Arguments Concerning the Papacy

I have been recently contemplating the nature of the evidence concerning the claims of Rome, and asking myself this question: what is the linchpin of Romanist claims? Surely, it is the Petrine succession argument for the Popes. Without an ironshod succession from Peter to Benedict XVI, there is no sacramental magisterial authority at all. It does no good at this point to claim that the apostolic succession can be legitimated without the Papal succession, since the Papal succession is what legitimates all the rest of the succession down to the ordination of priests. If the Papal claims are void, then so are the ordinations that come from a false Papacy.

So, the question then becomes this: is it historically plausible to claim that Peter was the first bishop of Rome? We will be delving into this question in the next several posts, and asking the historical questions concerning it. The reason why this question is the easiest to probe is that there is one simple fact that comes into play here: if Romanists use tradition and the Magisterium to settle the question of the authority of tradition and the Magisterium, that is circular. There are many claims that the so-called individualist interpretations of Scripture by Protestants are circular. I would disagree, since the interpretations of the Reformers have a solid basis not only in Scripture itself, but also in the early church fathers. But that is a side point. The point I wish to make here is that this is a historical question, concerning the succession of the Papacy. Therefore, using the Papacy to legitimate the Papacy won’t work. There are a few typos in this article, but I suggest it as initial background reading for the exegetical questions concerning Matthew 16, as well as the historical arguments concerning whether Peter was ever bishop at Rome.

The main point I wish to raise here is the methodological one: on what basis do we evaluate the claims of the Papacy? Here, exegetical questions arise (especially the interpretations of the church fathers, which, as you will see by reading the article, are not in favor of the Romanist claims, as even Roman Catholics have admitted), as well as historical questions. On the historical rise of the Papacy, so far I haven’t found anything more eye-opening than Richard Bennett’s account (chapters 4-6). We will, of course, be examining Romanist accounts of the Papacy as well as Protestant ones.

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1,322 Comments

  1. July 25, 2012 at 10:45 am

    Have you read volume 1 of Schaff’s Church History series? He documents a lot of historical and time-line problems with papal claims.

  2. greenbaggins said,

    July 25, 2012 at 11:03 am

    OP, have it, but haven’t read it. I have, however, read a number of accounts of the Papacy’s history that document some serious problems to the claims of continuity. But I’ll be sure to look that up in this discussion. Thanks for the heads up.

  3. July 25, 2012 at 11:58 am

    For an interesting Eastern Orthodox treatment of the papacy, I would recommend readers look at Laurent A. Cleenewerck’s “His Broken Body: Understanding and Healing the Schism between The Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches”. He treats the issue exegetically, historically, and theologically in a very careful manner.

  4. Seth Stark said,

    July 25, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    Here is another brief article dealing with Matthew 16 (written by a reformed Presbyterian minister): http://www.graceway.com/articles/article_017.html

  5. Martin said,

    July 25, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    Also take a look at “The Chair of St. Peter” by William J. La Due, a Roman Catholic author. He seems to want to revive the old debate about councils vs. popes, but his history of the early church in Rome in the early part of the book is interesting.

  6. Frank Aderholdt said,

    July 25, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    This is not an argument but merely an anecdote from many years of observation. While Protestants mostly speak of “the Lord,” “Jesus,” “the Lord Jesus Christ,” or at least “God,” Roman Catholics invariably speak of “The Church” first. I’ve heart this too many times for it to be an accident. The centrality of the Church as THE mediating institution works its way very deep into the RC consciousness. We who have been Protestant all our lives can scarecely comprehend the hold that The Church has on the average Roman Catholic. It’s their strong tower, their place of refuge, the source of their salvation.

    Back to the substance of this discussion: Dr. Michael Kruger’s (RTS Charlotte) ongoing work on the canon is outstanding. His recent four Kistemaker lectures at RTS Orlando are essential listening, as is his book “Canon Revisited.” His arguments not only demolish the old Baur thesis but are just as effective in dealing with traditional RC apologists.

  7. Trent said,

    July 25, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    I heard that Peter never set foot in Rome…is that true?

  8. Frank Aderholdt said,

    July 25, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    I’ve been reflecting on my anecdote and connecting it with Lane’s question, “The main point I wish to raise here is the methodological one: on what basis do we evaluate the claims of the Papacy?”

    From my limited experience, discussions about Papal claims must take second place to the nature of The Church itself. If The Church (both words capitalized on purpose here) is indeed God’s ordained channel through which all initial, sustaining, and final grace must flow, then the Papacy follows with inescapable logic. For the Roman Catholic, The Church is this awesome superstructure, without which salvation is unthinkable. From before the cradle to beyond the grave, everything must center around the ministrations of The Church. The Pope as “CEO” is the benign Father who assures us that all is well. For the Roman Catholic, the Pope’s visibility is concrete proof that The Church is what she claims to be.

    When one comes to see Christ Himself as the center, rather than The Church, the question of the Pope and his authority should answer itself.

  9. July 25, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    Frank @ 6 – thanks for the input! I’ve had the Kruger book on my “to-read” list for a few months. I’ve just upgraded it to my “currently reading” status. I’ve read some good stuff about canon, and I’m excited to get back into it.

    Peace,
    Andrew

  10. olivianus said,

    July 25, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    I wish Reformed people would look into the Theology Proper (Absolute Divine Simplicity) that played a huge role in the development of the Papacy. The Puritans’ Historicism plays into this as well. Edward Moore (St. Elias School of Orthodox Theology) wrote an article on Gnosticism on the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Moore says,

    “According to the Gnostics, this world, the material cosmos, is the result of a primordial error on the part of a supra-cosmic, supremely divine being, usually called Sophia (Wisdom) or simply the Logos. This being is described as the final emanation of a divine hierarchy, called the Plêrôma or “Fullness,” at the head of which resides ************the supreme God, the One beyond Being***********…Indeed, while the receptive hermeneutical method implies that we have something to learn from a text, the method employed by the Gnostics, which we may call the “revelatory” method, was founded upon the idea **********that they (the Gnostics) had received a supra-cosmic revelation, either in the form of a “call,” or a vision, or even, perhaps, through the exercise of philosophical dialectic****************. This “revelation” was the knowledge (gnôsis) that humankind is alien to this realm, and possesses a “home on high” within the plêrôma, the “Fullness,” where all the rational desires of the human mind come to full and perfect fruition…On this belief, ****************all knowledge belonged to these Gnostics, and any interpretation of the biblical text would be for the purpose of explaining the true nature of things by elucidating the errors and distortions of the Demiurge.**************”

    Pseudo Dionysius’ Ecclesiology in his Celestial Hierarchies were designed right off of Neoplatonism and Gnosticism. In Dionysius’ 8th Letter he forbids that Deacons correct priests. He says that “even if disorder and confusion should undermine the most divine ordinances and regulations that still gives no right even on God’s behalf to overturn the order which God has himself established.” (Rorem, Pseudo-Dionysius, pg. 41) Rorem mentions on page 20 of his Pseudo-Dionysius, commenting on Letter 8

    “For Dionysius authority and revelation flowed from God down through the angelic beings to the Hierarchs through them it continued down to the priests and to the deacons and finally to the various groups of laity…this pyramid was symbolized in the positions they occupied during the communion service”.

    Rorem points out on page 32 that **************Bonaventure gave the pope of Rome the highest place of authority as “a natural extrapolation of Dionysian principles.”************** On page 93 Rorem points out that Dionysius’ Ecclesiastical Hierarchies posited the Hierarchy as the means of salvation. Ergo, outside the Hierarchy there is no salvation. On page 92 Rorem explains that in Dionysius’ Ecclesiastical Hierarchies the Biblical and Liturgical symbols that men are confronted with in this life are anagogical symbols to aid in assent through the Hierarchies. On page 94-95 Rorem explains Dionysius’ Celestial Hierarchies and mentions that the meanings of the Liturgical Symbols are to remain secret from the common man but revealed only to “sacred initiators”. He mentions that man’s knowledge is something accommodated and therefore, this accommodation is why man needs a Hierarchical authority to interpret the truth for him.

    Is it too much to say that Van Til and Protestant Scholasticism in toto bought into this Neoplatonic, Absolute Divine Simplicity, without any warrant from Protestant Principles? It was Eck who used this System against Luther in their debate! Is it too much to say that Dr. Gordon Clark pointed out all these issues in his denials of ADS, in his denials of analogies of proportionality, finding all of them to be products of Neoplatonism? Maybe not. Maybe Dr. Gordon Clark’s Epistemology is the only logical way out of Anchorism.

  11. Bryan Cross said,

    July 25, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    Lane,

    You wrote:

    if Romanists use tradition and the Magisterium to settle the question of the authority of tradition and the Magisterium, that is circular.

    Not if in the first case they are used only according to their historical value. Appealing to a divine authority (as such) in order to establish its divine authority — that would be circular. But appealing to historical evidence that also happens to belong to Tradition or Magisterium, in order to determine the authority of the Tradition and the Magisterium, is not circular.

    And Stevens begins by saying:

    First of all, the Gospels, the Acts, and the Epistles necessarily contain the means of ascertaining what Peter enjoyed and exercised by virtue of Christ’s words.

    This way of approaching Scripture presupposes “solo scriptura.” If in an attempt to answer a question between Catholicism and Protestantism one makes use of a methodology that presupposes solo scriptura, there is no point going through the exercise. One has already determined the outcome by one’s choice of methodology, and in that respect begged the question against the Catholic position.

    Using that solo scriptura methodology, Stevens infers from Mt. 18 the following conclusion regarding Mt. 16:

    It is apparent, therefore, that the words in Matthew 18:19, con corning binding and loosing, do not constitute an especial privilege of Peter. They plainly put no difference between him and the other apostles.

    Even though there are ways of harmonizing Mt. 18 and Mt. 16 that preserve Petrine primacy, Stevens simply concludes that “it is apparent” that those are wrong. Well, that’s his personal interpretation, one among many possible ways of interpreting the meaning and relation of Mt. 16 and 18. But the solo scriptura approach he is using simply begs the question against the Catholic position. He does the same with the Luke 22 passage, using that to conclude that St. Peter was in an inferior position in relation to the other Apostles. Again, the method presupposes solo scriptura, that Scripture is not to be approached through Tradition, but de nuda, and the resulting interpretation is then to be used to critique Tradition.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  12. July 25, 2012 at 8:29 pm

    It seems to me that the approach of lots of Protestant scholars to Tradition is a bit like that of liberals toward Scripture when it comes to assessing the data.

    For example, if a liberal approached Scripture in a purely neutral way and simply collated and evaluated the data on, say, the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus, he could very easily find a way to sincerely interpret the data as contradictory and therefore false.

    The response of the Christian, in my opinion, should not be to say, “Hang on! There is only one way this data can be interpreted, and that is to see it as complementary rather than as contradictory.” Instead, the Christian should say something like, “Yes, you can come to your conclusion that the resurrection never happened honestly, but that conclusion is by no means necessary.”

    In other words, Christians bring with us a measure of faith and trust to the Bible rather than suspicion. The Catholics I know seek to bring a similar hermeneutic of trust to the testimony of the early fathers on issues relating to Rome’s claims.

    So if it is OK to choose a complementary rather than contradictory interpretation when it comes to Scripture, why is it “circular” for a Catholic to take a similar approach when it comes to Tradition?

    And can this question be answered in a way that does not presuppose Sola Scripura?

  13. July 25, 2012 at 8:41 pm

    Jason,

    If I understand what you are saying, you are comparing the Protestant’s high view of Scripture against the Catholics high view of Tradition.

    I think protestants have a pretty clear understanding that we view Scripture as God’s Word because the Holy Spirit convicts us as such.

    I don’t know about Catholics, but would a Catholic hold a high view of Tradition because the Holy Spirit convicts them as such?

    For further reading, see WCF chapter 1.

    Peace,
    Andrew

    PS it’s very possible this discussion is way over my paygrade…

  14. Frank Aderholdt said,

    July 25, 2012 at 8:42 pm

    Jason,

    I thought that you had already answered that question to your own satisfaction. So why not just tell us rather than ask us? Then we can continue the conversation instead of dancing around the issue.

  15. July 25, 2012 at 8:45 pm

    Well, OK. It seems to me that it is pretty arbitrary to fault the liberal for being too suspicious while faulting the Catholic for not being suspicious enough.

  16. Frank Aderholdt said,

    July 25, 2012 at 9:03 pm

    Now that’s something to chew on, Jason. Got my thinking cap on. I suspect this may be more of an illustration than an argument, but I need to probe deeper. The issue seems to be human autonomy vs. divine authority in the case of the liberal, and our reception of divine authority in the RC/Protestant debate.

  17. July 25, 2012 at 9:08 pm

    I suppose from what I’ve read, the problem in the 1920’s was that the liberal was rejecting Historic Christianity. I think that’s a harsher charge than simply claiming said liberal is suspicious.

    As for the Catholic, I thought the issue Luther uncovered was that the Pope wasn’t infallible.

    Infallible is a word Protestants like, especially in connection with Scripture. It’s probably because that Augustinian monk needed something infallbile, since the Pope was no longer.

    Having been raised Protestant, and I still accept the label given me since I was born, my personal devotional time in Scripture has only stregthened my conviction about Scripture, and when I read the words of WCF 1, they resonated.

    I wonder if Catholic tradition has the same affect for said Catholics? Meaning, does the Catholic, because of the high regard for tradition, get the same sense of God’s presence when reading, say, the Catholic Catechism, as I get when I read Psalm 139:23-24? Obviously there is overlap. I just wonder what the relationship between the Catholic and his tradition looks like, in real life…

  18. greenbaggins said,

    July 25, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    Jason, I’m intending to move in the direction here of proof. Try a thought experiment. Suppose 45 early church fathers had commented on Matthew 16, the passage about Peter, and suppose not one of them support the Papal claims to be Peter’s successor. What would that do to the claims of the Pope? As a matter of fact, I just read a ROMAN CATHOLIC scholar who admitted point-blank that the early church fathers’ exegesis of Matthew 16 did not in any way support the papal claims of Petrine succession. The question I would have (for you and Bryan, actually) is this: is that Roman Catholic scholar begging the question of sola scriptura, when he came to the same conclusion about the early church fathers as I did?

  19. greenbaggins said,

    July 25, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    It’s on page 11 of the article I cited, by the way. The Roman Catholic is J.J. Dollinger.

  20. Andrew McCallum said,

    July 25, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    Jason (re: 12 and 15),

    I welcome the critique of the liberals and in many cases they have fair questions. What they are asking us to do is justify the reason for approaching the Scriptures the way we do. What, they ask, are our ground rules, assumptions, and hermeneutical principles for approaching the Scriptures? And of course we ask the same sorts of questions of them.

    So in the case of Roman Catholics, we are asking what sorts of assumptions and hermeneutical tools ought to be brought to bear as we interpret the tradition of the Church. And more specifically to the case at hand, how do we interpret the Fathers as they weigh in on the matter of the authority and proper function of the Bishop of Rome? I think that Lane’s point is just that we cannot assume current Roman Catholic dogma as we approach the question.

  21. Bob S said,

    July 25, 2012 at 10:32 pm

    11. Mr. Cross

    Well, that’s his personal interpretation, one among many possible ways of interpreting the meaning and relation of Mt. 16 and 18.

    No, that’s just your personal interpretation and a perverted one at that.

    But when you finally make your way out of the hall of mirrors and the labyrinth of bizarre hypocritical epistemology you and the CtC crowd affect, the discussion will have moved on, if not that you never really knew what it was about in the first place.

    Let me make myself perfectly clear. When Rome appeals to Scripture, everybody says fair enough. It is the common ground for all parties concerned in some shape or fashion. But when we look at the straight forward claim of Scripture and Rome’s claim in light of it, then we say, guess what? Rome appeals to and recognizes – at least nominally – an authority that hardly returns her the favor. Who are you gonna believe?

    Yeah, I know the early church fathers, the early church fathers – which in no way unanimously maintained the Roman claims for the chair of Peter that Rome says they did. Funny that.

    But hey, if it’s private interpretation and every man is his own epistemological Forgotten Island, then baby, it’s turtles all the way down and there is no way to make sense of the cosmos, never mind this conversation.

    IOW it seems to me (I’m in the private interpretation mode, so of course any errors on my part must be charitably excused, reprobate and protestant heretic that I am) that it is the height of arrogant sinfulness to assume your remarks are more perspicuous than Scripture, never mind Rome’s.

    Because if you really believe that your remarks are just that, then you need to – respectfully – shut up and stand down.

    Of course it would be far better if you would repent and render an abject apology for your hierarchical hubris, in which case we would say there is hope for you yet.

    But not if you continue in this same line of bashing private interpretation, all the while asserting the primacy of your own interpretation, much more the perspicuity of your comments and Rome’s over Scripture.

    That is the status quaestionis.
    Don’t beg it.

    Thank you.

  22. July 25, 2012 at 10:44 pm

    Lane,

    Suppose 45 early church fathers had commented on Matthew 16, the passage about Peter, and suppose not one of them support the Papal claims to be Peter’s successor. What would that do to the claims of the Pope?

    There are so many issues involved in this question, and to be honest, I hardly feel qualified. A couple things I would say are:

    (1) If the Catholic case for the papacy depended on all or a majority of the ECFs’ interpretation of Matt. 16, then I’d say you have a smoking gun. But you’d have to show that the evidence you’ve found is indeed relevant to their case.

    (2) You’d also have to account for the development in the church’s understanding of the Petrine office. As you may know, someone like Newman would say that until there were actual battles happening between bishops (rather than mere intra-congregational disputes), the need for, and thus a fuller understanding of, the pope’s role was not yet appreciated. To use an example that James White thought was silly (but I think is awesome), if little 6 year-old Jesus of Nazareth couldn’t have given a fully-orbed defense of his mission, then it stands to reason that development in the self-understanding of his mystical Body would also be allowable. Christology drives ecclesiology, is what I’m getting at.

    As a matter of fact, I just read a ROMAN CATHOLIC scholar who admitted point-blank that the early church fathers’ exegesis of Matthew 16 did not in any way support the papal claims of Petrine succession.

    You already know the answer to this. (I just read a PCA minister deny imputation, which must mean it’s not PCA doctrine, right? And my gay Christian friend proves that homosexuality is OK for Christians, right? You get the idea.)

    The question I would have (for you and Bryan, actually) is this: is that Roman Catholic scholar begging the question of sola scriptura, when he came to the same conclusion about the early church fathers as I did?

    I’ll leave the question-begging stuff to Bryan. But to the degree he is approaching the bare data and seeking to interpret it neutrally with a view from nowhere, is the degree to which he is betraying whatever Catholic ideals he supposedly has.

    PS – That last paragraph is what will lay you open to the question-begging charge from Catholics. I’m still wrapping my head around what they’re getting at, but I do think they make a fair point.

  23. July 25, 2012 at 10:49 pm

    Andrew,

    If I’m not mistaken, you and Liccione have been talking about the preferability of your two distinct interpretive paradigms for years, which makes me loath to start that debate all over.

  24. Bryan Cross said,

    July 25, 2012 at 10:53 pm

    Lane,

    Here’s what Dollinger says:

    How many Fathers have busied themselves with these texts, yet not one of them whose commentaries we possess-Origen, Chrysostom, Hilary, Augustine, Cyril, Theodoret, and those whose interpretations are collected in catenas-has dropped the faintest hint that the primacy of Rome is the consequence of the commission and promise to Peter! Not one of them has explained the rock or foundation on which Christ would build His church of the office given to Peter to be transmitted to his successors

    The problem is that that claim is easily refuted. Here’s one example. Tertullian writes:

    Was anything withheld from the knowledge of Peter, who is called “the rock on which the church should be built,” who also obtained “the keys of the kingdom of heaven,” with the power of “loosing and binding in heaven and on earth?” (Prescription Against Heretics, 22)

    Here’s another example. St. Cyprian writes:

    “[B]oth baptism is one and the Holy Spirit is one, and the Church founded by Christ the Lord upon Peter, by a source and principle of unity, is one also.” (Epistle 69)

    And Eusebius, bishop of Caesarea, writes,

    And Peter, on whom the Church of Christ is built, ‘against which the gates of hell shall not prevail,’ (Matt. 16:18) has left one acknowledged epistle; perhaps also a second, but this is doubtful.” (History of the Church, VI.25.8)

    Jacob, bishop of Nisibis, of Syria (338), writes,

    “And Simon the head of the Apostles, he who denied Christ . . . our Lord received him, and made him the foundation, and called him the rock of the edifice of the Church.

    St. Hilary (315-367/68) provides further examples:

    [B]lessed Simon, who after his confession of the mystery was set to be the foundation-stone of the Church, and received the keys of the kingdom of heaven. (On the Trinity, Bk VI)

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

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

    St. Basil the Great (330-379) writes:

    “him that was called from amongst fishermen unto the ministry of the Apostleship; him who on account of the pre-eminence of his faith received upon himself the building of the Church.” (ad. Eunom. n. 4)

    “One also of these mountains was Peter, upon which rock the lord promised to build His Church”. (Commnt. in Esai. c.ii. n. 66)

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  25. July 25, 2012 at 11:41 pm

    Hi Jason at 22,

    Hey, first off, it’s nice to “meet” you, in reading your comments here. I started reading blogs about the time you stepped down from your position as a PCA pastor (as I understand). I hope all is well. The blogosphere was humming with the news of your departure at the time I started poking around.

    Me personally, I found the OPC in my freshman year of college in 2001. I’ve personally embraced the Reformed faith, and haven’t looked back. Learning the doctrines of grace was a watershed moment for me, something I treasure deeply. Anyway, that’s me.

    Here’s what I’m still thinking about:

    “Christology drives ecclesiology, is what I’m getting at.”

    Alright, so I’ve started getting into Christology, a little while back. The discussion that Lane has started centers around the basis for the office of the Pope. If we take your words here, where in Christology, if anywhere, do you necessarily see the role of Pope displayed? I certainly don’t see it. But maybe I don’t know where to look…

    I was raised fundamentalist baptist, and have never been to a Roman Catholic mass. So I have not yet found a reason, in my studies of Church History, the Bible, or Christology, of why I should start listening to the Pope for me to help understand any rules of faith and practice, as our confession states. Said another way, why should I go read the Pope’s blog or twitter feed, instead of GreenBaggins? I’ve been harsh at times with the people around here, but at the end of the day, I kind of like this place. Do you know of any reasons why I should go hang with the Pope?

    I appreciate that you also state, “There are so many issues involved in this question, and to be honest, I hardly feel qualified.”

    It seems we both have a lot to learn, and are eager to. I’ll be reading along, I hope you do as well.

  26. Sean said,

    July 25, 2012 at 11:53 pm

    If I might add to what Bryan said in # 24. Not only do many of those fathers relate the papacy to Matt 16:18, even if they did not explicitly relate the papacy in that single passage, they still held to apostolic succession from chair of St. Peter.

    For example, “I am held in the communion of the Catholic Church by…and by the succession of bishops from the very seat of Peter, to whom the Lord, after His resurrection commended His sheep to be fed up to the present episcopate.” Augustine, Against the Letter of Mani, 5 (A.D. 395)

    Or, “The chair of the Roman Church, in which Peter sat, and in which Anastasius sits today.” Augustine, Against the Letters of Petillian, 2:51 (A.D. 402)

  27. Andrew McCallum said,

    July 26, 2012 at 12:15 am

    Jason (re:23),

    The specific question that Mike L and I have debated is that of the necessity of ecclesiastical infallibility. Mike agrees that a doctrine of infallibility cannot be rigorously developed from the Scriptures or the writings of the Fathers. So his defense of ecclesiastical infallibility is essentially a philosophical one which rests on the argument that there is no way to distinguish between divine revelation and human opinion about revelation without an appeal to an infallible human institution, which is of course for the Catholic theologian is the Church. The arguments for and against this approach rest of different paradigms and perhaps the connection with Lane’s thread here is on this matter of appeal to such paradigms. Mike and I agree that the difference between Catholic and Protestant reflect differing interpretive paradigms but I think Mike and I have been very clear as to what these paradigms are. So as we move into the debate that Lane frames here, the question that we Reformed would have of the Catholics is what interpretive paradigms should be utilized to derive the doctrine of the papacy from the writings of the Fathers. As we speak to Roman Catholics it seems to us that this if often poorly defined.

    In the case you brought up of the liberals, we conservatives are quite adamant that we do not assume that either side can come to the debate in a completely neutral manner and analyze raw data with no bias whatsoever. This is impossible we would argue. And for the most intellectually honest liberals I think they will concede this. They are bringing something into the debate. So now as we look at Catholicism we don’t for a minute think that the Roman Catholic scholar approaches the interpretation of the Fathers to gain a doctrine of the papacy in a neutral manner. So how exactly does the Roman Catholic interpret the Fathers in order to come to a proper understanding of the role of the Bishop of Rome? This is the sort of question that Lane is asking in #18.

    In your example to Lane of Jesus at 6 yrs old, I would say that Jesus just did not know the full extent of his ministry at that point. I suppose that analogy would hold to the case at hand if it is true that the ECF’s just did not know the full extent of the role of the Bishop of Rome and nothing they said collectively would in any way contradict what Roman Catholic theologians would later claim for the role and authority of the Roman Bishop. Thus for example, what Clement of Rome claimed for his authority at the turn of the 1st century could not contradict in any way what the popes of the High Middle Ages claimed as their rightful authority. So how do we go about deciding whether this is indeed the case?

  28. July 26, 2012 at 12:15 am

    Andrew,

    The discussion that Lane has started centers around the basis for the office of the Pope. If we take your words here, where in Christology, if anywhere, do you necessarily see the role of Pope displayed? I certainly don’t see it. But maybe I don’t know where to look…

    Well, my main point was not that the papacy can be demonstrated by Christology (and I hesitate to wade in those waters). Instead, I was trying to show that the idea of development in the self-understanding of the mystical body of Christ, the church, should not be easily dismissed by those who grant development in the self-understanding of the Head of that body, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus wasn’t born able to speak German and do crosswords. He learned things, he grew in stature and wisdom, and in favor with God and man. So if our ecclesiology grows from our Christology, then Newman’s idea of development shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand. Sure, none of this proves the papacy, but that wasn’t my intent.

    I have not yet found a reason, in my studies of Church History, the Bible, or Christology, of why I should start listening to the Pope for me to help understand any rules of faith and practice, as our confession states. Said another way, why should I go read the Pope’s blog or twitter feed, instead of GreenBaggins? I’ve been harsh at times with the people around here, but at the end of the day, I kind of like this place. Do you know of any reasons why I should go hang with the Pope?

    Every time I hang with the pope he sticks me with the bar tab, but other than that he’s rad.

    I have more serious and substantial thoughts on this, but I will refrain from posting them now.

  29. July 26, 2012 at 12:25 am

    Thanks, Jason. I look forward to further thoughts that you put out. Take care.

  30. TurretinFan said,

    July 26, 2012 at 2:18 am

    Cross quotes Dollinger thus:

    How many Fathers have busied themselves with these texts, yet not one of them whose commentaries we possess-Origen, Chrysostom, Hilary, Augustine, Cyril, Theodoret, and those whose interpretations are collected in catenas-has dropped the faintest hint that the primacy of Rome is the consequence of the commission and promise to Peter! Not one of them has explained the rock or foundation on which Christ would build His church of the office given to Peter to be transmitted to his successors.

    Cross then alleges: “The problem is that that claim is easily refuted.”

    But look at the examples he tries to provide:

    Tertullian is his starting place, but the quotation he provide doesn’t even mention Rome. In fact, not a single one of his quotations even mentions Rome.

    Nor does Tertullian (at least in the quotation he provides) mention anything about the gift to Peter being transmitted to someone other than Peter. In fact, that’s yet another commonality to the quotations he provides.

    So, not only do the quotations fail to provide the faintest hint that the primacy of Rome is the consequence of the commission and promise to Peter, none of the quotations explained the rock or foundation on which Christ would build His church of the office given to Peter to be transmitted to his successors. Dollinger’s claim is not refuted – it is confirmed.

    – TurretinFan

  31. TurretinFan said,

    July 26, 2012 at 2:32 am

    Sean, on the other hand, provides one quotation that mentions Rome and another that mentions succession. But based on Sean’s wording, I think it’s safe to say he’s aware of the fact that even someone as late and Western as Augustine isn’t a counter-example.

    William Webster provides an excellent analysis of Augustine’s view of Matthew 16, as well as that of other fathers, beginning from Tertullian:

    http://www.christiantruth.com/articles/mt16.html

    -TurretinFan

  32. johnbugay said,

    July 26, 2012 at 4:13 am

    Readers here who want to keep “interpretive paradigms” in mind should consider that Archbishop Roland Minnerath, who was a contributor to the Vatican’s 1989 Historical and Theological Symposium, which was directed by the Vatican’s Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences, at the request of the then Cardinal Ratzinger’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, on the theme: “The Primacy of the Bishop of Rome in the First Millennium: Research and Evidence,” has made the admission that the Eastern Orthodox churches “never shared the Petrine theology as elaborated in the West.”

    Here’s Minnerath’s statement in context:

    Here’s the statement in context:
    In the first millennium there was no question of the Roman bishops governing the church in distant solitude. They used to take their decisions together with their synod, held once or twice a year. When matters of universal concern arose, they resorted to the ecumenical council. Even [Pope] Leo [I], who struggled for the apostolic principle over the political one, acknowledged that only the emperor would have the power to convoke an ecumenical council and protect the church.

    At the heart of the estrangement that progressively arose between East and West, there may be a historical misunderstanding. The East never shared the Petrine theology as elaborated in the West. It never accepted that the protos in the universal church could claim to be the unique successor or vicar of Peter. So the East assumed that the synodal constitution of the church would be jeopardized by the very existence of a Petrine office with potentially universal competencies in the government of the church (in How Can the Petrine Ministry Be a Service to the Unity of the Universal Church? James F. Puglisi, Editor, Grand Rapids, MI and Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, ©2010, pgs. 34-48).

    I don’t think it could be said that Archbishop Minnerath was operating from a question-begging “solo Scriptura” paradigm.

    So Protestants have sufficient grounds to reject the papacy merely on Eastern Orthodox terms.

    In any event, the fact that Rome never made its historical case for the papacy means that whenever we are asked to now accept the papacy, the burden of proof lies with the papacy to prove its own case, before anyone “separating” from it needs to formulate a case.

  33. johnbugay said,

    July 26, 2012 at 4:30 am

    Speaking of that historical case for the papacy, J. Michael Miller, in his doctoral dissertation, The Divine Right of the Papacy in Recent Ecumenical Theology (Universita Gregoriana Editrice, Roma 1980):

    Protestant and Catholic theologians agree that Leo the Great (+464) drew together the threads of a theory on Roman primacy which had been in the process of formation for at least two centuries. In his theological presentation, Leo taught the dominical institution [the direct institution by Christ] of the papacy in a way which had a great influence on subsequent tradition. His theory explaining the relationship between Christ and Peter, and between Peter and the pope, was at the basis of the classical Catholic understanding of Roman primacy iure divino [by divine right].

    Leo based his theory of papal primacy ex institutione divina on the evidence of Scripture: Peter enjoyed a primacy within the apostolic college. Even before Leo’s appeal to the Petrine texts as a justification for Roman primacy, other ecclesiastical writers had already drawn attention to Peter’s leadership role among the apostles. [Miller’s note: “Although in the first two centuries the Petrine texts were not invoked to justify a preeminence of the bishop of Rome, at the same time there is no evidence that any pre-Nicene writer ever suggested that the religious position of Rome depended on its secular importance”. This is important for Roman Catholics; according to Minnerath, in my previous comment, the Eastern churches always believed Rome had some form of pre-eminence precisely because of its political importance. See the councils of Constantinople (381) and Chalcedon (451).]

    Leo interpreted Mt 16:18-19 in such a way that it was Christ himself who gave to Peter personally, and to him alone [emphasis added], a primatial role in the primitive Church. From his reading of the Scriptures, Leo concluded that the Lord gave to Peter, without any human mediation, a real potestas [power] within the apostolic college. Peter’s authority was a sharing in the potestas of Christ. Because of this intimate societas between the Lord and Peter, the apostle’s judgments were considered to be identical with those of Christ.

    Now, here is a point precisely where Leo’s reasoning can be challenged by exegesis. We know now that Peter’s “firstness” was not a kind of primacy of power, but a temporal primacy: he was the first to preach at Pentecost, he was the first to allow the Gentiles into the church, etc.

    A second constitutive element of Leo’s teaching on Roman primacy was his theory of the close relation between Peter and the pope. Although the idea of the Roman bishop as successor to Peter was known in the ecclesiastical tradition prior to Leo, such assertions were isolated and not based on rigorous argumentation [emphasis added]. Leo clarified his understanding of the link between the pope and St. Peter by using the legal concept of heredity. In the tradition of Roman law familiar to him, the haeres [heir] was acknowledged as having the same rights, authority and obligations as the one whom he replaced. Legally there was no difference between the heir and the deceased. Leo adapted this idea to the authority received by Peter from Christ: the plenitude potestatis which had been given to Peter was also given fully and immediately to each of his successors. As his haeres, the pope enjoyed the same office as Peter. He took Peter’s place in his absence.

    Because he held the pope to be the vicarius Petri, Leo was able to bridge the gap between two fundamental ideas: the pope’s inheritance of Peter’s potestas and Peter’s continuing role in the Church. When the term vicarious was applied to the pope, it implied the identity and continuity of Peter’s office. The bishop of Rome was both successor and vicar of St. Peter. As such he received more than a delegationof power to substitute for Peter in his absence. The designation implied the active transcendent intervention of Peter who continued to hold a permanent office in the Church.

    And again, this was THE argument in favor of the papacy in the fifth century. Pope Leo I is generally regarded as the first real pope, in the sense that he realized a “fully-developed” papacy.

    The Roman Catholics here need to defend this argument; they need to show why the Eastern church was wrong for never accepting it. It seems to me that God does not allow himself to be bound to some kind of permanent institution based on Roman hereditary laws.

  34. Eric Castleman said,

    July 26, 2012 at 7:15 am

    I am EO, and my perspective on this discussion is that Catholics have the upper hand against protestants because the reformation accepted the dogmas that led to papal supremacy – the difference being -that Roman Catholicism is consistent with such doctrinal positions as ADS and the Filioque, though I do not intend to divorce them, just make the distinction. So, Rome doesn’t have a clear cut patristic source for papal infallibility, though, neither does reformed theology have a patristic father in support of sola scriptura. Both positions are predicated upond divine simplicity. Both ideas profess that in order to have unity, authority must not be broken down, but centralized to a single source. The problem with this is that it isn’t Christianity, but Neoplatonic. It is the One and multiplicity. However, how does the schema work in regards to Triadology and Christology? Only when you force the divine nature to be such, do you have such ideas as the Filioque, and guess what? Papal infallibility.

    However, I am Eastern Orthodox, and we reject such notions of God, which is why we are separated from Rome. However, reformation churches accept ADS and the Filioque – which is why, as I said above, gives Rome the upper hand, because it actually is consistent, since Divine Simplicity and the Filioque can’t be argued from scripture alone, but presupposes a philosophical premise which is read into scripture. Sola scriptura fail.

    Orthodox ninja OUT!!! (puff of smoke)

  35. johnbugay said,

    July 26, 2012 at 7:24 am

    Eric, in Sola Scriptura, if you don’t caricature the position, God himself is the sole authority. Scripture is the “lens”, the interpretation. Rome makes itself the “lens” for the “lens”. The Roman position is very convoluted, and it’s not correct to say that “the Reformation accepted the dogmas that led to papal supremacy”. The Reformation was the beginning of an examination of such things.

  36. July 26, 2012 at 7:56 am

    Hi Jason at 28:

    I promise I will stop analyzing your words alone. But I think there’s some things we need to think about.

    “Well, my main point was not that the papacy can be demonstrated by Christology (and I hesitate to wade in those waters). Instead, I was trying to show that the idea of development in the self-understanding of the mystical body of Christ, the church, should not be easily dismissed by those who grant development in the self-understanding of the Head of that body, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus wasn’t born able to speak German and do crosswords. He learned things, he grew in stature and wisdom, and in favor with God and man. So if our ecclesiology grows from our Christology, then Newman’s idea of development shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand. Sure, none of this proves the papacy, but that wasn’t my intent.”

    I appreciate your unwillingness to pull out the “Christology” card in this discussion. What do I mean? Well, I’ve seen it now several times, when a discussion is brought up (whether it be creation, or 2 kingdoms, or others), and then a Christological argument is made on behalf of one side. Well, between you and me, that’s a power-play move, for either side. So I will actually grant you a lot of credit – perhaps I was trying to lull you in, and you didn’t bite! I don’t know why I do what I do (perhaps that’s what I took to Calvinism at an early age – it just made sense…).

    But consider that you were the one that, in the first place, did indeed bring up Christology in the debate. I can follow your logic, about what Jesus of Nazareth was like when he was a 6 year old. But here’s the thing – I’m not exactly sure why in your thought / theological formulation, you use that construct / example (of a young Jesus) and then make your defining point, about how Christology drives eclessiology. What I am saying is, you are kind of softening your approach – which I think was particularly wise. So I just want to point that out.

    Now, that does leave the question open still, though – should we evaluate the Papacy from the viewpoint of Orthodox (not meaning eastern) Christology? Well, I happen to think so. We should evaluate the Papacy in many ways, comparing Orthodox Christianity to it, and see whether it stands or falls.

    I am an accountant, and not a professional theologian. So I am not the person to do this (that defense). But I can read and pray about it all the same, and I invite anyone here to make a clear stab at this.

    There’s some things you say about your understanding about the doctrine of Scripture that, if you are willing, I would like to discuss with you. I’m going back, instead of your comment at 28, but rather to the first one I responded to. You talk about the circularity and so forth.

    I just want you to know, despite my lack of formal training, I’ve been schooled and brought along by faithful men, in regard to my thoughts on Scripture. There’s more to be discussed here. Because the latest comment here (about how Protestants view things using a “lens”) is, in my view, spot on. I can’t always keep up with everyone here on GB. But you bring up some interesting points, and given your background and your change in status, there’s some particularly interesting things we could explore.

    I apologize for the psychoanalysis, and I must sound extremely condescending. It’s just, I have really thought about the Doctrine of Scripture. Productively or not, God knows. But after considering, I’ve come away with a peace about how I view Scritpure, in my protestant tradition, that I am unable to fully capture in words. But if people are willing to wade through the lengthy prose from my fingers, I would love to share my personal encounter with the Bible, my rediscovery with it, and how the Bible is leading me to ultimately deeper and more meaningful fellowship and communion with the One true and living God.

    May God be praised through our blogging and commenting,
    Andrew

  37. Bryan Cross said,

    July 26, 2012 at 8:01 am

    Bob S, (re: #21)

    IOW it seems to me … that it is the height of arrogant sinfulness to assume your remarks are more perspicuous than Scripture,

    You’ll be putting Lane out of a job. Every week he gets up, reads a passage of Scripture, and then explains it, which performatively assumes that his explanation is more perspicuous than is the text. Otherwise, he would merely read the text out loud, and then sit down in silence. Your statement makes all expository preaching the “height of arrogant sinfulness.”

    But not if you continue in this same line of bashing private interpretation, all the while asserting the primacy of your own interpretation, much more the perspicuity of your comments and Rome’s over Scripture.

    If you think I have asserted the “primacy” of my own interpretation, you have misunderstood me. I have said nothing about my own interpretation. I only noted that Stevens’ interpretation is one among others, and that by using the solo scriptura methodology he uses to arrive at his interpretation of the three passages he discusses, he presupposes the truth of Protestantism.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  38. Bryan Cross said,

    July 26, 2012 at 8:05 am

    TF,

    The purpose of the patristic quotations I cited in #24 was only to show that there is explicit recognition among the Church Fathers that Christ chose to build His Church on St. Peter, and that this is a way they understood Matthew 16. I assumed Lane was already sufficiently familiar with what I have written elsewhere regarding the patristic evidence for apostolic succession (see here) and the patristic evidence for the primacy of the Chair of St. Peter at Rome (see here). When the citations I provided in #24 are considered in that broader context (rather than abstracted from that context), then patristic evidence for Peter being the rock on which Christ built His Church is evidence for a patristic recognition of the primacy of the episcopal succession from Peter, particularly in the See he designated as preserving the office to which Christ appointed him when giving to him the keys of the kingdom.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  39. July 26, 2012 at 8:18 am

    Andrew M at 27 et al:

    Interesting about your thoughts on the 6 year old Jesus:

    “In your example to Lane of Jesus at 6 yrs old, I would say that Jesus just did not know the full extent of his ministry at that point. I suppose that analogy would hold to the case at hand if it is true that the ECF’s just did not know the full extent of the role of the Bishop of Rome and nothing they said coIn your example to Lane of Jesus at 6 yrs old, I would say that Jesus just did not know the full extent of his ministry at that point. I suppose that analogy would hold to the case at hand if it is true that the ECF’s just did not know the full extent of the role of the Bishop of Rome and nothing they said collectively would in any way contradict what Roman Catholic theologians would later claim for the role and authority of the Roman Bishop. Thus for example, what Clement of Rome claimed for his authority at the turn of the 1st century could not contradict in any way what the popes of the High Middle Ages claimed as their rightful authority. So how do we go about deciding whether this is indeed the case?llectively would in any way contradict what Roman Catholic theologians would later claim for the role and authority of the Roman Bishop. Thus for example, what Clement of Rome claimed for his authority at the turn of the 1st century could not contradict in any way what the popes of the High Middle Ages claimed as their rightful authority. So how do we go about deciding whether this is indeed the case?”

    Look, everyone, let’s step back a second. The theology that each one of us personally holds to, EO, protestant, Romanist, etc etc, our beliefs and clingings do not exist in a vacuum. Let’s consider just one quick thing, and I am really sorry, that I am not as sophisticated as you.

    I don’t see this evaluation and continued thinking about the 6 year old Jesus as particularly helpful for Lane’s question. I don’t mean to be harsh.

    But said more simply, we are simply saying that not all of the theology that we hold to today existed in its most deveolped form. We are beings that exist in time – this should not surprise us that there were steps that occured, as God’s plan of redemption unfolded in history! I mean, it’s just common sense.

    So the real question we are asking is how specifically did the doctrine of the Pope develop and on what basis might a Christian hold to that doctrine, given the reformation (Luther and Calvin) and their arguments.

    And we’re trying to see what ECF’s taught.

    Well, again, let’s explode this out further. How about we take that thought of looking to ECFs, and instead, look to the OT.

    Where in the OT do we find the doctrine of the Pope?

    We should be able to find it.

    Because what is the Bible doing? It is God’s Word, revealing to us God’s plan to save a people for himself. My heart melts as I approach Scripture in the morning, as I read it in light of God’s love and what He has done for His people, over the centuries.

    The people of the OT did not have what we have brothers! We look back to Christ, and the story told by the Bible, to us, is not just the greatest story ever told, but the greatest story that could EVER be told! (to borrow some of Plantinga’s words).

    Again, we do not exist in a vacuum. We all carry the baggage of our upbringing. I’ve only ever been, and likely will always be, a protestant. There’s just too much good stuff I find when I do my personal devotions in the morning, for me to want to go seek the Pontiff for his advice. Now if he wants to golf with me, well, maybe then him and I have something to talk about…

  40. July 26, 2012 at 8:32 am

    PS I guess if I have a point, yes, we can consider the 6 year old Jesus, if we must. But I’m suggesting a new strategy – “let the wookie win.”

    My point: anyone can type type type and bury each other in long comments. Those the “wookies.”

    My protestant brothers, we have nothing to defend! I don’t want to get in the habit of quoting the Swiss guy that we seem to be moving away from, but I think we can say with Mr. Barth, “The best theology would need no advocates: it would prove itself.” (from his wikipedia page).

    Let’s try to get the Bryan Cross’s and Jason Stellman’s talking. Protestant folks, we are comfortable where we are at. If we can get them talking, maybe we can get them to see that, yes, we Protestants do not accept their Pope’s teaching, but we have good reason. And at the end of the day, we can both sides argue till we are blue in the face. The 6 year old thing is a rabbit trail – I mean, just look at yourself – you were once 6 years old! Where was your theology when you were six?

    I’ll tell you – God was bringing you along, into a deeper appreciation for who He is and His love for you. Yes, YOU! That’s where Jesus was when he was six. He believed his mother and father and grew up in wisdom and stature. Let’s not get all mystical about the person of Jesus. At the end of the day, yes, Christology is that kind of mysterious set of doctrines that NONE OF US is going to nail down. So we can read what great minds thought (thinking especially McGuckin here, that’s a shout out to you EO readers!). But let’s do what Jason says – wade carefully into the Christological waters.

    I want to see someone provide a fully orbed defense of the doctrine of the Pope from the Old Testament. I challenge, because I believe, it can not be done. The OT points to Christ, not the Pope. And HE is the true head of the church.

    Ninja smoke,

    Andrew

  41. July 26, 2012 at 8:39 am

    PPS we need not fear that some are swimming the Tiber. It’s not a one way only swim – I hear the waters are shark infested, but maybe, just MAYBE, we’ll find those willing to do the return trip. I hear the grass isn’t always greener on the other side…

  42. July 26, 2012 at 8:50 am

    Last comment – do any of you Catholic brothers have a golf outing scheduled with the Pope? We’ve been talking about creation around here, I wonder if he’s ever heard about something called, the “theory of evolution.” It’s no biggee, we’ve got it under control over here on our side, just thought maybe if you were golfing or something, you could ask…

    I’ve also heard some good jokes where they mention the “Pope.” That’s probably the extent of my knowledge of the things in this thread. But I’ve not yet received a reason why I can’t talk my mind here, anyone can comment right? What else is the point of all of this, unless we are completely forthright with your thoughts…

    Maybe stick to good jokes and only bring up theology on the golf course if you are trying to get in his head / mess up his golf game.

    Anyone know his handicap?

  43. Andrew McCallum said,

    July 26, 2012 at 9:18 am

    I don’t see this evaluation and continued thinking about the 6 year old Jesus as particularly helpful for Lane’s question. I don’t mean to be harsh. But said more simply, we are simply saying that not all of the theology that we hold to today existed in its most deveolped form.

    Andrew B,

    Rome would give a hearty “Amen” to your last sentence above. This is exactly their point. The reason why the beliefs concerning the Bishop of Rome sound so different as we compare let’s say 1st and 14th century statements on the power and authority of the Bishop of Rome is just this matter of doctrinal development. Rome feels she is lots smarter on the details of the deposit of the faith after 14 centuries of considering and formulating more exact statements of these doctrines.

    We Protestant types want to go back to the first century and determine exactly what the Fathers (East and West) believed about the extent of this authority. One of the difficulties in these dialogues is that Rome approaches the matter with a modern Roman paradigm. She has to, there is no alternative for the adherent of Roman Catholicism unless they are willing, at least for sake of ecumenical dialogue, to suspend such assumptions. But, as you can see from Bryan’s statements and the responses to them, these paradigmatic concerns are massive pink elephants in the room no matter how much both sides say they are ignoring them.

    Cheers for now….

  44. dave said,

    July 26, 2012 at 9:32 am

    (First time to comment for me.) As I read through the discussion of Christology driving Ecclesiology, in this case as it relates to developing self awareness, I am struck by how much sense it appears to make at first glance. However, to say that because Jesus grew in his self awareness the Church can be said to similarly develop is all well and good, but from a Reformed position there is one, I think major, caveat that must be made: Jesus was without sin and could therefore develop in his self awareness infallibly. Given the effects of sin on our whole person, is there any reason why we should expect the Church, perhaps more appropriately the Magisterium, to develop infallibly? Given the Fall, and its impact on those who descend from Adam by ordinary generation, who’s to say the West did not wrongly develop regarding the supremacy of the Bishop of Rome or on any other doctrine for that matter?

  45. johnbugay said,

    July 26, 2012 at 9:41 am

    Just for the sake of history on this topic, in another discussion here, Bryan offered a long litany of church fathers as evidence for the Chair of Peter; What is genuinely instructive is that Turretinfan has examined each and every citation he gave, and the results are very impressive.

    Here is a summary of Turretinfan’s analysis of these “numerous examples of Church Fathers other than bishops of Rome, referring to St. Peter or the See of Peter explicitly as the rock upon which Christ founded the Church, and to which Christ gave the keys of the Kingdom”:

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

    Hilary of Poitiers – the alleged quotation from Hilary is actually an amalgamation of various quotations, Is this really Hilary? Who knows! I would be surprised if it were Hilary, but it may be. Even if we assume that it is Hilary, all it shows is that Peter had some sort of primacy of honor above that of Paul (that’s not what Galatians teaches, but that’s another story). It doesn’t suggest that Peter had universal jurisdiction, nor that his superiority (of whatever kind) to Paul was passed on to someone else.

    Jerome – Bryan provides a single quotation from Jerome …. Jerome views Damasus as leader of the church of Rome, the Roman church, not the leader of the universal church …. Moreover, Jerome acknowledges that pope Liberius likewise fell into heresy, which does not fit the modern day paradigm of Roman primacy…. “The sword of God, which is the living Word of God, strikes through the things which men of their own accord, without the authority and testimonies of Scripture, invent and think up, pretending that it is apostolic tradition.”

    Macarius of Egypt – (a relatively obscure 4th century “saint”), …. Macarius clearly thinks that Peter is someone important (“in spite of being what he was”), but at the same time he does not paint an unrealistic picture of him…..I should point out that there is some question about the authenticity of these homilies….

    Cyril of Jerusalem -….Let’s set aside the fact that Cyril is relating to us the fictional account of Peter’s and Paul’s showdown with Simon Magus, the first heretic. What does the text say? It gives Peter and Paul equal billing as “chief rulers of the church,” and it says Peter carries the keys of heaven….What does the text say? It gives Peter and Paul equal billing as “chief rulers of the church,” and it says Peter carries the keys of heaven.

    Basil the Great aka Basil of Caesarea – For Basil, Bryan again combined quotations…..This is one example that Basil is giving regarding the fact that a name calls to mind a whole host of different details of a person. [One of these citations was not even Basil, but “pseudo-Basil”] …. Basil of Caesarea denied explicitly the headship of any man over Christ’s Church. Yet, Mr. Cross, apparently wholly unfamiliar with the history of eastern vs. western relations, cites Basil as a proponent of papal primacy that was utterly foreign to Basil’s ecclesiology. Basil did not apply Matthew 16 to the bishop of Rome, and Mr. Cross should be ashamed of his attempt to mislead others.

    Sergius, (649 A.D.)”, writing to to Pope Theodore, says -A .D. “is redundant but because the date itself is not the right year” …. [this writer is] not someone I would think of as a church father. He is writing in the middle of the 7th century, and it appears that the only extant version of his writing is something preserved by Romans at Rome.

    Maximus the Confessor “(c. 650)” of Constantinople – Two quotations were provided by Mr. Cross….Tracking this one down was a little harder than some of the others….The quotation is the first half of a selection “From a letter which was written to Rome,” PG 91:137-40. More specifically, these are extracts taken from a letter of Anastasius’s Letter to John the Deacon. John the Deacon (aka Johannes Hymonides) and Anastasius, librarian of the Roman church, are both Roman.

    Turretinfan’s conclusion:

    “This may seem like somewhat of an overkill in response to Mr. Cross’ string citation of Fathers. Indeed, in the interest of fairness to Mr. Cross, I should point out that after I and Pastor King had posted sections of the above into the comment box, Mr. Cross seemed to retreat from his original position …. Of course, even this limited position seems hard to defend, beyond a few fathers suggesting that Peter himself was the rock or that Peter himself personally held the keys. And, of course, such a view does not amount to papal primacy, and consequently does not contradict Cardinal Congar’s admission that “Except at Rome, this passage was not applied by the Fathers to the papal primacy ….”

    And my bottom line is, each and every “citation of support” for different aspects of the papacy need to be examined in detail, because, while they are often presented by Roman Catholic Apologists as evidence, the real story is often quite different.

  46. July 26, 2012 at 9:49 am

    Andrew M:

    “But, as you can see from Bryan’s statements and the responses to them, these paradigmatic concerns are massive pink elephants in the room no matter how much both sides say they are ignoring them.”

    Thanks for your thoughts towards me, and your help! As you can tell, I am a bit of a goofball, and I shouldn’t be so quick to immediately claim ignorance.

    As Machen said, “The Christian religion flourishes not in the darkness but in the light. Intellectual slothfulness is but a quack remedy for unbelief; the true remedy is consecration of intellectual powers to the service of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

    http://jgmachen.org/2012/05/06/christian-scholarship-xii/

    I take my leave of you now, for reals, because I really appreciate all of you Christian scholars. For those of us reading at home, let’s remember, this is only a blog. Only a blog. Make sure to use the ordinary means of grace (see WSC 89). Go to church. Read your Bible, and pray.

    If you feel like having a little break, see what the internet apologists are up to.

    Subjecting all my intellectual powers, my actions, and I am and will do, to the Lord Jesus Christ,
    Andrew

  47. Bryan Cross said,

    July 26, 2012 at 10:57 am

    Andrew M, (re: #44)

    The reason why the beliefs concerning the Bishop of Rome sound so different as we compare let’s say 1st and 14th century statements on the power and authority of the Bishop of Rome is just this matter of doctrinal development. Rome feels she is lots smarter on the details of the deposit of the faith after 14 centuries of considering and formulating more exact statements of these doctrines.

    Keep in mind that you’re posting this on the blog of a PCA pastor who in April just defended the notion of development of doctrine. See his comment #2 under his post titled “Burden of Proof in Protestant-Catholic Dialogue” as a way of explaining why the Fathers do not know of the Reformed gospel.

    It is arbitrary to reject the possibility of development of doctrine as applied to the papacy, while affirming the development of doctrine with respect to soteriology.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  48. July 26, 2012 at 11:13 am

    Bryan M:

    “It is arbitrary to reject the possibility of development of doctrine as applied to the papacy, while affirming the development of doctrine with respect to soteriology.”

    I’m truly ignorant with regard to Catholicism. I found the “Doctrines of Grace” at age 18 (coming from a baptist upbringing) and have been reveling in what I found.

    My question to you:

    Within the tradition I now exist, I view Calvin and Luther’s understanding of the doctrine of the Papacy to be the most true to new testatament teachings. Said another way, yes, the Papacy did develop, it developed into what is stated in the Institutes of the Christian Religion. Why should I reject Calvin and instead join with someone else? You may consider this a rhetorical flourish if you like – so I am remaining tight lipped (and in a sense, “silent”) despite the words coming from my fingers here. Said another way, make your claim that Calvin in wrong and the Pope is right. Remember, when I found John Calvin, I was like a duck to water. So I’m not exactly running to put my tiber shorts on and take a dip. Or said rather, I’m a bit out of shape – likely the sharks would have a feast day if I felt like taking a dip.

    Just a blog,
    Andrew

  49. rcjr said,

    July 26, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    Ignore if this has already been covered, but have you noticed that Rome argues that the church determines and legitimizes the canon (when the truth is she merely received it) and then in turn argues that papal authority is grounded in a Biblical account of Caesarea Philippi, which of course has no authority until the church gave it authority. Seems like a fairly serious chicken-egg sticky wicket to me.

  50. July 26, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    Bryan Cross, #47: “Keep in mind that you’re posting this on the blog of a PCA pastor who in April just defended the notion of development of doctrine. See his comment #2 under his post titled “Burden of Proof in Protestant-Catholic Dialogue” as a way of explaining why the Fathers do not know of the Reformed gospel.”

    Lane Keister: “Secondly, you are not allowing for the development of doctrine. Doctrines gain in specificity, especially as they are challenged by heresy. But gains in specificity could be incorrect gains. Contrary to Romanists, I affirm that the church can enter into apostasy (witness Old Testament Israel and Judah). If we take the analogy of a tree, we can get at what I am trying to say. The early church may be compared to the trunk of a tree. Romanists branch off one way, Eastern Orthodox another way, and Protestants a third way. Elements in the early church sometimes point way, sometimes another. All we as Protestants, therefore, need to do is prove continuity with the trunk. Protestant arguments that Romanism is wrong depend on exegesis, not on historical argumentation. If you argue the way you propose, then you are confusing the branch stage of church history with the trunk stage of church history. What you are asserting is equivalent to saying that if John Calvin had lived in the early church, they would have thrown him out. I seriously doubt it.”

    Actually Pastor Lane, I think Protestant arguments that Romanism is wrong utilizes both exegetical arguments and historical arguments.

  51. July 26, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    Bryan Cross, #47: “It is arbitrary to reject the possibility of development of doctrine as applied to the papacy, while affirming the development of doctrine with respect to soteriology.”

    With regards to your statement that there’s development of doctrine with respect to soteriology, would the doctrine of Extra ecclesiam nulla salus count as a soteriological doctrine that developed over time?

    Also, with respect to Jason Stellman I just read the following excerpt dated 7/24/2012:

    Just a few weeks ago I leaned over and looked Jason in the eye. He was sitting on the couch in my office, a matter of feet from where I am sitting right now. I’m sure he noted with some humor my lava lamps, which would have been directly behind me as I spoke. “If you are going to Rome, go all the way. Mary, Popes, the whole nine yards. Then debate me on it.” He laughed.

    As I sadly read the above cited words I could not help but shake my head. Jason knows the Apostles did not teach what Rome teaches on so many things. He knows there wasn’t a single person at Nicea who believes what Rome requires him to believe de fide today, and that he has to buy into a massively complex, easily challenged house of philosophical cards to keep the Roman authority system standing.”

    From: Dear Jason: the Church Won? You Didn’t Even Throw a Punch, My Friend

  52. Andrew McCallum said,

    July 26, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    It is arbitrary to reject the possibility of development of doctrine as applied to the papacy, while affirming the development of doctrine with respect to soteriology.

    Bryan,

    I really don’t want to reject out of hand the possibility that the doctrines surrounding the authority of the Roman Bishop developed properly from what we find in the deposit of the faith. The precise role that the Bishop of Rome plays in the RCC system, and how it developed, should be part of the discussion as Catholics and Protestants speak to each other. We Reformed just want to know at the outset what the starting point is with regards to Rome and her bishop. You mention the development of soteriology – there is lots in the Scriptures, OT and NT, on soteriology so we have a good starting point for discussions of the development of soteriology. But where do we start with respect to Rome? There is of course lots in the Scriptures on the Apostles in general and Peter specifically, but there is no obvious connection made between Peter and Rome in the biblical corpus. This connection is made in later centuries. So how the connection is made and whether it is justified is the sort of thing that I imagine that Lane will get into in upcoming posts.

    So yes, let’s talk about the development of the doctrines surrounding the papacy. This is just what we need to focus on.

  53. johnbugay said,

    July 26, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    From TUAD #49:

    The early church may be compared to the trunk of a tree. Romanists branch off one way, Eastern Orthodox another way, and Protestants a third way. Elements in the early church sometimes point way, sometimes another. All we as Protestants, therefore, need to do is prove continuity with the trunk.

    I don’t know that this “tree” metaphor is an entirely helpful metaphor. There is too much opportunity for equivocation. Roman Catholics will use it as a metaphor for “authority of the succession of individuals”, and Protestants use it as a metaphor for orthodox doctrine.

    But in reality, if you look at the early church (in the first several centuries), there were multiple factions, in multiple ways. I’m not saying this in the sense that there was no common orthodoxy in the Apostolic era when the New Testament was being written. Walter Bauer (of the Bauer thesis) documented differences in places like Edessa and Alexandria and Rome. Darrell Bock has even (in “Missing Gospels”) noted that there is something helpful about this concept. We are certainly willing to say that the concept of “monarchical bishop” appeared earlier in Antioch (per Ignatius) than in Rome (mid second-century).

    There are clear differences by the fourth and fifth centuries, as we are able to talk about the Alexandrian hermeneutic, the Antiochian hermeneutic, and Rome which seemed to be contemplating how wonderful it was.

    The schisms surrounding the Christology of the fifth century were horrific (for a wide range of reasons, some of which were doctrinal. And many theologians today are quite willing to say that the “Nestorians” were not heretics, including JPII in 1994).

    At the beginning of the second century, it seems quite likely that there was no longer a “tree trunk”, merely a structure where there was already disagreement and it was already becoming a tangled mess.

  54. Bryan Cross said,

    July 26, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    rcjr, (re: #48)

    Rome argues that the church determines and legitimizes the canon (when the truth is she merely received it) and then in turn argues that papal authority is grounded in a Biblical account of Caesarea Philippi, which of course has no authority until the church gave it authority. Seems like a fairly serious chicken-egg sticky wicket to me.

    This would be a chicken-egg circularity if, according to the Catholic Church, the authority of the Church was derived from Scripture and the authority of Scripture was derived from the Church. But the Catholic position is not circular. That’s because, according to the Catholic Church, her intrinsic divine authority comes directly from Christ Himself. He Himself gave the keys of the Kingdom to Peter. Likewise, the intrinsic divine authority of Scripture belongs to Scripture because it is divinely inspired (God-breathed) by the Holy Spirit.

    In both cases, each also derives extrinsic authority from the testimony of the other. The authority Scripture has by way of the Church’s recognition and approbation is that of divine attestation and testimony concerning the identity and nature of Scripture. I have explained this in comments #247, 251, and 255 of the Josh Lim thread at CTC. Similarly, Scripture testifies to the authority of the Church, and in that way Scripture gives extrinsic authority to the Church. So both have intrinsic authority, and both also have extrinsic authority from the other.

    Here too, there is no circularity, because in the order of knowing, we come to know the divine authority of Scripture through the testimony of the Church, and we come to believe the divine authority of the Church through the motives of credibility. That’s a non-circular line of reasoning. Once their [i.e. the Church and Scripture] divine authority has been established in this non-circular way, then there is nothing circular about two divine authorities each testifying to the divine authority of the other, just as there is nothing necessarily circular about the Father testifying to the divine authority of His Son, and the Son testifying to the divine authority of the Father. The problem of circularity arises in lines of reasoning, not in the mutual testimony by two divine authorities concerning the authority of the other.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  55. July 26, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    For the record, while I am grateful to James for spending some time with me, he only carved out a small fraction of the time given to me by other men whose counsel I sought. I flew to Phoenix on a Tuesday and back to seattle on a Thursday just to have around 90 minutes of time with James on a Wednesday.

    Again, I don’t want to appear unappreciative, but we barely had the time to dance around each other in the ring and land a jab or two. If I didn’t “throw a punch” it’s because the bell rang earlier than I expected!

  56. johnbugay said,

    July 26, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    Jason #56: Two things:

    1. You are mixing your metaphors: “I fought the church and the church won” — it’s not James White against whom you didn’t throw a punch. He meant, you never threw a punch at the RCC.

    2. If you were going to see him, why didn’t you prepare in any event? Were you hoping to learn something from him? Or were you hoping to convince him?

  57. July 26, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    John,

    1. But the only way James can assess my fight is by the brief time we spent together. Other than that, he has no idea what my fight has been like.

    2. Oh, I prepared plenty. Unfortunately I only got through a small portion of my written questions before we had to wrap up.

    Again, I’m thankful for the time, but I wish it had been longer.

  58. johnbugay said,

    July 26, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    Bryan #55: Bryan — There are a half dozen things wrong with your response here:

    1. You are making an assumption about the nature of Peter’s “authority” – what “authority” in fact was given to him, when that’s by no means clear from Scripture.

    2. You are making an illicit comparison between Peter’s actual authority, and the authority of Scripture.

    3. You are making an illicit comparison between Peter and the Roman Catholic hierarchy of today (no one outside of these folks in “the Church” has any authority at all)

    4. You are making the assumption that, whatever authority that Peter (uniquely, as Peter qua Peter) did have, that he could pass that on in any way, much less the way you are assuming that he did it.

    5. You say, “Scripture testifies to the authority of the Church”. But

    a) What passage(s) are you alluding to?

    b) What type of authority do they assign to “the church”?

    6. You say, “we come to know the divine authority of Scripture through the testimony of the Church”. But that is neither self-evident nor self-explanatory.

  59. rcjr said,

    July 26, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    Bryan,

    Thanks for the explanation. I like the distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic in the sense that it is Jesus giving Peter the power, not the recording of that event that gives him that power. I don’t, on the other hand much care for the distinction insofar as intrinsic plays out as invisible and unassailable. That is to say, how do we know Jesus gave this power to Peter apart from you all saying so when the only way we know Jesus said this is because text x says so, which text, while it may have an invisible, unassailable authority, we know is authoritative is because some Pope way down the line turned “We receive these books…” into “We declare these books…” In short, my argument is not on the a priori or ontological level but a posteriori and epistemological level if I’m not bungling my fancy words. We know the Bible is the Bible because the Pope says so. We know the Pope has the authority to do this because the Bible says so. Or perhaps to be more fair, “We defend the Bible as the Bible by affirming the Pope says it’s the Bible. We defend the Pope’s authority to so declare on the basis of what is in the Bible.

  60. johnbugay said,

    July 26, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    Jason 58: Unfortunately I only got through a small portion of my written questions before we had to wrap up.

    He is the only person in the world who could have answered those questions for you? Did you honestly have questions at that point, or was this meeting a formality (so you could then plausibly say, “I talked with everyone, even James White!”)?

  61. July 26, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    Actually, John. I have been orchestrating this thing since the ’80s. In fact, I anonymously funded James’s education in the hopes that I could one day sit down with him for an hour and a half and then brag that he couldn’t convince me.

  62. Sean said,

    July 26, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    johnbugay,

    Why would you even think that Jason met with James and apparently other men only so that he could gloat about who he met with?

    That is very uncharitable, which should be obvious. Notice how Jason did not even volunteer that he met with James. It was James who volunteered it.

  63. johnbugay said,

    July 26, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    Jason, you have in reality been making this “investigation” since 2008. If you couldn’t find all the major theologians you needed to find, to answer all the questions you could possibly ask in that time, well, it really does seem as if you weren’t trying all that hard.

  64. July 26, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    There you go again, John. You were one of the first commenters when I resigned, calling me a liar. Seems you haven’t changed your tune, despite backing off when told what a non-Christian you look like when you get mad.

  65. Sean said,

    July 26, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    johnbugay,

    Which theologians and bishops did you fly out to see and visit with when you decided to abandon your Catholic faith?

  66. johnbugay said,

    July 26, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    Sean, Jason did announce to the world that he met with James White on his own blog.

  67. johnbugay said,

    July 26, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    Jason 65, if this appears as if I’m calling you a liar, then …

    And Sean 66, I talked both with “a priest from Opus Dei”, and also my own pastor, who really didn’t seem all that eager to persuade me to stay.

  68. July 26, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    Hey now – so I don’t think my comments are making it through…but…

    When my ex-girlfriend dumped me, I moved on.

    Jason, et al:

    We should be able to have a Roman / Geneva dialogue, and keep personal matters out of it. This is important. I for one, will never again mention golf (I will try really hard!!)

  69. July 26, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    Jason, if this appears as if I’m calling you a liar, then …

    And that would be my cue to stop participating in this thread.

  70. Brandon said,

    July 26, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    I’m more of a lurker than a commenter but I want to briefly opine.

    I’d like to see an actual discussion take place and not the verbal spat that Jason and John have with one another. I understand Jason, that John is the one addressing you, but if you guys want to have a discussion about your difference I believe it would be more appropriate to do so in another forum

    Given your opinions on the matter, John, wouldn’t this be like casting pearl before swine (I hope you do not gather from this that I am identifying you as swine, Jason)? I’m not trying to get wishy-washy. Have disagreements. If you have personal issues, fine. But this lurker would appreciate reading about the important issues and not the personal spats. Just my 2 cents…

  71. johnbugay said,

    July 26, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    Brandon, I addressed him on his own blog, but he didn’t address me back. He just sat back while everybody else said I was “mean”.

    We’ve had a fairly civil email exchange recently, but he offered nothing of substance.

    He wants to make these grand announcements, but when somebody challenges him, he just seems to want to crumple.

    I’m not really even challenging him all that aggressively. I asked him how ready he really was to meet with James White, and, I sort of hinted that, given his proximity to WSC and his notoriety, he could have asked really hard questions of almost anyone else in the world.

    How is that calling him a liar? He has a chance to explain how he stumped all the folks he talked to.

  72. johnbugay said,

    July 26, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    Seriously, this is a question to one and all. Have I called Jason a “liar” here? Have I been unkind in any way?

  73. July 26, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    John Bugay: “Have I been unkind in any way?”

    No, I don’t think so.

  74. Steve G said,

    July 26, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    John

    Jason has said that he talked to a lot of different people, and I see no reason to not take him at his word. Your frustration seems to be that despite this, he didn’t come to the same conclusions you did about the Catholic Church. Therefore, apparently to you, he just obviously didn’t talk to enough people or the right people, and therefore is misleading us when he says he did.

    I think that is unfair. I don’t agree with his decision but I don’t assume that because we disagree, it is all due to an act of bad faith from Jason when it came to getting his questions answered. I’m not clear on what you are wanting from him at this point

    If you have a specific question about Catholic theology that you want to interact with him, then fine, ask away. But the innuendo is unbecoming.

  75. July 26, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    Sean Patrick, #63: “That is very uncharitable, which should be obvious. Notice how Jason did not even volunteer that he met with James. It was James who volunteered it.”

    Actually, I’m not sure about that. I think Jason Stellman volunteered earlier in some other blogpost or comment that he met with folks like Michael Horton and James White during his Presbytery-granted sabbatical.

  76. Steve G said,

    July 26, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    “Seriously, this is a question to one and all. Have I called Jason a “liar” here? Have I been unkind in any way?”

    You’ve implied he’s not telling the truth and yes, you have been unkind.

  77. rcjr said,

    July 26, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    Not sure what could follow if this appears as if I’m calling you a liar, then …” but, “I am indeed calling you a liar.” I may be missing something and am sorry if I have misread, but yes, that’s how I read that.

  78. rcjr said,

    July 26, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    That said John, I liked it there when our Roman friends tried to catch you hypocrisy and you have a ready answer.

  79. David Weiner said,

    July 26, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    Bryan # 55,

    “He Himself gave the keys of the Kingdom to Peter.”

    You seem to take it for granted that the ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ (Matthew 16:19) to which Peter was given the keys and the Church which (Matthew 16:18) Christ will build on the rock are one and the same. Any references that might support this would be appreciated.

  80. johnbugay said,

    July 26, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    RC 77, it’s possible also to read that as “If you think this is me calling you a liar, you are way too sensitive”. I was too sensitive to call him “too sensitive”.

    Look at the context. What have I really said in this thread? He’s the one with the article, “I fought the [Roman Catholic Church], and the church won”. It’s his metaphorical language.

    He was complaining that he only had 90 minutes with James White. His implication was that somehow hindered his “fight”. His implication is, “White wouldn’t spend the time with me, I couldn’t ask all my questions”.

    I told him, he had access to some of the best theologians in the world. And he says, “So you’re calling me a liar now”.

  81. Sean said,

    July 26, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    RC 77, it’s possible also to read that as “If you think this is me calling you a liar, you are way too sensitive”.

    Or, its possible also to read that as, “If you think this is me calling you a liar…then I am going to eat a cheese steak sandwich for lunch next Wednesday.”

    Or maybe, “If you think this is me calling you a liar then the Texans are going to win the Super Bowl.”

    Or, maybe you could just apologize? Most adults apologize when something they say causes offense, even when offense was not intended.

  82. Sean said,

    July 26, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    *The Texas ARE going to win the Super Bowl this year, by the way. *

  83. johnbugay said,

    July 26, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    Look Sean, Jason is the one making this out to be a titanic struggle. “He fought the church… and the church won”. He is the one making this out to be a situation in which, “I fought as hard as I possibly could, and I still lost”.

    Now, I know him to be a bright guy. A bright guy, with access to really, all the best minds in the Reformed world. And I asked a question, “how hard did you really fight?” Who, aside from James White, let you down? Who among these really bright minds couldn’t answer, or didn’t answer, all the questions that you asked of them?

    This has relevance to all the folks here. If there are questions that couldn’t be answered, all of us heretics here need to be challenged with them, because our immortal souls are at stake.

    If Jason really fought, and lost, what was it that knocked him out?

    It’s in [all of our] best interests to know what those questions are.

  84. Sean said,

    July 26, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    John,

    If I were you, rather than chase him at every corner and questioning his every motive, I would give him a chance to cover all those questions. In time, Lord willing, you’ll have a chance to understand the precise issues.

    Or, if I was truly concerned about motives I would reach out to him privately.

  85. Sean said,

    July 26, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    PS. I saw that you did not challenge my assertion about the Texans winning the SB. I’ll take that as an admission that you agree ; )

  86. johnbugay said,

    July 26, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    I’ve spoken to him privately in the past, and I’ve describe the dilemma he put me in. He made accusations in public, about things he had bound me to secrecy in private.

    But what I’ve said to him here is on the public record. What I’ve said is plain to see, and the readers here (if they are interested) can judge for themselves … in that little bit of back-and-forth, did I call him a liar? I really don’t believe I did. Or did he just steam off and decide to deride my character, based on a few hard questions I was asking him.

  87. johnbugay said,

    July 26, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    FWIW, I did not watch a minute of NFL football last year.

  88. Brandon said,

    July 26, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    John,

    I followed the happenings on Jason’s blog. My plea is to address the personal issues privately. I understand that his conversion is a public issue and he has made it an issue in the blogosphere. Your response to Jason’s conversion did seem to be to be hostile and accusatory.

    But please know, I am not emotionally invested in this. I do not know you or Jason and I like to assume the best about people until proven otherwise. I’m not trying to make a character judgment.

    Whatever your motives, however, your attempts to call Jason back publicly have been exhausted. You have addressed the issues on his blog, here, and elsewhere. I think the personal issues with Jason just detract from the conversation. I will sincerely hope the best and that you are doing this because you love Jason and want him to repent and come back to the Gospel. Even with that in mind, I believe that it is time to drop the discussion of Jason as a person.

    You are well read John, and I would love to see you interact with the claims to the Roman papacy. I believe that interacting with Jason like you have in 61-70 distract you from composing more meaningful responses. I think your time and energy would be better served engaging Jason’s arguments rather than his character.

    Humbly,

    Brandon

  89. rcjr said,

    July 26, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    Fair enough Sean and John. Your readings are just as plausible (save that whole Texans thing) but I still say a person could read it the way I did.

  90. Eric Castleman said,

    July 26, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    Johnbuggay, you wrote:

    “Eric, in Sola Scriptura, if you don’t caricature the position, God himself is the sole authority. Scripture is the “lens”, the interpretation. Rome makes itself the “lens” for the “lens”.”

    Reformed distinctives on the issue of sola scriptura do not have any less hurdles to jump in regards to the interpretating process of scripture. The only difference between a Protestant and the pope, is that the individual interprets scripture, whereas the pope clarifies scripture. There isn’t an extra lens. Calvin argued just as much for the churches authoritative interpretation, the only difference being, that it wAs his interpretation, not Rome’s.

  91. Reed Here said,

    July 26, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    Gents: might I ask y’all to drop the John-Jason-liar discussion. Nuff said. If either of them want to talk to each other off-blog, they know how to do so. Now, back to the topic …

  92. paigebritton said,

    July 26, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    Moderator input —

    Please focus on Lane’s post topic, folks. That’s complex enough.

    I will take the liberty of removing any further comments about what Jason did or didn’t do, and what John did or didn’t mean.

    pax,
    Paige B.

  93. paigebritton said,

    July 26, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    Woah, brain match.

  94. johnbugay said,

    July 26, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    I actually have posted some pretty nifty stuff in 32 and 33 which are highly pertinent to the topic, but which have yet to be addressed.

  95. July 26, 2012 at 11:37 pm

    umm.. I perceive something is going on in Dave @ 44. I don’t want to sound like I have secret knowledge, but some of those thoughts, when applied elsewhere, I think lead to places that I am not exactly sure many people on this blog want to go. anyone want to hear me out?

  96. July 26, 2012 at 11:38 pm

    PS i’ll email them to the blog owner. Going dark, Andrew

  97. July 26, 2012 at 11:47 pm

    No – these must be addressed.

    Dave,

    Nice to have a first time commenter. I was once one myself, not long ago.

    You end your comment with, “what’s that mean for any doctrine, for that matter.”

    You are in dangerous water, my friend. Do you really, for example, want to throw out the doctrine of inspiration?

    I think you need to read BB Warfield.

    Just a blog. And Just my two sense,

    Andrew

  98. Andrew McCallum said,

    July 27, 2012 at 7:27 am

    John (re: 94),

    Definitely some interesting thoughts in #32/33. I agree with you about the EO perspective but I wanted to point out that there is also a school of thought in the Roman Catholic West even up until the 17th century which comes to the same conclusion as the EO’s – ultimate authority lies with the councils apart from and even against the popes. Trent kills Conciliarism for all intents and purposes but there were RCC theologians even at Trent who opposed the claims of the papalists. So I agree that the EO perspective is a helpful one, but the rejection of the claims of the papacy, such as we know the papacy today, was not just an Eastern perspective. I’m sure I’m not saying anything you don’t know but I thought it was worth saying. The EO perspective has value but I also think we need to develop a distinctly Western answer to the RC’s. Conciliarism as a formal movement is a product of the late Medieval era, but its roots go right back to the beginning….

  99. July 27, 2012 at 7:29 am

    Dave at 44:

    Comments in-line:

    ” As I read through the discussion of Christology driving Ecclesiology, in this case as it relates to developing self awareness, I am struck by how much sense it appears to make at first glance. However, to say that because Jesus grew in his self awareness the Church can be said to similarly develop is all well and good, but from a Reformed position there is one, I think major, caveat that must be made: Jesus was without sin and could therefore develop in his self awareness infallibly.”

    [AB Comment - fantastic insight]

    Given the effects of sin on our whole person, is there any reason why we should expect the Church, perhaps more appropriately the Magisterium, to develop infallibly?

    [AB Comment - the church is not infallible - yes, I'm OK with this so far...]

    Given the Fall, and its impact on those who descend from Adam by ordinary generation, who’s to say the West did not wrongly develop regarding the supremacy of the Bishop of Rome or on any other doctrine for that matter?”

    [AB Comment – As Christians, we place our intellectual capabilities squarely at the feet of Jesus, as we serve him with all that we are. You are in a way undermining Christian teaching (i.e. how can we believe any doctrine, since they are the product of sinful man?). You should ask your question another way – how do we determine what is authoritative? How can we know whether our doctrine of Inspiration, or our doctrine of inerrancy, or our doctrine of Scripture is true? Dave, in protestantism, the Bible is our authority. Now, just something personal, I had to learn something. And that is, the Bible is not a person. Jesus is. The Bible is all about Jesus – that’s what having a redemptive historical approach to reading Scripture is all about. You need to be careful in stating that just because humans are depraved, that doesn’t mean that anything that pours forth from a human (like language or a doctrine) is necessarily flawed. God uses our faculties, language, and doctrines to reveal himself to us. I need to also read John Frame’s “Doctrine of God.” But please consider a book by Fred Zaspel, “The Theology of BB Warfield.” I have my copy here, it’s been on my “to-read list.” It’s now on my “currently reading.” Zaspel really unfolds BB Warfield’s teaching, and has a whole chapter on “Bibliology,” within which, he dives deep into what that man taught about “inspiration as a church doctrine” and “canon” and others. Please consider Jason Stellman’s suggestion of discussing the 6 year old Jesus as a fun and colorful side attraction, but not really helpful for Lane’s questions. Jason, as you may know, was a PCA pastor, but left for the Roman Catholic Church. And the blog owner Rev. Keister, is a PCA pastor. So there’s interesting personal things, and other matters, existant in this thread. It goes back to my theory that these blogs and comments really should be taken with more care (no offense necessarily should be taken, any of you blog people) and really, I hate to say, the church kind of has no business with this blogging and internet communication. sure, I may be myopic – but why not blog about cars or golf. Why are we bringing theology down to that level?

    Just a rhetorical flourish,
    Andrew

  100. TurretinFan said,

    July 27, 2012 at 8:05 am

    Bryan:

    You wrote:

    The purpose of the patristic quotations I cited in #24 was only to show that there is explicit recognition among the Church Fathers that Christ chose to build His Church on St. Peter, and that this is a way they understood Matthew 16.

    It looked as though the purpose was to attempt to rebut what Dollinger said. Simply showing that a few of the fathers thought Christ was building his church on Peter doesn’t rebut Dollinger.

    I assumed Lane was already sufficiently familiar with what I have written elsewhere regarding the patristic evidence for apostolic succession (see here) and the patristic evidence for the primacy of the Chair of St. Peter at Rome (see here). When the citations I provided in #24 are considered in that broader context (rather than abstracted from that context), then patristic evidence for Peter being the rock on which Christ built His Church is evidence for a patristic recognition of the primacy of the episcopal succession from Peter, particularly in the See he designated as preserving the office to which Christ appointed him when giving to him the keys of the kingdom.

    These hand-waving appeals to “broader context” would more persuasive if (a) it were not you yourself that selected the quotations we were considering and (b) if it were not someone like Dollinger against whom you were making such an appeal.

    The problem for your position is that the fathers don’t actually say something that contradicts what Dollinger said, yet you mistakenly allege that Dollinger’s position is easily refuted.

    As for your approach of trying to cobble together three distinct streams of patristic thought, even that doesn’t rebut Dollinger’s very specific claim, which is already produced above.

    To provide an analogy, if someone were to claim that the fathers never held to doctrine X based on reason Y, it is not enough to show that they held to doctrine X and that they also held to doctrine Y. To rebut the position you would have to actually show somewhere where they link the two together.

    I’m not sure why this is hard to follow.

    -TurretinFan

  101. johnbugay said,

    July 27, 2012 at 9:03 am

    Andrew McCallum #98:

    I agree with you about the EO perspective but I wanted to point out that there is also a school of thought in the Roman Catholic West even up until the 17th century which comes to the same conclusion as the EO’s – ultimate authority lies with the councils apart from and even against the popes. Trent kills Conciliarism for all intents and purposes but there were RCC theologians even at Trent who opposed the claims of the papalists. So I agree that the EO perspective is a helpful one, but the rejection of the claims of the papacy, such as we know the papacy today, was not just an Eastern perspective. I’m sure I’m not saying anything you don’t know but I thought it was worth saying. The EO perspective has value but I also think we need to develop a distinctly Western answer to the RC’s.

    Andrew, I reproduced the selection I did specifically to address a claim made by Bryan Cross (somewhere, but I’ve encountered it recently), and his claim is, “if you are going to separate from ‘the Church that Christ founded’, then the burden of proof is upon you to say why you are doing so”.

    Maybe you’ve encountered this claim, too. But what is not established is precisely the thing that Bryan takes for granted: that “the Church that Christ founded” “subsists” primarily in the Roman Catholic Church.

    That is by no means a given, historically. And it should certainly not be a given here.

    Bryan has told me that I’m “begging the question” [in some sense -- he's got a question-begging-detector like nobody else] in some sense by assuming that the Roman Catholic Church is not what it says it is, and then asking for proof that it is.

    But the Archbishop Roland Minnerath, who was on the Vatican commission to study precisely that question, is probably THE MOST knowledgeable Roman Catholic on that very topic, and he certainly cannot be said to be “begging the question” in any sense that Bryan can conceive of.

    Thus, rather than be shut down in this discussion by Bryan simply saying, “Oh, I don’t have to answer that because you’re begging the question”, I’d like to see him address what Archbishop Minnerath had to say, about the East never having accepted Rome’s claims, and to see, then, where he feels his “burden of proof” might lie, in the light of that.

  102. dave said,

    July 27, 2012 at 9:09 am

    Andrew @ 99,

    Thanks for your thoughts. Interestingly, along with my hesitation to post at all (I have lurked off and on for a while) I also had a version of that comment that did not include that last line “or any other doctrine for that matter.” My reason for including it was simply to point out that the supremacy of the Roman see is not the only RC doctrine that I, or other Protestants, would have a problem with.

    To your point, while there are noetic Consequences of sin I don’t think that our ability to understand the scriptures is non-existent. I do think that, in laying our intellects at the feet of Jesus, we need to remember that Scripture is infallible, not our interpretation, and so we need to have humility in all of our interpretations (note: that does not mean the absence of certainty nor does it mean that we lack confidence in the Holy Spirit’s illuminating power at work in us – If I remember correctly I am pulling those thoughts from Sinclair Ferguson and Michael Horton respectively). So, in the end do I want to throw out inspiration? No. Do I want to throw out the virgin birth? No. Do I want to throw out the deity of Christ? Absolutely not! Do I think that some things are so plain in themselves that anyone of basic intellectual capacities can understand them (WCF, 1)? Yes, absolutely. Are there other doctrines that are not quite as plain and therefore require a higher level of humility? Yes, that too (but that does not mean that once I have been convinced from Scripture that I don’t have a strong level of conviction, e.g. Covenant of Works, Infant Baptism).

    I hope that clarifies.

    Dave

  103. dave said,

    July 27, 2012 at 9:21 am

    I should add that by “strong level of conviction” I mean that I can, in good conscience, say that that the WCF, for example, contains the system of doctrine taught in Holy Scripture. I would say that is a pretty good level of certainty.

  104. Sean said,

    July 27, 2012 at 10:02 am

    johnbugay.

    But the Archbishop Roland Minnerath, who was on the Vatican commission to study precisely that question, is probably THE MOST knowledgeable Roman Catholic on that very topic, and he certainly cannot be said to be “begging the question” in any sense that Bryan can conceive of.

    What did Archbishop Minnerath actually say? Is the essay available online anywhere? At face value, what you have cited him saying does not seem very controversial. The Eastern Orthodox Churches do not accept the papal definitions held by the Catholic Church. I don’t think that is debatable.

    However, there are millions of Eastern Catholics, I might add, that do. Several members of Called to Communion belong to Byzantine Catholic parishes.

  105. johnbugay said,

    July 27, 2012 at 10:28 am

    Sean, Minnerath’s essay is in a book; full bibliographic information is available at the link provided. In essence, he gives an overview of “Petrine theology as elaborated in the West”, and then says “the East never shared this view”. He makes his statement in the context of an ecumenical discussion in a location just outside of Rome.

    It’s not good enough for you to say “it’s not controversial”. You have to deal with it. Bryan’s statement that the burden of proof is upon those who leave “the Church that Christ founded” itself begs the question.

    The papacy was not ever accepted outside of Rome — Rome has never made the case that it existed. It never had jurisdictional primacy over the whole church. It begs the question to suggest that anybody in the world needs to accept it, either in its Vatican I or Vatican II formulations.

  106. greenbaggins said,

    July 27, 2012 at 10:41 am

    To all, I have been at Presbytery yesterday, and didn’t have a moment to call my own. So, I’m just now getting back to Jason and Bryan.

    Jason (22): Regarding your question 1, my point was seeking to be relatively simple, actually: my interpretation of Matthew 16 is accused of being circular, because it presupposes sola Scriptura. But if all these church fathers actually hold the same view I do, then that argument doesn’t hold water, especially if Romanists simultaneously claim that none of the ECF believed in sola Scriptura.

    Regarding your issue 2: I would direct you to Richard Bennett’s book on Catholicism, where he traces the history of the rise of the papacy as filling the vacuum of power left by the sacking of Rome. He argues that the papacy is really a continuation of the Roman empire. You may think that’s crazy, but read the book. He marshals some very impressive evidence.

    Bryan, your quotations are not to the point (and I would agree with TFan’s 30). I was not evaluating whether Dollinger’s claim was true or not. I was seeking to prove that my interpretation of Matthew 16 could not be said to depend (in a circular fashion) on sola Scriptura, if even a Romanist also came to the same conclusion I did WITHOUT SOLA SCRIPTURA. Therefore, your argument that my so-called private interpretation (which I would actually argue agrees with many of the ECF) of Matthew 16 is circular is false.

    You know, Bryan, your claims concerning seemingly all Protestant interpretation of the Bible bears a very close resemblance to post-modernism in this respect: you seem to be assuming that there is no inherent meaning in the text of the Scripture until it is interpreted by someone. My question is this: did God actually mean anything at all when He gave us this book? And if a person seeks to discover that meaning by himself, individually, does that automatically assume sola Scriptura in a circular way? Or is it even theoretically possible that God meant sola Scriptura to be one of the doctrines inherent in the meaning of the text which He gave, such that when we find it, we start believing it? For that would not be circular. The reason it would not be circular in that case is that God would have started the whole ball of wax, not us. And, in fact, that is exactly what Protestants believe. We believe God gave us the Bible, and in that Bible, God gave us sola Scriptura. Our response, therefore, is to believe it.

  107. Sean said,

    July 27, 2012 at 10:41 am

    John,

    It’s not good enough for you to say “it’s not controversial”. You have to deal with it.

    Deal with what? That the Eastern Orthodox do not share in the definition of the Bishop of Rome with the Catholic Church? What is there to deal with? That is not debated.

    Also, I have not read the book and its seems that you have way more time on my hands to read as much as you do. Please don’t expect that the average person has all of your books at their fingertips or the time to engage in every paragraph you post online.

    The papacy was not ever accepted outside of Rome — Rome has never made the case that it existed. It never had jurisdictional primacy over the whole church.

    Now that is a separate claim. On Triablogue, when you first wrote about Minnerath you said that Archbishop Minnerath “has made the admission that the Eastern Orthodox churches never shared the Petrine theology as elaborated in the West.”

    I don’t think anybody here would disagree that the Eastern Orthodox churches have never shared the Petrine theology of the Catholic Church. But that is not saying that ‘the papacy was never accepted outside of Rome.’

  108. johnbugay said,

    July 27, 2012 at 10:48 am

    Sean 107, everybody knows that the “Eastern Orthodox Churches” are one and the same with “the Churches that Christ founded” located in the Eastern part of the empire. Just start at the beginning. These same churches (see the councils of Constantinople, 381 and Chalcedon, 451) “officially” and Magisterially attributed Rome’s position to political position within the empire.

    Just because some theologian expresses some admiration for Peter doesn’t mean he “accepts the papacy”.

    So for you guys to speak of “the Roman Catholic Church” and somehow equate that with “the Church that Christ founded”, well, that’s just begging the question.

  109. Sean said,

    July 27, 2012 at 10:55 am

    John.

    We’re having somewhat of an unbalanced conversation because I don’t have access to what Minnerath wrote. I’ll try to order the book, read the essay and post a response on Called to Communion. However, I am going to go ahead and place a big bet that Archbishop Minnerath did not go as far as you are taking him to go with all of this.

    It turns out that portions of Minnerath’s essay are available on Google Books online. Its not the whole piece but he does say, in the portion available, that petra in Matt 16:18 is generally agreed to refer to the person of Peter and not just his faith. So, boom goes the dynamite.

  110. johnbugay said,

    July 27, 2012 at 11:04 am

    Sean, no “boom”. I cited Minnerath verbatim, and I gave you the context. No one contests that Peter was important, and no matter how important Peter is.

    But Peter absolutely is not “the papacy”. Eastern churches, while allowing that Peter was important, never accepted the supposed authority of “the successor of Peter”. From the beginning.

  111. Bryan Cross said,

    July 27, 2012 at 11:21 am

    Lane, (re: #106)

    You wrote:

    I was seeking to prove that my interpretation of Matthew 16 could not be said to depend (in a circular fashion) on sola Scriptura, if even a Romanist also came to the same conclusion I did WITHOUT SOLA SCRIPTURA.

    The protasis of the conditional is precisely the problem, because he was, in essence, using a sola scriptura method, insofar as he approached the question in the abstract manner I described in #38. The Tradition through which we [Catholics] approach Scripture isn’t limited to only those patristic statements that explicitly discuss a passage in Scripture.

    you seem to be assuming that there is no inherent meaning in the text of the Scripture until it is interpreted by someone.

    That’s not my position. Nor have I said anything that entails such a notion.

    My question is this: did God actually mean anything at all when He gave us this book?

    Of course.

    And if a person seeks to discover that meaning by himself, individually, does that automatically assume sola Scriptura in a circular way?

    Not necessarily. Say a person who knows nothing about Christianity picks up a Gideon Bible in a hotel room and starts reading it, and trying to understand it. Is he presupposing sola scriptura? No. He’s just trying to understand what he’s reading. But if he comes to the point of seeing in Scripture some reference to “the Church,” and that the gates of hell will not prevail against it, and that it is said to be the “pillar and ground of truth,” and that it will remain until Christ returns, and he decides that he will treat his own interpretation of this book as superior or more authoritative for himself than whatever interpretation of this book that presently existing community might hold, then, yes, he is presupposing sola scriptura. I’ve written about this in “The Tradition and the Lexicon.”

    Or is it even theoretically possible that God meant sola Scriptura to be one of the doctrines inherent in the meaning of the text which He gave, such that when we find it, we start believing it?

    Theoretically possible in the sense of logically possible, yes it is logically possible that God could have instituted His Church to be governed by the principle of sola scriptura. So, how exactly should one go about deciding this question [i.e. Did Christ and the Apostles teach sola scriptura to the Church, or did Christ and the Apostles hand on a living Tradition and a Magisterial authority in His Church?] in a non-question-begging way? I approach this question not presupposing the ecclesial deism that makes the testimony of the post-Apostolic Church worthless. And for that reason, it seems to me, we should look to the testimony of the post-Apostolic Church in order to answer this question in a non-question-begging way, to determine how did they understood the relation of Scripture to the Church, the role of Tradition, and the authority of the Church leaders. The notion that there is meaning in the text is compatible with both answers to the question, so that notion [i.e. that there is meaning in the text] does not decide the question. Likewise, the fact that some percentage of persons who start reading the Bible believe the Bible also doesn’t decide the question, because it too is compatible with both answers.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  112. Brandon said,

    July 27, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    Sean,

    Would you acknowledge that Petrine Primacy is not equivalent to “Petrine Supremacy” (I’m not trying to be pejorative–perhaps you could give me a better word to use?)?

    First among equals is a fine title, and my reading of the ECF’s suggests that many of them believed in Petrine primacy. Do you believe that those in Rome always held to primacy and supremacy?

    Brandon

  113. Sean said,

    July 27, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    Brandon.

    I think ‘Petrine Supremacy’ needs to be properly defined before I could comment. Also I would ask what you think the difference is between ‘primacy’ and ‘supremacy.’

    Even in the Catholic Church, the local bishops have ‘supreme’ authority in their respective local churches.

  114. Brandon said,

    July 27, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    Let me take a step back because I believe that I’ve made a terminological error. Petrine Supremacy and Petrine Primacy are essentially the same thing. There is a slight distinction between them but not one that is really germane to this topic

    What I was attempting to express however, is that there are those who are willing to give to the Roman see the title “first among equals” (which I was using for the term Papal Primacy). The RCC however, teaches that the Roman bishop has supremacy over the other bishops by virtue of his office in the chair of Peter.

    The distinction I am attempting to draw is between those in the early church who would acknowledge that Rome held a special place in the Christian tradition and those who believed that Rome was seen as the bishopric which had authority beyond its geographical jurisdiction. Just because an ECF says that the bishopric of Rome was established by Peter did not mean that he believed everything that the modern RCC claims.

    My question is, do you see such a distinction, or do you believe that one necessitates the other?

    Feel free to probe more if ambiguity remains.

  115. July 27, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    Suppose a Catholic recognizes that the ecclesiastical and historical claims of Rome regarding the papacy don’t hold up. I.e., that the evidence is against it.

    But the Catholic, despite not believing in the papacy, wants to remain a Catholic. Anything wrong with that?

    Would the Roman Catholic Church want a member who doesn’t believe in the papacy?

  116. David Gadbois said,

    July 27, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    Lane said The main point I wish to raise here is the methodological one: on what basis do we evaluate the claims of the Papacy? Here, exegetical questions arise…

    Yes, indeed, how should we evaluate the claims of the papacy given that the charter document of the church, the New Testament, says nothing about such a perpetual office, even if we adopt a maximalist reading of Matthew 16 and hold that Peter was the top dog amongst the Apostles? How else could we prove that Jesus established such an office?

    The Apostles do, however, spend a good deal of time in various parts of the NT describing the nature, duties, and qualifications for the offices of elder/presbyter and deacon, and the pastoral epistles provide no small amount of guidance addressed to them. It would be, at the least, strange if Jesus established an office of the papacy and the Apostles recognized such an office yet were completely silent on the matter in their inspired writings. It simply is not credible to believe they would write so much about the offices elder and deacon yet write nothing about an office that held primacy and authority over them.

  117. Bryan Cross said,

    July 27, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    David,

    It would be, at the least, strange if Jesus established an office of the papacy and the Apostles recognized such an office yet were completely silent on the matter in their inspired writings. It simply is not credible to believe they would write so much about the offices elder and deacon yet write nothing about an office that held primacy and authority over them.

    From a non-sola-scriptura point of view, that is, from a point of view in which Scripture is not the entirety of the deposit, but the entirety of the deposit is embodied in both Scripture and Tradition, it is neither “strange” nor “not credible” that explicit articulations of certain doctrines are not spelled out as such in Scripture.

    So, your strangeness criterion is a question-begging criterion.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  118. johnbugay said,

    July 27, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    Bryan, from Roland Minnerath’s point of view (“there was no question of the Roman bishops governing the church in distant solitude … the East never shared the Petrine theology as elaborated in the West. It never accepted that the protos in the universal church could claim to be the unique successor or vicar of Peter”), it is not “question-begging”. “The Tradition” holds that Christ did not establish such an office.

    How would you respond to Roland Minnerath?

  119. Steve G said,

    July 27, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    Now withstanding tradition, it still remains strange that scripture says nothing of such a fundamental organizing principle such as the papacy. We hear of teachers, preachers, prophets, elders, deacons, etc, but not one word about the pope!

  120. johnbugay said,

    July 27, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    For anyone who is wondering who Roland Minnerath is, from comment #32:

    Archbishop Roland Minnerath was a contributor to the Vatican’s 1989 Historical and Theological Symposium, which was directed by the Vatican’s Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences, at the request of the then Cardinal Ratzinger’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, on the theme: “The Primacy of the Bishop of Rome in the First Millennium: Research and Evidence”

    It is impossible (or should be) for Bryan to say that Minnerath’s is a “question-begging” statement. He thus needs to respond to it.

  121. David Gadbois said,

    July 27, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    Bryan, you say “but the entirety of the deposit is embodied in both Scripture and Tradition,”.

    I’m sorry, but I’m a bit of a textualist, and unfortunately the Roman Catholic church has not been kind enough to publish an infallible book or collection called “Tradition”, so there is nothing to exegete.

    What I’m trying to say is that an appeal to the notoriously nebulous RC concept of “Tradition” (it is, after all, whatever the magisterium says it is) cannot provide a basis for historically establishing the idea that our Savior instituted a perpetual office of the papacy during the 3rd or 4th decade of the 1st century. It is not a textual, historical record that can be scrutinized. The concept is evidentially worthless. And, no, it has nothing to do with accepting or rejecting the premises of sola scriptura. Even a non-Christian historian can ask the simple question “where is the record of Jesus or the Apostles’ teaching on X, Y, and Z?”

  122. Bryan Cross said,

    July 27, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    David,

    I’m sorry, but I’m a bit of a textualist, ….

    Everything you said in that comment (presently #121), would have made it impossible for you to receive the gospel from the Apostles if you lived in Antioch in AD 37. It would dismiss the Apostles for not providing a textual record written by Jesus Himself. It would accuse the Apostles of saying that the deposit from Christ is “whatever the Apostles say it is.”

    You’re “textualist” stance is a question-begging stance. It presupposes the impossibility (at least unacceptability on your part) of God establishing the Church with a living and authoritative oral Tradition.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  123. greenbaggins said,

    July 27, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    Bryan, the post-apostolic tradition doesn’t settle the question, either. The Romanist can find stuff in it that supports their position. The Protestant can find stuff that supports our position. Both claim the tradition supports their view. How does one adjudicate this position?

    Then, it seems to me that the question involves the related question of the Reformation, and whether the Reformers left, or were kicked out. And again, from the Romanist position, the Protestants were the schismatics. From the Protestant side (and Luther did NOT want to leave the Catholic church! He wanted to reform it), the Romanists cast out a position that had always been part of the tradition. So, from the Protestant angle, it was the Romanists who cast out truth. Casting out truth is schismatic. So, from the Protestant perspective, even though Romanists claim that the Protestants are the schismatics, from our perspective, the Romanists cast out truth so as to be able to retain the appearance of continuity with the truth, when in fact, they reified only one strand of the tradition. If one reads volume 3 of the King/Webster trilogy on the ECF, it becomes VERY clear that sola scriptura was accepted in the early church. If one reads Thomas Oden’s Justification Reader, it becomes clear that sola fide was accepted in the early church. Neither was accepted universally, of course. But neither was officially excommunicated, either.

    So now we come to the question of progression of doctrine and tradition. Now the question of the identity of the tradition becomes very acute. Where is it found? In the line of continuity of the Romanist position? Or in the line of continuity of the ECF through to the Reformers? If modern Romanists get to define what tradition is, then they can simply define the Protestant position out of court. That, of course, is begging the question. Whose tradition, and what line of tradition trumps? All I’m pointing out in this paragraph is that Protestants can claim tradition, too, though we do not elevate it to the level of Scripture.

  124. David Gadbois said,

    July 27, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    Bryan said It presupposes the impossibility (at least unacceptability on your part) of God establishing the Church with a living and authoritative oral Tradition.

    So in this instance the chameleon-like RC “Tradition” morphs and shape-shifts into its form as oral tradition. But there is no historical evidence of any such oral tradition, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church does not even push this meaning when it defines Tradition as we demonstrated here:

    http://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2010/10/06/oral-tradition-debate/

    Bryan said Everything you said in that comment (presently #121), would have made it impossible for you to receive the gospel from the Apostles if you lived in Antioch in AD 37.

    That surely doesn’t follow. Firsthand testimony from a contemporaneous eyewitness is surely of great evidentiary value, especially when their ministry and testimony is authenticated by miracles (and, eventually, their martyrdom). You can’t equate that with 265th-hand testimony of events from millenia in the past. The epistemic situation of even the second generation Christians, who never met the Apostles, would be quite different than those who personally sat under the apostolic ministry. And peering back many generations and centuries into history, we have no choice but to rely on textual documentation and records. “Because a man in Rome with a funny hat says so…” does not qualify as historical evidence.

  125. Sean said,

    July 27, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    But there is no historical evidence of any such oral tradition

    David, can you elaborate? What claim, exactly, do you claim has no historical evidence?

  126. Frank Aderholdt said,

    July 27, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    To me, the self-authenticating nature of Scripture is the key to breaking the endless cycle of battling sources and the lobbing of countless ECF quotations over each other’s walls.

    I refer again to Michael Kruger’s superb work on the canon. Listen especially to his first lecture in this year’s Kistemaker lecture series at RTS Orlando, and read Part 1, Determining the Canonical Model, in “Canon Revisited.” Kruger’s analysis of three approaches to canon – as Community Determined, as Historically Determind, and as Self-Authenticating (“My Sheep Hear My Voice”), completely convinced me that the Protestant position is the correct one. As I wrote earlier, this approach not only answers the older liberal thesis but the Roman Catholic view as well. The three ways of arriving at an authoritative canon work togehter in perfect symbiosis. Each complements the other, yet Scripture as self-authenticating provides the unshakable foundation for all.

    I’ve centered on canon in my comments in this discussion because in my opinion, if you understand canon right, the entire Roman Catholic authority superstructure, with its exclusive claims over the consciences of believers, will collapse.

    If Scripture is indeed the very Word of God it must, over time, be self-evident and self-authenticating to the Church universal. The redeemed people of God taken as a whole (of course we acknowledge heretics and sinful sheep in her midst) will bow before the divine authority of the Bible through the work of the Spirit. The Church as institution is certainly complementary but cannot not be primary, in the submission of Christians to the Word of God. “My sheep hear my voice.”

  127. July 27, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    Bryan Cross and Sean Patrick,

    I asked this earlier in #115: “But the Catholic, despite not believing in the papacy, wants to remain a Catholic. Anything wrong with that?

    Would the Roman Catholic Church want a member who doesn’t believe in the papacy?”

    What are your thoughts? Does the Roman Catholic Church want de facto cafeteria Catholics who don’t genuinely subscribe to all of the Magisterial dogma?

  128. Sean said,

    July 27, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    Truth Unites…and Divides.

    I think there is definately something wrong with Catholics wanting to remain Catholic that do not accept Catholic dogmas.

    Further, when I was Presbyterian I don’t think the PCA ‘wanted’ members (or even allowed members) if those people rejected enough Presbyerian dogma.

  129. July 27, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    Sean Patrick: “I think there is definately something wrong with Catholics wanting to remain Catholic that do not accept Catholic dogmas.”

    Suppose you by chance overheard a conversation from someone in your Catholic parish who doesn’t accept all of the Catholic dogmas. It could be that they reject the dogma of the papacy or the Real Presence or any of the Marian dogmas or Magisterial teaching concerning contraception or masturbation, or whatever. You are basically a witness to a real, live, genuine Cafeteria Catholic. (May it never be.)

    You’re not going to report the Cafeteria Catholic to your parish priest, are you?

    Suppose your parish priest also hears and witnesses the same behavior/speech of these Cafeteria Catholics. He does nothing, says nothing. He doesn’t regard it as a teaching moment, for whatever reason. Basically, your priest shrugs it off.

    Would that bother you? If so, would you report your priest to your bishop?

  130. David Gadbois said,

    July 27, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    Lane, I think it is just getting stuck in the weeds to try and read the tea leaves of the early post-apostolic church. The historical record is incomplete, we only have small glimpses into what the church looked like in the earliest years of the 2nd century, and even less of a clear picture of the church in the latter decades of the 1st century. Even if there was a fully-recognized Roman papacy in the 2nd century, so what? That is still not proof that Christ established any such office. Even if the Roman papacy was the prevailing belief, it would still be an illegitimate distortion of church government, lacking the direct sanction of Christ. And, frankly, I would not find it particularly surprising that unbiblical hierarchical impulses would creep into the church and its form of government in the decades following the death of the apostles, progressively worsening and eventually culminating in the Roman papacy. Even the Apostles themselves had to deal with self-proclaimed “super Apostles” who wanted to claim pre-eminence for themselves.

  131. greenbaggins said,

    July 27, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    I hear you, David. Ultimately, our arguments cannot rest on the historical evidence of the early church, I agree. However, the Reformers never once allowed the Romanists to claim history. The Reformers consistently and persistently claimed that their doctrine was the doctrine of the early church. I, for one, am not willing to allow the Romanists their claims of church history. Church history is on our side, not theirs.

  132. Hugh said,

    July 27, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    Hey, Truth @ 129,

    If the priests protect the “penitent,”

    if laity are taught to be lazy,

    if bishops protect pedophiles,

    why think anyone’s gonna care about cafeteria catholics?

  133. David Gadbois said,

    July 27, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    Sean said David, can you elaborate? What claim, exactly, do you claim has no historical evidence?

    I don’t wish to rehash everything I already said in that “Oral Tradition Debate” thread (see especially my conclusion at post #325). There is no evidence that the Roman church (or any church) has sustained an oral tradition from the time of the apostles, genuine or not. Rome does not even make such a claim for herself. An oral tradition is a fixed, verbal body, like the Quran or Homer’s epics. It is transmitted by recitation and memorization. In literate societies, this body invariably gets written down at some point. It is documentable. It is not an open-ended, blank check. And unless we are talking about an outright cult, it normally is not a secretive deposit.

  134. Sean said,

    July 27, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    Lane.

    I, for one, am not willing to allow the Romanists their claims of church history. Church history is on our side, not theirs.

    I, for one, am looking forward to you demonstrating this claim.

  135. Thorin said,

    July 27, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    Two points:

    1) It is not surprising that there is no discussion of succession to Peter in the New Testament, for the simple reason that Peter was alive when most of the New Testament was written. Peter’s supremacy among the Apostles was already well known, as shown by the Gospels. And the discussion in the New Testament of qualifications for presbyters concerned an office being filled in the local churches and was directed at those local churches. There was no similar need for a discussion of the qualifications for the Petrine office, because no such ministry was being established in the local churches that were the recipients of letters in the New Testament.

    2) The Eastern Church recognized, early on, the primacy of the Bishop of Rome and also recognized his jurisdiction over the Western Church. The logical conclusion from this is that the Petrine office has apostolic origins, even though the Eastern Church and the Western Church disagreed over the Bishop of Rome’s jurisdiction over the East. It is not logical to conclude from this disagreement between East and West over the scope of the Bishop of Rome’s jurisdiction that the papacy is a nullity and that the Christian Church has no need for the Petrine ministry.

  136. Jeff Cagle said,

    July 27, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    Lane (#106): You know, Bryan, your claims concerning seemingly all Protestant interpretation of the Bible bears a very close resemblance to post-modernism in this respect: you seem to be assuming that there is no inherent meaning in the text of the Scripture until it is interpreted by someone.

    I strongly concur. Bryan, you protest (#111) that you have given no cause for Lane’s observation.

    However, you then go on to say

    But if [an individual] comes to the point of seeing in Scripture some reference to “the Church,” and that the gates of hell will not prevail against it, and that it is said to be the “pillar and ground of truth,” and that it will remain until Christ returns, and he decides that he will treat his own interpretation of this book as superior or more authoritative for himself than whatever interpretation of this book that presently existing community might hold, then, yes, he is presupposing sola scriptura.

    You present only two options for our individual: he must assert the authority of his own interpretation or else of the interpretation of the community.

    Interpretation here, interpretation there, but no inherent meaning in sight. The meaning of the text is not presented as a possible authority.

    You may well believe that Scripture has meaning independent of interpretation — but you never speak in such a way. In fact, your chief apologetic method is to argue that the individual can only submit either to the interpretation of a superior, or else to his own interpretation; everyone must have a highest interpretative authority.

    Further, you explicitly reject the notion that the actual meaning of Scripture can serve as an authority.

    So unwind this riddle for us: Where is there room in your view for an inherent textual meaning that does not depend on interpretation?

  137. dgh said,

    July 27, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    For what it’s worth, when Bryan says:

    “Everything you said in that comment (presently #121), would have made it impossible for you to receive the gospel from the Apostles if you lived in Antioch in AD 37. It would dismiss the Apostles for not providing a textual record written by Jesus Himself. It would accuse the Apostles of saying that the deposit from Christ is ‘whatever the Apostles say it is.’ You’re ‘textualist’ stance is a question-begging stance. It presupposes the impossibility (at least unacceptability on your part) of God establishing the Church with a living and authoritative oral Tradition,”

    it makes me wonder if the church blew it by ever forming a canon. What a great gig to rely only on oral tradition and not have to worry about texts.

  138. July 27, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    dgh,

    i’m sorry but i don’t follow. it is written language that is getting you down?

  139. July 27, 2012 at 10:31 pm

    Jeff Cagle at 138:

    “So unwind this riddle for us: Where is there room in your view for an inherent textual meaning that does not depend on interpretation?”

    Me and Dave were getting at something (or rather, it was Dave alone) – there are some things so clear that we are without excuse. But not all things in Scripture are equally plain.

    There’s no riddle. Yes, sometimes we are asking what the word “is” is, but other times, Jesus is risen from the dead, and enough said.

    That rhymes,
    Andrew

  140. July 27, 2012 at 11:26 pm

    Gents, I trimmed quite a few off-topic posts off of the comment thread. Stick to the topic – the claims of the papacy.

  141. July 27, 2012 at 11:35 pm

    Keep up the good work, Pope David.

    That’s a joke, man. But trim if you want.

    I’ve yet to see anyone yet answer my challenge after ninja smoke comment 40 from yours truly…

    Ninja smoke,
    Andrew

  142. July 28, 2012 at 12:07 am

    Thorin said And the discussion in the New Testament of qualifications for presbyters concerned an office being filled in the local churches and was directed at those local churches. There was no similar need for a discussion of the qualifications for the Petrine office,

    The problem is worse than that, there was not even a mention of the office of pope in even an offhanded manner. There were no commands, for instance, to elders, deacons, or congregants to coordinate with or submit to the successor of Peter.

    The Eastern Church recognized, early on, the primacy of the Bishop of Rome and also recognized his jurisdiction over the Western Church. The logical conclusion from this is that the Petrine office has apostolic origins,

    Actually, that is a complete non sequitur. There are many intervening factors that could account for a post-apostolic conception of Roman primacy quite apart from Christ’s sanction.

    It is not logical to conclude from this disagreement between East and West over the scope of the Bishop of Rome’s jurisdiction that the papacy is a nullity and that the Christian Church has no need for the Petrine ministry.

    The Christian Church needs the offices, sacraments, and means that Christ established, no more, no less.

  143. Andrew McCallum said,

    July 28, 2012 at 12:32 am

    Church history is on our side, not theirs.

    Lane (131),

    As I read the history of the Church there are some doctrinal matters where the beliefs of the RCC today are closer to the beliefs of the Early Church than where we are (i.e. a distinct Episcopacy that is at least after the first several centuries dominated by Rome) and others where the beliefs of the Early Church don’t even hint at what Rome today believes (i.e. The Assumption). Most issues would I think fall somewhere in between these two examples in terms of whether they would support current Roman dogma. So in what sense is Church history on our side? This is just a thought, but might it be better to say that that Rome cannot establish its credibility even by her own historical standards?

    I don’t mean that history is not important. History is important in the establishment of any science, theology included. The Evangelical world is awash with examples of churches and denominations who are making the same mistakes that have been made so many times before in the history of the Church because the leaders of these churches are too ignorant or proud to investigate how God has worked in the Church in previous ages.

    Anyway, on the matter of Protestant swimming the Tiber, I have heard many Protestants turned Catholic talk about how reading the history of the Church was a major factor in their turning to Rome. By this they mean that they have read many things which fall into my category above which seem to support current Rome (for whatever reason the things which don’t support Rome get pushed into the background). But I think more importantly than any specific dogma, there is in the minds of these converts a certain feeling that history establishes a vital connection between Peter and the current Roman bishop. This is what I like to refer to as the “we have Peter as our Father” argument. This argument from succession seems to be the decisive argument which trumps all other historical arguments. And once the new convert has come to this conclusion other historical considerations are, for all intents and purposes, not relevant.

    So in terms of apologetics, I guess I am sort of kind of agreeing with David G’s conclusions in #130. Maybe I’m wrong but at least at this point I don’t think that individual arguments about the role and function of the Bishop of Rome in the early centuries of the Church will convince the committed RC. But I do feel that the study of the history is a valuable one and is a vital study for all of us. So I look forward to your continuing posts on the papacy even if the RC’s decide it is not worth their time.

    Cheers for now….

  144. Eric Castleman said,

    July 28, 2012 at 2:32 am

    Sorry for my rumblings. Back to the topic. Given protestant acceptance of Roman Catholic dogmas, such as the Filioque, the pope is then biblical, and necessary:

    “The error of those who say that the Vicar of Christ, the Pontiff of the Roman Church, does not have a primacy over the universal Church is similar to the error of those who say that the Holy Spirit does not proceed from the Son. For Christ himself, the Son of God, consecrates and marks her as his own with the Holy Spirit, as it were with his own character and seal, as the authorities already cited make abundantly clear. And in like manner the Vicar of Christ by his primacy and foresight as a faithful servant keeps the Church Universal subject to Christ. It must, then, be shown from texts of the aforesaid Greek Doctors that the Vicar of Christ holds the fullness of power over the whole Church of Christ.

    Thomas Aquinas, Against the Errors of the Greeks, Bk 2

    See, I actually sit in a church that is vacant of the Filioque, and the pope.

  145. Eric Castleman said,

    July 28, 2012 at 2:42 am

    Let me add, the Filoque was also not accepted in the early church, but was later added. You can say, that the pope is the product of sola scriptura, and the rejection of the fathers.

  146. dgh said,

    July 28, 2012 at 8:35 am

    Eric, filioque actually makes Rome Protestant since they have departed from the early church fathers. Or is it the case that when Rome departs from the early church, it’s good. When Protestants do it, it’s bad.

    Man, having that pope sure comes in handy.

  147. July 28, 2012 at 8:47 am

    Eric at 150:

    “You can say, that the pope is the product of sola scriptura, and the rejection of the fathers.”

    No you can’t. That’s my point in comments 39 and 40. Sure, the quote from Thomas in your 149 is interesting. But does not prove anything. I’m still waiting for someone to build a Biblical argument for the pontiff. You may think I am being simplistic. But what I am saying is, devoid of any church (a harsh way to describe my upbringing, which was in a revivalist semi-pelagian, Finneian, 19th century dispensational “potting soil,”), I read my Bible daily and built my foundation from the Bible alone, as a child (12 year old Jesus?).

    I then encountered the Moderns (Tillich first at age 18, Bultmann and Barth wouldn’t become important until my later 20’s) so I had a theology courtesy of such.

    The problem with the Moderns is too much to go into here. Despite their problems, I was reading protestants. So Sola Fide and Sola Scriptura were still in the backdrop of even ones such as Tillich (I hope that’s not a stretch, someone correct me if I am wrong).

    Machen and the brave men during the 1920’s and 30’s is where my theological journey ended. Sure, you may think it’s highly coincidental that my journey ended where it began, the OPC that I was invited to by the girlfriend I met at UCSB. It was just a convenient answer. But when you read Machen, you find something rather important going on, that I continue to see a failure to acknowledge by many many people here.

    My friends, we must engage the romanist, scientific, mystic, anglican, etc etc challenge. And move forward unafraid.

    My only point here, despite a few rhetorical flourishes, is that I NEVER once even considered the Pope during my upbringing. Is that what’s next in my personal faith journey? My friends, I have not even bought tiber trunks yet – I mean, nothing I read about the doctrine of the Pope makes any common sense.

    Someone tell me, as one who ‘loves’ my Bible, why the Pope is relevant to me.

    I’m sure he’s a nice guy. But he’s more like the monarch of Britain. I nice historical figure peice. But there are real people discussing real issues. It’s time Romanists makes some apologies for thinking their way is the only true way, and acknowledge that the questions are more difficult than they want to suppose.

    We love you, Romanist brothers, but if you leave our tradition, and then come post on our blogs, you do look like the regretful ex-girlfriend. I’m sorry, But it’s all a bit pathetic, these blogs and such. Why are we reading and typing, instead of spending time in God’s Word? You want answers? Take your request to God. Do not be anxious in anything brother, but by prayer and petition.

    You can delete or trim this comment. But it’s time the Roman Catholic Church face the music, and work to be a contributing member. Keep your Pope all you want, just like the Brits. But don’t tell me that I have to subscribe to his twitter feed.

    All I want to know is his handicap. If you can’t answer my other questions, start there.

    Peace,
    Andrew

  148. July 28, 2012 at 9:02 am

    PS Last thought development:

    Romanists:

    I want you to use Scripture to prove why I should swim the Tiber, or at the very least, subscribe to the Pope’s twitter feed. You know I would golf with him, so there’s no love/hate relationship.

    Like Israel, Romanists, you want a king, and you have Saul. I’m sorry, but it’s time you see that Saul was not the intended king. David was. And who was it that David looked to? Read the psalms – he was not asking the religious figure head of his day for answers.

    No:

    http://www.esvbible.org/search/mark+12%3A35-37/

    Christ is the Head. Face the facts,
    Andrew

  149. July 28, 2012 at 9:17 am

    I mean, Bryan, Stellman, “you oughtta know.”
    And maybe you aren’t Morissette fans. But if you read those lyrics, that’s the answer.

    Shoot me an e-mail : andrew(dot)d(dot)buckingham(at)gmail(dot)com

    i have things to tell both of you, outside of blogospheric space.

    trim away the fat,
    andrew

  150. Jeff Cagle said,

    July 28, 2012 at 9:52 am

    Thorin (#135): Peter’s supremacy among the Apostles was already well known, as shown by the Gospels.

    Actually, Peter’s supremacy is undermined by the Gospels and other NT documents.

    (1) Peter is presented as quite fallible, in contrast to Christ.

    (2) Peter is never presented or introduced as Jesus’ representative. Jesus does not direct the other apostles to listen to Peter (contrast: “This is my beloved son. Listen to him”). After the resurrection, Jesus does not install Peter into any office of supremacy.

    (3) Peter is singled out as getting the Gospel wrong … not once, but twice (Acts 10, Gal 2). He also, of course, gets it right in other places.

    (4) It is not Peter, but James, who renders judgment at the council of Jerusalem; and it is the apostles and the whole church who ratify that judgment.

    Nothing in the Gospels supports Peter’s supremacy over the others. But something in the Gospels does, very much, condemn those who claim supremacy:

    A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. — Luke 22

    Where is there room here for a Bishop to lord it over the others? But that is the papal claim: “To properly belong to the Church of Jesus, one must first acknowledge the headship of the pope.”

    Thorin (Oakenshield, I presume?): The Eastern Church recognized, early on, the primacy of the Bishop of Rome and also recognized his jurisdiction over the Western Church. The logical conclusion from this is that the Petrine office has apostolic origins…

    Actually, that’s not a logical conclusion, which is why the Eastern Church doesn’t go there.

    Even if one grants, for the sake of argument, that the Apostolic Fathers recognized the Bishop of Rome as “first among equals”, there is no way to make a logical jump to “supreme over the others.”

    In fact, “first among equals” is antithetical to “supreme over the others.” Rather than leading to a conclusion of a Petrine office, it leads to the conclusion that Peter’s office is the office of apostle and no more.

  151. Pete Holter said,

    July 28, 2012 at 10:17 am

    Hey all! I hope I have something good to share here. Quoting from the background article…

    It is apparent, therefore, that the words in Matthew 18:19, concerning binding and loosing, do not constitute an especial privilege of Peter. They plainly put no difference between him and the other apostles.

    Since the words were directed to Peter alone in Matthew 16 and then to all the others [with Peter included] in Matthew 18, we actually do see a difference between Peter and the other apostles. He can bind and loose for the sake of the whole Church, and the rest of the Church can bind and loose together with him. We note that he was given “the keys of the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 16:19), and that all of the apostles have the similar power of binding and loosing (Matthew 18:18) because they are united with Peter who had been given the keys. And when our Savior gave to Peter the keys of the kingdom of heaven, we see that He yet retained them with Himself in heaven (cf. Isaiah 22:22, Revelation 3:7). We can proceed from here to deduce that Christ exercises His all-encompassing authority “in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18) (1) without mediation in heaven, (2a) indirectly and principally through Peter’s mediation on earth, and (2b) indirectly in a shared sense through all other mediation in union with Peter. And, of course, Jesus exercises His authority on earth outside of secondary agency as well.

    Hence when Christ said to Peter, ‘Feed My sheep,’ these words bestowed upon him no privilege that was not given to the other apostles, and to the elders of all the churches. […] ‘What is that to thee?’ And in these words the Master asserted John’s entire independence of Peter, and gave no hint that He had given Peter jurisdiction over John.

    “Thus not even once in any of Christ’s words and actions, as recorded in the Gospels, was there given any hint whatever of Peter’s primacy and authority over the other apostles, any hint that He had made Peter His successor, His vicar, or vicegerent, the visible head of the church.

    But if all of the sheep that Jesus committed to Peter were in fact all of Jesus’ sheep, then this would be a universal concern, as opposed to the more local concern given to the elders serving over local churches. We note that Peter, in his universal mission throughout the Church, “went here and there among them all” (Acts 9:32). Keeping in mind Peter’s inauguration of the Church’s mission to the Gentiles, and his presence among the Gentiles in Antioch when rebuked by Paul, we gain confidence from Acts 9:32 that the Catholic understanding of Peter’s pastoral care over the Church at large was indeed being vouchsafed to him by our Lord on the beach in John 21 (although not there only) when He told him to feed His sheep and to come follow Him.

    In John 21, Peter swims ahead of the rest of the apostles to reach Jesus first. And the other apostles, following behind Peter, bring with them the whole catch of fish in the net of the kingdom of heaven (cf. John 21:7-11, Matt. 13:47-50). And so we see the boat of the universal Church follow along behind Peter in his great love for Jesus. But even when the apostles brought the boat to shore, it was not they who brought to Jesus the fish that they had all caught together. It was Peter alone who went back to the boat to bring the whole catch of fish the rest of the way to Jesus. Isn’t that neat? :) This context helps us to appreciate the uniqueness and universality of Jesus’ exhortation to Peter, “Feed My sheep.”

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  152. Paul Weinhold said,

    July 28, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    Dear Jason,

    I recently returned from Rome, where I visited St. Peter’s Basilica. I saw a relief of Peter’s crucifixion; his face was worn away from the many pilgrims who have touched it over the centuries. I saw a bronze statue of him; the toes of his feet were worn away from those same pilgrims. And I saw the bones of St. Peter buried below the altar.

    May the same Spirit who preserved St. Peter comfort and guide you all the days of your life–and most especially in these days of personal trial.

    ad maiorem dei gloriam,
    Paul Weinhold

  153. Jeff Cagle said,

    July 28, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    Pete (#151): Since the words were directed to Peter alone in Matthew 16 and then to all the others [with Peter included] in Matthew 18, we actually do see a difference between Peter and the other apostles. He can bind and loose for the sake of the whole Church, and the rest of the Church can bind and loose together with him.

    Sadly, this reading does not follow from the evidence you adduce. We know from Matt 16 that Peter is promised the keys; we do not know that the other disciples are not.

    We find out in Matt 18 that the other disciples are in fact given the promise of the keys using the same “binding and loosing” wording as is used with Peter.

    This therefore adjusts our reading of Matt 16.

    When my daughters were younger, if we complimented one of them (“good job!”), the other would get jealous (“What about me?”). It took them a couple of years to learn that thinking well of one did not imply thinking poorly of the other.

    So it is here. A promise directed toward Peter in Matt 16 carries no implication of lack of promise towards the others; and when the promise is in fact delivered to all in Matt 18, we don’t consider this a reversal.

    If you can hear it, please observe that accepting the RC interpretation of Matt 16 leads to defending the RC interpretation of Matt 16, as you have done here. This is natural and good.

    But the RC interpretation of Matt 16 does not rest on good and necessary interpretation of the text. It rests instead on the teaching of the Church. *The* fundamental reason you and other Catholics believe that Matt 16 teaches Petrine primacy, is that you have first affirmed that “I believe whatsoever the Church teaches to be true.”

    As a result, the defender is left in the unfortunate position of having to make inadequate arguments for the RC position. That’s because the ground of the RC position is nothing more nor less than “because the Church says so.”

    This ground decouples interpretation from actual arguments and makes interpretation rest instead on arguments from authority — which we all know to be formal fallacies.

    I’m not saying that you or other Catholics cannot make arguments, or do not make arguments. I’m saying that those arguments are beside the point. For Catholics, the meaning of Matt 16 is whatever the Church says it is — and supporting arguments follow afterwards.

  154. July 28, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    Jeff Cagle: “This ground decouples interpretation from actual arguments and makes interpretation rest instead on arguments from authority — which we all know to be formal fallacies.”

    Isolating this paragraph alone, it kind of reminds me of secular political liberals who seemingly worship President Obama. He has the authority and his administration is seemingly the Magisterium.

    “interpretation rest instead on arguments from authority”

    Obama Zombies!

  155. dgh said,

    July 28, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    And just to keep up Jeff’s point, if Peter is primary, why does Paul get so much face time in Acts and the epistles? I mean, if Rome is Peter’s place of authority, why is it Paul who has the mission to the gentiles/Romans? And why do we not see Paul or Luke or Timothy checking in with Peter (not to mention being silent about Mary).

  156. Bryan Cross said,

    July 28, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    Jeff,

    We’re talking about God here, who always does things for a purpose. If He wanted all the Apostles to receive the keys in the same way, then He would have given the keys to them all in the same way, and there would be no Mt 16:18. There would be only Mt 18. Giving the keys to Peter solely, and first, and then subsequently giving the power of binding and loosing to the other Apostles indicates that by divine establishment there is something unique about Peter’s role with respect to the keys, and therefore that the other Apostles use of the power of the keys in some way relates to Peter. That role and relation came to be understood more clearly as the Holy Spirit continued to lead the Church into all truth. PCA pastor (and WTS grad) Craig Higgins recognizes an ecclesial role for the successor of Peter in his section of the article “A Plausible Ecumenism.”

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  157. Jeff Cagle said,

    July 28, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    Bryan, that argument over-reads the evidence. You argue that Jesus speaks only to Peter in Matt 16; this must be done for a reason; that reason must therefore be Petrine succession.

    But in fact, there are many possible reasons that Jesus speaks to Peter in the singular in Matt 16. You have settled on one of them without eliminating the others.

    What supporting evidence do you have that eliminates the others?

    If I ask a question of my class, and a student replies correctly, I will praise that student in front of the others. Sometimes, I will speak to him (or her) in the second person singular and amplify the point that he made. (“Yes, good point. Very soon, we are going to see that all local extrema occur at critical points”). While amplifying that point and speaking to the individual, I am really speaking to the whole class. The things that I say to the individual apply to all, and the majority of my students realize this.

    Without supporting evidence, it is not reasonable to assume that what Jesus says to Peter in the presence of the others is supposed to apply to Peter and not the others, especially in light of Matt 18.

    If we were to use that logic, we would have to assume that Peter was the only one of the disciples in the boat who lacked faith (Matt 14.31). Such a conclusion is clearly absurd; so is the argument from Matt 16 — but this is less clear to you because it is consistent with what you already believe for other reasons.

    Put another way: The Matthew 16 –> Matthew 18 sequence is consistent with Petrine succession, but it is not evidence for Petrine succession because it is consistent with many other possible interpretations as well.

    Now, you may be thinking that Jesus speaks of the keys only to Peter, and this clearly sets him apart. But have you considered that the power of the keys as Jesus explains it is the power of binding and loosing? This raises the important question: What does Peter have that the other apostles do not? And how do you know this?

  158. Pete Holter said,

    July 28, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    Hi Jeff!

    You wrote,

    “Sadly, this reading does not follow from the evidence you adduce. We know from Matt 16 that Peter is promised the keys; we do not know that the other disciples are not.

    This argument actually cuts both ways. We know from Matthew 16 that Peter is promised the keys; we do not read anywhere that the other disciples were promised the same.

    You also wrote,

    “We find out in Matt 18 that the other disciples are in fact given the promise of the keys using the same ‘binding and loosing’ wording as is used with Peter.

    “This therefore adjusts our reading of Matt 16.”

    You say that the “other disciples are in fact given the promise of the keys using the same ‘binding and loosing’ wording as is used with Peter.” However, Peter is among these “other disciples.” So we actually have nothing in the text to suggest that we are wrong to say what I had said before, that the other disciples share in this ministry on account of their unity with Peter who has the keys. The language of binding and loosing is used both times, and Peter is present both times; and the giving of the keys is mentioned only once, where Peter is the only one being addressed. Therefore, based on what the two passages actually say, I think we conclude better by saying, “Matthew 16 adjusts our reading of Matthew 18”: the disciples share in the ministry of binding and loosing on account of their unity with Peter who has the keys of the kingdom of heaven.

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  159. Bryan Cross said,

    July 28, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    Jeff,

    What supporting evidence do you have that eliminates the others?

    Tradition.

    “[Jesus] made answer: ‘Thou are Peter, and upon this Rock will I build My Church, and I will give thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven.’ Could He not then, strengthen the faith of the man to whom, acting on His own authority, He gave the kingdom, whom He called the Rock, thereby declaring him to be the foundation of the Church?” – St. Ambrose

    And his pupil writes:

    “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 Donatists

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  160. Jeff Cagle said,

    July 28, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    Bryan,

    Can I conclude from your argument that you are conceding that there is not supporting evidence in the text of Scripture for your argument?

  161. johnbugay said,

    July 28, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    Bryan — it was a changing and evolving “Tradition” that was not accepted in the east, a fact that is certified by Archbishop Roland Minnerath, as I’ve explained several times up above, in comments 32 and 120. Again, for those who may not have read all the comments:

    In the first millennium there was no question of the Roman bishops governing the church in distant solitude. They used to take their decisions together with their synod, held once or twice a year. When matters of universal concern arose, they resorted to the ecumenical council. Even [Pope] Leo [I], who struggled for the apostolic principle over the political one, acknowledged that only the emperor would have the power to convoke an ecumenical council and protect the church.

    At the heart of the estrangement that progressively arose between East and West, there may be a historical misunderstanding. The East never shared the Petrine theology as elaborated in the West. It never accepted that the protos in the universal church could claim to be the unique successor or vicar of Peter. So the East assumed that the synodal constitution of the church would be jeopardized by the very existence of a Petrine office with potentially universal competencies in the government of the church (in How Can the Petrine Ministry Be a Service to the Unity of the Universal Church? James F. Puglisi, Editor, Grand Rapids, MI and Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, ©2010, pgs. 34-48).

    Is Minnerath operating from a “question-begging” presupposition, or his he being honest? Why aren’t you responding to what Minnerath said?

    We don’t deny that Peter was important, but in the way that I have described at this link. And of course, as I noted there, for Matthew, “The major issue of that time was the admission of the gentiles into the church, and how that was to be accomplished”. This is precisely the way in which Peter was “first”. This kind of primacy happens once, and it is over.

  162. johnbugay said,

    July 28, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    And again, Bryan, the reason I keep bringing up Minnerath, because you are very quick to place “the burden of proof” on anyone “leaving the Church that Christ founded”. But you have not actually established that the Roman Catholic Church is “the Church that Christ founded”. The East, never having accepted Roman formulations, proves that “Roman primacy” must be explained in some detail. Not with simple citations, under the header of “Tradition”, which say that Peter was an important apostles. You have got some burden of proof here, which you’ve always tried to avoid. But you owe an explanation.

  163. Hugh said,

    July 28, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    Jeff 155ff & Bryan 158ff,

    As I said over at Tim Prussic’s Providence blog on the subject of the disciples being given the ability to forgive sin:

    Then said Jesus to them again, “Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.”

    This proves too much – all believers are given the Spirit. No mention is made of special apostolic succession in Scripture. That is a tradition of men. We remit sins and retain sins as we proclaim the finished work of Christ to sinners. The elect get ‘em remitted, the reprobate have ‘em retained. Simple enough?

    Matthew 18:15ff ~ Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.

    No priest mentioned here. The believers have the Spirit of discernment. We can even administer church discipline (the use of the keys) without priest or pope.

  164. Hugh said,

    July 28, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    ~ tradition trumps all ~

    @ 161 Bryan replies to Jeff’s question, “What supporting evidence do you have that eliminates the others?” With, Tradition.

    Uncle Tevye has
    outfoxed us
    outflanked us
    out-manned us
    outgunned us
    trumped us
    trussed us
    tied us up
    & fit us for slaughter!

    Touché, Tevye, touché!

  165. Sean said,

    July 28, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    Not speaking for Bryan but…

    Can I conclude from your argument that you are conceding that there is not supporting evidence in the text of Scripture for your argument?

    No, not at all.

    John. # 161. Like I said, I don’t have Minnerath’s essay but I did see where he says, in relation to the very passage at hand, that ‘petra’ in Matt 16:18 is generally agreed to refer to the person of Peter and not just his faith

  166. July 28, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    Bryan, plucking a few quotes from ECF’s and calling it “Tradition” does not constitute evidence that Christ founded a perpetual office of the papacy.

    The Roman church never identifies such quotes as constituting “Tradition”, it is just your own inductive research into the beliefs of several ECFs. At best all we have is a self-appointed Roman Catholic internet apologist’s opinion of what constitutes evidence for RCC tradition. Thin gruel, indeed.

  167. johnbugay said,

    July 28, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    Sean, I don’t deny that Peter was important. I totally reject, however, that there was any “succession” in his importance. I’ve stated in what sense he was “first”, and in what sense the church was “built” on him. He first preached at Pentecost; he first admitted Gentiles into the church.

    Bryan is very careful never to positively articulate his case; he’s always finding something else wrong with whatever anyone else says. It’d be an interesting study to go through his works and find all the times when he says “you’re begging the question”.

    Now, you’ve got an Archbishop on the Vatican commission that studied the issue of “Roman primacy in the first millenium”, and he is saying “The East never shared the Petrine theology as elaborated in the West. It never accepted that the protos in the universal church could claim to be the unique successor or vicar of Peter”.

    Nor do I accept the claim that the Roman bishop is “the unique successor of Peter”.

    You and or Bryan must positively articulate the case for it. Else, any claims that you make in favor of a papacy may simply be dismissed from this side as “begging the question”, in the dialectical sense.

  168. Thorin said,

    July 28, 2012 at 6:10 pm

    The Eastern Church accepted the primacy of the Bishop of Rome from a very early date. It also accepted the fact that he exercised jurisdiction over the Church in the West. What was contested was his jurisdiction over the Church in the East. The Orthodox view, which acknowledges an important role for the Bishop of Rome, does not validate a view which acknowledges no role whatever for the Bishop of Rome.

    And there certainly were Eastern churchmen who recognized that the primacy of the Bishop of Rome was rooted in the role of Peter. For example, Flavian, the deposed Patriarch of Constantinople, wrote to Leo I before the Council of Chalcedon, appealing to “the throne of the Apostolic See of Peter, the Prince of the Apostles.” (And at Chalcedon, of course, it was acknowledged that Peter had spoken through Leo.)

  169. Sean said,

    July 28, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    David.

    Plucking a few quotes from ECF’s and calling it “Tradition” does not constitute evidence that Christ founded a perpetual office of the papacy.

    That is not at all what we’re doing here. By virtue of the fact that we’re communicating on a blog we are limited to only posting several examples.

    Here is an idea. Give me the names of three early church fathers that denied the episcopal nature of the church and denied that the bishops were held in succession from the apostles and denied that the bishop of Rome was a source of unity for the whole church. Just name those fathers right here and right now and we’ll examine their extant corpus to see whether you are right or we’re right.

    I’ve been reading John Bugay and James White and Steve Hays and others for years claim that apostolic succession is some ‘pious fraud’ or ‘convenient lie’ that was foisted on an unwitting church in the 2nd, 3rd or 4th century. Trouble is that no church father who was alive to witness this fact raised a stink! They just all went along with it.

    All of this evidence, that I read as a committed Presbyterian in 2005-06 forced me to seriously question why it is that I am not in communion with a bishop who is in succession from the apostles. It was important for Augustine. It was important for me.

  170. johnbugay said,

    July 28, 2012 at 6:17 pm

    Thorin — the East, according to Minnerath (who studied the issue for the Vatican and is probably the best and most authoritative spokesman on the topic from the Roman Catholic perspective) clearly says “The East never shared the Petrine theology as elaborated in the West. It never accepted that the protos in the universal church could claim to be the unique successor or vicar of Peter”. So I am going to believe his account and not yours.

    Nobody doubts the bishop of Rome was important; that was because (per Constantinople, 381, and Chalcedon, 451) a. Rome was important for political reasons, and b. the Roman bishop did not have jurisdiction over Eastern churches.

  171. johnbugay said,

    July 28, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    Sean 169:

    It was important for Augustine. It was important for me.

    Augustine was duped (i.e., “believed pious fictions”); you were duped.

  172. Bryan Cross said,

    July 28, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    David,

    The Roman church never identifies such quotes as constituting “Tradition”, it is just your own inductive research into the beliefs of several ECFs.

    Here and in a previous comment above you misrepresent the Catholic understanding of Tradition, as though it consists only in quotations from the Apostles that were not written down in Scripture. But the Catholic conception of Tradition is much thicker than that. The quotations I cited above are part of Tradition. Some books that explain the Catholic understanding of Tradition are Congar’s Tradition and Traditions, as well as his The Meaning of Tradition. See also Agius’s Tradition and the Church.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  173. Sean said,

    July 28, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    John,

    As much as I respect you, I feel totally comfortable siding with St Augustine, Doctor of the Holy Catholic Church on this matter.

  174. johnbugay said,

    July 28, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    Sean, I don’t believe you really respect me. Nevertheless, I feel far more comfortable siding with Archbishop Minnerath, who says that the East never shared the Petrine theology as elaborated in the West. It never accepted that the protos in the universal church could claim to be the unique successor or vicar of Peter.

    So, with the east, I don’t accept the Petrine theology as elaborated in Augustine’s west. And for you to prompt me or anyone else here to accept it, without a positive argument making the case, you’re just begging the question.

  175. July 28, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    The Romanists here don’t seem to be aware of the fact that an appeal to Matt 16 for petrine primacy still only constitutes half of an argument. Where is the biblical evidence for a *perpetual office* of the papacy? If it is really incumbent upon us to believe that our Lord Jesus established such an office, this issue cannot be shirked, nor is it sufficient from the standpoint of basic historical honesty to punt to “Tradition” to fill in the gaps here.

  176. Hugh said,

    July 28, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    Some articles from an Ortho’x perspective:

    An Orthodox View of the Great Schism, an excerpt from The Orthodox Church, by Bishop Kallistos (Ware)

    Papal Infallibility Becomes Dogma. Excerpt from Two Paths, by Michael Whelton

    Papal Monarchy – Collegial Traditions. Excerpt from Two Paths.

    Papism as the Oldest Protestantism

    Why I Abandoned Papism

    Orthodox Traditionalism vs. Roman Catholic Traditionalism

    Papal Supremacy: an Orthodox Tradition Q&A

    http://orthodoxinfo.com/inquirers/inq_rc.aspx

    Books:

    Meyendorff, John. The Primacy of Peter: Essays in Ecclesiology and the Early Church

    Carlton, Clark, The Truth: What Every Roman Catholic Should Know About the Orthodox Church

    Guette, Abbe, The Papacy: Its Historic Origin and Primitive Relations with the Eastern Church

  177. July 28, 2012 at 6:59 pm

    Bryan said Here and in a previous comment above you misrepresent the Catholic understanding of Tradition, as though it consists only in quotations from the Apostles that were not written down in Scripture.

    I never said any such thing. I distinctly distinguished oral tradition as one of the elements of “Tradition”.

    And it is precisely the problem that the Romanist conception of Tradition is so, um, “thick.” It is so vague and nebulous as to be unfalsifiable. And as such it is historically worthless if we want to be honest inquirers into how Christ actually established his church in the first century.

    But the Catholic conception of Tradition is much thicker than that. The quotations I cited above are part of Tradition.

    How do you know? ? All this is is an exercise in quote-mining sections from the ECFs that happen to support modern Romanist dogma. It is your own opinion about what you think various ECFs got right, nothing more. You have no imprimatur on your blog posts.

  178. Hugh said,

    July 28, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    John, David, et. al.,

    There is a curious implicit faith exercised by the papists, particularly by those who’ve poped out of Reformed Protestantism.

    In such works as Madrid’s Surprised by Truth or Grody’s Journeys Home or the Hahns’ story, these folks considered themselves Christians prior to going to Rome, but at some time felt a sort of longing for something more venerable, more legitimate, whatever. And they converted to Romanism, finding the pope’s corral

    They made what they believe was a free will decision, based on historical evidence, the Bible as interpreted by Rome, and her canons & decrees (i.e. her propaganda) to join the RCC.

    By contrast, in the testimonies of ex-priests in Bennett/ Buckingham’s Far From Rome, Near to God,* we find the men being converted (not converting) to Christ (not to an institution).

    A small semantic difference? Perhaps.

    But one group decides to do something to feel more religious, more pious, more righteous.

    Another group is simply passive: Their eyes are opened to their wretched state, as well as to their glorious Redeemer. They are given the gift of faith, and believe on Him unto eternal life.

    * http://www.amazon.com/Far-Rome-Near-God-Testimonies/dp/0851517331

  179. Hugh said,

    July 28, 2012 at 7:03 pm

    …they converted to Romanism, finding the pope’s corral more satisfying to their senses and sensibilities.

  180. johnbugay said,

    July 28, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    Hugh, I am familiar with many of the works you are posting. I’ve recently been in a discussion with Bryan in which he made the claim that anyone leaving “the Church that Christ founded” “has the burden of proof” to explain his reasons. What goes along with this, in his mind, is that any evidence that is derived from a “solo-Scriptura” hermeneutic is “question-begging”, and thus discussing it is not something he has to do.

    I’m producing an archbishop, from his own communion, who is now disagreeing with his claims that the early church was somehow unified around “the bishop of Rome”. This archbishop, who was on the Vatican commission studying this very issue, thus disagrees with Bryan, [supposedly] from within Bryan’s own “interpretive paradigm”.

    Bryan has a PhD in philosophy, and he loves to throw his weight around, telling everyone what’s wrong with their argument. Here, now, is an argument he understands — an argument from within his own authority — and he seems to be at a loss as to how to respond to it.

  181. Bryan Cross said,

    July 28, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    John,

    Nothing Archbishop Minnerath says in the first boldened section is incompatible with Catholic doctrine or a recognition of papal primacy, because what he is talking about there is the manner in which the primacy is exercised, namely, in a conciliar form that also reflects very clearly the Catholic principle of subsidiarity. The Church could, in principle, go back to that form of the exercise of the primacy. See Adam DeVille’s Orthodoxy and the Roman Papacy. The second boldened section is likewise fully compatible with Catholic doctrine, because Petrine theology was in fact elaborated more in the West than in the East. That’s not surprising. Given the Petrine office, where else would we expect it to be more elaborated. But that does not mean that the East never recognized papal primacy. Otherwise, the Ravenna document would be, for the Orthodox, a corruption, unfaithful to their patrimony. Metropolitan Ware recognizes that sollicitudo omnium ecclesiarum (pastoral care of all the Churches) belongs to the pope by divine right. (See here.) But again, he is concerned about the manner in which that care is exercised. That’s in part what needs to be worked out in Catholic-Orthodox reunion. Finally, the last boldened statement in the quotation from Archbishop Minnerath is referring to the fact that Alexandria and Antioch were also Petrine Sees. There is a genuine sense in which those Sees also share Petrine authority. And the East has perhaps been more conscious of this than the West, although it is reflected already in the canons of Nicea, and if my memory is correct Pope Gregory the Great affirms it as well. But Archbishop Minnerath’s statement is not a claim that the Eastern Churches never recognized the primacy of the successor of St. Peter at Rome.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  182. Constantine said,

    July 28, 2012 at 7:28 pm

    Hey, I like Bryan Cross’s game. Can I play?

    ECF’s who did NOT believe Christ’s church was founded on Peter:

    Origen:

    “But if you think that the whole Church was built by God upon Peter alone, what would you say about John, the son of thunder, or each of the apostles? Or shall we venture to say that the gates of hell shall not prevent against Peter but shall prevent against the other apostles and those that are perfect? Are not the words in question ‘the gates of hell shall not prevail against it’ and ‘upon this rock I will build my Church’ said in the case of all and each of them?” – Origen, Com. in Matt., xvi, 18 (Migne), pg. 13:1000.

    Cyprian:

    <blockquote? "Certainly the rest of the apostles were what Peter was, endued with an equal fellowship of dignity and power" – Cyprian, De Unitate, 4.

    …and again:

    “To all the apostles after His resurrection He gives equal power and says, ‘As the Father sent Me so I send you.'” – Cyprian, De Unitate, 4.)

    Jerome:

    “But you say that the Church is founded upon Peter although the same thing is done in another place upon all the apostles, and all receive the kingdom of heaven, and the solidity of the Church is established equally upon all…. Jerome, Adv. Jovianum, 1:26 (Migne) P.L. 23:258.

    Hilary of Poitiers:

    “Upon this rock of the confession is the building up of the Church…..This faith is the foundation of the Church”- St. Hilary, De Trinitate vi, 36. P.L. 10:186-7.

    St. Ambrose of Milan:

    “Faith in then the foundation of the Church, for not the human person of St. Peter but of faith is it said that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” – St. Ambrose, De Incarn., v. 34, P.L. 16:827.

    I hope we can play some more!

    Peace.

  183. johnbugay said,

    July 28, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    Bryan, DeVille’s is a work of wishful thinking. And you’d disagree with Ware on a thousand issues. As you are wont to say, any theologian can say anything, and none of it is binding. Neither of these has any authority among the Orthodox at any rate.

    Of course nothing in Minnerath’s work “is incompatible with Catholic doctrine”. “Catholic doctrine” has cut itself free from any historical reality. But Minnerath is in an ecumenical discussion with people who will not permit him to be evasive as you are evasive, and thus, he must be honest with history.

    So every time you cite “Catholic doctrine” on this, you are begging the question.

    And contrary to what you say, Archbishop Minnerath’s statement is precisely a claim that the Eastern Churches never recognized the primacy of the successor of St. Peter at Rome.

    Minnerath’s selection in the work How Can the Petrine Ministry Be a Service to the Unity of the Universal Church? may be read at this Google Books link, beginning on page 34.
    The pages not shown in this preview, 38, 39, 45, and 46, are are provided here, so the complete essay is now available.

  184. Sean said,

    July 28, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    John

    Would you disagree with Catholic Arch-bishop Minnerath on ‘a thousand issues’ or do you agree with everything Minnerath says?

  185. Constantine said,

    July 28, 2012 at 8:01 pm

    Pete Holter @ 151

    Hey Stranger,

    I hope you are doing well.

    But, for your own good and to keep you in good stead with your bishop, I wanted to let you know that you have strayed very far from established Catholic dogma. While all of your Scriptural quotations are very interesting, and your personal interpretations are fun, they fail the test imposed upon you by the Romanist Church.

    To wit, Pope St. Pius IV binds all Romanists, thusly:

    I also admit the Holy Scripture according to that sense which our holy mother the Church has held, and does hold, to which it belongs to judge of the true sense and interpretations of the Scriptures. Neither will I ever take and interpret them otherwise than according to the unanimous consent of the Fathers.

    Tridentine Creed (http://www.catholictradition.org/Tradition/tridentine-creed.htm)

    So any Scripture quotation you use, Pete, must be assumed or proven to have unanimous consent…which they never can have.

    Here are just a few examples:

    You wrote: “Since the words were directed to Peter alone in Matthew 16 and then to all the others [with Peter included] in Matthew 18, we actually do see a difference between Peter and the other apostles.”

    St. Cyprian disagrees:

    “To all the apostles after His resurrection He gives equal power and says, ‘As the Father sent Me so I send you.'” – Cyprian, De Unitate, 4.)

    You further write:

    “We note that he was given “the keys of the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 16:19), and that all of the apostles have the similar power of binding and loosing (Matthew 18:18) because they are united with Peter who had been given the keys.”

    But you presuppose the primacy of Peter, deduced from Scripture, which fails the unanimous consent test.

    To wit, Chrysostom as but one example:

    <blockquote? [That John] "Is the pillar of the churches throughout the world, who hath the keys of the kingdom of heaven (Hom. i in Joan, pg. 59:480). [John & Peter received]: The charge of the world" (Hom. i in Joan, pg. 59:25.)

    Chrysostom did not believe in your interpretation of Matthew, Peter.

    Sorry to be so blunt, but to assert your answer is “the truth” runs afoul of your “Tradition”.

    But I like the fact that you read Scripture on your own. I see the Holy Spirit working in you to save you from those Roman delusions!

    Peace.

  186. Constantine said,

    July 28, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    I think bryan @ 159 may be a little too selective in his interpretations of Ambrose.

    Because elsewhere, the beloved saint has this to say:

    “Faith is then the foundation of the Church, for not the human person of St. Peter but of faith is it said that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” – St. Ambrose, De Incarn., v. 34, P.L. 16:827.

    Peace.

  187. Thorin said,

    July 28, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    Bryan Cross is hardly being evasive. Indeed, I have always found his arguments to be careful, cogent, and charitable.

    Since Mr. Cross referred to the Ravenna Document, I thought it might be useful to quote the consensus recognized by the Catholic and Orthodox participants in that dialogue:

    41. Both sides agree that this canonical taxis was recognised by all in the era of the undivided Church. Further, they agree that Rome, as the Church that “presides in love” according to the phrase of St Ignatius of Antioch (To the Romans, Prologue), occupied the first place in the taxis, and that the bishop of Rome was therefore the protos among the patriarchs. They disagree, however, on the interpretation of the historical evidence from this era regarding the prerogatives of the bishop of Rome as protos, a matter that was already understood in different ways in the first millennium.

    42. Conciliarity at the universal level, exercised in the ecumenical councils, implies an active role of the bishop of Rome, as protos of the bishops of the major sees, in the consensus of the assembled bishops. Although the bishop of Rome did not convene the ecumenical councils of the early centuries and never personally presided over them, he nevertheless was closely involved in the process of decision-making by the councils

    This consensus, of course, does absolutely nothing to support the view that there is no apostolic succession or that bishops do not rightly exercise authority in the Church, much less that the office of the Bishop of Rome may safely be disregarded.

  188. Jeff Cagle said,

    July 28, 2012 at 8:35 pm

    Bryan, with all the fur flying, you may have overlooked my question in #160?

  189. Constantine said,

    July 28, 2012 at 8:39 pm

    Sean @ 169 issues the following challenge:

    “Give me the names of three early church fathers that denied the episcopal nature of the church and denied that the bishops were held in succession from the apostles and denied that the bishop of Rome was a source of unity for the whole church.”

    1. Episcopal nature of the church: I could recommend a great book to you by two Roman Catholic scholars entitled, “Antioch and Rome: New Testament cradles of Catholic Christianity”. The co-authors are John Meier who is/was the head of the Scripture Department at St. John’s (RC) Seminary in Yonkers, NY and Raymond Brown who needs no introduction. According to Meier you have vastly overstated your implicit claim to an “episcopal” nature of the early church, in particular. Meier, whose focus in this work was on Antioch explains how that early church (i.e. Matthean) was built on “prophets and teachers” as in Acts 13:1-2. There was no bishop. He speculates that the bishop was the result of the need for a coordinated response against the Gnostics who were widespread and energetic in their work.

    This, I found very interesting: “Moreover, when we read Ignatius’ demands that nothing be done without the bishops’ approval, we should remember that the whole church at Antioch might be the size of a present-day parish, the bishop playing much the same role as a pastor.” (pgs. 76-66).

    So the alleged “episcopal” nature of the church appears not to be so simple as official Rome would have it. Especially since the episcopate “evolved” at a time after Peter had been there.

    2. As to “succession”, I will defer to the later work of Lane, here, and others. If you mean the term in the sense that you are bound, as a Catholic to mean it, in the Vatican I sense, it can be dismissed with great ease.

    3. As to those who denied that the bishop of Rome was the “source of unity”, that is fairly easy:

    a. Cyprian: 295 convened a council to override a declaration of the bishop of Rome.

    b. Augustine: Worked diligently against Zosimus who had introduced Pelagianism into the church.

    c. Tertullian referred to the bishop of Rome as “Pontifex Maximus” said term being an honorarium for the head of the pagan church at Rome.

    Those are just from memory. If I can be permitted to consult my library, more may appear.

    Peace.

  190. Sean said,

    July 28, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    Constantine.

    Let’s pick one of the fathers you cite rather than trying to go all at once on all of them. How about Ambrose of Milan?

    You quote him saying: “Faith in then the foundation of the Church, for not the human person of St. Peter but of faith is it said that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” – St. Ambrose, De Incarn., v. 34, P.L. 16:827

    Firstly, notice how St. Ambrose does not say that Peter does not have a real successor or that apostolic succession is false or that the chair of St Peter (the successor) is a source and mark of unity for the whole church. Ambrose merely says that faith is the foundation of the Church and the faith that St Peter expressed is the faith of which the gates of hell will not prevail against. This is an interpretation that is not at odds with the claims of the Catholic Church. Of course the faith that St Peter professed in Matt 16:18 is important. But, this does not change the fact that Christ gave St Peter, alone, the keys to the heavenly kingdom.

    Notice how Ambrose goes on, in his explanations of the psalms of David, affirm the precise thing we’re claiming:

    …On him He builds the Church, and to him He gives the command to feed the sheep; and although He assigns a like power to all the Apostles, yet He founded a single chair, and He established by His own authority a source and an intrinsic reason for that unity. Indeed, the others were that also which Peter was; but a primacy is given to Peter, whereby it is made clear that there is but one Church and one chair. So too, all are shepherds, and the flock is shown to be one, fed by all the Apostles in single-minded accord. If someone does not hold fast to this unity of Peter, can he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he desert the chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, can he still be confident that he is in the Church? (“Commentaries on Twelve of David’s Psalms”)

    And in the same work he concludes, “At length, after being tempted by the devil, Peter is set over the Church.”.

    Ambrose also says of the Roman Church to Emperor Gratian, “Your grace must be besought not to permit any disturbance of the Roman Church, the head of the whole Roman World and of the most holy faith of the Apostles, for from thence flow out to all (churches) the bonds of sacred communion.” Ambrose, To Emperor Gratian, Epistle 11:4 (A.D. 381).

    And of those that are not in communion with the chair of St Peter he says, “For they have not the succession of Peter, who hold not the chair of Peter, which they rend by wicked schism; and this, too, they do, wickedly denying that sins can be forgiven even in the Church, whereas it was said to Peter: ‘I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven, and whatsoever thou shall loose on earth shall be loosed also in heaven.'” Ambrose, Concerning Repentance, 7:33 (A.D. 384).

    So, as we can see St Ambrose affirmed the precise nature of the office of Peter that the Reformers rejected.

  191. Bryan Cross said,

    July 28, 2012 at 9:41 pm

    Constantine,

    Origen’s statement is not denying the uniqueness of the authority given to St. Peter, but affirming the truth that there are twelve foundation stones in Christ’s Church (Rev. 21:14), and Christ’s promise to St. Peter concerning the gates of hell applies to them insofar as they remain in communion with St. Peter. And the Catholic Church still believes that, and it is no way incompatible with or contrary to what I’ve already said.

    The quotation from St. Cyprian likewise is affirming that *as Apostles,* they were all equal. None of the Twelve had lesser or greater portion of apostolicity than the others. And the Catholic Church still believes that, and it too is compatible with what I’ve already said. But you also did not include what St. Cyprian *does* say about the uniqueness of St. Peter. See the section on St. Cyprian in the link titled “The Chair of St. Peter” in comment #38 above. It fills in the picture, and shows that St. Cyprian did affirm the primacy of St. Peter and his successors in the Chair of St. Peter at Rome.

    Regarding your citation from St. Jerome. Your ellipsis left out some pertinent information. Here’s the full quotation:

    “The Church was founded upon Peter: although elsewhere the same is attributed to all the Apostles, and they all receive the keys of the kingdom of heaven, the strength of the Church depends upon them all alike, yet one among the twelve is chosen so that when a head has been appointed, there may be no occasion for schism.” (Against Jovinianus, I.26)

    With the missing information supplied, the statement becomes one that fully supports the Catholic position.

    Regarding your quotation from St. Hilary, in that same book (i.e. Book VI,) he writes, “blessed Simon, who after his confession of the mystery was set to be the foundation-stone of the Church, and received the keys of the kingdom of heaven.” And in the paragraph following the one you quoted, he writes:

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

    See also the quotations from St. Hilary in #24. What is made clear in this fuller context is that for St. Hilary, it was because St. Peter professed this faith (as a gift from the Father) that God rewarded him by making him “to be the foundation-stone of the Church” and giving to him “the keys of the kingdom of heaven.” St. Hilary, and the other Church Fathers, do not treat this in an either/or manner: i.e. either the rock is Peter, or it is his faith. Rather, the two are intrinsically linked together. The faith does not float free, like a platonic form. It is sacramentally located in St. Peter and his “episcopacy,” for it was this faith that Christ prayed would fail not. For St. Hilary, the faith of the Church is found in St. Peter whom Christ made the rock; the two cannot be separated. To separate from St. Peter is to separate from the faith. To separate from the faith, is to separate from St. Peter. And this is fully compatible with everything I said, and the Catholic Church still affirms it today. That is likewise the way the statement you quoted from St. Ambrose complements and harmonizes with the quotation I provided above from St. Ambrose. This the same St. Ambrose who said, “Where Peter is, there is the Church.” The faith and the office are inseparable. Such a statement would be pointless and irrelevant to St. Ambrose in the fourth century, if it applied only to the person of St. Peter who was martyred in AD 68, and not to his enduring office, through which he, under the Lord, continues to lead the Church.

    I hope we can play some more!

    It may be a game to you, but these are matters of eternal consequence, and ought to be treated with the carefulness and sincerity matters of eternal consequence require.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  192. July 28, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    Someone wake me up when these guys actually get around to providing some historically credible evidence that Christ established a perpetual office of the papacy.

  193. Hugh said,

    July 29, 2012 at 12:09 am

    I remember this book coming out when I was in seminary. The author (I think Scott Butler) somehow got my name & number as an avid anti-popish person, and sent me a free copy.

    Anyone see anything new in it? He claimed Reformed guys were poping left and right (and in the ’90s, they WERE!).

    Vimeo video debate on Peter’s Papal Primacy: http://vimeo.com/8910416 (Sungenis & Butler v. White & Zins)

  194. Hugh said,

    July 29, 2012 at 12:14 am

    Here’s the whole debate: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K7kehrfDMI8

    Sungenis & Butler v. White & Zins on was Peter the proto-pope?

  195. johnbugay said,

    July 29, 2012 at 5:59 am

    Bryan, Minnerath is precisely talking about “the developments” not of “the manner in which the primacy is exercised”, but of the developments of Roman theological and doctrinal proposals. He says in a page that I just posted:

    The Eastern church has never taken into account the developments about the Roman bishop as vicar, successor or heir of the Apostle Peter”.

    No matter the “warm fuzzies” Minnerath thinks that the East felt for the west, it is entirely possible to see that as honest Christian deference, whereas Roman bishops were exercising a process (in their newly found wealth) of primping in a mirror, and saying precisely how wonderful and necessary they were to the church. It wasn’t just primping, though. Deceit was involved, as Roman pontiffs in that era began an active campaign of re-writing their own history to suit their needs. This, too, is documented; it is not in question.

    Your statement, too, that The Church could, in principle, go back to that form of the exercise of the primacy, raises the question, if it were to “go back” to a form of “exercise” “of the primacy” that it held before 500 AD, what, then, of the last 1500 years? How could it have gotten things so wrong? Especially in those high middle ages? How can “the primacy” be said to be “doctrinally infallible” if it gets wrong those hard-edges of “the deposit” so central to its own “exercise”?

    The fact that “the East” has “never taken into accounts the doctrinal developments” which made the papacy the central “infallible” feature clearly means that they were not ever central to “the Church that Christ founded”.

    Look at your statement here, referring to “the second bolded statement”:

    The East never shared the Petrine theology as elaborated in the West. It never accepted that the protos in the universal church could claim to be the unique successor or vicar of Peter.

    You said:

    Petrine theology was in fact elaborated more in the West than in the East. That’s not surprising. Given the Petrine office, where else would we expect it to be more elaborated.

    This is clearly doctrinal. Because Christ “founded” the church in “the East”, not in Rome. It is perfectly ridiculous for you to suggest that “the Primacy”, first located in the East, moved West, articulated its theology, then never quite convinced the East that that was what it had been dealing with all these centuries.

    This is the highest order of prevarication on your part. You need to admit this, and then you need to apologize to everyone you’ve been deceiving for so long, and further, you need to explain your errors to them in great detail. You’ve been causing a tremendous amount of harm.

    More than that, though, the papacy owes a clearly articulated apology to the world for this deception.

  196. July 29, 2012 at 8:33 am

    Thanks for the blog post, Lane. It seems there are deeply rooted opinions and feelings about issues you raise. Looking forward to further blog posts, brother. Between you and me though, reading these comments gets a little tiresome. I may just stick to what you write…everyone’s an mouth price these days. Peace.

  197. July 29, 2012 at 8:34 am

    *a mouth piece … autocorrect…:-)

  198. TurretinFan said,

    July 29, 2012 at 11:02 am

    David Gadbois:

    You wrote: “Someone wake me up when these guys actually get around to providing some historically credible evidence that Christ established a perpetual office of the papacy.”

    I’ve noticed that a few of the advocates for the papacy seem to think that they can lower the bar by accepting “development.” But:

    a) Rome’s own official documents couch their dogmas (including the dogma of papal infallibility) in terms of being something continuously held from the beginning – not in terms of development from something previously held; and

    b) There is no real standard for what is sufficient to constitute sufficient basis for later development.

    Expanding on (a), these defenders of Rome are defending her on grounds that contradict what she says. For example, the First Vatican Council taught: “That apostolic primacy which the Roman pontiff possesses as successor of Peter, the prince of the apostles, includes also the supreme power of teaching. This holy see has always maintained this, the constant custom of the church demonstrates it, and the ecumenical councils, particularly those in which East and West met in the union of faith and charity, have declared it.”

    But the constant custom of the churches does not demonstrate a view that the Roman bishop is the supreme teacher of the church. Those who think that holding to “development” can rescue the papacy by lowering the bar need to realize that they have lowered it into a place where it bumps into Vatican I.

    -TurretinFan

  199. Pete Holter said,

    July 29, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    Hey Constantine!

    We’re doing well, thanks. But still waiting for you to become Catholic… :)

    I’ve only read a small portion of Cyprian’s writings, so I’d rather not comment on what he’s saying. However, the more important point between you and me seems to be found further down in this treatise:

    “Does he think that he has Christ, who acts in opposition to Christ’s priests, who separates himself from the company of His clergy and people? He bears arms against the Church, he contends against God’s appointment. An enemy of the altar, a rebel against Christ’s sacrifice, for the faith faithless, for religion profane, a disobedient servant, an impious son, a hostile brother, despising the bishops, and forsaking God’s priests, he dares to set up another altar, to make another prayer with unauthorized words, to profane the truth of the Lord’s offering by false sacrifices, and not to know that he who strives against the appointment of God, is punished on account of the daring of his temerity by divine visitation” (On the Unity of the Church, 17).

    In what I have read from Cyprian, I recognize myself as being in communion with him. And I am subject to the bishops that he mentions here, and am in communion with the bishop of Rome, as was he, as strained as those relations were. John Calvin, on the other hand, despising all of the bishops, “set up another altar,” or, rather, tried to tear down the altar and replace it with something else. He admitted that “scarcely one in a hundred [bishops] has been elected who had any acquaintance with sacred doctrine” (Institutes, 4.5.1), and “scarcely one benefice in a hundred is conferred without Simony” (Institutes, 4.5.6), and that there are “very few bishops, if any at all, and scarcely one in a hundred of the other clergy, [who] mounted the pulpit once in their whole lifetime” (Institutes, 4.5.12). And yet, he broke communion with every last one of them. He lost sight of that true and great love for unity that Augustine held so deeply:

    “It is the same Church which is occasionally obscured, and, as it were, beclouded by the multitude of offences, when sinners bend the bow that they may shoot under the darkened moon at the upright in heart. But even at such a time the Church shines in those who are most firm in their attachment to her” (Letter 93, Ch. 9:30).

    I think that we all agree that all of the apostles have a universal mission. But Chrysostom still gives a primacy to Peter:

    “[F]irst of all, and leader of the choir, is the unlearned, the ignorant man (cf. Acts 4:13)” (Homily 32 on Matthew).

    “What then says the mouth of the apostles, Peter, the ever fervent, the leader of the apostolic choir? When all are asked, he answers. And whereas when He asked the opinion of the people, all replied to the question; when He asked their own, Peter springs forward, and anticipates them, and says, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God’ (Matthew 16:16)” (Homily 54 on Matthew).

    “Then, being ashamed to avow their feeling, they say not indeed openly, ‘Wherefore have you preferred Peter to us?’ or, ‘Is he greater than we are?’ for they were ashamed; but indefinitely they ask, Who then is greater? For when they saw the three preferred, they felt nothing of the kind; but now that the honor had come round to one, they were vexed. And not for this only, but there were many other things which they put together to kindle that feeling. For to him He had said, ‘I will give you the keys’; to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Barjona’; to him here, ‘Give unto them for me and you’; and seeing too in general how freely he was allowed to speak, it somewhat fretted them” (Homily 58 on Matthew).

    He also makes specific comparisons between Peter and John in order to draw attention to Peter as holding “the first place”:

    “If in the case of [James and John] they had indignation, much more here; for they had not yet the Spirit vouchsafed unto them.

    “But afterwards they were not like this. On every occasion, for example, they give up the first honors to Peter, and put him forward in their addresses to the people, although of a rougher vein than any of them” (Homily 50 on Matthew).

    “And that [James and John] had an advantage over the others, they knew, but they were afraid of Peter, and say, ‘Command, that one sit on Your right hand, one on Your left’; and they urge Him, saying, ‘Command’ ” (Homily 65 on Matthew).

    “Hear at least how this same John, he who now came to Him for these things, everywhere gives up the first place to Peter, both in addressing the people, and in working miracles, in the Acts of the Apostles.

    “And he conceals not Peter’s good deeds, but relates both the confession, which he openly made when all were silent (cf. John 6:68-69), and his entering into the tomb (cf. John 20:6), and puts the apostle before himself. For, because both continued with Him at His crucifixion, taking away the ground of his own commendation, he says, ‘That disciple was known unto the high priest’ (John 18:15)” (Homily 65 on Matthew).

    “Great was the fervor of [Peter]; neither did he fly when he saw them flying, but stood his ground, and went in with Him. And if John did so too, yet he was known to the high priest (cf. John 18:15)” (Homily 84 on Matthew).

    Finally, Chrysostom says,

    “ ‘You are Peter, and upon this rock will I build my Church’ (Matthew 16:18); that is, on the faith of his confession. Hereby He signifies that many were now on the point of believing, and raises his spirit, and makes him a shepherd” (Homily 54 on Matthew).

    And this agrees with the Council of Trent where it taught that

    “[T]he Symbol of faith [is] that firm and alone foundation against which the gates of hell shall never prevail” (Decree Touching the Symbol of Faith).

    I think I should also share that Pope Benedict recently wrote that it is “on the basis of his renewed faith” that Peter “becomes the rock that is to prevail against the destructive forces of evil” (Homily, 2/19/12). And that Jesus’ promise made to Peter—that “ ‘the gates of the underworld,’ that is, the forces of evil, will not prevail”—only holds true “inasmuch as he is the faithful steward of Christ’s message” (Homily for the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, 6/29/12).

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  200. Sean said,

    July 29, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    TurretinFan #197

    The Councils when defining Catholic dogma are not denying that development has occurred. The language used such as “constant custom of the church”, etc is found in all the Ecumenical Councils when defining doctrine. This does not deny that some development of terminology and theology occurred. You’ll find the same language whether the councils are talking about the papacy or the Trinity or the incarnation or the sacraments etc. I don’t know of any council pronouncment, even thouse that a Reformed person would except, that say, “Oh, and this was of course developed…”

    The purpose of an ecumenical council is to define Christian dogma once and for all. Not to discuss the details of every growth in developement.

    Unless you can point me to where Vatican I says, “We deny that the Church’s understanding of the chair of St Peter underwent any development” then your argument fails.

    “Immediately given by the apostles”, “constant custom of the church”, “always believed” etc do not deny development. This is what Catholics believe. We firmly believe that the doctrines defined in the councils are given by the apostles and the constant custom of the church.

  201. Andrew McCallum said,

    July 29, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    TF (197),

    The whole development thing is another reason why I am a little skeptical that there can much progress made between Catholic and Protestant by exchanging proof texts from the history of the Church on the papacy, or any other issue that divides us. No matter how little evidence that there might seem to be for a given RC dogma in the early centuries of the Church, the concept of development can be used like a magic wand to dismiss any skeptics. It is claimed by Rome that every distinctively Roman Catholic dogma was present in some inchoate form in the deposit of the faith, often so obscured as to be invisible, but yet it was there from the beginning. To me it makes much of what is distinctly Roman Catholicism sound rather gnostic.

    David G talked about being a “textualist” in one of the notes above. I resonate with this as think all systematic Reformed folks do. We want and need something that we can intellectually sink our teeth into. The vague references to development without any specific reference points just gives me a headache. So again, where are we going with all of this reference and refutation from individual Church Fathers on Rome and Peter?

  202. July 29, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    I am interested in one particular theme of this thread: the extent to which the Eastern Fathers accepted Papal claims.

    I wonder – how many Eastern fathers would it take to establish that “The East” did or did not accept claims of Roman primacy? I hope for my way of framing the question to be suggestive.

    Taking a patristic poll is just not how dogma is defined or develops. How many eastern fathers accepted or rejected the definition of Niceae, for example? If we recall the “blasphemy of Sirmium,” we remember that at one time “The whole world groaned to find itself Arian,” as Jerome would lament.

    The same goes for many other dogmas. We can almost always find some subset of the fathers who can be made to seem to dissent from almost any Catholic (or catholic) dogma. But what of it? As long as we can show that a doctrine is ancient (even if not fully developed), and that some version or articulation of it can be found widely across the Christian world, then I think it cannot be dismissed out of hand as innovative.

    With that in mind, I think there are two other questions that are more instructive:

    1) Were there eastern Fathers who accepted a juridictional primacy for the Bishop of Rome?

    2) Were there Eastern Fathers (or councils) before Photius who condemned Roman claims as heretical?

    The answer to 1 is clearly yes. (I’ll document below.)
    The answer to 2 is no.

    The eastern claim of Rome’s heresy has always puzzled me. If Roman primacy was such an obnoxious heresy – worse than monophystism, for example (which would certainly be the right wing view of modern orthodox), then why did so many Eastern bishops consent to and even celebrate Rome’s intervention in so many doctrinal, and even jurisdictional disputes? Can you imagine the fathers at Nicea II, or at Chalcedon seeking or celebrating the endorsement of Arian or Nestorian bishops?

    And why did they not call a council (without Rome) to condemn these obnoxious claims?

    As for eastern fathers accepting Roman Primacy, I’m very partial to one passage from Theodore Abu Qurrah – an 8th century Syrian bishop. Hardly a bastion of Latinate Christianity, and plenty late for a fully orbed Roman claim needing refutation:

    “You should understand that the head of the Apostles was St. Peter, to whom Christ said, ‘You are the rock; and on this rock I shall build my church, and the gates of hell will not overcome it.’ After his resurrection, he also said to him three times, while on the shore of the sea of Tiberius, ‘Simon, do you love me? Feed my lambs, rams and ewes.’ In another passage, he said to him, ‘Simon, Satan will ask to sift you like wheat, and I prayed that you not lose your faith; but you, at that time, have compassion on your brethren and strengthen them.’ Do you not see that St. Peter is the foundation of the church, selected to shepherd it, that those who believe in his faith will never lose their faith, and that he was ordered to have compassion on his brethren and to strengthen them? As for Christ’s words, ‘I have prayed for you, that you not lose your faith; but you, have compassion on your brethren, at that time, and strengthen them’, we do not think that he meant St. Peter himself. Rather, he meant nothing more than the holders of the seat of St. Peter, that is, Rome. Just as when he said to the apostles, ‘I am with you always, until the end of the age’, he did not mean just the apostles themselves, but also those who would be in charge of their seats and their flocks; in the same way, when he spoke his last words to St. Peter, ‘Have compassion, at that time, and strengthen your brethren; and your faith will not be lost’, he meant by this nothing other than the holders of his seat.

    Yet another indication of this is the fact that among the apostles it was St. Peter alone who lost his faith and denied Christ, which Christ may have allowed to happen to Peter so as to teach us that it was not Peter that he meant by these words. Moreover, we know of no apostle who fell and needed St. Peter to strengthen him. If someone says that Christ meant by these words only St. Peter himself, this person causes the church to lack someone to strengthen it after the death of St. Peter. How could this happen, especially when we see all the sifting of the church that came from Satan after the apostles’ death? All of this indicates that Christ did not mean them by these words. Indeed, everyone knows that the heretics attacked the church only after the death of the apostles – Paul of Samosata, Arius, Macedonius, Eunomius, Sabelllius, Apollinaris, Origen, and others. If he meant by these words in the gospel only St. Peter, the church would have been deprived of comfort and would have had no one to deliver her from those heretics, whose heresies are truly ‘the gates of hell’, which Christ said would not overcome the church. Accordingly, there is no doubt that he meant by these words nothing other than the holders of the seat of St. Peter, who have continually strengthened their brethren and will not cease to do so as long as this present age lasts.” (pp. 68-69) Library of the Christian East, vol.1

    Thanks,

    David

  203. Sean said,

    July 29, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    Anderew # 201.

    What do you say about all the evidence that has been posted on this very site from fathers such as Augustine and Ambrose? Do you agree with John Bugay that these unfortunate fathers, as well as any other that believed in apostolic succession and the unique primacy of the chair of St Peter, were just wrong? That they just believed and passed on this ‘pious lie’ through the centuries?

  204. Sean said,

    July 29, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    Con’t (sorry did not mean to post so quickly above)

    What we have in the extant historical record (which by the way comes to us in texts) from the fathers from at least the 2nd century onwards is a clear testimony to sacramental apostolic succession and a growing sense in the unity provided by the chair of St. Peter. That is not even disputed by John Bugay because he says that it was at this time that the ‘pious lie’ took hold and overtook the church until the Reformation rescued the church from itself.

    The Reformation view of things requires that the fathers lied or misunderstood the nature of the church. It requires that the ‘real’ polity of the church was lost in the fist generation and gee if we only had more extant data from AD 33 – AD 150 that data would obviously show that the church lacked any notion of succession and Linus did not succeed Peter contra the first surviving data which talks about Linus succeeding Peter.

  205. Burton said,

    July 29, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    Hello Gentleman,

    Must admit I’m not quite up to par regarding the obvious specialized training and extensive reading represented at this site (from both sides). I hope my question is not too far off topic. John Bugay, you will likely recognize the question as one I posed to you over at CtC, but never felt I got a straight answer.

    Assuming that the papacy is a Romanist invention and not established by God, and that the Reformed understanding is correct, how do you as a Reformed pastor (or layman) define orthodoxy versus heresy and schism versus unity? Are these definitions binding on all Christians, or just those of our denomination?

    I am a Reformed Protestant, not uneducated and reasonably well read (though I’m not sure that should make a difference), and hopefully open to the leading and interior witness of the Holy Spirit (that has been my constant prayer for the decade that I have been struggling with the claims of Protestantism versus Catholicism). At sites like this one and CtC, I read many well reasoned Protestant arguments against Catholicism, but very few good positive arguments for the Reformed interpretive paradigm. It seems that, for a Protestant, there is no means of knowing with reasonable certainty which doctrines of faith and morals are heretical and which groups are schismatic. For example, conservative Protestantism has accepted contraception, and in some circles sodomy (within marriage), as fully compatible with faithful moral practice for followers of Christ. Is there any means by which my Pastor can tell me if these practices are sinful or not? If I read the New Testament prayerfully and conclude that God infuses rather than imputes righteousness, am I a heretic? By whose judgement?

    If one of our elders breaks from our congregation over a particular doctrinal issue, how can I, as a Reformed Protestant, know if he is committing the sin of schism or simply forming another legitimate branch? It would seem that some form of visible authority or head, ordained by God, would be necessary to define heresy and schism, for the sake of the spiritual welfare of me and my family. I’m not saying that this is the Pope, but I am wanting some sense of how this can be resolved using the Reformed model.

    Thanks for your thoughts,

    Burton

  206. johnbugay said,

    July 29, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    Burton 205:

    I’ve just completed a book review of Bock’s Biblical Theology of Luke and Acts. It will give you a good idea of how I begin to look at these questions. In essence, Scripture itself is God’s own “interpretation” of His own redemptive acts in history. Rome likes to tell people it, and it alone, “infallibly” posits the hard edges of “the deposit of faith”, but it goes one better and claims that its authority to do this is for all time because of some nebulous reasons they never get around detailing. Notice that the “hard edges” that they claim to have can only even be imagined with Michael Liccione’s quite backward “Interpretive Paradigm”. How in the world did anyone get along without it. In fact, who, outside of the little CTC clique, even knows or cares about this? Where in Catholic dogma does that appear?

    But if God himself posits to us the things He expects of us, directly in the Scriptures, how is it that Rome thinks it can do better than he has done? For all the bluster about their ability to [through "authority"] provide you with “certainty”, they can’t give it to you. They can’t give you the “infallible canon” of Roman Catholic dogma. They’ve got the Bible, to be sure, but they modify that with Tradition; these things are written in the CCC, but that wasn’t clear enough. They have to add these follow-up documents from the CDF on virtually every topic — there’s a constant flow of “clarifying”. You’d think they’d have gotten things figured out by now.

    To be sure, there is a need for theologians and philosophers to consider new things within an ever-changing world. But even a doctrine like the Trinity, which was evident to Athanasius in the Scriptures, can possibly be improved upon.

    Why not be satisfied with what God has posited — be content where you are, and allow that God has put his own Godly people around you who can help guide you through life. And too, why not be content to know that God has put the Baptist friends in your neighborhood, to live out God’s call in that context. Same with the Lutherans, and the Mennonites, and if you run into some Mormons, why not ask them how they know about that far away planet where they’re supposed to have come from?

    Nobody in the world has the “hard edges” of “the deposit of faith” that you want. Not the Roman Catholics with their ever-expanding re-reflections on something as foundational [to them] as the papacy. Not the Syrian family, with the 22-volume canon of the NT who’s calling on Christ right now to save them during these times of trouble. Not the Presbyterian ministers here who are devout and knowledgeable and given by God to be our guides.

  207. Sean said,

    July 29, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    John Bugay.

    # 206.

    Was it important that the council of Nicea defined the Blessed Trinity against the Arians? Was that important. Why didn’t the council fathers just relax and trust that God’s word was good enough on the matter?

  208. johnbugay said,

    July 29, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    Sean, it was important. But it did not have the significance that you attribute to it.

  209. Sean said,

    July 29, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    John Bugay.

    Pray tell what, exactly, did the Council of Nicea lack in significance that I attribute to it?

    What about the Council of Chalcedon? Was that important? Was it important to create a ‘hard edge’ for the whole universal church to combat the Monophysites?

  210. July 29, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    John Bugay,

    “Why not be satisfied with what God has posited?”

    I think this is a fascinating question. Could you please comment on where, when, and how God has “posited” that the 66 book Protestant Canon is to serve as the Rule of Faith for the Christian Church?

    Another way of framing the question:
    “What provision did Christ make for the continuing, authoritative exposition of the Christian faith?”

    Granted that you do not believe He “posited” the Cathoic Magisterium in answer to this question, what did He posit?

    To the best of my ability to discern, the common Protestant answer to this question is:

    The Catholic Church is not the Rule of Faith.
    Scripture is inspired.
    Therefore, Scripture is the Rule of Faith.

    I don’t think I need to explain to you why this syllogism does not work.

    I have never seen any Protestant – not even Whitaker – try to make a sustained argument to the effect that Sola Scriptura (framed around the 66 book canon) is a revealed doctrine. At best, it is an invalid inference from inspiration.

    Thoughts?

    -David

  211. Constantine said,

    July 29, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    Sean @ 190

    Hi Sean,

    I think your zeal to defend Rome is showing. The very least that can be said – and that needs be said – is that Ambrose was inconsistent. Therefore, he is a dubious source for your side.

    Please consider the following:P

    From the earliest times, he (Ambrose) taught, it (the Roman church) had been the unswerving exponent of the Church’s creed in its integrity and purity; to be in communion with Rome was a guarantee of correct belief…Yet he nowhere recognizes the latter (Roman pontiff) as the final interpreter of the laws of ecclesiastical discipline, much less ascribes supreme jurisdiction over the Church to him. It is clear that Ambrose’s exegesis of the great Petrine texts, which were to supply that jurisdiction with its theological substructure was inconsistent, and in any case fell short of identifying the apostle with the later popes. If, for example, he sometimes interprets Matt. 16, 18 as implying that the Church was erected on St. Peter…his fuller discussion of the text suggests that the rock mentioned in it was not the apostle’s person so much as his faitn in Christ’s Messiahship or divinity, or even the Saviour Himself, the object of his faith. Similarly, while sometimes attributing special authority over the Church to St. Peter himself, he also states that the gift of the keys was not bestowed on St. Peter personally or exclusively, but as the representative of the apostles and of all Catholic bishops descending from them. J N D Kelly, “Early Christian Doctrines”; 5th ed. P. 418.

    So a true scholar – one acknowledged on both sides of the debate sees the inconsistencies in Ambrose’s Petrine doctrine. Hence, again, he can’t be said to take your side.

    Peace.

  212. johnbugay said,

    July 29, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    David Anders — See Kruger’s Canon Revisited, and then tell me I can’t be satisfied with a 27-book New Testament canon.

    Another way of framing the question:
    “What provision did Christ make for the continuing, authoritative exposition of the Christian faith?”

    The ordained ministry.

    Granted that you do not believe He “posited” the Cathoic Magisterium in answer to this question, what did He posit?

    “III. It belongeth to synods and councils, ministerially, to determine controversies of faith, and cases of conscience…”

    So far as adhering to a “rule of faith”, we don’t really know what the content of this was. Protestants certainly hold that Scripture is the rule of faith. Outside of Scripture, which we can check, Rome has posited all sorts of very bad things.

    Maybe you can tell me when Michael Liccione’s “Interpretive Paradigm” first made its appearance in Christian history.

  213. johnbugay said,

    July 29, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    Sean 209:

    Pray tell what, exactly, did the Council of Nicea lack in significance that I attribute to it?

    A Nicene Creed that could bind the faithful in unity.

  214. Sean said,

    July 29, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    Constantine # 211.

    Yet he nowhere recognizes the latter (Roman pontiff) as the final interpreter of the laws of ecclesiastical discipline, much less ascribes supreme jurisdiction over the Church to him

    That is a statement that says nothing more than something that Ambrose DID NOT say. In other words, its a statement about silence.

    I posted some very clear passages of what Ambrose did say on the very topic at hand and have not seen those explained away.

    Further, I don’t expect Ambrose to have presented a fully developed down to the last detail petrine theology. So, what Ambrose ‘did not say’ is of little consequence when compared to what he DID say.

    John # 212.

    I really hope you stay around Called to Communion long enough to enjoy our upcoming review of “Canon Revisited.” But, I notice you did not answer David Anders at all. He did not even ask you about the 27 book NT canon.

    # 213.

    I don’t think that the Nicene Creed alone was enough to bind the faithful in unity. Does it bother you that Nicea created a ‘hard edge’ which excluded the Arians from the Christian faith? Does it bother you that the council fathers didn’t just hold the 66 book Protestant canon in the face of the Arians and say, “This is sufficient.”

  215. Pete Holter said,

    July 29, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    David Gadbois wrote,

    “Where is the biblical evidence for a *perpetual office* of the papacy?

    “Someone wake me up when these guys actually get around to providing some historically credible evidence that Christ established a perpetual office of the papacy.”

    Hi David Gadbois!

    Peter was prayed for especially so that he might be able to confirm the brethren, i.e., all the brethren, in the faith. It was pointed out earlier that Peter alone was given the power to bind and loose, and that subsequently all of the apostles together with Peter were said to have this power in Matthew 18. So again, Peter alone, in his profession of faith, became the foundation of the Church in Matthew 16; and again we see that the other apostles were joined with Peter in this same doctrine and likewise became collaborators in laying this foundation (Ephesians 2), which is Christ. Again, all of the apostles aid in catching the fish, but Peter is the only one to drag the full catch of fish to Jesus in John 21: All believers come to Jesus through the faith that Peter confessed and the love that he displayed.

    As another point of confirmation, consider that in Matthew 17:24-27, tax collectors approached Peter and asked him, “Does your teacher not pay the tax?” Peter answered for Jesus and said, “Yes.” Jesus’ response is to have Peter miraculously pay for just the two of them by using a single coin: Peter and Jesus united as one. Just as it was Peter and Jesus who were so closely knit together when Peter professed his faith in Him—so much so that Peter was given his very name from Christ the Rock—so again this scene points to the fact that Peter is being united to Jesus in a unique way as Christ’s representative in God’s Church for proclaiming the Gospel of the freedom of the sons of God to an unbelieving world of “tax collectors.”

    If we can be confident that Jesus established a pastor at the head of His Church in the times of the apostles—for the sake of maintaining a unified proclamation of faith in Christ so that the world might believe—then this is the structure that we should expect to find until His return. And if you can get this far, the following line of reasoning from St. Francis de Sales becomes helpful to consider:

    “I ask you: if the Apostles, whose understanding the Holy Spirit enlightened so immediately, who were so steadfast and so strong, needed a confirmer and pastor as the form (forme) and visible maintenance of their union, and of the union of the Church, how much more now has the Church need of one, when there are so many infirmities and weaknesses in the members of the Church? And if the wills of the Apostles, so closely united in charity, had need of an exterior bond in the authority of a head, how much more afterwards when charity has grown so cold is there need of a visible authority and ruler? And if, as S. Jerome says, in the time of the Apostles: ‘One is chosen from amongst all, in order that, a head being established, occasion of schism may be taken away’ (Adv. Jov. i. 26), how much more now, for the same reason, must there be a chief in the Church? The fold of Our Lord is to last till the consummation of the world, in visible unity: the unity then of external government must remain in it, and nobody has authority to change the form of administration save Our Lord who established it” (Catholic Controversies).

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  216. July 29, 2012 at 7:28 pm

    Sean at 208 and 209,

    If you are addressing me (I’m not that knowledgeable…)…

    I’m willing to allow that our early church fathers allowed for a Pope, not as liars, but as an immature polity.

    But I don’t really know my history. I should read what was mentioned in comment 1.

    What I don’t understand is a blog like called to communion. I don’t really understand the comments on this blog. There’s a real discussion about
    proper polity that should be taking place. I don’t see much of value coming about here. I’ll study the comments and other readings as I have time. I just don’t what is driving you all.

    I will respond to comments, but not offer new thought.

    Peace,
    Andrew

  217. Constantine said,

    July 29, 2012 at 7:40 pm

    Bryan @ 191

    You write, “…and Christ’s promise to St. Peter concerning the gates of hell applies to them insofar as they remain in communion with St. Peter.”

    I don’t see anything in the quote about “communion with St. Peter”, Bryan.

    You write, again, “The quotation from St. Cyprian likewise is affirming that *as Apostles,* they were all equal. None of the Twelve had lesser or greater portion of apostolicity than the others. And the Catholic Church still believes that,,,”

    Perhaps you would be kind enough to reconcile your statement with the formal, infallible teaching of Vatican I, which states as follows:

    To this absolutely manifest teaching of the sacred scriptures, as it has always been understood by the catholic church, are clearly opposed the distorted opinions of those who misrepresent the form of government which Christ the lord established in his church and deny that Peter, in preference to the rest of the apostles, taken singly or collectively, was endowed by Christ with a true and proper primacy of jurisdiction.

    According to Vatican I, Peter did, in fact, have a “greater portion of apostolicity” – he was given “preference to the rest of the apostles” and had a “primacy” (i.e. singular) of power. Since Cyprian is obviously is possessed of “distorted opinions” why would you, as a Catholic rely on him?

    So that is what always makes these discussions of the papacy so interesting, Bryan. Catholics must deny something in “Tradition” to make whatever the flavor-of-the-day is, work. If you give me Cyprian, you must deny Vatican I and vice versa.

    Regarding Cyprian’s assertion to the uniqueness of Peter, it is established that he rewrote that position in light of Stephen’s abuse of Matthew 16:18.

    And thank you for your correction about Jerome. So you agree with Jerome and against Cyprian, that Peter did have a qualitatively different relationship to the church. How can we tell which one is correct?

    As regards your commingling of the faith and person of Peter in the writings of Ambrose, please see my response to Sean above. As I noted there, JND Kelly writes about Ambrose and the alleged primacy in Matthew 16:18 “his fuller discussion of the text suggests that the rock mentioned in it was not the apostle’s person so much as his faith in Christ’s Messiahship or divinity, or even the Saviour Himself, the object of his faith. “ (See citation above.)

    The totality of Ambrose’s writings, according to this Patristics scholar, when analyzing Matt. 16, refers to Peter’s faith and not his person.

    And you are exactly right about the eternal consequences. That is exactly why we must rid ourselves of this dependency upon earthly things and acknowledge God as Savior, Himself. God didn’t need a pope before Rome and he doesn’t need one now.

    Peace.

  218. Constantine said,

    July 29, 2012 at 8:04 pm

    Sean:

    I love this…..

    “That is a statement that says nothing more than something that Ambrose DID NOT say. In other words, its a statement about silence.”

    I’m going to have to remember this the next time a Catholic says, “Sola Scriptura is not in the Bible!” I’m going to send them to Sean so he can explain why they can’t say that – it’s an argument from silence.

    How absurd.

    Ambrose wasn’t silent on church authority. He just didn’t say what you need him to say.

    Peace.

  219. Sean said,

    July 29, 2012 at 8:11 pm

    Constantine. I did not say that Ambrose was silent on church authority.

    At this juncture I need to bow out. Look forward to further discussions.

  220. Sean said,

    July 29, 2012 at 8:28 pm

    But, in case I was not clear: What St. Ambrose DOES say about church authority, succession and St Peter’s chair is perfectly consistent with Catholic soteriology and in fact is exactly what we’d expect to find from a father such as St Ambrose. On the flip side, what St Ambrose DOES say about eccliesiology completely rules out the Reformed conceptions of the same.

  221. Sean said,

    July 29, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    Sorry, meant ‘eccliesiology’ above.

  222. Hugh said,

    July 29, 2012 at 9:44 pm

    But Connie @ 218, doesn’t Vat Uno trump Cyprian?

  223. Pete Holter said,

    July 29, 2012 at 10:27 pm

    David Gadbois wrote,

    “Where is the biblical evidence for a *perpetual office* of the papacy?

    “Someone wake me up when these guys actually get around to providing some historically credible evidence that Christ established a perpetual office of the papacy.”

    Hi David Gadbois!

    Peter was prayed for especially so that he might be able to confirm the brethren, i.e., all the brethren, in the faith. It was pointed out earlier that Peter alone was given the power to bind and loose, and that subsequently all of the apostles together with Peter were said to have this power in Matthew 18. So again, Peter alone, in his profession of faith, became the foundation of the Church in Matthew 16; and again we see that the other apostles were joined with Peter in this same doctrine and likewise became collaborators in laying this foundation (Ephesians 2), which is Christ. Again, all of the apostles aid in catching the fish, but Peter is the only one to drag the full catch of fish to Jesus in John 21: All believers come to Jesus through the faith that Peter confessed and the love that he displayed.

    As another point of confirmation, consider that in Matthew 17:24-27, tax collectors approached Peter and asked him, “Does your teacher not pay the tax?” Peter answered for Jesus and said, “Yes.” Jesus’ response is to have Peter miraculously pay for just the two of them by using a single coin: Peter and Jesus united as one. Just as it was Peter and Jesus who were so closely knit together when Peter professed his faith in Him—so much so that Peter was given his very name from Christ the Rock—so again this scene points to the fact that Peter is being united to Jesus in a unique way as Christ’s representative in God’s Church for proclaiming the Gospel of the freedom of the sons of God to an unbelieving world of “tax collectors.”

    If we can be confident that Jesus established a pastor at the head of His Church in the times of the apostles—for the sake of maintaining a unified proclamation of faith in Christ so that the world might believe—then this is the structure that we should expect to find until His return. And if you can get this far, the following line of reasoning from St. Francis de Sales becomes helpful to consider:

    “I ask you: if the Apostles, whose understanding the Holy Spirit enlightened so immediately, who were so steadfast and so strong, needed a confirmer and pastor as the form (forme) and visible maintenance of their union, and of the union of the Church, how much more now has the Church need of one, when there are so many infirmities and weaknesses in the members of the Church? And if the wills of the Apostles, so closely united in charity, had need of an exterior bond in the authority of a head, how much more afterwards when charity has grown so cold is there need of a visible authority and ruler? And if, as S. Jerome says, in the time of the Apostles: ‘One is chosen from amongst all, in order that, a head being established, occasion of schism may be taken away’ (Adv. Jov. i. 26), how much more now, for the same reason, must there be a chief in the Church? The fold of Our Lord is to last till the consummation of the world, in visible unity: the unity then of external government must remain in it, and nobody has authority to change the form of administration save Our Lord who established it” (Catholic Controversies).

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  224. jsm52 said,

    July 29, 2012 at 10:44 pm

    Pete Holter,

    Did Paul not get the memo? Or for that matter, the writer to the Hebrews, James, or John? The silence is deafening in the N.T. There’s a whole lotta assuming going on here…

  225. July 29, 2012 at 11:06 pm

    John Bugay at 212.

    John,

    I think perhaps I was not sufficiently clear in my question.

    I wasn’t asking about how we identify the canon.
    (For the record, however, I have glanced at Kruger.)

    For the sake of argument – even if I were to grant Kruger his thesis – (‘self-attestation’) – this still does not get at my question.

    The question is not, “how do we identify the canon?”

    It is, rather, “How do we know that the canon is (or is not) the rule of faith?”

    My understanding of the Protestant confessions leads me to the understand that

    1) All articles of faith must be established by divine revelation.
    2) Sola Scriptura is an article of faith.
    3) Sola Scriptura means that the canon (however we come to recognize it) is the Rule of Faith.

    Presumably, then,Sola Scriptura must be established by divine revelation.

    My question: where does divine revelation establish that this canon of Scripture we possess (however we come to recognize it) is the Rule of Faith.

    Kruger (from what little I have read) only deals with the question of identifying the canon. This is a completely separate question.

    By Protestantism’s own terms, I either need some divine revelation to tell me that the Canon is the Rule of faith, or I need to concede that Sola Scriptura is not an article of faith.

    Does this make sense?

    Finally,

    I am glad to see that you agree about Christ’s provision.

    I also believe that Christ established the ordained ministry as the authoritative provision for the continuing exposition of the Christian faith.

    I note that Christ nowhere pointed to the Canon of Scripture to fulfill that Role.

    This is why I believe the ministers of apostolic doctrine are the Rule of Faith established by Christ – not the Holy Scriptures.

    This, of course, raises the further question: How do I identify those ministers to whom this charge has been entrusted?

    -David

  226. Jeff Cagle said,

    July 29, 2012 at 11:12 pm

    So this goes back to the question in #160.

    We have the statement in Matt 16 about “the keys.”

    The facts on the ground are

    (1) Jesus explicitly gives the keys to Peter (16.19a).

    (2) He elaborates that Peter has the authority to bind and loose (16.19b).

    (3) He declares at another time to all of the disciples that they have the authority to bind and loose (18.18).

    The Catholic interpretation of this sequence, represented here by Brian and Pete at least, is that the “key” phrase is the key phrase: Peter uniquely has the keys to the kingdom, which then entails Peter’s unique role as source and head of the church.

    The question is then raised (#157), How does one know that this is the proper interpretation of Matt 16?

    For I think we can all agree that the bare words, “I will give you the keys to the kingdom” are not obviously code for “I am making you head and source of the church.” Right? There are some leaps in understanding here.

    What supplies those leaps? Bryan’s answer (#159) is “Tradition.” I’m going to tentatively assume that this is his complete answer, since he has not yet seen my question #160. Bryan, if you have more Scriptural support for the RC reading of Matt 16, feel free to adduce it at this time.

    NOW.

    This raises two more questions.

    (1) (the easier of the two) How do we know that the quotes from Ambrose and Augustine, say, are genuinely part of the church tradition?

    Let’s focus on Augustine. We agree that he was not infallible, so not all of his statements are Tradition. Which, then, and how do we know?

    Then,

    (2) Having identified the portions of Ambrose and Augustine that are truly Traditional, how that the Roman Catholic reading of Ambrose and Augustine is the correct reading?

    This actually a vexed question with Augustine. For at some points, he sounds Roman Catholic: “Peter too would walk. He as Head, Peter as Body: because, “Upon this rock,” He saith, “I will build My Church.”” (Aug Sermon Ps 55).

    But at other points, he makes the same argument that I have made:

    “Therefore,” he saith, “Thou art Peter; and upon this Rock” which thou hast confessed, upon this Rock which thou hast acknowledged, saying, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God, will I build My Church;” that is upon Myself, the Son of the living God, “will I build My Church.” I will build thee upon Myself, not Myself upon thee.

    For men who wished to be built upon men, said, “I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas,” who is Peter. But others who did not wish to be built upon Peter, but upon the Rock, said, “But I am of Christ.” And when the Apostle Paul ascertained that he was chosen, and Christ despised, he said, “Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?” And, as not in the name of Paul, so neither in the name of Peter; but in the name of Christ: that Peter might be built upon the Rock, not the Rock upon Peter.

    This same Peter therefore who had been by the Rock pronounced “blessed,” bearing the figure of the Church, holding the chief place in the Apostleship, a very little while after that he had heard that he was “blessed,” a very little while after that he had heard that he was “Peter,” a very little while after that he had heard that he was to be “built upon the Rock,” displeased the Lord when He had heard of His future Passion…

    — Aug Sermon Matt 14.25

    Here, Augustine does not sound Catholic — while Peter has chief place in the Apostleship, nevertheless, the church is not built upon Peter but rather on Christ. The Rock is not Peter, but Christ Himself.

    So. Since Tradition is the ground for your understanding of Matt 16, how does one identify Tradition, and how does one properly understand it?

    For on a plain reading of Augustine, whom I assume is properly Traditional, Peter is not the Rock on which the church is built.

  227. Brad B said,

    July 29, 2012 at 11:17 pm

    Hi Pete, #222. you wrote

    “Peter was prayed for especially so that he might be able to confirm the brethren, i.e., all the brethren, in the faith. It was pointed out earlier that Peter alone was given the power to bind and loose, and that subsequently all of the apostles together with Peter were said to have this power in Matthew 18. So again, Peter alone, in his profession of faith, became the foundation of the Church in Matthew 16″

    If this is to establish Peter as the primary apostle, the proto pope, I find it hard to believe that Jesus would’ve ever knocked Saul of Tarsus to the ground in the first place if an infallible leader was already in place.

    I think you are reading into the text the significance of the fish haul. I’ve not heard this before, but is this also an interpretation endorsed by the RCC?

    Another thing, not directed at Pete, Jesus never elevated any man in an office and in fact made statements that the greatest in heaven would be the servant of others. I dont see the Bishop of Rome fitting this pattern. But in Eph 4, the provision for the building up the body for service is found without a specific position between the Spirit of God and apostles IOW, it would seem to be a critical ommision.

  228. Jeff Cagle said,

    July 29, 2012 at 11:31 pm

    David (#224): Your argument would demolish Tradition just as easily. If Tradition is the way in which we know that Scripture is God’s Word, then how do we know which Tradition is properly Traditional? Worse yet, if Tradition is the way in which we properly understand Scripture, then in what way do we properly understand Tradition? See #225.

    The way out of the conundrum is to distinguish between word of God and word of man.

    The word of God is absolutely authoritative because it is from God Himself.

    The judgment of the church as to which books are actually canonical is relatively authoritative, because that judgment is the word of man. It is fallible — but very, very likely to be correct.

    And in fact, the church at times has struggled to identify which books are “in” and which are “out.” So we don’t have to look hard to see the fallibility of the church’s judgment. However, if someone wants seriously to throw out, say, Mark 16, then he needs a crackerjack argument for it, since the collective judgment of the church is against him.

    [Note: I happen to believe that Mark 16.9 - 19 are not canonical, but I wouldn't go to the stake for that belief because the historical judgment of the church is against me]

    The point is that fallibility is not a binary affair. The theory of gravity is fallible, but I’ve never met anyone willing to bet against it. The Pauline authorship of Hebrews is likewise a fallible hypothesis, but many more are willing to bet against that one. The canonical status of Hebrews, however, is settled theology: fallible, but very likely to be correct.

    We have an infallible Word, fallibly recognized and interpreted. Welcome to reality. :)

  229. Hugh said,

    July 29, 2012 at 11:46 pm

    No, jsm55, Paul didn’t get the memo, b/c it came centuries later.

    Like Muhammad and Jos. Smith, the magisterium is able to supersede Writ.

  230. July 30, 2012 at 12:35 am

    Jeff,

    However, if someone wants seriously to throw out, say, Mark 16, then he needs a crackerjack argument for it, since the collective judgment of the church is against him.

    I would be curious to know why you think this would not also be an argument in favor of baptismal regeneration. Not only RCs, but EOs, Anglicans, and Lutherans affirm it. So if the “collective judgment of the church” across so broad a spectrum affirms it, then why is it not “very, very likely to be correct”?

  231. Andrew McCallum said,

    July 30, 2012 at 12:38 am

    Sean (re: 203),

    I have not read all of the posts after yours, and John or others may have answered as well. But I will say that Augustine did not believe what modern Rome does by the concept of primacy. There is much more contained in the concept of Roman primacy by the time of the Reformation in RCC dogma than the ECF’s would have ever allowed for. You can see this in the exegesis of Augustine and the ECF’s of Matt. 16 where the rock is equated with Peter’s faith rather than Peter the man. Primacy did not mean universal jurisdiction.

    My point in the post you answered (201) was to question how valuable it was to count up proof texts from the Fathers. There are some beliefs in Early Christianity which sound very much like current Roman Catholic belief and some things where you cannot find anything resembling RC dogma in the writings of the ECF’s. So the simple question is how do we interpret the historical evidence? What percentage of the Fathers does it take to clearly affirm something before we say that a given RC dogma has historical warrant?

    The other concern is the rather hazy conception of development employed by the RC theologians when there does not seem to be any obvious proof of a dogma from early sources. Everything is current RCC dogma is there in the deposit of faith we are told, even though it may be in a primitive and inchoate form. The whole system is rendered un-falsifiable in my estimation. My tentative assessment to Lane was that there does not seem to be a meaningful way we can assess claims and counter claims by relying on the supposed consensus patrum because we cannot come to any agreement as to what this is utilizing standard historical methodologies.

    I think that there are other ways to better assess RCC dogma than making lists of what Fathers seemed to believe in what dogmas.

  232. Bob S said,

    July 30, 2012 at 12:45 am

    You’ll be putting Lane out of a job. Every week he gets up, reads a passage of Scripture, and then explains it, which performatively assumes that his explanation is more perspicuous than is the text. Otherwise, he would merely read the text out loud, and then sit down in silence. Your statement makes all expository preaching the “height of arrogant sinfulness.”

    Bryan
    37 The barefaced audacity of all the former protestants over at CtC never ceases to amaze me. They not only do not bother to refute the reformed position, even more damning, they do not even seem to know what it is in the first place. How convenient is that? Evidently one and all have been blinded by the light beaming in all its refulgence from the face of his most eminent holiness.

    Yet what does WCF I:7 say? The things necessary for salvation are so clearly taught that the even the unlearned by due use of the ordinary means may understand them Ps. 119:105 even as the Scripture also says, there are many things hard to be understood in Scripture 2 Pet. 3:16.

    And what are the ordinary means, but the reading and especially the preaching of the word Neh. 8:8, Act 26:18, Ps. 19:8, LC155, SC 89. IOW Scripture tells us that its perspicuity does not rule out preaching, but preaching accomplishes the purpose of Scripture, glorifying God in the salvation of sinners. And in that preaching appeals to a man’s understanding and reasons with him from a text, well that smacks too much of private judgement over the blind faith preferred by Rome. So much for example of Paul in Acts 17:2 or 18:4 reasoning out of the scriptures with the Jews on the sabbath.

    To that end, Rome eschews preaching in favor of pictures and passion plays, which are books for the ignorunt, if not the dramatic eye candy of the mass in the resacrificing of Christ contra Heb. 10:10,12.

    Whatever Scripture might have to say or the distinctions it offers are null and void other than the cursory drive by appeals to the same for what, papal infallibility, oral tradition and a blind faith in holy mother church that makes short work of Scripture, reason and even history/tradition? Evidently she must increase and they must decrease. Indeed.

    If you think I have asserted the “primacy” of my own interpretation, you have misunderstood me. I have said nothing about my own interpretation. I only noted that Stevens’ interpretation is one among others, and that by using the solo scriptura methodology he uses to arrive at his interpretation of the three passages he discusses, he presupposes the truth of Protestantism.

    Ahem, there you uh . . . . go again, giving us your private interpretation/judgement on a Pope Steven or Steve what’s his name. It’s hard to tell, because however inescapable, private interpretation is so unreliable, you know.

    Even further, how do you even know that you are who you think you are, never mind what we think you are, if not that two plus two really equals four and a half? Besides, is my private judgement really any different than the papal interpretation that says you, who are not even in holy orders, have no authority nor imprimatur whatsoever to authoritatively declare anything about Romanism?

    As for presuppositions, we all have them and yes, first principles and axioms are unprovable. But that is not what the question is. Rather are one’s presuppositions consistently held and noncontradictory, as well that one’s beliefs are coherently based upon them. Because Protestantism considers Scripture the only infallible rule for faith and life, while Rome considers Tradition to hold first place in authority.

    Yet the joint in the harness for Rome, like Islam and Mormonism, is that at some point she appeals to Scripture as justification for her position on whatever, the papacy, if not reason and history/traditions, again however nominal, drive-by and shallow the nature of those appeals. At which point, her intellectual paradigm/justification fails, as does the Muslim and Mormon because the Scripture shares the throne with nothing or no one.

    According to Rome, Scripture is not quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart Heb. 4:12. Neither did Paul actually tell Timothy in 2 Tim. 3:15 that from a child he had known the holy scriptures, which are able to make one wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. Nor were the Bereans more noble than the Thessalonicans because they searched Scripture to verify that Paul’s gospel was biblical in Act 17. Neither did Christ ever exhort his hearers to read Scripture or chide them on their ignorance of it in Matt. 12:3,5, 19:4,22:31; Mk. 12:10,26, Lk. 6:3. Who are you going to believe?

    Which is to say Scripture and the church are not two equal authorities with intrinsic and extrinsic authority as per your 54. Rather like the woman at Jacob’s well, the Samaritans first believed in Christ on account of her testimony, but once they had heard Christ, they believed in him on account of what he said Jn 4:39,42. So too Augustine on the testimony of the church versus Scripture.

  233. Bob S said,

    July 30, 2012 at 12:49 am

    Speaking of which, how come the great Augustine did not toe the line on the papal interpretation of Matt. 16? Where is the monolithic uniformity in the early church that Rome claims there was on its distinctives? You were asked this once before in the Oral Traditions discussion (#238) and did not answer it then and I daresay you cannot answer it now. Christ is the rock upon which Peter and the church are built. Sermon XXVI. Again on Matt.xiv. 25: Of the Lord walking on the waves of the sea, and of Peter tottering and
    Homilies on the Gospel of John, Tract. CXXIV
    .

    And if as per 47 It is arbitrary to reject the possibility of development of doctrine as applied to the papacy, while affirming the development of doctrine with respect to soteriology, one might just as well reply that it is arbitrary to reject that the development of the doctrine of the papacy is demonic in that Christ explicitly calls Peter “Satan”, not five verses past the latter’s supposed induction to the papal throne.

    But in all this, we also note the prevailing fallacy of the undistributed middle term. As others have mentioned, Peter is one thing, that his primacy if granted, necessarily flows to his non apostolic successors quite another; it is a non sequitur. Yet it but one instance where something is blithely assumed without ever being proved.

    As for question begging, 117 is a beaut. In answer to David asking why the apostles did not mention at all the papal office even as they explicitly did other, we are told:

    From a non-sola-scriptura point of view, that is, from a point of view in which Scripture is not the entirety of the deposit, but the entirety of the deposit is embodied in both Scripture and Tradition, it is neither “strange” nor “not credible” that explicit articulations of certain doctrines are not spelled out as such in Scripture.

    122 is the black cruachan calling the kettle, um . . . purple, right?

    You’re “textualist” stance is a question-begging stance. It presupposes the impossibility (at least unacceptability on your part) of God establishing the Church with a living and authoritative oral Tradition.

    Rather Protestantism affirms that Christ established the church with a living, authoritative and apostolic tradition, that was inscripturated and passed on to us in the NT.

    IOW suffice it to say a prima facie case can be made that all in all Rome teaches a vicious, wicked and gross fideism, that butchers Scripture, reason and history/tradition even as she claims to honor them.
    To be sure these days, getting protestants to agree is like herding cats, but if the alternative is the troupe of trained seals over at CtC barking “Submit to Rome and make a burnt offering of your conscientious judgement to the little Papa lest thou be damned forever” the answer quite simply is as Frank pointed out:

    But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. John 10:26-29

    Mark that, no man, not even the pope himself or any of his self appointed drummers , is able to pluck Christ’s sheep out of his Father’s hand.

    If I were you, I’d appoint myself to something else.

  234. Jsm52 said,

    July 30, 2012 at 12:54 am

    Jason,

    You wrote:
    I would be curious to know why you think this would not also be an argument in favor of baptismal regeneration. Not only RCs, but EOs, Anglicans, and Lutherans affirm it. So if the “collective judgment of the church” across so broad a spectrum affirms it, then why is it not “very, very likely to be correct”?

    Maybe 17th century Carolines and latter-day Anglo-Catholics, but not the Church of Cranmer, Latimer, Jewel, Grindal, and Hooker. Read up on the English reformation before making that assertion (McColluch, Null). And I don’t think Luther and Melancthon took that position either.

    Jack

  235. July 30, 2012 at 1:00 am

    Jack,

    Assuming for the sake of argument that you are correct, then just change my question to include only the RCs and EOs. That is still an overwhelming majority of Christians who have ever lived, right? Does that number not constitute “the collective judgment of the church”?

  236. July 30, 2012 at 1:07 am

    Benedict:

    Any thoughts?

    Are you a golfer?

  237. Jsm52 said,

    July 30, 2012 at 1:12 am

    Well, if it’s all about the number of votes one can cobble together, then Jesus, the disciples,and the prophets lose vs. the majority of the priesthood, Pharisees, and the Israelites of O.T.

    So-called consensus does not equate truth.

  238. Bob S said,

    July 30, 2012 at 1:16 am

    224
    I also believe that Christ established the ordained ministry as the authoritative provision for the continuing exposition of the Christian faith.

    I note that Christ nowhere pointed to the Canon of Scripture to fulfill that Role.

    This is why I believe the ministers of apostolic doctrine are the Rule of Faith established by Christ – not the Holy Scriptures.

    This, of course, raises the further question: How do I identify those ministers to whom this charge has been entrusted?

    You couldn’t be more confused if you tried, David.
    Christ gave the charge to the apostles to teach and preach everything he had taught them going into all the world in Matt. 28:18-20, promising to be with them and to give them Holy Spirit to bring all things to their mind Jn. 16:13.

    Which is to say Christ through his Spirit inspired Paul to write in 2 Tim 3:15 that Scripture is sufficient to prove and establish every good work, even that of determining who is faithful minister of Christ.

    Respectfully you need to up your game if you can’t comprehend something as elementary as this.

    IOW you are in way over your head and like Bryan, you need to get out while the getting is good.

    cheers

  239. July 30, 2012 at 1:28 am

    I didn’t say it does. I am echoing Jeff’s statement back to him and applying it to a different issue.

  240. July 30, 2012 at 1:30 am

    Bob,

    I don’t know if it is deliberate, but you come off as incredibly dismissive and condescending. Is that something the mods here approve of?

  241. July 30, 2012 at 1:35 am

    Get out and golf I might add…

    Golf, Jason? Let me know, bro. I’ll buy at the 19th hole. Even for your pope.

  242. Jsm52 said,

    July 30, 2012 at 1:46 am

    Jason,

    I figured your intent was toward Jeff’s comment. But my point is directed toward the main “consensus” thrust I keep hearing from our RCC brethren. Adding up historical chits (via one’s interpretation) doesn’t settle things. Scripture speaks… Authoritatively, but not always to our satisfaction. We creatures are left precariously dependent, individuals and church, upon our Creator and Redeemer. It’s messy. We all struggle against it. And He remains faithful to His word and His own.

    Best regards as you struggle…
    Jack

  243. Jeff Cagle said,

    July 30, 2012 at 2:01 am

    JJS (#229): I would be curious to know why you think this would not also be an argument in favor of baptismal regeneration.

    It is, actually. I don’t believe in baptismal regeneration, but only because the Scriptural argument against it is very compelling.

    However, absent that compulsion, I would probably be favorably inclined towards BR.

    Back to you. As you have observed the discussion of “the keys”, what do you make of these facts?

    * On the one hand, we have a phrase in Scripture: “I will give you the keys to the kingdom”, and an interpretation of that phrase that is supported by Tradition — assuming, that is, that it is a Roman Catholic and not an Eastern Orthodox or Protestant interpretation of the Tradition, and leaving out certain uncomfortable quotes by Augustine.

    * On the other, we have a plain command from Jesus to the apostles as they argue over who is the greatest: Don’t do it.

    Yet the Catholic understanding of the very Church itself is grounded in the claim that Peter is the greatest apostle. If one cannot submit to that claim, one cannot properly belong to the Church.

    Do you believe that Tradition is superior to matters that are plain, big, and obvious in Scripture?

    Or is everything in Scripture up for interpretational grabs? Do the “keys to the kingdom” create a loophole by which the successors to Peter can assert that they are, in fact, the greatest apostles?

    [If there's an edge to my tone here, it's directed at ideas and not towards you or any other RC personally]

  244. Bob S said,

    July 30, 2012 at 2:09 am

    Jason I could respond with DT King’s famous line, but we know how that would end up.

    Or I could berate you like Bryan would if you were a protestant, for appealing to your private judgement in order to club me for my exercise of the same.

    Very well, but FTM the last time we crossed words here, you were chiding Mr. King for a more kid gloved approach to the Romanists trolling for converts – and what, fell in with CtC precisely because you didn’t see the love outpouring in the combox like you thought it should?

    Regardless my response to you will be pretty much the same now as it was then. If you wish to play Barnabas to DAnders/John Mark, go right ahead.

    And we know how that will end up, right? Maybe another trophy novice page at CtC like Josh Lim’s. You might find that acceptable, but I don’t.

    Personally, I found David’s remarks pretty dismissive, patronizing and ignorant. After all, he claims to be a protestant, but like all the other fanboys over at you know where, he still sounds like he’s more than one toke over the line of wading across the Tiber.

    Fine, that’s his business, but I consider the conflict with Rome to be on the order of Gal. 1:8,9 and forthright reproof more biblical than a judas kiss.
    Your mileage of course, may vary as well as David Ander’s, not to mention that of course the mods will have the last word.

    Till then, au revoir.

  245. July 30, 2012 at 2:38 am

    Thanks, Bob. That’s what I thought.

  246. Eric Castleman said,

    July 30, 2012 at 3:20 am

    Just my opinion, but after reading all the comments, there is quite a bit of hand waving going on from the Protestant side. It is either gross overstatements about how the patristic fathers were Protestant, which is not even what an educated Protestant on the patristic era would ever foolishly say.

    The problem seems to be, that both the Catholics and Protestants are cherry picking from one father here and there. What about the councils, where the collective body of bishops and priest congregated and spoke as a universal body and bound the consciences of future Christians? What do those writings say?

    First off, I can tell you that there was no thought of a prebyterian government. Synergism was taught, and Monergism was rejected as heretical, which was intertwined throughout heretical views such as the monothelitism, Monoenergism, and pelagianism (surprise!) We have one writer on here who says that God didn’t die on the cross, but Jesus died. GAME OVER! You are not even doing Christianty anymore, go become a Buddhist and make a yoga workout video, because who cares what else you believe once you profess that Jesus isn’t God.

    Go read St Cyril of Alexandria. The guy outright rejects the Christology that the reformed profess, and unlike quoting Origen (who was a heretic btw) his writings were upheld in 2 ecumenical councils. Go read St Maximus the Confessor. His writings were placed into the cannon of the 6th council. His writings would make Calvin poo his tunic

    Were in the early church, do we find a father that speaks like a Protestant? Even more, are his thoughts then collectively accepted in a universal council by the Bishops?

    Finally. Let’s just say that there was no pope in the early church, does that mean presbyterian ecclesiology is now correct? This is exactly how all heresy works. It is assumed that the correct position is always the polar opposite of the heretical position. ‘oh, Pelagius taught that there was one will in salvation and it was man’s will, and that is heresy, so the correct position must be that it is God’s will” nope! “oh, so Jesus two natures cannot be separate, so that means we have to smash them together, and we will be correct” nope! …and on and on the heretical wheel turns.

  247. July 30, 2012 at 4:00 am

    Well, I know you will golf…

    Yes, Eric, if its Cyril yo want me to read, I for one, can cancel golf. He is fun to read, yes yes yes…

  248. July 30, 2012 at 4:18 am

    PS, Jason et. al

    We your reformed brothers are here to listen. We’re not licensed shrinks, not me at least, but help us understand your struggles. Despite being a Calvinistic jerk at times, for my part, I just want to be a friend. Peace.

  249. July 30, 2012 at 4:34 am

    Eric, one more thing, my friend:

    “Finally. Let’s just say that there was no pope in the early church, does that mean presbyterian ecclesiology is now correct? This is exactly how all heresy works. It is assumed that the correct position is always the polar opposite of the heretical position. ‘oh, Pelagius taught that there was one will in salvation and it was man’s will, and that is heresy, so the correct position must be that it is God’s will” nope! “oh, so Jesus two natures cannot be separate, so that means we have to smash them together, and we will be correct” nope! …and on and on the heretical wheel turns.”

    Take a deep breath…and relax. With all my pelagian years of growing up, coloring your truly, please know that my faith does not rest in my corrected reformed doctrine, or, and I might get in trouble, my faith does not rest on a book. It rests on a person – this second person of the Trinity that you are bringing up. I have studied McGuckin, and can read his book a third. Yah, man, we are proud of what we’ve developed vis a vis church government. But yes – we presbyterians don’t have a lock on things. The perfect church government can still result in nightmare in the church for the witness of Christ, when handled by unGodly men.

    All I am saying is, pretend that the guy whose fingers are responsible for this post, grew on an island for 18 years, with nothing but a Bible and Paul Tillich. And then someone parachutes in a book from McGuckin, and some John Owen. And then, another book from Benedict comes in, with all of his twitter feeds.

    Sorry bro – there aint no basis for the Pope. I have no problem if you think he’s rad, or wahtever. But I’m not getting a twitter account.

    Valley girl style, “WHATEVER….”,

    Andrew

  250. July 30, 2012 at 4:42 am

    And for all ya’ll’s sake, please stop posting comments. My church leadership says, ‘cut it out, Andrew…don’t even look on those theology blogs…’

    So for your sake, whoever you are, turn the blogs of, and focus on your families and those around you. Blog and comment if you must, but for your sake, try to avoid it.

    There will come a time. Just know, these blogs need to stop eventually. Do as I say, not as I do.

    Peace, friends.

  251. July 30, 2012 at 5:03 am

    Stellman and others who still haven’t turned off blogs at 2am (time here in good ol’ Cali…)

    Just check out the ‘opc blogs,’ if you like

    http://opc.org/qa.html?question_id=341

    http://opc.org/qa.html?question_id=70

    Let the wookie win,
    Andrew

  252. July 30, 2012 at 6:31 am

    PS, Jason, you don’t have to answer. But why are you posting on the blog of a PCA minister?

    My suggestion is you leave Lane and us, alone.

    Peace,
    Andrew

  253. johnbugay said,

    July 30, 2012 at 7:15 am

    David Anders #224:

    I think perhaps I was not sufficiently clear in my question.

    I wasn’t asking about how we identify the canon.
    (For the record, however, I have glanced at Kruger.)

    For the sake of argument – even if I were to grant Kruger his thesis – (‘self-attestation’) – this still does not get at my question.

    The question is not, “how do we identify the canon?”

    It is, rather, “How do we know that the canon is (or is not) the rule of faith?”

    My understanding of the Protestant confessions leads me to the understand that

    1) All articles of faith must be established by divine revelation.
    2) Sola Scriptura is an article of faith.
    3) Sola Scriptura means that the canon (however we come to recognize it) is the Rule of Faith.

    Presumably, then, Sola Scriptura must be established by divine revelation.

    My question: where does divine revelation establish that this canon of Scripture we possess (however we come to recognize it) is the Rule of Faith.

    Turretinfan has done quite a bit of legwork on the topic of Aquinas and the rule of faith, which you may want to look at. Here is a sample:

    Thomas Aquinas’ expression, “sola canonica scriptura est regula fidei” at first glance sounds a lot like the Reformation maxim that the rule of faith is only the canonical scripture.

    Here’s an English translation of the relevant portion:

    It should be noted that though many might write concerning Catholic truth, there is this difference that those who wrote the canonical Scripture, the Evangelists and Apostles, and others of this kind, so constantly assert it that they leave no room for doubt. That is his meaning when he says ‘we know his testimony is true.’ Galatians 1:9, “If anyone preach a gospel to you other than that which you have received, let him be anathema!” The reason is that only canonical Scripture is a measure of faith. Others however so wrote of the truth that they should not be believed save insofar as they say true things. …

    [While we acknowledge this does not say that Aquinas is … simply a modern-day Reformed Presbyterian, the real question is], what did Aquinas mean by “sola canonica scriptura est regula fidei” (“only canonical scripture is [the/a (Latin lacks articles)] rule of faith”)? Can any of the Roman Catholics reading answer that question positively (i.e. by refraining from telling us what Aquinas is not saying but rather by telling us what Aquinas is saying)?

    Meanwhile, you should see Kruger’s summary of how the “rule of faith” functioned within the second and third century church:

    Although the regula fidei is a type of “tradition,” it is important to distinguish it from later ecclesiastical tradition. In Irenaeus’s battle with the heretics, he refers to the regula fidei not as something that derives from the church but as something that derives from the apostles themselves—the church merely preserves it. He declares, “We refer [the heretics] to the tradition from the apostles which is preserved through the succession of presbyters in the churches.” In this sense, the rule fo faith did not contain new teachings or doctrines that were not found in the Scriptures, nor was it unduly separated from the Scriptures as if they were two entirely independent sources for orthodox teaching. Instead, it was understood to be [Citing Vanhoozer] “a summary of Scripture’s own story line” or [Citing Cullmann] “the principle and logic of Scripture itself”. Or, as Irenaeus put it, the rule is “the order and connection of the Scriptures.” This was certainly true in regard to the way the rule related to the Old Testament. Far from being something entirely separate, the rule expounded o the Old Testament and revealed its relationship to the redemptive work of Christ. Christopher Seitz makes this point: The rule of faith in the early church fathers is a correlating of the gospel with the stable and authoritative claims of the Scriptures of Israel, seen now as a first testament and crucial foundational witness. Clement of Alexandria affirms this same connection: “The ecclesiastical canon is the concord and harmony of the law and the prophets in the covenant delivered at the coming of the Lord.

    Likewise, the rule can be understood as a summary of the message contained in the New Testament writings…. (Kruger, pgs 139-140).

    Just as a comment on all the Patristics citations that are floating around, there is a difference between throwing out one or two quotes, and really understanding a particular writer’s whole corpus of writings. Kruger here (and Vanhoozer and Cullmann) are individuals who could immerse themselves in all of Irenaeus’s writings, in the original languages, and to understand what’s really the emphasis and what’s likely a throwaway quote. Such a distinction is genuinely important in understanding what Irenaeus (and other early writers, such as Clement of Alexandria) meant by “the rule of faith”.

    Finally, on the topic of “rule of faith”, Bavinck says:

    In the earliest period of the Christian church, it lived by the word of the gospel proclaimed to it by the apostles, which was clarified and expanded in the Epistles and the Gospels. There was no difference between the word received in preaching ad the word passed down in writing. The whole of it was based on the Old Testament, which was, at once and without resistance, accepted and recognized by the Christian churches as the Word of God. From the beginning the Old Testament was, for Christians, the book of revelation augmented and completed in these last days by the word of the gospel through the oral and written preaching of the apostles. Accordingly, from the very beginning both the Old Testament and the apostolic writings held authority in the churches of Christ and were viewed as sources of knowledge. From them people drew on their knowledge of God and the world, of angels and human beings, of Christ and Satan, of church and sacrament. From the most ancient times on, it was customary to demonstrate the truth of the faith, the confession of the church by means of Holy Scripture, the Scriptures of the prophets and apostles. Dogma was that which Christ and the apostles had taught, not that which had been conceived by philosophy. Scripture was the rule of faith; confession and church were subordinate to it. The most ancient and, from ancient times, the most important proof for the dogma was the proof from Scripture (Bavinck vol 1 pg 62).

    While Bavinck allows for the role of the church “pedagogically”, “in the logical order Scripture is the sole foundation (principium unicum of church and theology. In the conflict between (church and Scripture), the possibility of which can never be denied on a Reformational view, church and confession must yield to Scripture. Not the church but Scripture is self-authenticating, the judge of controversies, and its own interpreters. Nothing may be put on a level with Scripture. Church, confession, tradition—all must be ordered and adjusted by it and submit themselves to it … Scripture alone is the norm and rule of faith and life” (Bavinck, vol 1, pg 62).

    Continuing:

    My question: where does divine revelation establish that this canon of Scripture we possess (however we come to recognize it) is the Rule of Faith.

    Kruger (from what little I have read) only deals with the question of identifying the canon. This is a completely separate question.

    By Protestantism’s own terms, I either need some divine revelation to tell me that the Canon is the Rule of faith, or I need to concede that Sola Scriptura is not an article of faith.

    Does this make sense?

    It is a ridiculous question at two levels.

    First, as Oscar Cullmann noted, in response to his work on Peter, no Roman Catholics actually addressed that work. They asked this question. It seems to be the question of first- and last-resort for all Roman Catholics. And it has been sufficiently answered (see Kruger, for example).

    Second, As Kruger notes regarding this question:

    First, would an “inspired table of contents” really solve the problem [as Roman Catholics] maintain? Let us imagine for a moment that God had inspired another document in the first century which contained this ‘table of contents’ and had given it to the church. We will call this the 28th book of the New Testament canon. Would the existence of such a book satisfy Catholic concerns and thus eliminate the need for an appeal to church tradition? Not at all. Instead, they would simply ask the next logical question: “On what basis do you know that this 28th book comes from God?” And even if it were argued that God had given a 29th book saying the 28th book came from God, then the same objection would still apply: “Yes, but how do you know the 29th book came from God?” And on it would go. … In the end, therefore, the Roman Catholic objection is, to some extent, artificial. Such a ‘table of contents’ would never satisfy their concerns, even if it existed, because they have already determined, a priori, that no document could ever be self-attesting. In other words, built into the Roman Catholic model is that any written revelation (whether it contains a ‘table of contents’ or not) will require external approval and authentication from church tradition.

    In essence, your question is nonsensical because it carries with its own answer. You are, to quote a phrase, “begging the question”.

    Kruger’s model of “self-attestation” relies on not just on one, but on three facets:

    1. Divine qualities of the works themselves: ““My sheep hear my voice, and I know them and they follow me”.

    2. The Apostolic Origins of the works: Imagine, Paul writes a letter and sends it to Corinth. It is kept and acknowledged as a letter from the Apostle. He writes a second letter. This, too, is kept. He writes to Rome and Galatia. These, also, are kept and collected. (There’s a very good chance that Paul himself kept a collection of his own letters; but it is even more highly probably that these were collected within his own lifetime). So there never is a time when the church didn’t have “a Pauline canon”.

    3. Corporate reception: by a very detailed process (which includes a study of manuscripts, ancient book binding, actual artifacts of the writings themselves – including which works were included in which manuscripts, and when), Kruger outlines how these various “canons” came together, (including the Gospels and the “catholic” epistles); this was not a smooth ride, but by and large, by Irenaeus’s day, there was a “canonical core” which was known as “THE New Testament” – there were 23 books which were not contested at all.

    So again, if you understand Sola Scriptura as it is defined, rather than as you choose to caricature it, there is more than enough evidence to justify that the canon of the New Testament is “self-attesting”, and Christians today absolutely may feel justified in accepting the 27-book canon of the New Testament, without at all relying on anyone else’s authority (least of all, Rome’s).

    Just by way of summarizing my own position, the way that you have become Roman Catholic is all word-games and mind-games, almost completely divorced from the actual history of the early church, and from the actual things the early church believed.

    As someone here has mentioned, Christ himself forbade the disciples from “arguing which was the greatest”. Yet throughout history, it is the jockeying for position that has caused huge amounts of damage to “the church”. Few people today agree that the “Nestorian” churches held to any heresy, but they were cast off by Rome and the “Orthodox” churches, and millions of them perished by the sword. The same is true of the “Monophysites” of Egypt – they held fast to Cyril of Alexandria’s earlier Christological formulation, and they, too, were cast off by Rome and the “Orthodox”, and they, too, have largely been killed off.

    It needs to be said: this “Great Schism” of the fifth century was far more massive of a split – with far more horrific consequences, than any other splits in the church. On the surface, these were splits over Christology, but foundationally, these were splits over “authority” – as in, “my position is more authoritative than yours”. And again, it was largely claims of authority that caused the 1054 split.

    And yet, you CTC guys are at it again – “The Roman Catholic Church has the only authority to say what Scripture is, and what is Scripture” – the mind-games you play to come to this position are truly mind-boggling. Divorced from history, divorced from Scripture. And ultimately harmful, I am sure. How can I know this? Where else in history has anyone else held to Michael Liccione’s “Catholic IP”? When did it come into being? And yet, you’re all very satisfied with yourselves to hold it as an article of faith.

  254. Burton said,

    July 30, 2012 at 7:50 am

    John,

    Thanks for your response to my question (#205). At one level, your response really resonates with me. God gave us His Word in written form. It is universally accepted for two thousand years to be infallible revelation. Why look for anything more? Read it, and God will reveal through His Spirit the truths necessary for salvation.

    I think the reason I still struggle with this is that to at least some degree, hard edges seem to be necessary, and I don’t see how the Protestant rule of faith as described can provide them. The Council of Nicea provided a hard edge to the doctrine of the Trinity that I don’t honestly think I could have arrived at on my own, and it seems that many in the early Church who had access to the Bible missed that hard edge as well. I also believe that a hard edge is necessary when defining the entire canon, both OT and NT. From my layperson’s reading, there seem to be reasonable arguments on both sides of the OT canon debate, and I can’t find any means by which the Protestant rule of faith can settle the question.

    On moral questions, especially regarding human sexuality (the major moral battleground of our age), I am becoming increasingly convinced that hard edges on the issues of contraception, sterilization, and sexuality within marriage are truly necessary for the spiritual health of families and the church as a whole.

    Maybe I do have an unhealthy felt-need for “hard edges” where they cannot exist, but I don’t see how we can define orthodoxy and true unity without at least some firm “line in the sand”, and I didn’t read in your answer how that can be accomplished, or why I am mistaken about its necessity.

    As an aside (to all), posting a comment at this site is already intimidating enough for a layperson who is less trained and well-read than most of you. The obvious acrimony and ill-will from some commentors makes this all the harder, and undermines the purpose of this blog (assuming I understand its purpose). Can we start with the assumption that all here truly want to follow Christ and are seeking to do so with sincerity? If a brother has fallen into error, why not seek to bring him to the saving truth in a winsome way?

    Burton

  255. July 30, 2012 at 8:00 am

    Jeff Cagle (227): (John Bugay, et al)

    “David (#224): Your argument would demolish Tradition just as easily. If Tradition is the way in which we know that Scripture is God’s Word, then how do we know which Tradition is properly Traditional?”

    Again – You have misunderstood my question. I said nothing about how we come to recognize Scripture as God’s word. In fact, I allowed for the sake of argument that we recognize God’s word through self-attestation – or any means you like.

    So, again . ..

    Granted (arguendo) that we recognize these 27 books by illumination, self-attestation, or what-have-you, to be God’s inspired, inerrant, and authoritative Word . . .

    How do we know that God intends them to be the Rule of Faith (i.e., the final authority to which we appeal when deciding Christian doctrine, settling controversies, etc.)?

    It seems to me that inspiration clearly implies authority, but what kind of authority?

    There are many authorities – even divine authorities – that must not be contravened, but may not be intended as a Rule of Faith. Eg. Conscience: “To act against conscience is neither right nor safe.”

    Conscience is from God, and fully authoritative (I should not go against it.) But God does not intend conscience to be the Rule of Faith for the Church.

    This is analogous to how Catholics view Scripture: Scripture is fully authoritative and divine. I cannot act or believe anything contrary to Scripture. But God has nowhere indicated that Scripture is to be the Rule of Faith. That is a SPECIFIC kind of authority. How do Protestants know that Scripture possesses that kind of authority?

    To the best of my ability to discern, they merely assume it without argument. In fact, I’m certain of this. Richard Muller, in one of his tome’s on the Reformed scholastic doctrine of Scripture, admits as such:

    Final, regulative authority is implied by inspiration.

    The problem, from a Catholic point of view, is that the syllogism simply does not follows.

    David

  256. TurretinFan said,

    July 30, 2012 at 8:32 am

    David:

    You think it is a serious question what authority the Word of God has for the church? But if you do, then hear the Word, which states:

    Acts 5:29
    Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.

    And there are many warnings provided which encourage us to this end, such as:

    Daniel 9:14
    Therefore hath the LORD watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us: for the LORD our God is righteous in all his works which he doeth: for we obeyed not his voice.

    -TurretinFan

  257. Jeff Cagle said,

    July 30, 2012 at 8:41 am

    David (#253): You’re correct, I misunderstood your question.

    One reason that we know that Scripture is to be the Rule of Faith is by simple logic: It is the word of God; all else is the word of man. So to what else would we turn?

    Another reason is that Jesus required it. Mark 7 makes clear that He drew a distinction between the commands of God and word of God, which He expected to be obeyed, and the commands of men and word of man, which He did not.

    A third reason is that Scripture itself commends those who test the commands of men against the word of God. The Bereans are an obvious example, but there are many OT examples as well.

    From my point of view, then, Scripture must be obeyed (we agree?); Scripture makes a distinction between God’s word and man’s in that regard; and Scripture commends the testing of the commands of men against the word of God.

    That seems to me to be enough to get to some form of sola scriptura.

    But what form? More later — gotta be dad.

  258. July 30, 2012 at 9:12 am

    Hi Turretin Fan 259,

    It’s nice to ‘meet’ you.

    I opened up the lid of my laptop to make a once sentence post here, on the topic you are already talking about. Our infallible word, the Bible.

    People are saying in this thread that we tear down the doctrine of the papacy, but that we protestants don’t “fill the void” and we are begging the question, by making Scripture our authority. They say we are circular.

    I’m just pointing out, that we can’t convince anyone of the strong faith we have in Sola Scriptura. They say this is easy to debunk.

    There’s just so much to be said about how we view Scripture. And we we argue till we are blue in the face, since others have no intention of joining our cause, still baffles me, but throughout history, some are called to take up this defense. I guess in the year 2012, this happens over the internet blog forums like this.

    It’s just we’re pulling teeth. I guess we are getting under the Romanists’ skin when they start posting over here in our territory.

    I just don’t know why our church more broadly (including various branches within the western church) must hash this out in public for all to see.

    Whatev – I’m going back into my cave.

    This post is too long – only point, yes, we are on secure footing with our high view of Scripture. Barth got this wrong, but we’re moving away from his Tyranny.

    We’re on the move, fellow protestants,
    Andrew

  259. July 30, 2012 at 9:27 am

    Albertdavidanders,

    Greetings.

    Not bring knowledgeable myself (but trying to show love, see 1cor 8:1-2)…

    What would you use in place of Scripture for your rule of faith and practice?

    Just curious.

    Scripture is working just fine for me. And I think the Holy Spirit is convincing us as such. That’s what WCF chapter 1 says.

    I still need to read what Owen said on the H.S….

    In my cave reading purtians,

    Andrew

  260. July 30, 2012 at 9:28 am

    *being

  261. July 30, 2012 at 9:29 am

    Jeff Cagle (255)

    Thanks for your response.

    Your reference to Logic here is very apt. The historic Protestant apology for Sola Scriptura has always proceeded by way of inference, rather than by the direct teaching of divine revelation.

    Scripture is the Word of God. Christ cautioned us to prefer the Word of God to the Word of man, etc.

    However, there are a number of problems with this argument as it applies to the dispute between Protestants and Catholics.

    All Protestants and Catholics agree that we should prefer divine authorities to merely human authorities. That is not in question.

    Jesus, himself, did not restrict divine authority simply to the written word of God. His own ministry is a performative contradiction of that thesis. He claimed the right to interpret, abrogate, and supplement divine-revelation-in-Scripture. (Sola Scriptura was not operative in his own ministry.)

    He then could say to the apostles: whoever hears you hears me; Whatever you bind on earth . . . . , etc.

    Clearly, he endowed the apostles with divine authority. Not just as witnesses, but as judges and legislators, too. But he did not limit their authority to their own written words.

    Furthermore, your response suggests an interesting dilemma:

    If you admit that divine revelation does not specifically call for the doctrine of sola scriptura – rather, we arrive at SS by logical inference from intuitive first principles – then you acknowledge either that SS is not an article of faith – or, that articles of faith do not require the specific teaching of divine revelation.

    Thanks,

    David

  262. July 30, 2012 at 9:32 am

    Jeff,

    To assume that Scripture is the only divine authority not only contradicts the express teaching of Scripture, it is also to beg the question.

    -David

  263. johnbugay said,

    July 30, 2012 at 9:33 am

    Burton 254:

    I think the reason I still struggle with this is that to at least some degree, hard edges seem to be necessary, and I don’t see how the Protestant rule of faith as described can provide them. The Council of Nicea provided a hard edge to the doctrine of the Trinity that I don’t honestly think I could have arrived at on my own, and it seems that many in the early Church who had access to the Bible missed that hard edge as well.

    Burton, there are a couple of things to say about this:

    1. God himself never gave “hard edges” in the Old Testament. Michael Liccione admitted as much in the Joshua Lim thread. So where might these “hard edges” be perceived in the church age?

    2. Your comment on the Trinity gives some response to this. True, no one of us probably could have “arrived at it on our own”, but the Protestant understanding certainly understands the teaching ministry of the church. Which brings me to point 3.

    3. Even the “hard edges” as you say, did not produce unity in the church. Even after Nicea and Constantinople (381), there is still a big fight over the filioque clause.

    And as you say, think about it this way: the church of the first 400 years (almost) did not have a fixed canon though they had Kruger’s “canonical core”. This was sufficient for them.

    I also believe that a hard edge is necessary when defining the entire canon, both OT and NT. From my layperson’s reading, there seem to be reasonable arguments on both sides of the OT canon debate, and I can’t find any means by which the Protestant rule of faith can settle the question.

    I believe my discussion with you began over a recommendation of Michael Kruger’s work, “Canon Revisited”. This will go a long way toward responding to your question on the NT canon. Regarding the OT canon, Josephus is a relevant first-century witness; Jesus, in Luke 24:44, speaks of “all the Scriptures”, “the law, the prophets, and the writings”.

    Consider:

    the Canon of the Old Testament was widely known and attested in the first century. Jesus in Luke 24:44 named “the law, the prophets and the writings”. This was Jesus citing a fixed canon of the Old Testament. These were precisely the 39 books of the Old Testament that we have today. And Josephus wrote in Contra Apionem of a fixed canon in his own day, which was not disputed. What you have here is a Canon of the Old Testament that was recognized in precisely the same way that Protestants say the New Testament was recognized.

    You said:

    On moral questions, especially regarding human sexuality (the major moral battleground of our age), I am becoming increasingly convinced that hard edges on the issues of contraception, sterilization, and sexuality within marriage are truly necessary for the spiritual health of families and the church as a whole.

    In that Joshua Lim thread, I mentioned that we are in a “culture of persuasion”. I wouldn’t necessarily agree with you that human sexuality is “the major moral battleground”, though it is a very prevalent one.

    On this, however, Rome’s hard edge — “artificial” contraception vs “natural” contraception, is arbitrary, and not helpful (especially to the 90% of Roman Catholics who practice artificial contraception). You don’t mention abortion — that’s an obviously non-artificial place to draw the line — and the church does have “ministerial” authority to explain and teach.

    I suppose that’s my answer to your comment about a “line in the sand”. God has never seen fit to give any of us those “hard edges”. Not in the OT (though what they had was sufficient), not in the NT. The RCC doesn’t provide those “hard edges” (I’m assuming you’re in agreement with that one from my 206). What we have is sufficient for God’s purposes.

  264. July 30, 2012 at 9:37 am

    I don’t see what’s so complicated. Luther said, like, 6 years, I think (or else I am way off) after his 95 theses that the Pope was not infallible, and he explains Solar Scriptura.

    Is the pope still infallible for the Romanist? Because apostolic succession? Yes, both can’t be true (either the pope is at the height of authority, or the Bible is).

    We Protestants reject the infallible Pope.

    We retain an infallible Word.

    Moderns reject infallibility altogether.

    Variety is the spice of life?

    Let the battles continue. People have reasons for why they defend these positions. I guess some people like to argue…

    But I understand the foundation of our faith is at stake.

    Resting in the everlasting arms,
    Andrew

  265. sean said,

    July 30, 2012 at 9:40 am

    Forgive me, I haven’t read all the comments and I know topically we’re supposed to be on the ‘primacy of the papacy’ but this is at least a complimentary issue. The protestants have a tradition, so this isn’t an argument per se against tradition but we subjugate that tradition to the final authority of scripture. 2 Tim 3:16 makes a very particular argument that the scriptures are God-breathed. We tend to gloss over this and claim they are thus ‘inspired’ and given through men particularly stamped with ‘apostolic authority’ not disimilar to the role of the prophets in the o.t. but now confirmed in writing. Kline makes the argument, that appears terribly compelling, that the scriptures(god-breathed) created the church. He parallels this with God’s creative fiat word in creation. IOW, the creation is THE PROOF of the creative power of God’s speaking or in this case breathing forth. So, it’s not a situation of where the church, gives us the scriptures but God’s breathing forth of the ‘canon’ creates the very structure, the church, of which it now gives direction. The RC likes to claim the church gave us the scriptures and affirms the canon. IOW, we have the scriptures because the church gave them to us. But 2 Tim, if we follow Kline on this, says the scriptures gave us the church via God’s creative word. I think Horton tracks similarly along this line when he talks of the ‘speech act’. So, just from a general argument starting point, the protestants in affirming the creating, ex-nihilo, power of God’s breathing forth, yes through apostolic men(not arguing for apostolic succession here in the form of romish magisterium), have the right idea, at least the canonical idea, of the scriptures standing over the subsequent tradition and yes based further yet on the idea of perspicuity, stands over the tradition and renders judgement on that tradition. Before it starts, if it starts, protestantism does NOT argue that all things in scripture are alike in their perspicousness. So, at least the idea that scripture renders judgement on early tradition, medieval tradition or contemporary tradition is the canonical idea. So, it’s not a question of tradition early, middle or late, but of a tradition in line with a God-breathed canon and forever being brought to that bar.

  266. TurretinFan said,

    July 30, 2012 at 9:49 am

    “Jesus, himself, did not restrict divine authority simply to the written word of God. His own ministry is a performative contradiction of that thesis. He claimed the right to interpret, abrogate, and supplement divine-revelation-in-Scripture. (Sola Scriptura was not operative in his own ministry.) He then could say to the apostles: whoever hears you hears me; Whatever you bind on earth . . . . , etc. Clearly, he endowed the apostles with divine authority. Not just as witnesses, but as judges and legislators, too. But he did not limit their authority to their own written words.”

    Jesus is ascended and the apostles have gone to be with Him. Yet we still have the Scriptures. Whereas before we had Scriptures and Jesus and the apostles, after Jesus’ ascension we had only Scriptures and the apostles. After the apostles’ death, we have only Scriptures. It doesn’t seem like something that should be difficult follow.

    -TurretinFan

  267. July 30, 2012 at 9:55 am

    You are forgiven for forsaking the word of man in this thread, here. It seems people who like pain are the ones who will read all 267. Yes, we all want to be heard. Its just this is out of hand.

    Jesus tells me I am forgiven. I read that somewhere in a book I read, when i was 6 years old, or so.

    Resting,
    Andrew

  268. Andrew McCallum said,

    July 30, 2012 at 10:08 am

    David (re: 261),

    The historic Protestant apology for Sola Scriptura has always proceeded by way of inference, rather than by the direct teaching of divine revelation.

    There are certainly passages in Scripture, OT and NT, which we can and do refer to which speak to the sufficiency, completeness, and uniqueness of divine revelation. But given a differing philosophy of Protestant and Catholic in approaching Scripture it’s my experience that these texts don’t have much resonance with Catholics. In the context of Catholic-Protestant exchanges I prefer to switch the burden of proof onto the Catholic theologian and ask him/her to justify the belief that there is something else besides Scripture that, along with Scripture, is infallible in it’s teaching. Both sides agree that Scripture is infallible. That’s a good start. We then ask the Catholic for proof from the history of the Church or Scripture or somewhere else (here I would include the philosophical sorts of proofs like those that Mike Liccione attempts). Maybe there is some sort of justification for a body of knowledge outside of Scripture that is rightfully accepted as infallible. But if the Catholic apologist cannot provide this then we are left with Scripture alone as the only infallible authority for the Church. And that is the essence of sola scriptura. At this point I’m not arguing that the Catholic cannot provide such proof, but only laying out what I think are some reasonable ground rules. Are you OK with this approach, David?

    Clearly, he endowed the apostles with divine authority. Not just as witnesses, but as judges and legislators, too. But he did not limit their authority to their own written words..

    But you need to move beyond the Apostles. Their authority was unique. Is there evidence that Jesus promised that successors of the Apostles would speak infallibly outside of quoting the Word of God? If so why don’t we find some sort of evidence of such a belief in the testimony of the immediate successors of the Apostles?

  269. TurretinFan said,

    July 30, 2012 at 10:18 am

    Sean (regarding the “Scripture created the church” point):

    More precisely, it is the Word of God that formed the church, not vice versa – and Scripture is the Word of God in writing (as everyone in this debate acknowledges).

    If Rome wants to claim that her popes, councils, and other traditions are also or additionally the Word of God, let her try to support that claim – but Rome’s apologists have been failing to meet that burden for centuries.

    -TurretinFan

  270. sean said,

    July 30, 2012 at 10:30 am

    Fair enough TF on the further clarification. The romish claims have to be based on exegesis of that Word. That can’t bail out of the ‘proof’ by claiming the church came first.

  271. TurretinFan said,

    July 30, 2012 at 10:32 am

    Further to my last point about Rome’s apologists failing to meet the burden of showing that anything we have today, other than Scripture, is God’s word – we have a great example from ADA: “Jeff, To assume that Scripture is the only divine authority not only contradicts the express teaching of Scripture, it is also to beg the question. ”

    There are many authorities that are provided by God. Those include the civil magistrate (see Romans 13), the parents (see the 5th commandment), and the religious leaders. The Sanhedrin had divine authority – Jesus even explicitly told his apostles to obey them.

    Thus, the Sanhedrin had more explicitly divine authority than the Roman hierarchy ever did. Yet, notwithstanding that explicit divine authority, the apostles refused to obey when the choice was between obeying that authority and obeying the Word of God.

    This shouldn’t be a hard concept for the conservatives in the Roman communion to grasp. They claim that the bishops and priests have divine authority and are, in some sense, vicars of Christ. Nevertheless, when their local liberal priest or bishop comes into conflict with (their interpretation of*) church teaching, they follow (their interpretation of*) church teaching.

    Just because something has divine authority doesn’t give it supreme or ultimate authority. Parents have explicit divine authority – but they are not infallible. The same is true of elders, even elders who live in palaces, wear expensive robes, and persuade people to kiss their rings.

    What Rome’s apologists need to establish, but can’t, is that the teachings of Rome are on a par with the very Word of God inscripturated in the sacred canon. Once Rome’s teachings are properly subordinated to the Scriptures, you get the Reformation.

    -TurretinFan

    * “their interpretation of” gratuitously added as a tribute to the many times we’ve seen it gratuitously added before “Scripture.”

  272. July 30, 2012 at 10:51 am

    TF (266):

    “Jesus is ascended and the apostles have gone to be with Him. Yet we still have the Scriptures.”

    Yes – I’m glad you point this out. This is exactly the kind of argument from the Protestant side I am trying to highlight.

    It amounts to, “Well, maybe Jesus didn’t specify the doctrine of Sola Scriptura, but, after all, Scripture is the only divine authority we have left, so it must be the Rule of Faith.”

    Do you see how this is not an argument from the teaching of revelation, but rather an inference from the EXISTENCE of revelation?

    This is exactly the argument I find over and over again in the Reformed Tradition. To quote from something I’ve written elsewhere:

    “The Dutch theologian Leonard van Rijssen, for example, argued simply, ‘From these attributes of Scripture it follows that it is a canon and norm of the things to be believed.” According to Richard Muller, Rijssen understood Scripture’s canonical authority “as a deduction, not directly from divinity or divine authority but from several attributes of Scripture.’ Rijssen’s argument was not unique. Luther and Calvin both suggest it. Others, like Musculus, Polanus, Turrentin, Hyperius, and Vermigli, teach it more explicitly.”

    My objection is that the conclusion (Scripture is the Rule of Faith) does not follow from the premise (Scripture is divine.)

    It is perfectly logical to allow the divine authority of Scripture (which all Catholics do), without conceding that God intends this authority to be the Rule of Faith.

    Since Sola Scriptura is proposed by most Reformed Confessions as an article of faith, what we need is not simply a tenuous logical inference from a metaphysical fact (the existence of a divine revelation), but rather a revealed TEACHING establishing this article of faith.

    If Protestants cannot produce such a revealed teaching then, it seems to me, one of two results follow:

    1) Sola Scriptura is at best theological opinion (not an article of faith, since it is not taught by divine revelation),

    Or,

    2) Not all articles of faith need to be taught directly by divine revelation, but can also be deduced (inferred) by human reason from metaphysical and other philosophical truths. [Which, however, contradicts the main point of SS]

    Andrew (#268):

    What I concede is that there are many passages of Scripture that speak of the divine authority of some Scriptures and caution against reliance on merely human authority. However, I don’t think there are any Scriptures that teaching the complete sufficiency of the Protestant canon as such. (Which is, after all, the point at issue)

    Even the Locus Classicus (2 Tim. 3:16) teaches only what all Catholics affirm: Scripture is inspired and useful for teaching, rebuke, etc.

    As far as the burden of proof is concerned:

    Correct me if I am wrong, but the burden of proof is always on him who asserts.

    In this case, each side has a burden of Proof:

    Catholics must establish that Christ established a Church, endowed it with divine authority, and indicated that the Church is the Rule of Faith.

    Protestants must established that Christ (or some divine authority) has specified the Biblical Canon as the Rule of Faith.

    -David

  273. July 30, 2012 at 11:01 am

    Remember, I’m no professional. Is there anyone arguing Luther was bringing, ‘new light?’

    Your burden of proof argument bears reflecting on, which I can offer you that I will be doing.

    You need to read those two links I provided above from the opc website. You want to get to me? Attack my personal heritage, the orthodox presbyterian church. I grow tired of this bickering. There’s work to do, David, at large. You don’t need to become OPC ordained as I have. I just want you to explain your motives. Do you want to all join you in kissing the ring?

    Your friend…

  274. TurretinFan said,

    July 30, 2012 at 11:11 am

    ADA:

    If you will but admit that (a) the Scriptures are the Word of God; and (b) Men must obey the Word of God, then we have met our burden of showing that the Scriptures are a rule of faith.

    If your phrasing of “the rule of faith,” is meant to suggest that we have to prove the universal negative (i.e., that we have to prove the statement: “and there is no other rule of faith”), hopefully you realize we have no such burden.

    As for whether SS is taught, the formal and material sufficiency of Scripture are taught in Scripture. If that is how SS is defined, then your proposed dilemma is avoided. If it is further defined as an application of that doctrine to the present circumstances (the time after the death of the apostles, but before the second coming), then it is simply an application of deductive reason from the Scriptural teaching to the facts at hand – which again avoids your proposed dilemma.

    – TurretinFan

  275. July 30, 2012 at 11:19 am

    Yah TF, an application to the present circumstances.

    Grateful,
    Andrew

    PS above about Solar Scriptura, I meant Sola. Pretty obvious. But perhaps humorous given the previous brain match was all about the Sun and whether the days of Genesis have anything to so with ant bites…

    Luther was wrong about the Sun – the earth is rotating around it.but to my point, there are battles to be fought. SS is at the center of the disagreement. If that tension within Christendom causes you to lose sleep,talk to your minister.Peace.

  276. sean said,

    July 30, 2012 at 11:20 am

    But David, we all agree to the apostolic authority of the original apostles so, the protestants are good catholics in that regard and vigorously fight to hold to those teachings as appropriate to such authority, so it’s up to rome to prove continued teaching outside the original as apostolic and not in ‘addition to or contrary of’ and we as protestants will be happy to bring that teaching tradition to the bar of the original apostolic teaching to see if it is ‘true’ to apostolic tradition. We argue for a canon that births the church, not a church that births the canon.

  277. rcjr said,

    July 30, 2012 at 11:26 am

    ADA, your etc. about II Timohty 3:16 obscures a pretty relevant part of the text. Of course Rome and the Reformation agree that the Bible is inspired. Sola Scriptura isn’t about inerrancy. But the text says it equips us for every good work. Does Rome affirm we can toss all her tradition and still do and be all that we are called to do and be?

  278. johnbugay said,

    July 30, 2012 at 11:27 am

    David Anders, something Carl Trueman said recently, is a key to breaking this impasse:

    the rise, consolidation and definition of papal power is an historically very complex issue; and, indeed, as scholarship advances, the story becomes more, not less, convoluted and subversive of papal claims. For some converts to Roman Catholicism, papal authority is somehow seen as an obvious riposte to problems with the perspicuity of scripture. In other words, it is the answer to an epistemological/authority problem. For those of us who have spent the best part of our lives reading late medieval and early modern history, however, papal authority is not an epistemological solution to much of anything at all; rather, it is first and foremost an historical problem …

    If you don’t agree with this, see especially my comments number 183 and especially 195 re. Roland Minnerath].

    People by and large understand history, and what history is; they understand authority. They’re less inclined to see or understand epistemology, especially as, say, the papacy is offered up by Rome as a solution to any perceived epistemological problems with Sola Scriptura [which, as you can see from Turretenfan's comment 274, we don't accept].

    The “tools” we Protestants have in specifically addressing these issues are far more sophisticated than they have ever been. For example, Michael Kruger addresses the canon issue (and essentially solving the epistemological challenge offered by Roman Catholics like David Anders) in a far more thorough way than has ever been done before.

    On the other hand, the more we know, historically, about the ancient church, the less likely (“more convoluted and subversive”) claims about the early papacy become.

    [Aside from the factual information that Minnerath provides, he also complicates the "burden of proof" on Roman Catholics to turn up evidence that it is somehow "endowed with divine authority".]

  279. July 30, 2012 at 11:30 am

    Sean,

    “While there are a myriad of issues that could be discussed relevant to the canon question, what’s particularly important to remember is that the church does not create the canon; rather, the canon creates the church. The church is what it is because of what the Bible says and not the reverse. The church, as the covenant people of God, receive and recognize the canon; the church does not create the canon.”

    http://www.opc.org/qa.html?question_id=472

    I think effectual calling is involved too…

    But its over my pay grade, gotta run!

  280. Hugh said,

    July 30, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    Thanks, T-fan @31, for Webster link! Jeff @243 asked, “Do you believe that Tradition is superior to matters that are plain, big, and obvious in Scripture? Or is everything in Scripture up for interpretational grabs?”

    It’s interesting, fun, and instructional my reading you MUCH better-read than I papists and Prots. Yet the issue devolves ultimately into authority. One “father” doesn’t trump another. There has to be an adjudicating body of law. For the Romanist, it’s his ever-changing Tradition (not unlike Mormonism, Islam, etc.).

    For the Evangelical Reformed Protestant, it’s the Norm. Here’s a nifty quote:

    ”For Luther, the Scripture was norma normans–the norm that norms. In comparison, the church fathers, the ancient creeds and the doctrinal decrees of the ecumenical councils were normae normatae–normed norms. As evaluated and approved from Scripture, they were authoritative. Sola Scriptura thus meant for Luther that Scripture was the only unquestioned religious authority. It did not mean that Scripture was the only religious authority–as has often been assumed or misunderstood in subsequent Protestantism. As church fathers, ancient creeds and the ecumenical councils’ doctrinal decrees passed the test of and thus stood faithfully with Scripture, they were regarded as subordinate religious authorities which must be respected and heeded.”

    –James R. Payton, Jr., Getting the Reformation Wrong: Correcting Some Misunderstandings (IVP Academic Press, 2010), pp. 142 (in Ch. 6: “What the Reformers Meant by Sola Scriptura“). Found @ http://royatwoodonhighered.wordpress.com/2012/06/29/scripture-as-the-norm-that-norms-payton/

  281. otrmin said,

    July 30, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    I think the problem here is that postmodernism is seen as merely the absence of meaning in the text. The problem is that postmodernism takes many forms. Roman Catholicism’s brand of postmodernism makes meaning dependent upon community. Kevin Vanhoozer who wrote an excellent book on postmodernism in language wrote the following:

    Postmodernity does not mean the end of all authority, however, only universal norms; local norms remain in force. Interpretation is always “from below,” shaped by the readers contextually conditioned context and regulated by the authority of community based norms. [Vanhoozer, Kevin. Is There a Meaning in this Text? The Bible, The Reader, and the Morality of Literary Knowledge. Zondervan Publishing House. Grand Rapids, Michigan. 1998. p.168]

    Notice this statement:

    Not necessarily. Say a person who knows nothing about Christianity picks up a Gideon Bible in a hotel room and starts reading it, and trying to understand it. Is he presupposing sola scriptura? No. He’s just trying to understand what he’s reading. But if he comes to the point of seeing in Scripture some reference to “the Church,” and that the gates of hell will not prevail against it, and that it is said to be the “pillar and ground of truth,” and that it will remain until Christ returns, and he decides that he will treat his own interpretation of this book as superior or more authoritative for himself than whatever interpretation of this book that presently existing community might hold, then, yes, he is presupposing sola scriptura.

    In other words, true meaning of scripture “regulated by the authority” of the community of Roman Catholic Church. As one prominent postmodern linguist Stanley Fish put it:

    What I finally came to see was that the identification of what was real and normative occurred within interpretive communities [Fish, Stanley. Is There a Text in This Class? The Authority of Interpretive Communities. Harvard Univ. Press. London and Cambridge Massachusetts. 1980. p.15.]

    It will do no good to point back to Matthew 16:18, because as we have already seen, Roman Catholics say they know what the correct interpretation of scripture is because the church has told them, and thus, they know the correct interpretation of Matthew 16:18 because the church tells them. Thus, you are back to the circularity of “Rome is true because Rome says so.”

    Now, this circularity is not necessarily bad, from a Van Tillian standpoint. All it shows is that the Catholic is committed to the notion that the ultimate truth of the scriptures is confined to the community of Rome. What makes it postmodern is the limited, finite nature of the Catholic Church. For example, the Syrian Orthodox use this very same argument from Petrine primacy. The Syrian Orthodox say that Petrine Primacy supports *their* church, and will argue against Roman Catholics by saying that the scriptures themselves say Peter was in Antioch. Hence, they argue that Petrine Primacy supports *their* position.

    How do you decide which is correct? If you say tradition, remember that it is the Catholic Church who defines what tradition is, and how tradition is to be interpreted, so you are right back to “the church is true because the church says so.” However, worse than that, the Syrian Orthodox say *they* have the true tradition, and that Rome’s view of tradition is wrong. Who is right, and how can you solve the problem objectively if you have already made the church the standard?

    The real problem is that the truth of what a text means cannot be confined to any one community. The reason the meaning of any text is objective has to do with the fact that man is created in the image of God, who is a linguistic being, and with whom we must interact on a daily basis, either in rebellion or in covenant. It is this alone that provides the foundation for meaning in language. It is this relationship that is reflected when authors write and intend things, and when readers read and understand. Thus, although we are fallible in our interpretations, it is this relationship between God as the infallible communicator, the human author, and the relationship that each has to the interpreter that provides a way in which someone can test their interpretations to see if they are correct, by understanding authorial intent. To illustrate:

    GodAuthor [image of God]interpreter [image of God]

    This setup, therefore, provides a foundation by which interpretations can be tested. Because an artifact of the author’s intention is found in the text, the author himself is relying upon the image of God to communicate, and the interpreter has that artifact of intentionality, and is created in the image of God, there is a reference point in God himself in which interpretations of any text can be tested, and found to be true or false.

    Thus, meaning in language and the rules for determining meaning in language are ultimately rooted in God himself, with no mediation through any kind of church. To say that it is mediated through the limited, finite church is to cause meaning in language to collapse into postmodernism, because the church is not big and powerful enough to serve that kind of function. Worse than that, it collapses into postmodernism because of the fact that the Roman Catholic has made an idol out of the church. It has made the meaning of the text of scripture dependent upon a mere creation: the church. Worse than that, they pervert the scriptures by saying that the scriptures teach this kind of idolatry. One idolatry simply leads to another.

    Finally, textlinguistics has developed the notion of intertextuality, and it is crucial in this discussion of Matthew 16. The reality is that Peter is given the keys of binding and loosing in Matthew 18, only two chapters later. Given that this is the same book, only two chapters later, and the very same language is used of Peter and all of the apostles, how can one rule out the notion that these two texts are related? It would be different if it were in a different book or a different context. And what of the immediate discussion of Jesus saying “Get behind me Satan?” The author is going out of his way to take the focus off of Peter, and onto Christ. Because of the centrality of Christ, it is easy to see why all of the apostles get these keys; it is because they all have the same confession. It is interesting that Peter’s response in Matthew 16 is in response to the question “Who do you say that I am” [Matthew 16:15]. The “you” there is plural [υμεις]. Hence, Peter’s response is not only what Peter believes, but what the apostles as a whole believe. Thus, all the apostles receive the keys.

    God Bless,
    Adam

  282. Brad B said,

    July 30, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    I believe that the apostle Paul used logical inference from the OT to speak authoritatively about things he wrote on. God didn’t prepare him as Pharisee of Pharisees for nothing. Logical necessity whether by inference or plain deductive reasoning has precedence carrying the same authority as the prior propositions. Sola Scriptura has solid foundation as though it were directly revealed. Anyone not wanting to see it is the same as one not wanting to see trinitarian conclusions.

  283. Hugh said,

    July 30, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    Amen, Brad @280. …And as one not wanting to see the doctrines of grace, God’s absolute sovereignty, etc.

  284. Brian Harrington said,

    July 30, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    This is somewhat (but hopefully not entirely) tangential question, but, observing the white hot zeal of converts to Rome, one wonders why the telos of their efforts is to convince other Christians of their need to return to Mother Church VERSUS proclaiming the Good News centering in the Person and Work of Christ? ( This seems to be a modus operandi similar to a number of the wooly headed fresh TULIP converts who expend most of their efforts lambasting this or that brand of Arminianism (I was most certainly guilty of this). Then also, we have the CREC characters dying on the hill of paedocommunion, covenant renewal worship, “federal headship” and other “distinctives”. The commonality among these disparate groups is usually an obsession over either ECLESSIAL or LITURGICAL considerations. Is this/are these, EFFECTIVELY speaking, their god? Back to the Roman convert, why so little zeal for evangelizing Muslims, members of the Jewish faith, etc. (perhaps this is attributal to Vatican II’s horrific understanding of the covenant, and its supposed inclusion of non-Christians within it?)? Or, take the CREC proponent, who attends a 50 person congregation which is comprised entirely of either disaffected Reformed Baptists, PCAers or OPCers. There is a commonality in approach which would suggest an eclipse of the Person and Work of Christ. THIS IS VERY DANGEROUS. Of course, Roman Catholics will respond by repeating the heterodox notion that the church is in effect an extension of the incarnation, such that, to defend eclessial concerns is to “defend the gospel”. However, viz. such a defense, they will simply reiterate the problem of confounding eclessiology with the gospel itself, blurring the Creator/creature distinction, and unwittingly championing idolatry. With young, restless, Roman converts, as with others, one tribe is now being exchanged for another, and parochialism has scored yet another “victory.” Generally speaking, the best approach with erstwhile converts is to pray for them. They are not interested in being reasoned with. It will likely take a few years of abiding 10 minute sermonettes devoid of exegetical substance, a parish totally bereft of any form of church discipline, and related sad effects of “the church in ruins” (as the Reforrmers deemed Rome), before there is any likelihood of their returning to more safe, gospel-centric pastures. This is not to classify Roman Catholics in the same category as Muslims or other non-Trinitarians, but it is to say that the parade of converts across the Tiber these pathologies are on display, and in abundance.

  285. Jeff Cagle said,

    July 30, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    David (#261, with 262 waiting in the wings):

    You write, All Protestants and Catholics agree that we should prefer divine authorities to merely human authorities. That is not in question.

    But actually, that is precisely my charge. The ground has shifted from the Word of God to “divine authorities”, which is an ambiguous phrase out of the gate (Authorities that are divine? Authorities authorized by God? Authorities who speak the Word of God? Who are what are we talking about here?).

    All Protestants and Catholics agree, or should agree, that the Word of God should be obeyed in preference to the traditions of men. For Jesus said so Himself. So did Peter. If we cannot agree on this, then I fear that my charge sticks.

    Now, to the question “what kind of sola scriptura?” Scripture places some boundary markers out there.

    (1) The Church should not require of its worshipers any practice which contradicts the Word of God or leads its worshipers into sin.

    We might pose this in terms of Christian liberty or in terms of sola scriptura or in terms of the regulative principle; they all converge at this point.

    But the actual evidence for (1) is found in 1 Cor 8, Mark 9.42ff, Romans 14. Leading brothers into sin OR placing a burden on their conscience in a matter that God has left at liberty, both are contrary to Scripture.

    So the doctrine of sola scriptura is not actually directed towards the individual (“Here — take this Bible and come up with your own theology”), but at the Church: The Church must restrain itself from going beyond the Word of God.

    (2) There is a legitimate tradition of which Paul speaks. 1 Cor 11, 2 Thess 2 speak to this. But what are these traditions? Are they secret keys to the understanding of Scripture?

    Irenaeus, who was in a better position than you or I to know, taught that the apostolic tradition was precisely what they wrote down for us. He says of the doctrines of salvation:

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

    But of heretics he says, When, however, they are confuted from the Scriptures, they turn round and accuse these same Scriptures, as if they were not correct, nor of authority, and [assert] that they are ambiguous, and that the truth cannot be extracted from them by those who are ignorant of tradition. — Ibid, 3.2.1

    Irenaeus rejects something that sounds remarkably like the RC argument (in particular, Bryan’s argument) for the need for a highest sacramental authority.

    OK, but now Irenaeus says something positive about tradition: But, again, when we refer them to that tradition which originates from the apostles, [and] which is preserved by means of the succession of presbyters in the Churches, they object to tradition, saying that they themselves are wiser not merely than the presbyters, but even than the apostles, because they have discovered the unadulterated truth. — Ibid, 3.2.2

    So what is this tradition that originates from the apostles? Irenaeus explains:

    It is within the power of all, therefore, in every Church, who may wish to see the truth, to contemplate clearly the tradition of the apostles manifested throughout the whole world; and we are in a position to reckon up those who were by the apostles instituted bishops in the Churches, and [to demonstrate] the succession of these men to our own times; those who neither taught nor knew of anything like what these [heretics] rave about. For if the apostles had known hidden mysteries, which they were in the habit of imparting to “the perfect” apart and privily from the rest, they would have delivered them especially to those to whom they were also committing the Churches themselves. — Ibid, 3.3.1

    The “traditions” were not hidden, only to be brought out at a later time. They were (and the larger context of 3.3 makes quite clear) identical to the doctrine taught in the Scriptures. For Irenaeus, tradition did not serve as the necessary interpretive filter for Scripture. Rather, it served to confirm that the Scriptures (and not the Gnostic gospels) were truly the Gospel.

    If we had no Scriptures, then tradition would be necessary (3.4). But we do.

    So Irenaeus concludes, Since, therefore, the tradition from the apostles does thus exist in the Church, and is permanent among us, let us revert to the Scriptural proof furnished by those apostles who did also write the Gospel, in which they recorded the doctrine regarding God, pointing out that our Lord Jesus Christ is the truth, and that no lie is in Him. — Ibid, 3.5.1

    How different this view of tradition is from the RC teaching! The tradition, especially that needed for salvation, is not hidden (“Psst — Mary stayed a virgin, and it’s anathema to believe otherwise. Pass it on!”). Rather, it speaks the same message as the Scriptures.

    And Irenaeus’ method has nothing to do with ‘interpretive authorities’ and playing up the alleged non-perspecaciousness of Scripture. Instead, he says:

    True knowledge is the doctrine of the apostles, and the ancient constitution of the Church throughout all the world, and the distinctive manifestation of the body of Christ according to the successions of the bishops, by which they have handed down that Church which exists in every place, and has come even unto us, being guarded and preserved without any forging of Scriptures, by a very complete system of doctrine, and neither receiving addition nor curtailment; and reading [the word of God] without falsification, and a lawful and diligent exposition in harmony with the Scriptures, both without danger and without blasphemy; and the pre-eminent gift of love, which is more precious than knowledge, more glorious than prophecy, and which excels all the other gifts. — Ibid, 4.33.8.

    It’s evident that Irenaeus believes that sound doctrine depends on manifest, publicly known tradition which adds nothing to nor takes away from the Scriptures.

    In short: in light of Irenaeus, it is very likely that the “apostolic tradition” to which Paul refers has the same content as the New Testament.

    It is even more likely, in light of Irenaeus, that the RC argument that Tradition is necessary for a proper understanding of Scriptures, especially in places that Scripture is “obscure”, is a very wrong and pernicious argument, tending towards Gnosticism and secret knowledge.

    For if it truly were necessary for our salvation to believe in transubstatiation, and perpetual virginity, and the veneration of icons, and purgatory, and the rest — the apostles would have written it down.

  286. Hugh said,

    July 30, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    Jeff, Their successors DID write it down: ’tis called tradition. ;)

  287. Jeff Cagle said,

    July 30, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    David (#262): To assume that Scripture is the only divine authority not only contradicts the express teaching of Scripture, it is also to beg the question.

    I’m scratching my head here. Part of the problem is that troublesome “divine authority” phrase. For parents are divinely ordained as authorities over their children, yet they are not infallible, which is what we’ve been talking about here.

    But also, did you not ask me to demonstrate Sola Scriptura from Scriptures? Why is doing so to “beg the question”?

    Anyways, perhaps once you clear up “divine authority” then things will be less murky.

  288. Hugh said,

    July 30, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    Jeff, John, and other Prots,

    The insanity and irrationality began (at least) @ #11: “Appealing to a divine authority (as such) in order to establish its divine authority — that would be circular. But appealing to historical evidence that also happens to belong to Tradition or Magisterium, in order to determine the authority of the Tradition and the Magisterium, is not circular.” ~ Bryan Cross

  289. otrmin said,

    July 30, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    Hugh, but it would be circular if tradition or Magisterium must be interpreted through the lens of the magisterium. The Catholic Church has the authority to define what is tradition and how that tradition is to be interpreted. Thus, when you appeal to the meaning of tradition, you are still begging the question, because the meaning you apply comes from the Catholic Church.

  290. Andrew McCallum said,

    July 30, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    David (272),

    Correct me if I am wrong, but the burden of proof is always on him who asserts.

    Yes, exactly. We both agree that the Scriptures are an infallible source of revelation. But the Catholic asserts that there is in addition to Scripture another source of infallible revelation in that the Church speaks infallibly at certain times and under certain conditions. We are simply asking you to justify (by appeal to Scripture, history, and/or philosophy) that which you assert. If you cannot justify this additional source of revelation then we are left with Scripture as the only infallible source of revelation for the Church. I don’t don’t know how you can the logic of the situation. God gives the Church his Word as divine revelation. If there is no other source that He gives in addition then we must conclude that sola scriptura is correct.

    I suppose I should add that I agree with TF that material and formal sufficiency of Scripture is taught in Scripture. But I’m just taking a different approach.

    Your discussion with TF on the rule of faith seems to assume that Protestants are denying the ministerial role of the Church in interpreting and applying Scripture. Is that what you believe?

  291. Jeff Cagle said,

    July 30, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    Hugh (#285): Good catch.

    Hugh (#283): Too many layers of irony. I got lost.

  292. Hugh said,

    July 30, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    Andrew @286 ~ see #285 and from “CHAPTER TWO
    GOD COMES TO MEET MAN”:

    I. THE APOSTOLIC TRADITION

    75 “Christ the Lord, in whom the entire Revelation of the most high God is summed up, commanded the apostles to preach the Gospel, which had been promised beforehand by the prophets, and which he fulfilled in his own person and promulgated with his own lips. In preaching the Gospel, they were to communicate the gifts of God to all men. This Gospel was to be the source of all saving truth and moral discipline.”32

    In the apostolic preaching. . .

    76 In keeping with the Lord’s command, the Gospel was handed on in two ways:

    – orally “by the apostles who handed on, by the spoken word of their preaching, by the example they gave, by the institutions they established, what they themselves had received – whether from the lips of Christ, from his way of life and his works, or whether they had learned it at the prompting of the Holy Spirit”;33

    – in writing “by those apostles and other men associated with the apostles who, under the inspiration of the same Holy Spirit, committed the message of salvation to writing”.34

    . . . continued in apostolic succession

    77 “In order that the full and living Gospel might always be preserved in the Church the apostles left bishops as their successors. They gave them their own position of teaching authority.”35 Indeed, “the apostolic preaching, which is expressed in a special way in the inspired books, was to be preserved in a continuous line of succession until the end of time.”36

    78 This living transmission, accomplished in the Holy Spirit, is called Tradition, since it is distinct from Sacred Scripture, though closely connected to it. Through Tradition, “the Church, in her doctrine, life and worship, perpetuates and transmits to every generation all that she herself is, all that she believes.”37 “The sayings of the holy Fathers are a witness to the life-giving presence of this Tradition, showing how its riches are poured out in the practice and life of the Church, in her belief and her prayer.”38

    79 The Father’s self-communication made through his Word in the Holy Spirit, remains present and active in the Church: “God, who spoke in the past, continues to converse with the Spouse of his beloved Son. And the Holy Spirit, through whom the living voice of the Gospel rings out in the Church – and through her in the world – leads believers to the full truth, and makes the Word of Christ dwell in them in all its richness.”39

    II. THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN TRADITION AND SACRED SCRIPTURE

    One common source. . .

    80 “Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture, then, are bound closely together, and communicate one with the other. For both of them, flowing out from the same divine well-spring, come together in some fashion to form one thing, and move towards the same goal.”40 Each of them makes present and fruitful in the Church the mystery of Christ, who promised to remain with his own “always, to the close of the age”.41

    ‘Nuff said, Prots. Repent and believe!

  293. Hugh said,

    July 30, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    Then,

    III. THE INTERPRETATION OF THE HERITAGE OF FAITH

    The heritage of faith entrusted to the whole of the Church

    84 The apostles entrusted the “Sacred deposit” of the faith (the depositum fidei),45 contained in Sacred Scripture and Tradition, to the whole of the Church. “By adhering to [this heritage] the entire holy people, united to its pastors, remains always faithful to the teaching of the apostles, to the brotherhood, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. So, in maintaining, practicing and professing the faith that has been handed on, there should be a remarkable harmony between the bishops and the faithful.”46

    The Magisterium of the Church

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

    86 “Yet this Magisterium is not superior to the Word of God, but is its servant. It teaches only what has been handed on to it. At the divine command and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it listens to this devotedly, guards it with dedication and expounds it faithfully. All that it proposes for belief as being divinely revealed is drawn from this single deposit of faith.”48

    87 Mindful of Christ’s words to his apostles: “He who hears you, hears me”,49 the faithful receive with docility the teachings and directives that their pastors give them in different forms.

    The dogmas of the faith

    88 The Church’s Magisterium exercises the authority it holds from Christ to the fullest extent when it defines dogmas, that is, when it proposes, in a form obliging the Christian people to an irrevocable adherence of faith, truths contained in divine Revelation or also when it proposes, in a definitive way, truths having a necessary connection with these.

    89 There is an organic connection between our spiritual life and the dogmas. Dogmas are lights along the path of faith; they illuminate it and make it secure. Conversely, if our life is upright, our intellect and heart will be open to welcome the light shed by the dogmas of faith.50

    90 The mutual connections between dogmas, and their coherence, can be found in the whole of the Revelation of the mystery of Christ.51 “In Catholic doctrine there exists an order or hierarchy of truths, since they vary in their relation to the foundation of the Christian faith.”52

    The supernatural sense of faith

    91 All the faithful share in understanding and handing on revealed truth. They have received the anointing of the Holy Spirit, who instructs them53 and guides them into all truth.54

    92 “The whole body of the faithful. . . cannot err in matters of belief. This characteristic is shown in the supernatural appreciation of faith (sensus fidei) on the part of the whole people, when, from the bishops to the last of the faithful, they manifest a universal consent in matters of faith and morals.”55

    93 “By this appreciation of the faith, aroused and sustained by the Spirit of truth, the People of God, guided by the sacred teaching authority (Magisterium),. . . receives. . . the faith, once for all delivered to the saints. . . The People unfailingly adheres to this faith, penetrates it more deeply with right judgment, and applies it more fully in daily life.”56

  294. Hugh said,

    July 30, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    What part of ‘BECAUSE WE SAY SO’ don’t we Protestants understand?!

  295. Pete Holter said,

    July 30, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    Turretinfan has done quite a bit of legwork on the topic of Aquinas and the rule of faith, which you may want to look at.

    Thomas Aquinas wrote of schism, saying

    “As Isidore says (Etym. viii, 3), schism takes its name ‘from being a scission of minds,’ and scission is opposed to unity. Wherefore the sin of schism is one that is directly and essentially opposed to unity. For in the moral, as in the physical order, the species is not constituted by that which is accidental. Now, in the moral order, the essential is that which is intended, and that which results beside the intention, is, as it were, accidental. Hence the sin of schism is, properly speaking, a special sin, for the reason that the schismatic intends to sever himself from that unity which is the effect of charity: because charity unites not only one person to another with the bond of spiritual love, but also the whole Church in unity of spirit.

    “Accordingly schismatics properly so called are those who, wilfully and intentionally separate themselves from the unity of the Church; for this is the chief unity, and the particular unity of several individuals among themselves is subordinate to the unity of the Church, even as the mutual adaptation of each member of a natural body is subordinate to the unity of the whole body. Now the unity of the Church consists in two things; namely, in the mutual connection or communion of the members of the Church, and again in the subordination of all the members of the Church to the one head, according to Colossians 2:18-19: ‘Puffed up by the sense of his flesh, and not holding the Head, from which the whole body, by joints and bands, being supplied with nourishment and compacted, groweth unto the increase of God.’ Now this Head is Christ Himself, Whose viceregent in the Church is the Sovereign Pontiff. Wherefore schismatics are those who refuse to submit to the Sovereign Pontiff, and to hold communion with those members of the Church who acknowledge his supremacy” (Summa Theologica, Part 2:2, Question 39).

    And again in Against the Errors of the Greeks: “to be subject to the Roman Pontiff is necessary for salvation” (Chapter 38).

    In arguing for the sanctification of Mary in the womb of her mother, Aquinas says that “The Church celebrates the feast of our Lady’s Nativity. […] Therefore even in her birth the Blessed Virgin was holy. Therefore she was sanctified in the womb.” Aquinas knows this to be true from the bare practice of the Church. He even goes on to admit that “Nothing is handed down in the canonical Scriptures concerning the sanctification of the Blessed Mary as to her being sanctified in the womb” (Summa Theologica, Part 3, Question 27). And to explain why the opinion of some Catholics who held that Mary was sanctified at conception is to be tolerated, he said, “Although the Church of Rome does not celebrate the Conception of the Blessed Virgin, yet it tolerates the custom of certain churches that do keep that feast, wherefore this is not to be entirely reprobated” (Summa Theologica, Part 3, Question 27).

    When Doug Wilson quoted Jason Stellman as saying that “I have begun to doubt whether the Bible alone can be said to be our only infallible authority for faith and practice,” he responded by saying, “But of course, that is not the formulation of sola Scriptura at all. Protestants hold that Scripture is the only ‘ultimate and infallible’ authority for faith and practice.” I was surprised to read this, but this response suggests that there are other infallible authorities for the Christian, which are themselves subject to the infallible touchstone of the Sacred Scriptures. This is perfect!

    The conclusion that I draw from the little that I’ve read of Aquinas is not that sola scriptura is false; but, more simply, that Aquinas does not think that the principle of sola scriptura can function outside of the communion of the Church that he recognized as being the Church, i.e., the one that is in communion with the Bishop of Rome. That it certainly cannot function in the hands of those whom he would consider schismatics. And if we think that we have properly understood Aquinas on this point, such that his thoughts on sola scriptura lead us to use him as a weapon against the Catholic Church, he guards against this by saying,

    “The custom of the Church has very great authority and ought to be jealously observed in all things, since the very doctrine of catholic doctors derives its authority from the Church. Hence we ought to abide by the authority of the Church rather than by that of an Augustine or a Jerome or of any doctor whatever” (Summa Theologica, Part 2:2, Question 10).

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  296. July 30, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    Catholics don’t think the CC is authoritative “because the CC says so,” for that would indeed be circular.

    Rather, Catholics believe they discover in Scripture and the fathers a church that is said to be, and thought of itself as, authoritative. So while they will appeal to ecclesial authority, they will not do so as an argument why anyone else should submit to that authority.

    That’s why their argument is not circular.

  297. jsm52 said,

    July 30, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    Hugh,

    You wrote: Jeff, John, and other Prots,

    The insanity and irrationality began (at least) @ #11: “Appealing to a divine authority (as such) in order to establish its divine authority — that would be circular. But appealing to historical evidence that also happens to belong to Tradition or Magisterium, in order to determine the authority of the Tradition and the Magisterium, is not circular.” ~ Bryan Cross

    One problem with Bryan’s approach is that to determine divine authority from historical evidence, someone still needs to “divine’ (pun intended, sorry) the proper interpretation of fallible historical evidence that is at best incomplete and often in conflict with itself. That seems a large step away from a sure path to understanding truth. It settles nothing unless one comes to it with an already formed conclusion and/or built-in assumptions on the dependability of the historical record. Actually, as Hart said at his blog, history is no friend of the Catholic or the Protestant in being a final arbiter.

    So, in my view, that puts us back to task of arguing and comparing competing interpretations of what is authoritative as recognized in the infallible Word of God. And that is what the Reformation was, and still is, all about.

    Jack

  298. otrmin said,

    July 30, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    Hugh,

    You ignore that Greek Orthodoxy says the same thing, as does Syrian Orthodoxy. What would happen if I “repented” and “believed” them? Why should I believe your tradition over and against their tradition? That is why I say that your position makes truth communally relative. The only way out is to say that you have made a fallible decision as to which church is correct, thus admitting that you engaged in the same private judgment you accuse us of. How is that fair?

    There simply is no way out. The only way out is to give up the position that scripture and tradition must be infallibly interpreted by the church. You must allow that people know the truth, and come to the truth because their heart is changed by irresistible grace and mercy of God. To place the church in that position is utter and complete idolatry.

  299. July 30, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    Andrew Mc at 286,

    You are pushing an idea of expanded sources for divine inspirational sources? Which one wins when your multiple sources are in conflict?

    We hold the bible is the highest authority.

    This discussion really isn’t very complex. I’m not forcing you to subscribe to my WCF. But when you read that document, it speaks for itself. Nowhere else is Scripture so well summarized. You should study more about the reformers, you might like them .

    Peace,
    Andrew

  300. July 30, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    Jason we are not circular. Don’t make me start quoting van til. I just don’t know what to say.

    I’m happy you post. But what’s driving you dude? Your friend,
    Andrew

  301. Jeff Cagle said,

    July 30, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    JJS: OK, but here’s the important question. We have seen that that Scripture itself does not provide anything beyond possible hints (“I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven”) that St. Peter and his successors are the defining center of the authoritative church.

    And I think you would agree that no-one outside of the RC church believes that either Scripture or the fathers teach that Peter and his successors are the defining center of the authoritative church.

    So if Scripture does not teach Petro-centrism, and the fathers may-or-may-not teach it, then why so certain?

    Especially in light of what was pointed out earlier, that Jesus forbade the apostles to contend over who is the greatest?

    It’s the certainty that really baffles me. You must have some hard evidence in there somewhere that you haven’t shared yet.

  302. otrmin said,

    July 30, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    Jason,

    Rather, Catholics believe they discover in Scripture and the fathers a church that is said to be, and thought of itself as, authoritative. So while they will appeal to ecclesial authority, they will not do so as an argument why anyone else should submit to that authority.

    Then, if you came to the conclusion that the Catholic Church was infallible apart from the authority of the church, why can’t we interpret the scriptures and the fathers apart from the authority of the church? If you could do it, why can’t we?

    The problem is that, once you admit that the meaning of the text can be derived without submitting to the Roman Communion, then one must ask why it is that one must argue against Sola Scriptura in the first place in order to prove these points. Why can’t we just go into the text, and deal with the text on its own terms? Why the necessity of the added tradition at this point?

    The position simply makes no sense. It wants to uphold a mere local authority as the only way in which we can know what scripture really says, but then it wants to say that the truth can be derived without submission to that authority. It is a mess of inconsistencies.

  303. July 30, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    Jason or other Roman Catholics who were once ‘reformed':

    I want to read your stories. I will start with Bryan Cross’ website. Jason Lim I think is the latest one? I can’t for the life of me understand how you could maintain your decision to swim the Tiber. I know I am a condescending jerk. But the only reasons I can think for swimming the Tiber are not any I want to say in public. I don’t want to psychoanalzye you. Just golf and hear how things are with you and the pontiff.

    My email has been posted several times.
    Good bye blogs,
    Andrew

  304. Sean said,

    July 30, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    Andrew Buckingham.

    Instead of saying over and over again that you ‘can’t for the life of me understand how we could become Catholic’ why not just ask one of us?

    You can ask me: spctc2008@gmail.com

  305. July 30, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    Jeff,

    We have seen that that Scripture itself does not provide anything beyond possible hints (“I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven”) that St. Peter and his successors are the defining center of the authoritative church.

    You’ll note that I said that the seeker investigates both Scripture and the early fathers, not Scripture alone (to insist on the latter only would be to beg the question). Nevertheless, the seeker believes he finds sufficient evidence in these sources to indicate that Jesus thought the church he was founding was authoritative, the people who co-founded it thought it was authoritative, and those to whom they passed on their apostolic authority thought it was authoritative.

    And I think you would agree that no-one outside of the RC church believes that either Scripture or the fathers teach that Peter and his successors are the defining center of the authoritative church.

    I don’t see how this is relevant; it’s like saying that no one but Trinitarians think God is triune. Plus, all Catholics probably outnumber the rest of all Christians put together.

    So if Scripture does not teach Petro-centrism, and the fathers may-or-may-not teach it, then why so certain? It’s the certainty that really baffles me. You must have some hard evidence in there somewhere that you haven’t shared yet.

    The Catholic would argue that the testimony of Scripture and the fathers does indeed teach “Petro-centrism,” but perhaps not in the sense of giving “hard evidence” (of which there is none proving the homooision, the canon, or Sola Scriptura for that matter).

    This is where interpretive paradigms come into play. In addition to the evidence he finds (that the NT and early fathers speak of the church as authoritative), he also comes to realize that such authority to bind the consciences of all believers in a council-of-Jerusalem kind of way is necessary in order to distinguish between heresy and schism, essentials and non-essentials, canonical and non-canonical, and unity and schism (whether you agree is beside the point, all I’m trying to do is show how the seeker’s thinking likely progresses).

    The seeker then realizes that there are only two real options left for him: EO or the CC (since no other body claims the kind of authority that he sees evidenced in Scripture and the fathers, and which he now thinks is philosophically necessary). Of course, he still needs to decide between these two, and there are others way more qualified than I to explain how that works. But at the very least I am trying to show that the process by which one becomes Catholic or Orthodox is not question-begging, as if the convert believes in the authority of these communions simply because they claim it.

  306. July 30, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    I will Sean. I already posted to Stellman’s blog.

    I don’t mean to annoy. Sorry.

    Expect an email after I get back from Walmart,
    Andrew

  307. July 30, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    TF, Andrew, Cagle, et al.

    TF wrote:

    “If you will but admit that (a) the Scriptures are the Word of God; and (b) Men must obey the Word of God, then we have met our burden of showing that the Scriptures are a rule of faith.”

    As you mention in the subsequent paragraph, a lot hangs on what we mean by “rule of faith.”

    If you mean simply “a norm to be obeyed,” then all Catholics agree that Scriptures are A rule of faith. But clearly, the Protestant doctrine includes much, much more.

    The Westminster Confession, which refers to the Scriptures as the Rule of faith, says in I.10:

    “The supreme judge by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture.”

    That is a much more robust claim.
    It is presented, furthermore, as an article of faith.

    My question is simply, “Where is this article of faith taught in Holy Scripture?”

    If it is, well and good. But if it is not, then is it actually an article of faith?

    TF asserts that the ‘formal and material sufficiency’ are taught in Scripture. He (She?) asserts SS is a deduction from those doctrines.

    However, I have not seen any argumentation to that effect.

    At best, we have rcjr’s reference to the “equipping for every good work” mentioned in 2 Tim. But, once again, Catholics don’t deny that Scripture (whatever that might be) “equips for every good work.” That’s just not at issue.

    What I see in Scripture (please correct me if I am wrong), are many passages that commend the Word of God, passages that condemn the tradition of men, passages that exhort obedience to and study of the Holy Scriptures.

    I have just never seen any passage of Scripture that specifies the Christian Church is to decide all controversies of religion by reference to Scripture (Let alone the Specific Protestant Canon) as a final authority.

    Furthermore, I see several passages that seem to contradict that specific thesis.

    Jesus clearly did not view the Hebrew Canon as sufficient, or as a final authority.

    The Apostles appealed to what “seems good to us and the Holy Spirit,”

    And Paul appealed to liturgical tradition and the consensus of the Churches (as well as to the Old Testament Scriptures).

    Sola Scriptura is a very strong, very robust claim.

    It is asserted by Protestant Confessions not just as useful, but as an article of faith – part of the deposit of faith.

    Thus, the burden on Protestants is to show that it is taught by divine revelation, or to acknowledge that it is not an article of faith after all.

  308. otrmin said,

    July 30, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    albertdavidanders,

    At best, we have rcjr’s reference to the “equipping for every good work” mentioned in 2 Tim. But, once again, Catholics don’t deny that Scripture (whatever that might be) “equips for every good work.” That’s just not at issue.

    Then how does scripture equip you for the allegedly good work of teaching the Queenly Coronation of Mary? Indulgences? the Thesaurus Meritorum?

  309. Jeff Cagle said,

    July 30, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    JJS (#296): Catholics don’t think the CC is authoritative “because the CC says so,” for that would indeed be circular.

    But possibly, just possibly, Catholic position really is circular in a subtle way. That’s really what we’re talking about here. No-one thinks that Bryan and the CTC crowd are dumb; quite the opposite. I don’t sit on the other side of my keyboard and triumphally scorn them for believing “X because X.”

    Rather, I grieve because they seem to argue “X because Y because Z because A because …” and the ellipses obscure the pointer to X.

    Here’s why. What I observe in Bryan’s arguments is that he always returns to the refrain, “That’s your private interpretation.”

    What’s the alternative? “To accept the Church’s interpretive authority.”

    OK. How do we know that the Church has such an authority?

    And at this point, various texts from the fathers are brought forth as historical evidence that the Church has always been regarded as having this authority. Most recently, Bryan mentioned Ambrose and Augustine.

    Alright, but: if you think Scripture is ambiguous and subject to interpretation, then how much more the words of the fathers?

    And that’s the point that no RC apologist has ever addressed in my presence: How do we know that (a) the fathers really were talking about Petrine supremacy, and (b) that they were correct and authoritative when doing so?

    Those questions, I believe, expose the circularity.

    So for example, I have demonstrated above that Augustine *did not* regard Peter as the Rock upon which the church was built. This ought to be a blaring klaxon that summons RC lovers of truth to say, “Hey, you’re right, there’s something important here.” At least, there ought to be an argument given as to why Augustine’s words are not part of the Tradition, or why their true meaning is actually something else.

    But crickets …

    And again, I’ve demonstrated that Irenaeus knew nothing of a secret tradition that stood as interpretative authority over Scripture.

    More crickets …

    This really is the crucial epistemological issue. If the words of the fathers do not clearly and unambiguously point to Petrine succession, then they cannot be used as self-standing evidence for Petrine succession.

  310. Pete Holter said,

    July 30, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    Jeff wrote, “we have a plain command from Jesus to the apostles as they argue over who is the greatest: Don’t do it.

    Greetings in Christ!

    In these passages, the apostles are arguing over who will get a special place in heaven. And Jesus’ response to them is to live out their callings with humility. Interesting to note, in Matthew’s gospel we see Peter being given the promise of the keys and receiving his new name in Ch. 16. And then we see that Peter and Jesus are alone together at the end of Ch. 17. And then, in Ch. 18, we immediately have the first instance of this question arising in their hearts.

    And in Luke’s gospel, this is precisely the moment when Jesus turns to Peter to tell him that, although all are to be sifted as wheat, He has prayed especially for him so that his faith will not fail for the sake of the brethren. How did the one lead to the other?

    It is as though Peter’s prominence among the disciples was the cause of the questioning and arguing in each case.

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  311. Pete Holter said,

    July 30, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    Jeff wrote,

    This actually a vexed question with Augustine. For at some points, he sounds Roman Catholic… But at other points, he makes the same argument that I have made… Here, Augustine does not sound Catholic — while Peter has chief place in the Apostleship, nevertheless, the church is not built upon Peter but rather on Christ. The Rock is not Peter, but Christ Himself.

    “So. Since Tradition is the ground for your understanding of Matt 16, how does one identify Tradition, and how does one properly understand it?

    “For on a plain reading of Augustine, whom I assume is properly Traditional, Peter is not the Rock on which the church is built.

    Hello again, Jeff!

    Thank you for raising these concerns. Let’s take another look at his Retractations:

    “In a passage in this book (i.e., One Book against a Letter of the Heretic Donatus), I said about the Apostle Peter: ‘On him as on a rock the Church was built.’ This idea is also expressed in song by the voice of many in the verses of the most blessed Ambrose where he says about the crowing of the cock: ‘At its crowing he, this rock of the Church, washed away his guilt.’ But I know that very frequently at a later time, I so explained what the Lord said: that it be understood as built upon Him whom Peter confessed saying: ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,’ and so Peter, called after this rock, represented the person of the Church which is built upon this rock, and has received ‘the keys of the kingdom of heaven.’ For, ‘Thou art Peter’ and not ‘Thou art the rock’ was said to him. But ‘the rock was Christ,’ in confessing whom, as also the whole Church confesses, Simon was called Peter. But let the reader decide which of these two opinions is the more probable” (Retractations, Bk. 1, Ch. 20).

    When Augustine offers to “let the reader decide which of these two opinions is the more probable,” he is signaling that he does not have a dogmatic opinion and that, whichever of the two we choose, this is not important to him. If we hold to the first opinion, we should certainly understand it in light of the second. The Church is not built on Peter the man as man. But, rather, on Peter as chief of the apostles and as formed by his faith in Christ by the grace of God:

    “Faith, not man, merited to hear these words. For what was man except what the Psalmist says: ‘Every man is a liar.’ […] Why, then, was Peter blessed? Because ‘flesh and blood has not revealed this to thee, but my Father in heaven.’ Why was he called Satan later on? ‘Thou dost not mind the things of God; when you did mind them, you were happy; but now you mind the things of men’ ” (Sermon 232, 3, 4).

    Pope Benedict has recently shared similar thoughts:

    “ [T]he acknowledgment of Jesus’ identity made by Simon in the name of the Twelve did not come ‘through flesh and blood,’ that is, through his human capacities, but through a particular revelation from God the Father. By contrast, immediately afterwards, as Jesus foretells his passion, death and resurrection, Simon Peter reacts on the basis of ‘flesh and blood’: he ‘began to rebuke him, saying, this shall never happen to you’ (16:22). And Jesus in turn replied: ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me …’ (16:23). The disciple who, through God’s gift, was able to become a solid rock, here shows himself for what he is in his human weakness: a stone along the path, a stone on which men can stumble – in Greek, skandalon. Here we see the tension that exists between the gift that comes from the Lord and human capacities; and in this scene between Jesus and Simon Peter we see anticipated in some sense the drama of the history of the papacy itself, characterized by the joint presence of these two elements: on the one hand, because of the light and the strength that come from on high, the papacy constitutes the foundation of the Church during its pilgrimage through history; on the other hand, across the centuries, human weakness is also evident, which can only be transformed through openness to God’s action” (Homily, 6/29/12).

    Were Augustine still here, he would be very sad to see that his writings were being used against the unity of the Church to which he clung so tightly. This is exactly how the Donatists tried to use Cyprian, and Augustine spent a lot of time in On Baptism, Against the Donatists explaining why they were wrong to do so. We Catholics try to do the same on behalf of Augustine.

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  312. July 30, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    Otrmin (307)

    Thanks so much for your response!

    I actually find it very, very helpful because it illustrates perfectly what I think really lies behind the doctrine of Sola Scriptura:

    “Catholic doctrine is just so atrocious and horrible that there is no way the catholic church can be the rule of faith, so it must be Scripture!”

    If, however, you really want to know how Catholics can rationally hold to Marian doctrine, that is certainly something we can discuss. However, I think the main theme of this thread is religious authority.

    -David

  313. Pete Holter said,

    July 30, 2012 at 3:08 pm

    Andrew Buckingham wrote, “So for your sake, whoever you are, turn the blogs of, and focus on your families and those around you. Blog and comment if you must, but for your sake, try to avoid it.

    Did my wife ask you to write this??? You’re right. I do hate to leave the discussion, but I really am short on time. I’ll try to share more if I can squeeze it in, but it’s not looking hopeful…

    May the LORD be with you and your loved ones,
    Pete

  314. Pete Holter said,

    July 30, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    Oh, and thank you to the Green Bagginses for letting me post here. :)

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  315. otrmin said,

    July 30, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    Jason,

    You’ll note that I said that the seeker investigates both Scripture and the early fathers, not Scripture alone (to insist on the latter only would be to beg the question). Nevertheless, the seeker believes he finds sufficient evidence in these sources to indicate that Jesus thought the church he was founding was authoritative, the people who co-founded it thought it was authoritative, and those to whom they passed on their apostolic authority thought it was authoritative.

    First of all, even Rome doesn’t agree with everything the fathers said. There are some instances Rome has said that a father was acting as a “private theologian.” You have to distinguish between Irenaeus’s teaching that Jesus was older than forty when he died, and what is true apostolic tradition How do you distinguish between these without the authority of the Church? You also have to deal with the fact that men within the Roman Catholic Church such as Raymond Brown and Joseph Fitzmayer say that no such tradition ever existed in the fathers. Why are they still in good standing with Rome if this tradition is to be authoritative?

    Also, no one denies that the church is authoritative. The issue is whether its authority is infallible. There is a big difference. Also, as others have already pointed out, no one in the early church ever came to the conclusion of Papal infallibility. It was a doctrine that developed later. Why should you accept that doctrine that developed later, and not some of the other oddities that came about in the history of the church?

    The Catholic would argue that the testimony of Scripture and the fathers does indeed teach “Petro-centrism,” but perhaps not in the sense of giving “hard evidence” (of which there is none proving the homooision, the canon, or Sola Scriptura for that matter).

    Wow, I guess that ignores the entirety of the exegetical work done by men like B.B. Warfield on the topic of the deity of Christ, and all of the men who argued for the deity of Christ from Scripture alone. As far as Sola Scriptura, do you mean there is no hard evidence that would convince *you,* or there is no hard evidence? Also, in this whole discussion, are you really saying that we cannot know what God has said, from what he has not said, namely, that there is no fundamental difference between that which is God breathed [the scriptures] and the word of man? Is it not the case that the canon exists because God has inspired some books and not all books?

    This is where interpretive paradigms come into play.

    But you just said interpretive paradigms *don’t* come into play, and you are just dealing with hard evidence! Which is it?

    In addition to the evidence he finds (that the NT and early fathers speak of the church as authoritative), he also comes to realize that such authority to bind the consciences of all believers in a council-of-Jerusalem kind of way is necessary in order to distinguish between heresy and schism, essentials and non-essentials, canonical and non-canonical, and unity and schism (whether you agree is beside the point, all I’m trying to do is show how the seeker’s thinking likely progresses).

    Then why did the council of Jerusalem cite scripture in their conclusion? And before you go off saying that the scripture has nothing to do with their conclusion, could it be that you misinterpreted those scriptures in coming to your conclusion about Rome? Again, we are not presupposing the authority of the magisterium here, so, how do you know that this interpretation is correct? Also, are you aware of the functions of discourse to distinguish between points that are important, and points that are not important in the worldview of the author? Very important in modern discussions of textlinguistics.

    The seeker then realizes that there are only two real options left for him: EO or the CC (since no other body claims the kind of authority that he sees evidenced in Scripture and the fathers, and which he now thinks is philosophically necessary). Of course, he still needs to decide between these two, and there are others way more qualified than I to explain how that works.

    The problem is, if you are unqualified to explain how that works, then how can we trust whether your decision to chose one over the other was a valid decision? If you cannot explain to us how you did it, then how do we know that the way you did it is valid.

    But at the very least I am trying to show that the process by which one becomes Catholic or Orthodox is not question-begging, as if the convert believes in the authority of these communions simply because they claim it.

    The problem is, Jason, this kind of a building block approach is riddled with options at every step. You have not told us why it is that you chose each option at each step. I have been down this road before, and utterly rejected everything that you said at each point. Again, how are you going to argue with me if I don’t accept the authority of the Roman magisterium? How can you fault me for not choosing another option? Is that not the same argument you use against us by saying that no one can know which interpretation of scripture is correct without the magisterium?

  316. July 30, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    OTRmin: You wrote to Jason, “As far as Sola Scriptura, do you mean there is no hard evidence that would convince *you,* or there is no hard evidence?”

    This is what I keep trying to get TF, Andrew, et al. to address.

    What do you consider hard evidence for the doctrine that
    “The supreme judge by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture?”

    -David

  317. July 30, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    Otrmin,

    Then, if you came to the conclusion that the Catholic Church was infallible apart from the authority of the church, why can’t we interpret the scriptures and the fathers apart from the authority of the church? If you could do it, why can’t we?

    I can’t speak for others, but I never intended to deny anyone the right to approach the evidence and seek to understand it apart from the claims of the CC. The only time you would be accused of question-begging would be if you were to insist that the only evidence allowed is biblical evidence, since that would be to presuppose the Protestant paradigm and thus reason in a circle. But to open up the Scriptures and the fathers and seek to discern their mind? Sounds fun.

    The problem is that, once you admit that the meaning of the text can be derived without submitting to the Roman Communion, then one must ask why it is that one must argue against Sola Scriptura in the first place in order to prove these points. Why can’t we just go into the text, and deal with the text on its own terms? Why the necessity of the added tradition at this point?

    Let me illustrate. The woman at the well eventually concluded that Jesus was the Messiah. Once she discovered this fact, her responsibility was to submit to and obey him all her days, right? But her initial discovery of who Jesus was did not come because he simply claimed to be the Messiah, but rather, he “told her all the things she ever did” (in other words, the initial discovery resulted from something independent of any claim Jesus made about himself). But just because that discovery was made independently, that did not mean she could continue to subject everything Jesus said to her own rationality or interpretive agreement.

    It’s similar with people who become Catholic (it’s not a perfect illustration, but it conveys the basic point). They weigh the biblical and historical evidence and make a judgment. But once that judgment is made, they are responsible to obey the church because of its divine authority. But it would be circular for them to simply appeal to that authority to convince others (and unfair, since that’s how it happened for them).

    Hope that helps a bit. I am still getting these things clear in my mind. It’s one thing to struggle through a crisis and another to try to describe it after the fact. Both are hard.

  318. Jeff Cagle said,

    July 30, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    JJS (#304):

    I don’t want to go to the mat much, but I would like to poke at some of your arguments.

    I have two hopes. First, even at this late date, I pray (really!) that you might reconsider. As you see, I view Rome as committing an institutional sin, that of raising itself up and lording it over the rest of the church. You can appreciate that I might desire to dissuade you from participating therein.

    But failing that, I would also hope to persuade you that certain stock arguments from CtC are not actually sound.

    You write, You’ll note that I said that the seeker investigates both Scripture and the early fathers, not Scripture alone (to insist on the latter only would be to beg the question).

    And you’ll note that I appealed to both. Even a seeker who investigates both must decide how to arrange the evidence before him. The Scripture is known to be correct; it is the hardest evidence there is. This *ought* to be a principle agreeable to Catholic and Protestant alike.

    So my first dissuasion is, don’t rush to criticize appeals to Scripture as “begging the question.” If appealing to the Scripture was good enough methodologically for the church fathers — and that’s how they argued! — then it ought to be acceptable to Catholics.

    Especially because I mentioned the fathers in the very next para. ;)

    JRC: And I think you would agree that no-one outside of the RC church believes that either Scripture or the fathers teach that Peter and his successors are the defining center of the authoritative church.

    JJS: I don’t see how this is relevant; it’s like saying that no one but Trinitarians think God is triune. Plus, all Catholics probably outnumber the rest of all Christians put together.

    This is relevant because of the East-West split. At the time of the split, however obnoxious Michael Cerularius may have been, the Eastern argument was that “first among equals” does not entail “supremacy.”

    At that time, the East was unambiguously a part of the Church.

    And yet the West, following “Peter”, refused to listen to the fellow bishops. It was more important to Leo’s legates and those who came after them to assert papal supremacy, than it was to preserve the unity of the church.

    So really, this is more like saying “the rest of us Trinitarians think you’ve locked yourself in a closet, and we’re hoping you’ll come to your senses and come out.”

    JJS: The Catholic would argue that the testimony of Scripture and the fathers does indeed teach “Petro-centrism,” but perhaps not in the sense of giving “hard evidence”

    Well, that should give great pause. This is the central claim of the church, the pillar on which the rest of their theology rests. It should be the most certain, the strongest point in your position.

    If you cannot make it so, then it’s time to look for the exit door.

    JJS: This is where interpretive paradigms come into play. In addition to the evidence he finds (that the NT and early fathers speak of the church as authoritative), he also comes to realize that such authority to bind the consciences of all believers in a council-of-Jerusalem kind of way is necessary in order to distinguish between heresy and schism, essentials and non-essentials, canonical and non-canonical, and unity and schism (whether you agree is beside the point, all I’m trying to do is show how the seeker’s thinking likely progresses).

    I know that you thought it beside the point, but I must squawk a protest. This is the worst of the CtC arguments, because it destroys the authority of Scripture.

    I refer you back to Irenaeus Against Heresies 3.2.1. However the early church fathers thought of tradition, it is clear that they — as represented by Irenaeus — did not accept the argument that tradition is necessary in order to understand Scripture properly. For Irenaeus, asserting the necessity of tradition for proper understanding of Scripture is a heresy.

    I urged you at one point to make a distinction in your thinking. We might poke holes in Protestant doctrine. I might concede, for the sake of argument, that sola fide hypothetically needs refinement, or that baptismal regeneration is not impossible.

    But those holes do not provide enough room to drive the Catholic Truck through. The CtC argument that you’ve expressed above attempts to create the truck-sized hole — and in your case, it clearly was persuasive.

    But it is flawed. For it assumes, whole-cloth, that God’s provision for the Church necessarily takes the form of a human person, or persons, who take care of the interpretation process for the rest of us.

    Hence, your use of the word “necessary”: We must have a visible authority that is infallible.

    Well, yeah, if we grant that assumption then the rest follows. But whence the assumption?

    Bryan expressed earlier that God always does things for a reason. Perhaps God’s reason for the East-West schism was to expose the destructive folly of one man asserting headship over the whole church. In Scripture, which we ought to agree is hard evidence, the position of head is given to Christ alone — and woe to the man who tries to supplant Christ.

  319. July 30, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    Jeff Cagle writes to Jason

    “For [you] assume, whole-cloth, that God’s provision for the Church necessarily takes the form of a human person, or persons, who take care of the interpretation process for the rest of us.”

    No, Jason and Catholics do not assume this. First of all, this statement misrepresents the Catholic view of religious authority – as if it were simply a matter of interpreting texts.

    Secondly, we do not assume it. We believe that this doctrine (the divine authority of human persons) was taught by Christ himself, and has continued to be held by the church ever since. This is a historical question.

    -David

  320. Jeff Cagle said,

    July 30, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    David (#311): “Catholic doctrine is just so atrocious and horrible that there is no way the catholic church can be the rule of faith, so it must be Scripture!”

    That’s in the ballpark, but not quite there.

    We have to split off two issues. First, as I consider Catholic claims, why don’t I believe them? That’s the falsification process at work.

    Second, independently, why do I believe the Protestant claims? That’s theological construction at work.

    Those two processes are, and should be, mostly independent of each other.

    And yes, Catholic doctrine does seem to contradict big, basic, obvious points in Scripture. If I were to become Catholic, I would be asked to believe that bowing to icons is not obviously contrary to the 2nd commandment. I would be asked to believe that Peter is supreme over the other apostles. I would be asked to believe that Jesus’ human nature had been endowed with divine omnipresence (in transubstantiation). I would be asked to accept that Peter’s chair had been passed in unbroken succession from pope to pope, despite the fact that some popes had clearly distinguished themselves as false teachers by their behavior.

    These considerations falsify Catholic claims because of the hard evidence against them. That would be so whether I were Protestant or whatever.

    The argument for sola scriptura, on the other hand, is represented in my comments above.

  321. July 30, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    Jeff,

    Historically, the Protestant apology for scripture has often proceeded from the assumed error of Catholic tradition. (Think of Luther – Pope’s and Councils have erred, therefore . . . )

    I agree, however, that the case for SS should proceed, demonstratively, from the positive principles of revelation.

    I’m sorry, but I missed your comments above. Could you point me again to the biblical evidence for the doctrine that
    “The supreme judge by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture?”

    Thanks,

    David

  322. July 30, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    Yes, Pete, she did. :-). :-) j/k

    Now if you tell my wife I’m even still posting…

  323. Jeff Cagle said,

    July 30, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    David, #318 is not very clear yet. Lay it out: We’re talking about the rule of faith. You say “Religious authority is not simply a matter of interpreting texts.”

    Then of what is is a matter?

    Secondly, we do not assume it. We believe that this doctrine (the divine authority of human persons) was taught by Christ himself, and has continued to be held by the church ever since. This is a historical question.

    I think you misunderstood. The assumption I was fingering was not “there are authorities”, but that “there must be an infallible interpretive authority to prevent heresies.”

  324. Bob S said,

    July 30, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    Mr. Anders, where to begin?
    I know Jason thinks I am a bad guy and I mistook you for somebody else, but bells began to go off. Maybe the Albert did it.
    IOW deja vu. We done been here before.

    Not only did it not go well for your side over at your CtC page Is Reformed Worship Biblical? (I gotta admit I am still amazed it’s up, but maybe not for long, eh?), but you’ve already been through the arguments for the good & necessary consequences of Scripture:

    G&N consequence is a biblical doctrine inasmuch as Christ in his confrontation with the Sadducees over the woman with seven husbands in Matt. 22:23-33 appeals not to his personal authority, but Scripture – which the Saduccees did accept as an authority – and further chides them for not knowing the implications of Scripture rather than what it explicitly says. See for example the great Genevan divine, Turretin in his Institutes 1:12:9 on Scripture consequences. Comment 11

    See also WCF 1:7 VI.

    The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men. (2Tim. 3:15-17, Gal. 1:8, 2Thess. 2:2)

    IOW Scripture doesn’t have to say something explicitly, for something to be authoritatively taught in Scripture, whether we are talking about the Trinity, the RPW or Scripture as the rule of faith. Nevertheless we still find you dismissing the G&N consequences of Scripture and begging the question.

    Further in 225, 255 and 261 you conveniently gloss 2 Tim. 3:15-17 as only mentioning inspiration, which a bad person pointed out in 238 and rcjr in 277. Well, yes Scripture is inspired, but it is also ‘given by God that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works’.

    Another error of fact would be that of 255 where you say protestants assume that Scripture is the rule of faith without argument or scripture proof. Further

    In fact, I’m certain of this. Richard Muller, in one of his tome’s on the Reformed scholastic doctrine of Scripture, admits as such:

    Huh?

    Scripture, not only, therefore, demands obedience to God alone (Deut. 12:32; Matt. 15:9), it also clearly condemns other allegiances and is alone designated by God as a rule (2 Tim. 3:16; 2Peter 1:21). Muller, PRRD, II:360

    Yet the most egregious example of ignoring the obvious was your statement in 261 that :

    Jesus, himself, did not restrict divine authority simply to the written word of God. His own ministry is a performative contradiction of that thesis. He claimed the right to interpret, abrogate, and supplement divine-revelation-in-Scripture. (Sola Scriptura was not operative in his own ministry.)

    1. Not only was Jesus the Word become flesh Jn. 1:1,12, he repeatedly appealed to Scripturefor instance, in the Temptation in the Wilderness, not to mention that he repeatedly asked his hearers “Have ye not read”, as well as again inspired Paul by the Holy Spirit to pen 2 Tim. 3:15-17.

    2. Even if Christ was not bound by Scripture – in that he is the author of Scripture – it does not follow, it is a non sequitur to automatically apply that to his church, because as the head goes, so the body or something like that. But Christ did appeal to Scripture, ergo your conclusion is mistaken.

    IOW maybe newcomers like Burton can sort of understand why some of us take a rather more jaundiced view of whether the self appointed advocates for popery who show up over here to go through the routine really love the truth as much as they profess they do, never mind if that they have a grasp of it to begin with.

    And based on more than a few posts, evidently incompetence must be added to the saying that ignorance is the mother of Romish devotion.

    Again, it would not be to much to say that Romanism is a vicious, wicked and stupifying fideism that gratuitously butchers Scripture, reason and history/tradition whenever she bumps into them.

  325. otrmin said,

    July 30, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    albertdavidanders,

    This is what I keep trying to get TF, Andrew, et al. to address.

    What do you consider hard evidence for the doctrine that
    “The supreme judge by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture?”

    2 Timothy 3:16-17, Matthew 15:1-9, 2 Peter 1:21, etc., and all of the patristic documentation you can find in Webster and King’s work Holy Scripture, The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith. Again, whether this evidence will convince you or not depends upon your presuppositions, but that is the evidence I find persuasive given my presuppositions.

    Actually, this was the context of my last question. You wrote:

    I actually find it very, very helpful because it illustrates perfectly what I think really lies behind the doctrine of Sola Scriptura:

    “Catholic doctrine is just so atrocious and horrible that there is no way the catholic church can be the rule of faith, so it must be Scripture!”

    If, however, you really want to know how Catholics can rationally hold to Marian doctrine, that is certainly something we can discuss. However, I think the main theme of this thread is religious authority.

    Actually, the context of my question was the fact that you had said:

    At best, we have rcjr’s reference to the “equipping for every good work” mentioned in 2 Tim. But, once again, Catholics don’t deny that Scripture (whatever that might be) “equips for every good work.” That’s just not at issue.

    You said you agreed with our exegesis of 2 Timothy 3:16-17, and said that Catholicism believes that scripture fully equips for every good work. If that is the case, I don’t think it is an illegitimate question to ask how scripture equips you to teach.the Queenly Coronation of Mary, Indulgences, and the Thesaurus Meritorum. If you really believe what 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, then it should not be hard.

    Also, my point is not to show how “horrible” Catholic teaching is [although the immorality of adding an entire world of "sacred" tradition to the text thus changing the world of the text is, indeed, immoral as it violates the ninth commandment against God himself]. My point is to say that these things have *nothing whatsoever* to do with the world of the text. I find it strange that Jason has said that homoousios has no hard evidence in scripture, but you are willing to say that scripture equips you to teach the Queenly Coronation of Mary, Indulgences, and the Thesaurus Meritorum! These are things that have nothing to do with the world of the text, and that is my main problem. You have to read an elephant into the text in order to get these things from scripture.

  326. Jeff Cagle said,

    July 30, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    David: #257, #285 give thumbnails. To summarize:

    * The Scriptures criticize those who add human traditions to the commands of God, especially those traditions which nullify the word of God.

    * The Scriptures enjoin us to give liberty of conscience to our brothers in matters where God has not spoken.

    * The Scriptures praise those who test the words of men, even the words of the apostles, against God’s already-established Scripture.

    WCoF 1.9 – 10 is a reasonable construction of those three principles.

  327. July 30, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    Jeff,

    Religious authority of the sort we are discussing is the authority to decide controversies over Christian doctrine and practice. That may include, but is not limited to, the interpretation of texts. It might also include, for example, the authority to regulate and define the contents of the liturgy – based on traditional practice. It might include the authority to define doctrine on the basis of something other than a text – Augustine, for example, argues for the doctrine of original sin based not only on the teachings of Paul, but also from the Church’s liturgical practice.

    As to your 2nd, once again – I don’t think Catholics assume “there must be an infallible interpretive authority.” However rational a position that might be on its own terms, Catholics believe in an infallible interpretive authority because we believe Christ established such an authority.

    -David

  328. TurretinFan said,

    July 30, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    ADA:

    You stated: “”all Catholics agree that Scriptures are A rule of faith. But clearly, the Protestant doctrine includes much, much more.”

    The only much, much more is a negative statement, “and there isn’t any other.” Will you please answer directly whether you think it is our duty to prove this universal negative?

    -TurretinFan

  329. Sean said,

    July 30, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    Not only did it not go well for your side over at your CtC page Is Reformed Worship Biblical? (I gotta admit I am still amazed it’s up, but maybe not for long, eh?),

    Were you commenting as “Robert” in that thread?

    By the way, no plans to take it down at all.

  330. Bob S said,

    July 30, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    296
    Catholics don’t think the CC is authoritative “because the CC says so,” for that would indeed be circular.

    Rather, Catholics believe they discover in Scripture and the fathers a church that is said to be, and thought of itself as, authoritative. So while they will appeal to ecclesial authority, they will not do so as an argument why anyone else should submit to that authority.

    Oh, come now, Jason. Bryan and CtC et al doesn’t appeal to ecclesial authority? Next you will be telling me, that they appeal to private judgement. Wait a minute . . .

    Never mind.

    Romanism is a vicious, wicked and stupifying fideism that gratuitously butchers Scripture, reason and history/tradition whenever she bumps into them.

  331. otrmin said,

    July 30, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    Jason,

    I don’t think you are seeing how your argument is actually undermining what Catholics always say about not being able to know the truth apart from the authority of the Catholic Magisterium. If what you say is true, then a person can know what scripture teaches, and still refuse to submit to it’s teaching, just as they can know what you say is the truth about tradition, and yet not submit to it. In fact, I dare say that in a sinful world, we should expect many people to go over leaps and bounds so they can make scripture say what it doesn’t say, and thus, we should expect many groups to pervert the scriptures.

    Still, does that mean that the truth of what the scriptures teach cannot be known unless someone infallibly interprets? Of course not. Are they still responsible to believe the truth? Absolutely, because they know God, are created in his image, and thus know that they are perverting the text. In other words, proper interpretation of scripture is an ethical issue, not an issue of authority. Any person can come to the correct meaning of scripture because, although fallen, he is created in the image of God, and thus can examine the issue, but the question of whether he will do so is an ethical question.

    God Bless,
    Adam

  332. Bob S said,

    July 30, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    317 Jeffery
    CTC Catholic Truck Crash?

    I know, I know, if the mods don’t get me the self appointed one will.
    But you’re next, pal.

  333. Jeff Cagle said,

    July 30, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    David (#326): The Confession (and I) agree that there are religious authorities who have the authority to decide matters of religious controversy, matters of worship, and so on. See WCoF 31.

    So it should be clear that the doctrine of sola scriptura does not preclude the existence of religious authorities. I don’t know how that changes your understanding, but it should allow you to focus your argument somewhat.

    As to your 2nd, once again – I don’t think Catholics assume “there must be an infallible interpretive authority.”

    That is the reverse of the structure of Jason’s argument. He does, indeed, assume that there must be such an authority; the only question is then for him, which is it? East or West?

    However rational a position that might be on its own terms, Catholics believe in an infallible interpretive authority because we believe Christ established such an authority.

    Alright, as an exercise, challenge the rationality of this belief. How do you know it to be true? At worst, you can become a better Catholic by answering the question. At best, you might be able to see the circle.

  334. July 30, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    Bob S.,

    Thanks for referencing the Worship article.

    I must confess that I didn’t read every word of commentary, but I lost interest when I noticed the Reformed folks ignored the main thesis: that Calvin enjoins certain liturgical practices as mandatory that have no basis in Scripture.

    But more to the point:

    I don’t see how quoting the WCF and Turrentin at me is supposed to show that Sola Scriptura is a biblical doctrine?

    Of course, I agree that a doctrine does not have to be explicitly stated in Scripture (or tradition) in order for it to be deduced by G &N.

    And, of course, I recognize that Christ cites Holy Scripture as an authority – but none of this is at issue.

    Also, I am not guilty of factual errors. I have cited Muller above regarding the doctrine of Leonard van Rijssen.

    I also think the discussion at the site has confirmed my allegation:
    My interlocutors (like van Rijssen) have all argued for SS as an inference from inspiration and authority.

    Your reference to Jesus confirms this: You establish what ever Catholic believes – Christ cited Scripture as an authority. This is not at issue.

    Nor did I claim that we have an automatic right to follow Jesus in everything he did. I merely point out that Christ nowhere enjoins, practices, or commends the doctrine that “The supreme judge by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture?”

    Finally, I find your invective to be unhelpful. Rather than assuming and asserting my stupidity or ignorance, we not simply ask for clarification?

    I don’t really think I’m ignorant of Reformed teaching (I’ve read more of it than I care to recall.) I may misunderstand some of it. I welcome the corrective.

    OTRMIN:

    The passages you cite commend the authority of Holy Scripture (whatever that may be). Once again, Catholics also commend the authority of Holy Scripture. This is not at issue. Can you show me a text (or any divine authority we mutually recognize) that establishes the 66 as the final authority to decide Christian doctrine and controversies of religion? Merely asserting that these passages seem to suggest that TO YOU, is not an argument.

    Jeff Cagle:

    Your three points:

    * The Scriptures criticize those who add human traditions to the commands of God, especially those traditions which nullify the word of God.

    * The Scriptures enjoin us to give liberty of conscience to our brothers in matters where God has not spoken.

    * The Scriptures praise those who test the words of men, even the words of the apostles, against God’s already-established Scripture.

    And your conclusion:

    WCoF 1.9 – 10 is a reasonable construction of those three principles.

    If WCF is a reasonable construction of those principles,if it is to be valid syllogistically, then it cannot contain anything not stated in the premises.

    However, WCF does precisely that – it affirms propositions not contained in the premises.

    It assumes or implies that

    1) that the authority of Scripture (which all Catholics acknowledge) necessarily and exclusively extends to the settling of all controversies of religion.

    2) That Christ has not given us any other non-scriptural authority to fulfill that task.

    Neither of these is contained in your three premises.

    At best, you have established that Scripture is a divine authority that cannot be contravened, and that the Church should not legislate on matters not revealed by God. (I’m a bit uncomfortable with this last statement, as I think even the Reformers were very inconsistent about this, but I’ll let it stand for the time being.)

    These assumptions – that the authority of Scripture necessarily and exclusively extends to settling all controversies of religion – and that Christ did not specify any other authority to fulfill that role – are precisely what is at issue.

    Once again,

    The Reformed apology for SS proceeds as follows:

    Scripture is divinely inspired and authoritative. (We agree.)

    We cannot contravene Holy Scripture. (We agree.)

    Therefore, Scripture is the Rule of Faith. (I.e., is the final authority for settling all controversies of Religion, faith, or practice.)

    But, the conclusion does not follow from the premises.

    -David

  335. July 30, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    Can a Catholic brother here tell me whether or not the marriage contract I entered into with my wife almost 10 years ago, in a presbyterian church, whether it’s a valid marriage?

    A rhetorical flourish?
    Andrew

  336. July 30, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    TF:

    You wrote:

    ADA:

    You stated: “”all Catholics agree that Scriptures are A rule of faith. But clearly, the Protestant doctrine includes much, much more.”

    The only much, much more is a negative statement, “and there isn’t any other.” Will you please answer directly whether you think it is our duty to prove this universal negative?

    I’m not sure how to understand this.
    You and I agree that the Scriptures are a rule of faith – that is, a norm to be obeyed. But are you telling me that you think that exhausts the nature of Scripture’s authority? There are many norms that must be obeyed (reason and conscience, for example), but that are not intended by God to be the final court of appeal for the settling of controversies of religion in the Church.

    If all you assert is that Scripture is to be obeyed – then we have no controversy.

    However, if you assert that God intends Scripture as the final court of appeal for settling all controversies of religion – then I think you have a burden to show that this is the case.

    You don’t have to show that God didn’t intend some other authority. (You don’t have to prove an universal negative, that is.)

    But merely asserting the divinity and authority of the Scriptures is not enough to establish what is at issue between Catholics and Protestants.

    Imagine, for the sake of argument, that there is no Catholic Church, or Orthodox Church, or any other religion, claiming to be the final arbiter of God’s will. There is just divinely-inspired Scripture on the one hand, and a sea of skepticism on the other.

    Even in this scenario, it is not clear (without argument) how God intends that Scripture to be used. Perhaps he intends Scripture as an inspired, authoritative prayer book, or a collection of paranesis, or an inspired record of early Church History, or what-have-you.

    It is just not self-evident that God intends Scripture is to be THE Rule of Faith.
    For that, you need evidence.

    -David

  337. Sean said,

    July 30, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    Can a Catholic brother here tell me whether or not the marriage contract I entered into with my wife almost 10 years ago, in a presbyterian church, whether it’s a valid marriage?

    Andrew. You could easily discover what the Catholic Church teaches about marriage and what makes a marriage ‘valid’ by cursory research. Do you assume that the Catholic Church would say that your marriage is not valid?

    In answer of your question, most Protestant marriages are ‘valid’ and by that I mean sacramental so long as the matter and form are legitimate. Where trouble happens is when a person marries somebody who is already married or somebody is coerced into marriage.

    Assuming you were not married before marrying your wife and assuming she was not maried prior – if you and your wife went into the Catholic Church tomorrow you would not have to get ‘married’ in the church because they church would consider you already married.

    But that is REALLY far removed from the thread which I don’t think is intended to be a ‘ask anything about Catholicism thread.’

  338. July 30, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    Jeff Cagle:

    “David (#326): The Confession (and I) agree that there are religious authorities who have the authority to decide matters of religious controversy, matters of worship, and so on. See WCoF 31.”

    Of course, I’m aware of this teaching.

    But, then again, the confession also states that all judgments of religious authorities, councils, and private conscience are to be evaluated against Scripture.

    And, I’m aware of the WCF teaching on the “infallible assurance” permitted to the elect.

    So which is it? What is the final court of appeal?

    Is it the infallible assurance of the elect? The judgment of ordained ministers? Or the ‘settled and sure’ conclusions of scientific exegesis?

    If you conclude that the final arbiter of religious controversy – to which I owe submission of mind and will – is the ordained ministry of Christ’s Church – and not my private interpretation of Scripture, and that I can recognize that ministry in a non-question begging way (that is, by some criterion other than their agreement with my interpretation of Scripture) then I would say, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”

    -David

  339. Jeff Cagle said,

    July 30, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    Actually, David, both points are contained in the premises. Being an informal argument, not everything was supplied; but it was all present.

    Let’s flesh out a bit.

    “1) that the authority of Scripture (which all Catholics acknowledge) necessarily and exclusively extends to the settling of all controversies of religion.”

    As I’ve pointed out, sola scriptura and the Confession do not exclude the role of other religious authorities in settling all controversies of religion.

    So we must modify your representation to something more accurate. I suggest,

    1) The authority of all other religious authorities to settle controversies of religion is derived from Scripture. Their pronouncements are valid insofar as they proclaim what is found in Scripture.

    This would follow from point 2. for if they proclaim that which goes beyond Scripture, then they run afoul of binding the conscience on matters wherein God has not spoken.

    “2) That Christ has not given us any other non-scriptural authority to fulfill that task.”

    This suffers from the same defect, the overlooking of WCoF 31. I suggest an emendation such as

    2) All other authorities which fulfill the role of settling controversies of religion are to be regarded as potentially fallible, and their pronouncements should be tested against Scripture.

    This would follow from point 3.

    Better?

  340. Jeff Cagle said,

    July 30, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    David (#337): If you conclude that the final arbiter of religious controversy – to which I owe submission of mind and will – is the ordained ministry of Christ’s Church – and not my private interpretation of Scripture …

    (c), None of the Above.

    This is the stone of stumbling, I fear.

  341. July 30, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    Well, Sean, the CTC is an ‘evangelistic’ (I mean that negatively) and no one can tell me why all you ctc guys are posting comments.

    But looking around the internet, I see prots and romish fellows doing this in other forums. I guess this is just where you group is deciding to loiter?

    Enjoy your stay. Thanks for addressing my flourish. If you ever want to golf, let me know.

    Peace.

  342. Hugh said,

    July 30, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    The insanity and irrationality began (at least) @11: “Appealing to a divine authority (as such) in order to establish its divine authority — that would be circular. But appealing to historical evidence that also happens to belong to Tradition or Magisterium, in order to determine the authority of the Tradition and the Magisterium, is not circular.” ~ Bryan Cross

    Continues @296 ~ Catholics don’t think the CC is authoritative “because the CC says so,” for that would indeed be circular. Rather, Catholics believe they discover in Scripture and the fathers a church that is said to be, and thought of itself as, authoritative. So while they will appeal to ecclesial authority, they will not do so as an argument why anyone else should submit to that authority. That’s why their argument is not circular. ~ New convert Jason Stellman

    >Oh.

    “why can’t we interpret the scriptures and the fathers apart from the authority of the church? If you could do it, why can’t we?” ~ otrmin @301

    >Subsequent ‘revelations’ (authoritative, of course) shoring up papal/ Romish autocracy.

    Stellman @ 304 ~ Jesus thought the church he was founding was authoritative, the people who co-founded it thought it was authoritative, and those to whom they passed on their apostolic authority thought it was authoritative.

    >Oh.
    >Bingo.

    Cagle @308 ~ What I observe in Bryan’s arguments is that he always returns to the refrain, “That’s your private interpretation.” What’s the alternative? “To accept the Church’s interpretive authority.”
    AND, If the words of the fathers do not clearly and unambiguously point to Petrine succession, then they cannot be used as self-standing evidence for Petrine succession.

    >Subsequent ‘revelations’ shore up papal authority (& since 1870, infallibility).

    Stellman @316 ~ It’s similar with people who become Catholic…. They weigh the biblical and historical evidence and make a judgment.* But once that judgment is made, they are responsible to obey the church because of its divine authority. But it would be circular for them to simply appeal to that authority to convince others (and unfair, since that’s how it happened for them).

    >And, yet, to what other authority do y’all appeal to? ‘The biblical and historical evidence’ is all Romish, by definition validating your position.

    >Where a “father” agrees with TODAY’S catechism, he’s is right on. Where he differs, he erred. Same with the schoolmen, Aquinas, et. al.

    >* They weigh, they convert. They are not converted by the Holy Spirit, they convert to Romanism. Where aqua baptism conveys the Ghost (but not unconditionally or permanently), and where the atonement procures effects NO ONE’S salvation. Jason, you’ve fallen from whatever smidgeon of grace you had in the PCA.

    CTC = Cath. Trash Chat?

  343. Hugh said,

    July 30, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    Still no Stellman testimony @ Called to Craziness.

  344. July 30, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    Hi Jeff,

    Question:

    1) The authority of all other religious authorities to settle controversies of religion is derived from Scripture.

    Where are you getting this premise?

    It seems to me that we can agree, “The authority to definitively settle controversy must proceed from God.” But this is something different.

    2) Their pronouncements are valid insofar as they proclaim what is found in Scripture.

    This premise seems to be way overstepping the words of Scripture. However, I would agree that a religious authority should not contradict Scripture.

    As to 2 & 3 above about other authorities:

    See my comments in 337.

  345. TurretinFan said,

    July 30, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    “But merely asserting the divinity and authority of the Scriptures is not enough to establish what is at issue between Catholics and Protestants.”

    What remains is the denial of the papacy’s claims. But it is up to the papacy to establish the papacy’s claims. It’s not up to the Reformed person to prove the falsity of the papacy’s claims (though we have done so repeatedly).

    Of course, the papacy is not the only group out there making claims to have a rule of faith beyond Scripture – the Muslims and Mormons make similar claims.

    Just as what distinguishes a Reformed person from an advocate of the papacy is a denial of the papacy’s claims, what remains between the Reformed person and the Muslim is the denial of Islam’s claim about the Koran vis-a-vis the OT and NT — and what remains between the Reformed person is the denial of Joseph Smith’s claim.

    All of those denials collectively are summarized in saying the Scripture is “the” rule or the “supreme” rule or the “only” rule or it “exhausts” the field of rules of faith, etc. That’s the universal negative (couched in various ways that are less obviously negative) that you seem to want to insist we prove.

    However, in reality the onus is on you to establish the papacy’s claims – something your side has been unable to do despite hundreds of years of attempts.

    -TurretinFan

    P.S. “Perhaps he intends Scripture as an inspired, authoritative prayer book, or a collection of paranesis, or an inspired record of early Church History, or what-have-you.” I haven’t seriously engaged this argument, because it isn’t a serious argument. You don’t think that Scripture is intended for that purpose, nor do I. There are serious treatments of the question of the intent of inscripturation, but why debate you on a point that you don’t even hold?

  346. Sean said,

    July 30, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    Mods. Far be it from me to tell you how to manage your house but if it’s not obvious, the recent posts by Bob S and Huge really serve no other purpose than to poison the well and leave everybody feeling like they need to have a shower after reading them.
    So much so that I am going to vacate the premises for now.

  347. Jeff Cagle said,

    July 30, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    Hm. The transmission is slipping between us. I thought I was clear; you thought you had found obvious holes.

    Are you suggesting that tradition is the Word of God? But if so, then why is it not a part of the canon?

    It seems to me that the only way to have a problem with 1) is to assume that God’s Word extends beyond the Scriptures.

  348. otrmin said,

    July 30, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    albertdavidanders,

    The passages you cite commend the authority of Holy Scripture (whatever that may be). Once again, Catholics also commend the authority of Holy Scripture. This is not at issue. Can you show me a text (or any divine authority we mutually recognize) that establishes the 66 as the final authority to decide Christian doctrine and controversies of religion? Merely asserting that these passages seem to suggest that TO YOU, is not an argument.

    Go back and reread what I said again. It is not an issue of the scriptures being an authority, but the notion that they fully equip for every good work! You have said that you agree with it. I have pointed out that it is impossible to derive what you believe about the Queenly Coronation, indulgences, and the Thesarus Meritorum from the world of the text of the 66 books of scripture. It is that phrase, that the usefulness of scripture results in the man of God being fully equipped for every good work that teaches Sola Scriptura. If scripture is fully equipping, then what does it say when something, such as the queenly coronation, indulgences, and the Thesaurus Meritorum have absolutely, positively nothing whatsoever to do with scripture? Obviously, that either the text is false [scripture is not fully equipping], or that teaching these traditions is not a good work [which you deny, because you believe they are part of the gospel].

    As far as Matthew 15 goes, the main point is that Jesus holds an alleged tradition passed down from Moses to the higher authority of scripture. Jesus himself tests which traditions are authentic and which are not by an appeal to the scriptures. Why can we not do the same?

    So, scripture fully equips us to teach the truth of the gospel, and it is the final appeal as to which traditions are authentic. Sounds a whole lot like:

    WCF 1:6 The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men.

    I do not say that these merely “suggest” something “to me.” What I said was that, given my presuppositions, they *actually do* teach Sola Scriptura. However, I understand that a Roman Catholic who is committed to the inerrancy of scripture and the falsehood of Sola Scriptura is not going to like that [as he has to give up one or the other], but I don’t think he can argue against these passages consistently, as is shown by the fact that you refuse to provide any kind of exegetical defense of the Queenly coronation, indulgences, or the thesaurus meritorum from scripture, thus showing how human language has to be butchered to even make scripture relevant to these things. However, I understand, given your presuppositions, that your cannot accept them.

    What I was pointing out is the difference between proof and persuasion. You may not like that these passages teach Sola Scriptura, but I think I have shown that they do. Still, even though I believe I have proven that these passages teach Sola Scriptura, that does not mean that you will accept it. You have an overriding authority that prevents you from accepting what these passages teach [the Roman Catholic church]. However, whether or not you are persuaded is not the ultimate authority. The intent of the author is the ultimate authority, and ultimately, the God in whom both the author and myself live and move and have our being.

  349. Hugh said,

    July 30, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    T-fanatic @344 ~ your 5tht paragraph reminds me that Romanists claim the Bible (our 66 of their 72/73 books) is the Word of God. Yet its self-defining and self-limiting text is explained away for a new & improved religion, a la Islam and the LDS. Same procedure, same source of clarifying post-scriptural ‘revelations.’

    Sean ~ Don’t let the door hit…… Oh, he’s gone. :(
    He paid me a great compliment. Let me never be well-spoken of by Christ’s enemies. Esp. by Cross & other apostates.

    Jeff, Yes, tradition is the word of God. Just like Koran or Book of Mo. See catechism quotes @ 292 & 293, above.

  350. Jeff Cagle said,

    July 30, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    Pete (#309, 310):

    Thanks for the responses. I think you would agree that you have some intriguing speculation happening in the reading of Matt 16 – 18, but not an air-tight case.

    The most impressive thing about Matt 18 is that Jesus does not take the opportunity here to affirm Peter’s supremacy.

    One would certainly expect that at this point, if indeed the text were constructed with the intent of demonstrating Petrine supremacy.

    Clearly, an argument from silence is not dispositive, so I’m not claiming that the silence is a slam-dunk proof. But it does make one assess the evidence.

    On Augustine, I understand that you are trying to distinguish between Peter the man and Peter’s office. Nevertheless, Augustine’s behavior demonstrates something less than deference to the bishop of Rome. Consider his criticisms of Zosimus. And importantly, step back and count up the number of arguments Augustine makes from tradition, and the number he makes from Scripture.

    Augustine does not act as if the Scripture were unclear and required papal interpretation in order to settle controversies. Nor does he act as if the word of the pope is always to be deferred to.

    In other words, Augustine demonstrates a “high view” of the bishop of Rome, but not the view that the RC church teaches.

  351. Hugh said,

    July 30, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    Jeff, have I missed in this thread any of us mentioning Jesus’ proximate exchange with Pope Pedro Uno @ Mt. 16:20ff?

    In v. 15, Peter is “blessed,” and in v. 23, “Satan.”

    Hmmm….

    Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ. From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, ‘Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.’ But he turned, and said unto Peter, ‘Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.’

    What do the popish patriarchs say about THAT bit, eh?

  352. Hugh said,

    July 30, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    Ah! Found ‘em ~ Adam @281, Pete @310.

    The latter quotes Ben16 => “The disciple who, through God’s gift, was able to become a solid rock, here shows himself for what he is in his human weakness: a stone along the path, a stone on which men can stumble – in Greek, skandalon. Here we see the tension that exists between the gift that comes from the Lord and human capacities; and in this scene between Jesus and Simon Peter we see anticipated in some sense the drama of the history of the papacy itself, characterized by the joint presence of these two elements: on the one hand, because of the light and the strength that come from on high, the papacy constitutes the foundation of the Church during its pilgrimage through history; on the other hand, across the centuries, human weakness is also evident, which can only be transformed through openness to God’s action.”

    Oh! Had but the papacy for one minute seriously considered its frailty, fleshiness and foibles! Instead, she has crushed her opponents as a rock.

    If she ever has admitted weakness, she makes the two-fold damning error of rationalizing said sins by reason of her being the ‘foundation,’ as B16 says, and/or by appealing to Mary & Co. to cover his sins.

    Note that Peter “was ABLE to become a solid rock;” he wasn’t one by grace alone, contra Christ!

    And the erring papacy can ONLY be fixed by its own “openness to God’s action!” A necessarily self-repairing machine, like a Terminator robot.* Truly, Christ’s pseudo-vicar is deus ex machina!

    * From Wiki ~ In the “Terminator” film series, a terminator is an autonomous robot, typically humanoid, originally conceived as a virtually indestructible soldier, infiltrator and assassin. Downright popish!

  353. Jeff Cagle said,

    July 30, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    Pete, or others, Does anyone have an online text of Retractions? I’ve looked for it before without success.

  354. TurretinFan said,

    July 30, 2012 at 6:01 pm

    “Why didn’t the council fathers just relax and trust that God’s word was good enough on the matter?”

    The council fathers didn’t doubt that God’s word was good enough for the matter. Athanasius wasn’t a council father, but he was there and was a great defender of the doctrines taught from the Scripture by the council. Consider what he said.
    Athanasius (297-373):

    The knowledge of our religion and of the truth of things is independently manifest rather than in need of human teachers, for almost day by day it asserts itself by facts, and manifests itself brighter than the sun by the doctrine of Christ.

    Still, as you nevertheless desire to hear about it, Macarius, come let us as we may be able set forth a few points of the faith of Christ: able though you are to find it out from the divine oracles, but yet generously desiring to hear from others as well.

    For although the sacred and inspired Scriptures are sufficient to declare the truth,—while there are other works of our blessed teachers compiled for this purpose, if he meet with which a man will gain some knowledge of the interpretation of the Scriptures, and be able to learn what he wishes to know,—still, as we have not at present in our hands the compositions of our teachers, we must communicate in writing to you what we learned from them,—the faith, namely, of Christ the Saviour; lest any should hold cheap the doctrine taught among us, or think faith in Christ unreasonable.

    NPNF2: Vol. IV, Against the Heathen, Part I, §1-3.

    -TurreitnFan

  355. Hugh said,

    July 30, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    Jeff ~ http://www.ccel.org/search/fulltext/retractions ???

    Bits & pieces, I know…

  356. Burton said,

    July 30, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    John (#263),

    I appreciate your reply. So we have no “hard edges”, but I assume you believe in the necessity of some means of defining orthodoxy versus heresy regarding doctrine and morals. Is this what you mean by the ministerial role of the church? How, exactly, does the church exercise this ministerial role?

    Do you see a distinction between heresy and schism? If so, how does the church in its ministerial role define and correct schismatics?

    Bob S (#323)

    You seem to be assuming the worst motivations in the RCC commentators. Maybe they are deeply heretical, apostate, and seeking to lead others into their blind idolatry. Even if that were so, your jaundiced invective is a bit hard to take. I am struggling deeply with the presuppositions of my lifelong conservative Protestant faith. Does this this make me, also, incompetent and/or ignorant? As I have stated elsewhere, I am not a pastor and have no graduate level training in theology, church history, philosophy, etc. However, I am reasonably adept at analyzing data and recognizing bias (I am a physician). Having spent a decade prayerfully reading the Bible, Church Fathers, and secondary sources, along with numerous discussions with my pastors and elders, from this layman’s perspective, I do not think the Reformed Protestant case is so ironclad as to justify your frequently condescending judgements.

    Burton

  357. johnbugay said,

    July 30, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    Jason 316:

    Let me illustrate. The woman at the well eventually concluded that Jesus was the Messiah. Once she discovered this fact, her responsibility was to submit to and obey him all her days, right? But her initial discovery of who Jesus was did not come because he simply claimed to be the Messiah, but rather, he “told her all the things she ever did” (in other words, the initial discovery resulted from something independent of any claim Jesus made about himself). But just because that discovery was made independently, that did not mean she could continue to subject everything Jesus said to her own rationality or interpretive agreement.

    It’s similar with people who become Catholic (it’s not a perfect illustration, but it conveys the basic point). They weigh the biblical and historical evidence and make a judgment. But once that judgment is made, they are responsible to obey the church because of its divine authority.

    I understand to obey the need to be obedient to Jesus. You are making an analogy, “once you discover that ‘the Church’ has ‘divine authority’, you are obliged to be obedient”.

    This whole process reminds me of the days when people would be approached about a “business opportunity”. You’d show up, someone would draw circles for you.

    The real question is, “where’s the beef?” Where are chapter-and-verse of what you believed that caused you to do what you have done? What persuaded you?

    The question is being asked, but all that’s coming is the notion, “just wait’ll we start drawing you circles”.

    But what’s the business opportunity?

    “Just wait till we start drawing you circles”.

  358. Bob S said,

    July 30, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    333 Mr. Anders,

    I must confess that I didn’t read every word of commentary, but I lost interest when I noticed the Reformed folks ignored the main thesis: that Calvin enjoins certain liturgical practices as mandatory that have no basis in Scripture.

    The reader can determine for himself if you were answered in Comment #65 over at Is Reformed Worship Biblical?

    Yet for starters, as was clearly stated, if you can’t tell us what the reformed doctrine of worship is, you are not competent to criticize it. And it took quite awhile before some could get it. We then moved on to whether Calvin’s practices were justified by Scripture, with mind you, no substantial rebuttal on your part or others.


    But more to the point:

    I don’t see how quoting the WCF and Turrentin at me is supposed to show that Sola Scriptura is a biblical doctrine?

    You will excuse me, but I presume the ability to read for an adult means an ability to follow an argument, not just sound out the words.

    Appeal was made directly to Scripture in Christ’s encounter with Sadduccees with the woman with seven husbands as found incidentally in Turretin for G&N consequences.
    WCF 1:7 treats the same again w. scripture proofs, which you yet deny as being taught at all in Scripture, without any attempt to close with and refute the argument, but summarily dismiss.

    Of course, I agree that a doctrine does not have to be explicitly stated in Scripture (or tradition) in order for it to be deduced by G &N.

    But now affirm. Which is it?

    And, of course, I recognize that Christ cites Holy Scripture as an authority – but none of this is at issue.

    Also, I am not guilty of factual errors. I have cited Muller above regarding the doctrine of Leonard van Rijssen.

    I also think the discussion at the site has confirmed my allegation:
    My interlocutors (like van Rijssen) have all argued for SS as an inference from inspiration and authority.

    Again the full quote from your 255

    This is analogous to how Catholics view Scripture: Scripture is fully authoritative and divine. I cannot act or believe anything contrary to Scripture. But God has nowhere indicated that Scripture is to be the Rule of Faith. That is a SPECIFIC kind of authority. How do Protestants know that Scripture possesses that kind of authority?

    To the best of my ability to discern, they merely assume it without argument. In fact, I’m certain of this. Richard Muller, in one of his tome’s on the Reformed scholastic doctrine of Scripture, admits as such:

    But you don’t mention van Rijssen until 272 and give no references as to where in Muller you find yours.
    But let me quote Muller directly contra what you say he says:

    Scripture, not only, therefore, demands obedience to God alone (Deut. 12:32; Matt. 15:9), it also clearly condemns other allegiances and is alone designated by God as a rule (2 Tim. 3:16; 2Peter 1:21). Muller, PRRD, II:360

    Your reference to Jesus confirms this: You establish what ever Catholic believes – Christ cited Scripture as an authority. This is not at issue.

    You claimed SS was not operative in Jesus’s ministry when he appealed to it constantly. He came to fulfill the law and the prophets and repeatedly corrected the Jews for the ignorance of Scripture. Which is to say your comment is simply preposterous. But evidently repeating an untruth long enough is persuasive. At least among the CtC. But not here.

    Nor did I claim that we have an automatic right to follow Jesus in everything he did. I merely point out that Christ nowhere enjoins, practices, or commends the doctrine that “The supreme judge by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture?”

    And where did he pray tell, enjoin something different, even some oral traditions?
    Again, as you have so artfully evaded any number of times, Christ by his Spirit inspired Paul to pen 2 Tim. 3:15-17. The inspired Scripture is given to us by God that the man of God might be prepared to every good work.

    Maybe “every” means “some” in the arcane CtC argot, but in the real world “every” means “all” as in there is no good work excepted that cannot be determined from Scripture. But if you care to deal in equivocation so egregiously, you need to be much more forthright in defining your terms up front. Than we can know up front you are not really interested in an honest discussion. As in you no waste my time and I no waste yours.

    Finally, I find your invective to be unhelpful. Rather than assuming and asserting my stupidity or ignorance, we not simply ask for clarification?

    But that’s just it. G&N consequence has been clarified for you before and you still continue to deny it up, until it is so obvious that you can’t. Consequently one finds your studied evasion of the questions on Scriture as the rule of faith to be dishonest. Hence my remarks that you are at least incompetent to the question, which is to put it mildly, charitable.

    Muller notes that

    Cloppenburg, with noticeable anger, writes of the “double impiety, on account of hypocrisy” resident in the canons of Trent and in the writings of Bellarmine when the distinguish between divine, apostolic and ecclesiastical traditions, written and unwritten. PRRD II:358

    Let the reader make the application.

    I don’t really think I’m ignorant of Reformed teaching (I’ve read more of it than I care to recall.) I may misunderstand some of it. I welcome the corrective.

    Res ipsa loquitur.
    The thing speaks for itself.
    In aces and spades.
    But the hurt card trumps all and takes the jackpot.
    Rome must be right even before we know what the reformed argument consists of and after the fact as well.

    Carthago delenda est.
    Romanism is a vicious, wicked and stupifying fideism that gratuitously butchers Scripture, reason and history/tradition whenever she bumps into them.
    Which is too often, if not all the time.

    Thank you.

  359. Bob S said,

    July 30, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    355 Burton,
    The emperor has no clothes.
    I am sorry, but that’s the way it is when the topic of Romanism comes up here or elsewhere.

    You are entitled to your opinion contrary of course, but I have to ask one, are you reformed and two, have you read King and Webster’s 3 volumes on The Holy Scripture, the Pillar and Ground of Our Faith? It is available anywhere if not at
    http://www.christianbook.com/scripture-ground-pillar-faith-vols-1/william-webster/pd/4678 and is probably the best current thing available on the topic
    (I’d plug Lane’s book gig at Westminster, but they don’t seem to carry it.)

    FTM Romanism is far from a slam dunk. Nor is absolute certainty regarding anything possible in this life. But the reformed faith is still more certain than ridiculous roman bill of goods we are being sold by its triumphant – and need I add, duplicitous – advocates in this forum.

    But if you think they are good arguments, then again you really need to read Webster and King.

  360. David Gadbois said,

    July 30, 2012 at 7:31 pm

    I thought I could take a Sunday (yesterday) off from checking on this thread without it more than doubling in size. Wow.

    In any case, the comments have once again gone off-topic. This thread is not about sola scriptura. This is about evaluating the Romish claims for the papacy, the actual topic of Lane’s post. I will begin deleting all posts that do not address these claims, either pro or con.

    This is another sad performance from the Romanists, BTW, who after hundreds of posts still haven’t been able to construct a positive historical, logical, and theological case to prove that Christ established a perpetual office of the papacy. The burden of proof is on Romanists to establish this, regardless of whether sola scriptura is true or ably defended by Protestants in this thread.

  361. Pete Holter said,

    July 30, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    Jeff wrote, “…Augustine’s behavior demonstrates something less than deference to the bishop of Rome. Consider his criticisms of Zosimus…”

    Hi Jeff!

    If you search on Google Books for “Retractations,” you’ll find a partial view pop up.

    Since I’ve written somewhat on this before, I just had to make time for this. There go my vacation hours. UH OH!

    In case you were not aware of his own positive assessment of Zosimus, Augustine referred to this particular pope as “the venerable,” “holy,” and “most blessed Pope Zosimus” (On Original Sin, Chs. 2:2, 7:8, 8:9, 9:10, & 17:19). When Coelestius had exhibited to Zosimus a readiness to accept the condemnations of Innocent—though he seemed at the same time to be speaking at odds with them—Augustine says that he was treated by Zosimus with “the most merciful persuasion of correction” (Against Two Letters of the Pelagians, Bk. 2, Ch. 3:5), and that Pope Zosimus had exercised “great compassion” in his proceedings such that Coelestius “was treated with gentle remedies, as a delirious patient who required rest” (On Original Sin, Ch. 6:7, 7:8). When the obstinacy of Coelestius was eventually found out, Zosimus “confirm[ed] without hesitation the judgment of his predecessor in this case” (On Original Sin, Ch. 9:10). And when the Pelagians accused Pope Zosimus of holding something contrary to the faith touching original sin, Augustine came to his defense with vehemence: “Absolutely he never said this—never wrote it at all… [he] would never have said, never have written, that this dogma which these men think concerning infants is to be held” (Against Two Letters of the Pelagians, Bk. 2, Ch. 3:5)! Likewise, Augustine said that if the Roman Church under Pope Zosimus had pronounced the dogmas of Coelestius to be “worthy of approval and maintenance,” then, indeed, they would have been guilty of “prevarication” because Pope Innocent had already condemned them. But Augustine said that this was “far from the case” (Against Two Letters of the Pelagians, Bk. 2, Ch. 3:5). Finally, after quoting from a passage of Zosimus’ Tractoria, Augustine exclaimed, “In these words of the Apostolic See the Catholic faith stands out as so ancient and so firmly established, so certain and so clear, that it would be wrong for a Christian to doubt it” (Letter 190).

    Of other popes…

    Concerning Pope Melchiades’ sentence in the case of the Donatists, Augustine likewise exclaimed, “O excellent man! O son of Christian peace, father of the Christian people!” (Letter 43, Ch. 5:16)

    When Pope Innocent pronounced sentence against the Pelagians, he wrote to the Council of Carthage that “it has been decreed by a divine, not a human, authority that whenever action is taken in any of the provinces, however distant or remote, it should not be brought to a conclusion before it comes to the knowledge of this See, so that every just decision may be affirmed by our total authority” (Letter 181). And to the Council of Milevis he said that “I think that as often as an argument on the faith is being blown about, all our brothers and fellow bishops ought to refer it solely to Peter, that is, to the one having the authority of his name and rank, as your Charity has now done, so that it may be for the common benefit of all the Churches” (Letter 182). In describing these letters from the Pope, Augustine said that Pope Innocent “answered all these communications in a manner which was right and fitting for the pontiff of the Apostolic See” (Letter 186). Here we have a pope claiming total authority and universal care over the Church of Christ in the person of Peter, and Augustine acknowledging the fitness of such claims.

    Augustine wrote his doctrinal defense to Pope Boniface “for,” as he says, “your correction… if perchance anything should displease you,” on account of your holding prominence on “a loftier height” in “the office of the episcopate” (Against Two Letters of the Pelagians, Bk. 1, Chs. 1:2 & 1:3).

    Speaking generally, he held that the authority of the Western Church alone “should suffice” for us in settling doctrinal disputes and that the Bishop of Rome is “higher in place” among the bishops, as being the one who presides over the entire Western Church (Against Julian, Bk. 1, Ch. 4:13).

    As a final specific example, he wrote to Pope Celestine in his anguish, “I beg you to second our efforts, most saintly lord and holy Pope, worthy of veneration with all due affection… I beg you by the Blood of Christ. I beg it by the memory of the Apostle Peter who warned those in charge of Christian peoples not to lord it over their brethren” (Letter 209). And in his great humility Augustine felt that his only recourse, if the Pope could not be persuaded, was to consider his own early retirement. For “the supremacy of the apostolic Chair has always flourished” at Rome in the line of Saint Peter (Letter 43, Ch. 3:7; cf. Letter 53, 2; Against the Letters of Petilian, Bk. 2, Ch. 51:118).

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  362. July 30, 2012 at 7:42 pm

    TF (344):

    Actually, that is very much what I think Scripture is: an inspired prayer book, collection of parenesis, record of the Church’s liturgical and doctrinal history, etc. etc. It is to inform my life of prayer and worship, my moral life, and to serve as an inspired witness to the teaching of Christ, the prophets, and the apostles. It is not, as far as I can see, the Rule of Faith.

    And, again, whether or not the Papacy is a divine institution – the Burden of Proof is always on him who asserts. In this case, Reformed Christians and Catholic Christians both have something to prove.

    The Reformed assertion: Scripture is the Rule of Faith.
    The Catholic Assertion: The Church is the Rule of Faith.

    My challenge to the Reformed:

    Where is this assertion taught by divine revelation?

    The Reformed answer (as far as I can tell) is: Nowhere explicitly. Rather, SS is a deduction or an inference from the fact of inspiration.
    Muller admits as much in his work on Reformed Scholasticism.

    My response: I don’t see how this follows. You need a separate argument to show that inspiration necessarily implies final, regulative authority. This is not self-evident.

    I’m still waiting for an answer to that question.

    As far as the Catholic claim is concerned, I’d begin by looking at what Christ actually said regarding the transmission of Christian doctrine: Whoever hears you hears me; Go into all nations . . . I’m with you; Whatever you bind is bound, etc. etc.

    -David

  363. July 30, 2012 at 8:00 pm

    David,

    Can we start by answering, saying that you are not defining what the bible is. How familiar are you with Gerhardous Vos, and ‘Biblical Theology?’ If you know about BT, then apologies for this deviation, and you can disregard. Otherwise, we need to start with a better understanding of what the Bible is. The unfolding plan of redemption, His plan to save the elect. This will also involve what is called a redemptive historical approach. Once you know what the Bible is, the fact that the Bible (canon) birth the church, and not vice versa. And your pope is thereby evacuated. Since there is Pope in scripture. Or as I crudely said abo, Saul is a good im
    Immayn might be lost.
    Peace.

  364. David Gadbois said,

    July 30, 2012 at 8:01 pm

    It looks like a commenter named Pete Holter took a stab at directly answering my query for positive evidence for Christ’s establishing the papacy. It is just the usual spooftexts with no effort at serious exegesis, along with the gaps and glosses in logic that we’ve come to expect. He said:

    So again, Peter alone, in his profession of faith, became the foundation of the Church in Matthew 16; and again we see that the other apostles were joined with Peter in this same doctrine and likewise became collaborators in laying this foundation (Ephesians 2), which is Christ.
    So this logically only establishes a chronological priority for Peter, not a primacy of authority.
    .” Jesus’ response is to have Peter miraculously pay for just the two of them by using a single coin: Peter and Jesus united as one.

    This is not exegesis, this is projection. And even if we were to give the passage the significance you assign it regarding Jesus favoring Peter, it is still light years away from implying an office of the pope.

    If we can be confident that Jesus established a pastor at the head of His Church in the times of the apostles…then this is the structure that we should expect to find until His return.

    No, that is just your unargued assumption, and it is not even a particularly good assumption. There were plenty of instances when God left Old Testament Israel without a prophet to succeed the prophets He appointed to guide Israel at different times and ages.

    This is also tantamount to admitting that there is no actual record or evidence that Christ instituted such a succession. You might “expect” such a thing, but Christ’s sanction does not exist.

    if the Apostles…needed a confirmer and pastor as the form (forme) and visible maintenance of their union, and of the union of the Church, how much more now has the Church need of one,

    It isn’t up to you, or Francis de Sales, to decide what the church does or doesn’t need. God gives what is sufficient for the good of the Bride and sufficient for accomplishing His will in the world.

  365. July 30, 2012 at 8:03 pm

    *no pope in Scripture. I need sleep …

  366. David Gadbois said,

    July 30, 2012 at 8:18 pm

    ADA said

    As far as the Catholic claim is concerned, I’d begin by looking at what Christ actually said regarding the transmission of Christian doctrine: Whoever hears you hears me; Go into all nations . . . I’m with you; Whatever you bind is bound, etc. etc.

    Why are you Romanists so reticent tto actually put together a linear argument for a central claim of your faith? After so many dozens of posts, where is the beef already?

  367. July 30, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    Not reticent. Just taking it a step at a time, first principles first.

    First principle is what Christ taught regarding the Rule of Faith.
    If we cannot agree even on the locus of his teaching, we’re hardly going to make any progress on 4th century ecclesiology.

    -David

  368. David Gadbois said,

    July 30, 2012 at 8:27 pm

    The problem is that you seem uninterested in 1st century ecclesiology, specifically you seem unconcerned that there is no record of a papacy being established by the flesh and blood lips of Christ, nor recorded in the writings of His Apostles during the 1st century. I don’t know about you, but I am a convinced Christian because it is a faith grounded in legitimate history. The NT is a legitimate (to say the least!) historical document detailing, amongst other things, how the Apostles ordered the church. They talk a lot about elders/presbyters, and deacons, but have nothing to say about a papacy. Nothing less than a divine command, uttered through Christ or the Apostles, can compel Christians to believe in such an office.

  369. July 30, 2012 at 8:40 pm

    David,

    Why are you Romanists so reticent tto actually put together a linear argument for a central claim of your faith?

    Catholics object to being called “you Romanists” just like you would object to being called “you sectarians.” Why not follow the golden rule here?

    I believe the case for the cetral claim of Catholicism has been made many times and in many ways over at CTC.

  370. Pete Holter said,

    July 30, 2012 at 8:41 pm

    David wrote, “It is just the usual spooftexts with no effort at serious exegesis, along with the gaps and glosses in logic that we’ve come to expect.

    Hey David!

    Welcome back.

    Consider again the scene on the beach with Peter and the net of fish. The apostles “were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish.” But once Peter receives direction from John, he jumps into the water to do whatever he can to get to Jesus. The apostles, invigorated in hope by his example, are able to drag the net full of fish to land. And Peter alone “went aboard and hauled the net ashore.” How was he able to do all by himself what they were unable to do before when all together? This is a superabundance of grace! And consider that on the other occasion when this happened, Peter asked Jesus to depart from him. But this time, not only does he not want Jesus to depart, but with so great love he wants to bring everyone to Jesus. And John points out the unity that Peter provides by saying that “although there were so many, the net was not torn” when Peter hauled them ashore. And so we gain confidence that when Jesus prayed for our complete unity, He had, in part, the role of Peter in mind and the unity that is fostered by having a single pastor to serve over His entire flock that they might be fed.

    I also find it interesting that both here on the beach and earlier at the tomb, “the beloved disciple” is a step ahead of Peter, and yet he waits for Peter to act, and then willingly follows his lead.

    And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, ‘The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!’ ” (Luke 24:33-34)

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  371. David Gadbois said,

    July 30, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    JJS said believe the case for the cetral claim of Catholicism has been made many times and in many ways over at CTC.

    If it is anything like the performance of Romanists who comment here at GB, I doubt it. So far we have only received appeals to Tradition (Bryan Cross) and half-arguments from the primacy of Peter (as if it proved a perpetual office, even if true), and beside-the-point challenges to sola scriptura.

  372. July 30, 2012 at 9:02 pm

    Again, they object to being called “Romanists.” Does that matter to you at all?

  373. greenbaggins said,

    July 30, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    Jason, most of us object to using the term “Catholics” to describe the Roman Catholic church. I, for one, think it is a contradiction in terms to say “Roman Catholic.” I do not grant the use of the term “Catholic” to that perspective. “Papist” sounds derogatory. No doubt some can use the term “Romanist” in a derogatory way, but I certainly do not. To me, it seems like the most accurate term. But if you have an alternative that does not use the term “Catholic” that you would feel more comfortable with, by all means let us know.

  374. David Gadbois said,

    July 30, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    Pete Holter, are you pulling my leg? Is it honoring to God to be such an unserious student of Scripture? Are you really willing to defend your post as a piece of legitimate exegesis of the Word of God?

  375. David Gadbois said,

    July 30, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    I thought “Romanist” was quite a bit more civil than “brood of vipers”.

    Now: back to the topic, the papacy.

    UPDATE: I am trimming a handful of (mostly Protestant) posts. Let’s stay focused, guys, keep the banter to a minimum.

  376. July 30, 2012 at 9:48 pm

    I thought “Romanist” was quite a bit more civil than “brood of vipers”.

    Got it: you prefer name-calling to the golden rule. Classy.

    I will admit that I may be a bit more sensitive to this kind of juvenile and mocking behavior because it is the sin to which I am prone, and often guilty. But seriously, moderators, if you want profitable dialogue here (as opposed to homogeneity and backslapping) you really should do something to discourage it (I trust you know who the usual suspects are).

    It’s one thing to oppose another’s position, but this site is getting the reputation (even among Reformed people) of being a place where the line separating disagreement from derision is continually crossed. If that’s what you want, have at it, and have fun talking amongst yourselves. But if you want actual dialogue partners, then it would be a good idea to try to foster a less hostile and more charitable environment.

    But your house, your rules. I promise I won’t say another word on the subject.

  377. Jsm52 said,

    July 30, 2012 at 9:55 pm

    It seems that a sense of humor is sorely lacking?

  378. sean said,

    July 30, 2012 at 10:40 pm

    Come on Jason,

    Cross’ question-begging flag throwing after every two interactions is classy and amenable to respectful dialogue much less extended dialogue? We don’t grant the other’s starting points. That seems honest enough.

  379. Burton said,

    July 30, 2012 at 11:01 pm

    Bob S. (#358)

    When it comes to the topic of Romanism, that’s the way of it? What’s the way of it? As one Christian brother to another, I truly don’t know what you mean by that. Even if you view David Anders and Bryan Cross and Jason Stellman etc as true enemies, I believe the Biblical command is quite clear on how they, and all men, should be treated. To put it simply, be as forceful with your arguments as you want, but the vitriol is contrary to the way of grace.

    I am Reformed. I have not read the book you recommended. Been focusing more on Mathison and Horton and Noll, but it sounds as though it may be well worth a thorough read. I do think it can be deflective to say “just read this book” on a blog rather than articulate your own argument. I have seen folks on both sides of this debate resort to that approach. It could well be that the arguments are long and nuanced enough to be impractical to summarize in this forum.

    Just out of curiosity, if I wasn’t Reformed (say, Anglican or Southern Baptist or Charismatic), how would that change your assessment of me?

    I agree that the RCC case is not a slam dunk, but neither is the Reformed. I have no illusions about the availability of absolute certainty, but I do believe that a principled means of defining orthodoxy and heresy should exist, as should a meaningful way to define unity versus schism. As I’ve stated before, the RCC may indeed be in error, if not apostate, but I still haven’t heard much in the way of a positive argument for the Reformed rule-of-faith as a means of defining orthodoxy/heresy and unity/schism. I’ve heard “no hard edges” and “no absolute certainty”, followed by a long string of bias laden deprecations against the opposing position. Again, that may be helpful in developing a negative argument against the RCC, but it does nothing to advance a positive argument for your own rule-of-faith.

    Burton

  380. Andrew McCallum said,

    July 30, 2012 at 11:13 pm

    OK then, back to the papacy. The Scriptures make no connection between Apostolic authority and Rome. So we move to the earliest ECF’s and they don’t say much about Rome either. As we move into the next several centuries they say more but nothing close to the kinds of claims we hear for the Bishop of Rome by the High Middle Ages. So which Fathers should we believe? Or maybe the better question is whether there is any way to rationally derive a consensus patrum on the proper authority/role of the Bishop of Rome.

    Incidentally for the Reformed folks, I too think that “Roman Catholic” is contradictory, but what does it matter? If “papist” and “Romanist” are offensive let’s leave these terms alone. What’s worse – to use a term we feel is a contradictory term or to loose the audience?

  381. TurretinFan said,

    July 30, 2012 at 11:14 pm

    ADA:

    Re: #361, I thought you already agreed that Scriptures are “A” rule of faith. If so, then the only question is whether there is another rule of faith in addition.

    And I could have sworn you already conceded that point.

    As I mentioned before, if you concede that the Scriptures are a rule of faith, then you have – in effect – conceded that we have met our burden. The only other assertion required to move from “Scripture is a rule of faith” to “Scripture is THE rule of faith” is the negative proposition “and we don’t have any other rule of faith.”

    The burden is on the proponent of that other proposed rule of faith.

    Moreover, you assert: “The Catholic Assertion: The Church is the Rule of Faith.”

    Interestingly, Benedict XVI (Yes, I know he’s German like Kung, Rahner, and Luther, but hear me out) is reported as saying:

    The word of Scripture is not “an inert deposit within the Church” but the “supreme rule of faith and power of life”. Benedict XVI wrote this in a message to participants in the annual Plenary Session of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, held from Monday, 16, to Friday, 20 April, at the Vatican’s Domus Sanctae Marthae.

    L’Osservatore Romano, 21 April 2012

    So, do you concede what that German prelate who claims to be the successor of Peter and Paul concedes? Or do you deny that Scripture is the supreme rule of faith?

    I mean one might think that “the Catholic position” is better expressed by the pope who says: “The Church has always considered and continues to consider Sacred Scripture, together with sacred Tradition, “as the supreme rule of her faith” (DV 21) and as such she offers it to the faithful for their daily life.” (19 June 1985, General Audience)

    And yes, he’s quoting from Vatican II, but I hear that they are planning on making SSPX finally assent to those teachings.

    So, what will be ADA? Are you on the pope’s (I suppose that should be popes’, as the 1985 audience would be the Polish prelate, not the German one) side? Do you agree that he has conceded that the Scriptures are a rule of faith and has further alleged that “Tradition” is as well?

    If so, we’ve met our burden on this point – but you still have to meet yours by somehow deomnstrating that your “Tradition” is to be received as the rule of faith.

    -TurretinFan

  382. July 30, 2012 at 11:39 pm

    JJS said Got it: you prefer name-calling to the golden rule. Classy.

    At the risk of stating the obvious, “brood of vipers” is a *biblical* example of name-calling. It ought to serve as a clue that the Golden Rule is not an ethical absolute, devoid of qualification in Scripture.

    And I don’t really take offense to being called, for example, a “sectarian”. I understand that it is an ascription consistent with the Roman Catholic theology and practice. It’s not like a personal insult like “your mother wears army boots”, so while I might believe it is dumb as a pile of bricks, I don’t take personal offense to it.

    If you honestly believe there is merit in further discussion on this, contact me and/or Lane via e-mail, otherwise let’s stay on-topic.

  383. July 30, 2012 at 11:50 pm

    OK, guys, I’m still having to trim this thread (again, mainly Protestant posts). Normally I try to avoid a heavy hand, but when we start getting hundreds and hundreds of comments it becomes a disaster if the topic of the post is not adhered to.

    Turretinfan, if you (and John B.) want to debate ADA and others on sola scriptura and tradition, I can open up a new post for you guys to comment there, as we did back with the “Oral Tradition” thread. Should I get this going?

  384. Hugh McCann said,

    July 31, 2012 at 12:04 am

    M. Gadbois,

    Si mes commentaires sont trop vile de post ici….. au revoir, mes freres.

    l’Hughuenot

    Vive la Reformation!

  385. TurretinFan said,

    July 31, 2012 at 12:15 am

    DG:

    From my standpoint, the only part of Sola Scriptura that Rome doesn’t concede is the negative aspect of it – the idea that the teachings of the papacy (and other “Tradition”) is not the rule of faith.

    So, if any of Rome’s advocates (ADA included) want to actually try to establish that the teachings of the papacy must be accepted as the rule of faith, it seems there is no need for a new thread.

    On the other hand, if they do not want to try to establish such a thing, it seems that the new thread would not have much of a point.

    So, perhaps it makes more sense for me to await such a demonstration here, where it would be on topic already (although, of course, if you would prefer for me to comment in a new/different thread, that’s ok with me).

    -TurretinFan

  386. Bob S said,

    July 31, 2012 at 12:22 am

    376 Burton, whatever.
    You come on here as a novice without any idea of the history of Mr. Cross, CTC, Jason Stellman and you’re shocked at the rough and tumble. My question to you would be have you ever read Scripture? It’s not all lovey dovey.

    Pete Holter’s stuff has always been ridiculous even over at Beggars All and Dave Anders still can’t acknowledge what 2 Tim. 3:15-17 or Rich. Muller actually says after being apprised of it how many times?- note bene I didn’t say anybody was dishonest or a liar – while Jason has hurt feelings on being called a Romanist and chooses to take a shot at Dave w.o. being equally gracious to GB who explained exactly why protestants don’t go for “Catholic” as being a legitimate term for the Roman church. Besides protestants are schismatic according to Rome if Jason doesn’t know by now. Like for crying out loud. How goofy does it have to get?

    In short, fools get answered according to their folly- subject of course to one’s private judgement/discretion as to when one refrains to answer them according to their folly Prov. 26:4,5. Go figure.

    And for trying to clue you in on a good book and bring you up to speed, I am “deflective.” Again whatever. This debate here with Mr. Cross et all has been going on since 09 or thereabouts. You said you were confused by all the noise here, so we tried to tip you off. No prob, you can take it or leave it.

    But if you are reformed, I assume you know what the WCF has to say about Romanism – though modern presbyterians want to tone down the man of sin business (by the way just to stay sort of on topic). On the other hand when you say “the RCC may be in error, if not apostate”, respectfully you just gave away the farm. If the RCC is not apostate, is not in serious error, the Reformers had no business separating from her and I expect to see you shortly over at CTC celebrating your homecoming like the rest of the happy people, that as we have seen here, can’t reason from Scripture, won’t reason from Scripture and don’t like reasoning from Scripture.

    Further, the P&R have their problems, but at least they have a clue as to what the gospel of Jesus Christ is. But don’t take my word for it just because I grew up in that communion, read the Council of Trent and listen to what the whore says in her own words. Anybody who teaches justification by faith alone is anathema. Contrast that with Gal. 1:8,9.

    Are we still in the dark?
    Then pray God he opens your eyes and soon.

  387. Bob S said,

    July 31, 2012 at 12:25 am

    380 DG
    I don’t see any way that SS won’t come up in discussing the papacy with ADA et al, so if you want to open another thread, you won’t hurt this well poisoner’s feelings.

  388. Pete Holter said,

    July 31, 2012 at 12:27 am

    Jsm52 wrote, “Did Paul not get the memo?”

    Greetings in Christ!

    Yes, I think that this is why Paul “went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days” (Galatians 1:18). And also why it was so powerful for Paul to point out that he “opposed [Peter] to his face” (Galatians 2:11). If such a dispute had taken place between Paul and anyone else, the Galatians might be left thinking, ‘Yeah, but what did this or that guy think of what happened?’ The fact that it all went down with Peter brings the issue of gospel pedigree to a close and adds shock value to his defense and full credibility to his claim that he is not “trying to please man” (Galatians 1:10).

    On one level, all of this is irrelevant to Paul because he did not receive the gospel “from any man” but “through a revelation of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:12). And yet at the same time, he’s writing all of these things with the benefit of hindsight in having received “the right hand of fellowship” from the apostles (Galatians 2:9), and of having rebuked Peter and it be accepted. Prior to meeting with Peter and being confirmed by the apostles, Paul was not absolutely sure whether he had the gospel right. He recognized that there was the possibility that he was running in vain (cf. Galatians 2:2). But by the time he’s writing to the Galatians, he knows he’s got it right, in more ways than one.

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  389. TurretinFan said,

    July 31, 2012 at 12:37 am

    “Prior to meeting with Peter and being confirmed by the apostles, Paul was not absolutely sure whether he had the gospel right. ”

    Mr. Holter, You’re such an amiable guy that I can only imagine that you don’t see the blasphemy involved in your suggestion that Paul’s direct revelation from Jesus Christ himself would leave him uncertain about whether he had the gospel right, and consequently that he was in need of confirmation from Peter. Peter made up for the deficiencies of the gospel that Jesus gave Paul? Really??

    Peter was one of the most prominent apostles, no doubt. Yet what is the testimony of Peter as compared with that of Christ?

    Moreover, where does Paul say that he was not sure that he had the gospel right? You write: “He recognized that there was the possibility that he was running in vain (cf. Galatians 2:2).” But even if we take your spin on that verse, he’s talking about his personal walk – not about whether he has the gospel right.

    Surely, you’ve misspoken or I’ve greviously misunderstood what you were trying to say by saying that “Prior to meeting with Peter and being confirmed by the apostles, Paul was not absolutely sure whether he had the gospel right. ”

    -TurretinFan

  390. Don said,

    July 31, 2012 at 12:51 am

    Pete Holter #385, assuming posts aren’t deleted and others renumbered,

    If you want to follow down to Gal. 2:7-8, then maybe Paul’s successors should be popes to those of us who aren’t Jewish.

  391. July 31, 2012 at 12:54 am

    Bob S 385:

    Nice to ‘meet’ you.

    You say this debate with Mr. Cross has been going on since 2009. Not a surprise. I guess we reformed ‘hold the line,’ and keep standing with Luther, standing alone on the ‘Word of God, the B – I – B – L – E… Bible!’

    Everything I needed to know, was taught in kindergarten Sunday school.

    I just want to help the effort, to show the claims that we must submit to the Pope are not from the Bible.

    Peace,
    Andrew

  392. Pete Holter said,

    July 31, 2012 at 2:44 am

    TurretinFan wrote, “But even if we take your spin on that verse, he’s talking about his personal walk – not about whether he has the gospel right.

    Thanks, TurretinFan. I hope we get to meet someday.

    I actually do think that Paul was afraid that he may have had something wrong with the gospel itself in Galatians 2 because he says that he “set before them the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain” (Galatians 2:2). In other words, “Here is the gospel that I preach; am I missing anything? Do I have anything wrong? Do the Gentiles need to be circumcised?” The answer from the apostles was that he had indeed “been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised” (Galatians 2:7), and Titus did not need to be circumcised (cf. Galatians 2:3). In short, nothing was added to Paul’s gospel (cf. Galatians 2:6). It may be that the revelation prompting this visitation had itself caused some doubt.

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  393. TurretinFan said,

    July 31, 2012 at 3:07 am

    Sorry to belabor this point, but let me see if I understand what you’re saying.

    You read this: (Galatians 2:1-2)

    Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also. And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain.

    You think it means he’s checking with the apostles to see if the gospel that he has been preaching by revelation from Jesus for almost a decade and a half is correct?

    I’m at a loss as to how you could conclude such a thing.

    Especially when just a few verses down he says:

    But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man’s person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me: but contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter;

    Whatever they were makes no matter to him?

    And just a few verses previously he had said:

    But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.

    Moreover, this visit in Galatians 2 comes after he met with Peter for two weeks.

    So it’s as though you are saying that Paul didn’t feel comfortable with Jesus’ direct revelation, nor with his private time with Peter and James, but instead he needed to spend some private time with people who didn’t matter to him to get confirmation of the gospel?

    Come again?

    -TuretinFan

  394. johnbugay said,

    July 31, 2012 at 3:48 am

    David Anders (361):

    And, again, whether or not the Papacy is a divine institution – the Burden of Proof is always on him who asserts. In this case, Reformed Christians and Catholic Christians both have something to prove.

    Have you not seen my quotes from Archbishop Roland Minnerath, who, having studied the matter for a Vatican historical commission on the papacy in the first millennium, concludes “The East never shared the Petrine theology as elaborated in the West. It never accepted that the protos in the universal church could claim to be the unique successor or vicar of Peter”. The entire document may be found through the links given in comment #183.

    This does a bit of shifting of the burden of proof. There are huge swaths of the ancient [Eastern] church who do not accept, and never have accepted “Petrine theology as elaborated in the west”.

    This claim that “the Papacy is a divine institution” is merely an assertion on your part. Like the Easterners, we do not accept it either.

    Prove it to us.

  395. johnbugay said,

    July 31, 2012 at 4:00 am

    David Anders 255 (and other comments you have made):

    How do we know that God intends them to be the Rule of Faith (i.e., the final authority to which we appeal when deciding Christian doctrine, settling controversies, etc.)?

    If all God gave you was the command to “stand on your head, or else”, [and you were to know it was God who gave this word – “granting (arguendo) that you recognize this Word to stand on your head by illumination, self-attestation, or what-have-you, to be God’s inspired, inerrant, and authoritative Word . . .”] – how in the world (unless otherwise bolstered by baseless claims from Rome that “only we can provide you with the formal proximate definition of what this means”) would you dare ask Him for clarification?

  396. johnbugay said,

    July 31, 2012 at 4:22 am

    Burton 355

    Certainly there is a means of “defining orthodoxy vs heresy” and in that regard, a council such as Nicea (325) or Constantinople (381) or Chalcedon (451) is very helpful. But I think that conceptions of “authority” that the churches of these centuries had was not very helpful at all. Ephesus (431) is counted as one of the “ecumenical” councils, and yet, it was an embarrassment and blot on the history of the church. That is being kind to it. Such shenanigans led to major rifts in the church that has never been healed.

    In a similar vein, historically, the papacy is at the pinnacle of those harmful claims to authority.

    I have a series I’ve written, both at Triablogue and elsewhere, called “the nonexistent early papacy”. I’ve put together this timeline of the early papacy, which is necessarily incomplete but very revealing nevertheless:

    135-150 ad: the church at Rome is ruled by a plurality of presbyters who quarrel about status and honor. (Shepherd of Hermas). “They had a certain jealousy of one another over questions of preeminence and about some kind of distinction. But they are all fools to be jealous of one another regarding preeminence.”

    Also note in Hermas: “Clement’s” “job” is to “send books abroad.” — Peter Lampe does not think this Clement is the same individual from 1 Clement, but the time frame is appropriate.

    235: Hippolytus and Pontianus are exiled from Rome by the emperor “because of street fighting between their followers” (Collins citing Cerrato, Oxford 2002).

    258: Cyprian (Carthage/west) and Firmilian (Caesarea/east) both go apoplectic when Stephen tries to exercise authority outside of Rome.

    306: Rival “popes” exiled because of “violent clashes” (Collins)

    308: Rival “popes” exiled because of “violent clashes” (Collins again).

    325: Council of Nicea: Alexandria has authority over Egypt and Libya, just as “a similar custom exists with the Bishop of Rome.” The Bishop of Jerusalem is to be honored.

    366: Followers of “pope” Damasus [hired gravediggers armed with pick-axes] massacre 137 followers of rival “pope” Ursinus following the election of both men to the papacy.

    381: Constantinople: Because it is new Rome, the Bishop of Constantinople is to enjoy privileges of honour after the bishop of Rome. (This indicates Rome’s “honour” is due to its being the capital.)

    431: Cyril, “stole” the council (Moffett 174, citing “Book of Heraclides) and “the followers of Cyril went about in the city girt and armed with clubs … with yells of barbarians, snorting fiercely, raging with extravagant arrogance against those whom they knew to be opposed to their doings…”

    451: Chalcedon, 28th canon, passed by the council at the 16th session, “The fathers rightly accorded prerogatives to the see of Older Rome, since that is an imperial city; moved by the same purpose the 150 most devout bishops apportioned equal prerogatives to the most holy see of New Rome …”

    Again and again, “they argued among themselves as to who was greatest”. This is the story of the struggle for “authority” in early Christianity. As Jason Stellman pointed out in comment 296, as he studied the early church, he “discover[ed] in Scripture and the fathers a church that is said to be, and thought of itself as, authoritative”. This is the fruit of that urge to think of themselves as authoritative.

    As I’ve stated repeatedly in this comment thread, the Eastern church “never”, ever accepted the claims of the papacy.

    You asked, “Do you see a distinction between heresy and schism? If so, how does the church in its ministerial role define and correct schismatics?”

    On the basis of the things I’ve written above, I’m willing to say, I don’t have all the right answers, but I’m certain it excludes the Roman way.

  397. johnbugay said,

    July 31, 2012 at 4:25 am

    Jason Stellman: Regarding my timeline in 393, if you think calling someone a “Romanist” is worth protesting, how do you incorporate these acts of charity into your “paradigm” of who is, and who isn’t “in authority”?

  398. johnbugay said,

    July 31, 2012 at 5:08 am

    Here are a couple of “oldies but goodies” from my series on “the nonexistent early papacy”:

    The Nonexistent Early Papacy: An introduction to the series, it highlights several of the actual contradictions to be found in Roman doctrine concerning the papacy.

    As a “Key” to Understand Peter, See Reuben: Biblical, Old Testament “prophecy” that Peter was not ever destined to be “pope”.

    Emperor Worship and the Ancient Roman Mindset: Here’s where Jason Stellman’s early church found its urge to be authoritative.

    House Churches in Ancient Rome: It’s not enough simply to “tear down” something like the papacy. It’s important to “build” the history of what it was actually like during that time period. This series on “House Churches in Ancient Rome” discusses some of the leaders, and leadership structures, where we have solid information about that time period.

    The Papacy’s Missing Link: “The Shepherd of Hermas” wrote in Rome in the years 135-150. He gives a fairly extensive first-hand account of what the church leadership in Rome was like. I’ll give you a hint, he uses these words: “sorcerers carry their drugs in bottles, but you carry your drug and poison in your heart”.

    Rome is all about aggrandizing Rome: The “rise of the papacy” corresponds with a burying of Paul’s letters and theology in Rome.

    Newman, “The Roman Catholic Hermeneutic”, and Rome’s Foundational Assumption: The “fallback position” on the nonexistent early papacy.

  399. johnbugay said,

    July 31, 2012 at 5:59 am

    Burton 254:

    You said:

    On moral questions, especially regarding human sexuality (the major moral battleground of our age), I am becoming increasingly convinced that hard edges on the issues of contraception, sterilization, and sexuality within marriage are truly necessary for the spiritual health of families and the church as a whole.

    Maybe I do have an unhealthy felt-need for “hard edges” where they cannot exist, but I don’t see how we can define orthodoxy and true unity without at least some firm “line in the sand”, and I didn’t read in your answer how that can be accomplished, or why I am mistaken about its necessity.

    Steve Hays has pointed out to me via an email: “Rome doesn’t even claim to provide hard edges on many bioethical issues. For instance:”

    We are in fact constantly confronted with problems where it isn’t possible to find the right answer in a short time. Above all in the case of problems having to do with ethics, particularly medical ethics…We finally had to say, after very long studies, “Answer that for now on the local level; we aren’t far enough along to have full certainty about that.”

    Again, in the area of medical ethics, new possibilities, and with them new borderline situations, are constantly arising where it is not immediately evident how to apply principles. We can’t simply conjure up certitude…There needn’t always be universal answers. We also have to realize our limits and forgo answers where they aren’t possible…it simply is not the case that we want to go around giving answers in every situation… (J. Ratzinger, Salt of the Earth [Ignatius, 1996], 100-101).

    Steve says: “By his own admission, the future pope says bioethicists shouldn’t look to the Vatican for specific guidance; rather, the Vatican is looking to bioethicists for guidance.”

  400. Burton said,

    July 31, 2012 at 7:07 am

    OK, Bob – I get where you are coming from (in terms of how these debates should be carried out) – I just don’t agree. For the record, I’m not shocked at the “rough and tumble”, just think your version of it goes over the line, and detracts from the discussion. If the RCC guys are all fools to be answered according to their folly, then why engage in any serious debate to begin with?

    Enough about that. I’d still love to hear answer to my questions in your own words. I teach medical students, and I have often observed that if I can’t articulate a concept to a novice clearly and concisely, then perhaps I don’t understand it all that well myself. So, yes, I do think “go read this book” is a cop-out.

    Also, I recognize that my questions are not directly on topic. If they need to be taken to a different thread, I’m happy to be redirected.

    Burton

  401. Burton said,

    July 31, 2012 at 7:13 am

    John Bugay (#394),

    Again, I’m not asking why the RCC system is deficient. I’m looking for positive arguments regarding the Reformed view of the ministerial role of the church. Specifically how it defines orthodoxy/heresy and schism/unity in such as way as to have applicability to the church as a whole (e.g. not just a particular Reformed denomination)

    Burton

  402. johnbugay said,

    July 31, 2012 at 7:30 am

    Burton 387 and 398, frankly, do you understand why we might think the RCC is deficient?

    You said up above, “I do believe that a principled means of defining orthodoxy and heresy should exist,”

    First, why “should” one exist? Is that your own opinion? Or have you adopted someone else’s opinion?

    Second, you’ve got Rome’s “principled means”. Enforce dogma by the sword. Do you think it’s deficient? Do you think they’ve improved upon that in any way? (Consider the 90% of American Roman Catholics who practice artificial contraception without paying any mind to what Rome says about it).

    You are the great investigator. Why in the world have you been investigating these things for years without having come to any conclusions? These are things over which wars have been fought. They are issues worth discussing, and they are worth discussing heatedly. Bob S. is well within historical norms for these kinds of discussions, and, compared with the early “popes”, he’s far behind in the “sword” category.

    The Reformed view of the ministerial role of the church has the ability to “define orthodoxy/heresy and schism/unity” “in such as way as to have applicability to the church as a whole” precisely because it is biblical.

    If a pope were to subscribe to the WCF, and make it binding on the consciences of all Roman Catholics, I’d dare say, the next 2000 years would by far go better than the last 2000 years have gone.

  403. Pete Holter said,

    July 31, 2012 at 7:48 am

    TurretinFan wrote, “You think it means he’s checking with the apostles to see if the gospel that he has been preaching by revelation from Jesus for almost a decade and a half is correct?

    “I’m at a loss as to how you could conclude such a thing.”

    I think that he mentions things like, “what they were makes no difference to me,” for the sake of the Galatians, so that they do not lose sight of the fact “that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel.” But there is a “revelation” that Paul mentions in Galatians 2:2 that prompted him to go to the apostles to “set before them… the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain.” It seems to me that if they actually had adjusted his gospel, he would have written a different letter to the Galatians and would have understood himself to have run in vain for all of those years on account of having had something wrong with the gospel.

    I see the difficulties you’re raising. What is your understanding of the text? Why do you think he first went to Peter (my claim: Peter’s the head guy, “I want to get it from you: Tell me everything you know about Jesus”), and then later went to Peter, James, and John (my claim: to make sure his gospel was right)? Thanks!

    With the love of Christ,
    Pete

  404. July 31, 2012 at 8:15 am

    Burton at 398:

    I’m not sophisticated like others on this string. But I have experienced in a way the outworking of your question, in how we reformed determined what is orthodox. I don’t want to take us down the rabbit trail of debating questions around creation, but in the Northern California Presbytery, that was exactly how I learned how presbyterianism works out. The conference (which lectures I would be happy to post a link here) was about what is called, “animus imponentis.”

    At the risk of bringing theology down to earthly analogy, our presbyterian system (in the orthodox presbyterian church (http://www.opc.org/)) can be analogized to the system of law in the U.S. How does our civil system determine, “just law?” Well, issues are put before the courts, rulings issued, and a case law over time is established.

    And of course, we’ve got a document called the “Westminster Confession of Faith” that we love to talk about.

    Trust me, books have been written about presbyterian polity (ecclessiology) and I am especially thinking of Edmund Clowney, “the church,” but I don’t think that touches on the questions here per say (I haven’t read it yet).

    Your question is good and deserves a sophisticated answer. But we presbyterians are very concerned about orthodoxy. Especially those of us ordained in a denomination with “Orthodox” in it’s name. Yes the Roman Catholics want to be called what they want to be called. But imagine the height of pride that some of us assume, by claiming “orthodox” as part of our accepted label. But in our small denomination, we can blame it on our mainline presbyterian (PCUSA) denomination because they sued us when our original name in the 1930’s (at our formation) was too close to theirs.

    They still don’t like us very much.

    But we can try…
    I tend to indulge my desires for a rhetorical flourish, just, it’s a good question. You can find resources, or ask me for some and I’ll keep going.

    Peace,
    Andrew

  405. July 31, 2012 at 8:22 am

    John Bugay 399:

    “If a pope were to subscribe to the WCF, and make it binding on the consciences of all Roman Catholics, I’d dare say, the next 2000 years would by far go better than the last 2000 years have gone.”

    This provided an LOL moment for me here. Thanks for the smile… :-)

    It’s the Holy Spirit we see working in the church. Yes, churchly matters are difficult many times (I really respect our ministers and elders – as a deacon, I get shielded from a lot of the burden they carry – they are awesome!) but we honestly feel God is at work in bringing about His church, in fashioning a people for himself, and individually molding us to be more like Christ.

    We fail at many length, and I need to end my sermon. Let’s just allow honest skeptical “seekers” to keep asking questions.

    Keep doing what you do, John. Nice to ‘meet’ you.

    Andrew

  406. July 31, 2012 at 8:27 am

    Mods and John,

    I should have mentioned this, or else i might get trimmed for not talking papacy… :-)

    The WCF is not our version of the RCC’s Office of the Pope or Apostolic Succession. But we all have a deep and abiding sense of God at work in bringing about this wonderful document.

    RCC’s office of the Pope just doesnt do it for us. Im waiting for the Biblical arguement for pope. Or else,I will start laying out why Presbyterianism is the most true to NT Teachings.

    we will get there, trust me,
    Andrew

  407. July 31, 2012 at 8:50 am

    Last thing I will say, and then it’s off to my cave with my puritan writings…

    We don’t need the Pope to subscribe to our WCF. Our faith isn’t in the WCF at the end of the day, as much as those of us on “this side,” “love” that document.

    Or take my motives here. I am not trying to turn any of you into orthodox presbyterians (though I won’t be offended if you look into what the OPC is doing your area :-). But we all need to “labor together” and let our iron sharpen one another.

    The Baptists, for example, modeled one of their first confessional documents (was it the london one?) after our WCF.

    Westminster is truly a watershed document. Those of us on this side need no convincing. For the RCC’s reading at home, pay attention to what Lane puts forth. We’re really trying to help all parties that want to read. I for one would be happy if the next post about Catholicism does not have 400+ comments.

    And with that, I’m doing my part, and will be reading, and not commenting.

    We’ll see how long it lasts, but to avoid trimming: Benedict, please chime in if you think we’re off the rails. We left your teaching over 500 years ago, but I for one, would still golf with you, if you are up for some good fun.
    Regards,
    Andrew

  408. July 31, 2012 at 9:11 am

    TF (378):

    OK – it took me a few comments before I saw your point. Now I think I get it.

    Your are saying – “If Scripture is “A” rule of faith, and there is no other rule of faith, then, de facto, Scripture is THE rule of faith.”

    Have I got that right?

    If that is correct, then the problem, from my point of view, is an equivocation over the meaning of the phrase ‘rule of faith.’

    This is what I was trying to get at in an earlier response, when I said that the Protestant claim entailed much, much more.

    The term has been variously used (as I’m sure you know) throughout Christian history to reference a number of different concepts, so perhaps its unnecessarily obfuscating. I used it since the WCF uses it to refer to the Scriptures; whereas, the Catholic encyclopedia uses it with reference to the Church. Justin Martyr, Ireneaus, St. Thomas, and Pope Benedict all use it in different ways.

    So, to clear up the equivocation:

    When I acknowledged Scripture as ‘a rule of faith,’ I meant simply ‘a norm to be obeyed.’ (1)

    When WCF uses the term, it means ‘a final court of appeal, with reference to which all controversies of religion must be decided, and in whose sentence alone we must rest.’ (2)

    From this, I think you can see that simply acknowledging (1) in no way entails (2) – even if no other norm exists.

    To illustrate:

    Suppose the office of President of the U.S. were suddenly vacated, and no one could find the VP, Speaker of the House, and whatever. (Or, supposing the constitution did not specify an order of succession to the presidency.)

    Now suppose that I locate the “President” of my local old ladies knitting club.

    She has an authority. She is a president. And, for the sake of the argument, she may be the only “president” alive in the universe.
    But that does not give her ultimate executive power over the U.S. Federal gov’t. The nature of her presidency just does not entail that.
    To assume otherwise is to equivocate rather badly over the meaning of the term “president.”

    In like fashion – I may acknowledge that Scripture is an authority. (I do, as a matter of fact.) And EVEN IF NO OTHER AUTHORITY EXISTS that does not DE FACTO entail that Scripture has the kind of authority ascribed to it by the WCF.

    In order to know what kind of authority, what kind of jurisdiction, Scripture has, I need some revelation to tell me.

    Prime facie, scripture presents itself as a collection of poetry, historical narrative, prophecy, and occasional epistles. None of those suggests that kind of over-arching constitutional authority ascribed to it by WCF.

    Imagine another thought experiment:

    We have only the inspired book of psalms. Would anyone say, “the book of Psalms is obviously sufficient for the government/direction of the Church, because its all we’ve got?”

    No – because the Book of psalms obviously does not present itself this way.

    Now imagine we have psalms plus Isaiah. Same.
    Psalms, Isaiah, and the Gospel of Mark.
    Etc. Etc.

    At what point in the process can you say, “I have collected enough texts for Scripture to fulfill this constitutional, governmental job description?”

    How can we give any other answer to this but, “Well, God hasnow told us that THIS collection of books is now ready to serve that purpose.”

    But God has not told us that.

    Instead, we get the response, “I know this collection of books must serve that purpose, because it is all we’ve got.”

    and that doesn’t follow.

  409. sean said,

    July 31, 2012 at 9:23 am

    David,

    Do the epistles written by Paul, Peter, John, James et all, have apostolic authority? And that(authority) of an ex-cathedra declaration?

  410. johnbugay said,

    July 31, 2012 at 9:32 am

    Andrew Buckingham 405, I’m happy to have provided a chuckle. These are serious issues, which have had strong advocates on both sides for 500 years, and I’m not so sure it’ll be so easy to convince the Roman Catholics. To be sure, I believe that the research on the early papacy is, as I’ve quoted Carl Trueman in #278 in this thread, most historians who read about the topic believe that “the rise, consolidation and definition of papal power is an historically very complex issue; and, indeed, as scholarship advances, the story becomes more, not less, convoluted and subversive of papal claims.”

    I believe that “subversive” nature of the research will continue and grow, and our interlocutors here will seen to be more and more marginalized as we go along.

  411. July 31, 2012 at 9:39 am

    I’ll go back and read the Trueman thing. Thanks, John. He’s one of my favorite writers.

    in my cave,
    andrew

  412. Bob S said,

    July 31, 2012 at 9:44 am

    If the RCC guys are all fools to be answered according to their folly, then why engage in any serious debate to begin with?

    Because people such as yourself who have been studying this – for what ten years? – still can’t tell us if the RCC is in serious error or apostate.

  413. July 31, 2012 at 10:01 am

    Sean,

    The Authority of Scripture is of a different kind from an ex-cathedra declaration.

    Ex-Cathedra pronouncements are not inspired. They are ‘merely’ infallible. They may be infelicitously worded, poorly timed, or suffer from other accidental defects. They are just not doctrinally erroneous.

    Scripture, by contrast (whatever it may be) is “God breathed.” More than just free from error.

    Moreover, ex-cathedra pronouncements generally decide some point of doctrine, or controversy.

    Scripture, however, only rarely does this – it seems to me.
    (Galatians is an obvious example.)
    The longest book in the Bible, as you know, is dedicated to praise and worship, not theological polemics.

    -David

  414. Bob S said,

    July 31, 2012 at 10:10 am

    Speaking of fools – or if you prefer, wicked foolishness – vide 408. Note that in all of it there is no mention of, much more attempt to explain the Scripture passage of 2 Tim. 3:15-17.

    The same which R.Muller says is one of the proof texts for the protestant claim that Scripture is the rule of faith – and which our protagonist blatantly denies R. Muller ever said. Rather our Roman protagonist just blithely proceeds to beg the question, pose theoretical possibilities and attempt to stack the deck in his favor. This is only too typical.

    I know. What has this to do with the papacy.
    Simply this. Rome is rotten from the head down.
    And that head is not Christ.

    Further, God will not be mocked. He gives people over to what they want. If they cannot and will not justify their papacy from Scripture, then why should they pay any attention to Scripture on anything else?
    Indeed, why should they? The pope is infallible just as the Scripture is, never mind that Scripture has been infallibly defined to include Sacred Tradition – according to what? Sacred Oral Traditions?

    But Rome is not in error or apostate. Or so I am told.

  415. Burton said,

    July 31, 2012 at 10:26 am

    John,

    I think I have a pretty good grasp of your arguments for the deficiencies of Rome, within the limitations of my education and the sources I have read. I am sure I have plenty of room for growth in my understanding and pray for the humility to do so.

    Do you not believe that there should be a principled means of distinguishing heresy from orthodoxy and unity from schism? I assumed that this was a given, but that may have been presumptuous on my part. The reason for this necessity seems self evident to me, and it is my own opinion. Followers of Christ need some means of knowing the Truth about God and man, the nature of salvation and what it means practically to live as a disciple of our Lord. Perhaps I misunderstood your question.

    I don’t claim to be a great investigator. My training provides some degree of expertise in evaluating data and likely from a different angle than most here. I do firmly believe in approaching a data set with as much objectivity as possible, and with full awareness of the bias of opposing perspectives on the data (and as much as possible, my own bias). That being said, the benefits I may derive from my training are likely outweighed by the deficits as compared to those with formal training in areas more directly relevant to the data at hand.

    Why no firm conclusion after years of study? I frequently ask myself that same question. I fear that the answer in part is due to my own personal shortcomings and flaws, which I would be reluctant to air out in this forum. Suffice it to say, I hear you. There comes a time when a man takes a stand and fights for it.

    I disagree with your appeal to the “historical standards” as a means of defining basic rules of civility and charity. History is filled with sinful men, both within the church and without. I prefer the Biblical standard as proclaimed by Jesus in the Gospels and Paul in his epistles. Happy to agree to disagree on this point, as Bob S. has a different interpretation of the Bible on this issue. No real need to press this any further – not my blog, not my rules.

    Back to my question and your answer. So the Reformed elders have the authority to define orthodoxy/heresy and unity/schism for all Christians because the WCF is the most biblical?

    Burton

  416. sean said,

    July 31, 2012 at 10:29 am

    David,

    O.K. so that’s a no. So when 2 Tim 3:16 states that ALL scripture is profitable for not only ‘positive’ teaching but REPROOF, CORRECTION that the man of God may be COMPLETE. For you that’s not so much the case;

    “Moreover, ex-cathedra pronouncements generally decide some point of doctrine, or controversy.

    Scripture, however, only rarely does this – it seems to me.”

    And this determination is a determination of private interpretation?

  417. Sean said,

    July 31, 2012 at 11:22 am

    sean. #416.

    Two questions.

    2 Timothy 2:21 says, “If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.

    Paul is talking about purging ourselves from those things which are unworthy. He states that if we do this, we are prepared to every good work.

    Does that mean that our simple purging of the desires of the flesh is all we have to do?

    In Titus 3:1 Paul says, “Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work…”

    Does this mean thta to be ready for every good work we need only to subject ourselves to the magistrates?

    The word Paul uses in 2 Tim 3:16 is ‘ophelimos.’ This word is used by Paul three times. Every time the word is used we see that Paul is not saying that this is all you need but he is rather saying that what he mentions is profitable.

    We don’t disagree that scripture is profitable. We disagree that scripture claims that scripture alone is the only rule of faith. In fact, scripture itself testifies to a church that had authority to bind doctrines for the whole church.

  418. sean said,

    July 31, 2012 at 11:47 am

    Sean,

    The questions don’t track when we consider the objection to settling doctrinal dispute or adjudicating controversy. Particularly, as we consider the scriptures as covenant document between a greater and lesser and those documents perform function as treaty between the two of them, bounding their relationship by sanction and promise. If the document is inadequate or incomplete or worse yet, in David’s case, uninitended for this use, essentially unreliable for the purpose, then the promises attached for fealty rendered, themselves become unreliable but worse than that the ‘testator’s’ Jesus Christ the Logos, integrity is impugned and discredited. Covenantal canon does not make allowance for distinction between personal and propositional revelation. God speaks(breaths) and it is good and so.

  419. Jeff Cagle said,

    July 31, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    Burton (#418): Do you not believe that there should be a principled means of distinguishing heresy from orthodoxy and unity from schism?

    Yes, and there are two principal principled means. The first is to test doctrines against Scripture. This was the means used by the Bereans, and is the means espoused in WCoF 1. The second is to seek the collective wisdom of the church. This was the means used in Acts 15 and the means espoused in WCoF 31.

    So far, Catholics and Protestants (of the ‘sola’ but not ‘solo’ stripe) agree.

    The disagreement is over the relative authority of these two means, and the infallibility of these two means.

    The Protestant holds that councils can and may err, so that their pronouncements are to be received *as authoritative* insofar as they are consonant with Scripture.

    The Catholic holds that God protects the church from error, so that the pronouncements of ecumenical councils, and of the pope speaking ex cathedra, may be considered infallible.

  420. Sean said,

    July 31, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    sean.

    The Catholic Church has been using Holy Scripture to teach, rebuke, correct and train in righteousness for 2,000 + years.

    Now, you said, “The questions don’t track when we consider the objection to settling doctrinal dispute or adjudicating controversy.” That passage does not say that scripture alone is what settles doctrinal disputes and adjudicating controversy. That passage says that scripture is ‘profitable’ for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training. Nobody here disagrees with that.

  421. Jeff Cagle said,

    July 31, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    Sean and sean, now I understand why you seemed to be arguing both sides of the issue. :)

  422. Jeff Cagle said,

    July 31, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    David (#408): Do you really want to compare the authority of Scripture to the president of a knitting club?

    Something needs re-wording or re-thinking here!

  423. TurretinFan said,

    July 31, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    Sean:

    Notice that your emphasis on “alone” is an emphasis on the negative. Why not put forth your positive proof that the papacy is also a rule of faith? Why ask the Christian to prove a universal negative to you?

    Is it that you simply lack any valid arguments for the papacy?

    -TurretinFan

  424. Sean said,

    July 31, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    # 423.

    Is it that you simply lack any valid arguments for the papacy?

    No, that’s not it.

    I am asking the Protestant to prove that scripture alone is meant to settle doctrinal disputes because that is what the Protestant claims. Seems pretty fair to me.

    And, notwithstanding that the Catholic Church has been ‘making a valid argument’ for the papacy for over 2,000 years, we humble few at Called to Communion have published many such articles and essays about the papacy from the perspective of scripture and Holy Tradition which can be accessed from our archive on the site.

  425. TurretinFan said,

    July 31, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    ADA:

    On top of Jeff’s response, the difference between Scripture being the lone rule of faith and one of several rules of faith is not like the difference between a national president and a knitting club president – it’s more like the difference between an emperor and a triumvirate. To extend that analogy, your church (if not you) already formally acknowledges that the Bible has supreme authority in doctrinal issues, but simply insists that “Tradition” (meaning oral tradition and the magisterium in various ways, including the papacy) also does. Therefore, the onus is on you to establish the authority of the other allegedly supreme authorities.

    Since this is a thread about the papacy, why not try to establish the authority of the papacy for us?

    -TurretinFan

  426. sean said,

    July 31, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    Sean,

    Take up your case with David, he was the one arguing that the scriptures don’t really give themselves to polemical considerations in the realm of theology. Look, we both believe in church polity. As protestants,here, we believe in elder rule that ULTIMATELY must subject itself and tradition to the ONLY infallible rule of faith and life-the scriptures. We even share a belief in apostolic authority, our own deposit of faith. But, you believe those same scriptures speak to another church polity with an magisterium that superintends a ‘deposit’ that parallels canonical authority and has capacity to speak ‘merely’ infallibly, but unerringly doctrinally. Where is the proof from the canon for your polity? The Canon attests to it’s own God-breathed nature and has a testator in the Incarnate Word. What do you have?

  427. TurretinFan said,

    July 31, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    Sean:

    a) Your demand that we prove a universal negative doesn’t really pass the laugh test, once people realize that’s what you’re asking. We both know that Scripture is a rule of faith – if you want to insist that there is also some other rule of faith, it’s on you to prove that, not on us to prove its non-existence.

    b) If CtC has so many good essays and so forth (not to mention your imagination regarding the history of your religion), and if you’ve read them, perhaps you can somehow produce an argument from those readings for us to evaluate. If you who actually hold those things cannot produce an argument from them …

    -TurreitnFan

  428. Sean said,

    July 31, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    To save you some time I might start with the following (not hyper-linking because it seems to catch the spam filter when I do that:

    http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2009/06/christ-founded-a-visible-church/

    http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2010/05/holy-orders-and-the-priesthood/

    http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2009/06/ecclesiology-in-the-early-creeds/

    http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2011/08/philosophy-and-the-papacy/

    http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2011/02/the-chair-of-st-peter/

    Here is your official invitation to go into any one of those conversations and explain how we’re wrong.

  429. Sean said,

    July 31, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    # 427.

    Do you mean that we should do as you do when you present history? Such as claiming that a church father taught ‘sola scriptura’ because a father taught that scripture was good while ignoring completely what that same father taught about the church? Is that the kind of ‘proof’ you are seeking?

    The way its going on this thread is that somebody complains that the Catholic is not presenting his case. The case is then presented (Bless Pete Holter for his efforts) and then that case is mocked, waved away and then back to complaining that no case is being made.

  430. TurretinFan said,

    July 31, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    ADA:

    You wrote: “The longest book in the Bible, as you know, is dedicated to praise and worship, not theological polemics.”

    You really should read Athanasius’ letter to Marcellinus regarding the Psalms.

    Here is a nice highlight:

    “Son, all the books of Scripture, both Old Testament and New, are inspired by God and useful for instruction [2 Timothy 3:16], as it is written; but to those who really study it the Psalter yields especial treasure.”

    And again:

    “So then, my son, let whoever reads this Book of Psalms take the things in it quite simply as God-inspired; and let each select from it, as from the fruits of a garden, those things of which he sees himself in need.”

    Further:

    “Never will such a man be shaken from the truth, but those who try to trick and lead him into error he will refute; and it is no human teacher who promises us this, but the Divine Scripture itself.”

    More here:

    http://turretinfan.blogspot.com/2010/03/athanasius-to-marcellinus-how.html

    -TurretinFan

  431. TurretinFan said,

    July 31, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    Sean:

    “Do you mean that we should do as you do when you present history? Such as claiming that a church father taught ‘sola scriptura’ because a father taught that scripture was good while ignoring completely what that same father taught about the church? Is that the kind of ‘proof’ you are seeking?”

    I suppose you make this kind of false accusation for the same reason you try to get us to prove a universal negative: because you cannot put forth any positive case for the papacy.

    “The way its going on this thread is that somebody complains that the Catholic is not presenting his case. The case is then presented (Bless Pete Holter for his efforts) and then that case is mocked, waved away and then back to complaining that no case is being made.”

    Mr. Holter is a nice guy, but his arguments are not valid. If you think you can bolster his arguments, by all means try to do so. If you think he has made some specific argument that hasn’t been answered, by all means identify it!

    -TurretinFan

  432. Sean said,

    July 31, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    #431.

    Not a false accusation but a true observation. You even tried to argue that St Thomas Aquinas professed ‘sola scriptura’ or at least some nascent form of ‘sola scriptura’ on account of his affirming all the qualities of Holy Scripture that we profess several years ago. But, that impossible because of what Aquinas wrote about the church.

    http://turretinfan.blogspot.com/2009/08/aquinas-on-sola-scriptura.html

    Source Above. You said, “Was Aquinas’ view of all things doctrinal the same as that of the Reformed churches? Of course not. As to Scripture, however, his views were quite close (if not identical). Scripture is the supreme authority.”

    On the contrary, The universal Church cannot err, since she is governed by the Holy Ghost, Who is the Spirit of truth: for such was Our Lord’s promise to His disciples (Jn. 16:13): “When He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will teach you all truth.” Now the symbol is published by the authority of the universal Church. Therefore it contains nothing defective. (Summa Theologica, II.II, q. 1, a. 9

    You do that over and over again. You might as well take something out of Dei Verbum or the Catechism about scripture and try to say that Dei Verbum professes ‘sola scriptura.’

    The problem with that should be obvious. “Sola Scriptura” is not only a claim about scripture. It is a claim about the church. That the church does not have the God breathed authority to interpret scripture. Aquinas clearly did not hold that but you try to argue that he did.

    So, parden me if your complaining about lack of evidence strikes me as ludicrous.

  433. TurretinFan said,

    July 31, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    Sean:

    I stand by my earlier point that it’s a false accusation. And I’m certainly not going to debate your false accusation about me personally in this thread.

    But no worries- I get that you’re trying to attack me for perceived faulty analysis of points I have not raised in this dialog because you cannot present a positive argument for the papacy.

    When you get around to actually trying to establish the papacy, let me know.

    -TurreitnFan

  434. Andrew McCallum said,

    July 31, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    TF said: ….your church (if not you) already formally acknowledges that the Bible has supreme authority in doctrinal issues, but simply insists that “Tradition” (meaning oral tradition and the magisterium in various ways, including the papacy) also does. Therefore, the onus is on you to establish the authority of the other allegedly supreme authorities.

    David Anders – What TF said above is what I was trying to get across to you in more than one email above, but apparently unsuccessfully. If you are going to posit some source of infallibility beyond Scripture, then the burden of proof is on you to justify this belief. In the Early Church we are historically still a long long way off from anyone suggesting papal infallibility, but maybe you could start with general ecclesiastical infallibility.

  435. Burton said,

    July 31, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    Bob S. (#412),

    If caustic sarcasm and personal insult are your preferred rhetorical tools, that’s your business, but c’mon, don’t pretend to have my best interest at heart.

    Burton

  436. Jeff Cagle said,

    July 31, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    Pete (#361): Thanks for your detailed reply.

    I agree with you that Augustine has some complimentary things to say about Zosimus. At the same time, those complimentary things must taken together with his other words and deeds.

    Luther, as you recall, was complimentary towards Leo X in 1516-1517, but we all know how that ended.

    I would ask you to read (Google Books has it) Chadwick’s The Church in Ancient Society, pp. 456 – 458.

    Then, take a look at the canons of the council of Carthage, 419 (here). It’s a little bit of a read, but if the juicy parts are canons 1 – 23 and the letter at the end (last three canons IIRC).

    And then some questions:

    (1) Do the Africans — which include Augustine — exhibit a high regard for catholicity?

    (2) Do the Africans show respect for the bishop of Rome?

    (3) Do the Africans consider Rome to be infallible?

    (4) Do the Africans consider Rome to be the final court of appeal?

  437. Jeff Cagle said,

    July 31, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    Pete, I see that you’ve already had a couple of knock-down drag-outs on the issue of Augustine and Zosimus. Given that I’m unlikely to persuade you, perhaps you can offer the final word and we call it quits?

  438. Burton said,

    July 31, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    Jeff (#419),

    I assume that neither of us fall into the “Solo” category. The heart of my question is in your principle #2. I think this would fall into what John B. called the ministerial role of the church. Assuming that two individuals or groups have first searched the Scriptures, but are still in disagreement over a doctrinal issue (and assume they are each labeling the other’s position as heretical), how does the ministerial role of the church function in this setting to define heresy/orthodoxy?
    Or, if one of my elders splits from our PCA church to start his own church over a dispute, how with this ministerial role function to define schism and preserve unity?

    Burton

  439. David Gadbois said,

    July 31, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    Tfan said When you get around to actually trying to establish the papacy, let me know.

    Well, its been over 400 posts and they still haven’t managed to get around to this, with the lone exception of Pete Holter’s, uh, fanciful exegesis. You’d think they’d be embarrassed of this performance. If they really cared about what Jesus actually taught concerning the nature and offices of the church, you’d think they’d at least take a spirited stab at it.

  440. Jeff Cagle said,

    July 31, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    Burton (#437):

    In the case of a doctrinal dispute, there’s a church-court process; overtures can be (and are!) made to Presbytery and then to General Assembly.

    In the case of an individual elder splitting from the PCA to start his own church — well, the answer is fairly clear.

    But not all situations are going to be clear. van Til and Clark were each convinced that the other man was teaching matters that boiled down to heresy. In the end, the OPC ruled that both views were acceptable.

    A larger body might at some point split off from the PCA. What then? Which Is the True Church?

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

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

    We see a kind of tension in the statement that accurately reflects the tension in real life. On the one hand, the VC consists of all those that profess the true religion. On the other, the VC has been given a ministry. The first defines the church in terms of profession, the second in terms of institution.

    Why this tension? Because we cannot know the secret counsels of God or the true hearts of men. We don’t know who is saved and who is not saved. Rather, the visible church is the “church as man sees it”, as Calvin had it.

    Did that answer your question?

  441. David Gadbois said,

    July 31, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    I’m also perplexed by the mythological nature of their faith. As Protestants we believe in Jesus and the New Testament because they are genuine artifacts of history. We have the manuscripts, we have a paper trail. Their historical credentials are impeccable. We have a reliable document of what Jesus of Nazareth said and taught in time and space, along with the testimony of His Apostles. If these documents do not record Christ establishing a papacy, what other testimony could establish such a fact in a historically credible manner? How can one justify a faith founded on mythological, wishful thinking about a church and bishop that do not have that sort of documented, historical rootedness?

  442. David Gadbois said,

    July 31, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    Jeff Cagle, I think the trap Burton is falling into is the fallacy of trying to reason backwards from a result (some function or certitude that sola scriptura or a presbyterian form of church government needs to fill) he thinks he needs to have. The question ought to be, what has God and Christ actually given us for our spiritual welfare and the well-being of the church universal? If one considers that to be insufficient or too problematic because it doesn’t accomplish perceived needs, then tough beans. Then his beef is with God, not Reformed theology.

  443. TurretinFan said,

    July 31, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    Sean:

    I see your list of links, and I’ve seen the pages that they link to – but what I’d love to see from you here in the comment box is actually an argument – not simply an invitation to go to another place to have a conversation. You can feel free to poach from those pages, if need be. It’s not plagiarism if you cite your sources.

    -TurretinFan

  444. greenbaggins said,

    July 31, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    It will definitely help matters if the two Seans can provide their last names with each post.

  445. Pete Holter said,

    July 31, 2012 at 5:40 pm

    Thank you for the encouragement Sean.

    From the background article:

    “What is the testimony of the epistles of the New Testament? The apostle Paul, writing to the Corinthian church concerning divisions therein, said, ‘Now this I say, that every one of you said, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas [Peter]; and I of Christ’ (I Corinthians 1:12).

    “From this scripture it seems that it was a mark of division in the church for any one to say, ‘I am of Peter,’ but this certainly would not have been true if Peter bad been the head of the church in Christ’s place, as the Roman Church claims. Instead, it would have been a mark of unity for one to say, ‘I am of Peter.’ But Paul teaches here that it was just as wrong to say, ‘I am of Peter,’ as it was to say, ‘I am of Paul’ or Apollos.”

    The argument presented in the article proves too much because it is wrong even to say, “I am of Christ,” when it is used as a pretext for creating division in the body of Christ. The effect of people following Paul is that they are refusing to follow Peter; and those who lift up Apollos are holding Paul in contempt. This is the larger concern. It’s not so much a problem of who you’re following, as much as it is a problem of at what expense you’re following that person: the destruction of unity in Christ.
    Paul’s concern is “that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10), and for us to put away the “jealousy and strife” (1 Corinthians 3:3). But John Calvin nevertheless forsook communion with the Church of his day, and in effect proclaimed, “I am of Christ,” after the manner of the Corinthians. This is precisely what Paul is here condemning. :(

    One way of looking at it is like this. The Scriptures clearly and repeatedly commend unity and condemn those who are divisive, warning us to stay away from them…

    “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word, that they may all be one, just as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You have sent Me. The glory that You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one even as We are One, I in them and You in Me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that You sent Me and loved them even as You loved Me” (John 17:20-23).

    “I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them” (Romans 16:17).

    “God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another” (1 Corinthians 12:24-25).

    “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21).

    “[C]omplete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind” (Philippians 2:2).

    “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:1-6).

    “As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him” (Titus 3:10).

    “It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit” (Jude 19).

    But the Scriptures nowhere condemn those who believe that Christ has instituted a senior pastor who exercises care over His entire flock, or who believe that the ability to bind and loose on earth what has been bound and loosed in heaven entails infallibility of some kind.

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  446. sean said,

    July 31, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    Will do, Lane. Though I don’t know that I have much more to add.

    Sean Moore

  447. Burton said,

    July 31, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    Jeff,

    The process whereby PCA Reformed doctrinal disputes are adjudicated does not answer that larger question of how the Reformed rule-of-faith defines heresy and orthodoxy, unless the General Assembly believes its doctrinal judgements apply to all Christians. If someone is deemed to be a heretic or schismatic within the PCA denomination, but that carries no weight the eyes of other Protestant denominations, then I don’t see how that process serves the purpose. Either a doctrine is heretical or it isn’t, a moral practice sinful or it isn’t.

    For example, the PCA general assembly wouldn’t level the charge of heresy at an EPC general assembly that decided to ordain women. The PCA elders understand that their ministerial role is only binding on that subset of Christians who voluntarily identify themselves as PCA. That which might be considered doctrinal error within the PCA has no bearing and is not binding on other Christians, and is therefore a relative definition.

    Another way to look at it: if the general assemblies of the PCA, OPC, EPC, Southern Baptist, and AG all accuse the other of heresy (or call it doctrinal error), who is there to adjudicate between them?

    If the VC includes all those that profess the true religion, but no one body of believers included in the VC can definitively and in a generally binding way define orthodoxy/heresy and schism/unity (i.e. true religion), then you really haven’t answered my question, and I think the problem is deeper than what you call a tension.

    Burton

  448. Burton said,

    July 31, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    David (#442),

    Please feel free to address me directly. If there is no need to generally define orthodoxy and heresy or schism and unity, then I may be entertaining a false presumption. I do not think it is unreasonable to ask (1) if it is necessary to have a means of defining doctrine in such a way that orthodoxy and heresy can be understood by and is binding on all believers and (2) if this is not necessary then why not? and (3) is there good evidence that the early church through Nicea would have shared that opinion.

    You suggest that I am arguing backwards from a perceived need, but can’t that accusation work both ways? Couldn’t we as easily say that you start with an unproven presupposition about what was given as a principled means, and then work backward into the way that it must function?

    Burton

  449. TurretinFan said,

    July 31, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    Burton:

    a) The question of orthodoxy/heresy is one of objective reality. A dogma is orthodox or it is heretical.

    b) That objective reality precedes an conciliar or other ecclesiastical judgment. Arius was a heretic before any council convicted him, and he would have been a heretic even if no council had ever convicted him.

    c) A wise council rightly judges orthodoxy to be orthodoxy and heresy to be heresy. A foolish council does the opposite. If “wise” and “foolish” seem to harsh – use “rightly discerning” and “wrongly discerning.”

    In other words, a judgment is not right because it comes from a right council, but a council is right because it has correctly judged.

    Your wrote, “If someone is deemed to be a heretic or schismatic within the PCA denomination, but that carries no weight the eyes of other Protestant denominations, then I don’t see how that process serves the purpose.”

    It’s not clear what you think the purpose is. There are multiple purposes for church discipline. One of the primary purposes is the restoration of the straying sheep. Another purpose, also important, is removal of heresy from the church. A further purpose is the education of the church regarding the difference between heresy and orthodoxy.

    None of those purposes requires that all churches everywhere agree with one another about the discipline. In fact, none of those purposes require that any other church agree with the disciplining church.

    – TurretinFan

  450. David Gadbois said,

    July 31, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    Burton said If the VC includes all those that profess the true religion, but no one body of believers included in the VC can definitively and in a generally binding way define orthodoxy/heresy and schism/unity (i.e. true religion), then you really haven’t answered my question, and I think the problem is deeper than what you call a tension.

    This reminds me of the Israelites grumbling in the wilderness, complaining about the manna and God’s provisions for them. People that look to the church Christ instituted, in all of its weakness, with the modest provision of fallible elders and deacons, the foolishness of preaching, the humble sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and say “no, thanks, there must be something more than this” are exercising the same kind of unbelief. What God has given us is sufficient.

  451. jsm52 said,

    July 31, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    TFan –

    Excellent explanation on orthodoxy, heresy, and councils.

    Jack

  452. Jeff Cagle said,

    July 31, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    Burton (#448): If the VC includes all those that profess the true religion, but no one body of believers included in the VC can definitively and in a generally binding way define orthodoxy/heresy and schism/unity (i.e. true religion), then you really haven’t answered my question, and I think the problem is deeper than what you call a tension.

    Burton, I think what you long for is really eschatological.

    And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

    Clearly, as I have stated, the PCA general assembly does define orthodoxy and heresy. But the sad truth is that, until we *do* reach unity of the faith, the courts of the church cannot go beyond “our best judgment” to “real and certain truth.”

    The RC church offers it, but it cannot deliver — for it, also, does not have jurisdiction over all Christians.

  453. David Gadbois said,

    July 31, 2012 at 7:00 pm

    I missed Burton’s post from above. He said I do not think it is unreasonable to ask (1) if it is necessary to have a means of defining doctrine in such a way that orthodoxy and heresy can be understood by and is binding on all believers

    Well, if you believe in the sufficiency and perspecuity of Scripture, then you have your answer of what that God-appointed means is. It can be understood, and it is binding.

    (2) if this is not necessary then why not?

    That is switching the burden of proof.

    (3) is there good evidence that the early church through Nicea would have shared that opinion.

    An interesting question, but irrelevant.

    You suggest that I am arguing backwards from a perceived need, but can’t that accusation work both ways? Couldn’t we as easily say that you start with an unproven presupposition about what was given as a principled means, and then work backward into the way that it must function?

    No, our doctrine of the church is the product of exegesis of Scripture. We base it on what Christ and the Apostles actually said. The Christian religion is a revealed religion, doctrines are not not “reasoned to”.

  454. Andrew McCallum said,

    July 31, 2012 at 10:15 pm

    Burton,

    In addition what others have said about orthodoxy/heresy, there are a number of different Reformed denominations represented here, but I would say that it is highly unlikely that any of us would get into arguments over what is and what is not heresy. We could go through numerous case studies to prove the matter but that would take far too long.

    The thing that intrigues me about your question is that there is very little practical attempt to differentiate between heresy and orthodoxy in Roman Catholicism. There are no end of theological liberals running around in the RCC. It seems to be exceedingly difficult to get oneself kicked out of the RCC by holding to heretical doctrines. The formal unity of the RCC is protected in a manner of speaking by accepting any and all into the RCC fold, from the very liberal to the ultra-conservative. Almost everyone in the RCC is “Catholic” no matter how many issues they might have with current and past popes and current and past Roman Magisteria.

    The Reformed get accused of all sorts of things for their adherence to biblical orthodoxy, but I’m very thankful to be part of an ecclesiastical system which is so fastidious over matters of orthodoxy and heresy. Once you leave for Rome I suppose you have to get comfortable with heresy.

  455. Brad B said,

    July 31, 2012 at 10:45 pm

    The last several exchanges have been very helpful, thanks for taking the time to dig a little.

    Like jsm52, #449 TFan’s post resonated a powerful truth to wit, that truth isn’t dependant on popular opinion or even minority opinion of select men. David ehoes this in #453 in slghtly different language to focus the distinctions

    Most Christians I know long for unity–Jeff #452 judges aright, Burton’s desire is eschatalogical as is, I believe every participant of this blog posting. David’s #450 said exactly what I’ve been thinking as I first read Burtons query. I often wonder what God is doing, sometimes.

    “Mar 9:38 John said to Him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we tried to prevent him because he was not following us.”
    Mar 9:39 But Jesus said, “Do not hinder him, for there is no one who will perform a miracle in My name, and be able soon afterward to speak evil of Me.
    Mar 9:40 “For he who is not against us is for us.
    Mar 9:41 “For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because of your name as followers of Christ, truly I say to you, he will not lose his reward.
    Mar 9:42 “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe to stumble, it would be better for him if, with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea”

    .

    I pray to never be one of the 9:42’ers, for that reason, I fear for Roman Catholic apologists[and FV'ists], but maybe they are just 9:39ers. Many things make me wonder…the thing I dont wonder about is that the Lord is in control of all things, that He’s not silent even for a nanosecond and that whatsoever comes to pass has been ordained from the foundation of the world, to His glory. I also dont wonder that this is clealy revealed in scripture and that it is the most devastating yet liberating doctrine that a man can come to know.

  456. Pete Holter said,

    July 31, 2012 at 11:14 pm

    Hi Jeff!

    I pray for blessings for you and your loved ones. I have a few additional thoughts that I like to keep in mind when assessing these later Carthaginian councils.

    In his disputes with the Donatists, Augustine drew attention to the fact that “not one, but two or more Councils were held; always, however, in Africa” (On Baptism, Against the Donatists, Bk. 3, Ch. 10:14). The fact of councils being held only in Africa is problematic because, as Augustine noted elsewhere, the “African Church, if it be compared with the churches in other parts of the world, is very different from them, and is left far behind both in numbers and in influence” (Letter 43, Ch. 9:26). Augustine is saying these things with the knowledge that some 300 Donatist bishops had met in council. Augustine wants to make the point that even though there were so many bishops gathered, the council was still, for all that, only an African council. These considerations help us to estimate the authority that Augustine accords to the 200 some Catholic bishops meeting in the later Councils of Carthage in Africa.

    But before we get to them, the African Council of Carthage of 416, which included some 67 or 68 African bishops, wrote to the Bishop of Rome in order “that the authority of the Apostolic See may be added to the decisions of our insignificance” (Letter 175). And the 59 bishops of the African Council of Milevis of 416 acted similarly, acknowledging to the Bishop of Rome, that he “reign[s] over us” (Letter 176). In Book 2 of On Christian Doctrine, Augustine compares the authority of fewer churches of greater authority with the authority of a greater number of churches of lesser authority, and he concludes that the two groups are of equal authority (cf. Ch. 8:12). And here we see councils of 67 and 59 bishops both acknowledging the greater authority of the one bishop of Rome. It makes us wonder how many bishops it would take to equal the authority of the one Bishop of Rome. Whatever our answer, that’s a lot of authority! :) Concerning these two councils, Augustine said that “we were in duty bound not to fail to use our episcopal authority, such as it is, in behalf of the Church.” And this African authority was exercised by simply sending “reports of this controversy… to the Apostolic See” (Letter 186).

    A final point that I think is helpful to keep in mind when evaluating these later African Councils is the fact that—unlike much of the other exchanges glimpsed at up above in my previous comment—these councils are dealing with purely disciplinary matters as they relate to Rome. And this brings us now to these later councils.

    Pope Zosimus had rested his prerogative to evaluate cases of excommunications on a corrupted copy of the canons of Nicaea. When the papal legate announced this prerogative and its Nicene basis, Alypius responded (not really quoting), “Hey, I remember reading the canons in Greek, and I don’t remember seeing these canons…”. So the African Council sent to the East to get the most accurate copies of the canons. It was not a matter of rejecting Roman authority, but a question concerning the accuracy of the text of Nicaea upon which the Roman Church was resting this particular prerogative.

    When the Africans are in council again during the episcopacies of Boniface and Celestine, and this issue is brought to a close, they rightly asked and expected the popes to stand by the canons of Nicaea. This is a more than fair request, especially considering that the Roman Church had thought that they were following Nicea on this in the first place. We also have to keep in mind that the 200+ bishops are asking the popes to accept their decision. To Pope Boniface they wrote, “we ask of your holiness that you would cause to be observed by us the acts and constitutions of our fathers at the Council of Nicaea,” and to Pope Celestine they likewise wrote, “Premising, therefore, our due regards to you, we earnestly conjure you (Latin: deprecamur)…”, i.e., “We pray, we beseech, we entreat…”

    We don’t have anything from Pope Celestine indicating that he had a problem with the African proceedings. It seemed to have been an honest mistake that Pope Zosimus would have regretted and been embarrassed by had he still been alive to discover that he had the wrong canons. And the African bishops had good practical reasons for asking the Pope to not second guess the conclusions of the conciliar trials of Africa because of the difficulties of logistics that would be involved, the implication that the African trials were incompetent and could be scorned by the rebellious, etc. What if Pope Celestine had said, “No”? We thank God that love prevailed! For when Saint Cyprian had at an earlier time “poured forth with signs of irritation against Stephen,” Augustine saw him as approaching to “the danger of baneful dissension,” and said that it was “better to pass over those points,” better to not even speak of such things (On Baptism, Against the Donatists, Bk. 5, Ch. 25:36). Augustine would certainly not allow any such dissension to happen under his episcopal watch, so long as Christ ruled in his heart.

    Unfortunately, the copy of The Church in Ancient Society that shows up for me in Google Books does not display the pages you mentioned. But Constantine had pointed me to Chadwick at an earlier time, and Chadwick does not appear to me to give an accurate presentation of the relations between Africa and Zosimus. In his History of the Church he writes,

    “The horrified Africans reacted to [Zosimus] so explosively that for six months Zosimus hesitated, assuring them that no final decision had yet been reached. Suddenly the Pope found that his hand was forced, not by the anger of the African bishops but by the emperor.”

    Chadwick says that the Africans were “horrified,” that their letters against the Pelagians were “hysterical” (“… which hysterically denounced Pelagianism…”), that the “effect of the edict on Zosimus was crushing,” and that Zosimus simply “bowed to the inevitable.” In his biography of Augustine, Chadwick similarly writes:

    “The emperor had been moved to decide over the heads of the hesitant pope, who now had no choice but to submit. Soon he died” (Augustine of Hippo, p. 149).

    Statements such as these simply do not accurately capture the facts of the case. And if all you ever read was Chadwick’s Augustine of Hippo, you’d be left thinking that Zosimus did nothing but get confused and submit to the secular authority. I’ve been blessed to have had the opportunity to read Augustine’s volume on Pelagianism available over at CCEL, as well as Against Julian, and many of his letters dealing with Pelagianism. After reading this material, I’ve found John Dom Chapman’s summary of the situation to really be the best. Antagonistic reconstructions and conclusions of African independence that I’ve seen are far removed from the thought of Saint Augustine and those with whom he communed.

    Finally, consider that in one of Zosimus’ letters to the Africans, he wrote,

    “[T]he traditions of the Fathers has attributed to the Apostolic See so great authority that none would dare to contest its judgment…

    “Since, then, Peter is the head of so great authority, and has confirmed the suffrages of our forefathers since his time, so that the Roman Church is confirmed by all laws and disciplines, divine or human; whose place we rule, and the power of whose name we inherit, as you are not ignorant, my brethren, but you know it well, and as bishops you are bound to know it.”

    Just as with Innocent, so too with Zosimus: after reading claims such as these, Augustine has nothing but praise for this man. This would be inconceivable outside of the Catholic Church of our Lord.

    My thoughts on your numbered questions in terms of Augustine…

    To (1) and (2), I say, absolutely. To (3), I say that Augustine viewed the Bishop of Rome as able to bring a doctrinal dispute to an end, and as able to give a final answer to which we must submit as Christians. And to (4), I say that Augustine viewed the Bishop of Rome as serving as a final court of appeal.

    Thank you for your interactions with me. I am sorry for any errors I may have committed in trying to present this material.

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  457. jsm52 said,

    July 31, 2012 at 11:28 pm

    Is it me, or does it seem that the RRC argument is essentially reduced to hair-splitting exegesis of a fallible and incomplete historical record?

  458. August 1, 2012 at 1:46 am

    Yeah, jsm52, as if Jesus is going to be care about their knowledge of what church fathers, popes, and saints said on the Last Day, rather than fidelity to what He spake in His Word. Church history, for them, functions as a sort of Talmud, but neither are going to save anyone from the wrath to come.

  459. dgh said,

    August 1, 2012 at 6:29 am

    David G., but surely our Lord will care what ministers and elders say and do in their ministry of the word, right. Protestants have more than the Word. We have officers who have more responsibility than members. Which is to say that our ecclesiology also values church fathers and dominies, but in a different way from Rome.

    My sense is that Protestants sometimes discount the church in their emphasis on the Word (sola scriptura). But the Confession says that councils and synod have worth not simply when they follow the Word but also as an ordinance of God. Church authority and political authority are ordinances of God.

    But for Protestants church authority has transparency. We can actually admit when churches err unlike RC’s who have to dodge and weave to protect the coherence of the early church and the infallibility of the Bishops of Rome. Plus, we value church councils (as opposed to church monarchs), and so we have some accountability built in to the system by which our officers interpret Scripture and rule on what is orthodox and heretical.

  460. August 1, 2012 at 7:17 am

    [...] the rest was simply a "catechetical" exercise from the Roman Catholic point of view. The recent thread at Green Baggins on the early papacy was highly instructive, and highly successful for the Reformed folks who were in that discussion. I believe that Lane [...]

  461. Bryan Cross said,

    August 1, 2012 at 8:03 am

    David G., (re: 458)

    as if Jesus is going to be care about their knowledge of what church fathers, popes, and saints said on the Last Day, rather than fidelity to what He spake in His Word.

    In the “solo scriptura” paradigm, in which nothing but Scripture has divine authority, it doesn’t matter if people submit to the Church; it only matters that they submit to Scripture. But in the Protestant-Catholic discussion, what is in question is, among other things, precisely the “solo scriptura” paradigm. Using the “solo scriptura” paradigm in defense of the “solo scriptura” paradigm would be to reason in a circle.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  462. August 1, 2012 at 8:19 am

    Bryan,

    It doesn’t matter if I am a church member, and I don’t submit to my Presbyterian elders?

    Come on…

    As for circulariuty, fine, you want to dance? I’m game.

    Andrew

  463. Jeremy Tate said,

    August 1, 2012 at 8:26 am

    Dgh,

    The fact that confessional reformed denominations allow pastors to “take exception” to various teachings from councils demonstrates that within the Reformed paradigm councils in fact have no real authority. Think about it; if the “authority” of church councils only extends to those theological areas where the individual already agrees with the council then what is really “valued” is freedom of thought.

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

  464. August 1, 2012 at 8:27 am

    Basically, the circularity thing is really a question about the nature of faith. Its the kind of discussions I got into on atheist facebook threads (bad idea…I deleted all comments, those poor suckers…). Its question about the nature of faith, not papal authority. You should check out j Gresham machen’s “what is faith.” Not meant to be condescending. I’ll chime in when i feel in some small way I might help. But the circularity thing is a rabbit hole for this thread. Get back to the Pope. And Lane’s original words.
    Kind regards,Andrew

  465. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 1, 2012 at 8:36 am

    Bryan, historical Protestantism doesn’t use the solo Scriptura paradigm.

    So why bring it up?

  466. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 1, 2012 at 8:41 am

    dgh, I think David’s point is that in the last judgment, Church teaching will not be a “cover” for those who have disobeyed God’s word.

    “Why did you bow to statues of me?”

    “The church told me that it wasn’t a violation of your Word!”

    “My Word told you otherwise.”

  467. johnbugay said,

    August 1, 2012 at 9:23 am

    Bryan 460: In the “Roman Catholic” paradigm, in which “Tradition” has the same divine authority as Scripture, people are required to submit themselves to man-made rules in addition to being subject to Scripture. But in the Protestant-Catholic discussion, what is in question is, among other things, precisely the “Roman Catholic” paradigm. Using the “Roman Catholic” paradigm in defense of “Roman Catholic Tradition” would be to reason in a circle.

  468. Andrew McCallum said,

    August 1, 2012 at 9:28 am

    In the “solo scriptura” paradigm, in which nothing but Scripture has divine authority, it doesn’t matter if people submit to the Church; it only matters that they submit to Scripture.

    Bryan – You know better than saying something like this. We submit to the Church as it defined in Scriptures. If Scripture commands that we submit to this Church then how could we ignore it? Roman Catholics submit to the Church because they believe that the Church demands it. It’s a different source for what defines the Church. So in a nutshell what Lane asked in his opening post was whether there is justification (biblical, historical, or other) for the ecclesiastical system that is peculiar to Rome.

  469. Bryan Cross said,

    August 1, 2012 at 9:31 am

    Jeff,

    Bryan, historical Protestantism doesn’t use the solo Scriptura paradigm.

    Is the fundamental reason you are a member of your denomination (a) because it is the very one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church Christ founded in the first century, against which the gates of hell shall not prevail, and whose determinations of orthodoxy and heresy bind your conscience on account of their divine authority, whose decision regarding which books belong to the Bible determines authoritatively which books you accepts as canonical, and whose teaching concerning the meaning and interpretation of Scripture determines your own, or (b) because its statement of faith presently most closely matches (or at some point in the recent past most closely matched) your interpretation of Scripture, among the available denominations within Sunday morning driving range of your house?

    If (b), then you use the “solo paradigm,” as Neal and I explained in “Solo Scriptura, Sola Scriptura, and the Question of Interpretive Authority.”

    I bring it up in response to David’s comment because applied to the papacy question, using the “solo scriptura” paradigm to evaluate the papacy question presupposes the falsehood of the Catholic paradigm. No real evaluation of two paradigms is taking place when one of the two paradigms is being presupposed in the criteria used to compare the two. I would agree, of course, that using the Catholic paradigm to evaluate the Catholic paradigm would also be circular reasoning. But, so far as I know, none of the Catholic persons commenting here is suggesting such a thing.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  470. August 1, 2012 at 9:47 am

    Stick around Bryan. We’re glad you like reading our blog posts and comments. I for one appreciate your questions. Yes, when two opposing view points are presented, one or the other must be wrong. But from our perspective, denominations are a peace inducing thing – when Luther felt he could no longer submit to the teaching, he did the noble thing and peaceably withdrew. Rather than upset the peace and purity of the church, when one realizes the two can’t be made one, separation is the answer.

    Without knowing really anything in this regard, Jason Stellman did the same thing. Is Luther wrong? Stellman? Well, I don’t know what’s prompting him or you to post, other than an honest probing and seeking. I would encourage you to stick around. I’ll re-read all your posts. Not to get in your head. But to try to help. Peace.

  471. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 1, 2012 at 9:48 am

    (c) None of the Above.

    The clue that you have presented a false dichotomy is found in your lack of parallel structure.

    Option (a) is presented as an objective fact. Option (b) is presented as a subjective interpretation. You’ve loaded the dice in so doing.

    That dice-loading is the key flaw in your arguments concerning authority.

    To make the structure properly parallel, you would need to write to it EITHER as

    subjectively parallel
    (a) because I agree with its claims to be the one holy … church,
    (b) because its statements of faith most presently matches my own interpretation…

    OR

    objectively parallel
    (a) because it is the one, holy … church
    (b) because its statement of faith is the best representation of what the Scripture teaches.

    As I have tried to make clear in our previous discussions on this point, you confuse agency with interpretative authority.

  472. johnbugay said,

    August 1, 2012 at 9:55 am

    Bryan 467: (a) because it is the very one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church Christ founded in the first century,

    How is this not merely an assumption on your part? An assumption with lots of steps, but an assumption nevertheless.

    And, according to Minnerath, it is an assumption that the Eastern church never accepted.

  473. Alan D. Strange said,

    August 1, 2012 at 10:07 am

    Luther did not “peaceably withdraw” from the Roman Church. His teaching was condemned by Leo X in 1520 by the bull “Exsurge, Domine,” threatening excommunication in sixty days if Luther failed to repent.

    SPOILER ALERT: Luther did not “repent” and instead burned the papal bull, which he took to have no authority, contravening Scripture as it did.

  474. August 1, 2012 at 10:11 am

    Well, if that’s a call to war, I’m ready to fight. Not sure if I have earned the title ‘machen warrior child’ , but being an OPC guy for 40% of my life (and 100% of my adult life), I’m willing to concede we must take the fight to them. Just trying to ‘maintain the peace.’ There’s more I could say about Luther. Thanks for the corrective, Dr. Strange. Peace.

  475. Bryan Cross said,

    August 1, 2012 at 10:16 am

    Jeff,

    You didn’t say what (c) is.

    So if the PCA went FV, you would stay in the PCA? If not, then how does (b) not accurately reflect why you are in the PCA rather than, say, the CREC?

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  476. August 1, 2012 at 10:18 am

    Jesus did have choice words for those who are the peacemakers – sons of God, no? But sometimes, peace comes by way of sword. Fully understandable. Thanks be for him who through His active obedience secured all on my behalf. May I learn to trust Him for all, all the more, as I rest, take care of those around me, and stay away from these blogs which are the most addicting thing I’ve met since becoming Presbyterian and finding out what good stout tastes like. Seriously, if you don’t need a drink after 473 comments, you are a better man than I… :-)

  477. dghart said,

    August 1, 2012 at 10:19 am

    Bryan, if your position is a) it is the very one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church Christ founded in the first century, how do you know that Mormons aren’t the true church? What if Christ and some of his followers left behind a rival set of plates, with different instructions? Looks to me like your grounded on the quicksand of ever shifting historical revelations. Not to mention that much of your knowledge of the founding of the church comes from Scripture (which happens to be a historical document itself).

    Maybe if you were a Jerusalem Catholic, you’d have a better case. Rome came late, even after Antioch.

  478. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 1, 2012 at 10:26 am

    (c) Because the Confession is the best reflection of Scriptural teaching.

    So if the PCA went FV, you would stay in the PCA? If not, then how does (b) not accurately reflect why you are in the PCA rather than, say, the CREC?

    It’s an interesting hypothetical. I feel much more loyalty to my local church than to the PCA as a whole. If my local church went FV, I would probably leave.

    Back at you: If, hypothetically, a teaching of the RC church were shown to contradict Scripture, would you still regard it as the “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church”?

  479. johnbugay said,

    August 1, 2012 at 10:29 am

    Jeff 476:

    Back at you: If, hypothetically, a teaching of the RC church were shown to contradict Scripture, would you still regard it as the “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church”?

    Bad question. Under the “Catholic IP”, by definition, this would never happen.

  480. Bryan Cross said,

    August 1, 2012 at 10:37 am

    Jeff,

    Your (c) is a species of (b). You worship in the PCA denomination because it affirms the WCF, and you affirm the WCF because you think it most closely reflects Scriptural teaching. Your “If my local church went FV, I would probably leave,” shows that your position falls in the (b) category.

    My point is not to debate all that, but only to point out that using this paradigm to evaluate the Catholic paradigm is to reason in a circle, by presupposing the answer to the question, in one’s method of evaluating the possible answers to the question.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  481. TurretinFan said,

    August 1, 2012 at 10:42 am

    Bryan wrote: “Is the fundamental reason you are a member of your denomination (a) because it is the very one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church … or (b) because its statement of faith presently most closely matches (or at some point in the recent past most closely matched) your interpretation of Scripture, among the available denominations within Sunday morning driving range of your house?”

    Naturally, Bryan’s dichotomy is false. There is more that goes into selecting denominational and/or congregational membership than its degree of agreement with one’s own views. Some people are members of a church because that is the church they grew up in – or because it is the church their spouse grew up in – or because they have a great children’s program – or because it is the closest gospel-preaching church – etc. etc.

    It’s also false because if one is picking a church because of reason (a), they are picking it because of reason (b).

    Furthermore, Bryan’s proposed dichotomy works on a local level with Rome’s communion. In many places, Roman Catholics can pick between reasonably close places of worship based on things like which rite they are, whether they are actively anti-abortion or actively social justice, whether they are charismatic or traditional, or whether they use the traditional latin mass or the new order on a regular basis. Since all of those groups are (on some level) endorsed by Rome, the selection for a Roman Catholic comes down to his personal preference, not whether the local place of worship is “the one true church.”

    The one true church is not a single denomination (contrary to the ultra-sectarianism of Rome, the Westboro Baptists, the LDS, and like cults). Instead, there are many denominations that preach the gospel. As a result, one’s decision about associating with a church does not any more depend on determining that the denomination is “the one true church” than an RC’s decision to go to a liberal parish or a conservative parish depends on determining that the specific parish (to the exclusion of the other) is “the one true church.”

    Furthermore, Bryan’s accusation that we use the “solo paradigm” is misleading at best. People in the “solo paradigm” happen to agree with us (who don’t use that paradigm) that Rome is not “the one true church” and that actually “the one true church” is not a single denomination. But that doesn’t make the paradigm distinctively “solo” as opposed to “sola.” To provide an analogy, the Nazi’s held (at least in theory) that sodomy was wrong. We happen to agree with them about that. But it would be misleading to say that we have “Nazi paradigm” of sexuality.

    The fundamental fallacy of Bryan’s post has already been demonstrated, which is that all he does is point out a shared agreement between sola and solo positions on a matter that distinguishes both positions from the Roman position.

    What makes Bryan’s accusation actually false (and not just misleading) is that he also defines what constitutes the “solo position.” He states that “In the “solo scriptura” paradigm, in which nothing but Scripture has divine authority, it doesn’t matter if people submit to the Church; it only matters that they submit to Scripture.”

    Now, that position is easily distinguished from the sola position, in which the churches, parents, husbands, and the civil magistrate have divine authority, and in which it does matter if people submit to the churches, their parents, their husbands, and the civil magistrate.

    Yet both the sola position and the solo position permit believers to select amongst gospel-preaching denominations. Thus, they are both different from Rome, but yet the “sola paradigm” is distinguishable from the “solo paradigm.”

    In short, just because the churches are not the ultimate authority in either the Sola or Solo position does not mean that the Sola and Solo positions are the same.

    -TurretinFan

    P.S. Incidentally, it’s interesting to see how we’re not seeing Bryan actually trying to argue for the papacy, despite that being the topic of the thread.

  482. August 1, 2012 at 10:44 am

    Your PS, TF, was my thought exactly. BC should go write his own blog post…time for a memosa?

  483. johnbugay said,

    August 1, 2012 at 10:49 am

    TF 480:

    P.S. Incidentally, it’s interesting to see how we’re not seeing Bryan actually trying to argue for the papacy, despite that being the topic of the thread.

    Seems like a move born out of desperation. “This tactic used to work…”

  484. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 1, 2012 at 10:50 am

    Bryan, really?

    Before I wrote #477, I thought, “I’ll bet he is simply going to try to conflate (b) and (c). I should ask him to fix his question first.”

    Then I thought, “I should give him a chance to interact more thoughtfully. Perhaps he’ll think about his lack of parallel structure and what it means for his arguments. Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and answer forthrightly.”

    And then ya let me down, man.

    You have to fix your parallel structure problem before we can have a meaningful discussion here.

  485. Bryan Cross said,

    August 1, 2012 at 10:58 am

    TF,

    Now, that position is easily distinguished from the sola position, in which the churches, parents, husbands, and the civil magistrate have divine authority, and in which it does matter if people submit to the churches, their parents, their husbands, and the civil magistrate.

    Where the term ‘church’ refers to that group of persons who sufficiently shares one’s interpretation of Scripture concerning what is the gospel. So that position still falls under (b). And my point is that using the (b) paradigm to evaluate the (a) paradigm presupposes the (b) paradigm.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  486. jsm52 said,

    August 1, 2012 at 11:13 am

    I keep reading (Bryan) how Protestants believe that “nothing but Scripture has divine authority.” And then, as Bryan suggests, for them “it doesn’t matter if people submit to the Church” because obviously it has no divine authority. That has already been shown to be a hollow proof built on a false assumption.

    The question isn’t about divine authority, but infallible authority. There are two historical sources from which to draw conclusions: 1) Divine history, i.e. Scripture, which is infallible and divinely written for the purpose of God’s people knowing and believing what He has chosen to reveal all man needs to know regarding salvation and the purpose of God; 2) The other is fallible and incomplete history as written by imperfect man. There is no assurance of knowing truth in the second option unless the RCC, as it presumes, has been set up as the infallible interpreter of Scripture and church history. Disagreement over interpretation results from both sources. But at least one of them is complete and infallible.

    And I find it quite amazing that “perspicuity of Scripture” is denigrated by the CtC crowd while they argue from an implicit “perspicuity” of so-called tradition and history. Sheesh…

    All this emphasis on “tradition” as a proof of the RCC’s bona fides reminds me of Eccl. 1:15 – I have seen all the works which have been done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and striving after wind.

    Jack

  487. TurretinFan said,

    August 1, 2012 at 11:18 am

    Bryan,

    a1) You’re smart enough to figure out (and you’ve been told enough times) that we don’t define “church” as “that group of persons who sufficiently shares one’s interpretation of Scripture concerning what is the gospel.” You should be above suggesting something you know is not true.

    a2) The church of all the faithful is the collection of all people who in fact hold to the gospel. That’s an objective reality, whether or not it is a subjectively discernable reality. Likewise, true churches are churches that preach what actually is the gospel. That is also an objective reality, whether or not it is a subjectively discernable reality. Moreover, true churches include a mixture of the faithful and unbelievers. So, the first sense of church and the second sense of church are different from one another – but neither is defined subjectively.

    b) Even if we did use your proposed definition, “church” in that sense does not equate to “denomination” (except in the case of ultra-sectarians like Rome), which undermines your (a)/(b) false dichotomy.

    c) The gospel creates the church, not the church the gospel. Even your own church acknowledges this fact. So, this ought to be a shared presupposition in the discussion, even if it is a presupposition. As such, where’s your argument and supporting evidence that your church is the church created by the gospel? Our argument and evidence that our churches are churches created by the gospel are based on Scripture.

    -TurretinFan

  488. Bob S said,

    August 1, 2012 at 11:18 am

    Dunno, the more things change the more they remain the same.
    Or semper eadem as Rome puts it.
    But for my money I’d go for semper superficial or semper shallow. But what do I know?

    Sean tells us confidently in 417

    The word Paul uses in 2 Tim 3:16 is ‘ophelimos.’ This word is used by Paul three times. Every time the word is used we see that Paul is not saying that this is all you need but he is rather saying that what he mentions is profitable.

    We don’t disagree that scripture is profitable. We disagree that scripture claims that scripture alone is the only rule of faith. In fact, scripture itself testifies to a church that had authority to bind doctrines for the whole church.

    Uh, like isn’t this a red herring? What’s really at issue is what Paul means when he says Scripture is given “that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works 2 Tim. 3:17″.

    In 420 Sean says,

    The Catholic Church has been using Holy Scripture to teach, rebuke, correct and train in righteousness for 2,000 + years.

    Now, you said, “The questions don’t track when we consider the objection to settling doctrinal dispute or adjudicating controversy.” That passage does not say that scripture alone is what settles doctrinal disputes and adjudicating controversy. That passage says that scripture is ‘profitable’ for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training. Nobody here disagrees with that.

    Uh, but isn’t this equivocation? Doesn’t the RCC define Scripture to include Sacred Tradition?

    In 424 Sean said,

    # 423.Is it that you simply lack any valid arguments for the papacy?

    No, that’s not it.

    I am asking the Protestant to prove that scripture alone is meant to settle doctrinal disputes because that is what the Protestant claims. Seems pretty fair to me.

    And, notwithstanding that the Catholic Church has been ‘making a valid argument’ for the papacy for over 2,000 years, we humble few at Called to Communion have published many such articles and essays about the papacy from the perspective of scripture and Holy Tradition which can be accessed from our archive on the site.

    Uh, which is it? Scripture and Holy Tradition or just Scripture which includes Holy Tradition?
    Doesn’t the Scripture say something about being double minded and letting your nay be nay?

    In 428 Sean waxes deflective with links galore concluding:

    Here is your official invitation to go into any one of those conversations and explain how we’re wrong.

    Um, maybe if you haven’t done such a good job here of making your case, we’re not really interested in wasting more time elsewhere.

    Then in 429 Sean said,

    The way its going on this thread is that somebody complains that the Catholic is not presenting his case. The case is then presented (Bless Pete Holter for his efforts) and then that case is mocked, waved away and then back to complaining that no case is being made.

    So far, Mr. Holter comes across as an amiable, if not genial dunce. I am sure he means well, but either it escapes you that your argument on 3Tim.3:15-17 consists entirely of red herrings and equivocation and you are then likewise incompetent to judge Mr. Holter’s arguments or you realize your arguments are fallacious, but figure if brassing it out works for you, then why not plump for Mr. Holter’s arguments also.

    As for 432 it is simply incoherent.
    Arguably it’s a fallacy of the missing middle term.

    On the contrary, The universal Church cannot err, since she is governed by the Holy Ghost, Who is the Spirit of truth: for such was Our Lord’s promise to His disciples (Jn. 16:13): “When He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will teach you all truth.” Now the symbol is published by the authority of the universal Church. Therefore it contains nothing defective. (Summa Theologica, II.II, q. 1, a. 9

    There’s no question that the Lord made a promise to the apostles. Protestants apply this to the the inspiration necessary to write the NT and in general to the church, while Romanists apply it to the charismatic chrism of apostolic succession. OK. Make your case.

    And then there is 445

    But the Scriptures nowhere condemn those who believe that Christ has instituted a senior pastor who exercises care over His entire flock, or who believe that the ability to bind and loose on earth what has been bound and loosed in heaven entails infallibility of some kind.

    Peter, nowhere does the Scripture condemn those who believe in the Wizard of Oz. What of it?
    The question is not the negative, but what does Scripture positively approve of in Christ’s Church? Your position is that Christ approves of the Bishop of Rome of not only having universal jurisdiction, but also infallibility. That’s what needs to be proved. From Scripture alone if you want any ears here. And that doesn’t mean just flooding the combox with texts and assertions.

  489. Bob S said,

    August 1, 2012 at 11:20 am

    But the Scriptures nowhere condemn those who believe that Christ has instituted a senior pastor who exercises care over His entire flock, or who believe that the ability to bind and loose on earth what has been bound and loosed in heaven entails infallibility of some kind.

    Peter, nowhere does the Scripture condemn those who believe in the Wizard of Oz. What of it?
    The question is not the negative, but what does Scripture positively approve of in Christ’s Church? Your position is that Christ approves of the Bishop of Rome of not only having universal jurisdiction, but also infallibility. That’s what needs to be proved. From Scripture alone if you want any ears here. And that doesn’t mean just flooding the combox with texts and assertions.

  490. Bob S said,

    August 1, 2012 at 11:21 am

    420 Sorry Burton, you are four years to late, at least in this combox when it comes to this junkyard dog clearing the question before his doghouse.

    It came up in the April ‘08 discussion of the FV, A Cautionary Note. Comment 21 closes with a quote from Letter XI

    . . . from Pascal’s Letter to the Jesuits who protested his ridicule of them. They are close enough to what I think is in A’s City of God, but can’t find at the moment.

    “And so far from its being impious to laugh at them, St. Augustine holds it to be the effect of divine wisdom: “The wise laugh at the foolish, because they are wise, not after their own wisdom, but after that divine wisdom which shall laugh at the death of the wicked.”

    “For, according to St. Augustine, “charity may sometimes oblige us to ridicule the errors of men, that they may be induced to laugh at them in their turn, and renounce them.”

    http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/p/pascal/blaise/p27pr/part12.html

    This should keep everybody happy.
    We have Scripture, Prov. 1:26, 26:5 – check Protestants.
    We have an argument from texts – check philosphers ( I didn’t say sophists) such as Bryan over at CtC
    And we have Early Church Fathers – Tertullian being yet another who says “To treat them seriously would be to sanction them.”
    IOW bingo.

    Further, Bryan dissappeared when he was answered about presuppositions and circular arguments, but lo and behold he is back again pumping the same, (speaking to us no doubt from the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica, just in case you Sunday drivers haven’t figured it out.
    But that the Roman circle of infallible Scripture, tradition and magisterium is bigger than the Protestant circle of Scripture alone has yet to be answered. Again, same as for Muslims and Mormons, justify from Scripture your dismissal of it even as you hurry on in search of the Lost Ark of Oral Traditions, the Koran and the Pearl of Great Price.)
    ADA can’t answer his evasions of 2Tim.3 and will only return when he thinks everybody has forgotten.
    Sean already left, but he’s back.

    IOW they love it over here. It’s in their DNA. Like Don Quixote, they love to break a lance.
    In part that’s because the comment policy is much more liberal here than at CtC which gets to be a rather stultifying sociological congratulationfest among Romanists who can’t forget their private judgement Prot past.
    But that’s just my two cents.

  491. dghart said,

    August 1, 2012 at 11:29 am

    Bryan, I know we’ve been down this road before, but be honest. You and CTC guys chose Rome because its claims about the magisterium made sense. Or did they send the police and force you to submit?

  492. Sean said,

    August 1, 2012 at 11:34 am

    Turretin Fan.

    The church of all the faithful is the collection of all people who in fact hold to the gospel. That’s an objective reality, whether or not it is a subjectively discernable reality. Likewise, true churches are churches that preach what actually is the gospel.

    And how do you know what the gospel is?

    Oh, by your interpretation of scripture.

    So, Bryan is absolutely right.

    You figure out what the gospel is, based on your reading of scripture and then you identify ‘the church’ by whichever groups of persons preach ‘the gospel.’

  493. Bryan Cross said,

    August 1, 2012 at 11:34 am

    D.G. Hart,

    , I know we’ve been down this road before, but be honest. You and CTC guys chose Rome because its claims about the magisterium made sense.

    You can find my answer to that objection in the first link I provided here.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  494. Sean said,

    August 1, 2012 at 11:37 am

    Incidentally, it’s interesting to see how we’re not seeing Bryan actually trying to argue for the papacy, despite that being the topic of the thread.

    Actually, the topic of thread has to to with…”on what basis do we evaluate the claims of the Papacy?” And this is exactly his point on pointing out the fact that evaluating the papacy from a ‘sola scritpura’ paradigm is not a legitmate basis for evaluating the papacy.

  495. jsm52 said,

    August 1, 2012 at 11:42 am

    And how do you know what the gospel is?

    Oh, by your interpretation of scripture.

    So, Bryan is absolutely right.

    You figure out what the gospel is, based on your reading of scripture and then you identify ‘the church’ by whichever groups of persons preach ‘the gospel.’

    Can someone here define sophistry?

  496. TurretinFan said,

    August 1, 2012 at 11:42 am

    Sean:

    You wrote: “And how do you know what the gospel is? Oh, by your interpretation of scripture. So, Bryan is absolutely right. You figure out what the gospel is, based on your reading of scripture and then you identify ‘the church’ by whichever groups of persons preach ‘the gospel.’”

    How we identify the church (an inherently subjective process) is different from what defines the church (an objective reality). The goal of the subjective process is to identify the objective reality. Bryan knows the difference between those two, perhaps you are bright enough to figure it out too.

    -TurretinFan

  497. sean said,

    August 1, 2012 at 11:43 am

    TF says;

    ‘Furthermore, Bryan’s proposed dichotomy works on a local level with Rome’s communion. In many places, Roman Catholics can pick between reasonably close places of worship based on things like which rite they are, whether they are actively anti-abortion or actively social justice, whether they are charismatic or traditional, or whether they use the traditional latin mass or the new order on a regular basis. Since all of those groups are (on some level) endorsed by Rome, the selection for a Roman Catholic comes down to his personal preference, not whether the local place of worship is “the one true church.”

    TF,

    You know it hurts my feelings to follow your conversations agreeably.

    Sean Moore

  498. TurretinFan said,

    August 1, 2012 at 11:45 am

    jsm:

    In fairness to Sean, it’s only sophistry on his part if he’s actually able to distinguish between objective reality (churches that preach the gospel are true churches) and subjective knowledge of that reality (our fallible ability to discern the objective reality).

    -TurretinFan

  499. Sean said,

    August 1, 2012 at 11:49 am

    How we identify the church (an inherently subjective process) is different from what defines the church (an objective reality).

    But your mark of the church (those that preach what I think the gospel is) is entirely subjective. You look for the church subjectively (by reading scripture and looking for a group of persons that preach what you think the gospel is) and then define the church under that subjective understanding.
    Your church is not an objective reality. Your neighbor could and may define ‘the gospel’ differently than you and exclude your church from ‘the visible’ church on that basis.
    The visible marks of the church that the fathers passed to us are not subjective. They are: One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic.

  500. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 1, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    Bryan, ‘benefit of the doubt’ only goes so far.

    Are you able to acknowledge that #468 presents a false dichotomy because of faulty parallelism? If not, then why should we accept your arguments?

    I really hate to badger, but you need to demonstrate good faith here.

  501. jsm52 said,

    August 1, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    TFan,

    In fairness to Sean, it’s only sophistry on his part if he’s actually able to distinguish between objective reality (churches that preach the gospel are true churches) and subjective knowledge of that reality (our fallible ability to discern the objective reality).

    -TurretinFan

    I’m beginning to doubt he is able to make that distinction…

  502. Zrim said,

    August 1, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    But, Jeff (#465), Biblicism is no more a cover for disobedience than popery—as in why didn’t you baptize your children like the church I ordained exhorted you to do? That the Bible told one to withhold the covenant sign and seal won’t be a justification, but it’s a different situation for the one who administered it because he obeyed the church.

    Yes, the Word is prior to the church, but that doesn’t mean the church lacks authority. This is why evangelicals mistake Protestants for latent Catholics and Catholics lump Protestants in with evangelicals.

  503. TurretinFan said,

    August 1, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    See, jsm? I don’t think Sean can tell the difference.

    “But your mark of the church (those that preach what I think the gospel is) is entirely subjective.”

    That isn’t the mark – the mark is “those that preach the gospel” not “those that preach what I think the gospel is.”

    “You look for the church subjectively (by reading scripture and looking for a group of persons that preach what you think the gospel is) and then define the church under that subjective understanding.”

    In any judgment there is a subjective application of standards. That’s true of our judgments and your judgments too. It’s just a fact of how humans judge.

    “Your church is not an objective reality. Your neighbor could and may define ‘the gospel’ differently than you and exclude your church from ‘the visible’ church on that basis. The visible marks of the church that the fathers passed to us are not subjective. They are: One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic.”

    Even if that were the standard, the judgment that Rome meets the standard is still a subjective judgment. Your neighbor could and may define “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic” differently than you and exclude Rome from the visible church on that basis. In fact, I’m an example of that – I don’t think that Rome is Holy or Apostolic.

    Moreover, even if the standard itself were universally agreed upon, there would still be the subjective determination of whether Rome meets that standard. Is Rome really Catholic? She wasn’t spread throughout the world immediately following the great schism with the Eastern sees. She didn’t meet that geographic test of catholicity (the one Augustine tried to use against the Donatists). Immediately after the great schism with the East, she existed only in a part of the world.

    -TurretinFan

  504. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 1, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    And Sean, your mark of the church is also entirely subjective in exactly the same way (“the church that satisfies the criteria that I believe mark the one, true, apostolic church”).

    Anyone, anywhere, who evaluates evidence must do so as a subjective agent.

    You can’t escape subjectivity by sitting under the cover of a larger church — for you must first choose the church under whose cover you sit, and then the truth of what you accept is always contingent on the correctness of your choice.

  505. Bryan Cross said,

    August 1, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    Jeff,

    Are you able to acknowledge that #468 presents a false dichotomy because of faulty parallelism?

    Show me a third option that doesn’t reduce to (a) or (b) in #469, and I’ll have a reason to believe that that there is some third option.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  506. David Gadbois said,

    August 1, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    Bryan Cross said Using the “solo scriptura” paradigm in defense of the “solo scriptura” paradigm would be to reason in a circle.

    Bryan, this seems to be the only weapon in your arsenal, accusing us of circular reasoning. This cannot stand in for an actual argument that provides positive evidence for the papacy. Even if we are using circular reasoning, that would not be a reason to believe in the papacy.

    You need to actually provide such an argument. You guys are just wasting our time.

  507. Bryan Cross said,

    August 1, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    David,

    This cannot stand in for an actual argument that provides positive evidence for the papacy. Even if we are using circular reasoning, that would not be a reason to believe in the papacy.

    Of course. My point about circular reason was in no way intended as an argument for the papacy. But, such ground clearing is absolutely essential in order to go about the inquiry in a non-question-begging manner. As for the evidence for the papacy, I couldn’t possibly sum it all up in a combox. I would point to the books in “The Papacy and Magisterium” section of CTC’s “Suggested Reading” page.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  508. jsm52 said,

    August 1, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    So in the CtC paradigm, it seems the only objective reality is the Roman Catholic Church?

    Everything else (including Scriptural truth) is boiled down to one’s subjective interpretation?

    Reminds me of the old Laugh-In TV show line: “Interesting, but crazy…” (said with German accent).

  509. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 1, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    Bryan, you were clearly shown that (a) and (b) are apples and oranges, the first being objective and the second subjective. This means that, automatically, two other options, the subjective version of (a) and the objective of (b), exist at least as a matter of logic.

    This obvious fact needs to be on the table before one can begin to discuss which options reduce to the others.

    You just blew it in #468 — we all do — and it would be an important show of good faith if you could ‘fess up.

  510. Bryan Cross said,

    August 1, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    Jeff,

    I don’t wish to badger you, but what, exactly, is third option that does not reduce to (a) or (b) in #469? I don’t see you provide any third option in #508. You talk about “subjective versions,” etc, but what, exactly, is the third option, the one you yourself hold?

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  511. David Gadbois said,

    August 1, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    Bryan said As for the evidence for the papacy, I couldn’t possibly sum it all up in a combox.

    This is a complete cop-out, inasmuch as Lane’s post and this comment thread EXIST FOR THE PURPOSE OF DISCUSSING SUCH EVIDENCE. It does not exist for the purpose of Romanists taking whatever shots they want at us (we have discussed the sola scriptura/circularity charge many times in other threads).

    In keeping with this fact, it looks like I will have to resume deleting posts unless this matter is specifically addressed.

  512. dghart said,

    August 1, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    Bryan, again you haven’t really come clean. In your links from 492 I went here http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2010/05/the-tu-quoque/. Again, you misunderstand the Protestant view. Some Reformed do actually believe that preaching is the word of God (defined correctly) and that synods and councils are an ordinance of God. So the contrast you draw between Protestant authorities (only human) and apostolic succession (divine) won’t fly. Plus, your humans are just as prone to error as ours. Look at the contrasts between Vatican 1 and Vatican 2 (sorry, I know you don’t like to range outside the early church).

    In this post you also write:

    “What the person becoming Catholic discovers in his study of history, tradition and Scripture is not merely an interpretation. If what he discovered were merely an interpretation of history, tradition and Scripture, then what he discovered would have no more authority than any Protestant confession. If his discovery were merely an interpretation, it too would be merely a human opinion. The prospective Catholic finds in his study of history and tradition and Scripture something that does not have a merely human source, either from himself or from other mere humans not having divine authorization. He finds in the first, second and third (etc.) centuries something with a divine origin and with divine authority. He finds the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church and its magisterial authority in succession from the Apostles and from Christ. He does not merely find an interpretation in which the Church has apostolic succession; he finds this very same Church itself, and he finds it to have divine authority by a succession from the Apostles. In finding the Church he finds an organic entity nearly two thousand years old with a divinely established hierarchy preserving divine authority. The basis for the authority of the Church he finds is not its agreement with his own interpretation of Scripture, history or tradition. History, tradition and Scripture are means by which and through which He discovers the Church in reality. The Church he finds in history and in the present has its divine authority from Christ through the Apostles and the bishops by way of succession.”

    This is sheer intellectual folly. Everything is an interpretation. Rome’s self-understanding is an interpretation. If you think you can find a body of truth free from interpretation, you may be ripe for becoming that computer Hal in 2001 A Space Odyssey.

  513. Bryan Cross said,

    August 1, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    D.G. Hart,

    Everything is an interpretation.

    This is where we disagree. I don’t think everything is an interpretation. The notion that everything is an interpretation is, in my opinion, a form of philosophical skepticism, similar to Berkeleyan idealism. I don’t hold that philosophical position, and I believe it to be false.

    But, resolving the disagreement between philosophical skepticism and realism, would take some time, and take us off topic for this thread. I will say, however, that this disagreement is not fundamentally a theological disagreement, but a pre-theological disagreement, namely, a philosophical disagreement that affects how we approach history and texts.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  514. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 1, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    Bryan, you present

    (a) My church is the one, true, holy church.
    (b) The teaching of my church best fits my interpretation of Scripture.

    In addition, there must also be

    (c) My church best fits my understanding of the one, true, holy church.
    (d) The teaching of my church best accords with Scripture.

    If (d) must always reduce to (b), then (a) must always reduce to (c).

    David G, I think I’m trying to address the claim of papal supremacy here in terms of focusing on how the historical evidence is evaluated. But if you think otherwise, I’ll leave off.

  515. Pete Holter said,

    August 1, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    Bob S. wrote, “Peter, nowhere does the Scripture condemn those who believe in the Wizard of Oz. What of it?

    Greetings in Christ, Bob!

    My concern here is that in the one case of creating division in the Body of Christ, I would be joining myself to something that is explicitly condemned by Scripture were I to follow after it; but in the other case of being subjected to an infallible hierarchy governed by a universal pastor, I would not be joining myself to something explicitly condemned by Scripture were I to follow after it. So my thought is, How could I choose to do the former as a way of objecting to the latter?

    Bob S. wrote, “Your position is that Christ approves of the Bishop of Rome of not only having universal jurisdiction, but also infallibility. That’s what needs to be proved. From Scripture alone if you want any ears here.

    What are your thoughts on the connections between Isaiah 22, Matthew 16, Revelation 1:18, and Revelation 3:7, and whatever other texts you may think are relevant? How do you put them all together?

    Also, what do you think of Augustine’s thoughts on Peter as representative of all Christians in the universal church; and then of combining this with Peter’s role within the subset of the Apostles as Chief of the Apostles; and, finally, of what bearing this may have on our understanding of the hierarchy of the Church within the universal church? In other words, how might “Peter” manifest himself differently among the individual members of the Church, and, more specifically, among the individual members of the hierarchy?

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  516. Bryan Cross said,

    August 1, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    Jeff,

    Somehow, in #513 I still don’t see specified the third option — the one that you yourself hold. The only third option I’ve seen, that you claim to hold, is the one you provided in #478; and that one reduces to (b).

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  517. TurretinFan said,

    August 1, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    One should, in theory, be able to set forth a positive case for the papacy that does not allege that the other side is using circular reasoning. If so, then it is false that “such ground clearing is absolutely essential in order to go about the inquiry in a non-question-begging manner.”

    In other words, the inquiry could proceed by the papal advocate laying forth an argument for the papacy, wherein that does not beg the question, assuming such an argument exists. If the response to that argument begs the question, then that response’s circularity could then be addressed.

    But the argument in favor of the papacy hasn’t gotten off the ground yet.

    – TurretinFan

  518. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 1, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    Bryan, I will take your word that you in good faith do not see the third and fourth options.

    This is the ongoing obstacle in our dialogue.

    Your interchange with DGH (#512, 513) shows that you have a kind of special-pleading epistemology going on here.

    On your one hand, Protestants are mired in the subjective nature of textual interpretation. They cannot read the meaning of the text, but can only access their “interpretations of the text.”

    On your other hand, you yourself are able to perceive reality as it is, especially where it comes to the truth claims of the RC church. You are not limited to “your interpretation of history”, but can see it as it really is.

    Until you can see the special pleading for what it is, and either admit to yourself and us that (a) and (b) are actually equally subjective (or objective), then we will continue to be at loggerheads.

    I understand that you will possibly not agree at this time, which is fine.

    But please understand that, beginning with our first conversation in 2007, it has been my desire to faithfully point out the nature of the problem to you.

    Lord willing, I will continue to do so.

    Grace and peace,
    Jeff

  519. TurretinFan said,

    August 1, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    “Show me a third option that doesn’t reduce to (a) or (b) in #469, and I’ll have a reason to believe that that there is some third option.”

    I’ve already identified other options, such as, “This is the church I grew up in,” or “this is the church my spouse grew up in,” or “this church is a somewhat shorter drive,” and we could add to that, “I get more out of this pastor’s sermons” and “my friends go to that one.” Those may be the fundamental reasons why someone picks a particular Reformed denomination over another, similar Reformed denomination, particularly in places where people are blessed with an abundance of Reformed denominations.

    There are lots of reasons people have for picking one denomination over another. There are not only two.

    -TurretinFan

  520. TurretinFan said,

    August 1, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    Moreover, as Jeff has already pointed out, the fundamental flaw of the dichotomy is incomplete parallelism leading to lack of exhaustion of the set.

  521. otrmin said,

    August 1, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    The problem as I see it is this. There are only two options. Either we can know the correct interpretation of scripture without Roman authority, or we cannot. If you answer the latter, then one must the correct interpretation of scripture dependent upon a community. That is what, as I have already pointed out, reduces to postmodernism, because it makes out knowledge of the correct interpretation of a text [including church history] dependent upon community, with no way to decide between the limited, finite communities.. However, if you say the former, and argue that the scriptures teach Roman doctrines, and we can know them without going to Roman authority, then why can’t we go to the text, and have you show us that exegetically? Why must we present all of this garbage about “solo scriptura” when you yourself had to use “solo scriptura” in order to come to the position that Rome was true?

    There is simply no way out of this problem. If you admit that you have to presuppose the authority of Rome to get things like Papal infallibility, indulgences, the queenly coronation, and the thesaurus meritorum, you are caught with the fact that other groups claim the same ability to infallibly interpret, and if you have already set the church up as the standard, there is no objective way to decide between the standards given that the church if finite. It reduces to utter postmodernism. On the other hand, if you claim that your private interpretation led you to the conclusion that Rome was true, then the same question of how you know that your private interpretation of scripture that led you to the conclusion that Rome was true is correct in the first place. Worse than that, you are simply contradicting yourself when you accuse protestants of relying upon their private interpretation, since you had to rely upon the same private interpretation to come to the conclusion that Rome is true.

  522. TurretinFan said,

    August 1, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    Jeremy Tate:

    Your response to DGH that permitting exceptions demonstrates that the standards have no “real authority,” seems to presuppose that the only kind of authority that is real is absolute authority. That presupposition is wrong. Even Rome’s hierarchy incorporates ideas of subordinate authority. If you are allowed to disagree with your local bishop about what he teaches, that does not mean he has no “real authority.” It just means his authority is not ultimate.

    Likewise, the authority of the subordinate standards (WCF 3FU etc.) is not ultimate, but it is real.

    -TurretinFan

  523. otrmin said,

    August 1, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    I would also point out that authority in interpretation is not based in a church; it is based in God primarily and the author of the text secondarily. It is pure reductionism to accuse protestants of mere “private interpretation,” because it leaves out the other factors and interpretation: God and the author. As I mentioned above, we can know the correct interpretation because the author of the text and the interpreter are both created in the image of God, and the fact that both the author and the interpreter live, move, and have their being in God himself. Authority in interpretation comes from the validity of the interpretation, given the fact that Protestants and Catholics both believe the scriptures are God speaking to us. However, it is this relationship between author, interpreter, and God himself [being created in God's image, and living, moving, and having our being in him] that allows us to know which interpretation is valid.

    When it comes to any other field, we would not do this. Take the works of philosophy. Where is the infallible magisterium of Plato, Aristotle, and Marx? Does that mean that all we have is the “private interpretation” of Plato, Aristotle, and Marx, and no interpretation has more authority than the other, such that any Joe Smoe off the streets can come in and make a ridiculous interpretation of Plato, and we must say that it is just as valid as the others? Why not, if there is no magisterium of Plato? Therefore, I would challenge these Catholics who are so enamored with Philosophy to be consistent, they would never pick up another book of Philosophy again unless you can find an infallible magesterium of philosophical writings.

    The reality is that interpretation involves both the interpreter and the author and God himself. Yes, to remove the other two factors, does, indeed, leave us with only our own private interpretation. However, if those other two factors exist in interpretation, they provide a reference point upon which to know whether our interpretations are authoritative or not. Furthermore, removing those two other factors destroys authority in any other area of inquiry. Hence, I would also say this argument is simply unlivable.

  524. otrmin said,

    August 1, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    David Gadbois,

    But the argument in favor of the papacy hasn’t gotten off the ground yet.

    Bingo.

    I think the argument is “The Papacy is true because Rome says so,” and “The Papacy is scriptural because Rome says so.” And added to that is “No one from the Protestant side can even argue against us because they will just be relying upon their private interpretation to do so.”

    Mere appeals to authority. And jumping back and forth trying to hold together the arbitrary notion that private interpretation is wrong unless it leads to Rome is simply sad. What a mess.

  525. David Gadbois said,

    August 1, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    Tfan said In other words, the inquiry could proceed by the papal advocate laying forth an argument for the papacy, wherein that does not beg the question, assuming such an argument exists. If the response to that argument begs the question, then that response’s circularity could then be addressed.

    But the argument in favor of the papacy hasn’t gotten off the ground yet.

    Bingo. All we’ve gotten so far is hand-waving. It won’t do to philosophize their way to a pope, we need hard historical evidence. Anything less is just mythology, akin to accepting the claims and superstitions of Joseph Smith or Mohammed.

  526. Arnold said,

    August 1, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    John & Prots,

    Here is a simple question: Who do you believe started the Catholic Church?
    If you make a case that it was someone other than Jesus, you have no historical ground to stand on.
    If you admit that much, then on what basis do you separate from the Church which our Lord instituted? Any answer to this questions will necessarily put you in a tiny group because there is no principled, consistent answer to this question that is shared by many Protestants.

  527. Sean said,

    August 1, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    It won’t do to philosophize their way to a pope, we need hard historical evidence.

    So, the demand now is to prove the papacy, in a combox, or else you win the debate? Otherwise it’s a ‘cop out?’ Fine.

    Besides the scriptural evidence for the primacy of St. Peter, it is a fact that the earliest extant historical data that speaks on the matter confirm the fact that the church, from its infancy, believed in the sacramental succession of the apostles and the unique primacy of the bishop of Rome.

    If you disagree than I ask you to answer the following:

    Can you name one piece of historical evidence that meets these two conditions:

    (1) it shows that there was no monarchical bishop in Rome until the second half of the second century, and;

    (2) it is stronger evidence than is the list of St. Irenaeus (Against Heresies III.3.3)

    (Please show why it is stronger evidence than is St. Irenaeus’ list.)

    “Since, however, it would be very tedious, in such a volume as this, to reckon up the successions of all the Churches, we do put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vainglory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorized meetings; [we do this, I say,] by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its pre- eminent authority, that is, the faithful everywhere, inasmuch as the apostolical tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere.” Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 3:3:2 (A.D. 180)

    Church history is on our side on this. It simply is. This is why John Bugay (and others ) argue that all the fathers by at least the mid 2nd century ‘got it wrong’ or ‘were duped.’ That is required because John (and others) cannot escape what the fathers actually said. Instead, they would rather rely on postulating about what ‘could have been said’ prior to AD 250 in documents that don’t exist because their position demands it. For John Bugay (and others) either the fathers were ‘duped’ or Protestantism is false.

    If you are looking outside of church history and demanding scriptural evidence for the papacy than ultimately you’ll be in a position to wave away the scriptural basis and mock it and call me a ‘dunce’ like what was said to Peter Holter. Suffice to say, we believe, as did the fathers, that there is more than enough scriptural warrant to affirm that the church is visible and held together by the unity provided by the successor to St Peter.

    (I’d like to point out that Irenaeus’ list is about 250 years before the ‘sacking of Rome’, so much for Richard Bennett’s imaginative story).
    Now, I’ll just wait for a response to my query above. Or, you can just dismiss Irenaeus because it does not fit your story but then what would be the point of examining the historical evidence?

  528. otrmin said,

    August 1, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    I am sorry if I am stringing these posts together, but I have not been here for a day, and these thoughts are coming rapidly as I read through these posts.

    I think that there is a great confusion between whether the authority of the Catholic Church is accepted *temporally after* a person comes up with an interpretation of scripture and history, and whether the authority of the Catholic Church is the *logical foundation* for your acceptance of the *validity* of your interpretation of scripture and history. The truth of the first does not necessarily entail the falsity of the second.

    For example, let us say that a man who does not know anything about the writings of Plato decides to study Plato’s writings, and the writings of the history of Platonic thought. Let us say he comes up with a particular interpretation of Plato. Now, he wants to know if it is true or not, and he eventually comes to the conclusion that it is true on one basis: there is some nut who claimed to be the infallible interpreter of Plato, protected by God from error, and he has this tradition passed down from Plato to prove that, and your interpretation agrees with his. Hence, you reason that your interpretation must be correct because it has infallible authority behind it. While the acceptance of the infallible interpreter of Plato was temporally *after* he came up with the interpretation of Plato, nevertheless, he still rested the validity of that interpretation upon the infallible interpreter of Plato. He is reasoning:

    If my interpretation matches the infallible interpreter of Plato, then it must have infallible authority behind it, and therefore must be true.

    The problem is that the protaisis still contains the infallible interpreter of Plato, and the truth is still found in the apodosis. Even though he came up with the interpretation temporally before he accepted the above statement, the acceptance of the validity of that interpretation still rests upon the authority of the infallible interpreter of Plato.

    When an exegete comes up with an interpretation, he then goes about looking at the background, context, grammar, syntax, semantics, pragmatics, etc. to justify his interpretation. Hence, the justification comes from the many complex features of language itself. However, it appears that the traditionalist Roman Catholics have replaced with step with saying that the justification of an interpretation depends, not on those features, but upon whether or not an infallible authority is willing to validate that interpretation. While the acceptance of that premise takes place *after* you come up with the interpretation of the passage, your acceptance of the validity of that interpretation is still based upon the authority of the church, and saying that it came temporally after you came up with an individual interpretation does not change that fact.

    However, as I have already pointed out, it is the belief that the Catholic Church is the foundation of our acceptance of the validity of interpretation that logically leads to postmodernism. Whether that belief was accepted before or after you came up with an agreeing interpretation makes no difference as to what you finally based the acceptance of the validity of your interpretation upon.

  529. TurretinFan said,

    August 1, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    DGH:

    I do find it interesting that Bryan didn’t give you a straight answer to your question, “You and CTC guys chose Rome because its claims about the magisterium made sense. Or did they send the police and force you to submit?” The answer seems obvious that it is the former, why would he not just admit it?

    Theoretically there could be other reasons (the Vatican is paying them for their allegiance, Cardinal Levada has some compromising photos of them, etc.). But in reality we all know that generally speaking “converts” join Rome because they judge Rome’s claims about itself to be true.

    Given that we already know it, it’s a little puzzling why they don’t own it. Is it because it is too frank an admission that their reliance on personal judgment is similar to ours?

    -TurretinFan

  530. David Weiner said,

    August 1, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    Sean #526

    “founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul”

    How could Paul have founded the church at Rome if he had never been there prior to writing to the already existing church at Rome?

    Also, what was the succession of Apostles stemming from Paul, who after all is the only one identified in Scripture explicitly as sent from God to the Gentiles?

  531. otrmin said,

    August 1, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    Arnold,

    If you admit that much, then on what basis do you separate from the Church which our Lord instituted? Any answer to this questions will necessarily put you in a tiny group because there is no principled, consistent answer to this question that is shared by many Protestants.

    Simple. The church Christ instituted isn’t Rome. In fact, it is funny that Greek Orthodoxy uses the same argument. When I was in a Bible study with a Greek Orthodox priest, they had a chart, and the chart had you guys separating from them at 1054, and the Greek Orthodox church going all the way back to the apostles. It would be hilarious if it weren’t so serious.

    Anyone can claim “we are the church which Christ founded.” However, the only people who can validly claim that is those who teach what Christ taught. When you add things like the queenly coronation of Mary, indulgences, and the thesaurus meritorum, things which come along in history sometimes centuries after the time of Christ, you don’t have Christ’s church.

    The church is defined by what the institution teaches, not by organized succession. If they teach what Christ and the apostles taught, then they are Christ’s church. However, if they depart from it, and add things to it [as you have done], then they are not Christ’s church.

  532. Burton said,

    August 1, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    TurretinFan (#449),

    First, thanks to you and David and Jeff for taking the time to answer my questions cordially, particularly given the fact that they are only tangentially on-topic.

    I agree 100% with your points (a) and (b). Objective realities exist independently of our ability to recognize them as such. I do have questions about (c), and I’ll try to clarify what I believe the purpose of defining orthodoxy/heresy and schism/unity to be.

    By what principled means do you determine which councils have judged wisely and which have judged foolishly? It seems that you do believe in the necessity of correctly identifying the objective reality of heresy/orthodoxy, you just don’t make clear who has that authority and under what circumstance. If Arius and his followers decided, based on the Scriptures, that the Council of Nicea judged foolishly, how would the Christians of that time know which Christology was orthodox and which was heretical? In other words, if there is no principled means for correctly identifying the objective reality of heresy, then heresy becomes whatever the individual judges it to be (because presumably the individual Christian can judge for him or herself which councils -including Nicea- have defined heresy wisely, and which have not).

    This leads into what seems to be the self-evident purpose: the ability to reliably recognize the objective reality of heresy/orthodoxy and schism/ unity in such a way that it is recognizable by and binding on all believers for the spiritual well being of the flock. If various ecclesial bodies/ assemblies of elders within the VC can disagree on the definition of heresy, and if none of these bodies has any ecclesial authority over the other, then none can make a legitimate claim to have identified heresy accurately. In this circumstance, how can an assembly of elders carry out the purposes that you outlined? It may be possible, but it would be helpful to me if you could flesh out your last paragraph.

    Burton

  533. Burton said,

    August 1, 2012 at 6:10 pm

    David (#450),

    Your response assumes from the outset that Reformed ecclesiology is correct, and you then conclude that anyone who questions this must be grumbling against what God has provided (Reformed ecclesiology). Of course you may be right about my grumbling, but that doesn’t really address my questions.

    Burton

  534. TurretinFan said,

    August 1, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    “Besides the scriptural evidence for the primacy of St. Peter, it is a fact that the earliest extant historical data that speaks on the matter confirm the fact that the church, from its infancy, believed in the sacramental succession of the apostles and the unique primacy of the bishop of Rome.”

    A) The Scriptural evidence is not that Peter was the monarch of the apostles. Quite to the contrary, Paul asserts his equality with Peter. There are certain senses in which Peter is “first,” such as in the lists of the apostles or in speaking up on various occasions. But that is not the kind of primacy that the bishop of Rome claims. He’s not content with being the first bishops in lists of elders – he wants to have universal jurisdiction. Scripture never ascribes universal jurisdiction to Peter.

    B) The earliest extra-scriptural historical evidence likewise shows no evidence of any belief that there was a single bishop or elder having universal jurisdiction.

    C) The earliest extra-scriptural historical evidence also does not refer to “sacramental succession.” They may refer to “succession,” but that does not have the baggage associated with modern uses of the term “succession” any more than “reformed” means “agreeable to the WCF, LBCF, and/or 3FU” in “And if ye will not be reformed by me by these things, but will walk contrary unto me …” (Leviticus 26:3).

    “Can you name one piece of historical evidence that meets these two conditions: (1) it shows that there was no monarchical bishop in Rome until the second half of the second century, and; (2) it is stronger evidence than is the list of St. Irenaeus (Against Heresies III.3.3)”

    You want a piece of historical evidence that proves a negative and is stronger than a list provided by Irenaeus? Considering that Irenaeus’ lists begins at III.3.2 with “the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul,” and given that we know that Paul did not found and organize the church at Rome (see Romans), and we have reason to think that Peter also did not found and organize the church at Rome (since in Acts we see him in Jerusalem and Antioch, but not in Rome and since his primary focus was on the Jews) we have reason to give low weight to the accuracy of the list, especially in its early stages.

    Thus, in view of the fact that Irenaeus’ list starts on an untrustworthy note and is offered for an obvious polemical purpose (as opposed to being intended simply to document the facts), its weight is relatively slight.

    Lampe has done the legwork to try to show that Irenaeus’ list was derived from Hegesippus’ list. But whether that was the source or not is moot.

    It’s mostly moot because even if Irenaeus’ list were accurate, it is – at most – a list of bishops of Rome. It’s not a list of men having universal jurisdiction over all Christians – nor does it purport to be. While Irenaeus has a polemical purpose in the list – the purpose is not tell his opponent that he must submit himself to the then-current Roman bishop – the purpose is to demonstrate that the leadership of the Roman church has close ties to the apostles (notice how Irenaeus claims that Clement, the third in the list, knew the apostles). Irenaeus claims that the then current bishops is the twelfth “from the apostles.”

    But that too undermines this list as an evidence of the papacy. According to Rome’s claims, Peter was the first pope – not Linus.

    What is bigger evidence of the fact that there was a not a single bishop in Rome is the fact that neither Paul nor Ignatius makes reference to one, although Ignatius generally specifically addresses the bishop of churches in cities to whom he’s writing, and Paul litters his letters with greetings. Moreover, Paul describes a situation in which there are multiple churches in Rome and we are told that it took someone several days to locate Paul at Rome, which would seem unlikely if there was a single monarchical bishop in Rome.

    Even bigger evidence is the complete absence from the entire NT, including Acts, of any office of pope.

    But, of course, this silence has its limits.

    What’s interesting is that, so far, this argument is not an argument for a papacy that existed from the beginning, but for something else – something that Rome doesn’t claim to be – a mere succession of bishops with some vague primacy.

    -TurretinFan

  535. Burton said,

    August 1, 2012 at 6:22 pm

    Jeff (#452),

    I may be longing for something that will be but is not yet. But it seems to me that by responding with a ready diagnosis of my underlying condition, you have brushed aside my question to you in #447. Maybe your answer was, “no we can’t identify heresy in a way that is recognizable and binding on all believers, but neither can Rome”.

    Burton

  536. August 1, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    I think the argument is “The Papacy is true because Rome says so,” and “The Papacy is scriptural because Rome says so.” And added to that is “No one from the Protestant side can even argue against us because they will just be relying upon their private interpretation to do so.”

    These are statements that have been explicitly denied several times above. Catholics believe in the papacy because they believe the biblical and historical evidence supports it, and that one initially dives into this investigation independently of any claim Rome makes about itself.

    <blockquote<Mere appeals to authority. And jumping back and forth trying to hold together the arbitrary notion that private interpretation is wrong unless it leads to Rome is simply sad. What a mess.

    Again, this has been explicitly addressed and denied. I’ll say it again for clarity’s sake: No non-Catholic should just believe in the papacy because Rome says you should.

  537. August 1, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    (Formatting fixed)

    I think the argument is “The Papacy is true because Rome says so,” and “The Papacy is scriptural because Rome says so.” And added to that is “No one from the Protestant side can even argue against us because they will just be relying upon their private interpretation to do so.”

    These are statements that have been explicitly denied several times above. Catholics believe in the papacy because they believe the biblical and historical evidence supports it, and that one initially dives into this investigation independently of any claim Rome makes about itself.

    Mere appeals to authority. And jumping back and forth trying to hold together the arbitrary notion that private interpretation is wrong unless it leads to Rome is simply sad. What a mess.

    Again, this has been explicitly addressed and denied. I’ll say it again for clarity’s sake: No non-Catholic should just believe in the papacy because Rome says you should.

  538. TurretinFan said,

    August 1, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    JJS:

    Why should someone “believe in the papacy” at all? There is no office of papacy in Scripture. There was no office of papacy in the early patristic period, even as late as Nicaea (4th century). Why should anyone believe in the papacy today?

    -TurretinFan

  539. Sean said,

    August 1, 2012 at 6:37 pm

    There is no office of papacy in Scripture. There was no office of papacy in the early patristic period, even as late as Nicaea (4th century).

    That is false. St Peter is indeed recorded in the New Testament and Christ is recorded as bestowing upon him the keys to the heavenly kingdom.

    Further, you need to get with John Bugay because he argues that the ‘cat was out of the bag’ with the ‘pious lie’ of the papacy much earlier than you (2nd Century).

    More on your larger response to me later.

  540. August 1, 2012 at 6:38 pm

    If I grant your points, then of course no one should believe in the papacy. But that just pushes the question back to whether your points are in fact true. The Catholic believes they are not, but that the biblical and historical data do indeed demonstrate the papacy.

  541. TurretinFan said,

    August 1, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    To sum up my response to Sean:

    Even if Irenaeus’ list were trustworthy, all it shows is a series of bishops in Rome with close ties to the apostles. It does not show a primacy of those bishops over anyone else, nor does it place Peter as the first in the series of bishops of Rome (it places Linus first, and suggests he was installed by the apostles, which would suggest two popes at once, if he were really a pope and Peter were really a pope).

    Moreover, the list is not trustworthy because it is premised on the idea that Peter and Paul founded and organized the Roman church, which we can be very confident they did not.

    So, the evidence falls short.

    -TurretinFan

  542. Sean said,

    August 1, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    Moreover, the list is not trustworthy because it is premised on the idea that Peter and Paul founded and organized the Roman church, which we can be very confident they did not.

    Why are you confident that Peter and Paul did not lay the foundation of the Roman church?

    What extant evidence do you have that says otherwise?

  543. Sean said,

    August 1, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    “And he says to him again after the resurrection, ‘Feed my sheep.’ It is on him that he builds the Church, and to him that he entrusts the sheep to feed. And although he assigns a like power to all the apostles, yet he founded a single Chair, thus establishing by his own authority the source and hallmark of the (Church’s) oneness. No doubt the others were all that Peter was, but a primacy is given to Peter, and it is (thus) made clear that there is but one flock which is to be fed by all the apostles in common accord. If a man does not hold fast to this oneness of Peter, does he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he deserts the Chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, has he still confidence that he is in the Church? This unity firmly should we hold and maintain, especially we bishops, presiding in the Church, in order that we may approve the episcopate itself to be the one and undivided.”

    Cyprian, The Unity of the Church, 4-5 (A.D. 251-256)

    TFan. Do you want to move your date back to at least AD 250 now like John?

  544. David Gadbois said,

    August 1, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    Sean said So, the demand now is to prove the papacy, in a combox, or else you win the debate?

    One could provide a thumbnail argument, or else at least give one line of evidence supporting the claim.

    Besides the scriptural evidence for the primacy of St. Peter

    Ignoring for now the counter-evidences in the NT that others have pointed out, the evidence you refer to is, at best, inconclusive. It relies on inference from places like Matthew 18, but it is far from being a logically necessary inference. And even if it did teach a primacy of Peter, it does not detail out the nature and implications of that primacy. It certainly says nothing about a distinct *office* (a stronger claim than mere primacy), much less a perpetual office that was to have successors after Peter’s death.

    At the risk of repeating myself yet again, even a successful argument for petrine primacy is still only half of an argument for the papacy.

    it is a fact that the earliest extant historical data that speaks on the matter confirm the fact that the church, from its infancy, believed in the sacramental succession of the apostles and the unique primacy of the bishop of Rome.

    But “confirmation” is not direct evidence. It would only mean that elements of church history are *consistent* with Christ’s establishment of a papacy. But then again, such phenomena are possible if Christ DIDN’T found a papacy as well, if it was an early innovation in the church.

    Even the confirmatory value is weak, considering that the historical record is far from complete. And as you point out there are only select early sources that *do* speak on the matter at all. That’s exactly what we’d expect if it was an innovation, few would bother bringing it up if it was not widely believed. I don’t see how this can function as a strong confirmation for either view. It only shows that this was one belief, shared by some in the early church.

    it shows that there was no monarchical bishop in Rome until the second half of the second century

    What kind of historiography works like this? It isn’t incumbent on us to prove that something didn’t exist.

    Church history is on our side on this. It simply is.

    You are simply trying to make testimonies from the 2nd century function as direct documentation of Christ establishing the papacy in the 1st century, but it can’t do that. All it can do is tell us what various ECFs believed. The question is, did they have good reasons for believing as they did? Did they have sound historical evidence that Christ established a papacy, or was it just superstition that developed, for various reasons, around an otherwise-legitimate line of presbyters at the church in Rome? All of these sorts of problems arise when you appeal to second and thirdhand testimony.

    This is why John Bugay (and others ) argue that all the fathers by at least the mid 2nd century ‘got it wrong’ or ‘were duped.’

    That’s a real possibility. For instance, Iraneus could have been accurate on the raw historical data (an accurate list of succeeding bishops of Rome) but have been wrong in projecting the theological significance he did onto them (that they were endowed with Peter’s authority). He would only have warrant to believe the latter if he had documented evidence that Jesus established a perpetual office of pope).

  545. TurretinFan said,

    August 1, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    Burton:

    “By what principled means do you determine which councils have judged wisely and which have judged foolishly?”

    You could call the principled means the “Berean method.” You compare what they teach to an infallible standard, Scripture.

    “It seems that you do believe in the necessity of correctly identifying the objective reality of heresy/orthodoxy, you just don’t make clear who has that authority and under what circumstance.”

    Why would someone need special authority to make such a determination? Isn’t everyone charged with a responsibility of following orthodoxy rather than heresy? If so, why doesn’t that responsibility entail any necessary authority?

    “If Arius and his followers decided, based on the Scriptures, that the Council of Nicea judged foolishly, how would the Christians of that time know which Christology was orthodox and which was heretical?”

    They would judge by comparing Arius’ teachings to Scripture, which is – in fact – exactly what they did when Arius’ spiritual heirs prevailed for quite a long time.

    “In other words, if there is no principled means for correctly identifying the objective reality of heresy, then heresy becomes whatever the individual judges it to be (because presumably the individual Christian can judge for him or herself which councils -including Nicea- have defined heresy wisely, and which have not).”

    The individual person can err in their judgment. Just because you think something is heresy doesn’t make it heresy. Just because you think something is orthodoxy doesn’t make it orthodoxy.

    The absence of an infallible magic eight ball that can give a “yes, certainly” to a posed question, “is this heresy,” does not mean that heresy becomes whatever the individual judges.

    Perhaps an analogy would help. Suppose that you are a guard trying to figure out which people walking up to an airplane are terrorists. Just because you don’t have an infallible way of distinguishing terrorists from ordinary people doesn’t mean that “being a terrorist becomes whatever you, the guard, judge it to be.” It just means you have a harder job, and you’ll sometimes make mistakes. It might be nice to have a magic eight-ball to tell you which people are bad guys, but the fact that you don’t just makes your job more challenging.

    The same is true here. Whether or not it is easy to identify heresy – the identification of heresy is not what makes heresy, heresy. What makes heresy, heresy, is its departure from the truth. How well we judge that is a separate question.

    “This leads into what seems to be the self-evident purpose: the ability to reliably recognize the objective reality of heresy/orthodoxy and schism/ unity in such a way that it is recognizable by and binding on all believers for the spiritual well being of the flock.”

    a) I suppose you mean “infallibly,” not merely “reliably.”

    b) But since Scripture already provides an infallible standard by which such judgments can be made, and since all men are bound by Scripture, it is not “self-evident” that an infallible “something else” is necessary to supplement Scripture in order to adequately allow the flock to judge between heresy and orthodoxy.

    “If various ecclesial bodies/ assemblies of elders within the VC can disagree on the definition of heresy, and if none of these bodies has any ecclesial authority over the other, then none can make a legitimate claim to have identified heresy accurately.”

    Think about that. Is that true when it comes to figuring out what Plato meant? Just because there is no supreme bishop of Plato, are scholars of Plato unable to legitimately claim to have identified Plato’s teaching accurately? Surely not – they can legitimately claim it based on doing proper exegesis of Plato.

    The same is true of churches and Scripture. Churches can legitimately claim to have identified the meaning of Scripture, even without the ability to force others to agree with them.

    “In this circumstance, how can an assembly of elders carry out the purposes that you outlined? It may be possible, but it would be helpful to me if you could flesh out your last paragraph.”

    The assembly of elders can attempt to bring about restoration of a straying sinner by proclaiming the Word to him. The elders can remove heresy by prohibiting communion and, where appropriate, fellowship with the sinner. The elders can teach the church through providing the situation as an example.

    There is no claim that the elders will always perform this role perfectly.

    -TurretinFan

  546. johnbugay said,

    August 1, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    Sean 538: Further, you need to get with John Bugay …

    Turretinfan and I are closer than the fuzz on a tick’s ear.

    We both agree that neither Peter nor Paul “founded” the church at Rome; I’ve gone into quite a bit of detail about the church at Rome before either Peter or Paul got there.

    It is Lampe who holds that Irenaeus’s “list” is likely a “fictive construction”, using real names but constructing the list as an unbroken timeline. Roger Collins, using independent research, agrees.

    Eamon Duffy uses the phrase “pious fictions” — in fact, there were clearly fictional stories (i.e. “Acts of Peter”, “Gospel of Peter”) floating around in the late second century. These became mixed in with other “Petrine” themes, and for hundreds of years it was impossible to separate fact from fiction. As early as Origen, these fictions were beginning to be cited as if they were fact. It only multiplied.

    Your Cyprian quote (542) didn’t mean Peter was in charge; it meant that all bishops (now a common feature for 50-75 years), including the bishop of Rome, were “equals”.

    Firmilian, bishop of Caesarea around 250, wrote to Cyprian about “pope” Stephen’s “crass and obvious stupidity”.

  547. Sean said,

    August 1, 2012 at 7:31 pm

    It would only mean that elements of church history are *consistent* with Christ’s establishment of a papacy.

    It also shows that Reformed eccliesiology is entirely inconsistent with church history.

    ven the confirmatory value is weak, considering that the historical record is far from complete. And as you point out there are only select early sources that *do* speak on the matter at all. That’s exactly what we’d expect if it was an innovation, few would bother bringing it up if it was not widely believed.

    Yet the papacy and apostolic succession were clearly widely believed. If it were an innovation we would expect a reaction against it. Arianism was innovation. The church responded. Nestorianism was an innovation. The church responded. Name me one other ‘innovation’ besides the papacy that just carried forever and was never widely challenged?

    You are simply trying to make testimonies from the 2nd century function as direct documentation of Christ establishing the papacy in the 1st century, but it can’t do that. All it can do is tell us what various ECFs believed.

    It serves to show that from the moment fathers started writing more about the church they saw the church marked with apostolic succession and a strong sense that the chair of Peter had a strong primacy.

    Your argument is that this was an innovation. I challenge that. There is absolutely no reason to think this was an innovation that simply hoodwinked the fathers of the faith for 1,500 years.

  548. TurretinFan said,

    August 1, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    Sean:

    When Cyprian refers to the “chair of Peter,” he’s referring to each bishop’s local bishoprick. As Roman Catholic scholar, Robert Eno put it: “The Chair of Peter then belongs to each lawful bishop in his own see. Cyprian holds the Chair of Peter in Carthage and Cornelius in Rome over against Novatian the would–be usurper.”

    for citation, context, and fuller analysis, see:

    http://www.christiantruth.com/articles/mt16.html

    If you want an example of pious frauds that ended up getting widely accepted,