultimately not about the inspiration of the canon, but about whether the Church was protected from error in her determination of the canon.

    The Church did not “determine” the canon and just saying this does not make it true. According to Athanasius, the most knowledgeable theologian of the fourth century on what the practices of the Church was at the time, the Church “received” the canon. God did not gift the Church with infallibility in determining the canon any more than He gifted the writers of the books with infallibility. The locus of infallibility in Scriptures was never any individual or group of individuals; it was God Himself working through individuals and groups of people. We see God working just this way time after time in Scripture. So why do you want to take a different tact in this case of the formation of the canon? Let’s just apply what we learn from Scripture and fix the locus of infallibility on God Himself, rather than a group of people. Your assumption of ecclesiastical infallibility has no basis anywhere in Scriptures or anywhere in the early centuries of Christianity.

    Like with so many other matters, here again you give us Roman Catholic assumptions and try to couch them in terms of philosophic necessity. But just as God worked through fallible individuals in the Scripture and fallible groups of individuals in Scripture to produce something infallible, so He has worked through a fallible group of individuals (the Church) in the early centuries of the Church to produce His infallible Word. There is just no reason to posit infallibility as a peculiar gift of the Church. It is just a bold statement of Medieval Roman Catholic assumptions that does not help you establish the canon and places the locus of infallibility on a place it was never meant to be.

    And you must know better than to try to pose Sproul’s odd perspective on the matter. Surely you know by now that this is an anomaly and hardly the way that the Reformed theologians formulate the matter.

  268. Andrew McCallum said,

    November 29, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    Paige said in #244: Bryan’s religious world is always mediated through the RCC: it seems that he is insisting that our world also must be functioning in a strictly church-mediated way.

    Right on target, Paige! I think this ties into something else you said earlier in the thread when you spoke about living in the real world (or something close to that). The problem is that Bryan does not accept your reality and has substituted a reality of his own. And then he has judged our understanding of things through the reality of his world. That’s why we go around and around and around on these issues. But not all Catholic apologists take Bryan’s tactics. There are many Catholics who would defend ecclesiastical infallibility as just part of the package deal that you take on when you become a Catholic. To me this is intellectually reasonable way of approaching things. But apparently some of the new Catholic apologetics entails trying to argue that we are committing a kind of intellectual suicide by rejecting their de fide sorts of pronouncements. And if you judge Protestant ecclesiology through the lens of Roman Catholic assumptions about the nature of the Church and the nature of God’s interaction with His people I suppose you can understand where they are coming from. So trying to get them not to impose this distinctly Roman Catholic world on to our understanding of the Church, etc is the challenge. It’s rather like trying to argue with a Hindu that there is only one ultimate reality in the universe. They are so fixed on their understanding of things that they can only understand and critique what you say within the framework of their world.

  269. Sean said,

    November 29, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    Ron –

    Noted that you won’t answer my question.

    As to your point in # 265:

    You said, “The Roman communion got the canon right according to the means by which I said the canon was received.

    So, you believe the Catholic canon is correct? This must mean that you acknowledge that the Protestant canon is false?

    Now refute the means I put forth.

    What means have you put forth apart from simply claiming the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in a question begging manner?

    Tell us why ordinary providence could not have been employed by God.

    This is your argument? You are saying, “God could have done it. I think He did it. Therefore He did it.” Do you see the obvious fault in this argument?

    Do you grant that God ‘could have’ given the chrism of infallibility to His church or is that something that God is incapable of doing?

    You see, anybody can say, ‘Well, God could have made it this way so it must be this way.’ I’ve heard the same exact argument from Mormons at my door. “Are you saying that God could not have had a prophet in the New World?” – Well, no, God can do anything but this does not mean that God did that!

    This is not an argument and this does not escape the problem of the determining the canon for the Protestant.

  270. Ron said,

    November 29, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    Geneva 105
    Vatican City 0
    Quarter 4th
    Time left on clock: 3 seconds
    4th and 90 from Vatican City’s 1 yard line

    Huddle up boys. I know we’re down a bit on points but I think we got big Mo back on that last play. Here’s the play – “ad hoc” reverse flee flicker on three. (Small stammering voice from the huddle “But Bry-man we’ve been running that play all day and I think they’re on to us.” Nah, this time we’ll run it Hail Mary style. (Big grins from all the offence…) BREAK

    Interception…….. Chin up boys; I was able to get the game blacked out in most of Eastern Asia, Indonesia, Western Europe, all of Africa, and of course Vatican City will be televising their own rendition of the game in which we win. Let’s just hope the Latin America countries haven’t been watching today.

  271. D. T. King said,

    November 29, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    Ron, ROFL

  272. Bryan Cross said,

    November 29, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    Andrew, (re: #267)

    You want me to prove that we should not carve up the concept of Scriptures into firstly the initial writing and then secondly the collection of the books!? This is just a bizarre request, Bryan.

    I’m simply asking you to lay out the argument by which you claim to know that the table of contents in Protestant Bibles is divinely inspired, or at least inerrant [i.e. not having any books that are not divinely inspired, and not lacking any books that are divinely inspired]. The argument I examined in #242 is an invalid argument, for the reason I explained in #242.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  273. steve hays said,

    November 29, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    Andrew McCallum said,

    “You want me to prove that we should not carve up the concept of Scriptures into firstly the initial writing and then secondly the collection of the books!? This is just a bizarre request, Bryan. I am assuming the when God speaks of inspiring His Word He is talking about His complete Word, not a group of disparate writings that get dumped on the Church for the Church to muddle through.”

    Let’s take two concrete examples to flesh this out a bit. To simplify the illustration, let’s stipulate the traditional authorship of Scripture. I think that stipulation is eminently defensible, but I’m going to skip the preliminaries for now.

    Example #1: Does it make sense to say the composition of the Pentateuch was inspired, but the canonization of the Pentateuch was not? (I’m using the word “inspired” in both cases since that’s how the issue has been framed.)

    But wasn’t the Pentateuch written for Israel? For the community of faith? Indeed, didn’t the Pentateuch constitute the covenant community? Wasn’t the Pentateuch immediately conferred on or even imposed on the community of faith?

    “Canonization” is implicit in the initial “giving of the law.” It’s not as if Moses first wrote the books of the Pentateuch, then this was followed by a long process of canonization. It’s not as if the Pentateuch was put up for a vote.

    If Moses is who the Pentateuch says he is, then the Pentateuch was instantly canonical.

    Example #2: Likewise, take the psalms of David. These were never merely private compositions. These were always public compositions. Composed for the corporate worship of Israel. From the moment the ink was dry, they figured in the corporate life, worship, and prophetic expectations of the people of God. They always had that official status.

  274. D. T. King said,

    November 29, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    OK, we’ve heard the self-appointed magisterium of one insist and appeal over and over ad nauseam that it’s an ad hoc fallacy to believe that God, by virtue of His infallibility protected the Church from error by way of His providence, but did not “in all other cases” infallibly protect the church, as seen in the quote below.

    Cross:

    The reason your position is ad hoc is that you claim that this one action of the Church (determining which books belong to the canon) was infallibly protected from error by God, while also claiming that every other action of the Church was not infallibly protected from error by God, without any principled reason why God would protect the Church from error in the former case, but not do so in all other cases.

    1) We do not claim that the church has been universally protected from error on the canon. History shows that many parts of the church (especially early on) got some details of the canon wrong. While we claim that the WCF’s canon is right, it is not by virtue of infallibility of the Westminster Assembly. (i.e. the position of the WCF – the position of most of the Reformed folks commenting here.)

    2) It’s not ad hoc to limit one’s claims to one’s warrant. We have warrant for believing that our canon is correct. We don’t have warrant for thinking that the church is infallible.

    3) The warrant that supports the canon is not simply “God is infallible.” If it were, perhaps it would be ad hoc to say that God protects some acts of the church and not other acts of the church from error.

    4) Mr. Cross should recognize (3), because he does not think that the warrant he has for believing in ecclesiastical infallibility also requires him to accept a still broader concept of infallibility, such as infallibility in picking “successors of Peter.”

    In other words, if such “infallibility” protected Rome from errors in matters of doctrines, morals, and the canon, why does it not protect Rome from having, in the line of its episcopal succession, neophytes appointed to the papal chair in violation of the “infallible” (or is it ad hoc excluded from infallibility) canon 2 of Nicaea? And if we are informed that this canon of Nicaea was not an “infallible” canon, then why would other canons of Nicaea be regarded as infallible to the exclusion of this one or others? A principled reason must be given by Rome’s advocates, and yet Mr. Cross has not identified (and possibly cannot identify) any “principled reason” why God would universally protect the Church from error in the former case, but not do so in these other cases.

    5) A typical Roman proposed warrant leads to these problems. For example, if (as the Romanists argue) the church possesses the divine attribute of infallibility as “the on-going incarnation of Jesus Christ,” it would seem to be ad hoc for our magisterium of one to insist that the Church isn’t likewise sinless, impeccable, omniscient, omnipresent. In other words, it would appear to be ad hoc to insist that the Roman communion possesses this attribute of God and not all the attributes of God, since the warrant is so general.

    6) We know that when it comes to papal infallibility, Vatican I indicates that the pope is infallible only when he speaks ex cathrdra, and not infallible when he speaks at all times. If the warrant were simply a general warrant (like that given for ecclesiastical infallibility), it would be ad hoc to limit infallibility in this way. Indeed, even considering the much narrower warrant that Vatican I provides, there still appears to be no “principled reason” why God would protect the pope from error in the former case, but not do so in these other cases.

    So it seems Mr. Cross is wrong on two grounds: (1) he has critiqued a position that is not actually our position; and (2) his position appears to suffer from the very problem he is complaining about. In other words, what makes something ad hoc has to do with the specificity of the warrant – and yet he gives us no specific warrant for accepting ecclesiastical infallibility, and insufficiently specific warrant for accepting papal infallibility (i.e., if we give Mr. Cross credit for Vatican I’s attempted justification of papal infallibility, because he himself has offered no warrant).

  275. Sean said,

    November 29, 2010 at 3:09 pm

    David T King.

    OK, we’ve heard the self-appointed magisterium of one insist

    Can you please cite where Bryan self-appointed himself as the magesterium?

  276. D. T. King said,

    November 29, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    Can you please cite where Bryan self-appointed himself as the magesterium?

    Did you authorized him? I take it back if you did. :)

  277. Sean said,

    November 29, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    David,

    No. I did not.

  278. Sean said,

    November 29, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    I mean , “David T King”, would not want to be disrespectful.

  279. November 29, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    Greetings, all. I hope I’m not repeating something already said, but I confess to finding reading 278 comments a daunting task!

    Regarding the magisterium and infallibility in the human interpretation of Scripture, I was recently impressed with what G.I. Williamson had to say in his book on the Westminster Confession of Faith for Study Classes. He makes the point that the necessity for an infallible interpreter of God’s Word (other than the Holy Spirit Himself) is a lie as old as Satan. In the garden, Satan told Eve, “Did God really say…?” The concept is that Adam and Eve were not bright enough to understand what God had declared, and/or that God Himself is not perspicuous. Either way the accuser of the brethren insisted that they needed him to properly interpret God’s Word to them. And all this before the fall when their minds and wills were clear, rational and free!

    As I told John Bugay, I can’t quite shake myself from that.

  280. TurretinFan said,

    November 29, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    Bryan,

    At #134, you provided some response to my comments. I had pointed out that it is possible to obtain knowledge of truth in general without the use of an infallible magisterium, and I had pointed out that it is possible to obtain knowledge of the content of Scripture in general without the use of an infallible magisterium. You seemed to grant these two points, but you indicated that you still believed it was not possible to have knowledge of the canon of Scripture without an infallible magisterium.

    Specifically, I had stated:

    Evidence incompatible with this false dichotomy [i.e. the dichotomy between "subjective," "individualistic" judgment and an infallible church] would be evidence of people obtaining the canon without recourse to ecclesiastical infallibility or subjective, individualistic judgment.

    You replied:

    True, if by “obtaining” you mean knowing it as divine revelation (as opposed to, for example, selecting the actual canon by ‘luck’ from a list of all the existing writings from before the second century). But none of the pieces of evidence to which you appeal are examples of knowing the canon as the canon, apart from the charism of ecclesial infallibility.

    As others have pointed out, canon is an artifact of revelation not an object of revelation. We don’t claim that God provides the list as a list to us by revelation of the list. We do claim that God provides the list of the twelve apostles to us by revelation of the list. The list of the twelve apostles is an object of revelation. The ten commandments are an object of revelation. The number of parables that Jesus spoke in the gospels is an artifact of revelation. It is something we can derive from the revelation, but it is not itself a directly revealed thing. Likewise, given the books of the Bible, we can make a list of the books – and given the book of Psalms, we can tell you that there are 150 – whereas it is explicitly stated in Scripture that there are ten commandments.

    In some cases, the canonicity of books is the object of revelation. For example, some of the Scriptures refer to certain other of the Scriptures as such. Furthermore, some of the Scriptures proclaim (by divine inspiration) their own inspiration.

    But no – there’s no inspired list.

    Nevertheless, people can and have obtained the canon without reliance on an infallible magisterium. Examples include not only us, but also the Jews before Christ (for the partial canon of the Old Testament) and the early Christians (Origen, Eusebius, Athanasius, and so on). Some got it more right than others. But they were able to do it without reliance on ecclesiastical infallibility.

    As for “selecting the actual canon by ‘luck’,” as you know you we don’t believe in luck. When a typical “protestant” picks up a Bible and finds a 66 book table of contents, it is not due to “luck,” but providence. That’s also true for folks who get hold of a slightly defective canon in an Ethiopian Bible, or a Roman Bible, or a Russian Orthodox Bible. That’s also providence. It’s also God’s Providence that preserved his word and removed many of the counterfeit gospels.

    As for what my evidence provided, my evidence provided people accessing the canon – knowing what it was (more or less accurately) without the aid of ecclesial infallibility.

    So, I think I have shown that your dichotomy is indeed a false dichotomy. There is a third way – a way whereby we receive by faith those books that God inspired, with reasonable justification for doing so – guided both by the Holy Spirit’s inward direction, his outward Providence, and the mechanism (a fallible one) of the church.

    -TurretinFan

  281. TurretinFan said,

    November 29, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    Sean:

    Just so your clear: Pastor King is not saying that Mr. Cross thinks that Mr. Cross is “The Magisterium,” but simply that Mr. Cross is treating his own opinions as though they had magisterial authority. While I don’t want to interrupt your banter with Pastor King, I don’t want to leave you entirely in the dark about what the expression means.

    -TurretinFan

  282. Andrew McCallum said,

    November 29, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    Bryan,

    Your #242 is not the appropriate way to summarize what I say previously. As previously stated, I am working on the assumption that the Word of God is the complete Word of God, not the fragments of decontextualized writings that have no connection outside of the order that the Church places on them later. So here is what I’m arguing for, Bryan. I am arguing that the Word of God that inspiration is focused on is what we understand to be the Word of God. What I find to be in error is that the inspired Word of God is disparate bunch of separate books which land on the doorstep of the Church with no order and purpose. If the Word of God is the Word of God, as God speaks of it, then I see no reason to separate the actual penning of the words from the collection of the words. Perhaps you could tell us why you find the need to make such a seemingly artificial distinction between writing and collection, other than such a belief provides a powerful apologetic for ecclesiastic infallibility in general. Why do you believe that inspiration does not apply to the Word of God as we understand the Word of God today?

  283. Ron said,

    November 29, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    You said, “The Roman communion got the canon rightt according to the means by which I said the canon was received… So, you believe the Catholic canon is correct? This must mean that you acknowledge that the Protestant canon is false?

    Sean,

    My suspicion is that everybody less one or two caught the meaning, but let me get out the finger puppets. I’ve been willing to grant many things for argument sake. I’ve granted the twisting of Scripture – that prophets, apostles and the Lord has a hiddent Gnostic meaning of “prophets, apostles, the Lord and popes.” I’ve granted that the church is in part founded upon the oral tradition that nobody can produce but we’re told exists by those same popes. And I most recently granted, also for the sake of argument, that the Roman canon is the right one. Granting all of your gratuitous claims, you should be willing to assert that if the God’s word promises that the canon would be the “partial” foundation of what you believe to be the Roman church – then God must have ensured that she would receive the canon. The question the rest of us have been trying to discuss is by what means this would come to pass.

    Precedence (or what DTK referred to as “warrant”):

    There are many fulfilled prophecies in Scripture, but how many of them required infallibility on part of the actors? Was Judas infallible? Was Tyre infallible? Were the drunken Ninevites infallible? We coulld go on and on and on, but the point should be apparent: God throughout Scripture brings his promises to pass through providence, apart from any temporary infusion of infallibility into the volitional acts of men. Get it? Accordingly, given Scripture’s precedence, why shouldn’t the burden of proof be upon you to show that Roman magisterium was infallible in the reception of what you believe to be the canon?

    Once you grant that there is no “principled reason” to believe that the Roman magisterium was infallible in her reception of what you believe to be the true version of the canon, we might begin to discuss whether Romanism even plays a part in the fulfillment of Christ’s promise to build his church.

    Ron

  284. steve hays said,

    November 29, 2010 at 6:40 pm

    1. In my observation, and maybe there’s something I haven’t seen, Bryan rarely if ever attempts to provide direct evidence for his commitment to Rome. Instead, he constantly falls back on a hypothetical argument.

    I guess that’s his standard tactic because the historical evidence alone falls short of what he needs to get where he wants to go. So he needs some sort of makeweight. Or simply use a different type of argument altogether.

    So, for instance, he frames the canonical issue this way:

    i) Either you have a fallible list of infallible books (the Protestant position)

    Or

    ii) You have an infallible list of infallible books (the papist position)

    And (ii) is vouched for by an infallible church. An infallible church yields an infallible canon.

    He treats (i) as a kind of dare, then uses that to leverage (ii).

    The unstated assumption is that if (i) represents the unacceptable consequence of the Protestant principles, then your only recourse is to (ii).

    Again, though, this is a fact-free argument. No hard evidence is feeding into the argument. It’s all hypothetical.

    2. Moreover, even at a hypothetical level, it’s a false dichotomy. For it’s not as if the negation of (i) entails (ii). (ii) is not the only logical alternative to (i).

    For the sake of argument, consider another hypothetical:

    i) Protestantism has a fallible canon

    ii) Romanism has a fallible canon

    But there’s a difference between (i) and (ii):

    The Protestant canon is based on the best available evidence whereas the papist canon is based on blind adherence to (selective) tradition.

    Now even if that’s what the choice came down to, it’s not as if (i) represents a worst-case scenario.

    You can have two fallible methods, yet one fallible method may still be far more reliable than the other (or another) fallible method. They may both be fallible without being equally fallible, or even close.

    For instance, consider two different ways of taking a take-home T/F exam. You could either take the test by looking up the answers, then circling the correct letter, or you could flip a coin and circle the corresponding letter.

    Each method would be fallible, yet one is clearly superior to the other in yielding accurate results.

    3. Let’s consider another hypothetical. Suppose that on the basis of intratextual, intertextual, and paratextual evidence, we can generate a list of 60 canonical books. To use TF’s lingo, that canon is artifact of revelation. That’s something we derive from Scriptural evidence alone.

    Yet, according to my hypothetical, that method only gets us up to 60 books–which is 6 books shy of the Protestant canon. Suppose we have to supplement our 60-book core canon with extrabiblical evidence to bring us up to a 66-book canon.

    Even though this comes short of a “complete list” which is purely an artifact of revelation, that would still enjoy a degree of certainty which is higher than a list compiled by purely extrabiblical evidence.

    Again, this illustration is hypothetical, but I use it to illustrate a principle which is overlooked by Bryan. And since Bryan’s basic argument is also hypothetical, he shouldn’t object.

    In addition, although the number I gave is hypothetical, my argument isn’t purely hypothetical by any means. There is real evidence that can generate a list (regardless of what number we decide on). Something I’ve discussed on my own blog.

  285. MarkS said,

    November 29, 2010 at 10:13 pm

    As an observer and not much of a contributor to this thread, it is frustrating to watch the argument develop on a particular important issue and then get thrown way off course. For fellow bystanders like me out there, here is where things appear to stand on the most important argument.
    The “ad hoc” charge from the RC side seems to hinge directly on the issue raised in a back & forth between Ron and Bryan about the intended foundation of the church – Scripture or persons (Eph 2:20). Ron says it’s the Scripture and that RC’s must admit it at least includes Scripture. Bryan says it’s persons and I’m guessing would say it includes Scripture because certain of these persons composed the Scriptures and their successors defined them as the canon. So the question seems to be about the means God used to produce the canon. Reformed side seems to say that means do not matter in an ultimate sense. God could be trusted to bring it about in faithfulness to His promise and history shows us that He did so through the Church. It’s not ad hoc because it is ultimately about God’s intent or fulfilling what He specifically promised. The warrant is based on Scripture, early church history, the testimony of the ECF’s, and what academic research tells us. But, the RC side, of course, disagrees with the interpretation of Scripture about what God’s promised intent actually was and is, as well as the reformed view of the ECF’s, church history, and academic research.
    From here I think the RC side should grant that if one thinks God’s promised intent was to found the church only on the Scriptures, then the reformed position as laid out in this thread is not ad hoc. But, the RC side will say, in addition to disagreeing with the reformed side’s basis for their warrant, that warrant alone is not enough. They say infallible knowledge is needed and that from the reformed side’s own view they cannot know infallibly that they have the correct interpretation of God’s intent from Scripture, and therefore the correct canon, or of the ECF’s and academic research.
    Then the reformed side will say that Scripture is clear on the essentials, even so much that a common man can grasp it. Further, the RC side claims infallibility, but is in fact making subjective judgments, which cannot be avoided, about the warrant for their side as well. Further, they will say there is no warrant for infallibility from Scripture, ECF’s, history, etc.

    Are we having fun yet???

    Then someone will eventually say that faith from and with the Spirit is needed in order to fully grasp divinely revealed truths. No warrant from exegesis, history, etc is ever enough. But, the RC’s will say that many who believe in Sola Scriptura and have the gift of faith from and with the Spirit disagree on many essentials of the faith, disagree on what issues are actually essential, and by their own terms cannot have infallible certainty about who is right. But since God does not want his children to be uncertain, He gave us a living infallible Church magisterium so that the common man can know he has the truth. Reformed people will then say that even if there were an infallible magisterium, we have no greater certainty because we have to subjectively decide whether or not to submit to it. Further, the RC side is full of disagreement and lack of clarity. So it does come down to warrant or plausibility. Having read some of Bryan’s stuff, he would likely say this is the tu quoque objection, which is part of ecclesial deism. The reformed then say we are not ecclesial deists because we believe in God’s providential care for the church including in and through the reformation and beyond. But RC’s will ask, where is or what church? Reformed will say it is wherever the gospel is preached. RC’s will respond, but you cannot know infallibly that you are preaching the true gospel without a magisterium. Reformed will say that the magisterium is wrong, but even if there were a magisterium, you cannot have infallible knowledge because you have to make a subjective judgment to submit to it.

    Then I put myself in the shoes of one of my illiterate, peasant-farmer German ancestors alive during the middle ages, and I think – what hope was there for him to know he had the truth?

  286. Andrew McCallum said,

    November 29, 2010 at 10:53 pm

    1. In my observation, and maybe there’s something I haven’t seen, Bryan rarely if ever attempts to provide direct evidence for his commitment to Rome. Instead, he constantly falls back on a hypothetical argument. I guess that’s his standard tactic because the historical evidence alone falls short of what he needs to get where he wants to go.

    Steve – Concerning historical evidence, what seems quite evident to me is that the ECF’s would never have argued for a locus of infallibility to exist in the Church herself. They certainly argued that God’s Word could be faithfully proclaimed through the Church and their conciliar statements were correct statements of the historic Christian faith, but would never have thought that their formulations of the teaching of God’s Word were incapable of error. The peculiarities of ecclesiastical infallibility as we hear them from the Catholic apologists today originated in the Scholastic dogmatic theology of the Medieval era. And the levels of certainty ascribed to the various classes of dogmatic theology have more to do with Greek epistemological categories than anything we find in Scripture or the Early Church. So when we argue against the kinds of theological certainty that the Catholic believe must categorize certain theological truths we are not arguing against anything inherent in historic Christian faith, we are arguing against something which is inherent in Medieval speculative theology. The Catholics will of course argue that the systematic theology developed in the Medieval era with its decidedly Aristotelean flavor was consonant with the theology of the Early Church, but this is a very tough case to make to put it mildly. But be that as it may, it is the particularities of the Scholastic era which give today’s Catholic dogmatic theology its distinct character and it is the theological world created by the Scholastics that so violently clashes with ours. For Bryan and the other Catholics this world is just what they live in and breathe in every day. For us it’s just a world that does not square with the reality that we see in Scripture and Early Church history.

  287. Ron said,

    November 29, 2010 at 11:17 pm

    I posted this on Paige’s new entry but I might as well toss it up here as well. My intent is to bring into focus the notion of infallibility. Often times the debate begins raging without yet having the terms adequately defined.

    Certainly Romanists should agree that God is at least capable of bringing to pass his eternal plan and purpose without making his volitional creatures infallible. Judas and the Satan serve as prime examples of such infallible beings that always did as God has decreed. However, their actions were not morally right but rather terribly wrong; so not to confuse matters we won’t use them as examples of infallible creatures. How about when Johnny is ordained from the foundation of the world to get 100% on his fifth grade math final, does he do so infallibly? No, but he does so impeccably.

    What is it to be infallible after all? For the Romanist it has to do with immunity to error. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church defines infallibility as ‘Inability to err in teaching revealed truth’. With respect to Johnny, if it was impossible for him to err on his test, then would he have earned 100% infallibly? Now in one sense, given that God decreed that Johnny would earn 100% on his test, there is a sense in which it was impossible for him to err. Notwithstanding, such a description is misleading because it makes infallibility a vacuous term; for even Judas and the Satan would be infallible on such terms. Although Johnny’s choices are never metaphysically free, there are certainly “possible worlds” where Johnny fails to earn 100% given the same state of affairs in which he earns 100%. At the moment of choice, God brings to pass a distraction for instance, causing Johnny to shade in the wrong oval on the exam. All this to say, although Johnny is naturally capable of error (i.e. fallible by nature), God brought to pass according to his predetermination Johnny’s perfect score. So to call Johnny infallible would be a misnomer. (Now of course Charles Hodge was wrong when he said that Jesus could have sinned. Not only had God decreed that the Second Person of the Trinity would not sin – more the point, a divine person cannot sin in any possible world. Johnny could err and still be Johnny – so error is compatible with Johnny’s person. Jesus could not have sinned and remained God; so there is no possible world in which he sins. The impossibility goes beyond a matter of decree. It’s an ontological consideration.)

    Now then, is there a possible world in which the church does not receive the canon aright? Well, let me rephrase that question. Is there a possible world in which Jesus promises that the church receives the canon and she does not receive it? I would say ABSOLUTELY NOT. Does that make the Romanist position correct? After all, isn’t it true that because Johnny errs in possible worlds, Johnny must be fallible even when God decrees that he act impeccably correct? Yet because Jesus errs in no world, he therefore cannot err and is, therefore, infallible. So what about the church? If there is no world in which she errs on the reception of the canon given the promise to receive the canon, mustn’t the church have been infallible when she received the canon? NO – and here is why. Up until now we’ve only been talking about possible worlds in which one errs or does not err given the same state of affairs. So, when Johnny is merely decreed to get 100% on his test without an accompanying divine promise, there are possible worlds in which he doesn’t earn the grade he ends up getting in this world, corroborating that he is fallible.Yet once a promise is made from God, it is impossible for what the promise contemplates not to come to pass in any possible world wherein the state of affairs includes the divine promise. In a word, there are no possible worlds in which Johnny is promised a grade of 100% by God and does not receive it, lest it is possible for God’s promise not to come to pass. I hope we can see more clearly that infallibility is not a necessary condition for the impossibility of acting incorrectly. If Johnny were promised 100% by God, Johnny does not become infallible in order to earn the mark, but rather fallible-Johnny is preserved from error according to the promise. Given the promise there is no world in which Johnny fails to earn 100%, even in those worlds in which he simply guesses the answers. Maybe a less hypothetical example might be of use. There is a promise from God that all true believers will be glorified. That means there is no possible world in which a justified soul perishes, given the golden chain of redemption. Does that make justified sinners infallible in their perseverance? No – but it certainly demonstrates God’s preservation of his adopted sons in Christ.

    In summary, to say that all men are infallible because they always act according to what God determines would make “infallibility” a vacuous term. Nobody is doing that. A subset of that consideration is that when morally responsible agents get the correct answer, they are not behaving infallibly lest we all have seasons of infallibility. When a divine promise is made, which must come to fruition being a divine promise, infallibility is not a necessary condition for the result lest sinners justified by grace become infallible in their perseverance.

    Ron

  288. Bryan Cross said,

    November 29, 2010 at 11:23 pm

    Andrew, (re: #282),

    So here is what I’m arguing for, Bryan. I am arguing that the Word of God that inspiration is focused on is what we understand to be the Word of God. What I find to be in error is that the inspired Word of God is disparate bunch of separate books which land on the doorstep of the Church with no order and purpose. If the Word of God is the Word of God, as God speaks of it, then I see no reason to separate the actual penning of the words from the collection of the words.

    Ok, but this is not an argument; it is just a series of statements. As I said in #272, I’m simply asking you to lay out the argument (i.e. the premises and process of reasoning) by which you reach the conclusion that the table of contents in Protestant Bibles is divinely inspired. If you have no argument for it, but instead take it as a theological starting point, then it seems to me that comment #11 has been falsified.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  289. Andrew McCallum said,

    November 30, 2010 at 12:03 am

    Bryan, arguments are comprised of statements. Perhaps the problem is that I am arguing for the obvious. And you are arguing against the obvious, or so it seems to me unless you can provide evidence to the contrary.. I am arguing that the Word of God upon which inspiration operates is the Word of God we know it, not a separate bunch of books. You are arguing, or so it seems, that inspiration only operates on the the writing of the individual books but not on their collection. So for you the Word of God is not the Word of God as it is presented in Scripture or as it operated in the Early Church. Or do you want to prove that when God speaks of His Word He has no thought to the collection of books, only their writing? If so, go ahead….

    So yes, the scope Word of God as we know them in the Protocanonicals was divinely inspired. Which is again to say that God knew what His Word was and His inspiration did not end with the their writing. Have you stopped to think what a strange thing it would be for God to JUST inspire the writing and leave the collecting to a non-inspired process? What a strange dichotomy you suggest, Bryan!

    So the central question is does inspiration operate on just the writing or both writing and collection of the books? You cannot just assume the former especially since there is no evidence from Scripture itself or early tradition that this kind of artificial distinction is warranted. It seems you want to assume the former and have me prove the later, but really why is the burden of proof on me? I’m just accepting the Word of God as it is presented to us in totol.

    Of the non-Protocanonicals, well these were still being debated by Catholics like Cajetan at the time leading into the Reformation and so your argument here is with Catholic as well as Protestant. I would leave the non-Protos out unless you have a very good reason why they, unlike the Protos, were still being debated by Catholics a millennium after the North African synods had affirmed them.

  290. BSuden said,

    November 30, 2010 at 1:09 am

    285 Mark S,

    While I can’t really speak for the middle ages (as far as that goes, what’s done is done), but when it comes to today, we can ignore the pointy headed academic debate and just go to church. Once there, we listen to the preaching. The Roman church will say “Believe in the Roman church” or may be even “Believe in Jesus and the pope and Mary and the saints and your own obedience and penance”. Why? “Cause we say so”. The protestant church will say “Believe in Christ alone”. Why? “Cause the Bible says so”.

    I trust in all this, your God given private judgement will put you where God will sovereignly have you. Even the Roman church. Why? Cause even the hardening of sinners to the Word of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ glorifies God.

    Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. Rom 9:18.

    No, it’s not fair.
    That’s why it’s called grace.
    And if that doesn’t break your heart and soul, you deserve the Roman church. Have at it. The Reformers didn’t consider it the slaughterhouse of souls for nothing. But Bryan and company will welcome your company. Be sure and thank them for their hospitality. That will make everybody feel good.

    Yeah, I almost forgot.
    Most of the folks in the Roman church are ignorant – maybe I am not sure about the ex-protestants – and we should have compassion on them. True, but neither is anybody in and of themselves really looking for God or the truth.

    It’s called total depravity. The Bible teaches it and Rome denies it. We can’t save ourselves or cooperate with God to the same end; nor are we really interested in anything other than fire insurance, i.e. getting to sin without having to face the consequences.

    As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes. Romans 3:10 -18

    That’s why it’s called the good news. Because that’s what it really is. From the atonement for and deliverance from our sins, to our regeneration and effectual calling to our sanctification and perseverance unto salvation, Christ has done it all.

    O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! . . .
    For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen. Romans 11:33,36

    Otherwise, a good analysis.

  291. johnbugay said,

    November 30, 2010 at 3:57 am

    MarkS, I would suggest to you that “infallibility” is a red herring. “Infallibility” rather was an ad-hoc concept, superimposed upon the development of the canon process, at a far later date, as a means of asserting authority. On the other hand, God’s providence is a highly Biblical concept that was well understood in New Testament times.

    I would suggest to you that a better principle in terms of this issue particularly is, “what did they know, and when did they know it?” That, after all, is the essence of what the study of history is all about.

    Up above, I’ve traced some of the theological reasons for the development of the canon. The early church, once beholden to the preference for “oral tradition” (as Cullmann described, citing Papias in the early 2nd century),faced with questions such as those produced by Marcion, came to the conclusion that it needed its own “canon” — the heretical ideas of those early Gnostic years were just becoming too pervasive; the development of the authoritative bishop, the notion of “succession” as a kind of proof of authority, and also a fixed canon all came into focus during those years.

    Especially with regard to the fixing of the canon, I’d commend to you the works of David Trobisch. In his work Paul’s Letter Collection (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1994), he studies manuscript evidence as well as the our understanding of the simple development of “the codex” as a form of communication. He makes the case that Paul himself began collecting his own letters into a collection. This is confirmed by Stanley Porter in his contribution to Exploring the Origins of the Bible, Craig A. Evans and Emanuel Tov, Editors (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008).

    Andreas Kostenberger and Michael Kruger place the New Testament documents into the concept of “covenant documents.” The earliest church was thinking in terms not only of “new covenant” (“new testament”) but also “covenant documents.” Kostenberger and Kruger trace this process through their The Heresy of Orthodoxy (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2010). One of the more striking images was that of the “beehive of activity” involved with the process of creating and distributing books and codexes of the Scriptures during the first half of the first century.

    As Steve Hays mentioned above, the Pentateuch was what it was, because of who Moses was. He did not require some sort of imprimatur to come along at a later date and certify those five works as Scripture. Moses’s works were “covenant documents”; they were Scripture at the moment he wrote them. And Kostenberger and Kruger argue that the New Testament documents were also viewed as covenant documents, created and ratified by the Apostles, again, the unique eyewitnesses to Christ himself, the total revelation of God (Hebrews 1), and treated in a similar way.

    Finally, Trobisch (again) traces both the need for and the development of “the canonical edition” or The First Edition of the New Testament, (Oxford: Oxford Unity Press 2000).

    Trobisch notes this about “the Canonical Edition”:

    The atmosphere created by the conflict with the Marcionite movement and the Easter Controversy contains characteristic features of the implied readership of the Canonical Edition. The edition portrays Paul and the Jerusalem authorities in a harmonious unity, presuming that the readers ar conscious of the worldwide unity of the church. The success of this publication did not depend on an authorityative decision of the church; rather, readers found their convictions better expressed in the Canonical Edition than in competing literary works. During hard times of persecution, this book was capable of defining or reinforcing the identity and the unity of its readers. At the end of the second century and in the beginning of the third, Irenaeus was reading this edition in Lyons; Tertullian read it in Carthage and Asia Minor; Clement had it in Alexandria, and Origen in Palestine. This particular edition, in other words, was read worldwide.

    In the New Testament Scriptures were found the unity and truth of the early church. In truth, none of this is “ad hoc”. It is a historical process, and New Testament scholars like Cullmann and Ridderbos and Trobisch and Andreas Kostenberger and Michael Kruger are investigating the sources in a detailed manner, and the history of this process is coming more sharply into focus.

    Really, it’s the quest for “infallibility” that is an ad hoc concept, superimposed on the process, after the process occurred, and at best “infallibility” (as an ad hoc idea) was superimposed at Trent, when Rome really had no other response to the Reformation but to try to assert its own authority with a made-up, ad-hoc concept (infallibility).

  292. Bryan Cross said,

    November 30, 2010 at 5:51 am

    Andrew (re: #289),

    Bryan, arguments are comprised of statements.

    Indeed they are, but a group of statements is not sufficient to make an argument. They have to be logically related such that one of them (i.e. the conclusion) follows from the others (i.e. premises). You have not yet provided an argument having as its conclusion “the canon of the Protestant Bible is divinely inspired.”

    Perhaps the problem is that I am arguing for the obvious.

    You aren’t arguing at all, because you haven’t yet given an argument. But perhaps the reason you haven’t given an argument is because you think that your conclusion is “obvious” or self-evident, and therefore cannot be shown to those who don’t already see it, as the Mormons think about the Book of Mormon. But that the table of contents of Protestant Bibles is divinely inspired is not self-evident to me and millions of other people. So we’re essentially back at the beginning, back to comment #88. When asked how you know the Protestant canon, your answer that the divine inspiration of the canon of Protestant Bibles is “obvious” or self-evident, is a naturalized version of:

    our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts. (WCF 1.5)

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  293. Andrew McCallum said,

    November 30, 2010 at 7:29 am

    Bryan,

    You need to stop repeating things that you know to be in error. You know that WCF 1:5 has nothing to do with the specifics of the canon. You have been told that repeatedly and you did not respond to what you were told. Now you are coming back at us as if we never corrected you here.

    You aren’t arguing at all.

    And you think you have identified a defensible position? You are assuming that inspiration does not apply to all of God’s work of bringing His Word to us, only the actual writing. You drive a wedge between writing and collection and you have given no reason for doing this. If we take your rather odd and seemingly random assumption as true true then yes, the Protestant position fades away. If your assumption is incorrect than the Catholic position fades away.

    Bryan, arguments don’t go anywhere if they are predicated on terms and assumptions that have not been agreed on. That’s where we are right now. You reject my assumption and I reject yours. I hold tot the assumption that God’s Word is actually God’s Word in its entirety, writing and collection, while you want to carve things up into 1) writing and 2) collection and apply inspiration to only one of these.. There is no point in me going any further in arguing if you reject this basic assumption. It’s like me arguing with a Hindu over God’s actions when we have not agreed for a definition of “God.” You have made no attempt to address what I am saying or defend your assumption.

  294. Bryan Cross said,

    November 30, 2010 at 7:49 am

    Andrew (re: #292),

    I rest my case.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

    Feast of St. Andrew

  295. TurretinFan said,

    November 30, 2010 at 8:04 am

    Bryan:

    At #245 you wrote:

    I agree. But that does not show or entail that the list of books in the Protestant Bible is divinely inspired. So, it doesn’t advance or establish Andrew’s claim. To get beyond Sproul’s “fallible list of infallible books” one needs more than examples of “weave and cross-weave.” If you don’t agree, then feel free to provide the argument from “weave and cross-weave” to “the list of books in the Protestant Bible is divinely inspired,” or to “the list of books in the Protestant Bible is inerrant.”

    Not only can I not find Andrew saying “the list of books in the Protestant Bible is divinely inspired,” or “the list of books in the Protestant Bible is inerrant” but now when confronted with the fact that those aren’t fair characterizations, you snap back “I rest my case”? Don’t you think that it would be more fitting to apologize for misrepresenting both Andrew and the Reformed position, rather than acting as though #292 is what you had been saying all along?

    -TurretinFan

  296. steve hays said,

    November 30, 2010 at 8:11 am

    Andrew,

    I find that Michael Liccione constantly uses a similar argument (to Bryan’s). As you know, it goes something like this: “Doctrine is underdetermined by evidence. There is more than one way to construe the evidence. Therefore, we must have an infallible church to issue de fide teachings, without which we can’t exercise the proper degree of faith.”

    It’s all hypothetical.

  297. TurretinFan said,

    November 30, 2010 at 8:15 am

    More important, however, than Andrews particular claim is that the fact of inspiration is true on every level.

    From the last jot and tittle:

    Matthew 5:18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

    to all Scripture:

    2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

    So, each jot and tittle is inspired, each sentence and pericope is inspired, each verse and chapter is inspired, each book and collection is inspired, each Testament is inspired, and in short the whole Bible is inspired.

    That doesn’t mean that there is, in addition to the Bible, an inspired list – either of all the books, or specifically of the two testaments, or of all the chapters in every book, or of all the verses in every chapter, or every pericope, or of every sentence, or of every letter or stroke. Nevertheless, with the Bible in hand, we could make such lists.

    But there are some strokes of some letters about which we are less certain – there are some words where we are not as sure as other words – and as Steve Hays has pointed out – there may even be some books with respect to which we have received less reassurance of their canonicity than other books.

    Why should this be a problem? Who knows! Perhaps the Roman apologist will tell us why we need an infallible list of the books, but not an infallible list of the verses in the books, or the words in the verses. Or perhaps the Roman apologist will simply acknowledge that there is no need for an infallible list of books – but rather simply a need for a list of infallible books.

    And we have that.

    – TurretinFan

  298. John Bugay said,

    November 30, 2010 at 8:25 am

    I could sure use an infallible list of the verses in the books.

  299. Bryan Cross said,

    November 30, 2010 at 8:29 am

    TF,

    See #238, where Andrew claims “it is not just the writing of the individual books that are inspired, it is Scripture which is inspired.” And by that he means that the canon too (i.e. the list of books which belong to Scripture) is divinely inspired. According to Andrew, we cannot “drive a wedge” between writing and collection, i.e. claim that the writing of the books was divinely inspired but the collection of those books was not divinely inspired.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  300. D. T. King said,

    November 30, 2010 at 8:34 am

    Mr. Cross claims: But perhaps the reason you haven’t given an argument is because you think that your conclusion is “obvious” or self-evident, and therefore cannot be shown to those who don’t already see it, as the Mormons think about the Book of Mormon.

    Yes, sorta like that conclusion of yours that the church is infallible, and it’s “self-evident that it’s Rome. Yes, it can’t be shown to those who don’t already see it, as in the same way you never argue why the Roman bishop’s infallibility is the exception to Augustine’s statement that bishops can and have erred. All this appears to be self-evident to Mr. Cross, because he simply names it/claims it, in typical Pentecostal fashion, throughout this entire thread. No double-standard here. :)

    Mr. Cross complains about straw man arguments, and then interprets the WCF 1.5 in a straw man manner, even though he’s been shown/told that that’s not the case. Nonetheless, Mr. Cross insists on his straw man caricature…

    When asked how you know the Protestant canon, your answer that the divine inspiration of the canon of Protestant Bibles is “obvious” or self-evident, is a naturalized version of WCF 1.5…

    .

    No double standard there, is there? :)

    But perhaps Mr. Cross interprets the statement of Augustine below in the same way that he interprets WCF 1.5…

    Augustine (354-430): So, after having in my turn praised my belief and ridiculed yours, what result do you think we shall arrive at as regards our judgment and our conduct, but to part company with those who promise the knowledge of indubitable things, and then demand from us faith in doubtful things? while we shall follow those who invite us to begin with believing what we cannot yet fully perceive, that, strengthened by this very faith, we may come into a position to know what we believe by the inward illumination and confirmation of our minds, due no longer to men, but to God Himself. NPNF1: Vol. IV, Against the Epistle of Manichaeus Called Fundamental, Chapter 14.

    Maybe Mr. Cross will explain to us how Augustine’s words above are “fully consistent” with his own claims.

    And given his repeated caricature, who authorized Mr. Cross to speak for Protestants? He’s told us that both sides should not engage in straw man caricatures, emphasizing that even he himself should avoid that, yet maintains that caricature when he has nothing meaningful to offer. He simply reasserts his caricature, and assumes his position when he has offered no argument for it. He goes back to his caricature and his basic presuppositions because his whole complaint, as we’ve seen, rests on that caricature, while he himself has never even attempted to address why we should accept his presuppositions as to why the “church” is equivalent to the magisterium of Rome, and that Matthew 16 speaks of the successors of Peter in reference to the Bishops of Rome, even though the overwhelming consensus of the early catholic church stands against Roman claims. His “name it/claim it” tactic, is simply (I repeat, in typical pentecostal fashion) reasserted repeatedly.

    As Mr. McCallum, and others of us, have observed: But it’s not as if you really argue for your position, you just state it.

    Bingo! Since he’s simply asserted his position with no argumentation to support it, I guess we can only assume that one has to be a Romanist in order to put together the pieces of the Gnostic puzzle, sorta like that Mormon “burning bosom” theory. Perhaps Mr. Riello said it best on behalf of the Romanists as he explained…

    The Church is, in the Catholic Church’s reflection, an extension of the Incarnation, in that Christ the Head is united to His Body, the Church. Therefore, the Church is not human in its origin and not merely human in its judgements.

    There’s your example of Roman Gnosticism . . . when one “reflects” as a Romanist, then one can simply gratuitously assume, in typical straw man fashion, that Protestants deny the Church to be divine in its origin, and then, in typical Gnostic, presuppose that the church is more than human in its judgments.

    The Romanists, here, have offered no argumentation for their presuppositions, while our magisterium of one continues to repeat his caricature of the Protestant position. Meanwhile Mr. Cross concludes “I rest my case” that he’s never even made.

  301. TurretinFan said,

    November 30, 2010 at 8:37 am

    Sean:

    You wrote:

    I mean think about it:

    What if there were a church in your town that was several generations old. Imagine that they were pretty much run of the mill Protestant except for one thing: They rejected the book of James from the canon.

    If you went to them and argued that James should be included they could follow your argument and claim that the Holy Spirit inspired their session to infallibly fix the canon.

    You would be left with say, ‘No they didn’t. The Holy Spirit inspired my church to infallibly fix the canon and the canon includes James.’

    That would be it. Without a principled difference in determining how and why the church is infallible for you or the other guy you would be left claiming the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in mutually exclusive directions.

    You can’t see this?

    It actually would take more than a “principled difference in determining.” Both they and Rome would claim to be following a principled difference in determining, and both have similar principles (what our church says is right). Persuasion would require that they share the same understanding about how to figure out which books are canonical (let’s agree that it’s what Rome says – or let’s agree that it’s what the other church says). Once they do that, they just have to figure out what Rome or the other church says – or perhaps they’ll have to figure out how to agree on what Rome says, since not all of Rome’s followers are in agreement on what Rome says about the canon.

    The real thrust of your question, therefore, is misdirected. Why not just ask: How can we force everybody to agree with us? or How do we keep people from disagreeing over things?

    Of course, the answer to that question is power. And Rome’s power is crumbling. She was once thought herself able to silence dissent through crusade, inquisition, or persecution – and now has to rely on increasingly indirect means, to the point that folks like Kung remain in Roman communion while remaining in sharp disagreement with others in the same communion (and don’t get me started on the women priests movement).

    Don’t get me wrong: it would be nice if there were a way to get every last person to hold to exactly the right views of God, his worship, and so forth. That would be great. But God has not given us that. Let’s be content with what God has given us, rather than wishing for things he has not.

    -TurretinFan

  302. TurretinFan said,

    November 30, 2010 at 8:46 am

    Andrew:

    Perhaps we can resolve Bryan’s concern if you will simply directly state that there is no verbal plenary inspiration of the list, as a list, but rather of Scripture as a whole. Of course, if you think that there was verbal plenary inspiration of the list, you could state that too. In which case, my next question to you is whether the original autograph of that list was in Greek, Latin, or some other language.

    My guess, based on the fact that you haven’t said that the list itself, in so many words, is inspired – is that you simply mean that the Bible as a whole is inspired, whether we look at it on a brush-stroke by brush-stroke basis or as a whole (as explained in my comment #296).

    -TurretinFan

  303. Andrew McCallum said,

    November 30, 2010 at 10:11 am

    My guess, based on the fact that you haven’t said that the list itself, in so many words, is inspired – is that you simply mean that the Bible as a whole is inspired, whether we look at it on a brush-stroke by brush-stroke basis or as a whole (as explained in my comment #296).

    TF – You’ve got it absolutely correct. We Protestants look at the Bible as the whole Bible. It’s interesting to me that Bryan won’t tell us what his perspective on this is. He is apparently creating this strange dichotomy but then won’t talk about it! So we have no definition of basic terms and then he wants me to create an argument. So end of discussion….

  304. steve hays said,

    November 30, 2010 at 10:39 am

    Since the role of providence has also been brought to bear in this discussion, it’s important to clarify the scope of that appeal. In my opinion, the Protestant argument is not that God has providentially insured that every Christian will arrive at the right canon of Scripture. Rather, the Protestant argument is that God has providentially insured that Christians have the means to arrive at the right canon of Scripture. Whether or not we always make right use of the available evidence is a different question, but if we make the wrong call, that’s not because the evidence was fundamentally deceptive or deficient.

    God has providentially maintained sufficient evidence for us to arrive at the right canon, if we make right use of the evidence.

    To take a comparison, the members of some NT churches learned the Gospel straight from the lips of the apostles. You can’t improve on that. Yet that didn’t prevent some members from going astray. Even though they had sufficient information to know and do right, they willfully disregarded apostolic doctrine.

  305. Ron said,

    November 30, 2010 at 10:40 am

    If God’s word promises that the church would receive the inspired Word, then all the particular books that have been received comprise that Word. When there is no hidden agenda, such a premise as that one is no problem.

  306. Ron said,

    November 30, 2010 at 10:44 am

    Steve,

    I have no problem with what you said regarding individual Christians, as long as we maintain that God did ensure that the church would receive his word, which doesn’t preclude apostate churches and cults adding or taking from that Word. Yes?

    Ron

  307. Bryan Cross said,

    November 30, 2010 at 11:17 am

    Andrew, (re: #303)

    In #293 you wrote:

    You are assuming that inspiration does not apply to all of God’s work of bringing His Word to us, only the actual writing. You drive a wedge between writing and collection and you have given no reason for doing this.

    So if you are now (in #303) denying that the Protestant canon is divinely inspired, then how, exactly, is that not “driving a wedge” between the inspiration of the individual books, and the collection of those books?

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  308. Andrew McCallum said,

    November 30, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    Bryan,

    Did you read my reply to TF? He asked whether we are looking at the Bible as a WHOLE in the context of inspiration and I said yes. The central point is that we don’t carve the Word up into pieces and determine what is and what is not the object of inspiration. The only reason I can see for the Catholics to do so is to protect a particular apologetic methodology. But this approach is just utterly artificial. Inspiration belongs to the whole of the what God speaks of as His Word.

  309. steve hays said,

    November 30, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    Ron said,

    “I have no problem with what you said regarding individual Christians, as long as we maintain that God did ensure that the church would receive his word, which doesn’t preclude apostate churches and cults adding or taking from that Word. Yes?”

    True. Every individual Christian needn’t be in a position to investigate the issue. He can be the recipient of the labors of others whom God has put in such a position.

  310. Ron said,

    November 30, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    Yes and what a comfort that is Steve.

    Thanks,

    Ron

  311. steve hays said,

    November 30, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    To take a concrete example, every Christian can’t do what F. F. Bruce could do. But we can benefit from his work. We don’t have to independently confirm everything he did. In the providence of God, God uses some people in the church to prosper other people in the church.

  312. November 30, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    I would be curious to hear someone who is well-versed in the church fathers weigh in on what THEY thought about this question. In other words, what did those who actually deliberated over the issue consider the canon to be? Did they consider it to be divinely inspired, or did they attribute the recognition of the canon to their ecclesial infallibility?

    And I guess a related question is, Would it be legitimate for us to ascribe to them a rationale or deliberative process when recognizing the canon that they themselves did not adopt at the time?

  313. TurretinFan said,

    November 30, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    Pastor Stellman:

    I’m not sure if you consider me one who is well-versed in the fathers. I had commented on this issue a couple of times. We see the earliest canon lists appearing without any explicit or implicit reference to ecclesiastical infallibility. Instead, we see comments like this from Athanasius:

    Since some have taken in hand to set in order for themselves the so-called apocrypha and to mingle them with the God-inspired scripture, concerning which we have attained to a sure persuasion, according to what the original eye-witness and ministers of the word have delivered unto our fathers, I also, having been urged by true brethren and having investigated the matter from the beginning, have decided to set forth in order the writings that have been put in the canon, that have been handed down and confirmed as divine, in order that every one who has been led astray may condemn his seducers, and that every one who has remained stainless may rejoice, being again reminded of that.

    – Athanasius, 39th Festal Letter

    Obviously, they didn’t have bold font face back then – that’s my addition. The point is that Athanasius (like us) is persuaded of the canonicity of the books and passes this on, supported by the evidence in its favor – particularly the evidence of tradition.

    There’s no claim of ecclesiastical infallibility – there’s no appeal to papal or conciliar authority – there’s simply an assertion of correctness.

    Eusebius in his Ecclesiastical History identifies some of the books as “undisputed” and others as “not universally acknowledged.” That claim, of course, is fundamentally inconsistent with a view of ecclesiastical infallibility as the basis for recognition of the canon.

    I’m sure others can provide other examples. The North African councils themselves do not appeal to ecclesiastical infallibility in identifying the books of the canon. Indeed, one does not find anyone doing so (that I can see) until Trent.

    Before Trent, that is to say, even though there are various canons (lists) generated, there is no allegation of either ecclesiastical or papal infallibility with respect to those lists.

    – TurretinFan

  314. Bryan Cross said,

    November 30, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    Andrew, (re: #308)

    Did you read my reply to TF?

    Yes, but I can’t tell from your comment #303 or from #308 whether or not you think that the canon of Protestant Bibles is divinely inspired. In #293 you seemed to be affirming the divine inspiration of the canon of Protestant Bibles. But in #303 you seemed to be denying the divine inspiration of the canon of Protestant Bibles. So, would you state clearly whether or not you affirm or deny the divine inspiration of the canon of Protestant Bibles? Thanks.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  315. November 30, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    Thanks, TF.

    … there is no allegation of either ecclesiastical or papal infallibility with respect to those lists.

    But did any of the early fathers say, on the contrary, that the actual canonical list of books was divinely inspired?

    The fact that differing lists were adopted, and that various books were disputed, seems to indicate that the belief that the table of contents is just as inspired as the books themselves is a belief that was not held by the father themselves who were debating this whole thing.

    There seems to be a very human element involved that would probably scandalize us if we were to eavesdrop in on their conversations, and that whatever conclusion we reach today (on whether it’s a divinely-inspired TOC or ecclesial infallibility), that conclusion is only reached after the fact, as a way of accounting for God’s hand in it all.

  316. johnbugay said,

    November 30, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    Jason — “infallibility” was not even a concept until after the 1054 split. Pope Gregory VII introduced the concept (“the Roman church has never erred; nor will it err”) in the Dictus Papae.

    So it was not in question during the discussions of the early church.

  317. November 30, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    John,

    OK, so let’s say that ecclesial infallibility was not even on anyone’s radar back when the canon was being adopted/recognized. If that’s the case, and if it’s also true that no one was positing Andrew’s claim (that God inspired the table of contents just as he inspired the books), then on what basis did anyone claim that the canon was in fact correct?

    Is there some third option that we haven’t yet suggested?

  318. D. T. King said,

    November 30, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    Mr. Stellman said: I would be curious to hear someone who is well-versed in the church fathers weigh in on what THEY thought about this question. In other words, what did those who actually deliberated over the issue consider the canon to be? Did they consider it to be divinely inspired, or did they attribute the recognition of the canon to their ecclesial infallibility?

    I’m quite willing for someone else is is well-versed to address this. In some ways I think your question is so broad that, in seeking to answer it, one runs the risk, if one seeks to speak of them as a monolithic whole, of blurring distinctions and nuances. I think I can say this; the views of the ECFs were quite diverse. I would warn against taking anyone’s word who attempts to describe their views by way of over-generalization. There were different views discussed among them about individual books, especially those which we rank among the apocrypha. One can say, generally speaking that the proto-canonicals were with few exceptions received very widely among members of the ancient Church. With respect to the NT, the four gospels and the Pauline corpus were widely accepted. Some books like 2 Peter, 2 & 3 John, the Epistle to the Hebrews, and the Book of the Revelation were disputed by members of he ancient church, and these disputes were not always limited to geographical vicinities.

    Relatively speaking, they all held a high view of Holy Scripture itself, believing in its inspiration and unquestioned authority. As J. N. D. Kelly put it…

    , it was everywhere taken for granted that, for any doctrine to win acceptance, it had first to establish its Scriptural basis. A Striking illustration is the difficulty which champions of novel theological terms like ὁμοούσιος (‘of the same substance’) or again ἀγέννητος (‘ingenerate’ or ‘self-existent’) and ἄναρχος (‘without beginning’), experienced in getting these descriptions of the Son’s relationship to the Father, or of God’s eternal being, generally admitted. They had to meet the damning objection, advanced in conservative as well as heretical quarters, that they were not to be found in the Bible. J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, 5th ed. (San Francisco: Harper, 1978), p. 46.

    As far as the OT goes, judging particularly when you find certain ECFs concerned to speak of the numbering of the Hebrew canon which was usually numbered as 22 (sometimes 24, but the content was the same), they accepted them unquestionably because they viewed them as the Scriptures of the Old Covenant community. Even when some recognized apocryphal works like Baruch and the Epistle of Jeremiah, they did so because they believed those books to be genuine parts of the prophecy of Jeremiah, and numbered them as part of Jeremiah. For instance, you will occasionally find a early father quoting Baruch and the same father attributing it to Jeremiah. As early as the mid-second century, we find Melito of Sardis traveling to Palestine in order to determine the precise number of canonical Old Testament books. The number he gave was twenty-two, the same as Josephus, though he omitted the book of Esther.

    Augustine, in his work De Doctrina Christiana (On Christian Doctrine/Teaching) is one who actually discusses a theory concerning different canonical lists. He stated…

    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.

    The fact that Augustine stated explicitly, concerning the possible scenario of conflicting canonical lists, that the authority of these churches who differed should be regarded as equal is an indication that he did not regard the church of his day to be infallible in its determination of the canon.

    The Quinisext Council (692), an Eastern council approved multiple and differing canonical lists of earlier conciliar expressions.

    But did any of the early fathers say, on the contrary, that the actual canonical list of books was divinely inspired?

    I have been reading patristic literature for some fifteen years now, and I probably have nearly as many patristic works as I do Reformed works in my library. Since most everyone has access to the Eerdmans 38 volume set, many of my volumes are those one would find outside of that collection. I only mention that to say this: As far as my studies go, I have yet to read a single ancient witness who ever spoke of a canonical list as being inspired. And in this respect, Rome stands alone in the claim that the canonical list is an object of revelation.

    (I’m busy and therefore hurried, so please excuse me for any typos and bad formatting issues)

  319. johnbugay said,

    November 30, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    Jason — Metzger gives a couple of criteria:

    (1) Conformity to “the rule of faith”. “The Muratorian Fragmentist will not have ‘gall mixed with honey’. He vigorously rejects the literary works of heretics, just as Irenaeus and Tertullian and writers as far back as Agrippa Castor in the time of Hadrian rejected them. [Eusebius notes that Agrippa Castor's work "was a most powerful refutation of Basilides" -- Hadrian ruled from 117-138.] Metzger also notes that the “faithful sayings” in the Pastoral epistles “though not representing in any sense a ‘canon’, betray an instinct for classification into true or false.” (Metzger, “Canon of the New Testament,” pgs 252-254)

    (2) Apostolicity – “When the writer of the Muratorian Fragment declares against the admission of the Sheperd of Hermas, he does so on the ground that it is too recent, and that it cannot find a place among the prophets, whose number is complete, or among the apostles.” Note that thhe writer “insists on the personal qualification of the authors either as eyewitnesses or as careful historians.”

    (3) Continuous acceptance and usage by the Church at large. As Steve Hays noted, when Moses wrote the Pentateuch, the 5 books were accepted as Scripture immediately, because of who he was, and the writings of the Apostles were similarly noted.

    Metzger concludes “these three criteria for ascertaining which books should be regarded as authoritative for the Church came to be generally adopted during the course of the second century and were never modified thereafter.”

    I’ve written “Kostenberger and Kruger, The Heresy of Orthodoxy” about 20 times in this thread, but it will answer all of your questions along these lines.

  320. November 30, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    Thanks, DTK.

    As far as my studies go, I have yet to read a single ancient witness who ever spoke of a canonical list as being inspired. And in this respect, Rome stands alone in the claim that the canonical list is an object of revelation.

    Unless I am misunderstanding, it was my impression that it was Andrew who said that God inspired the list as well as the books that comprise it.

  321. D. T. King said,

    November 30, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    …then on what basis did anyone claim that the canon was in fact correct?

    Mr. Stellman, did you in the course of your seminary experience read anything with respect to the criteria that was employed in the recognition of books as canonical? There were a number of objective considerations employed. Not trying to sound critical, it’s just that I’m somewhat surprised, if this is the case, that you were not familiarized with some of these while at seminary. If you desire, I would be happy to recommend some books which address such criteria, and which interact with ancient witnesses of the church.

  322. Bryan Cross said,

    November 30, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    Jason, (re: #320)

    Just to clarify, in Catholic theology, the canon of the Catholic Bible is inerrant, but not divinely inspired.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  323. Ron said,

    November 30, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    Jason,

    By list are you referring to the collection of books? And by “collection” is everyone referring to the act of collection or the content of what has been collected. I think I am following but maybe I’m assuming things that maybe I oughtn’t. My belief is its the latter being referred to, but maybe I’m not tracking. With that in mind, it’s hard for me to believe that anyone would accept the premise that God promised to bring to pass the reception of the inspired Word (so that the church could have its proper foundation) only to deny that the parts (individual books) making up the entirety (the Bible) is not inspired. A fallacy of composition looks like this: All the parts going into a jet airplane are light, therefore, the jet airplane is light. However, it’s not fallacious to argue that every brick in the wall is red, therefore, the wall is red. Yes, another premise is needed to make the argument more formal but we can get to conclusion. The latter is how we may perceive the books that comprise the entire Word that was promised to the church. If the entire Word is inspired, the books are inspired – therefore, the table of contents lists the inspired books that were to be received.

    Ron

  324. November 30, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    DTK,

    Mr. Stellman, did you in the course of your seminary experience read anything with respect to the criteria that was employed in the recognition of books as canonical? … I’m somewhat surprised, if this is the case, that you were not familiarized with some of these while at seminary.

    Please call me Jason.

    My question is not about the criteria for canonicity (and yes, we read on that topic in seminary). Sorry for not being clearer. My question is about the mindset of the early fathers with respect to the actual canonical list(s), and what the basis of that mindset was.

    If, as you say, no early father adopted Andrew’s position that the canonical list itself was inspired, and if, as John says, no early father claimed to have gotten the canon right due to ecclesial infallibility (since that was not yet being claimed), then on what basis did they claim to have the correct canon?

    Please understand that I am not asking why they thought this or that book was inspired, I am asking on what basis they thought they arrived at THE correct list of inspired books.

    Bryan attributes it to the infallible church, Andrew attributes it to the divine work of inspiration, yet you and John have argued that neither of those is an option.

    So is there a third way? And if so, what is it?

  325. TurretinFan said,

    November 30, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    Bryan:

    Re: your comment:

    Just to clarify, in Catholic theology, the canon of the Catholic Bible is inerrant, but not divinely inspired.

    In Roman theology today, the canon is alleged to have been infallibly taught by Trent. And the word “inspired” may indeed be limited to Scripture in Roman theology, but modern Roman theology ascribes no less authority to the teachings of Trent – at least those confirmed with anathema (Trent’s canon was so confirmed).

    -TurretinFan

  326. Bryan Cross said,

    November 30, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    TF, (re: #325),

    And the word “inspired” may indeed be limited to Scripture in Roman theology, but modern Roman theology ascribes no less authority to the teachings of Trent – at least those confirmed with anathema

    That’s not true. In Catholic theology, what is divinely inspired has more authority than what is infallible but not divinely inspired. That’s because what is God-breathed has more authority than what is true but not God-breathed.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  327. TurretinFan said,

    November 30, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    Pastor Stellman,

    I believe that what you may have got a hold of there is Bryan’s characterization of Andrew’s position. Andrew simply meant we should recognize that the inspiration of Scripture is inspiration not only of individual brushstrokes but of a whole document. Andrew did not mean to suggest that the list, as a list, was divinely inspired. Moreover, of course, the Reformed position is not that the list itself (as a list) is inspired.

    The Reformed position on the recognition of the canon comports with Athanasius’ view of the persuasion of the Holy Spirit. Bryan (as I understand him) objects to this as being too subjective and individualistic.

    – TurretinFan

  328. TurretinFan said,

    November 30, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    Bryan:

    You wrote:

    That’s not true. In Catholic theology, what is divinely inspired has more authority than what is infallible but not divinely inspired. That’s because what is God-breathed has more authority than what is true but not God-breathed.

    Please establish this assertion from some authoritative source of Roman dogma.

    I offer on the side of what I have said:

    CCC 82 As a result the Church, to whom the transmission and interpretation of Revelation is entrusted, “does not derive her certainty about all revealed truths from the holy Scriptures alone. Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence.”

    – TurretinFan

  329. Ron said,

    November 30, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    The magisterium of one has spoken… So, for Mr. Cross, “infallible” equates to truth, which makes Johnny’s A+ infallible. And the anathemas that are indexed to the repudiation of Marian dogmas etc. are not as serious as the anathema Paul gives in Galatians one. How does one prioritize anathemas? He just makes it up as he goes along.

  330. D. T. King said,

    November 30, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    Jason,

    You wrote: Bryan attributes it to the infallible church, Andrew attributes it to the divine work of inspiration, yet you and John have argued that neither of those is an option.

    Before we go any further, I’m not convinced that Andrew’s position is that simple. I would rather let Andrew further clarify, as I thought he did already, the position that he is taking. I say that in the desire not to speak or misspeak for Andrew.

    So is there a third way? And if so, what is it?

    Jason, my own understanding is that is was a process in the providence of God, taking into consideration all of the objective criteria, that God Himself superintended the reception of the the canon. In terms of the OT, I could quote (and I’m willing to do so at your request) one early witness after another where they simply 1) affirmed that God gave us the Scriptures, 2) affirm that God bequeathed His Scriptures to the Church by means of the Jews, or 3) affirm the combination of 1 and 2. I could quote many, but Justin Martyr comes immediately to mind as an example…

    Justin Martyr (wrote after 151): But if any of those who are wont to be forward in contradiction should say that these books do not belong to us, but to the Jews, and should assert that we in vain profess to have learnt our religion froth them, let him know, as he may from those very things which are written in these books, that not to them, but to us, does the doctrine of them refer. That the books relating to our religion are to this day preserved among the Jews, has been a work of Divine Providence on our behalf; for lest, by producing them out of the Church, we should give occasion to those who wish to slander us to charge us with fraud, we demand that they be produced from the synagogue of the Jews, that from the very books still preserved among them it might clearly and evidently appear, that the laws which were written by holy men for instruction pertain to us. ANF: Vol. 1, Justin’s Hortatory Address to the Greeks, Chapter 38 – Concluding Appeal.

    This witness concerning the OT canon, as mentioned by Justin Martyr, reflects as a virtual standard of the collective witness of the early church (Augustine, for example, could be recited repeatedly to the same effect), and it is consistent with the NT witness of the Apostle Paul in Romans 3:2 concerning the OT canon. Now, typically, the Romanists try to argue that the OT canon of the Jews was not officially closed until around 90 A.D. at the alleged “Jewish Council of Jamnia,” a theory popularized by Sundberg, but virtuall all scholars today of the canon, both Protestants and non-Protestants, have rejected that theory. I think it cannot be gainsaid, given the witness of Christ in the gospels, that the Jewish canon was closed in in the days of our Lord’s flesh, otherwise how could He repeatedly have held the Jews accountable in the various formulas, “it stands written” or “have you not read?”

    As for the NT canon, I agree with Metzger and with Ridderbos, concerning the argument from Providence and Redemption History itself.

    Bruce Metzger: The Gospels are indeed not alone in being joined to the Old Testament as holy Scripture. Once (III. xii. 12) Irenaeus plainly reckons the Pauline Epistles [as did Peter in his 2nd Epistle] along with the Gospel according to Luke as ‘the Scriptures’ and emphatically applies (III. xiii. 9) to the Acts of the Apostles the designation ‘Scripture’. In view of such expressions one is not surprised that in I. iii. 6 [of Irenaeus’ Against Heresies] he places ‘the writings of the evangelists and the apostles’ on a par with ‘the law and the prophets’. Nor does the fact that he never cites Pauline passages with the formula ‘it is written’ come into consideration, for he prefers to use for New Testament writings the more intimate formula, ‘John says…’, ‘Paul teaches…’, so that even the evangelists are only twice introduced with ‘it is written’ (II. xxii. 3 and xxx. 2). …
    By way of summary, in Irenaeus we have evidence that by the year 180 in southern France a three-part New Testament of about twenty-two books was known. The total number will vary depending on whether or not we include Philemon (as we probably should) and Hermas (somewhat doubtfully). Even more important than the number of books is the fact that Irenaeus had a clearly defined collection of apostolic books that he regarded as equal in significance to the Old Testament. His principle of canonicity was double: apostolicity of the writings and testimony to the tradition maintained by the Churches. Bruce M. Metzger, The Canon of the New Testament: Its Origin, Development, and Significance, third, enlarged ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997), pp. 155-156.

    Bruce Metzger: It may be concluded, therefore, that, while the New Testament canon should, from a theoretical point of view, be regarded as open in principle for either the addition or the deletion of one or more books, from a practical point of view such a modification can scarcely be contemplated as either possible or desirable. To say that the canon may be revised is not the same as saying it must be revised. The canon by which the Church has lived over the centuries emerged in history, the result of a slow and gradual process. To be sure, in this canon there are documents less firmly attested by external criteria than others. But the several parts have all been cemented together by usage and by general acceptance in the Church, which has recognized, and recognizes, that God has spoken and is speaking to her in and through this body of early Christian literature. As regards this social fact, nothing can be changed; the Church has received the canon of the New Testament as it is today, in the same way as the Synagogue has had bequeathed to it the Hebrew canon. In short, the canon cannot be remade—for the simple reason that history cannot be remade. Bruce M. Metzger, The Canon of the New Testament: Its Origin, Development, and Significance, third, enlarged ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997), p. 275.

    Bruce Metzger writing on the NT Canon: …the books within the collection are regarded as possessing an intrinsic worth prior to their having been assembled, and their authority is grounded in their nature and source. . . . If the authority of the New Testament books resides not in the circumstance of their inclusion within a collection made by the Church, but in the source from which they came, then the New Testament was in principle complete when the various elements coming from this source had been written. That is to say, when once the principle of the canon had been determined, then ideally its extent is fixed and the canon is complete when the books which by principle belong to it have been written. Bruce M. Metzger, The Canon of the New Testament: Its Origin, Development, and Significance, third, enlarged ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997), p. 283.

    Bruce M. Metzger: There are, in fact, no historical data that prevent one from acquiescing in the conviction held by the Church Universal that, despite the very human factors (the confusion hominum) in the production, preservation, and collection of the books of the New Testament, the whole process can also be rightly characterized as the result of divine overruling in the providentia Dei. Bruce M. Metzger, The Canon of the New Testament: Its Origin, Development, and Significance, third, enlarged ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997), p. 285.

    Bruce M. Metzger: The distinction between the New Testament writings and later ecclesiastical literature is not based upon arbitrary fiat; it has historical reasons. The generations following the apostles bore witness to the effect that certain writings had on their faith and life. The self-authenticating witness of the word testified to their divine origin of the gospel that had brought the Church into being; such is the implication of Paul’s words to the Thessalonians: ‘We thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of any human being but as what it really is, the word of God which is at work in you believers’ (1 Thess. ii. 13). During the second and succeeding centuries, this authoritative word was found, not in utterances of contemporary leaders and teachers, but in the apostolic testimony contained within certain early Christian writings. From this point of view the Church did not create the canon, but came to recognize, accept, affirm, and confirm the self-authenticating quality of certain documents that imposed themselves as such upon the Church. If this fact is obscured, one comes into serious conflict not with dogma but with history. Bruce M. Metzger, The Canon of the New Testament: Its Origin, Development, and Significance, third, enlarged ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997), pp. 286-287.

    PS. Thanks for not taking offense at my earlier question, and for granting me the benefit of the doubt.

  331. D. T. King said,

    November 30, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    I just posted a lengthy response to Jason, and I suppose it was caught in some blog/spam filter. Since I did not compose it in word this time, I’ll try to reconstruct it, Jason, when I find time, my apologies.

    BTW, thanks, Jason, for not receiving offense from my previous question, and putting the best construction on it. You may address me as DTK for short.

  332. rfwhite said,

    November 30, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    Concerning 238 / 288 inter alia —

    Alongside Andrew’s comments, some other observations. As I understand it, the following things are true: if God is the author of Scripture at all, He is author of the whole and not just the parts. The collective entity is the infallible construct of God, and canonicity is a matter of the whole not just each part. Each inspired document of Scripture has its authority and its overall intelligibility not in isolation but in relation to the other documents, within the context provided by Scripture as a whole. All the documents of Scripture together, then, constitute the frame in terms of which any one of those documents is to be understood finally and comprehensively. Consequently, to say that that whole frame is not divinely fixed, or is humanly fixed, precludes anyone from talking about the unity of Scripture: it casts a shadow of uncertainty on every single document and so undercuts the authority of Scripture as a whole. Where am I wrong?

  333. D. T. King said,

    November 30, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    Jason, the only thing I would add to my previous post at this point, is the following…

    I would simply quote Augustine from one of his newly discovered sermons, among his corpus that New City Press had published. In fact, this publishers is in the process of translation and publishing new translations for the entire Augustinian corpus. But Augustine, evidently, viewed the reception of the canon as the providential work of God via the ministry of the Holy Spirit. He states that the canon was established for the church, and not by the Church…

    Augustine (354-430): Let us treat scripture like scripture, like God speaking; don’t let’s look there for man going wrong. It is not for nothing, you see, that the canon has been established for the Church. This is the function of the Holy Spirit. So if anybody reads my book, let him pass judgment on me. If I have said something reasonable, let him follow, not me, but reason itself; if I’ve proved it by the clearest divine testimony, let him not follow me, but the divine Scripture. 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 162C.15 (Hyde Park: New City Press, 1997), p. 176.

    I think, in this respect, unlike Rome, Augustine seeks to maintain the Creator/creature distinction with respect to the formation of the canon.

  334. Bryan Cross said,

    November 30, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    TF, (re: #328)

    The CCC is there quoting from Verbum Dei, speaking about Scripture and Tradition, both of which, as the word of God, require equal sentiments of devotion and reverence. But God is not the author of an infallible decree of the Church’s Magisterium, even though it communicates divine revelation without error. You can see the distinction in Vatican I:

    These books the Church holds to be sacred and canonical not because she subsequently approved them by her authority after they had been composed by unaided human skill, nor simply because they contain revelation without error, but because, being written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author, and were as such committed to the Church. (First Vatican Council, Sess 3, c. 3 para. 7)

    Having God for their author gives the books of Scripture greater authority than documents that “contain revelation without error.”

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  335. Andrew McCallum said,

    November 30, 2010 at 5:35 pm

    So, would you state clearly whether or not you affirm or deny the divine inspiration of the canon of Protestant Bibles? Thanks.

    Bryan – Is it not obvious that if God’s Word is inspired and if we mean by God’s Word what we know as God’s Word today (bowing to Jerome and Athanasius’ conclusions on the Deuteros for the moment) then the list as well as the collection is inspired? So TF was asking me if I thought the whole thing was inspired and I said yes, So where is the confusion? If I said “no,” the collection is not inspired then I would be denying the Word of God as it existed in in the mind of God and carving up Scriptures into writing and collecting. And hence my question to you that you have so assiduously avoided as to why on earth would we do that. Your lack of an answer so telling…

  336. TurretinFan said,

    November 30, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    Dr. White,

    As you undoubtedly know, we (the Reformed) speak of recognition of the canon (and recognition of the original text … and so forth). We don’t treat the matter as being that the Westminster Assembly decided the canon by its authority, but rather that it recognized the authentic books. Thus, the fact of inspiration is the result of God’s work – it is not set by man, but merely recognized by man.

    We have a similar approach when it comes to textual criticism. We don’t say that textual critics define the text – we say that they discover the text through a careful investigation of the evidence.

    It’s not exactly the same thing, but it is a similar thing. If we thought that the text of the New Testament (or the canon of it) depended on the authority of men, we would be lessening its authority.

    What we have about the text and the canon is confidence. What Rome claims to have about the canon is certainty (despite blunders such as accepting Tobit and Baruch).

    Failure to recognize a book as being God’s word may have various impacts. The Samaritans, you may recall, failed to recognize anything except the Pentateuch. That seems to have been disastrous for them – for Christ affirms that salvation was of the Jews. On the other hand, some of the fathers dropped Esther, Hebrews, or Revelation – and I trust we don’t think that they were unsaved as a result.

    – TurretinFan

  337. Ron said,

    November 30, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    RFW,

    I was real fine with your post until this part: “Consequently, to say that that whole frame is not divinely fixed, or is humanly fixed, precludes anyone from talking about the unity of Scripture: it casts a shadow of uncertainty on every single document and so undercuts the authority of Scripture as a whole. Where am I wrong?”

    I’m not sure what “fixed” means. I may agree with you if I knew what you were saying. We don’t want to suggest by the term any “violence” to the will of creatures, or deny liberty of choice and second causes. God ensured the choices of men. Is that the fixing you’re talking about? In any case, what preceded that portion was very well stated I think.

    Ron

  338. Ron said,

    November 30, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    Re: 334

    So we’re to obey the uninspired infallible tradition but not with the same degree of fear and trembling as the inspired tradition. But how do I know that since the man saying it is neither inspired or infallible.

    Ron

  339. davejes1979 said,

    November 30, 2010 at 5:45 pm

    Turretinfan, we’ve been over the RCC distinction (I remember reading it in the Catholic Encyclopedia) distinguishing between deposits that are inspired and infallible and those that are infallible but not inspired. It is, of course, an impossible distinction to make. And, yes, even on RCC’s own terms Bryan is wrong in saying one has more authority than the other.

  340. TurretinFan said,

    November 30, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    Bryan:

    Your concluding assertion:

    Having God for their author gives the books of Scripture greater authority than documents that “contain revelation without error.”

    is similar to your previous assertion:

    In Catholic theology, what is divinely inspired has more authority than what is infallible but not divinely inspired.

    However, you have still not documented this “more authority” and “greater authority” claim.

    And, on the contrary, there is no “more authority” or “greater authority” in divine revelation in Scripture and in divine revelation as passed on by the magisterium, according to the official teachings of your religion. At any rate, you haven’t identified any – and I’ve identified not only the item above but also the following, which show us the same principle.

    CCC 85 “The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone. Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ.” This means that the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome.

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

    87 Mindful of Christ’s words to his apostles: “He who hears you, hears me”, the faithful receive with docility the teachings and directives that their pastors give them in different forms.

    88 The Church’s Magisterium exercises the authority it holds from Christ to the fullest extent when it defines dogmas, that is, when it proposes, in a form obliging the Christian people to an irrevocable adherence of faith, truths contained in divine Revelation or also when it proposes, in a definitive way, truths having a necessary connection with these.

    The claim that Rome makes (whether you recognize this or not) is that her teachings are the passing on of divine revelation. If that revelation is in Scripture, it falls within the category of “inspired” and if not, then you are welcome to show where your church suggests that Tradition is “inspired.”

    Do you think that the canon is itself a teaching of Scripture? If so, then perhaps you imagine that the canon itself (as such) is inspired. If it is not in Scripture, however, then it is in tradition – which is not “inspired.” Yet both Tradition and Scripture have equal authority in your religion (as shown above).

    Either way, my original point stands – your contrary assertions notwithstanding.

    -TurretinFan

  341. steve hays said,

    November 30, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    Perhaps, for clarity’s sake, I can try to recast Andrew’s claim. Let’s see if Andrew agrees with my paraphrase.

    i) I assume Andrew is making the point that the inspiration of Scripture is a means to an end. God wills the production of his word because God wills that his people have his word. God doesn’t will the production of his will for its own sake, as if he inspired the apostles and prophets, but then locked the Bible away in a vault.

    In that respect, the giving of the Scriptures vis-a-vis inspiration, as well as the giving of the Scriptures vis-a-vis canonization, are correlative. God gives his word to the apostles and prophets (by inspiring them) in order to give his word to the faithful.

    ii) Likewise, God, who wills the end from the beginning, wills the entirety of Scripture. He inspires a set of books. And that was his eternal intention. He had the whole canon in mind. Through inspiration, he realizes that complete idea. The books of the canon, while inspired over centuries, and collected at various times, correspond to his timeless idea.

  342. Ron said,

    November 30, 2010 at 6:14 pm

    Steve’s paraphrase looks spot on.

    Now all I need is bucket of buttered popcorn to go with all the entertainment our dear brother TF is supplying us by teaching Mr. Cross his own Catechism. It’s like Lewis and Martin all over again.

  343. TurretinFan said,

    November 30, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    While I appreciate the support, I’m just insisting that Bryan document his “more authority” and “greater authority” claims from something other than his own private judgment. If he can find something that says that Scriptures have more authority than Trent, I’m sure all my Reformed forefathers will breathe a sigh of relief that they made the right choice.

    -TurretinFan

  344. Ron said,

    November 30, 2010 at 7:03 pm

    TF – truth be told, I saw his erroneous claim before I read your post but didn’t have the time to produce question 82 of the CCC, which btw I almost quoted earlier in this thread to make the point that in theory the Roman church places Scripture on the same level as tradition though they deny Scripture for all intents and purposes given their view of clarity and the magisterium.

    Keep up the solid work. It’s edifying in many respects.

    Yours,

    Ron

  345. Andrew McCallum said,

    November 30, 2010 at 8:47 pm

    Steve, on you #340, I agree with Ron that you are spot on. I would also add something that in Paige’s recently posted thread – we are not speaking of something that is spoken to explicitly in Scripture. So my appeal is to common sense by asking why would anyone ever try to divide up the writing from the collecting and apply inspiration to only one of them. But as you know common sense arguments don’t get much consideration when you are bringing into question the basis of a very important apologetic that is used by countless Catholics.

    So the tact of the Catholic is to try to analyze our argument to death as if we were proposing some sort of geometric proof. And we certainly don’t have don’t have this air tight “proof,” but then we are not aiming for such a thing, and the Catholics are not even proposing a counter to our common sense argument, let alone anything even close to a defense of the epistemological certainty that they are demanding of us.

  346. Bryan Cross said,

    November 30, 2010 at 8:51 pm

    TF (re: #342),

    If he can find something that says that Scriptures have more authority than Trent, I’m sure all my Reformed forefathers will breathe a sigh of relief that they made the right choice.

    Then you are misunderstanding me, by viewing what I said through a Protestant paradigm. I did not say that the Catholic Church teaches that some person’s interpretation of Scripture is more authoritative than that of the Church’s Magisterium. So what I’m saying doesn’t get any sixteenth century Protestant off the hook for rebelling against Church authority. I said that in Catholic theology what is God-breathed has more authority than what is divinely protected from error but is not God-breathed. This authority distinction is something well known in Catholic theology, though it has not been formally defined, because it has never needed to be. It follows from the ontological distinction (between what is God-breathed, and what is not God-breathed), which can be found in Vatican I, as I pointed out above. It also follows from the conjunction of two doctrines: first, that the task of the Magisterium is to give an authentic interpretation of the Word of God (CCC 85), and second, that the Magisterium is the “servant” of the Word of God (CCC 86). The infallible but not inspired decree of the Magisterium is therefore likewise a servant of the Word of God, and not its equal. You can also find this truth in Canons 750 and 751 of the Code of Canon Law, where you can see that denying anything contained in the Word of God [whether written or handed down in Tradition], which the Church, either by a solemn judgment or by the ordinary and universal Magisterium, sets forth to be believed as divinely revealed, is heresy, while denying what has been infallibly defined by the Church [but not as formally revealed by God] is not heresy, though it is still a grave sin. What makes heresy a greater sin than denying what has been infallibly defined [but not as formally revealed by God] is the greater authority of what is denied by heresy. That is true even though an equal assent of faith is due to both: the former based on the authority of the Word of God, and the latter, based on the Holy Spirit assisting the Magisterium and protecting it from error.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  347. Ron said,

    November 30, 2010 at 9:17 pm

    “This authority distinction is something well known in Catholic theology, though it has not been formally defined, because it has never needed to be…

    I’m not sure how a Romanist can “know” anything in their theology, especially when it “has not been formally defined” since even those things that have been formally defined take on contrary meanings later, such as what we see in the differences between unam sanctam and statements from Pius IX (who preceded over Vatican I), such as his allocution on 12/09/1854 and encyclical Quanto conficiamur moerore, which speak of invincible ignorance and salvation through natural law. In any case, its incredible that what is “well known in Catholic theology” is literally contrary to CCC 82.

  348. Bryan Cross said,

    November 30, 2010 at 9:19 pm

    Andrew (re: #335)

    Is it not obvious that if God’s Word is inspired and if we mean by God’s Word what we know as God’s Word today (bowing to Jerome and Athanasius’ conclusions on the Deuteros for the moment) then the list as well as the collection is inspired?

    No, it is not obvious. That’s because if the list of books in Protestant Bibles were inerrant, but not inspired, the data would look exactly the same. So, it is presumptuous to assume that the table of contents in Protestant Bibles is divinely inspired.

    If I said “no,” the collection is not inspired then I would be denying the Word of God as it existed in in the mind of God.

    God knows that Scripture was formed through a process of writing books and collecting those books. Therefore distinguishing between the writing of the books of Scripture and the collection of those books into the canon, is to think God’s thoughts after Him. To claim that we cannot make the distinction between the writing of the books and the collection of the books, because that distinction is not in the mind of God, is to make God out to be ignorant of the way Scripture was formed.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  349. D. T. King said,

    November 30, 2010 at 9:25 pm

    This authority distinction is something well known in Catholic theology, though it has not been formally defined, because it has never needed to be.

    Yes, no double standard contention here about what “has never needed to be.” Let the Protestants suggest such a contention and you would never hear the end of it. The Roman communion has never officially defined the relationship of tradition to Scripture, as to whether Scripture is materially sufficient, or whether the partim/partim distinction omitted by Trent should be the authentic understanding of the relationship, which would amount to a denial of material sufficiency; which is how many Romanists understood the position of their communion, and argued for, a few centuries following Trent. The uncertainty continues right up to the present hour because the relationship between tradition and Scripture has never been officially defined. And though it has been debated within the Roman communion, the Romanist will blissfully contend it “has never needed to be” defined. This is why I continue point out that it’s a Walter Mitty world in the land of Roman apologetics. For the Roman apologist rides the merry-go-round with this convenient approach, applying the claim of material sufficiency when it suits the apologetic scenario in view, and then reverse the merry-go-round for the view of material insufficiency when a different scenario calls for another approach. This way, for the sake of his apologetic, the Roman apologist enjoys the best of both worlds!

  350. TurretinFan said,

    November 30, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    Bryan:

    You wrote:

    Then you are misunderstanding me, by viewing what I said through a Protestant paradigm. I did not say that the Catholic Church teaches that some person’s interpretation of Scripture is more authoritative than that of the Church’s Magisterium.

    Perhaps you should listen more carefully. That word “interpretation” that you threw in there is not a word you find in the quotation you took from me. I will not speculate about why you put words in my mouth and then emphasize those words to the detriment of the words I provided. I said “Scripture.” Scripture is more authoritative than your church’s teachings. I’m glad you don’t deny that, although you seem to be unable to understand that your church does.

    You continued:

    So what I’m saying doesn’t get any sixteenth century Protestant off the hook for rebelling against Church authority.

    Where Scripture and your church disagree, people ought to obey the higher authority. You cannot legitimately deny that. Calling that “rebelling against Church authority” is just speaking pejoratively of the situation. In that same sense the apostles “rebelled against Sanhedrin authority,” but the better way to describe both situations is that the faithful are obeying God rather than men.

    You continued:

    I said that in Catholic theology what is God-breathed has more authority than what is divinely protected from error but is not God-breathed.

    You repeatedly asserted that, but you have not established that. Moreover, I’ve provided two counter-examples: tradition and the teachings of the magisterium. And I’ve backed up my counter-examples with citation with authority.

    You continued:

    This authority distinction is something well known in Catholic theology, though it has not been formally defined, because it has never needed to be.

    Please provide some authority for your assertions. It doesn’t have to be a formal definition. The CCC is replete with things that are not formally defined. But just tacking on more assertions “well known” and “it has never needed to be” defined would just require you to provide new support for your new assertions.

    You yourself are not an authority on Roman theology – so we need someone more authoritative than you are, saying what you say.

    You wrote:

    It follows from the ontological distinction (between what is God-breathed, and what is not God-breathed), which can be found in Vatican I, as I pointed out above.

    You assert that it follows from that distinction. Where does your church state that it follows from that distinction?

    You wrote:

    It also follows from the conjunction of two doctrines: first, that the task of the Magisterium is to give an authentic interpretation of the Word of God (CCC 85), and second, that the Magisterium is the “servant” of the Word of God (CCC 86).

    Again, you assert that it follows. Where does your church state that it follows?

    You wrote:

    The infallible but not inspired decree of the Magisterium is therefore likewise a servant of the Word of God, and not its equal.

    Your church does not say that by “servant” it means that the Magisterium’s teachings have any less authority than the Word of God. That’s your assertion. We’re still waiting for documentation.

    You wrote:

    You can also find this truth in Canons 750 and 751 of the Code of Canon Law, where you can see that denying anything contained in the Word of God [whether written or handed down in Tradition], which the Church, either by a solemn judgment or by the ordinary and universal Magisterium, sets forth to be believed as divinely revealed, is heresy, while denying what has been infallibly defined by the Church [but not as formally revealed by God] is not heresy, though it is still a grave sin.

    a) The Word of God in “Tradition” is not described as “inspired” is it? But this is a minor point, since we’ll see that there are even more serious problems with your argument.

    b) Canons 750-51 states:

    Can. 750 §1. A person must believe with divine and Catholic faith all those things contained in the word of God, written or handed on, that is, in the one deposit of faith entrusted to the Church, and at the same time proposed as divinely revealed either by the solemn magisterium of the Church or by its ordinary and universal magisterium which is manifested by the common adherence of the Christian faithful under the leadership of the sacred magisterium; therefore all are bound to avoid any doctrines whatsoever contrary to them.

    §2. Each and every thing which is proposed definitively by the magisterium of the Church concerning the doctrine of faith and morals, that is, each and every thing which is required to safeguard reverently and to expound faithfully the same deposit of faith, is also to be firmly embraced and retained; therefore, one who rejects those propositions which are to be held definitively is opposed to the doctrine of the Catholic Church.

    Can. 751 Heresy is the obstinate denial or obstinate doubt after the reception of baptism of some truth which is to be believed by divine and Catholic faith; apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith; schism is the refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.

    Frankly, it appears you have not carefully read the canons. They do not tell us of a heresy/grave sin distinction along the lines that you proposed. You’re welcome to try to explain how you conclude what you conclude. 751 is just providing the definitions of heresy, apostasy, and schism within the realm of canon law.

    c) What it actually suggests is what we Reformed already know – which is that in practice all that really matters is what the Magisterium teaches. Notice that portion of 750 to which I’ve added bold. That’s the “in practice” position – not (of course) the stated position of the CCC.

    You wrote:

    What makes heresy a greater sin than denying what has been infallibly defined [but not as formally revealed by God] is the greater authority of what is denied by heresy.

    Do you seriously think that the set of things that are infallibly defined is greater than the set of things that are infallible defined as revealed by God? Perhaps you’re trying to distinguish between “formally revealed” and some other kinds of revelation. But again – you haven’t identified a distinction between those two in the canon law.

    You wrote:

    That is true even though an equal assent of faith is due to both: the former based on the authority of the Word of God, and the latter, based on the Holy Spirit assisting the Magisterium and protecting it from error.

    Equal assent seems to imply equal authority. However, you are welcome to rebut that implication by citing some authoritative source that actually states that Scripture has more authority than non-inspired Tradition and Magisterial teaching.

    It’s not that we don’t appreciate your opinions, we just recognize that they don’t have any significant authority in your religious system. Thus, we want you to back up your assertions with some actual teaching of “more authority” and “greater authority” – that was your claim, after all.

    -TurretinFan

  351. Ron said,

    November 30, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    Perhaps you should listen more carefully. That word “interpretation” that you threw in there is not a word you find in the quotation you took from me.

    I don’t think listening carefully is the problem. Yet for some strange reason those slight modifications that change the meaning occur all too often.

  352. AJ said,

    November 30, 2010 at 10:10 pm

    A very telling conclusion from Dr. Francis Beckwith (Former president of Evangelical Theological Society):

    “Because the list of canonical books is itself not found in Scripture—as one can find the Ten Commandments or the names of Christ’s Apostles—any such list, whether Protestant or Catholic, would be an item of extra-Biblical theological knowledge. Take for example a portion of the revised and expanded Evangelical Theological Society statement of faith suggested by the two ETS members following my return to the Catholic Church. (The proposed change failed to garner enough votes for passage, losing by a 2-1 margin). It states that “this written word of God consists of the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments and is the supreme authority in all matters of belief and behavior.” But the belief that the Bible consists only of 66 books is not a claim of Scripture—since one cannot find the list in it—but a claim about Scripture as a whole. That is, the whole has a property—“consisting of 66 books”—that is not found in any of the parts. In other words, if the 66 books are the supreme authority on matters of belief, and the number of books is a belief, and one cannot find that belief in any of the books, then the belief that Scripture consists of 66 particular books is an extra-biblical belief, an item of theological knowledge that is prima facie non-Biblical.”

    Case closed. Peace.

  353. Andrew McCallum said,

    November 30, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    God knows that Scripture was formed through a process of writing books and collecting those books. Therefore distinguishing between the writing of the books of Scripture and the collection of those books into the canon, is to think God’s thoughts after Him.

    We are not taking issue with distinguishing writing and collecting. Of course God distinguished them and so can we. The problem is that when separate them and apply inspiration to only one of them. This defines common sense to us and we can only see that you defending the process for some other reason.

    That’s because if the list of books in Protestant Bibles were inerrant, but not inspired, the data would look exactly the same.

    OK, so now God inspires His Word, but then you separate off the writing for the texts from the collection of the texts and apply inspiration to the first but then apply some other process to the second that guarantees inerrancy but not infallibility? I’m not sure this is getting you anywhere.

    Look Bryan, I realize that arguments from obviousness and common sense and so on often don’t get viewed the same way by both sides of a given debate. I’m just trying to get you to understand something of what is really going on in our reasoning process and that maybe it is not as intellectually indefensible as you might originally have thought. I really think you would get much further either trying to defend, for example, Medieval classifications of dogmatic certainty since here is where we have clear disagreements and both sides know where they stand. In the current discussion you are trying to convince us that, so as to speak, we have a disease and you have a cure but you have not been able to show that there is anything wrong with us. So why not focus on an aspect of the debate where the distinction between us is clear to both sides?

    This current discussion has gone on way too long….

  354. Ron said,

    November 30, 2010 at 11:39 pm

    “I really think you would get much further either trying to defend….”

    Woe, woe, woe, slow down a minute – stop the music. Defend? Are you serious?

    In the current discussion you are trying to convince us that, so as to speak, we have a disease and you have a cure but you have not been able to show that there is anything wrong with us. So why not focus on an aspect of the debate where the distinction between us is clear to both sides?

    What else can one do when there is only one play in the play book? B-man is still running a T formation with an occasional trick play thrown in, but that’s it folks. He’s got nothing else to show us, but what he’s got works real swell on high school campuses.

    This current discussion has gone on way too long….

    Now that’s the word of the day.

  355. BSuden said,

    December 1, 2010 at 12:39 am

    291 Thanks for the list of books, John, especially Kostenberger. Speaking of Matt. 16:18 are you familiar with R. Reymond’s The Reformation’s Conflict with Rome – Why It Must Continue? He lists 22 objections to Rome’s position on Peter.
    Likewise 321, DTK. Thanks for the list of literature on the canon

    You are assuming that inspiration does not apply to all of God’s work of bringing His Word to us, only the actual writing. You drive a wedge between writing and collection and you have given no reason for doing this. . . . . I hold to the assumption that God’s Word is actually God’s Word in its entirety, writing and collection, while you want to carve things up into 1) writing and 2) collection and apply inspiration to only one of these.

    #293

    Moving along, it looks like I’ll have to apologize to Bryan. (Yes, shock and amazement has seized us by the scruff of the neck and rudely shaken things up.) I keep thinking he has a bad conscience for coming over here and trying to coerce (persuade) protestants into joining him for a boat ride across the Tiber, but as it turns out I was wrong.

    That is, when it comes to bald assertions, he truly does want to keep that the province of Rome alone (Like that concerning the WCF 1:5 boiling down to a choice between infallible Rome or the protestant subornation of Oprah as their personal pope. IOW just because protestants do not put the church or history/tradition right up there with Scripture, does not mean that protestantism is no more than anarchic Spirit led anabaptism as his bald assertion/false dichotomy/mischaracterization would earlier suggested.) No protestant competition or proselytes are needed. Rome wants to keep its monopoly on this debating trick. Thus he questions/chides Andrew for baldly asserting all along as per 293 above, that the determination/recogniton of the canon was inspired, just as its production, much more – it gets a little confusing here – whether or not the ToC or list as per the one on p. xii in our very own copy of the Bible, is literally inspired.

    Rather as per DTK in 330 and others, the determination/reception of the canon was historical and providential, not inspired, infallible and perfectionistic. (FTM Scripture is inspired, but we only need to be illuminated by the Spirit, not inspired, to understand it.) While the list in WCF 1:2 is not literally inspired, it correctly/inerrantly, (can but does not err vs. infallible cannot err) describes the full content and number of the inspired books, without leaving out or adding anything that God intended to be known as Holy Scripture whether Baruch’s addition to Jeremiah, Thomas’s Gospel or the Book of Mormon. IOW I think the form of argument can be criticized, as well as its conclusion in favor of the canonization of scripture being an inspired process.

    It seems to me to counter Bryan’s assertion of bald assertion, if that is what it is, one must state the missing scriptural propositions in the argument if there are any, because he’s not going to bring them up and two: while I believe the canon, the Trinity and the deity of Christ all to be infallible truths, the process by which they were received/determined was not inspired. (It of course goes without saying that Bryan’s solution of an infallible magisterium to determine all these questions is categorically out of the question). Of course, as is obvious, neither Bryan nor myself have explicitly stated their premises, but I think I can at least claim Turretin, if not the majority of Reformed opinion.

    “There is no need, therefore, that the means which leads us to the knowledge of an infallible doctrine should at once be infallible” Inst. 18:12:23, III:94.

    Further as per John B in 298, while it is not a popular opinion, WCF 1:8 affirms the providential preservation of the text of Scripture. IOW not only were the canonical books recognized by the early church, so too the traditional canonical text. Hint, it wasn’t the Hort-Westcott critical text and the providential preservation of the purity of the text in all ages is not necessarily the providential restoration of the text by textual critics ala Warfield. And before anybody starts screaming “KJOnly”, the so called Textus Receptus and the arguments of Burgon, Scrivener, Hills and Letis are anything but. If the divines erred in this regard, it would behoove the church to amend WCF 1:8 rather than to read the HW approach and text back into it. At the very least, you cannot ecclesiastically approve the NIV and the WCF consistently.

  356. johnbugay said,

    December 1, 2010 at 7:24 am

    Bob Suden #353, I’m familiar with Reymond’s work — the list that you speak of the 22 objections to Rome’s position on Peter also (I think) appear in his Systematic Theology. I’ve referred to that, but my reading of his Systematic came after my reading of his “The Reformation’s Conflict with Rome,” and so it went out of mind. But I’ve pulled out my old copy, and I’ll take a look at it again.

    I love your running commentaries here.

  357. TurretinFan said,

    December 1, 2010 at 7:54 am

    Andrew:

    I wonder if you are saying something more than I attributed to you originally. Please forgive me if I am misunderstanding what you are saying, but it sounds like you are saying something like this:

    a) The Bible is God’s word from the first “in the beginning” in Genesis 1:1 to the last “amen” of Revelation 22:21.

    b) God guided men to write the words, sentences, pericopes, verses, chapters, and books.

    c) God’s word is a unified whole.

    d) God therefore guided men to collect those books into a single tome we call “the Bible.”

    And you seem to be arguing that Bryan sounds as though he is willing to admit (a) and (b) but is not willing to admit that (d) is entailed in some way from (a), (b), and (c).

    And you seem to be referring to God’s guidance in (d) as “inspiration.”

    If I’ve correctly understood you, it appears you are using “inspired” in something of a non-standard way. “Inspired” (in Reformed theology) refers to God-breathed writings. They are the very word of God.

    Of course, “inspired” also has a broader English meaning – such that one might say that Stalin inspired men to work harder through his propaganda or terror campaigns. That sense of inspired, though, is really a different concept.

    Bryan seems to have gotten the idea that you mean that God actually inspired (in the theological sense of that term) the writing of a table of contents of the Bible. And consequently, somewhere someone with the prophetic gift, under God’s direction, wrote out a list of 66 books in some language. If you really believed this – the question for you would be: what language? Was it half in Hebrew, half in Greek – was it in Latin – or perhaps in English?

    But I don’t think you intended to say that God somehow separately inspired a table of contents. I think (but I acknowledge this is something of a guess) that you meant to say that God guided men to collect the parts of the unified whole of Scripture together.

    But I would like to ask that for the sake of clarity you adopt one of the following positions:

    1) I believe that God guided men to collect the Scriptures together, since the Scriptures are a unified whole – but I do not believe God gave someone or some group an additional revelation of an inspired “list” of enumerated books.

    2) I believe that God gave someone or some group an additional revelation of an inspired “list” of enumerated books.

    3) Neither (1) nor (2) really captures my position. My position is _____

    -TurretinFan

  358. Ron said,

    December 1, 2010 at 8:25 am

    TF,

    This unhappy ambiguity has been going on for a while, which is what I tried to begin to untangle some of it here: http://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2010/11/16/from-natural-revelation-to-special-revelation/#comment-80753

    In particular, the last two sentences touches on your recent concern.

    RD

  359. rfwhite said,

    December 1, 2010 at 11:15 am

    338 Ron: Sorry for the lack of clarity in the term “fixed.” It was not meant to be loaded, but I concede that the context may suggest otherwise. I meant “set, determined.” To be sure, history is, down to its most minute details, the realization of God’s eternal, predeterminate counsel and good pleasure. So, yes, God ensures the choice of men. But I expect my interaction with TF may add a layer.

    336 TF: I think we are talking past each other. I’m not raising the question of church recognition of canon. What I mean to contest — which I hear in Andrew’s concerns, as I understand him — is the definition of canon being assumed here. I come to this thread with a broader understanding that there are three basic positions on the canon in play: the canon is a human anthology of divinely inspired writings; the canon is a divine product with supplements (Scripture plus living voices, be they prophetic or apostolic); or the canon is a definitive divine product. In the course of this thread, as I’ve read it at least, the view of canon as human anthology predominated until Andrew’s comments introduced the view of canon as definitive divine product. (Beyond that it may be worth observing that our RCC friends would probably prefer to posit the view of canon as divine product with supplements. But that’s best left to them to decide.)

    Andrew’s comments implied that the canon is not simply, merely a human anthology of divinely inspired writings, but is something else, something more. Who, then, is the author of the canon as a whole? We can’t talk about the history of the canon in isolation from the theology of the canon. If God is not the author of the canon as a whole, then no one can talk about the unity of the canon. Nor was there validity to the process by which the church responded to the apostolic directive to guard the deposit, to preserve and maintain the authoritative deposit of truth. Broadly considered, developments in the church concerning the canon during the 2nd through 4th centuries complement that apostolic intention. On the one hand, growing ecumenical unity exposed the local and provincial character of many of the objections to particular books. On the other hand, and more to the point of our discussion, the larger core of received books had an overriding influence on the history of the canon: no book was accepted whose content was seen to contradict the witness of the larger collection. The validity of that approach hung on its convictions about the unity of the canon. Andrew’s comments push us to ask, from where does the canon get its unity: God or man?

  360. TurretinFan said,

    December 1, 2010 at 6:18 pm

    Dr. White:

    I think you’re right about the issue of talking past one another – and I’m not 100% sure my comments below will resolve that. For clarification:

    Scripture: all the god-breathed writings that exist
    Canon of Scripture: list enumerating the books of Scripture

    By way of comparison:

    Apostles: all the apostles of Jesus Christ
    Canon of the Apostles: list enumerating the apostles

    In this comparative example, Jesus both ordained his Apostles and provided us with an authoritative canon enumerating them (Peter, Andrew, … Judas Iscariot – see Matthew 10 and Luke 6).

    In the case of Scripture, God gave us the Scriptures, but he did not include among the Scriptures a similar list (Genesis, Exodus, … 3 John, Revelation).

    In other words, the canon itself (as a list) is not explicitly stated in the Scriptures. Calling it a “human anthology” sounds a bit weird, though – kind of like calling the list of miracles that Jesus did a “human anthology” would sound weird.

    When you say, “from where does the canon get its unity,” it seems to me strange that you are not asking “from where does Scripture get its unity”? After all, it is Scripture (not the list as such) that has unity.

    When you discuss the basis upon which churches accepted books as Scripture, you are dealing with recognition of Scripture and the canon. An understanding that Scripture is unified was one of the principles that guided those investigating the authenticity of certain books, but of course it is not the reason for the canon: the reason for the canon of Scripture is the inspiration of the books, just as the reason for the canon of the apostles is the ordination of those men.

    The reason why church X provides a canon of Scripture with various books, however, is a question of how church X recognizes the canon.

    Does that make sense? Are we still talking past one another?

    -TurretinFan

  361. TurretinFan said,

    December 1, 2010 at 10:09 pm

    Bryan:

    I’m not sure where you’ve gone. Perhaps you are reading through the voluminous amounts of official church teachings generated by your magisterium for some evidence to substantiate your assertions regarding “more authority.” I may be able to save you a little time:

    Indeed no true and perfect human society can be conceived which is not governed by some supreme authority. Christ therefore must have given to His Church a supreme authority to which all Christians must render obedience. For this reason, as the unity of the faith is of necessity required for the unity of the church, inasmuch as it is the body of the faithful, so also for this same unity, inasmuch as the Church is a divinely constituted society, unity of government, which effects and involves unity of communion, is necessary jure divino. “The unity of the Church is manifested in the mutual connection or communication of its members, and likewise in the relation of all the members of the Church to one head” (St. Thomas, 2a 2ae, 9, xxxix., a. I).

    – Leo XIII, Satis Cognitum (29 June 1896)

    I recognize that perhaps you will allege that you think it follows that since Christ gave your church authority (according to L13’s claim) therefore the authority of your church is less than the authority of Scripture.

    I’m not sure how “supreme authority” could be reasonably understood in that way, but perhaps you will find some creative explanation that will surprise me.

    -TurretinFan

  362. TurretinFan said,

    December 1, 2010 at 10:11 pm

    It seems I may have managed to lodge another comment into the spam filter.

  363. MarkS said,

    December 1, 2010 at 10:56 pm

    Dear D. T. King, (re: 330)
    Give the whole of your comments in this thread, I am surprised to see your agreement with Metzger on the NT canon because your second quotation from him states,
    “It may be concluded, therefore, that, while the New Testament canon should, from a theoretical point of view, be regarded as open in principle for either the addition or the deletion of one or more books, from a practical point of view such a modification can scarcely be contemplated as either possible or desirable.”
    This idea that the NT canon should theoretically remain open is disturbing to me. This seems to me to concede that we cannot know with 100% certainly that we have the complete NT. However, Ron’s arguments seem to suggest that the promise of God is a reason to believe that the canon was received completely, accurately, and quickly. Wouldn’t this mean that theoretically the canon should not be considered open?

    Further, your 4th quotation Metzger only seems to suggest that history does not PREVENT one from believing that the hand of Providence was on the whole historical process. Isn’t it true that history can never prevent us from believing in divine truth? The confidence we can take from his statement here seems very limited at best.

    Your last quotation from Metzger indicates that there are historical reasons for the distinction of Scripture from other church writings. The distinction, he argues, is not based on “arbitrary fiat,” but on criteria such as Christians who came after the Apostles claiming certain writings had an impact on their faith and life, Paul’s references that the word he preached was the word of God, and 2nd century believers (and those that followed) finding the word in the earliest apostolic writings instead of from their contemporaries. But, do not RC’s and Prot’s both claim that such criteria were used in the process of settling the canon? Historical reasons are nice, but of course they do not give us certainty.
    If something is taught in Scripture, we can know with 100% certainty that it is true. Maybe I am wrong to think we need the same certainty that we have the canon.

    If I am misunderstanding something, please correct me. Thank you.

  364. D. T. King said,

    December 1, 2010 at 11:36 pm

    1) I don’t agree that the canon is open.
    2) Metzger isn’t really conceding anything by offering a theory and then critiquing it as to why he disagrees with it.
    3) After interacting with that view, Metzger argues why he believes that the theory is a contradiction of history itself.
    4) He concludes by stating that there is no reason as to why we can’t understand “the whole process” [to] “be rightly characterized as the result of divine overruling in the providentia Dei.”
    5) Quoting Metzger does not mean I must agree with all that he says, but…
    6) I want to represent him accurately, and not only where I happen to agree with him, and…
    7) All parties following the thread here need to read all things offered with discernment.

    RC’s and Prot’s both claim that such criteria were used in the process of settling the canon? Historical reasons are nice, but of course they do not give us certainty.

    Well, you are welcome to cite the RCs you have in mind to prove your case.

    If something is taught in Scripture, we can know with 100% certainty that it is true.

    No argument here. I thought I have been affirming that, at least in principle if not explicitly.

    Maybe I am wrong to think we need the same certainty that we have the canon.

    My certainty resides in the promise of God that He Who who gave us His Scriptures also preserves His scriptures, and by His providence has infallibly ensured the reception and collection of His Scriptures.

    1 Peter 1:22-25
    22 Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart,
    23 having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever,
    24 because “All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, And its flower falls away,
    25 But the word of the LORD endures forever.” Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.

    Further, your 4th quotation Metzger only seems to suggest that history does not PREVENT one from believing that the hand of Providence was on the whole historical process. Isn’t it true that history can never prevent us from believing in divine truth?

    Well, I don’t think you understand Metzger’s argument. He’s simply stating that there is no conflict between the witness of history and the out-working of the providence of God in history. Perhaps you haven’t had the experience of unbelievers trying to drive a wedge between history and providence, and evidently Metzger has.

    The confidence we can take from his statement here seems very limited at best.

    Thanks for sharing.

  365. TurretinFan said,

    December 1, 2010 at 11:55 pm

    Mark:

    The quest for 100% certainty about things is not realistic. A resourceful skeptic will always find some way to introduce doubt, however unreasonable it may be (and certain of Rome’s advocates are very fond of doing this). What we have with respect to the Scriptures is confident assurance.

    We accept the Scriptures on faith, and that faith is a reasonable faith – supported by internal and external evidences, as well as the inward persuasion of the Holy Spirit and the outward testimony of the visible church.

    – TurretinFan

  366. louis said,

    December 2, 2010 at 8:00 am

    Let’s all say the pope is infallible, then we can be certain that we have the correct canon. Of course, there is no way to be certain that the pope really is infallible. For that we have to look at history and exercise faith. But that’s okay when trusting the pope. We wouldn’t want to take that same leap of faith for God.

  367. TurretinFan said,

    December 2, 2010 at 10:03 am

    Louis:

    What’s even more amusing is that Rome’s own servants can’t seem to agree on whether the canon is open or closed. Trent has – I would say – traditionally been understood as presenting a closed canon.

    However, Roman writer Gary Michuta has recently argued (in effect) that Trent merely stated that some books are in, not that other books are out. Thus, according to Michuta’s reasoning, it is possible (even granting the absurd idea of papal/conciliar infallibility for the sake of the argument) that the Roman canon is open and incomplete.

    What’s even more interesting is that Michuta’s claims have some kind of arguable basis in the wording of Trent’s anathema on the subject: “But if any one receive not, as sacred and canonical, the said books entire with all their parts, as they have been used to be read in the Catholic Church, and as they are contained in the old Latin vulgate edition; and knowingly and deliberately contemn the traditions aforesaid; let him be anathema.” Notice that the anathema is related to not receiving the identified books. There’s no anathema, however, for receiving additional books.

    Don’t get me wrong. The official teaching set forth in CCC 120 is that the canon identified by Trent is the “complete list.” But that official teaching is not something that (if Michuta is right) Roman adherents can rely upon with “100% certainty” since it is not something that has been infallibly defined.

    I just bring this up because I think that “100% certainty” standard is absurd. It’s the argument that skeptics make against things that are (like the Scriptures) received by faith.

    -TurretinFan

  368. louis said,

    December 2, 2010 at 10:53 am

    “It’s the argument that skeptics make against things that are (like the Scriptures) received by faith.”

    It’s the argument papists make when it suits their agenda. Even they don’t actually live by that standard.

  369. rfwhite said,

    December 2, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    360 TF: I appreciate your effort, but it looks to me that we are still passing each other and that it would be better to pursue things in another place or time. For what it’s worth, you can get a fuller understanding for my appreciation of Andrew McCallum’s comments if you were to read (or reread) R. B. Gaffin and R. F. White, “Eclipsing the Canon? The Spirit, the Word, and ‘Revelations of the Third Kind’,” in G. L. W. Johnson and R. F. White, eds., Whatever Happened to the Reformation? (Presbyterian and Reformed, 2001).

  370. TurretinFan said,

    December 2, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    Dr. White:

    Thanks very much for the suggestion! I believe you have my email address, and if you would like to contact me that way, I’d be happy to receive your comments, criticisms, or other edification.

    – TurretinFan

  371. AJ said,

    December 6, 2010 at 11:54 pm

    TF said, “The quest for 100% certainty about things is not realistic…. What we have with respect to the Scriptures is CONFIDENT ASSURANCE.”

    Therefore, all of these discussions really fall on “confident assurance” principle that our faith which is a Divine Revelation and infallible Revealed word of God is at the end arrived at by “confident assurance” or “high probability” . If Sola Scriptura is not meant to be an inerrant claim, then why should I take a doctrinal novelty that may actually be false and make it the foundation of my faith? If I can’t ever know with certainty that Luther’s novel doctrine of sola scriptura is true, then why should I accept it in the first place?

    This principle goes against the very Scripture TF espouses. In Luke 10:16, Jesus said to His Apostles, “He that HEARS YOU HEARS ME; and he that rejects you rejects Me; and he that rejects Me rejects Him that sent Me.” . It sounds to me a very strong delegation of a Living Authority – some more (2 Tim 1:13;Mt 11:15; 2 Thess 2:15; 2 Thess 3:6b; 1 Cor 11:2b; John 15:26, 16:12)

    Manning’s words ring true here, “we are saved by truth; and truth which is not definite is no truth to us; and indefinite statements have no certainty; and without certainty there is no faith.”

    Without appealing to an outside source of authority (Tradition/Living Voice of God) and thus violating the principle of Sola Scriptura. Since no instruction are found in the scripture itself on how to identify which books are inspired and gives no definitive standard for obtaining the canon (list of books) thus the very assertion of protestants that books written by mere men (Scriptures) bears a characteristic of God which only those who have a relationship with Him can recognize violates the very nature of Sola Scriptura which teaches that we don’t need to look elsewhere beyond the pages of Scripture to determine this very information. (WCF included).

  372. January 23, 2013 at 5:58 am

    [...] give you just two examples of how this might work. First, see comment #18 of the Green Baggins thread I mentioned to Susan, From Natural Revelation to Special [...]


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