Patrick Madrid, Part 2

It’s been a while since I have done a post on the Roman Catholic book Not By Scripture Alone, so read here for my last entry in the series. We left off there talking about the appeal to the majority that Madrid uses that ultimately leaves the Scripture useless. In this post, I would like to address the question of the early church fathers (hereafter ECF), and who is quoting them correctly and who is not, and what they can prove and what they cannot.

It is my opinion that there are several opinions that can be found in the ECF on the question of authority. The bare fact of the matter is that there was only one church at the time. The issues that now divide Romanists and Protestants were not as front and center then as they would be later in history. The early church was more concerned about Christology and the Trinity in their debates (although Pelagianism was certainly a very important debate). This is not to say that they did not think long and hard about some of these issues concerning authority. It is to say that more than one opinion can be found there. This is in contrast to what Madrid says (slanders!) about the Protestant position. He seems to be claiming that Protestants think of ALL the ECF as proto-Protestants “who promoted an unvarnished doctrine of sola scriptura that would have made John Calvin proud” (p. 6). I would claim that the Protestant position on the Bible can certainly be found in the ECF. Can Rome claim that there is support from some of the ECF for the papacy? Yes, they can (which in no way makes their claim correct. After all, the ECF were not infallible). Some of the ECF thought of the Roman bishop as a first among equals (although whether they would have claimed all that the modern Pope claims is another question entirely). Nevertheless, there were also plenty of ECF who did say things that the Protestants would say later. If this is true, then the Romanists were wrong to kick out the Protestants from the church on the basis of the ECF. When Calvin quoted the ECF, his Romanist opponents were speechless.

A related problem to this is how we determine whose interpretation of the ECF is correct. The Romanists claim that the Protestants selectively quote the ECF (see Madrid, p. 6). The Protestants will claim that Romanists selectively quote the ECF. How is one going to determine who is quoting the ECF correctly? The Romanist has a ready-made answer for that: the church tells us how to understand the ECF just as it tells us how to interpret the Scriptures. How convenient! But then the ECF cease to be the real authority, don’t they? What it really comes down to, in the end, is the current church’s position: that is what is authoritative. Tradition is no longer authoritative, the current church is what is authoritative. But if that is the case, then the church is completely unteachable. At least, the church can never be shown to be wrong on any occasion. But wouldn’t this contradict the letters to the seven churches in Asia? Didn’t the Holy Spirit tell them that they were wrong on certain points of doctrine and practice? The next post will deal with Madrid’s example of Basil.

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51 Comments

  1. Andrew McCallum said,

    April 10, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    It seems that nobody is interested in talking about the ECF’s and how to interpret their works. Have the Catholic apologists given up on Greenbaggins? That would be too bad. Anyway, I thought I would toss in a brief observation in case anyone is still tuning in.

    There seems to be two different ways to approach the ECF’s. We can assume that the Early Church was close to the Apostolic era (historically speaking) and therefore the theologians of this era were more closely plugged into the theology of the Apostles. Or we can assume that the Early Church was the Church in her infancy, and like all other infants there was quite a bit of growing up to do. It’s my observation that Catholicism adopts somewhat uncritically this first assumption while Protestantism relies more on the second. So what should we make of the fact that a given doctrine was or was not held by the ECF’s? Should their beliefs and writings form some sort of standard for the Church? If so, how ought prescriptive dogma be derived from the descriptive beliefs of the ECF’s?

  2. Nick said,

    April 12, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    It’s an issue really worthy exploring. It is my opinion that if you take the thought of any ECF as a whole, they will come out appearing far more Catholic than Protestant. In my experience, the Protestant focus has been too much on a given ECF extolling Scripture – but extolling is in no way synonymous with Sola Scriptura. This also ties into which canon the given ECF did or did not accept, for you cannot be practicing Sola Scriptura unless one espouses the 66 book Canon (i.e. Sola-These-66-Books).

    One “challenge” I’ve made for years is to ask a Protestant to tell me which ECFs they consider genuine Christian testimonies, and yet the great majority of the time the question cannot be answered. The few Protestants who have answered have often had to answer with great reservation and practical contradiction. Lastly, there are Protestants who wont claim any ECFs as genuine Christian testimonies, yet they see that fact as neither here nor there.

    I believe the trend in Protestantism was first to co-opt the ECFs as much as possible, then over time to distance themselves from them.

  3. TurretinFan said,

    April 12, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    I wonder how “Catholic” you would think me, Nick, if I (like Gregory the Great) denied that Maccabees was canonical. Suppose I believed everything else you do, but simply rejected Trent’s canon. Would I be a “Catholic” under those circumstances?

    If your communion were more ecumenical, and less sectarian, then your argument from similarity of appearance would have more strength. But you know perfectly well that Rome doesn’t let people pick and choose what level of disagreement they will have with your church’s doctrines.

    You want to count as “Catholic” people who would be excommunicated for heresy under your current set of dogmas. Remarkable, don’t you think?

    -TurretinFan

  4. Andrew McCallum said,

    April 12, 2011 at 10:39 pm

    It’s an issue really worthy exploring. It is my opinion that if you take the thought of any ECF as a whole, they will come out appearing far more Catholic than Protestant

    Nick, but on so many issues so many of the ECF’s sound terribly different than modern Catholicism. But this is all very subjective. The first question to ask as I did above is what assumption should we make concerning the ECF’s. If it can be shown that a preponderance of ECF’s believed a certain doctrine does that make the doctrine correct? If so then why?

  5. Nick said,

    April 15, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    Sorry for the delay, for some reason I didn’t get an email update about new responses.

    TF,

    I’ve been told Gregory the Great denied Maccabees, but I’ve never seen where he said this. If you believed everything I do but had differences on the canon, I’d say you’d be far closer to Catholicism than anything else, and I’d also follow up by asking how you determine your canon given we hypothetically believe everything else.

    You said: “If your communion were more ecumenical, and less sectarian”

    I’m not sure what you mean by “more ecumenical,” but that’s not a term I expected coming from you. The concept of “ecumenism” today often means sacrificing truth or dogma for the sake of unity. This is something nobody should do, and I note that you frequently make note on your blog of Protestant folks who end up doing just that.

    Lastly, you should know that nobody can be excommunicated in a situation where they acted in ignorance or when it comes to a dogma not formally defined.

    Andrew,

    It depends on how the ECF sounds “different” – for example, nobody would deny the earlier Fathers didn’t express the Trinity and other doctrines with the same precision later ones did. And the Eastern Fathers didn’t always use the same language to express the same truths the Western Fathers also accepted.

    If you mean “different” in that a given ECF sounds more Protestant than Catholic, well, that’s precisely what I’ve yet to see demonstrated. In fact, whether you realize it or not, your response came off precisely in such a way as to avoid answering that challenge.

    Your last question relates to what is popularly termed “the universal consent of the Fathers,” meaning on major subjects in which the Fathers are in agreement, that is a sure norm that such a teaching is orthodox. The alternative is that they universally embraced grave heresy, and thus the Church wen’t apostate. A good example of this is Baptismal Regeneration, especially interpreting John 3:5 in this manner.

    And to build from that, it is no small thing that Luther admitted in his “tower experience” memoir that his view of justification was not found in the Fathers, and an equally significant tide recently re-surging are the many Protestants realizing major “Reformers” like Luther and Calvin didn’t believe in Imputation of Active Obedience.

  6. Devin Rose said,

    April 26, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    I check in here every so often, but usually the topics are a bit focused on intra-Reformed Protestant issues–I don’t have a dog in those fights, having been an Evangelical Protestant and now a Catholic, but never a Reformed Protestant.

    Kind of like what Nick said, when I read selections from the writings of the Church Fathers it was apparent that they were not Baptist, in spite of how much they said they respected the Scriptures. Since those days I’ve read more of them, and they still sound far away from Protestantism. I’ve heard some Protestant apologists attempt to demonstrate that on some issue they sounded Protestant, but in all cases there is an avalanche of other passages from the same Fathers’ writings where they are Catholic.

    One example: the Church Fathers on baptismal regeneration. Called to Communion did an article on that sometime back I recall. There’s just no question to me here that the early Church believed and taught baptismal regeneration. A book I read by Protestant apologist William Webster seemed quite honest when he said (paraphrased) that on baptism the early Church “went off the rails from the very beginning.”

    Reformed Protestants can better try to reconcile the Fathers writings on baptism with their own theology than Evangelicals (e.g. Baptists) can. For Baptists, it’s symbolic-only and that’s that. It’s “clear” from the Bible and anything else is false, no matter how many Church Fathers said what and no matter what the early Church taught.

    Another Evangelical pastor wrote a blog post warning his congregation away from reading the Fathers. I don’t blame him. It’s safer for them not to read them because of how Catholic they come across. He would face a steep uphill battle trying to run damage control if his flock were to start studying the Fathers’ works.

    God bless,
    Devin

  7. TurretinFan said,

    April 26, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    Devin:

    Exactly the opposite has been true for me. The more I’ve read of the fathers, the more I’ve seen how much modern Rome lies (not you personally – I’m quite willing to give you the benefit of the doubt) about her relationship to the early church. I could give many examples, but the issue of the dogma of papal infallibility is one obvious one. You can read whatever fathers you like, even the most Rome-promoting Roman bishops don’t allege papal infallibity.

    -TurretinFan

  8. David Meyer said,

    May 6, 2011 at 10:34 am

    Hello TFan,

    You said to Nick:
    “You want to count as “Catholic” people who would be excommunicated for heresy under your current set of dogmas. Remarkable, don’t you think?”

    Even Ignatius said things about Christology that would later not be considered orthodox according to councils. By your criteria we should not consider him a Catholic (or orthodox Christian) then? You seem to want to conflate material and formal heresy. Believing something before it is defined as heresy may not be culpable. After is a different story. Also private theological opinion is far different than defined doctrine in Catholic theology.

    “You can read whatever fathers you like, even the most Rome-promoting Roman bishops don’t allege papal infallibity.”

    And read the New Testament all you like, you will not find the Trinity defined there as it was later in councils. THAT IS THE POINT of the council. What you will find in the ECFs (as Devin said above) is a Church that sounds more Catholic or Orthtodox than it does Protestant. A Protestant reading Irenaeus should see at least SOME type of papal primacy. Combine that with all the other embarassments like the universal acceptance of baptismal regeneration (which I assume you conceede) and the first time Protestant reader of these ECFs should find himself being pushed to the banks of the Tiber.

    Only if you wish to find fully formed doctrines popping off the page will you be able to come away from the ECFs with your reaction TFan. But that criteria doesnt hold up to ANY doctrine be it the cannon, dual natures or Hypostatic union, or be it papal infalibility or the asumption. The doctrine of papal infallibility is there in a far stronger way than Protestants are led to believe by their leaders, and yes, a weaker way than is sometimes presented by Catholic apologists. But having been on both sides of the fence as a layman, the Protestant side errs far greater in this.

    P.S. I noticed this blog lists De Regno Christi on it’s blogroll. Just an FYI but the operator (Bill Chellis) of that blog is neck deep in the Tiber.
    http://anglo-papist.blogspot.com/2011/04/from-geneva-to-rome.html

    Peace,

    David M.

  9. TurretinFan said,

    May 9, 2011 at 11:37 am

    David M.:

    Thanks for your response. Let me walk through it step by step.

    1) Ignatius.

    You haven’t substantiated your charge against Ignatius, but let’s just assume that you’re right for the sake of the argument. Since we are being hypothetical, let’s say that his teachings contradict Chalcedon. And let’s say that the contradiction is such that you would consider him a heretic if he taught that today.

    So, he’s a heretic. So what? That’s not a problem for me. It is no skin off my nose if Ignatius fell into heresy. If you really think that his Christological error goes to the heart of the gospel, you should consider him a heretic, just like you consider the Ebionites and Gnostics to be heretics. If I thought that, I would. One more early heretic would be no problem for me.

    Perhaps it wouldn’t be a big problem for you to consider him a heretic either. But for some reason (not explained) you brought it up.

    It seems to me that the half dozen men who were (or became) bishops of Rome who taught contrary to the immaculate conception might be a bigger concern to you, but I trust it is not, for reasons that will be explained by me below.

    2) Formal and Material Heresy

    You wrote: “You seem to want to conflate material and formal heresy.”

    Actually, you want to introduce those distinctions into this conversation. The distinction originally (i.e. as used, for example, by Thomas Aquinas) referred to the difference between a heretic and an obstinate heretic. The former gets it wrong, the latter gets it wrong even after the church tells him to change his opinion.

    The real question is why you want to introduce them. Apparently your position is that it is acceptable for the fathers to be heretics, so long as they are not obstinate heretics. In other words, for you, the only heresy to be worried about is opposition to ecclesiastical authority.

    Of course, your standard would lead to wildly bizarre results. The Ebionites and Gnostics (who never faced any infallible councils or ex cathedra papal encyclicals) would be in the category of heretics that don’t really count as heretics.

    3) Culpability for Heresy

    You again: “Believing something before it is defined as heresy may not be culpable. After is a different story.”

    It’s hard to be a formal heretic without the church speaking (not just hard, impossible), just based on the definition of the distinction. After the church speaks the “real” offense isn’t the heresy itself, it’s the failure to submit to the church. That becomes the one unforgivable heresy in your religion.

    It’s interesting that you say “may not be culpable.” That makes it sound like you don’t have anything concrete to say about the “before it is defined” situation.

    Yet you want to count material heretics as “Catholics” simply because they were expressing their heresies before it was defined. Or at least some of them. I don’t think you’re trying to claim the Gnostics or Ebionites as “Catholics,” but you have more of an ad hoc system where Ignatius is “Catholic” even if he held to a Christological heresy.

    4) Private Theological Opinion vs. Defined Dogma

    You wrote: “Also private theological opinion is far different than defined doctrine in Catholic theology.”

    They are two different categories. One is the position held by a person. The other is an official, allegedly infallible church teaching. You don’t really explain why you think this is significant. Presumably the significance to you is that it doesn’t really matter if half a dozen Roman bishops had a private theological opinion that was against the immaculate conception, so long as none of them ever made an official church statement of it.

    But actually, this distinction doesn’t resolve the main problem for you. The main problem is that the fathers didn’t hold to the doctrines that define the Roman Communion today. There is a lesser problem of modern Rome contradicting the early church. You can try to avoid this problem by simply alleging that the statements of the fathers are not an official church teaching, but simply someone’s expression of their own private theological opinion.

    5) Trinity vs. Papal Infallibility

    I had written: “You can read whatever fathers you like, even the most Rome-promoting Roman bishops don’t allege papal infallibity.”

    You replied: “And read the New Testament all you like, you will not find the Trinity defined there as it was later in councils.”

    If you just mean that the exact words like “Trinity” and “homoousios” are not there, you are making a trivial point. If you are alleging that the doctrine itself is not taught there, you are contradicted by all the orthodox fathers. For example, prior to Chalcedon, Leo the Great (bishop of Rome) wrote a letter that explained from Scripture the difference between heresy and orthodoxy on the points in question.

    But neither the New Testament nor the fathers teach the doctrine of papal infallibility. It is not simply a question of the words “papal infallibility” being missing (though they are missing) but the idea behind those words is missing too. The idea was unknown to the apostles and the fathers. It is not part of the apostolic faith or the faith of the fathers. It is not “catholic” in the sense that the fathers used that term.

    6) The Point of the Councils

    You wrote: “And read the New Testament all you like, you will not find the Trinity defined there as it was later in councils. THAT IS THE POINT of the council.”

    No. That was not the point of the councils. The point of the early councils (like Nicaea) was to maintain the integrity of the once-for-all delivered faith. It was not to generate new doctrines and dogmas that were not taught in Scripture.

    7) What You Will Find in the ECFs

    You wrote: “What you will find in the ECFs (as Devin said above) is a Church that sounds more Catholic or Orthtodox than it does Protestant.”

    Which just gets us back to my point above, about how “close” means counting people who were material heretics (according to your presently defined dogmas) as “close” to your church.

    Likewise, if you are ready to concede that your church has departed from the ways of the early church, and to attempt to justify your departure, so be it. We are willing to acknowledge the differences and justify them (and we can).

    I don’t buy your way of looking at the differences, but even if I did, us “Protestants” can consider people as within the bounds of orthodoxy who you have to consider as material heretics. Because we don’t add human traditions to the Gospel (at any rate, we strive hard not to), we have a more “catholic” faith. Your church, by contrast, has a sectarian faith that demands its adherents hold to a variety of things that folks like Ignatius and Augustine never heard of, much less believed.

    Likewise, us “Protestants” aren’t over a barrel when it comes to the fathers. We don’t have to affirm their orthodoxy. Our rule of faith is Scripture. If it turns out that upon further research Tertullian and Origen were heretics, no skin off our noses! We can still learn from any good teachings they provided and be discerning about the remainder.

    8) Irenaeus and Papal Primacy

    You wrote: “A Protestant reading Irenaeus should see at least SOME type of papal primacy.”

    Papal primacy and papal infallibility are two different things. Moreover, “some type” of papal primacy is not enough to avoid material heresy using modern Roman dogmas as the standard of orthodoxy and heresy. Protestants who read Irenaeus may possibly find something about Irenaeus’ view of Rome of his day that they would not agree with. So what? We can justify our disagreements with Irenaeus, where we have them. Can you justify your disagreements?

    9) Baptismal Regeneration

    You wrote: “Combine that with all the other embarassments like the universal acceptance of baptismal regeneration (which I assume you conceede) and the first time Protestant reader of these ECFs should find himself being pushed to the banks of the Tiber.”

    No, I don’t concede that there was a universal acceptance of baptismal regeneration. Augustine’s On Baptism, Book IV, Chapters 21-29, at a minimum casts doubt on that idea.

    10) Comparing Rome’s Claims to Reality

    You wrote: “Only if you wish to find fully formed doctrines popping off the page will you be able to come away from the ECFs with your reaction TFan.”

    Considering that the Profession of Faith of Vatican I declared: “Likewise I accept sacred scripture according to that sense which holy mother church held and holds, since it is her right to judge of the true sense and interpretation of the holy scriptures; nor will I ever receive and interpret them except according to the unanimous consent of the fathers” it seems fair to complain when Rome’s dogma of papal infallibility is not the unanimous consent of the fathers — in fact the contrary is true — not one father teaches papal infallibility.

    I don’t particularly “wish” for the ECFs to hold “fully formed doctrines” (what does that even mean in a church like yours, where doctrine is always open to the possibility of further mutation, or – as your theologians call it – development. Nevertheless, I will call a “father” a heretic if he denies that the Holy Spirit is God, even if no council has defined that as dogma. That’s no problem for me, nor should it be!

    But for you, your church claims not to be inventing new dogmas, yet she is. And that is or should be a problem for you. So, no – this is not about my wishes.

    11) How Do Other Doctrines Withstand Historical Criticism?

    You wrote: “But that criteria doesnt hold up to ANY doctrine be it the cannon, dual natures or Hypostatic union, or be it papal infalibility or the asumption.”

    The canon of Scripture isn’t a “doctrine” per se to us, although it is a dogma for your church. We’re happy to acknowledge that there have been times when there was widespread uncertainty or confusion over the status of certain books.

    The two natures of Christ and the hypostatic union are taught in Scripture, and the authority for those doctrines comes from Scripture. We may not find all the technical terms employed in the earlier authors, but we do find the early church fathers affirming the full divinity and full humanity of Christ.

    The assumption is even – in some sense – worse than papal infallibility. The “dogma” of the assumption is the idea that a specific historical event took place. The historical evidence doesn’t support the claim – in fact it undermines it.

    12) How Does Papal Infallibility Stand Up to History?

    You wrote: “The doctrine of papal infallibility is there in a far stronger way than Protestants are led to believe by their leaders, and yes, a weaker way than is sometimes presented by Catholic apologists.”

    The doctrine of papal infallibility isn’t taught either by Scripture or by the fathers of the early centuries of the church. There may be more nice things said about Rome than certain folks want to admit. There may be more people affirming a monarchical episcopate than those same folks want to admit. But papal infallibility isn’t there. It’s not there in a strong way – it’s not there in a weak way – it just is not there.

    13) Personal Qualifications

    You wrote: “But having been on both sides of the fence as a layman, the Protestant side errs far greater in this.”

    Your history of changing sides is very sad, but doesn’t make you more qualified. It’s not like RCIA gives you some kind of inside information that’s hidden to the rest of us. Both sides teach publicly, and anyone can examine their historical claims in light of the historical evidence.

    “Protestants” typically make far more minor historical claims, and naturally therefore tend to make far fewer historical claims that are false.

    Rome makes grandiose historical claims (see the claims of Vatican I for example) but those historical claims are lies. Yet some folks would prefer to believe the lies.

    -TurretinFan

  10. David Meyer said,

    May 9, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    TFan,
    I got hung up on your explaination of heresy and such. You seemed surprised I considered heresy as being defined by the Church. You said:

    “for you, the only heresy to be worried about is opposition to ecclesiastical authority.”

    Er uh… how else should heresy be defined than by the Church? That is how I defined it when I was Reformed… and that is how I define it now. Otherwise identifying heresy would be completely subjective. You sound to me like you want to be the one who defines it. No thanks bro. Jesus is super clear that we should “take it to the Church” to have them decide things.

    As far as your not caring if one more father is a heretic… how sad. These are great men of the faith. SAINT Ignatius was a hero of the faith and was not a heretic. He defined some things in a way that later would not have been able to be defined that way because terminology became more precise. The point is that he would have used different terms if the Church required it. We know that from his constant refrain to obey the church. To do NOTHING apart from the bishop. A warning that in my opinion you and your co-religionists ignore. Appointing your own Bishop defeats the whole point of what Ignatius was admonishing.

    Here is where I really lose you:
    “No, I don’t concede that there was a universal acceptance of baptismal regeneration.”

    I think that sort of crosses the line into UFO territory or something TFan. Im sure Harrold Camping agrees with you on this point though. ;-)

    “The canon of Scripture isn’t a “doctrine” per se to us, although it is a dogma for your church.”

    If someone in your church ripped out the book of James and said it was not scripture, you have no consistent way to tell them they are wrong other than “I (and these other dudes) think you are wrong”. Big deal. The heretic smiles and waltzes off to his pew.

    The fact is the bible does not have a table of contents and does not teach sola scriptura. That is a problem for believers in sola scriptura who have no charismatic magisterium, not for me though. If one of your 2 cardinal doctrines says to only get cardinal doctrines from a certain set of 66 books, and I look in those books and cant get that doctrine, nor a list of the 66 books, that is not just a serious error.. it is catastrophic!

    Hand wave all you want, the apostles (esp. John) could have given a table of contents. They did not. That fact fits Catholic theology of Scripture /Magisterium/Tradition. It does not fit with sola scriptura AT ALL. It is an objective FACT TFan that your cannon is not listed in the bible, yet the bible is you sole authority. Not feeling like it is a big deal might work for you, but it remains a huge blunder of the Reformation that is never more than glossed over as not a big deal.

    “Your history of changing sides is very sad, but doesn’t make you more qualified. It’s not like RCIA gives you some kind of inside information that’s hidden to the rest of us. Both sides teach publicly, and anyone can examine their historical claims in light of the historical evidence.”

    You are patronizing sometimes. Saying you are “sad” for me. So weird. OK then I am “sad” that you are decieved and believe sola scriptura. How sad I will pray for you! I mean, of course you could care less if I think that way so I wont say it. You do not think you are decieved at all and have what you think are good reasons for your belief. I respect that. Give me the same credit. Also, a minor point, I never went to RCIA, the Priest joked that I could have taught it (I couldnt have) But I begged him to let me be recieved into full communion ASAP. I hungered for Christ in the Eucharist so bad that he took pitty on me.

    After all, Ignatius did say:
    “Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. It is not lawful without the bishop either to baptize or to celebrate a love-feast; but whatsoever he shall approve of, that is also pleasing to God, so that everything that is done may be secure and valid.”

    I guess that is one of those things you would consider wrong that he said. For me, the fact that he said that in 107AD is mind boggling. I am either stupid and gullible or have a simple faith, but I am going to stick with Ignatius on this one. Where is your bishop TFan? Oops.

    As far as Rome lying, I am sure you think that is true. I certainly have thought that for most of my life with a lot of conviction. Especially about Trent. But when I gave Catholicism what for me was as unbiased a look as I could, I discovered I was the one who had been wrong about her and she is what she says she is: the bride of Christ. Point at her torn clothes and snarled hair all you want TFan, she is what she says she is, and you can only another century’s liberalism in opposition to her. HEY! I guess I do feel sad for you! Kidding man, kidding. ;-)

    Peace Tulip lovers,

    -David M.

  11. Nick said,

    May 9, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    Hi TF,

    I think you’re distorting the big picture in a lot of what you say. For example, you’re fixated on the Immaculate Conception and Papal Infallibility, when there are many more doctrines that can also be considered when forming our conclusions.

    Consider the following list of doctrines, which I believe far, far more strongly testifies the ECFs were Catholic than Protestant:

    Soteriology:
    Almost no ECF testimony for (a) Eternal Security, (b) Imputation of Christ’s Active Obedience, (c) The Father pouring out His Wrath on the Son at the Cross, (d) Receiving Christ’s Righteousness by Faith, (e) categorizing Justification as Forensic, etc.
    On the flip side, there is clear ECF testimony for (a) losing salvation by sin, (b) the reality of Free Will, (c) Justification via internal transformation, (d) salvation by ‘works’, i.e. entering Heaven based on your good or bad works, (e) saving grace being available to all men, (f) church imposed penances for falling into sin, etc

    The Bible:
    I don’t know of a single ECF who espoused the Protestant Canon or who taught we go around determining canonicity the way the Westminster Confession teaches. There are ECFs who taught the Catholic Canon, and the rest who had a ‘mixed canon’ lean Catholic because they never totally excluded the DC books.

    Ecclesiology:
    There is clear Patristic testimony for the three-fold (i.e. distinct) offices of Deacon, Priest, and Bishop. Clear evidence for the binding authority of Ecumenical Councils. There is clear testimony for Apostolic Succession rather than self-appointment. Clear evidence for a hierarchy among bishops, with strong examples of the Bishop of Rome being at the top of the list. There is clear evidence for the Church and/or diocese of having the power to impose disciplinary practices and encouragement for things such as celibacy and the ascetic lifestyle.

    Worship:
    There is clear evidence of the Mass being seen as a Sacrifice, the Bread and Wine being seen as really Christ (even if you want to dispute transubstantiation), Sunday being the normative day of worship (not any day you feel like it), and a structured Liturgy for each region. Further, there are prayers for the dead, veneration of Saint’s Relics, use of images, etc. Clear veneration of Mary as “Mother of God” and Perpetual Virgin. Strong testimony for Infant Baptism, Baptismal Regeneration, including interpreting John 3:5 and Titus 3:5 as proof. Clear testimony against divorce and remarriage.

    The above “list” sounds very Catholic but not very Protestant.

    Now, to take that whole list and go trumpeting around a few doctrines like Papal Infallibility and Immaculate Conception as if that’s the ‘big picture’ is a distortion of the situation. Further, on the ‘disputed’ items (e.g. Infallibility) what you might consider weak evidence can be seen as sufficient evidence by Catholics in light of the strong testimony for the ‘big picture’ coming off far more Catholic than Protestant.

    Almost any ECF teachings Protestants accept Catholics also accept, and many of the doctrines Protestants attack Catholics for holding, the ECFs held themselves, especially soteriological (which Protestants generally consider essentials for having a ‘true Gospel’). There are no ‘uniquely Protestant ECFs’, that’s a fact. That’s the ‘big picture’.

    If you want to respond by saying “so what,” that’s your right, but it’s also an admission of a radical ahistorical paradigm your ‘church’ is embracing. To turn around and say “Rome lies” not only doesn’t get you out of the radically ahistorical paradigm, that statement is a distortion of Rome’s overall track record concerning the ‘big picture’. This radically ahistorical paradigm is where the concept of “to be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant” comes from.

  12. TurretinFan said,

    May 9, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    Mr. Meyer:

    I’m tempted to just ignore your response, given your “UFO” and “Harold Camping” insults. Why you can’t be respectful baffles me.

    -TurretinFan

  13. TurretinFan said,

    May 9, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    Nick:

    Can I be part of your communion while rejecting papal infallibility and the immaculate conception or just rejecting one of those two?

    If I can, then I think you are fine in glossing over them to look at the bigger picture. If I cannot, then I cannot see how you can legitimately request me to change the subject to other doctrines where you think Rome has better historical support.

    Are you willing to acknowledge that Rome’s historical defense on those two points is a failure?

    -TurretinFan

  14. David Meyer said,

    May 9, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    TFan,
    My attempt to be funny was disrespectful, I am genuinly sorry. If we were sharing some cold ones at a bar perhaps my poor humor could be winked at easier. I’ll try again: Your characterization of the ECFs belief on baptismal regeneration is so wrong as to aproach absurdity.

  15. TurretinFan said,

    May 9, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    Thanks.

    As for your revised comment, you haven’t given us any reason at all to think it is absurd.

    Considering that I provided some contrary evidence with which you haven’t interacted, your argument from assertion doesn’t get much credibility from me.

    And, of course, even if I had no contrary evidence at the moment, I don’t simply “concede” such grandiose claims (“universal acceptance of baptismal regeneration”) without some kind of demonstration.

    Do you really think it can be shown that Polycarp and Papias taught baptismal regeneration? How about Linus of Rome? Where is Linus’ teaching on baptismal regeneration?

    Yet you think it is “absurd” for me not to concede your point, even in light of Augustine’s comments about baptism and Cornelius.

    -TurretinFan

  16. TurretinFan said,

    May 9, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    David M.

    While I wait for your response, let me address another part of your comments:

    You wrote:

    I got hung up on your explaination of heresy and such. You seemed surprised I considered heresy as being defined by the Church. You said:

    “for you, the only heresy to be worried about is opposition to ecclesiastical authority.”

    Er uh… how else should heresy be defined than by the Church? That is how I defined it when I was Reformed… and that is how I define it now. Otherwise identifying heresy would be completely subjective. You sound to me like you want to be the one who defines it. No thanks bro. Jesus is super clear that we should “take it to the Church” to have them decide things.

    Heresy is a matter of objective fact. Even if you think that false teachings aren’t heresies until the church speaks, the fathers did not. The fathers recognized heresies to be heresies and therefore rejected them as heresies, both on an individual and on a conciliar level. Their position is that Nicaea condemned the Arians because the Arians were heretics, not the other way ’round. The Arians didn’t become heretics because they rejected Nicaea. The same goes for a whole host of heresies and heretics against which there was never an ecumenical council or allegedly infallible papal encyclical.

    You offer the false dichotomy that it is either “the church defines it” or it is subjective. You are confused. The church’s role is to recognize heresies as such. The church’s role is not to expand the definition of heresy. As with the issue of canon, the church’s role is one of recognition and declaration rather than one of legislation and definition, strictly speaking. Churches can and do legislate and define, but their legislation and definition is supposed to align with the Truth, not create the Truth.

    You wrote:

    As far as your not caring if one more father is a heretic… how sad. These are great men of the faith. SAINT Ignatius was a hero of the faith and was not a heretic. He defined some things in a way that later would not have been able to be defined that way because terminology became more precise. The point is that he would have used different terms if the Church required it. We know that from his constant refrain to obey the church. To do NOTHING apart from the bishop. A warning that in my opinion you and your co-religionists ignore. Appointing your own Bishop defeats the whole point of what Ignatius was admonishing.

    You can shout “SAINT” ’till the cows come home, but shouting it doesn’t change a man’s theology. And he’s better than just a saint, he’s a martyr. But if you give your body to be burned and lack charity, it profits you nothing. Likewise, if Ignatius’ departed from the faith, he is not saved by the sacrifice of his own life.

    What it is sad is a cult of the saints that trumps rational thought. If Ignatius were an Arian (for example), he may be a hero of the Arian faith, but he’s not a hero of the Christian faith. Calling him a “hero of the faith” only makes sense if he was doctrinally orthodox.

    In point of fact, Ignatius may have tread on later shibboleths while not intending a meaning different from those shibboleths. That’s why I was dealing with a hypothetical (as I made clear).

    You wrote: “The point is that he would have used different terms if the Church required it.”

    You are just speculating here. Ignatius was faced with a church situation in which he was the “top dog.” He was “the bishop” of his local church, and he answered to no one. He extended collegiality to other similarly positioned bishops, and encouraged the members of those churches to obey their bishop.

    You wrote: “We know that from his constant refrain to obey the church. To do NOTHING apart from the bishop.”

    He himself was a bishop. There’s nothing in his writings about bishops obeying anyone other than God and their own conscience.

    You wrote: “Appointing your own Bishop defeats the whole point of what Ignatius was admonishing.”

    How do you think bishops were appointed in Ignatius day? Have you really thought this objection through?

    You continued:

    If someone in your church ripped out the book of James and said it was not scripture, you have no consistent way to tell them they are wrong other than “I (and these other dudes) think you are wrong”. Big deal. The heretic smiles and waltzes off to his pew.

    a) Let’s investigate the alternatives, shall we? Is the solution for us to do what Rome does and claim to have super-duper authority? That doesn’t change the situation, unless the authority is real (and Rome’s isn’t). Another option is that we get battle-axes and threaten to lop off the heads of dissident James-ripper-outers. That would probably work, and it worked (to some extent) for a long time for Rome in Europe. But that’s just about preventing dissent. It should be obvious that the absence of dissent under such circumstances is not significantly better than the smirking heretic in the back pew.

    b) Suppose some idiot comes up to you and claims 2+2=5. You have no consistent way to tell them they are wrong other than “I (and these other dudes) think you are wrong”. Big deal. Or is it? I mean, you don’t claim super-duper authority in the area of mathematics. Nevertheless, you don’t seem particularly troubled by the fact that a person might disagree with you. The same goes for the absence of a battle-ax in your hand.

    c) In fact, we have dealt with folks who objected to James before. You may recall a dude named “Luther,” who expressed some pretty strong reservations, but nevertheless his friends prevailed upon him to print James with the rest of the Bible. Remarkably, God didn’t need anyone with super-duper authority to tell Luther to put James in (which is good, because Luther died before Trent defined the canon).

    d) And despite your caricature, ultimately the Spirit is the one who works persuasion in the hearts of men to accept His word. He uses various means to that end, of course, but it is not simply a matter of us “dudes” getting together and authorizing the books.

    You wrote:

    The fact is the bible does not have a table of contents and does not teach sola scriptura. That is a problem for believers in sola scriptura who have no charismatic magisterium, not for me though. If one of your 2 cardinal doctrines says to only get cardinal doctrines from a certain set of 66 books, and I look in those books and cant get that doctrine, nor a list of the 66 books, that is not just a serious error.. it is catastrophic!

    a) The Scriptures teach the formal and material sufficiency of Scripture. That’s the positive aspect of sola Scriptura. If you want to claim that the negative aspect of sola Scriptura isn’t there, it doesn’t seem to gain you much of anything.

    b) Scriptures do not include an explicit list of the titles of the books. But what of it? The Scriptures themselves are the starting point, not the conclusion. And even if they had a listing of titles, that listing wouldn’t tell us the contents of the books, and even a list of the number of chapters or verses wouldn’t tell us that. The Scriptures have themselves spelled out letter by letter, though, and that’s the best possible situation. That’s better than a table of books or a table of chapters or a table of verses. But some people aren’t content with that, for whatever reason.

    You wrote:

    Hand wave all you want, the apostles (esp. John) could have given a table of contents. They did not. That fact fits Catholic theology of Scripture /Magisterium/Tradition. It does not fit with sola scriptura AT ALL. It is an objective FACT TFan that your cannon is not listed in the bible, yet the bible is you sole authority. Not feeling like it is a big deal might work for you, but it remains a huge blunder of the Reformation that is never more than glossed over as not a big deal.

    a) Shouting “AT ALL” is not a legitimate substitute for an argument.

    b) Your strange expectation that sola Scriptura should be accompanied not simply by the books themselves but by the books plus an inspired table of contents isn’t especially reasonable. It would be reasonable if knowledge of the names of all the books of the Bible were a matter that was necessary for salvation. But surely you don’t think that, and neither do we.

    c) Providing a list of the names of the books would more narrowly constrain the canon discussion in some ways, but it could easily lead to people creating forgeries under the same name. The absence of an “inspired list of titles of books,” is thus actually one means to the preservation of the corpus of Scripture. Moreover, if there were such a list of titles, you might still insist that the list tell us things like whether long ending of Mark should be included or whether the Pericope Adulterae should be included or whether the Comma Johanneum should be included. In fact, when your church finally decided that it was important to make an allegedly infallible list of books in the canon, they realized this problem and authorized the pope to prepare an authentic edition, because in some cases, to know what Scripture says, it is not enough just to know the names of the books.

    d) But we don’t require a perfect knowledge of the Scriptures for salvation. We don’t require a complete understanding of the canon. We don’t require people to agree with us and Gregory the Great regarding the non-canonicity of the books of the Maccabees, because that issue itself is not central to the gospel.

    e) Likewise, the reason that there is not more extensive discussion and debate on this particular issue is precisely because it isn’t a big deal or magic bullet. We receive the Scriptures and learn from them. That doesn’t seem hard for most people to grasp, and it poses only relatively small problems for us in terms of textual criticism. In fact, the science of textual criticism confirms to us the marvelous preservation of the text of Scripture, something completely unnecessary if there exists an infallible magisterium.

    f) I realize that the fact that the “canon” is not strictly speaking a doctrine, but an artifact of revelation, is not helpful for your criticism. But you need to think of a better criticism, or simply leave your new-found communion and return in repentance to the church that you left.

    (perhaps a little more a little later)

    -TurretinFan

  17. Hugh McCann said,

    May 10, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    Reading this exchange above, I recall Muscovite Doug Jones (not Wilson) at an apologetics conf. in the late 1990′s in so Cal.

    The topic was witnessing to RCs & Orthos. Two things from that day are pertinent, methinks.

    First, Mr Jones conceded that he was just then starting to delve into the arena of debating such folks (‘Credenda/ Agenda’ had recently done an issue on Orthodoxy), and did not yet have much experience therein. But he DID know that one should NOT use Scripture, but rather, go to the ‘ECF,’ and like sources, as these more impress and persuade our liturgically-happy friends. I recall being particularly repulsed at Jones’ dismissal of 2 Tim. 3:16.* Since the RCC doesn’t accept our use of it, he argued, we mustn’t use it or other bibical texts.

    2ndly, Jones was BIG on church authority (surprise!), and so when asked in Q&A why a Presbyterian should accept his church’s WCF over Rome’s Vat. II or Trent, et. al., his answer was, “Because your elders tell you to.”

    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

    This raises a subsidiary point about authority, and that is that both Prots and Orthos (or RCs) all have presuppositions. And actually, one is common to us all: That at the end of the day, we are all to personally decide what is true.

    For the RC/ Ortho crowd, man has free will and must decide to submit himself unthinkingly to his tradition’s Tradition. :)

    For us Prots (the biblicist kind; not liberals), man is dead in sin, and yet we champion one making a ‘free decision’ in the sense that he is not to be coerced. We preach, argue, & plead, but ultimately leave it up to God who gives the increase when and where he sees fit.

    * 2 Tim. 3:14-4:5 ~
    3:14f ~ But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
    3:16f ~ All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
    4:1 ~ I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at[a] His appearing and His kingdom:
    4:2 ~ Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.
    4:3f ~ For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.
    4:5 ~ But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

    Sounds pretty simple; and Paul even gives us the reasons!

  18. Nick said,

    May 10, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    Hi TF,

    In response to your question: you cannot be a Catholic in good standing while rejecting PI and/or IC – and I’m sure you know that. But the catch is that this doesn’t in itself justify a leap all the way to the opposite extreme of say a non-denominational, from scratch, house church. If those are the two doctrines holding you from Rome, you should at least be Eastern Orthodox (who already reject those) based on the ‘big picture’ list I gave.

    To argue otherwise is to create a fallacy of suggesting all Christian doctrines must need the same level of Biblical and Historical support to accept. This isn’t a matter of ‘glossing over’, it’s about looking at the big picture. Even if there was zero Biblical and Historical support for PI and IC, the ‘big picture’ would still look very “Catholic”. Remember, the so-called “Doctrines of Grace” which Protestants are adamant are at the heart of the “true gospel” are virtually absent from History (and Scripture).

  19. David Meyer said,

    May 12, 2011 at 7:50 am

    I wasnt planning on a further response, but looking into a reference to Augustine in Bryan Cross’s recent article
    http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2011/05/imputation-and-infusion-a-reply-to-r-c-sproul-jr/
    I stumbled across this statement:
    “The sacrament of baptism is undoubtedly the sacrament of regenation: Wherefore, as the man who has never lived cannot die, and he who has never died cannot rise again, so he who has never been born cannot be born again. From which the conclusion arises, that no one who has not been born could possibly have been born again in his father. Born again, however, a man must be, after he has been born; because, “Unless a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” John 3:3 Even an infant, therefore, must be imbued with the sacrament of regeneration, lest without it his would be an unhappy exit out of this life; and this baptism is not administered except for the remission of sins.”
    From On Merit and the Forgiveness of Sins, and the Baptism of Infants (Book II, Ch. 43)
    I also read the chapters you suggested and I am just not seeing where you get that they “at a minimum cast doubt” on the idea of Augustine believing in BR. Because he accepted the baptism of desire? Because he understood that some could possibly be saved before baptism and some baptized be damned? That does not contradict his again and again pounding home baptismal regeneration. He presents what might be called possible exceptions, but is careful to point out that the exceptions do not cancel out that baptism is still what regenerates us.

    From Ch. 21 of On Baptism, Against the Donatists (Book IV):
    http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/14084.htm
    “As, then, we ought not to depreciate a man’s righteousness, which begins to exist before he is joined to the Church, as the righteousness of Cornelius began to exist before he was in the body of Christian men,— which righteousness was not thought worthless, or the angel would not have said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have come up as a memorial before God;” nor did it yet suffice for his obtaining the kingdom of heaven, or he would not have been told to send to Peter, [for baptism] Acts 10:4-5 — so neither ought we to depreciate the sacrament of baptism, even though it has been received outside the Church. But since it is of no avail for salvation unless he who has baptism indeed in full perfection be incorporated into the Church, correcting also his own depravity, let us therefore correct the error of the heretics, that we may recognize what in them is not their own but Christ’s.”

    Sounds to me like he is teaching baptismal regeneration. But that without holiness after baptism and being received into the Church that regeneration will become of no avail because the person falls away from grace.

    Peace,

    David M.

  20. TurretinFan said,

    May 12, 2011 at 8:04 am

    David M.:

    The reason that sounds like Baptismal regeneration to you is that you don’t understand the way Augustine speaks. When he says that Baptism is the “sacrament of regeneration” he means that the grace of regeneration is pictured to us in the visible sign of washing with water. He also sometimes refers to it as the “sacrament of faith,” for a similar reason.

    As for his view of the necessity of baptism for salvation, there is a pretty clear Scriptural command that people be baptized. Augustine concedes that baptism is not strictly speaking necessary in the same section (discussing martyrs who die prior to baptism). So, the necessity of obeying the command to be baptized (not as a strict necessity, but because of the divine command) doesn’t seem to be compelling evidence of baptismal regeneration.

    -TurretinFan

  21. TurretinFan said,

    May 12, 2011 at 10:55 am

    Nick:

    You wrote: “In response to your question: you cannot be a Catholic in good standing while rejecting PI and/or IC – and I’m sure you know that.”

    Yes, I do. My point was to encourage you to acknowledge the significance of those points. I’m glad you have.

    “But the catch is that this doesn’t in itself justify a leap all the way to the opposite extreme of say a non-denominational, from scratch, house church.”

    Rome being wrong doesn’t necessarily lead one to any other church.

    “If those are the two doctrines holding you from Rome, you should at least be Eastern Orthodox (who already reject those) based on the ‘big picture’ list I gave.”

    It seems to me to be a waste of time to debate the merits of the historical claims of the Eastern Orthodox with someone who isn’t Eastern Orthodox. Suffice to say that their historical claims are less dramatically wrong than Rome’s.

    Moreover, I would agree that an Eastern Orthodox person could make the same (or similar) criticisms of Rome that I made above, in terms of papal infallibility and the immaculate conception.

    “To argue otherwise is to create a fallacy of suggesting all Christian doctrines must need the same level of Biblical and Historical support to accept.”

    I’m not sure what you are trying to argue here. Rome makes grandiose claims – we examine them – they turn out to be false. Rome makes acceptance of Papal Infallibility and the Immaculate Conception a requirement for communion, and we note that this is “another gospel,” not the once-for-all delivered faith that was taught from the beginning.

    Neither of those implies anything about “all Christian doctrines.”

    “This isn’t a matter of ‘glossing over’, it’s about looking at the big picture.”

    Those two go hand in hand. You are asking us to look at the big picture to gloss over the problem with Papal Infallibility and the Immaculate Conception.

    “Even if there was zero Biblical and Historical support for PI and IC, the ‘big picture’ would still look very “Catholic”.”

    There are some points where there are similarities (between Roman Catholic and early churches) and there are many points where there are differences. I’m not sure how one weighs something like the presence of monks on the one hand and the absence of musical instruments on the other hand – or the presence of monarchical bishops on the one hand and the absence of icons/statues on the other hand.

    “Remember, the so-called “Doctrines of Grace” which Protestants are adamant are at the heart of the “true gospel” are virtually absent from History (and Scripture).”

    Usually it is primarily the Reformed not “Protestants” generally that are adamant about the doctrines of grace. However, even we Reformed don’t believe that people are saved by understanding the doctrines of grace. We may make such understanding a requirement for ministers of the gospels, but not for entry into the kingdom of heaven.

    -TurretinFan

  22. TurretinFan said,

    May 12, 2011 at 10:59 am

    Hugh McCann:

    I’m not sure I follow the point of your comparison, but I will say this: the reason I tend to get into the ECFs is simply because the RCs and EOs have been so thoroughly crushed when it comes to discussion of Scripture itself. They have retreated to arguing, in essence, that we have not authority to read the text to understand what it means or that we are ignoring a body of oral tradition that exists in parallel to the written.

    The ECFs demonstrate both of those claims to be false.

    -TurretinFan

  23. Hugh McCann said,

    May 12, 2011 at 11:07 am

    T-Fan: St Augie betrays you. First, Mr Meyer’s quotes above are pretty damning, your spin notwithstanding. (Please show us where Augustine says he meant what you say he meant.)

    (1) Then too, we find in his “On the Creed,” sec. 13 ~ Would ye know the Holy Ghost, that He is God? Be baptized, and ye will be His temple. The Apostle says, “Know ye not that your bodies are the temple within you of the Holy Ghost, Whom ye have of God?”
    [p 374, Hendrickson reprint of _Nicene & Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 3_]

    (2) Pages 374f ~ “Forgiveness of sins.” Ye have [this article of] the Creed perfectly in you when ye receive Baptism. Let none say, “I have done this or that sin: perchance that is not forgiven me.” What hast thou done? How great a sin hast thou done? Name any heinous thing thou hast committed, heavy, horrible, which thou shudderest even to think of: have done what thou wilt: hast thou killed Christ? There is not than that deed any worse, because also than Christ there is nothing better. What a dreadful thing is it to kill Christ!

    Yet the Jews killed Him, and many afterwards believed on Him and drank His blood: they are forgiven the sin which they committed. When ye have been baptized, hold fast a good life in the commandments of God, that ye may guard your Baptism even unto the end. I do not tell you that ye will live here without sin; but they are venial, without which this life is not. For the sake of all sins was Baptism provided; for the sake of light sins, without which we cannot be, was prayer provided.

    What hath the Prayer? “Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors.” Once for all we have washing in Baptism, every day we have washing in prayer. Only, do not commit those things for which ye must needs be separated from Christ’s body: which be far from you! For those whom ye have seen doing penance, have committed heinous things, either adulteries or some enormous crimes: for these they do penance. Because if theirs had been light sins, to blot out these daily prayer would suffice.

    (3) From “On Continence,” p 386 ~ He becometh propitious to our iniquities, when He pardons sins: He heals sicknesses when He restrains evil desires. He becometh propitious unto iniquities by the grant of forgiveness: He heals sicknesses, by the grant of continence. The one was done in Baptism to persons confessing; the other is done in the strife to persons contending; wherein through His help we are to overcome our disease. Even now the one is done, when we are heard, saying, “Forgive us our debts;” but the other, when we are heard, saying, “Lead us not into temptation.”

    (4) “On the Good of Marriage,” p 408 ~ …the Sacrament of marriage of our time hath been so reduced to one man and one wife, as that it is not lawful to ordain any as a steward of the Church, save the husband of one wife. And this they have understood more acutely who have been of opinion, that neither is he to be ordained, who as a catechumen or as a heathen had a second wife. For it is a matter of sacrament, not of sin. For in baptism all sins are put away. But he who said, “If thou shall have taken a wife, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin shall have been married, she sinneth not:”

    (5) “Of Holy Virginity,” p 435 ~ “And forgive us our debts, even as we also forgive our debtors:” where, by this which we seek, He shews what also we should remember that we are. For neither on behalf of those debts, which for our whole past life we trust have been forgiven unto us in Baptism through His peace, hath He charged us to pray, saying, “And forgive us our debts, even as we also forgive our debtors:” otherwise this were a prayer which Catechumens rather ought to pray up to the time of Baptism; but whereas it is what baptized persons pray, rulers and people, pastors and flocks; it is sufficiently shown that in this life, the whole of which is a trial, no one ought to boast himself as though free from all sins.

    # Pat Madrid no doubt nods and chants, “Amen and amen.” #

  24. Hugh McCann said,

    May 12, 2011 at 11:16 am

    T/F said “the RCs and EOs …have retreated to arguing, in essence, that we have not authority to read the text to understand what it means or that we are ignoring a body of oral tradition that exists in parallel to the written. The ECFs demonstrate both of those claims to be false.”

    Fine. But the “Fathers” don’t give life, while the RCs & EOs blindly hold them on a par with Writ. The latter is life-giving (or heart-hardening). The Word does the work, as Luther reminded us.

    EO & RC protestations to the contrary notwithstanding, we do have the authority to read and to understand and to proclaim the word of God.

    As you know, it is in fact a mandate of God: It is our duty to herald it, not merely a privilege.

  25. TurretinFan said,

    May 12, 2011 at 11:24 am

    The Fathers give life only in the way that any other ministers of the gospel give life: by faithfully preaching the Word.

    The Word and Spirit, they give life.

    And yes, of course, we have not only the authority but the duty to read the Scriptures and to understand them. The denial of that duty is one of the primary errors of Rome.

    -TurretinFan

  26. Hugh McCann said,

    May 12, 2011 at 11:30 am

    ‘Fan, ‘Fan!

    ‘The Fathers give life only in the way that any other ministers of the gospel give life: by faithfully preaching the Word.’
    >Which is decidely a hit-and-too-often-miss proposition!

    ‘The Word and Spirit, they give life.’
    >Amen ~ of course! The oft-confused and sacerdotal ‘Daddies’ do not.

    ‘And yes, of course, we have not only the authority but the duty to read the Scriptures and to understand them. The denial of that duty is one of the primary errors of Rome.’
    >AND proclaim it, AND proclaim it. The denial of that duty is one of the primary errors of religionists and churchmen, be they papist or Presbyterian!

  27. TurretinFan said,

    May 12, 2011 at 11:31 am

    “T-Fan: St Augie betrays you. First, Mr Meyer’s quotes above are pretty damning, your spin notwithstanding. (Please show us where Augustine says he meant what you say he meant.)”

    No thanks.

    As for your remaining quotations, they do need to be read in light of what Augustine acknowledged about Cornelius. Also, of course, baptism acting to forgive past sins is not quite the same thing as regeneration, at least not in terms of the issues we are discussing.

    -TurretinFan

  28. Hugh McCann said,

    May 12, 2011 at 11:36 am

    > Please show us where Augustine says he meant what you say he meant.
    No thanks.
    > Because you will not or because you cannot?

    As for your remaining quotations, they do need to be read in light of what Augustine acknowledged about Cornelius.
    > Oh, and those would be what (or at least, where, please?)

    Also, of course, baptism acting to forgive past sins is not quite the same thing as regeneration, at least not in terms of the issues we are discussing.
    > Indeed. But no less erroneous, sacerdotal, and confused.
    > Augustine (merely ‘blessed,’ not sainted in EO trad.) proves my point about the early church guys.

  29. Hugh McCann said,

    May 12, 2011 at 11:40 am

    As for your remaining quotations, they do need to be read in light of what Augustine acknowledged about Cornelius.

    > St Augs had to allow that regeneration and faith COULD precede baptism, but is it not the procedure of the RCC & their god to baptize in order that original sin is washed off along with –in the case of converts– sins committed up to that point of one’s pre-baptism confession?

  30. TurretinFan said,

    May 12, 2011 at 11:52 am

    “St Augs had to allow that regeneration and faith COULD precede baptism, but is it not the procedure of the RCC & their god to baptize in order that original sin is washed off along with –in the case of converts– sins committed up to that point of one’s pre-baptism confession?”

    Augustine, of course, is not a Roman Catholic.

    But to answer your question, Roman Catholics currently teach that baptism removes all the effects of original sin except concupiscence, and that baptism also removes all the penalty for actual sins prior to baptism (see CCC 978).

    And, as I already pointed out, forgiveness of sins and regeneration are not the same things.

    -TurretinFan

  31. TurretinFan said,

    May 12, 2011 at 11:56 am

    “Because you will not or because you cannot?”

    Will not right now. I think I have previously discussed that on my blog.

    “Oh, and those would be what (or at least, where, please?)”

    Augustine’s On Baptism, Book IV, Chapters 21-29

    “Augustine (merely ‘blessed,’ not sainted in EO trad.) proves my point about the early church guys.”

    Augustine tends not to be well liked by the EO for a variety of reasons.

    -TurretinFan

  32. Hugh McCann said,

    May 12, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    “St Augs had to allow that regeneration and faith COULD precede baptism, but is it not the procedure of the RCC & their god to baptize in order that original sin is washed off along with –in the case of converts– sins committed up to that point of one’s pre-baptism confession?”
    ‘Augustine, of course, is not a Roman Catholic.’

    > And of course he is vaunted as saint in that communion, they finding little-to-nothing on which to disagree with him.

    ‘But to answer your question, Roman Catholics currently teach that baptism removes all the effects of original sin except concupiscence, and that baptism also removes all the penalty for actual sins prior to baptism (see CCC 978).’
    > Thanks. And you argue Augustine would disagree with them, even given the quotes Meyer & I provided?

    ‘And, as I already pointed out, forgiveness of sins and regeneration are not the same things.’
    > Right, but are inseparably linked. Even so, tying either notion to baptism is at best heretical and dangerous. From his quotes, Augustine evidently believed both where therein conferred, your nay-saying notwithstanding.

    > Again, T-fan, provide a quote of his that proves your assertions. That is all; thanks.

  33. Hugh McCann said,

    May 12, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    T-fan,

    Thanks for baptism reference in Augustine. Please either give me here or in email your blog links on Augie & Acts 10, and please, why he’s not RC.

    Thanks,
    Hugh McCann

    hughmc5
    @hotmail

  34. Hugh McCann said,

    May 12, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    Reminiscent of Jones’ answer in post #17 above, this:

    I asked, “Please show us where Augustine says he meant what you say he meant.”

    T-fan simply replies, ‘No thanks.’

    Must we merely on his authority take the fan’s word for the veracity of this statement,

    ‘…you [D. Meyer in #19] don’t understand the way Augustine speaks. When he says that Baptism is the “sacrament of regeneration” he means that the grace of regeneration is pictured to us in the visible sign of washing with water. He also sometimes refers to it as the “sacrament of faith,” for a similar reason.’?!

    Why is Mr Meyer charged with misunderstanding (incompetently?) St Augs, and yet no evidence is put forth?

    All we are given is Fan’s bald assertion that Augie means that grace is merely “pictured” in baptism, not conveyed, when the latter says, “Even an infant, therefore, must be imbued with the sacrament of regeneration, lest without it his would be an unhappy exit out of this life; and this baptism is not administered except for the remission of sins.”

  35. David Meyer said,

    May 12, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    “Why is Mr Meyer charged with misunderstanding (incompetently?) St Augs…”

    I will venture a guess that has to do with the fact that I am a Catholic, and also it is probable that TFan loves St. Augustine on certain issues (grace, predestination etc) so does not want St. Augustine pegged as a Catholic any more than necessary. But St. Augustine was a Catholic. Here is another qoute from him that I bet makes TFan uncomfortable.

    You know what the Catholic Church is, and what that is cut off from the Vine; if there are any among you cautious, let them come; let them find life in the Root. Come, brethren, if you wish to be engrafted in the Vine: a grief it is when we see you lying thus cut off. Number the Bishops even from the very seat of Peter: and see every succession in that line of Fathers: that is the Rock against which the proud Gates of Hell prevail not.
    St. Augustine to the schismatic Donatists
    A.D. 393 Patrologia Latina 43.30

    Oops. Looks like he believed in Apostolic succession and the Roman primacy as well. Or perhaps I am just not understanding the way he speaks.

  36. Nick said,

    May 12, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    TFan #21,

    I’m not sure what more I can say other than I believe you are still deflecting from the big picture. This is especially apparent to me in that you have not acknowledged the fact the Doctrines of Grace are absent from the Fathers. Take away PI and IC and you’re left with something at the very least EOish in the Fathers.

    This isn’t about glossing over one or two doctrines, it’s rather about taking a long list of generally divisive doctrines (esp soteriological) between Catholics and Protestants and realizing out of that long list, almost all of them have Patristic support favoring the Catholic side while few to none favor the Protestant side. There is no glossing here, just a simple ‘head count’.

    To not recognize this ‘big picture’ is to not just gloss over the historical testimony, it’s to ignore it.

    Also, I want to comment on something you said to Hugh:
    “the reason I tend to get into the ECFs is simply because the RCs and EOs have been so thoroughly crushed when it comes to discussion of Scripture itself”

    This is a huge myth that I’ve been trying to dispel for a long time. It is patently false. In fact, I’d say the opposite is true, the Biblical testimony thoroughly crushes the Protestant side. A few examples come to mind:

    (1) We’ve discussed Sola Scriptura a few times, and every time your position reduces to ‘Sola Scriptura doesn’t have to be taught in Scripture to be true, it’s simply true by default’. That’s the antithesis of Scriptural support for a doctrine.

    (2) In our online Penal Substitution debate, I recall that I was the one appealing to Scripture, and that you didn’t really address the texts I mentioned nor did you offer compelling Scriptural evidence of your own (while I addressed every Scripture and Patristic quote you presented). I’ve even written a more compact form of the anti-PSub case I presented in our debate in this short Article, which I have begged Reformed Protestants to refute if they’re able, with nobody stepping up.

    (3) I soundly refuted James White’s response to my Sola Fide article. I would hardly call that event a situation where a more than competent Reformed apologist “crushed” Rome.

    (4) When it comes to defending doctrines like Imputation of Christ’s Active Obedience, the Biblical term for “Atonement”, whether the Greek word Logizomai supports Imputation, Eternal Security, etc, I’ve written about and challenged Protestants to defend them and in each case I sincerely believe I’ve come out with the upper hand by showing the Protestant view of them has no basis in Scripture.

    Whenever I see a Protestant saying Romes views have been crushed by Scripture, I just shake my head in disbelief that such a myth is so prevalent.

  37. TurretinFan said,

    May 12, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    Mr. Meyer:

    I wonder if you missed my questions to you at #15

    Re: “Why is Mr Meyer charged with misunderstanding (incompetently?) St Augs…”

    You wrote: “I will venture a guess that has to do with the fact that I am a Catholic, …”

    No. It has to do with the fact that you’re not very familiar with Augustine’s view of sacraments.

    You wrote: ” … and also it is probable that TFan loves St. Augustine on certain issues (grace, predestination etc) so does not want St. Augustine pegged as a Catholic any more than necessary.”

    I am happy to let Augustine be wrong where he is wrong, but it is serious anachronism to call him a Roman Catholic.

    “But St. Augustine was a Catholic.”

    He was a “Catholic” in the same sense that we Reformed Christians are “Catholics.” He was not a Roman Catholic.

    “Here is another qoute from him that I bet makes TFan uncomfortable.”

    I’m quite comfortable to let Augustine make his own mistakes and provide his own brilliant insights. He had plenty of both.

    You quoted: “You know what the Catholic Church is, and what that is cut off from the Vine; if there are any among you cautious, let them come; let them find life in the Root. Come, brethren, if you wish to be engrafted in the Vine: a grief it is when we see you lying thus cut off. Number the Bishops even from the very seat of Peter: and see every succession in that line of Fathers: that is the Rock against which the proud Gates of Hell prevail not.”

    Then you wrote: “Oops. Looks like he believed in Apostolic succession and the Roman primacy as well. Or perhaps I am just not understanding the way he speaks.”

    Yes. There’s no mention of Rome there. You just see “seat of Peter” and assume “Rome.” And while the word “succession” is used, the concept behind the doctrine of “apostolic succession” isn’t there.

    Moreover, while your translation of the text places “bishops” there, perhaps you will be surprised to learn that the Latin there says “sacerdotes” or “priests.”

    You may also have overlooked that it does not say “the bishops in the seat of Peter” but “from (ab) the seat of Peter.”

    But is it possible that there is some theological inaccuracy in this alphabetical poem that Augustine wrote against the Donatists? Of course.

    -TurretinFan

  38. TurretinFan said,

    May 12, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    Nick:

    You wrote:

    I’m not sure what more I can say other than I believe you are still deflecting from the big picture. This is especially apparent to me in that you have not acknowledged the fact the Doctrines of Grace are absent from the Fathers. Take away PI and IC and you’re left with something at the very least EOish in the Fathers.

    John Gill’s Cause of God and Truth answers the charge that the doctrines of grace are not taught by the fathers.

    EO-ish? Don’t forget to take away icons, place most of the churches in houses, and so forth (depending on what patristic age you have in mind).

    You wrote:

    This isn’t about glossing over one or two doctrines, it’s rather about taking a long list of generally divisive doctrines (esp soteriological) between Catholics and Protestants and realizing out of that long list, almost all of them have Patristic support favoring the Catholic side while few to none favor the Protestant side. There is no glossing here, just a simple ‘head count’.

    The use of the head count seems to be directed to avoiding the problem with the perceived minority of issues. But you won’t let me be in communion with you if I reject even one of your defined dogmas – you make it “all or nothing” (with respect to defined dogmas) as a test for communion. It’s not a “head count” there, but you want it to be a “head count” elsewhere, because you want to avoid the fact that the fathers weren’t Roman Catholic in their doctrines.

    You wrote: “This is a huge myth that I’ve been trying to dispel for a long time. It is patently false. In fact, I’d say the opposite is true, the Biblical testimony thoroughly crushes the Protestant side.”

    You’re welcome (as far as I am concerned) to try.

    You wrote: “(1) We’ve discussed Sola Scriptura a few times, and every time your position reduces to ‘Sola Scriptura doesn’t have to be taught in Scripture to be true, it’s simply true by default’. That’s the antithesis of Scriptural support for a doctrine.”

    Allow me to disabuse you of your mistaken impression regarding my position. My position is that the Scriptures teach the material sufficiency of Scripture, that the Scriptures teach the formal sufficiency of Scripture (which is the “positive” aspect of sola Scriptura), and that any other allegedly infallible authority must establish itself, with Scripture commanding believers to be discerning regarding teachers (which is the “negative” aspect of sola Scriptura).

    (2) In our online Penal Substitution debate, I recall that I was the one appealing to Scripture, and that you didn’t really address the texts I mentioned nor did you offer compelling Scriptural evidence of your own (while I addressed every Scripture and Patristic quote you presented). I’ve even written a more compact form of the anti-PSub case I presented in our debate in this short Article, which I have begged Reformed Protestants to refute if they’re able, with nobody stepping up.

    People are welcome to check out the debate for themselves:

    http://turretinfan.blogspot.com/2009/03/catholic-nick-index-page.html

    The resolution of the debate was:

    Resolved: God imputed the guilt of the sins of the elect to Christ.

    I am confident that I established that.

    (3) I soundly refuted James White’s response to my Sola Fide article. I would hardly call that event a situation where a more than competent Reformed apologist “crushed” Rome.

    You might not call it that, but that’s how it looked from where I’m standing.

    (4) When it comes to defending doctrines like Imputation of Christ’s Active Obedience, the Biblical term for “Atonement”, whether the Greek word Logizomai supports Imputation, Eternal Security, etc, I’ve written about and challenged Protestants to defend them and in each case I sincerely believe I’ve come out with the upper hand by showing the Protestant view of them has no basis in Scripture.

    I don’t doubt the sincerity of your belief that won – I question the accuracy of your belief.

    Whenever I see a Protestant saying Romes views have been crushed by Scripture, I just shake my head in disbelief that such a myth is so prevalent.

    Here a short list of dogmas of Rome that when it comes to Scripture, “Protestants” win every time:

    1) Papal Infallibility
    2) Immaculate Conception
    3) Bodily Assumption
    4) Prayers to Mary
    5) Prayers to the Saints
    6) Transubstantiation
    7) Indulgences
    8) Purgatory

    -TurretinFan

  39. TurretinFan said,

    May 12, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    Mr. McCann,

    Re: #34 – I’m happy to inform Mr. Meyer about his error in anachronistically reading back a modern Roman Catholic view of sacraments into Augustine without spending the time necessary to demonstrate the point of information. There are plenty of books out there that discuss some of the salient differences. An example of where I discussed the issue can be found here:

    http://turretinfan.blogspot.com/2011/01/augustine-on-bread-and-cup-as-sign.html

    -TurretinFan

  40. TurretinFan said,

    May 12, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    Mr. McCann,

    Regarding #32

    a) They “sainted” Veronica, a woman who never even existed. The fact that they call Augustine a “saint” reflects a number of things, but it falls short of suggesting that he agrees with all their subsequently introduced innovations.

    b) Calling Augustine’s teaching on baptism “at best heretical and dangerous” is obviously your privilege. I wonder how you would explain the sense of “Baptism for the remission of sins” that you consider to be orthodox. If Augustine had the benefit of another 1500 years of study of Scripture … but he did not. If he made mistakes, so be it.

    -TurretinFan

  41. Hugh McCann said,

    May 12, 2011 at 5:51 pm

    Mr Fan,

    Regarding #32
    a) They “sainted” Veronica, a woman who never even existed.
    > Irrelevant. (As far as we know she never existed. Such is unprovable.) Rome has made tons of errors. Maybe they rightly read Augie, though?

    The fact that they call Augustine a “saint” reflects a number of things, but it falls short of suggesting that he agrees with all their subsequently introduced innovations.
    > Certainly, but it does indicate that what he taught was within the pale of their ‘orthodoxy.’ This is not true of those who held to the clearly evangelical gospel, such as Luther and Calvin. Both of these erred greatly, and did not reform far enough, but they got (1) justification right, and (2) anathematized by the harlot. Augs is revered.

    b) Calling Augustine’s teaching on baptism “at best heretical and dangerous” is obviously your privilege.
    > Thank you. His quotes seem clear enough. You still have yet to quote him to the contrary or at least clarifyingly. BTW: Your blog is inoperative this afternoon.

    I wonder how you would explain the sense of “Baptism for the remission of sins” that you consider to be orthodox.
    > How indeed. It obviously has to be indicative of repentance and remission, not causitive. Whether Augs meant that is debateable (hence our posts), but either Rome misreads him as they do Matthew, or he is in the same polluted stream as his later admirers. His quotes seem clear enough. Your failure to produce clarifying quotes of his is no help. It is your privilege to spin Augustine to suit you, but without argumentation, your repeated mere assertions are rather silly.

    If Augustine had the benefit of another 1500 years of study of Scripture … but he did not. If he made mistakes, so be it.
    > And thus, it is our privilege to leave him to his adoring fans in Rome, should we find his theological ‘bones’ outweigh his ‘meat.’

    > Hugh McCann
    > (not yet a Turretinfan fan)

  42. Hugh McCann said,

    May 12, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    Ah!

    TF, your site is up & running!

    Thanks.

  43. Hugh McCann said,

    May 12, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    > TF, These don’t prove your point AT ALL.
    > NOTE: The nos. refer to quotes TF has at the link in his post #39 above. They speak rather Romishly for themselves…
    > Quotes are in full, sans emphases he gives them at his blog, as I don’t know how to do bold or italics here.

    #6 ~ Thus the apostle says, in regard to this sacrament of Baptism: “We are buried with Christ by baptism into death.” [Rom. vi. 4.] He does not say, “We have signified our being buried with Him,” but “We have been buried with Him.” He has therefore given to the sacrament pertaining to so great a transaction no other name than the word describing the transaction itself.

    #9 ~ Nor is the water “profane and adulterous” over which the name of God is invoked, even though it be invoked by profane and adulterous persons; because neither the creature itself of water, nor the name invoked, is adulterous. But the baptism of Christ, consecrated by the words of the gospel, is necessarily holy, however polluted and unclean its ministers may be; because its inherent sanctity cannot be polluted, and the divine excellence abides in its sacrament, whether to the salvation of those who use it aright, or to the destruction of those who use it wrong. Would you indeed maintain that, while the light of the sun or of a candle, diffused through unclean places, contracts no foulness in itself therefrom, yet the baptism of Christ can be defiled by the sins of any man, whatsoever he may be? For if we turn our thoughts to the visible materials themselves, which are to us the medium of the sacraments, every one must know that they admit of corruption. But if we think on that which they convey to us, who can fail to see that it is incorruptible, however much the men through whose ministry it is conveyed are either being rewarded or punished for the character of their lives?

    #10 ~ ‘I believe in the forgiveness of sins.’ If this power were not in the Church, there would be no hope; if there were no remission of sins in the Church, there would be no hope of future life and of eternal salvation. We give thanks to God who gave this gift to His Church. Behold, you are about to come to the sacred font; you will be washed in baptism; you will be renewed in the saving laver of regeneration; when you rise from these waters, you will be without sin. All the sins which in the past haunted you will be wiped out. Your sins will be like the Egyptians following the Israelites, pursuing only up to the Red Sea. What does ‘up to the Red Sea’ mean? Up to the font consecrated by the cross and blood of Christ. For, because that font is red, it reddens. Do you not see how the member of Christ becomes red? Question the eyes of faith. If you see the cross, see the blood, too. If you see what hangs on the cross, see what drips down from it. The side of Christ was pierced with a lance and our purchase price flowed forth. Therefore, baptism is signified by the sign of Christ, that is, by the water in which you are immersed and through which you pass, as it were, in the Red Sea. Your sins are your enemies. They follow you, but only to the Red Sea. When you have entered [the water], you will escape; they will be destroyed, just as the Egyptians were engulfed by the waters while the Israelites escaped on dry land. And why does Scripture say: ‘There was not one of them left’? Because, whether you have committed many or few, great or small sins, even the smallest of them has not remained. But, since we are destined to live in the world where no one lives without sin, on that account the remission of sin depends, not solely on the washing in holy baptism, but also on the Lord’s daily prayer which you will receive after eight days. In that prayer you will find, as it were, your daily baptism, so that you may give thanks to God who has given to His Church this gift which we acknowledge in the Creed. Hence, when we have said: ‘I believe in the holy Church,’ let us add, ‘and in the remission of sins.’

    #14 ~ So now they should stop saying to us, “What is there for you to give us, if we already have baptism?” They are so unaware of what they are saying, you see, that they are not even willing to read what holy scripture assures us of: that right inside the Church itself, that is to say, in the communion of the members of Christ, many were baptized in Samaria, and did not receive the Holy Spirit, but remained only in the baptismal state, until the apostles came to them from Jerusalem; while on the other hand Cornelius and those who were with him were found worthy to receive the Holy Spirit even before they received the sacrament of baptism. In this way God has taught us that the sign of salvation is one thing, salvation itself another; the form of godliness one thing, the power of godliness another.

    > THIS FINAL SENTENCE IS QUITE NICE. But it’s all vitiated by the others, above!

  44. Hugh McCann said,

    May 12, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    Turretinfan,

    Please (last call) provide sound arguments and Augustinian quotes to back your bald assertions that he was not a sacerdotalist.

    The quotes I’ve culled in #s 23 & 43 above are clear enough. Both the RCC and at least some of us Calvinistic evangelicals agree.

    Madrid, Meyer, and Nick own him. He may have gotten bits right here and there, but he’s vastly more papist than Protestant. (Yes, I am aware I am retroactively applying these term to Augs, but he is theirs, not ours.)

    Put up, please, or shut up. Assertions are not arguments or proofs, as you well know!

    Yours,
    Hugh McCann

  45. TurretinFan said,

    May 12, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    HM:

    I don’t know who you think “ours” is. Regardless, it isn’t tug-of-war. Augustine was neither a “Protestant” nor a “Roman Catholic.” The sooner you realize that the goal of an analysis of Augustine isn’t to try to cram him into an anachronistic box, the better.

    He may agree with the Reformed churches on certain points, with modern Rome on other points, and disagree with both of us on other points. A sound historical point involves letting Augustine be Augustine – letting him make mistakes where he makes them.

    As for your assertion that the evidence with which you’ve been presented doesn’t prove the matter to your satisfaction, I’m not sure what to tell you. You are welcome to read up more, if you like, but I don’t really feel the need to simply pile on more evidence when your analysis of the evidence amounts to

    These don’t prove your point AT ALL. NOTE: The nos. refer to quotes TF has at the link in his post #39 above. They speak rather Romishly for themselves…

    I haven’t a clue who you are or why you can read a symbolist explanation of baptism (what you identified as #6 in post #43) and say it “speaks rather Romishly,” but whatever.

    -TurretinFan

  46. Hugh McCann said,

    May 12, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    TF,

    Agreed: ‘let Augustine be Augustine.’ No anachronistic-box cramming allowed!

    I will reread all posts here, but yes, the ‘evidence’ with which I’ve been presented is less than convincing.

    I have yet to see you quote St Aug to corroborate your claims. The baptism quotes at your blog (SA on bread & cup as sign) are quite the opposite of what you assert.

    We are way past talking past each other, apparently. All the quotes I gave in #s 23 and 43 are clearly sacerdotal.

    #6 is hardly “symbolist”: ‘Thus the apostle says, in regard to this sacrament of Baptism: “We are buried with Christ by baptism into death.” [Rom. vi. 4.] He does not say, “We have signified our being buried with Him,” but “We have been buried with Him.” He has therefore given to the sacrament pertaining to so great a transaction no other name than the word describing the transaction itself.’

    Signification would be the symbolic view, which SA clearly denies. He says the sacrament pertains to the transaction (our dying with Christ & being raised with him, no?) that is tied to the waters.

  47. Hugh McCann said,

    May 13, 2011 at 8:53 am

    “The bare fact of the matter is that there was only one church at the time.”

    Perhaps only one high-profile church, but the Landmark Baptists would take issue with this statement. They contend that there were real churches not affiliated with Rome or the East, and that the One Big Early Church (OBEC) was hardly a church in the New Testament sense.

    Whatever else we may think about various disparaged and marginalized groups outside of and persecuted by “the Church,” history does cause one to wonder whether all Donatists (to name one) and other such groups were (1) rightly maligned by the OBC and (2) completely bereft of believers.

    Beyond the scope, I realize, of this thread, but the more one reads church history, the less impressed one becomes with the damning decrees of the OBEC & ECFs.

  48. Hugh McCann said,

    May 13, 2011 at 9:19 am

    “A related problem to this is how we determine whose interpretation of the ECF is correct.”

    An impossible task, given antithetical axioms. With dueling presuppositions and divergent bases of authority, Papists and Protestants shall ne’er meet.

    “…How is one going to determine who is quoting the ECF correctly? The Romanist has a ready-made answer for that: the church tells us how to understand the ECF just as it tells us how to interpret the Scriptures. How convenient! But then the ECF cease to be the real authority, don’t they? What it really comes down to, in the end, is the current church’s position: that is what is authoritative.”*

    Of course. And being der uber-authority, she can authoritatively quote whomever she will however she will. The ECF are then ultimately no final authority for anyone, not even the ‘Orthodox,’ who, like Rome, have evolved their theology, their protestations to the contrary notwithstanding.
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

    * I assume that Madrid or Meyer or Nick could just as easily say,

    “How is one going to determine who is quoting the ECF correctly? Protestants have various ready-made answers for that: the Holy Spirit tells us or the Bible alone tells us, or our denominational standards tell us how to understand the ECF just as these tell us how to interpret the Scriptures. How convenient! But then the ECF cease to be the real authority, don’t they? What it really comes down to, in the end, is the Protestant’s personal position: that is what is authoritative.”

    {We of course disagree with such a caricature, believing that denoms as well as inidviduals must conform to sola scriptura, and that God gives us his Spirit in order to enable us to make wise decisions as to what is true, honest, just, pure, etc: Rom. 16:19, 1 Cor. 2:12-16, Phil. 4:8, 1 Thes. 5:21, Heb. 5:14.}

  49. Nick said,

    May 13, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    Hello TF (#38),

    You said John Gill’s book “Cause of God and Truth” seeks to show the Fathers taught the Doctrines of Grace. I found the book online, and it appears Section #4 is where this endeavor takes place. Upon examining various examples he presents, it does not appear he has really proven anything specifically Calvinistic, but rather take some quotes here or there that mention general Christian teachings that everyone agrees on. All he is really doing is taking a snippet from a Father, and reading it with “Calvinist glasses,” for example, assuming references to the “elect” means the same things as what Calvinists mean. This heavy Calvinists “spin” is more distortion that true proof-text. For example, take this “section” where he appeals to Baranbas’ Epistle in support of what is popularly called Limited Atonement – and a second example from Ignatius of Antioch- there is almost nothing quoted, and what is quoted is heavily read into. On top of that, there wasn’t really anything pertaining to issues like Active Obedience, Imputation, etc.

    That’s hardly Patristic evidence for the Doctrines of Grace, and the fact even Calvin made it clear such doctrines were more or less absent (which is why he hardly quotes any ECFs aside from Augustine, though even then he frequently disagrees or misreads him) as you look at the Index of Patristic Quotations from the Institutes.

    You said: “The use of the head count seems to be directed to avoiding the problem with the perceived minority of issues. But you won’t let me be in communion with you if I reject even one of your defined dogmas”

    You’re conflating two issues here: (a) analyzing the ‘big picture’, and (b) determining the parameters for communion.
    The Catholic charge is that the ‘big picture’ from the Patristic end is very much Catholic and hardly Protestant that the Protestant can only appeal to alleged exceptions. This is not the same as the second issue, which when properly framed is to be understood as to be out of communion is to knowingly deny a dogma, particularly one in which the Church has clarified. A Church Father who never mentioned a Catholic dogma is not the same as saying they denied it, nor is a Father’s speculation in ‘unclarified’ areas necessarily a denial or heresy, nor is a Church Father being in error on a given issue the same as obstinate denial. Peter erred in his assessment of how Gentiles are to be in communion, yet that error doesn’t exclude him from communion of any Christian tradition.

    You said: “Allow me to disabuse you of your mistaken impression regarding my position. My position is that the Scriptures teach the material sufficiency of Scripture, that the Scriptures teach the formal sufficiency of Scripture (which is the “positive” aspect of sola Scriptura), and that any other allegedly infallible authority must establish itself, with Scripture commanding believers to be discerning regarding teachers (which is the “negative” aspect of sola Scriptura).”

    If so, then you gave off another impression during our previous discussions. For example, recall this post of yours focused upon the Formal Sufficiency of Scripture in listing all “essential” doctrines, here is what you said to me:

    while we may be able to identify some things as essentials clearly and identify other things as non-essentials clearly, we don’t think we can create a precise list

    And for Sola Scriptura in general, I was able to find a very interesting post where you responded to Steve Ray on Sola Scriptura. Here is what you said:

    [Steve Ray asked] Where did Jesus give instructions that the Christian faith should be based exclusively on a book?

    Simple Answer(s): Nowhere that we know of.
    Important Qualification(s):1) But all of Jesus’ instructions that we know of, we know of from a book.

    This is precisely what I meant when I said “your position reduces to ‘Sola Scriptura doesn’t have to be taught in Scripture to be true, it’s simply true by default’.” And in the comments section you went onto say:

    All you have to begin with is that the Scriptures are a rule of faith, and then invite any challengers to establish why they should also be a rule of faith.

    Again, this supports my claim you never actually set out to prove Sola Scriptura from Scripture.

    Regarding our Penal Substitution Debate, I agree that people should look at it themselves, but would like to comment on what you just said:

    The resolution of the debate was: Resolved: God imputed the guilt of the sins of the elect to Christ.
    I am confident that I established that.

    I recall that my 2nd Response to your Cross Examination pointed out that the closest prooftext you ever provided for guilt imputed to Christ was 2nd Corinthians 5:19, which simply says God didn’t impute our sin to us.

    In response to my claim that I did in fact soundly refuted James White’s claims on my Sola Fide article, you responded by saying:

    “You might not call it that, but that’s how it looked from where I’m standing.”

    I think this can be cleared up with a simple question: Do you believe, as White strongly maintains, that Genesis 15:6 is the moment when Abraham was (first) justified? If no, then you disagree with White, which confirms my point that I soundly refuted his exegesis. If yes, then perhaps you could answer what White was unable to answer, namely the Pelagianism entailed in Abraham’s faithful obedience from Gen 12 onward (Gal 3:8; Heb 11:8), despite not being justified until Gen 15:6.

    Lastly, in response to my claim that I shake my head in disbelief when a Protestant claims to have crushed Rome from Scripture, you said:

    “Here a short list of dogmas of Rome that when it comes to Scripture, “Protestants” win every time:”

    Interestingly, none of the examples you gave were on issues such as Sola Scriptura or the various aspects of Sola Fide. (Are you implying Protestants don’t win “every time” on those?) Further, I would not say Protestants win “every time” on the list you gave, especially considering the fact the weight of the Scriptural appeals Catholics make on some of those doctrines is more dependent on the hermeneutic than a ‘head count’ of verses. For example, Catholics don’t believe Scripture is a systematic theology textbook in which every doctrine has explicit and/or detailed proof (many Protestants don’t believe this either). Given that, we believe it is sufficient to establish many of those doctrines on as little as one verse. And on subjects such as Indulgences/Purgatory, we’re all aware that some of the main proofs rest upon whether certain books like 2nd Maccabees are canonical, thus the dispute is more about canon than exegesis. Issues such as the Papacy are more ‘beefy’ when it comes to amount of time Scripture speaks on them, and the amount of Scriptural evidence to consider and exegete by no means gives the Protestants an ‘easy win every time’ (quite the contrary).

  50. Hugh McCann said,

    June 6, 2011 at 11:50 am

    Lane,

    Idea for new follow-up thread: “Outside the Church there is no salvation!”

    Say it with Cyprian, Cyril, & Augustine: “Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus!”

    Say it in Protestant: http://www.prca.org/prtj/apr2011.pdf (pp 88,ff)

  51. Hugh McCann said,

    June 6, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    Or, to say it in ‘Orthodox’: While there is no division between a “visible” and an “invisible Church,” yet there may be members of the Church who are not visibly such, but whose membership is known to God alone. If anyone is saved, he must in some sense be a member of the Church; in what sense, we cannot always say. ~ Kallistos Ware {found @ Wikipedia}

    Priceless.


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