Fascinating Book on Vatican II

The biggest debate about Vatican II is undoubtedly its legacy. There are two main groups of interpreters, though it’s not as simple as “conservative” and “liberal,” but might be better couched in other language. It seems to me that there are two poles of extremes, and a continuum of interpretation between those two poles. On the one extreme are those who say that nothing happened at Vatican II. These folks believe that there is so much continuity of Vatican II with what happened in the past that nothing changed at all. On the other extreme are those who believe that post-Vatican II is a rather large break from the past. These folks fall into two camps: those who love the change and those who hate the change. Those who hate the change have sometimes gone as far as to deny Vatican II’s legitimacy as a church council (the so-called Lefebvrians, who were excommunicated, but rather significantly reinstated by Benedict XVI). Other reactions are less extreme. Those who love the changes have sometimes taken the changes into other areas that the original Council did not address. Navigating this fascinating but complex maze is Massimo Faggioli’s masterful treatment of the various positions on Vatican II. Faggioli has seemingly read everything ever written on Vatican II, and carefully. He delineates the various positions with great care and accuracy. It is an absolutely fascinating book, though not all will agree with his conclusions. He places himself firmly in the camp of those who believe that something changed, and that he likes those changes. However, he recognizes that this is not really the stance of the current pope, who is seeking much more continuity with the past in his interpretation of Vatican II. This is a highly nuanced treatment of the issues, and I found myself understanding the vast landscape of Vatican II much better after reading this volume. My own position on what happened at Vatican II is still under consideration. I have a lot more to read. But at least now I know what the options are.

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116 Comments

  1. Dennis said,

    November 9, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    Lane,

    I went to a talk a few years ago on Vatican II once and the priest mentioned that the impact of Vatican II won’t really be fully understood until 100 years after the council. I’m assuming since you’ve read the book that you’ve also read the documents of Vatican II. I think the biggest impact of Vatican II is its impact on the role of the laity. As lay people, we have a responsibility to be a witness of our faith to the world. We are called to evangelize to everyone. Previously, lay people had a tendency to leave evangelization to the clergy and religious. Now, we are called to go into the workplace and share the love of Christ with everyone.

    I think one of the big impacts of Vatican II can be seen through the interaction on the internet by groups such as CtC or Catholic.com. These organizations and ones like it would not have been possible without Vatican II. Vatican II has had a huge impact on evangelization through the internet which shows that the whole council was really ahead of its time.

    I don’t know if I would necessarily agree with Faggioli’s assessment that Pope Benedict is seeking continuity. In his recent letter, Porta Fidei, he says that Vatican II has the potential to be a great catalyst of renewal for the Church, if we interpret and implement it guided by a right hermeneutic, it can be and can become increasingly powerful for the ever necessary renewal of the Church.

    Incidentally, Pope Benedict has called this year the Year of Faith and has called all Catholics to study the documents of Vatican II. It sounds like you know more about Vatican II than most Catholics!

  2. greenbaggins said,

    November 9, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    Dennis, everyone likes the *idea* of renewal. Just what it will look like is another matter, of course. The key words in what you quote are the words “interpret and implement it guided by a right hermeneutic.” That hermeneutic is a hermeneutic of almost entire continuity, at least according to Faggioli. I haven’t read enough of Ratzinger’s works yet to make an independent judgment on whether Faggioli is right or not. Faggioli did quote rather extensively from _The Ratzinger Report_, which is the Pope’s take on the church at large, including Vatican II. The quotes he adduced certainly *seemed* to support his conclusion. The fact that Benedict recalled the excommunication of the Lefebvrians speaks volumes, in my opinion. I’m sure that such a recall does NOT mean that Benedict now thinks Vatican II to be an illegitimate Council. But it IS saying that such a view is within the tolerance of the Roman Catholic Church. I wonder how much more it is legitimate to infer from that action. Some of my friends have been saying that both JPII and Benedict XVI have more or less desired to “put the genie back in the bottle.”

    Regardless, I certainly agree that the full impact of Vatican II is yet to be seen. Faggioli argues this point as well, citing Trent and Vatican I as examples.

  3. Tim Prussic said,

    November 9, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    Lane, I really appreciate all the work you’re doing on Roman Catholicism. Keep it up, brother. :)

  4. Dennis said,

    November 9, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    Lane,

    OK. Thanks. Now I have a better understanding of Faggioli’s persective (albeit not having read the book)

    Some of my friends have been saying that both JPII and Benedict XVI have more or less desired to “put the genie back in the bottle.”

    Although I don’t know your friends, I think I know what they are talking about having lived through it. Initially after Vatican II, there was an initial over reaction to (and misinterpretation of) Vatican II. So, the 70’s Catholic Church was filled with nuns not wearing habits, people singing “Kumbaya” at Mass, and felt banners. Essentially, people *hijacked* Vatican II and tried to “change the Church.”
    John Paul II and Benedict XVI have been spending the last 30 years trying to fix the general over reaction and various liturgical abuses that have been going on since then. (e.g. changing the English mass last year).

    everyone likes the *idea* of renewal. Just what it will look like is another matter, of course.

    I recently heard that Pope Benedict thinks that it will look like a “smaller but purer” Catholic Church.

    Regarding the Lefebvrians, I don’t know enough of the details regarding the Pope’s recalling of the excommunication to give a legitimate opinion. From my cursory reading on the internet, it sounds like they are reserving the right to criticize Vatican II and still hold the Mass in Latin.

    Seeing as how the Pope has already legitimatized the Latin mass, that point is moot. As to criticizing Vatican II, there really isn’t anything new or groundbreaking in it (other than changing the mindset of the Church). If someone wants to criticize it, then by all means…I have a feeling that their criticisms would be about those initial abuses—which the Pope likely agrees with. AFAIK, regarding the language, there’s nothing in the documents that is particularly controversial.

  5. greenbaggins said,

    November 9, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    Thanks, Tim, I feel more than motivated to keep it up as of now. We’ll see if it lasts, of course!

  6. greenbaggins said,

    November 9, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    Dennis, do you think that the Vatican II’s description of non-Catholic Christians as “separated brethren” is controversial? I would think that might be more than a little controversial!

  7. Dennis said,

    November 9, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    Lane,

    From an SSPX perspective, yes, I guess there would be controversy in that.

    Reading through the document, I don’t see where one could legitimately criticize it though. Personally, I read it and I see something like this and it speaks volumes to me as a Catholic:

    For although the Catholic Church has been endowed with all divinely revealed truth and with all means of grace, yet its members fail to live by them with all the fervor that they should, so that the radiance of the Church’s image is less clear in the eyes of our separated brethren and of the world at large, and the growth of God’s kingdom is delayed. All Catholics must therefore aim at Christian perfection(24) and, each according to his station, play his part that the Church may daily be more purified and renewed. For the Church must bear in her own body the humility and dying of Jesus,(25) against the day when Christ will present her to Himself in all her glory without spot or wrinkle.(26)

    So, this paragraph tells me that the problem with the Church isn’t the Church, it’s the people (namely ME)…I need to strive to be a more perfect Christian. I need to “play my part so that the Church may daily be more purified and renewed!” I think that’s really beautiful language.

    As a Catholic, I don’t see the term “separated brethren” as controversial. What separates a Protestant from a Catholic would be in the participation of sacraments. In Baptism, we would be brothers but imperfectly as the document explains.

  8. olivianus said,

    November 9, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    One cannot understand the development of Vatican 2 without understanding the Luciferian element behind it, namely that infamous Jesuit Teilhard De Chardin.

  9. olivianus said,

    November 9, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    His posse were the ones behind all the transitional fossil hoaxes.

  10. olivianus said,

    November 9, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    Truly, if any group of men has been responsible for the secularization of the west it is the Jesuits. They trained Descartes and Voltaire; They created the French Revolution and the Illuminati (Abbe Sieyès, Weishaupt); They perfected Communism (South American Reductions). They provided the fake fossils for Darwin’s Theory and they also created the Big Bang Theory (Lemaître ). Could it have been THE final solution to Protestantism? http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2012/10/08/nones-protestant-religion-pew/1618445/?csp=usattumblr

    Is it a Jewish Conspiracy for the ultimate destruction of Traditional Catholicism, or is it a Jesuit conspiracy for the ultimate destruction of Traditional Protestantism? Methinks the latter.

  11. November 9, 2012 at 6:01 pm

    Lane,

    … I would think that [Vatican II’s description of non-Catholic Christians as “separated brethren”] might be more than a little controversial!

    Not sure if you’ve ever come across this passage from Augustine:

    We entreat you, brothers, as earnestly as we are able, to have charity, not only for one another, but also for those who are outside the Church. Of these some are still pagans, who have not yet made an act of faith in Christ. Others are separated, insofar as they are joined with us in professing faith in Christ, our head, but are yet divided from the unity of his body. My friends, we must grieve over these as over our brothers; and they will only cease to be so when they no longer say our Father.

  12. greenbaggins said,

    November 9, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    Interesting passage, Jason, but notice that the language is slightly different from V2’s “separated brethren.” Augustine says “as over our brothers,” implying that the brothers are a different category from those who are separated.

  13. November 9, 2012 at 8:37 pm

    I’m not sure I am understanding you. When Augustine says that we grieve over believers who are separated from the Church “as over our brothers,” it seems like an affirmation that these are indeed our brothers. He even says at the end that as long as we both have the same Father, we are brothers.

  14. November 9, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    Jason, it’s not Augustine you should be quoting. Check out the Council of Florence and Boniface VIII’s Unam Sanctam if you want to see the nature of change in Vatican II. Indeed, the change over say salvation and Islam is an example of a fundamental contradiction.

  15. Bob S said,

    November 10, 2012 at 3:25 am

    Augustine says we are brothers.
    Trent says we are not.
    Vatican II agrees with Augustine.

    My question is, isn’t the real question:Does the infallible church agree with itself or not?

    Oh. I get it. Wrong infallibility paradigm.

  16. Kathrin said,

    November 10, 2012 at 4:32 am

    Perhaps it is helpful to note that the speech about the Holy Office from Josef Cardinal Frings Archbishop of Cologne, was a Groundbreaking event during the Council. This speech was written by the young theology professor Joseph Ratzinger. Frings was one of the most popular Catholic Bishops, His Oposition against the Nazi Regim made ​​him a politically important person and a national hero like Cardinal Clemens August Graf von Galen.
    Councils do not take place in a political vacuum. Important for the understanding of the Council is also the influence from communist and socialist ideas in Europe and Latin America. Read the party programs of the Christian Democrats in Europe after Worlld War II. This was once the most konserativste European position and they had a massive influence on the council. Today China is more liberal.
    And yes, there was an over-reaction after the council. There were iconoclasts and revolutionaries. There were parishes that burned the old vestments in the backyard and put the reliquaries in the storeroom. But there were also many people who criticized this. The resulting crack in the church now begins to heal. Unfortunately, not because the revolutionaries have won a healthier relationship to the council, but because they have since left the church and Christianity. In many parts from Europe one will finde Traditonalisten of various shades and a highly political pagan church, which is not so sure what is meand to be Catholic.
    Pope Benedict’s gesture to the ultra-traditionalists is an attempt to at least open up a way back for Catholics, who are not against the council but against certain events after the Council. And it works. At least in my area, where there were many small communities that celebrate the old Mass privately.
    His call for re-evangelization is the attempt to reach the other side in this conflict. He relies especially on the youth who, unlike their parents, care little about the stalled ideologies of the political landscape and who have few illusions regarding politics.
    Have a look at European politics, the church is still very Europe-centered and Europe is different, believe me.

  17. Dozie said,

    November 10, 2012 at 10:48 am

    “What separates a Protestant from a Catholic would be in the participation of sacraments. In Baptism, we would be brothers but imperfectly as the document explains”

    This is a reckless statement. We participate in the sacraments alright; Protestants have theirs and we have our own. If you are proposing that we participate in the same sacraments then you should have more serious questions to ask before you can reasonably make the case for shared “participation of sacraments”. The question is: in whose sacraments is Dennis proposing that we all participate?

    What separates Protestants and Catholics is much deeper than participation in the sacraments. What separates us is the Church. You are either in the Church ordered by Christ or you are not. Even if it is theoretically possible for Protestants to agree to observe all seven sacraments observed in the Catholic Church and for the same reasons that Catholics observe them; they still will not be able to validly effect some of the sacraments because what still divides us is not some decoration on the church wall but the Church herself. I hope you will stop minimizing the seriousness of the Protestant separation.

  18. Reed Here said,

    November 10, 2012 at 11:04 am

    Dozie: you said,

    “You are either in the Church ordered by Christ or you are not.”

    I could not agree more. Please, heed your words, repent. Come (back?) to Christ’s Church, and away from the apostacy.

  19. Dennis said,

    November 10, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    Dozie,

    Have you read Unitatis Redintegratio?

    The Sacraments are precisely what separates a Catholic from a Protestant. The Catholic (and Orthodox) have valid sacraments and the Protestants don’t. That’s what makes a church. My statement isn’t reckless. It’s true.

    Even if it is theoretically possible for Protestants to agree to observe all seven sacraments observed in the Catholic Church and for the same reasons that Catholics observe them; they still will not be able to validly effect some of the sacraments because what still divides us is not some decoration on the church wall but the Church herself.

    If the Protestants had all seven sacraments, they would be a church. If you don’t believe me, you can ask Pope Benedict.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/jul/11/catholicism.religion

    Actually, just refer to CCC1400 which explains it.

    http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p2s2c1a3.htm

  20. Pete Holter said,

    November 10, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    Greetings in Christ, GreenBaggins!

    I’m not familiar with this book or its author, but here are some more recent thoughts to add to your considerations…

    Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization:

    “The Synod Fathers… wish to manifest their adherence to the thought of our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, who has indicated the hermeneutical principle of reform within continuity so as to be able to discover in those texts the authentic spirit of the Council” (Proposition 12 of the Synod of Bishops on The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith, October 27, 2012).

    Prefect of the CDF:

    “Yes, we need an authentic interpretation of the magisterium of the Council. The Pope offered a good and faithful interpretation of the Council when he said it did not create a new Church. Like every other ecumenical council, Vatican II must be interpreted according to the Tradition, based on Revelation and on Scripture. […] Furthermore, the Church cannot, on the doctrinal level, contradict herself — that is impossible. Any perceived contradiction is caused by false interpretation. […] What [the SSPX is] proposing is, in essence, a tension arising from the use of terminology, but the Church never contradicted herself. If you study the texts of different centuries, of different contexts, of different languages, you must do so on the basis of established Catholic doctrine. […] The problem that many people have is that they are linking statements of doctrine from different centuries and different contexts — and this cannot be done rationally without a hermeneutic of interpretation. We need a theological hermeneutic for an authentic interpretation, but interpretation does not change the content of the teaching. […] Vatican II is an official ecumenical council, and all that was said in the Council is therefore binding for everyone, but at different levels. We have dogmatic constitutions, and you are certainly obliged to accept them if you are Catholic. […] Some practical elements contained in the various documents could be changed, but the body of the doctrine of the Council is binding for everyone. […] [I]t is important to remember that at no time in the history of the Church has a group or a movement in one country ever been successful when it has taken an attitude against Rome, when it has been ‘anti-Rome.’ Setting oneself up against ‘Rome’ has never brought authentic reform or renewal to the Church. Only through a renewed commitment to the full teaching of Christ and his Church, and through a renewed spirit of collaboration with the Holy Father and the bishops in communion with him, will there be renewal and new life in the Catholic Church and a new evangelization of our society. Preaching the Gospel of Christ to a weary world so desperately in need of its liberating truth — this must be our priority” (Interview with Gerhard Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, September 2012).

    Pope Benedict:

    “[The] true meaning [of the spiritual movement which characterized Vatican II] was and remains faith in Christ, the apostolic faith, animated by the inner desire to communicate Christ to individuals and all people, in the Church’s pilgrimage along the pathways of history.

    […]

    “[D]uring the Council there was an emotional tension as we faced the common task of making the truth and beauty of the faith shine out in our time, without sacrificing it to the demands of the present or leaving it tied to the past: the eternal presence of God resounds in the faith, transcending time, yet it can only be welcomed by us in our own unrepeatable today. Therefore I believe that the most important thing, especially on such a significant occasion as this, is to revive in the whole Church that positive tension, that yearning to announce Christ again to contemporary man. But, so that this interior thrust towards the new evangelization neither remain just an idea nor be lost in confusion, it needs to be built on a concrete and precise basis, and this basis is the documents of the Second Vatican Council, the place where it found expression. This is why I have often insisted on the need to return, as it were, to the ‘letter’ of the Council — that is to its texts — also to draw from them its authentic spirit, and why I have repeated that the true legacy of Vatican II is to be found in them. Reference to the documents saves us from extremes of anachronistic nostalgia and running too far ahead, and allows what is new to be welcomed in a context of continuity. The Council did not formulate anything new in matters of faith, nor did it wish to replace what was ancient. Rather, it concerned itself with seeing that the same faith might continue to be lived in the present day, that it might remain a living faith in a world of change” (Homily of Pope Benedict, 10/11/12).

    On Augustine and “separated brethren,” here are a couple of other thoughts from him to help clarify his position:

    To Maximin, My Well-Beloved Lord and Brother, Worthy of Honour, Augustine, Presbyter of the Catholic Church, Sends Greeting in the Lord.

    “Before entering on the subject on which I have resolved to write to your Grace, I shall briefly state my reasons for the terms used in the title of this letter, lest these should surprise either yourself or any other person… as to my calling you ‘brother,’ you are well acquainted with the precept divinely given to us, according to which we are to say, ‘Ye are our brethren’ (Isaiah 66:5), even to those who deny that they are our brethren; and this has much to do with the reason which has made me resolve to write to you, my brother” (Letter 23, 1).

    Augustine to the beloved lord, his brother, Macrobius… perhaps you do not admit that we are brothers? We do better to hearken to the Holy Spirit instructing us through the Prophet: ‘Hear the word of the Lord, you that tremble at his word; say to those who hate you and detest you: “You are our brothers”; that the name of the Lord may be glorified and may appear to them for their joy, but let them be put to shame’ (Isaiah 66:5)” (Letter 108, Ch. 1:3).

    I hope you have a blessed weekend!

    With the love of Christ,
    Pete

  21. Dozie said,

    November 10, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    “The Sacraments are precisely what separates a Catholic from a Protestant. The Catholic (and Orthodox) have valid sacraments and the Protestants don’t.”

    Dennis, whatever you are reading, you are not reading with a Catholic understanding. If you take a step back, you will ask, “why do Protestants not have valid sacraments? The answer is that they can’t. Dominus Iesus put it this way: “On the other hand, the ecclesial communities which have not preserved the valid Episcopate and the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic mystery are not Churches in the proper sense”. An organization has to be Church in the first place before it can do certain things. There is nothing any pope, Church council, or the CCC can do or say to correct the inherent defect in Protestantism. The only solution is the profession of faith in Christ and in His Catholic Church.

    Therefore Protestants cannot have valid sacraments while remaining Protestants. If this was possible, the Personal Ordinariate for Anglicans and possibly for Lutherans would not have been necessary. Essentially, when you pull back the veil over what truly separates Protestants from Catholics, what you will be faced with is the question regarding the “UNICITY AND UNITY OF THE CHURCH”.

  22. Ron said,

    November 10, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    From a true Roman Catholic perspective no doctrinal change was introduced at Vatican II (and no contradiction to the official teachings of that communion could have been made). If there appears to have been doctrinal change introduced at Vatican II then from a Roman Catholic perspective there must have been some pre-Vatican II doctrines that were concealed as mysteries until the official pronouncements of that later council gave sufficient clarity to them. We might say that there is an analogy of councils for the Roman communion whereby apparently unclear utterances are to be interpreted by clearer ones. The problem, of course, is that those pre-Vatican II pronouncements that are so repugnant to evangelicals are no less clear in their prima facie interpretation than those later pronouncements that are seemingly more palatable. Consequently, Rome’s consistency in her clarity either accuses her of outright doctrinal contradiction or else there is no perspicuity of Roman Catholic doctrine, a dilemma indeed.

    Either Rome has changed some of her doctrines, which would undermine her battle cry of Semper Eadem, or else she hasn’t changed any of her doctrines and is thereby a living contradiction in what she has clearly stated, which, of course, would undermine her alleged infallibility. For instance, how does Rome reconcile the unambiguous pronouncement of papal bull Unam Sanctam with the equally clear language of Vatican II from which we are informed that Protestants are now to be regarded as “separated brethren”? Are we to believe that converted Protestants are in fellowship with the pope while denying the teachings of the Roman communion?

  23. Brad B said,

    November 11, 2012 at 1:05 am

    Ron said:

    “or else there is no perspicuity of Roman Catholic doctrine, a dilemma indeed.”

    I think they prefer this horn.

  24. Dennis said,

    November 11, 2012 at 1:10 am

    Dozie,

    I’m not sure but it seems like you are just looking for an argument. Yes. I understand why Protestants don’t have valid sacraments. Dominus Iesus is echoing the Vatican II document. I highly recommend you read it. .

    What I’m trying to explain is what separates Catholics and Protestants is the sacraments as the Catholics have them (because we have a valid episcopate) and the Protestants don’t (because they don’t have a valid episcopate).

    You’re telling me I’m wrong and then reiterating EXACTLY what I’m saying. Please stop and read what I write and think about it before responding. Or at least ask me for further explanation if I’m not explaining it clearly but PLEASE don’t tell me I’m being reckless without asking for further explanation because nothing I’ve written is wrong and nothing I’ve written is reckless.

  25. Dennis said,

    November 11, 2012 at 1:49 am

    Ron,

    For instance, how does Rome reconcile the unambiguous pronouncement of papal bull Unam Sanctam with the equally clear language of Vatican II from which we are informed that Protestants are now to be regarded as “separated brethren”? Are we to believe that converted Protestants are in fellowship with the pope while denying the teachings of the Roman communion?

    In order to understand this, you need to read the document Unitatis Redintegratio.

    http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_decree_19641121_unitatis-redintegratio_en.html

    It explains that only through Christ’s Catholic Church, which is “the all-embracing means of salvation,” that they can benefit fully from the means of salvation. We believe that Our Lord entrusted all the blessings of the New Covenant to the apostolic college alone, of which Peter is the head, in order to establish the one Body of Christ on earth

    However, we are brothers for a couple reasons. First, A love and reverence of Sacred Scripture which might be described as devotion, leads our brethren to a constant meditative study of the sacred text. For the Gospel “is the power of God for salvation to every one who has faith, to the Jew first and then to the Greek”.

    Secondly, Whenever the Sacrament of Baptism is duly administered as Our Lord instituted it, and is received with the right dispositions, a person is truly incorporated into the crucified and glorified Christ, and reborn to a sharing of the divine life, as the Apostle says: “You were buried together with Him in Baptism, and in Him also rose again-through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead”.

    You really need to read the whole thing but what the document is explaining is that although the Catholic Church holds the fullness of salvation, we share a common bond with Protestants. Namely, in the love of Scriptures and of course, in the Sacrament of Baptism. So, we are brothers albeit separated.

    When you were baptized (provided it was done properly), you were baptized into Christ…you were baptized into the Body of Christ i.e. the Church. So, you are a brother through baptism. What separates us though is that the grace received for you stopped at the Baptism whereas for us, it continued onward through our other sacraments .

    For a Christian, there is no salvation outside the Church. The reason being is that the Church is the Body of Christ. In order to be saved, you must be “in Christ” as Scripture explains. If you are “In Christ”, you are in the Church. If you are out of the Church, you are outside of the Body of Christ and thus not saved.

    The Church, however does not claim to know who is “In Christ” and who is out of it.

  26. Pete Holter said,

    November 11, 2012 at 11:18 am

    Ron wrote,

    For instance, how does Rome reconcile the unambiguous pronouncement of papal bull Unam Sanctam with the equally clear language of Vatican II from which we are informed that Protestants are now to be regarded as “separated brethren”?

    Greetings in Christ, Ron!

    I think that the difficulty here arises from the expectation for either or both of these — Unam Sanctam and Vatican II — to fully explicate the doctrines of our faith that they involve, and also in light of each other (the documents do not explain how they fit together with each other).

    Unitatis Redintegratio, for example, is speaking of our separated brethren in light of their participation in baptism, and their faith in the Trinity and in Christ as their Savior. “[T]he sacrament of baptism is consecrated in water at the invocation of the undivided Trinity — namely Father, Son and holy Spirit — and brings salvation to both children and adults when it is correctly carried out by anyone in the form laid down by the church” (Fourth Lateran Council). Protestants have “the life of grace; faith, hope and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit” (Unitatis Redintegratio), because “man, through Jesus Christ, in whom he is ingrafted [by baptism], receives, in the said justification, together with the remission of sins, all these (gifts) infused at once: [the Catholic] faith, hope, and charity” (Council of Trent, Decree on Justification, Ch. 7).

    As for the sin of schism, Pope Boniface VIII wrote, “we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff” (Unam Sanctam). I find Thomas Aquinas’ thoughts on this subject to be helpful in understanding what the pope is 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 keeping with Thomas Aquinas and Unam Sactam, the Church defines the sin of schism as “the refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him” (Code of Canon Law, Canon 751).

    Using Aquinas’ language… because schism is something that is “willfully and intentionally” chosen, it does not apply to those separated brethren who have not personally made this choice. The person born into a “schismatic group” shares in the result of the original schism “accidentally,” and is not culpable for this sin until he chooses it for himself by willfully and intentionally rejecting communion with the Catholic Church.

    On the other hand, for those separated brethren who are culpable for the sin of schism, they are outside the Church and do not have salvation.

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  27. Dozie said,

    November 11, 2012 at 11:58 am

    “I’m not sure but it seems like you are just looking for an argument. Yes. I understand why Protestants don’t have valid sacraments. Dominus Iesus is echoing the Vatican II document. I highly recommend you read it”.

    This is the second time that I have had to chastise you over your imprecise presentation of Catholic teachings. You seem to adopt a sort of “I am afraid to say it like it is” attitude (although I think you are just being nice). When you say that “what separates a Protestant from a Catholic would be in the participation of sacraments”, a Protestant should rightly wonder what you are talking about. For example, what does “in the participation of sacraments” mean? Are you being intentionally vague or do you truly believe that the language you adopt is a precise way of stating what the problem is? By your assertion, one could get the impression that if only Protestants participated in the sacraments, the problems between Protestants and Catholics would vanish. This is clearly a false assertion.

    I have no doubt that you mean to communicate what the Church teaches but in this instance, you come short (of saying anything) simply by your choice of language. In your communication with Protestants, you will need to learn to be clear and precise and stop abbreviating Catholic teachings.

    Finally, I need also to let you know that I have enjoyed your contributions on this blog site and elsewhere and I thank you for your effort in defense of the Church. You certainly have abilities that I do not have.

  28. Andrew McCallum said,

    November 11, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    Using Aquinas’ language… because schism is something that is “willfully and intentionally” chosen, it does not apply to those separated brethren who have not personally made this choice. The person born into a “schismatic group” shares in the result of the original schism “accidentally,” and is not culpable for this sin until he chooses it for himself by willfully and intentionally rejecting communion with the Catholic Church.

    Pete,

    So working on the assumption that the Protestants who read and post on this and other such Reformed sites have understood the arguments put forth by Rome for joining with her, and have rejected those arguments, then we Reformed here are culpable and the anathemas of Trent apply to us. Have I got that right?

    And then further, the average Reformed person in the pew who has not made any formal study of the Catholic Church is not under condemnation of these anathemas because this person is just along for the ride so as to speak since they have not comprehended the claims of Rome and then formally rejected them. Again, would you agree?

    Cheers….

  29. Reed Here said,

    November 11, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    Given the anathemas of Trent, I rejoice in their application to me. Let darkness curse light. Let not the child of light appease the darkness.

  30. Pete Holter said,

    November 11, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    Andrew McCallum wrote,

    So working on the assumption that the Protestants who read and post on this and other such Reformed sites have understood the arguments put forth by Rome for joining with her, and have rejected those arguments, then we Reformed here are culpable and the anathemas of Trent apply to us. Have I got that right?

    And then further, the average Reformed person in the pew who has not made any formal study of the Catholic Church is not under condemnation of these anathemas because this person is just along for the ride so as to speak since they have not comprehended the claims of Rome and then formally rejected them. Again, would you agree?

    Hi Andrew!

    I think I basically agree with what you are saying. It is the understanding of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that to embrace the heretical propositions is to “incur the condemnations of the Council of Trent” (Response of the Catholic Church to the Joint Declaration… on… Justification).

    “Heresy is the obstinate denial or obstinate doubt after the reception of baptism of some truth which is to be believed by divine and Catholic faith” (Code of Canon Law, Canon 751), so obstinacy would need to be present in the person. There are other subjective considerations to make, but the objective situation is precarious.

    I might go further and say that the condemnations apply to both groups of people that you mentioned—because they apply to all people, objectively speaking—and that the probability of culpability is greater in the first group.

    “Are they unaware, or rather pretending to be unaware, that to be judged anathematized is just the same as to be separated from God? The heretic, even though he has not been condemned formally by any individual, in reality brings anathema on himself, having cut himself off from the way of truth by his heresy. What reply can such people make to the Apostle when he writes: ‘As for someone who is factious, after admonishing him once or twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is perverted and sinful; he is self-condemned’ (Titus 3:10-11)” (Second Ecumenical Council of Constantinople).

    Would you mind sharing a specific anathematized proposition from Trent and see if we can work through it? Maybe you’re Catholic! Everything we believe is beautiful and true and is taught by Christ’s Church for the glory of God and for your salvation. Plus, it’s fun to be Catholic! :)

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  31. Ron said,

    November 11, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    Dennis and Pete,

    The later statement does not shed light on the previous one – rather, it denies it. Salvation entailed being subject to the Roman pontiff now it doesn’t. Now it merely requires baptism… or a desire to be baptized… or an acknowledgement of the Creator, first place given to Muslims who have Abraham as their father(!).

    Because Rome won’t concede her obvious contradiction(s), she has dealt an additional dilemma to Roman Catholics. That being, Rome’s plain words are unintelligible in their original context. Accordingly, Vatican II should be deemed equally untrustworthy by Roman Catholics. After all, in another 600 years Rome might put out another qualifying statement that contradicts Vatican II.

    At the end of the day, Rome leads to skepticism or Gnosticism. She must interpret Scripture and she must interpret Rome. Yet her interpretations are only available to her. It’s a hopeless cause.

  32. Andrew McCallum said,

    November 11, 2012 at 11:04 pm

    Pete,

    I’m actually a Reformed Protestant in the PCA. You ask about specific anathematized proposition, but I was just speaking generally about the Tridentine anathemas. Catholics will often say that the anathemas don’t generally apply to Protestants because they are invincibly ignorant (think that’s the term that is used). And in general I think it’s true that the average Evangelical in the pews gets his information on the Catholic Church second and third hand. So as I understand it the Catholic position, such people do not fall under Trent’s anathemas, and it sounds like you are agreeing. But for most all of the Protestants on this and similar loops, we have come face to face with detailed arguments from the Catholic apologists. We have in general thought critically and thoughtfully through such arguments, but found them unconvincing. But now we are no longer invincibly ignorant and so we DO fall under Trent’s condemnation and thus cannot be saved. And it sounds like you are again agreeing with me. I’m just trying to get all of this straight.

    Now moving forward to the Vatican II era, it sound likes, from the Catholic standpoint, it is possible for even someone who has explicitly denied Christ (like a Muslim) but is sincerely seeking after God to be saved. So I cannot be saved since I reject the arguments of Rome after understanding these arguments, but a Muslim potentially could be saved. So do I still have it right here? And if so, are you at all uncomfortable with such implications of the Roman position?

  33. Bob B said,

    November 11, 2012 at 11:36 pm

    Dennis 25
    “When you were baptized (provided it was done properly), you were baptized into Christ…you were baptized into the Body of Christ i.e. the Church. So, you are a brother through baptism. What separates us though is that the grace received for you stopped at the Baptism whereas for us, it continued onward through our other sacraments .”

    I find it presumptuous and condescending to say that God has no more grace for protestants outside baptism – that was it – the end – no grace for you!

    I also think that with even a brief look at protestant ranks you would find many many grace-filled individuals who aren’t lacking in grace due to a deficiency in the number of sacraments they have. Are you willing to go toe-to-toe with the saintly protestant widow and tell her that God didn’t give her as much grace as he could have due to not having ‘last rights’ for her husband?

  34. Dennis said,

    November 12, 2012 at 12:02 am

    Ron,

    From UNITATIS REDINTEGRATIO, For it is only through Christ’s Catholic Church, which is “the all-embracing means of salvation,” that they can benefit fully from the means of salvation.

    I don’t know how much clearer it can be stated that salvation is through the Catholic Church. The understanding really hasn’t changed.

    Regarding Muslims, paragraph 16 of Lumen Gentium explains that it holds hope for Muslims who have not been exposed to the Gospel and who sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience.

    This is taken directly from Paul in Romans 2:13-16. So, the Catholic Church is quoting Scripture. It acknowledges that there is SOME truth in Islam and if God has graced certain people to be saved, they will be saved A. by judgment of Jesus Christ and B. Through the Body of Christ (i.e. the Church).

  35. Ron said,

    November 12, 2012 at 8:00 am

    Dennis,

    You have suggested that Rome has historically taught that those who are baptized into Christ are by extension in the Roman church. That baptism can be with water, blood (martyrdom) or desire. That is not what she has historically taught, nor how she has been understood. She has historically taught that all outside the Roman communion are accursed until such time they should repent and be joined to the pope in this life. The decrees on ecumenism deny those earlier pronouncements and leave room for salvation through the light of nature and for those who have rejected Rome yet have received Trinitarian baptism. The idea that being in Christ places one in fellowship with the pope is not only foreign to historic Romanism, it’s a blatant contradiction of the her earlier pronouncements. Christ was to be received through the Roman communion. It was not the case that the Roman communion was received through union Christ.

    Finally, Romans 2 does not support your case, but even if it did you’d have no epistemic basis to embrace such a premise because your understanding of the plain meaning of Scripture does not comport with Rome’s authority over your interpretation. Even if she were to exegete Romans 2 for you, on what epistemic basis could you know you understood her interpretation?

  36. Pete Holter said,

    November 12, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    Ron wrote,

    “Salvation entailed being subject to the Roman pontiff now it doesn’t. Now it merely requires baptism… or a desire to be baptized… or an acknowledgement of the Creator, first place given to Muslims who have Abraham as their father(!).”

    Hi Ron!

    The Code of Canon Law, as I mentioned, says that “schism is the refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him” (Code of Canon Law, Canon 751). If you are culpable for schism, you are outside the Church and are not saved. This seems the same to me.

    As for Muslims, let me start off by saying that I realize that my position is more rigid than our beloved Cardinal Dulles and others.

    As Catholics, we believe that God’s plan of salvation includes all peoples, including Muslims. John Paul II wrote that “the Redemption includes all humanity and in a certain way all of creation” (Dominum et Vivificantem, 64), and that each person “is included in the mystery of the Redemption and with each one Christ has united Himself for ever through this mystery” (Redemptor Hominis, 13). He went on to say, however, that, while all of us “are unbreakably linked with Christ,” this linkage is true of everyone, whether we ultimately receive “salvation,” or suffer “perdition” (Redemptor Hominis, 14). So when we are talking about “the plan of salvation” including this or that person or group of persons, we are talking about the fact that Christ died for all, even those who go to hell. This is why John Paul II was able to write that “Abraham heard the word of the Lord which took him away from his own land, from his people, from himself in a sense, to make him the instrument of a plan of salvation which embraced the future people of the Covenant and indeed all the peoples of the world” (Letter Concerning Pilgrimages to the Places Linked to the History of Salvation). It is with this in mind that John Paul II again spoke of “salvation history,” and described it as “the salvation of the whole of humanity as well as of every human being of whatever period” (Reconciliatio et Paenitentia). “The Church, following the apostles, teaches that Christ died for all men without exception: ‘There is not, never has been, and never will be a single human being for whom Christ did not suffer’ ” (CCC, 605). Hence, God’s plan of salvation includes Muslims.

    But to say that God’s plan of salvation includes Muslims is not the same thing as to say that Muslims are in a saving relationship with God. For “though He died for all, yet do not all receive the benefit of His death, but those only unto whom the merit of His passion is communicated” (Trent, Decree on Justification, Ch. 3).

    Lumen Gentium, 16 speaks of “those who have not yet received the Gospel” and who “are related in various ways to the people of God.” It also says of these groups that “[w]hatever good or truth is found amongst them is looked upon by the Church as a preparation for the Gospel”; and, finally, that the Church is on mission to “procure the salvation of all of these.” You’ll also find this “preparation for the Gospel” language in Ad Gentes where it states that “these attempts [of man] need to be enlightened and healed; even though, through the kindly workings of Divine Providence, they may sometimes serve as leading strings toward God, or as a preparation for the Gospel” (Ad Gentes, 3). It is as Pope Paul VI taught: “non Christian religions… are all impregnated with innumerable ‘seeds of the Word’ and can constitute a true ‘preparation for the Gospel’ ”; but whereas “our religion effectively establishes with God an authentic and living relationship,” non Christian religions, on the other hand, “do not succeed in doing [so], even though they have, as it were, their arms stretched out towards heaven” (Evangelii Nuntiandi). Pope Benedict similarly refers to this searching for Christ as “an authentic ‘preamble’ to the faith, because it guides people onto the path that leads to the mystery of God” (Porta Fidei, 10). These people are not of the people of God and their salvation is yet to be procured; but they are on the path of salvation in the sense that if they continue to seek along this path by grace, the Lord will be there for the finding, and, in His great love, He will of a certainty reveal Himself and His Gospel to them — with or without human agency mediating — and bestow the gift of faith to those appointed to eternal life.

    Faith in Christ is necessary. Ad Gentes reminded us that without faith it is impossible to please God (cf. Ad Gentes, 7; Hebrews 11:6). And Dominus Iesus drew attention to the “distinction between theological faith [in Christianity] and belief in the other religions.” It defined faith in this context as “the acceptance in grace of revealed truth.” Other religions (with any sharing in Sacred Scripture being excepted), however, do not offer us revealed truth, but rather convey “the human treasury of wisdom and religious aspiration, which man in his search for truth has conceived and acted upon in his relationship to God and the Absolute” (Dominus Iesus, 7). And so the ways that God might use to “lead those inculpably ignorant of the Gospel to find that faith without which it is impossible to please Him” (Ad Gentes, 7), apart from human agency, would include any number of possibilities of private, special revelation, such as visions, dreams, infused knowledge, angelic visitations, etc. Augustine acknowledged that God “could give the gospel to man even without the help or agency of men” (On Christian Doctrine, Bk. 4, Ch. 16:33); but, at the same time, he brought our attention to the fact that Sts. Cyprian and Ambrose “were of the mind to understand that it is given to very few to receive the teaching of salvation through God Himself, or through the angels of heaven, without any human preaching to them; but that it is given to many to believe in God through human agency” (On the Gift of Perseverance, Ch. 19:48).

    Dominus Iesus pointed out that “Theologians are seeking to understand this question more fully. Their work is to be encouraged, since it is certainly useful for understanding better God’s salvific plan and the ways in which it is accomplished” (21). So if you come to a different conclusion from me, that’s ok. But you’ll want to keep in mind that although “man is able by the right use of reason to know and to obey certain principles of the natural law.” Yet, “though he should know them all and keep them inviolate through life — and even this is impossible without the aid of the grace of our Redeemer — still it is vain for anyone without faith to promise himself eternal salvation” (Pope Leo XIII, Tametsi Futura Prospicientibus).

    “It is necessary that the desire by which one is related to the Church be animated by perfect charity. Nor can an implicit desire produce its effect, unless a person has supernatural faith: ‘For he who comes to God must believe that God exists and is a rewarder of those who seek Him’ (Heb. 11:6). The Council of Trent declares (Session VI, chap. 8): ‘Faith is the beginning of man’s salvation, the foundation and root of all justification, without which it is impossible to please God and attain to the fellowship of His children’ (Denzinger, n. 801)” (Letter of the Holy Office to Archbishop Richard J. Cushing).

    How will Muslims be saved? Through faith in Jesus Christ by the grace of God!

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  37. Pete Holter said,

    November 12, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    Now moving forward to the Vatican II era, it sound likes, from the Catholic standpoint, it is possible for even someone who has explicitly denied Christ (like a Muslim) but is sincerely seeking after God to be saved. So I cannot be saved since I reject the arguments of Rome after understanding these arguments, but a Muslim potentially could be saved. So do I still have it right here?

    Hi Andrew!

    I hope that I have partially addressed your concern about Muslims in my previous response to Ron. I believe that Muslims will need to respond in faith to God’s public revelation of Himself in Christ to man. And I believe that it may happen for this public revelation to be privately conveyed to and received by this or that person on his deathbed, and thus hidden from the eyes of man.

    I agree with what you’re saying about the condemnations of Trent. The Christian who is not aware (not through indifference or sloth, but through no fault of his own), but is living a life of “Yes” to God, is in a better position than another who knows God more intimately through the study of the Scriptures, but who has said “No” to Him on this or that point of revelation. The reason that I asked for a specific canon from Trent is because, even though you may reject my and others’ apologetic arguments in promotion of the Catholic faith, this does not mean that you have rejected the Catholic faith. We are but men! :) God encourages you to form your own unique apologetic based on the teachings of Christ’s Church, and to continue to grow in your knowledge of the Catholic faith, bearing with others in love, in keeping with Paul’s exhortation to faithful forbearance:

    “Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained” (Philippians 3:15-16).

    Unfortunately, this is all the time I have for commenting this week. But I will view any follow-up comments and pray for you. If you have any other questions, I’d love to offer my take if you think it would be helpful, and when I have more time.

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  38. Ron said,

    November 12, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    Pete,

    Trent, in a decree concerning original sin, denies that the sin of Adam that is “transfused into all by propagation” can be “taken away either by the powers of human nature, or by any other remedy than the merit of… Christ.” The channel for receiving Christ’s merit is indexed not to a baptism of desire or any other instrumental cause (like having faith in the Creator) but only to the sacrament of baptism “rightly administered in the form of the Church.” To deny this is to be under the anathema of the Pope. You, Pete, by allowing for Protestant baptism to be a means of justification is to be under an anathema issued at Trent (though contradicted at Vatican II). Moreover, whosoever allows for an appropriation of Christ’s righteousness through the means of walking according the light of nature, as opposed to baptism performed within the Roman communion, is also under the same anathema. Naturally, when Trent speaks six chapters later on the instrumental cause of justification being baptism, “the sacrament of faith”, she is speaking of the same baptism, that which is only to be found in the Roman communion – the alleged “Church.”

  39. Dennis said,

    November 12, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    Ron,

    I’ll respond to the rest of your response later as I’m working; however, I wanted to mention now that you are misreading Trent.

    Canon IV on Baptism in Session VII says,

    If any one saith, that the baptism which is even given by heretics in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, with the intention of doing what the Church doth, is not true baptism; let him be anathema.

    So, YES…a Protestant baptism is valid per Trent as long as A. It’s in the Trinitarian Formula and B. It’s with proper intent (i.e. Not a Mormon baptism where the intent is clearly not Trinitarian).

    There really is nothing new in Vatican II.

  40. Ron said,

    November 12, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    Dennis,

    Ah, but does any Reformed minister have the intention of doing what the Church doth” in baptism? To restrict this to Trinitarian form only is to deny intention of RC baptism. Protestants by and large deny ex opere operato or that baptism in the instrumental cause of justification. In other words, they deny the heart of the intention of Roman baptism. Accordingly, Protestant baptism is invalid by Trent’s standards.

  41. Ron said,

    November 12, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    Canon 2. If anyone says that true and natural water is not necessary for baptism and thus twists into some metaphor the words of our Lord Jesus Christ:

    Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, let him be anathema.

    Canon 5. If anyone says that baptism is optional, that is, not necessary for salvation,[13] let him be anathema.

    What about baptism of desire, without water?

  42. Dennis said,

    November 12, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    Ron,

    Session VII Canon IV – On the Sacraments in General:

    If any one saith, that the sacraments of the New Law are not necessary unto salvation, but superfluous; and that, without them, or without the desire thereof, men obtain of God, through faith alone, the grace of justification;-though all (the sacraments) are not indeed necessary for every individual; let him be anathema.

    Emphasis mine.

  43. Ron said,

    November 12, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    We’re talking about implicit desire, Muslims et al. That desire which is not conscious. And how does that comport with Canon 2 and the necessity of literal water?

  44. Ron said,

    November 12, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    Dennis,

    I’m not going to be able to spend more time on this for a while. What I was looking for was a reconciliation of the Boniface bull, Canon 2 (cited above) and the notion of implicit desire with respect to the invincibly ignorant. I wanted to see how an attempt at reconciliation would stand up in the face of the papal bull casted in its original context prior to statements made 600 years later. I also wanted to see how the intent of Protestant-Reformed baptism is anything like that of Rome, especially in light of the idea of instrumental cause and working-of-the-works.

  45. Dennis said,

    November 12, 2012 at 10:48 pm

    Bob B. 33.

    The means of receiving grace is through the sacraments. God, however, would not be bound by the sacraments. From a Catholic perspective, a Protestant celebrates two valid sacraments: Baptism and Marriage. Meaning the grace would have been received in those two sacraments. It does not mean that a Protestant isn’t grace filled or that they are not saved. If a Protestant receives grace, it’s not through the ordinary means.

    God has the power to save whomever He pleases. However, the grace received from the Catholic (and Orthodox) Sacraments would be lacking for a Protestant.

    Regarding a saintly protestant widow, my approach to her would be the same as it would be for a saintly Catholic widow. I would approach with sorrow and offer my condolences for her loss. My hope and prayer is that her spouse be received into the loving arms of Jesus Christ and that God console her in her time of sorrow. I wouldn’t presume that anyone is saved but rather hope that they are saved.

  46. Dennis said,

    November 12, 2012 at 11:26 pm

    Ron, 35.

    Finally, Romans 2 does not support your case, but even if it did you’d have no epistemic basis to embrace such a premise because your understanding of the plain meaning of Scripture does not comport with Rome’s authority over your interpretation. Even if she were to exegete Romans 2 for you, on what epistemic basis could you know you understood her interpretation?

    I think Romans 2:14-16 does support my case. I think that Lumen Gentium 16 is taken directly from Romans 2:

    For when the Gentiles who do not have the law by nature observe the prescriptions of the law, they are a law for themselves even though they do not have the law. They show that the demands of the law are written in their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even defend them on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge people’s hidden works through Christ Jesus.

    Do you really think Catholics aren’t allowed to read the Bible? Catholics are asked to hold the same reverence for Scripture as we do for the Eucharist! (CCC 103-104). The Catholic approach to reading Scripture isn’t to ask Rome to exegete it for us. It’s for us to read Scripture and make sure that Scripture doesn’t conflict with the Church teaching.

    So, Romans 2:14-16, is open to my interpretation as long as my interpretation doesn’t conflict with Church teaching.
    I’m curious though, when Paul writes, “their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even defend them on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge people’s hidden works through Christ Jesus.” What does that mean for a Reformed Protestant?

  47. Dennis said,

    November 12, 2012 at 11:34 pm

    Ron, 40

    Ah, but does any Reformed minister have the intention of doing what the Church doth” in baptism? To restrict this to Trinitarian form only is to deny intention of RC baptism. Protestants by and large deny ex opere operato or that baptism in the instrumental cause of justification. In other words, they deny the heart of the intention of Roman baptism. Accordingly, Protestant baptism is invalid by Trent’s standards.

    No! A Protestant baptism has never been considered invalid by Trent’s standards. This is historical fact. i.e. You’re interpreting Trent differently than the Catholic Church interprets it.

    The intention is that the minister believes the Baptism is valid (i.e. he’s baptizing into Christ) using water and the trinitarian formula. Provided that the Reformed minister is doing this (which would be the case) then the Baptism is valid. If a Reformed person becomes Catholic, he would not be rebaptized if he’s been baptized once before. As the Nicene Creed says, One baptism for the forgiveness of sins.

  48. Brad B said,

    November 13, 2012 at 1:08 am

    “You’re interpreting Trent differently than the Catholic Church interprets it.”

    Hearkens back to #22,

    “Consequently, Rome’s consistency in her clarity either accuses her of outright doctrinal contradiction or else there is no perspicuity of Roman Catholic doctrine, a dilemma indeed.”

    Seems obvious which horn is being employed, often.

  49. David Meyer said,

    November 13, 2012 at 10:57 am

    Lane,
    Interesting post. As a Catholic with boots on the ground, so to speak, I will say that the crop of priests that I am seeing coming up the ranks are not defined by these extremes. The 2 new, young priests in my tri-parish (3 churches, 2 priests) are moving some things “back”, and some things forward. They see themselves as being the real Vatican II generation in the vein of JP2 and B16. They are not traditionalists or modernists. 2 examples: Liturgy and formation. They are “innovators” in the liturgy. Keep in mind, though that for most Catholics, innovation in the mass means more latin, more sticking to the rubrics, less sappy music, more meat in the homilies, less liturgical abuse etc. After Vatican II, many changes were made which you will not find even hinted at in the documents of Vatican II (rotating the altars around!?). According to the actual documents of Vatican II, Latin and chant are to still be the norm, with vernacular and hymns an allowable indult. Basically, the hippies did all sorts of horrors in the name of Vatican II, while ignoring the actual documents, and the “traditionalists” focused so much on continuity, that they could not see any change whatsoever as being legitimate, and they also seem to have largely ignored the actual documents. But these new priests see what they are doing as finally, after years of neglect and abuse by hippies, implementing the REAL reforms of Vatican II. They don’t see it as simply going back to 1961, they see it as finally getting down to the business of reading and implementing V2. Second example: Formation. The family formation at my parish rivals anything I have seen in my former PCA Church. It is intensive, it is focused on parents as the teachers, and it is incredibly “innovative” in the sense that it is actually listening to what Vatican II says about parents being the primary teachers of their children. The program was made by former Protestants, and I can tell. I incorporates many things which were meant to be embraced after Vatican II, like increases scripture reading and a focus by the laity on their own spiritual formation and prayer life. Lots of scripture reading and memorization too, right along with learning prayers in Laitn and catechism memorization. It is not going back to pre-V2, and it is not a breach with the past either. The REAL Vatican II, when it is actually read and implemented in the way it asks to be implemented, without hippies just using it as cover for their own agenda, is a continuity, but also a growth and renewal. My priests talk in only glowing terms about V2, and can actually explain it and quote it, yet they wear cassocks and have Novus Ordo masses with chant and Latin, and are reversing liturgical abuses gradually, while at the same time are preaching fire and brimstone from their pulpits and taking their job as shepherds deadly serious when it comes to catechesis and formation of the laity. These things were non-existent in the 80s from what I hear. They are not traditionalists or modernists, but they are both traditional and modern. Which was the stated purpose of the council in the first place: for the Church to successfully interface with a rapidly changing world. I think the council is just now beginning to be read and implemented, and will take another century or so to be fully online in all parishes. Pope Benedict is on the record saying that the Church is likely to go through a time of purging in the coming years, where it will become much smaller, but far more faithful. I believe this will be the result of Vatican II finally being read and implemented. The relativists and hippies will angrily leave/die off, the Traditionalists will (mostly) come back, and apostasy and persecutions will increase. The Church will be leaner, holier, and ready for the next millennium of Christian unity.

    Just my 2 cents.

  50. johnbugay said,

    November 14, 2012 at 6:09 am

    The REAL Vatican II …

    hah, what an illustration of all the things we’ve been saying about you guys. Meanwhile, it’s all been fake for some 50 years.

  51. johnbugay said,

    November 14, 2012 at 6:10 am

    How can the “infallible church” have a council, and every Roman Catholic in the world, up till David Meyer comes on the scene, gets it wrong?

  52. sean said,

    November 14, 2012 at 9:14 am

    David, I appreciate your perspective. So, what you’re really saying is Rome decided to take it’s lead from the protestants, even liberal protestants at the time(German higher criticism for ex.) and though it came with all the liberalism inherent(hippies) it really got the laity into the word and the clergy for that matter(very protestant)and now the RC’s are ridding themselves of their liturgical abuses(maybe empty sacerdotalism?) and the reform movement is underway. I don’t know what we as protestants are supposed to say? Your welcome?! See you in our churches in a 100 years?! In the meantime I need to go tell ALL my old seminary profs they really screwed up for the past 50 years and if they were sincere they’d all give back their retirement annuities.

  53. Sean Patrick said,

    November 14, 2012 at 9:41 am

    johnbugay and sean – It would serve well to remember that the Catholic Church is 2,000 years old. In the grand scheme of the life of the Church, while a ‘hippie hiatus’ is not ideal, the fact that the Church is clearly correcting and moving away from the so called ‘spirit’ of Vatican II after a single generation is a good thing. Remember, this is the Church that survived all the ancient heresies, many of which lasted and persisted much longer than the hippie ‘spirit’ of Vatican II.

    David is right. It’s getting better. The notorious LCWR, for instance, is finally getting some serious attention. Those old religious orders that lost their way are literally dying out and the orthodox orders are growing.

    I wrote about this here a while back.

    Further, it is worth remembering that the PCA is a small denomination composed of like-minded individuals that was started from a schism in the 1970s. Why is that worth remembering? When a small regional Presbyterian Church starts getting ‘liberal’ the orthodox members have the option of just splintering off and starting a new church. Then that new church can point their fingers at other churches that don’t enjoy the same level of homogeny as they get to enjoy. This true regardless of whether one is PCA or OPC or any other Protestant Reformed denomination.

    When the Catholic Church experiences liberalism or some other divergent movement she has no such option. We have to put up with and slowly correct such things.

  54. sean said,

    November 14, 2012 at 9:58 am

    Sean Patrick, That’s your choice based on a flawed view of the magisterium(from a protestant perspective) and your particular Italian sect’s 2000 year claim is hotly contested. Never mind the fact that all of “us” lose Apostolic authority when we diverge from the original apostolic tradition. Gal. 1:8

  55. Sean Patrick said,

    November 14, 2012 at 10:36 am

    sean.

    Even if what you said were true (which I don’t grant), the fact is that Catholic ecclesiology does not allow schism. The conservative Presbyterians in the 1970s split and formed the PCA when liberalism crept into their church. The smart money is on the PCA itself experiencing the same kind of split in our lifetime. The orthodox Catholics have no such option.

    Thankfully, however, the Holy Spirit is doing amazing things and it won’t be long till the ‘spirit’ of Vatican II will be ancient history. For just one example, take a look at the Anglican ordinariate. See here.

  56. sean said,

    November 14, 2012 at 10:48 am

    Sean Patrick,

    That’s like protestants amending their confessions to legislate out sin. Well ok, you can do that. It looks good on paper. It has absolutely no traction in the life of the faithful and furthermore sets the church and the gospel up for all sorts of derision. If Paul could be liable for anathema, much less an angel of God, I have no idea how Rome can expect it’s claims to sole ecclesial authority to be respected and beholden to by religious consciences when it violates those same for let’s say 50 or 100 years at a time. You can claim it, if it helps you somehow, but it just opens up the magisterium to mockery. The unity that adheres in Rome is just as suspect and feeble as what gets cobbled together in broader evangelicalism, and 800 page catechisms don’t seem to be helping the matter.

  57. Sean Patrick said,

    November 14, 2012 at 10:59 am

    sean.

    I must not be explaining myself very clearly. I have not said anything about ammending confessions or changing doctrines to legislate out sin. The Catholic Church has not ‘changed her confessions’ in response to the hippie ‘spirit of Vatican II.’ The Catholic Churh is doing the exact opposite.

  58. sean said,

    November 14, 2012 at 11:16 am

    Sean Patrick, I was comparing Rome’s claim of sole ecclesial authority or disallowance of schism with Protestants amending their confessions to legislate out sin. It’s nothing more than a paper tiger.

  59. Sean said,

    November 14, 2012 at 11:22 am

    #58

    I don’t agree.

    What is your background? Forgive me for not keeping track but were you once Catholic?

  60. johnbugay said,

    November 14, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    Sean Patrick, the “Roman Catholic Church” is about 450 years old. It anathematized “the Gospel” (which Sean Moore has been talking about, Gal 1:6-9).

    You are on the right track with this “hiatus” thinking of yours. But the leadership in Rome, which has been on a “hiatus” for 1600 years, since “The Roman Illusion of Grandeur” came into focus. During that time, that whole time has been a “hiatus”, a kind of Roman game-playing (not “hippies” but “popies”), which has caused great harm throughout the church — losing good doctrines, creating bad ones, causing schism through its pretentions, etc. But fortunately, through it all, God keeps the Gospel message in front of a faithful remnant – no guesstimates on the size of that Remnant, because only God knows — through his unchanging Scripture. This is, in reality, how “correcting” and “moving away from” corrupted “spirits” has been going on in the one true church, of which the PCA and OPC have been a faithful part, for 2000 years.

    When the Roman church experiences liberalism or some other divergent movement, it has proved its powerlessness to resist “the changing winds of development”, so to speak, and that is why the Roman church today in no way resembles the New Testament scriptures that Christ and the Apostles left for the church, as a sure guide through this period of “already/not yet”.

    By the way, Sean Patrick, you are talking to us as if we’ve never heard any of this before. Do you think that having been Roman Catholic for 40+ years means we really don’t understand everything you think you are telling us?

  61. Sean Patrick said,

    November 14, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    John # 60,

    I think you know quite well that we Catholics confidently reject the innovative idea that the Catholic Church is only 450 years old. I think I’ve read just about every argument against the Church that you have ever published online and remain firmly confident in the position of the Catholic Church.

    But I am confused because you told us in # 60 that the Catholic Church is only 450 years old but then you went onto complain about things the Catholic Church did 1,600 years ago. No matter. I think I understand your position by now.

    This thread is supposed to be about Vatican II. Both David Meyer and myself offered our positions on the thread at hand. I don’t really have much interest in going back and forth with you about how terrible the Catholic Church has been for 450, or is it 1,600, years. We’ve done that before and that is not the topic here.

    If you want offer a response to what David said or what I’ve said about Vatican II then let’s hear it.

  62. Sean Patrick said,

    November 14, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    Just one more about the age of our church, John.

    If our church is only 450 years old, as you said in # 60, why have you spilled so much ink complaining about the actions of the Catholic Church from as far back as AD 429? I recall you going on and on about the Council of Ephesus and how in your opinion this was some dark deed of the Catholic Church.

  63. johnbugay said,

    November 14, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    Sean Patrick, I don’t recall seeing your name on the administrator list here. When you come here and say that “the Catholic Church is 2000 years old,” meaning the Roman Catholic Church, obviously you are in need of some nuance.

    It’s funny, you recent converts to RCCism, telling us old guys, who lived through it, what the REAL Vatican II was all about. You are like Seinfeld’s dentist: you converted for the jokes.

  64. johnbugay said,

    November 14, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    Sean, not every dark deed in the history of the one true church is Rome’s fault. A lot of them to be sure. And in case you hadn’t heard, Rome cut itself off from “the one true church” by anathematizing the Gospel at Trent.

  65. sean said,

    November 14, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    Sean @ #59. I was a cradle catholic. I was part of the ‘lost generation’ of the 80’s, allegedly, when I was attending seminary. It’s a tough gig, when former protestants try to tell raised in the bosom cradles what Rome is really about, we tend to differ. But the question still stands, how is it that one of the original apostles can be in jeopardy of apostatizing from the apostolic tradition but somehow in Italy that specter can’t be raised? Is it the Italian water? Is it all the ciao bella attitude that dismisses such concerns with the wave of the papal hand?

  66. Sean Patrick said,

    November 14, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    John.

    # 63

    Well, us recent converts from Reformed Presbyterian really know what Reformed Presbyterian is all about so you new Reformed Presbyterians have no business trying to tell us what it’s really about because we know! (Just kidding but do you see how that is not an argument?)

  67. johnbugay said,

    November 14, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    As far as I know, I don’t portray myself as an expert in Reformed theology. But some of the other writers here know far more about it than you ever did. You are a know-nothing on two fronts!

  68. Sean Patrick said,

    November 14, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    sean # 59,

    Individuals can always go apostate but the gates of hell will never conquer Christ’s church.

    The Church is maintained by the Holy Spirit. It has nothing to do with the drinking water in Italy.

  69. Sean Patrick said,

    November 14, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    # 67.

    John. I have never claimed to be an expert on anything. Hopefully that puts you at ease.

  70. Sean Patrick said,

    November 14, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    sean – one more quick comment.

    You said, ” It’s a tough gig, when former protestants try to tell raised in the bosom cradles what Rome is really about, we tend to differ.

    You do realize that there are quite a few committed and orthodox craddle Catholics. I think we converts get all the attention because its we converts that try to engage this particular Protestant tradition. The vast majority of faithful Catholics that I know are craddle Catholics.

  71. sean said,

    November 14, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    Sean Patrick,

    So, the apostle paul in expounding apostolic tradition didn’t have the Holy Spirit in the same way the magisterium enjoys the protection of the Holy Spirit?! Sounds like a water thing to me, or maybe it’s a special magisterial Italian vitamin protocol. Apparently a polish and some Germans got hold of it too. It’s like the whole doping protocol of the pro peleton(cycling) ended up centering around Michele Ferrari(italian doctor) closely followed by the spaniards(operacion Puerto)-inquisition. I see a pattern here.

    Yeah those committed and orthodox cradles were some of the priests who trained me that you guys threw under the bus with the ‘hippie’ generation.

  72. Sean Patrick said,

    November 14, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    sean.

    # 71.

    No, I did not say that the apostle Paul did not have the Holy Spirit. Paul, however, was not ‘the Church.’ Christ did not say that the gates of hell would not conquer Paul. Christ said that the gates of hell would not conquer His Church.

    Do you want to talk about these things in a serious way or are we going to just joke the whole time?

  73. sean said,

    November 14, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    Sean Patrick,

    I’m gonna make cracks at least part of the time, what kind of Irishman are you?

    But I’m still confused, the whole magisterial authority is grounded in apostolic succession(i.e. authority of the Church-capital C) but somehow the protection of the Holy Spirit doesn’t extend back to original apostolic authority, such that Paul issues the warning that he does to the church in Galatia but now such an opportunity is off the table? And furthermore when the RC does one of it’s ‘hiatus” it still retains apostolic authority though according to Gal. 1:8 it forfeited it’s claim. That’s quite a gig Rome has going.

  74. Sean said,

    November 14, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    When I said “hippie hiatus’ I was not saying the entire Catholic Church was corrupted or non-existent. Maybe that was a bad choice of words to describe the post Vatican II ‘spirit’ that accompanied the abuses that we’re talking about. Even through the hippiest of times the Catholic Church was still the Catholic Church that was founded by Jesus. This isn’t new. Throughout all time the Catholic Church has remained the Catholic Church even when combating various heresies.

    On Galatians 1:8, the passage does not say that the Catholic Church has forfeited it’s apostolic authority.

    Here is what Galatians 1:8 says: 8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

    The Catholic Church does not nor has it ever preached any other gospel than the one which Paul preached.

  75. sean said,

    November 14, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    Chuckle, O.K. Sean. Even you guys admit that ‘THAT'(sola ecclesia) claim is a paradigmatic shift and a confession of faith by the faithful. I.e. we believe it because the church claims it. And Cross follows that line up with ‘protestants can’t even play the game’ because we don’t make philosophical claims of certitude. So, basically either Rome or Jim Jones messianic types.

  76. sean said,

    November 14, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    @74. In Gal. 1:8 Paul was willing to appeal to the tradition over his apostolic authority, which Rome doesn’t allow for as a possibility. Which is what you’ve claimed in 74 and proves my point. Somehow Rome has secured a more sure apostolic authority than even Paul allowed himself or an angel of God.

  77. Sean Patrick said,

    November 14, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    sean.

    I think we’re nearing an impasse at the moment but I do want to say that I do not think this is a laughing matter.

    And, I agree and affirm what St Paul told the Galatians. If somebody does preach a gospel different than the gospel delivered by the apostles, let him be cursed.

  78. sean said,

    November 14, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    Sean Patrick,

    The issues at stake certainly aren’t laughing matters, but you’ll have to forgive me if I find some of the interactions over those matters and claims by the RC’s a bit, enthusiastic, let’s say. I’ve do have perspective from both sides of the divide. I’m sure we(protestants) overshoot the mark at times as well.

  79. Pete Holter said,

    November 18, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    Greetings in Christ, Ron!

    Ron wrote,

    Ah, but does any Reformed minister have the intention of doing what the Church doth” in baptism? To restrict this to Trinitarian form only is to deny intention of RC baptism. Protestants by and large deny ex opere operato or that baptism in the instrumental cause of justification. In other words, they deny the heart of the intention of Roman baptism. Accordingly, Protestant baptism is invalid by Trent’s standards.

    Brad wrote,

    [Dennis:] “You’re interpreting Trent differently than the Catholic Church interprets it.”

    Hearkens back to #22,

    [Ron:] “Consequently, Rome’s consistency in her clarity either accuses her of outright doctrinal contradiction or else there is no perspicuity of Roman Catholic doctrine, a dilemma indeed.”

    Seems obvious which horn is being employed, often.

    You can find St. Francis de Sales talking about this in the late fifteenth century in The Catholic Controversy, beginning on page 357…

    “The Council does not say that it is necessary to have the particular intention of the Church (otherwise Calvinists, who have no intention in Baptism of taking away original sin, would not baptize rightly since the Church has that intention) but only the intention of doing in general what the Church does when she baptizes, without particularizing or determining the what or the how” (pg. 358).”

    This canon excludes, at the very least, the simulations of actors in a movie and such like from constituting sacraments. In case you are interested, Augustine also discusses the topic along these lines in On Baptism, Against the Donatists, Bk. 7, Ch. 53.101-102.

    Ron also wrote,

    “The channel for receiving Christ’s merit is indexed not to a baptism of desire or any other instrumental cause (like having faith in the Creator) but only to the sacrament of baptism ‘rightly administered in the form of the Church.’ To deny this is to be under the anathema of the Pope. You, Pete, by allowing for Protestant baptism to be a means of justification is to be under an anathema issued at Trent (though contradicted at Vatican II).”

    After quoting from Colossians—“He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13-14)— the Council of Trent asserted:

    “By which words, a description of the Justification of the impious is indicated — as being a translation, from that state wherein man is born a child of the first Adam, to the state of grace, and of the adoption of the sons of God, through the second Adam, Jesus Christ, our Savior. And this translation, since the promulgation of the Gospel, cannot be effected, without the laver of regeneration, or the desire thereof, as it is written: ‘unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God’ ” (Decree on Justification, Chs. 3-4).

    And we also have Canon 4 from the seventh session (as Dennis mentioned):

    If any one saith, that the sacraments of the New Law are not necessary unto salvation, but superfluous; and that, without them, or without the desire thereof, men obtain of God, through faith alone, the grace of justification — though all (the sacraments) are not indeed necessary for every individual — let him be anathema.

    Before I quote from Aquinas, it is important to be reminded that “the chief and special glory of Thomas, one which he has shared with none of the Catholic Doctors, is that the Fathers of Trent made it part of the order of conclave to lay upon the altar, together with sacred Scripture and the decrees of the supreme Pontiffs, the Summa of Thomas Aquinas, whence to seek counsel, reason, and inspiration” (Pope Leo XIII, Aeterni Patris, 22).

    Keeping this in mind, Thomas wrote that

    “man receives the forgiveness of sins before Baptism in so far as he has Baptism of desire, explicitly or implicitly; and yet when he actually receives Baptism, he receives a fuller remission, as to the remission of the entire punishment. So also before Baptism Cornelius and others like him receive grace and virtues through their faith in Christ and their desire for Baptism, implicit or explicit: but afterwards when baptized, they receive a yet greater fulness of grace and virtues” (Summa Theologica, 3.69.a4.r2).

    From this we can gather that Trent did not intend to exclude the possibility of having implicit desire for baptism.

    In Pope Pius X’s catechism, he also answers the question, “But if a man through no fault of his own is outside the Church, can he be saved?” by saying,

    “If he is outside the Church through no fault of his, that is, if he is in good faith, and if he has received Baptism, or at least has the implicit desire of Baptism; and if, moreover, he sincerely seeks the truth and does God’s will as best he can such a man is indeed separated from the body of the Church, but is united to the soul of the Church and consequently is on the way of salvation.”

    I hope that this addresses your concern about implicit desire and the harmony that exists between Trent and Vatican II on this point.

    When you hear, “rightly administered in the form of the Church,” you may be thinking of the priest and the rites and the full doctrine concerning baptism. But to rightly administer baptism in the form of the Church is simply for the baptizer to baptize by immersion, infusion, or aspersion using natural water; for the baptizer to say the words, “I baptize you in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”; and for the baptizer to have the intention of baptizing. Reading this passage in light of Canons 2 and 4 on Baptism helps us to understand the meaning.

    “Pastors, therefore, should teach, in clear, unambiguous language, intelligible to every capacity, that the true and essential form of Baptism is: ‘I baptise thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.’ For so it was delivered by our Lord and Saviour” (Catechism of the Council of Trent: “The Sacrament of Baptism”).

    Ron wrote,

    “We’re talking about implicit desire, Muslims et al. That desire which is not conscious. And how does that comport with Canon 2 and the necessity of literal water?”

    I hope that I’ve addressed your questions about implicit desire (up above in this comment) and Muslims (in comment 36).

    How do desire for baptism and Canon 2 interrelate… Canon 2 essentially makes two assertions:

    1. John 3:5 is referring to water baptism.

    2. Since John 3:5 is referring to water baptism, the sacrament of baptism must be celebrated using water.

    It is to this baptism with water and to the grace that it bestows that our desire has reference.

    That’s my understanding of our faith. I hope that you are all having a blessed Lord’s Day!

    In Christ,
    Pete

  80. Ron said,

    November 18, 2012 at 10:33 pm

    I made the point early on that the pre-Vatican II pronouncements that are so repugnant to evangelicals are no less clear in their prima facie import than those later pronouncements that are seemingly more palatable. Consequently, Rome’s consistency in her clarity accuses her of outright doctrinal contradiction otherwise there is no perspicuity of Roman Catholic doctrine. As exhibit A I pointed to the disparity between Unam Sanctam and the language of Vatican II that refers to Protestants as separated brethren. In response to this observation I was not given a reconciliation of the illogicality in view but rather I was pointed to Unitatis Redintegratio, which is not a reconciliation of Unam Sanctam with Vatican II but merely a dogmatic statement on restoration and unity from Vatican II. I was further told that Roman Catholics “share a common bond with Protestants…” which again does not touch my original point, that if there is perspicuity of Roman Catholic doctrine then we may safely she has contradicted herself with utmost clarity. After all, to offer a recent statement on ecumenism in defense of reconciling a 600 year old papal bull with ecumenism is hardly persuasive.

    I was later met with statements regarding how one who is baptized within a Protestant communion is united to Christ and thereby united with Christ’s church. But since by Roman Catholic standards there is no true church other than the “Roman Catholic Church” then by extension we may deduce by Roman Catholic standards that baptized Protestants who are in Christ must be mystically joined with the Roman communion, the alleged one true Church. Moreover, by this sleight of hand it is also necessarily implied that such Protestants satisfy the requirement declared in Unam Sanctam, that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff.

    The problem with all of this is that the prima facie meaning of Unam Sanctam is that protestors are not in the Roman communion, let alone subject to the Roman Pontiff, the very thing that is denied by later pronouncements that bear the imprimatur of the Roman communion. To keep asserting Vatican II as an explanation for earlier pronouncements is not to reconcile the many faces of Rome. It’s simply to re-interpret a previous face in light of a later one without dealing with the plain meaning of the first one.

  81. Dennis said,

    November 18, 2012 at 11:42 pm

    Ron,

    But since by Roman Catholic standards there is no true church other than the “Roman Catholic Church” then by extension we may deduce by Roman Catholic standards that baptized Protestants who are in Christ must be mystically joined with the Roman communion, the alleged one true Church.

    No. This is not quite correct. To be baptized is to be baptized into the Body of Christ. The Body of Christ can be found fully in the Catholic Church. However, the Body extends farther than just the Catholic Church. The Eastern Orthodox Church is considered the other lung of the Body of Christ and the Protestant communities while albeit imperfectly (because of the lack of sacraments) are still part of the Body of Christ. The image that is used is the Church (Body of Christ) is like an umbrella. All of us are under the umbrella although some are under it more completely than others.

    I hope you realize that Protestants are not the focus of Unam Sanctam. It was written to the King of France and is meant to address some political issue back in the 1300’s.

    Secondly, I don’t see a conflict between Unitatis Redintegratio and Unam Sanctam. Unitatis Redingratio still says that the Catholic Church is the all embracing means of salvation.

    Really though, is an 800 year old document written by the Pope to the King of France what is keeping you from joining the Church? I would venture to guess that your disagreements run deeper than Unam Sanctam. i.e. If Unam Sanctam had never been written, you would still be Protestant.

  82. Ron said,

    November 19, 2012 at 12:30 am

    The Catholic approach to reading Scripture isn’t to ask Rome to exegete it for us. It’s for us to read Scripture and make sure that Scripture doesn’t conflict with the Church teaching.

    Dennis,

    There are many ways you can interpret a passage of Scripture without the interpretation conflicting with your communion – yet you can still have the wrong interpretation. If you were to interpret the time table of the Olivet Discourse as a dispensationalist you’d be wrong, but I doubt you’d be in conflict with the Roman communion. That to say, there’s more to knowing what a passage means than merely not contradicting some other supposed truth.

    ”So, Romans 2:14-16, is open to my interpretation as long as my interpretation doesn’t conflict with Church teaching.

    That your communion does not object to you interpreting a passage incorrectly as long as it doesn’t impinge upon her teaching does not mean that God doesn’t. To think incorrectly about Scripture is a violation of the ninth commandment.

    In any case, my point is simply that you have placed the authority of your religious affiliation over the Word of God. The acid test for that supposition is you must abandon what you believe God has said should the pope say otherwise. Given this authoritative mediation of the Roman magisterium, you can never have full assurance while remaining true to the implications of your communion that God has declared doctrine X in passage Y unless the magisterium has ruled as such. (Even then I would argue you have no epistemic basis for thinking you know what your communion has said. For if you cannot know the plain meaning of Scripture, then why should you be able to interpret papal bulls?)

    The material point is that the self-attesting authority of God’s word in conjunction with the Holy Spirit must wait final adjudication from the pope for you to have full warrant for belief. Again, that you are free to believe x-and-so with your communion’s permission does not imply that you have an epistemic basis for knowing you have interpreted a passage aright. Not to complicate matters, but you can know the truth by the testimony of Word and Spirit; you just cannot have confidence that you know because the final authority on faith and morals rests with the pope. Again, and this is key, you must reserve judgment on the absolute truth of any passage because the Roman magisterium can overrule what you think a passage means. Rome’s authority undermines your confidence that you have heard from God in Scripture. Rome says, “Has God said?”

    I’m curious though, when Paul writes, “their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even defend them on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge people’s hidden works through Christ Jesus.” What does that mean for a Reformed Protestant?

    The passage from which that verse comes is merely teaching that all men have the law written on their hearts. Accordingly, all men everywhere are without excuse with respect to being transgressors.

  83. Ron said,

    November 19, 2012 at 12:52 am

    Dennis,

    Re: 81, you did not reconcile the plain interpretation of papal bull U.S. with Vii. In any case, you’re stuck with: Baptism places Protestants into the one true body of Christ. The one true body of Christ is the one true church. The one true church is the Roman Church. The Roman church has the pope as its earthly head. Those in the Roman church are subject to the pope. Baptism places Protestants in subjection to the pope.

    You’re equivocation that prevents you from receiving the absurdity of that glaring conclusion is hidden behind things like lung and umbrella metaphors. At the very least, Unam Sanctam has accursed those who are not subject to the pope. Yet Vii allows for the salvation of Protestants. Accordingly, if there is no contradiction then saved Protestants are subject to the pope.

    Really though, is an 800 year old document written by the Pope to the King of France what is keeping you from joining the Church? I would venture to guess that your disagreements run deeper than Unam Sanctam. i.e. If Unam Sanctam had never been written, you would still be Protestant.

    I’m only appealing to Unam Sanctam because it serves as such a fine example that Rome is either inconsistent or impossible to understand. Again, she has either contradicted herself or else her plain words are past finding out.

    I don’t know what more can be said.

  84. greenbaggins said,

    November 19, 2012 at 10:49 am

    “For if you cannot know the plain meaning of Scripture, then why should you be able to interpret papal bulls?”

    This is a money quotation, Ron. The Roman Catholic position leaves its followers in a position of perpetual agnosticism concerning truth. Nothing winds up being clear unless the Magisterium declares it to be clear. But supposing the Magisterium’s declaration is not all that clear? Then what? The Magisterium then must claim that she is clearer than God’s own Word. This amounts to a claim that the Magisterium actually communicates better than God does.

  85. Ron said,

    November 19, 2012 at 11:20 am

    Lane,

    Yea, and I can’t help but think there is something very insidious about this, for it casts doubt upon what God has said in his word yet not upon what God has allegedly said through his supposed infallible mouthpiece.

    At the end of the day the Roman Catholic believes he may interpret and apply “tradition” yet he may not do the same with Scripture with the same degee of confidence, but why not? Why can’t Scripture interpret Scripture for him to the same degree that tradition can interpret Scripture for him? Moreoever, if tradition may alter the Roman Catholic’s view of Scripture, then why can’t Scripture alter the Roman Catholic’s understanding of tradition? If there is an apparent discrepency in other words, why does God’s supposed tradition trump Scripture?

    I hope all is well!

    Ron

  86. Pete Holter said,

    November 19, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    Hi Ron!

    You wrote,

    ”In response to this observation I was not given a reconciliation of the illogicality in view but rather I was pointed to Unitatis Redintegratio, which is not a reconciliation of Unam Sanctam with Vatican II.”

    I think that you have not given sufficient consideration to the Thomistic context that I tried to provide for Unam Sanctam in comment 26, and the reassertion of this teaching in our current Code of Canon Law.

    You reasoned that “saved Protestants are subject to the pope.”

    Yes, this is true.

    Consider Aquinas’ assertion that Cornelius, before the Apostle Peter had come, “had implicit faith, as the truth of the Gospel was not yet made manifest” (Summa Theologica, 2-2.10.a4.r3). And that…

    “If, however, we take [unbelief] by way of pure negation, as we find it in those who have heard nothing about the faith, it bears the character, not of sin, but of punishment, because such like ignorance of Divine things is a result of the sin of our first parent. If such like unbelievers are [condemned], it is on account of other sins, which cannot be taken away without faith, but not on account of their sin of unbelief” (Summa Theologica, 2-2.10.a1.a.).

    This same logic can be carried over to the situation we find with Protestants.

    Everyone is subject to the pope. Many Protestants are not aware of the authority of the Bishop of Rome and have not decided either to submit or to not submit to his authority. A Protestant who becomes aware of the pope’s authority and refuses to submit to it is committing the sin of schism. If a Protestant is culpable for this refusal, they are guilty of schism and are outside the Church where there is no salvation.

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  87. Ron said,

    November 19, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    You reasoned that “saved Protestants are subject to the pope.” Yes, this is true.

    Peter,

    It is self-evident that the following statement does not allow for an interpretation that would make room for non-“papists” (I’m not engaging in name calling) to be subject to the pope: “We declare, state and define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff.”

    The decree does not leave room for one being saved apart from being subject (in submission) to the pope. Any other interpretation defies the plain meaning of words. To be subject to the pope is to be in a current state of submission to him, which Protestants by definition are not. Now to this RC’s seem to leave open the idea that upon understanding the rightful authority of the pope, a saved Protestant will submit to hm. However, that is not the implication of the decree. The decree speaks in terms of a current state of affairs – that of being in subjection to the pope, without which one is not saved.

    Everyone is subject to the pope. Many Protestants are not aware of the authority of the Bishop of Rome and have not decided either to submit or to not submit to his authority.

    You just stepped in it. What you were saying is that saved Protestants are in some sense subject to the pope, consistent with their salvation, in that through their regeneration they are to submit to him upon learning of his rightful rule over them (as opposed to already being in submission to him due to lack of understanding or lack of hearing about him). However, you have just added that “everyone is subject to the pope,” but if that is how we are to read Unam Sanctam then all men would have met this necessary condition for salvation by virtue of the requirement to be in submission to the pope! Accordingly, the statement would be superfluous because all creatures by Rome’s calculation would meet this condition for salvation because of the supposed authority of the pope over all men. More than that, the decree wouldn’t only be superfluous, it would contradict its import.

  88. Ron said,

    November 19, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    You reasoned that “saved Protestants are subject to the pope.” Yes, this is true.

    Peter,

    It is self-evident that the following statement does not allow for an interpretation that would make room for non-“papists” (I’m not engaging in name calling) to be subject to the pope: “We declare, state and define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff.”

    The decree does not leave room for one being saved apart from being subject (in submission) to the pope. Any other interpretation defies the plain meaning of words. To be subject to the pope is to be in a current state of submission to him, which Protestants by definition are not. Now to this RC’s seem to leave open the idea that upon understanding the rightful authority of the pope, a saved Protestant will submit to hm. However, that is not the implication of the decree. The decree speaks in terms of a current state of affairs – that of being in subjection to the pope, without which one is not saved.

    Everyone is subject to the pope. Many Protestants are not aware of the authority of the Bishop of Rome and have not decided either to submit or to not submit to his authority.

    You just stepped in it. What you were saying is that saved Protestants are in some sense subject to the pope, consistent with their salvation, in that through their regeneration they are to submit to him upon learning of his rightful rule over them (as opposed to already being in submission to him due to lack of understanding or lack of hearing about him). However, you have just added that “everyone is subject to the pope,” but if that is how we are to read Unam Sanctam then all men would have met this necessary condition for salvation by virtue of the requirement to be in submission to the pope! Accordingly, the statement would be superfluous because all creatures by Rome’s calculation would meet this condition for salvation because of the supposed authority of the pope over all men. More than that, the decree wouldn’t only be superfluous; it would contradict its import.

  89. Pete Holter said,

    November 19, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    “if that is how we are to read Unam Sanctam then all men would have met this necessary condition for salvation by virtue of the requirement to be in submission to the pope! Accordingly, the statement would be superfluous because all creatures by Rome’s calculation would meet this condition for salvation because of the supposed authority of the pope over all men. More than that, the decree wouldn’t only be superfluous; it would contradict its import.”

    Greetings in Christ, Ron!

    To say that every human being is subject to the Bishop of Rome is in no way superfluous when the intention is to prove that “the Greeks or others [who] say that they are not confided to Peter and to his successors” (Unam Sanctam), and even the King of France, together with anyone else who may try to assert that they are exempt from this subjugation, are in fact subject to him. The design is to adjust the disposition of the one who is consciously and willfully rejecting his authority.

    The authority of the bishop of Rome is also a doctrine of our faith to share with those who were previously unaware, so that they too can know that they are likewise called by God to submit themselves to the authority of the Bishop of Rome for the sake of their salvation.

    Can you please interact with Thomas Aquinas’ thought and how it relates to the meaning of Unam Sanctam since, as the old Catholic Encyclopedia tells us, “The main propositions [of Unam Sanctam] are drawn from the writings of St. Bernard, Hugh of St. Victor, St. Thomas Aquinas, and letters of Innocent III” (Catholic Encyclopedia: “Unam Sanctam”). Here are the thoughts from Thomas that I would like you to appreciate:

    “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, 2-2.39.a1.a).

    Consider also one of Pope Boniface’s “Rules of Law”:

    41. No one should be blamed for not having done what he had to do, when the possibility of doing it did not depend on him.

    Please consider how this thought might relate to invincible ignorance concerning one’s subjection to Christ’s bishop in Rome. Here, to refresh you, are Aquinas’ thoughts concerning invincible ignorance:

    “Now it is evident that whoever neglects to have or do what he ought to have or do, commits a sin of omission. Wherefore through negligence, ignorance of what one is bound to know, is a sin; whereas it is not imputed as a sin to man, if he fails to know what he is unable to know. Consequently ignorance of such like things is called ‘invincible,’ because it cannot be overcome by study. For this reason such like ignorance, not being voluntary, since it is not in our power to be rid of it, is not a sin: wherefore it is evident that no invincible ignorance is a sin” (Summa Theologica, 1-2.76.a2.a).

    With love in Christ our Lord,
    Pete

  90. Don said,

    November 19, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    Pete Holter #89,

    Now this Head is Christ Himself, Whose viceregent in the Church is the Sovereign Pontiff.

    Will I get excommunicated if I call this a bait-and-switch?

  91. Ron said,

    November 19, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    The article of faith declares that one must be subject to the pope in order to be saved. When it is pointed out to you that such a condition disqualifies Protestants from salvation (until such time they place themselves under the pope), you interpret said condition for salvation as an indicative that already applies to all men – i.e. all men on earth are already under the authority of the pope whether they realize it or not. When it pointed out to you why such an interpretation would render the dogmatic decree superfluous as a condition for salvation (no less than stating that being created is a necessary condition for salvation) you assert that it’s intended to adjust the disposition of the one who does not yet embrace the supposed reality. Yet such a rendering is nowhere to be found in the decree. The tenor of the decree warns that those who are not in submission to the pope are not yet saved. The warning implies that all men are not in subjection to the pope yet need to be. Accordingly, this condition for salvation is not met by all men without distinction any more than all men are Roman Catholic though some have not yet embraced that reality.

    I grasp your argument from Aquinas. It’s just not persuasive, not at all. The conclusion you wish to derive is too grand given the premises. That Rome believes that those who willfully reject the pope are not saved is not to reconcile the prima facie import of Unam Sanctam with Vii; nor does the intentional sin of separation (Aquinas’ “special sin”) somehow make the necessary condition in view (submission to the pope) an indicative that applies to all men everywhere. Again, the conclusion is too grand given the premises. Finally, that schismatics are intentional does not mean that sinners who are purely accidental with respect to understanding the demands of the pope are in subjection to him in any way whatsoever.

    Your hermeneutic does not seem rigorous to me. What you are doing is trying to find some sort of ambiguity in Unam Sanctam in order to reconcile contradictory statements. Unfortunately, the papal bull was crystal clear.

  92. Pete Holter said,

    November 19, 2012 at 10:27 pm

    Don wrote,

    Pete Holter #89,

    Now this Head is Christ Himself, Whose viceregent in the Church is the Sovereign Pontiff.

    Will I get excommunicated if I call this a bait-and-switch?

    Greetings in Christ, Don!

    :) I wouldn’t call it a “bait-and-switch” since we’re talking about two different people holding two different positions.

    “The first part of the Acts of the Apostles presents Peter as the one who speaks in the name of the apostolic group and who serves the unity of the community—all the while respecting the authority of James, the head of the Church in Jerusalem. This function of Peter must continue in the Church so that under her sole Head, who is Jesus Christ, she may be visibly present in the world as the communion of all his disciples” (Ut Unum Sint, 97).

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  93. Pete Holter said,

    November 19, 2012 at 10:32 pm

    Ron wrote,

    “nor does the intentional sin of separation (Aquinas’ “special sin”) somehow make the necessary condition in view (submission to the pope) an indicative that applies to all men everywhere.”

    Good evening, Ron!

    The message of Unam Sanctam is both indicative and imperative. It is indicative in the sense that everyone is in fact of a subordinate authority to that of the pope. It is imperative in the sense that everyone is commanded to submit to this higher authority. Everyone is subordinated to the pope when considering the indicative aspect. Not everyone is subordinated to the pope when considering the imperative aspect. It is our rejection of this imperative aspect that imperils our salvation.

    We receive the gift of the Catholic Christian faith when we are baptized, and so all of the baptized have implicit faith through the grace of the sacrament that the pope is the senior pastor of Christ’s worldwide Church. And this faith remains whole and inviolate until it is extinguished by mortal sin against this faith. We also receive the love of God in baptism through faith; and this love, too, is held by us in our hearts until we refuse to submit to the pope, or refuse to come and share a common worship of the Father with those who are in communion with him.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    In Christ,
    Pete

  94. Dennis said,

    November 19, 2012 at 11:18 pm

    82 Ron,

    The passage from which that verse comes is merely teaching that all men have the law written on their hearts. Accordingly, all men everywhere are without excuse with respect to being transgressors.

    I think you need to read that passage again. It says these men will be judged by God through Jesus Christ. It says that their thoughts may “accuse or defend them.” These men who don’t have the teaching of the Gospel may be saved by Jesus Christ. This is what Vatican II is teaching us in LG 16.

    If you were to interpret the time table of the Olivet Discourse as a dispensationalist you’d be wrong, but I doubt you’d be in conflict with the Roman communion.

    Actually, if you approached the Olivet Discourse as a dispensationalist, you would be in conflict with Church teaching. We should not be trying to calculate the last day but rather we should approach every day as if it were judgment day.

    The key point is that the Church encourages people to read Scriptures as there can be some new and exciting insights into Scripture that may be uncovered. Dr. Scott Hahn has been doing some great exegesis with Revelation and with the Passion. There is much depth to Scriptures and the Church encourages new readings into them.

    That your communion does not object to you interpreting a passage incorrectly as long as it doesn’t impinge upon her teaching does not mean that God doesn’t. To think incorrectly about Scripture is a violation of the ninth commandment.

    The fact that Protestants have multiple CONFLICTING interpretations of the same passages of Scripture obviously shows that someone on the Protestant side is misinterpreting Scripture. e.g. Is Baptism necessary for Salvation? Yes or No? Only one can be right and yet, there are conflicts. So, God is obviously not happy about one group of Protestants misreading and misinterpreting Scripture.

    This does not happen on the Catholic side. The interpretation of Scripture is fully in line with Catholic teaching thus there are no conflicts (i.e. every interpretation would show that baptism is necessary for salvation).

    In any case, my point is simply that you have placed the authority of your religious affiliation over the Word of God.

    Where in Scripture does it say that the Word of God is over the Church? When does Christ tell people that if they have problems to go to Scripture? He doesn’t. Christ says if there are conflicts to go to the Church. Paul tells us that the Church is the pillar and foundation of Truth. The authority lies in the Church.

    I hold Scripture in very high regard. I hold it equally to the Body of Christ which is what the Church tells me to do. I find Scripture to be very holy and God breathed and have deep respect for it.

    Protestants have this belief that the Bishops get together and read Scripture and interpret it at their whim and can change the meaning of Scripture at any time.

    That’s now how it works.

    Christ came and lived and breathed. He handed down teachings to 12 men over a period of 3 years. SOME of His teachings got recorded in Scripture and these 12 men handed the teachings down to other men. This teaching has been protected by the Church for 2000 years.

    Protestants take a book and read it and interpret it at their whim. Where they conflict with the Church, they conflict with the teaching of Christ that was given to them by the 12 men. Protestants don’t have the mind of Christ and do silly things like try to calculate the end of time where it very clearly says that we should NOT do that. They say silly things like “Baptism is of no avail” where it does NOT say that in Scripture. They read John 6 where Jesus tells us to eat His Body and live forever and they reject it….

    Because it doesn’t match with their personal interpretation.

    Do you think God’s pleased with that?

  95. Ron said,

    November 20, 2012 at 12:15 am

    I think you need to read that passage again. It says these men will be judged by God through Jesus Christ. It says that their thoughts may “accuse or defend them.” These men who don’t have the teaching of the Gospel may be saved by Jesus Christ. This is what Vatican II is teaching us in LG 16.

    Dennis,

    Your argument is this:

    P1. Men will be judged by Christ
    P2. Men’s thoughts accuse them or defend them
    Conclusion: Men who have never heard the gospel can be saved

    Defense: Vatican II teaches this

    Your conclusion does not follow from the premises and your defense of the conclusion begs crucial questions. Please form better arguments if you expect me to respond.

    Actually, if you approached the Olivet Discourse as a dispensationalist, you would be in conflict with Church teaching. We should not be trying to calculate the last day but rather we should approach every day as if it were judgment day.

    The Roman church has an opinion on the destruction of the temple and the seventieth week of Daniel?

    The key point is that the Church encourages people to read Scriptures as there can be some new and exciting insights into Scripture that may be uncovered. Dr. Scott Hahn has been doing some great exegesis with Revelation and with the Passion. There is much depth to Scriptures and the Church encourages new readings into them.

    You’ve missed the point I’m afraid. That the church encourages Scripture reading does not mean that you have an epistemic basis for believing you have discovered truth that has not been ruled upon by your communion.

    The fact that Protestants have multiple CONFLICTING interpretations of the same passages of Scripture obviously shows that someone on the Protestant side is misinterpreting Scripture. e.g. Is Baptism necessary for Salvation? Yes or No? Only one can be right and yet, there are conflicts. So, God is obviously not happy about one group of Protestants misreading and misinterpreting Scripture.

    Yes, God is not pleased with people who misinterpret Scripture. Your point is?

    This does not happen on the Catholic side. The interpretation of Scripture is fully in line with Catholic teaching thus there are no conflicts (i.e. every interpretation would show that baptism is necessary for salvation).

    Whether Roman Catholicism opposes itself or not is not germane to the question of whether you can have an epistemic basis for thinking you can know truth from Scripture that has not been ruled upon by the Roman communion.

    Where in Scripture does it say that the Word of God is over the Church? When does Christ tell people that if they have problems to go to Scripture? He doesn’t. Christ says if there are conflicts to go to the Church. Paul tells us that the Church is the pillar and foundation of Truth. The authority lies in the Church.

    Precisely my point… You have elevated the Roman communion above Scripture. Ironically, you just appealed to Scripture to make your point. Your position is riddled with conflict. In any case, how do you know that the Roman communion is the true church?

    I hold Scripture in very high regard. I hold it equally to the Body of Christ which is what the Church tells me to do. I find Scripture to be very holy and God breathed and have deep respect for it.

    No you don’t. You just said that the church, not Scripture, is the arbitrator of conflict.

    Protestants have this belief that the Bishops get together and read Scripture and interpret it at their whim and can change the meaning of Scripture at any time.

    You’re getting emotional.

    Protestants don’t have the mind of Christ and do silly things like try to calculate the end of time where it very clearly says that we should NOT do that.

    Maybe those are the Protestants who are in submission to the pope but don’t know it.

  96. Ron said,

    November 20, 2012 at 12:19 am

    Pete,

    I believe I already know your position. What I was hoping for was a defense, not a repeat of your claims.

    Happy Thanksgiving as well.

    Ron

  97. Don said,

    November 20, 2012 at 12:59 am

    Pete Holter #93,

    I wouldn’t call it a “bait-and-switch” since we’re talking about two different people holding two different positions.

    You’re calling the Pope sovereign. I Timothy 6:15 calls Jesus Christ the blessed and only Sovereign. You are replacing Christ with the Pope. You really think this is a good idea? Do you think the Pope does a good job of being a mediator between God and man?

    This function of Peter must continue in the Church so that under her sole Head, who is Jesus Christ…

    Is this another bait and switch? Does the Pope replace Peter or Jesus?

  98. Pete Holter said,

    November 20, 2012 at 7:16 pm

    Ron wrote,

    “Happy Thanksgiving as well.”

    Thanks!

    In Christ,
    Pete

    Don wrote,

    “You’re calling the Pope sovereign.”

    We believe that the pope has the highest pastoral authority with respect to the members of the visible Church, and that he is a beggar at the foot of the Cross.

    “Does the Pope replace Peter or Jesus?”

    We believe that the pope is—in a unique way as our senior pastor—an ambassador for Christ. And we believe that he is a successor to Peter in the office that Peter held as our first senior pastor.

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  99. Dennis said,

    November 20, 2012 at 10:24 pm

    Ron 95,

    Romans 2: For it is not those who hear the law who are just in the sight of God; rather, those who observe the law will be justified. For when the Gentiles who do not have the law by nature observe the prescriptions of the law, they are a law for themselves even though they do not have the law. They show that the demands of the law are written in their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even defend them on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge people’s hidden works through Christ Jesus.

    Okay, let’s go through this again. These Gentiles who do not have the law (Mosaic) have a law for themselves…they show that the demands of the law are written in their hearts. Those who observe the law written in their hearts will be justified. And God will judge those who observe the law (and not observe the law) accordingly through Christ Jesus.

    LG16: Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience. Nor does Divine Providence deny the helps necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God and with His grace strive to live a good life.

    What LG16 is saying is Salvation is possible for those who have no knowledge of the Gospel but sincerely seek God and do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience (i.e. written in their hearts). This salvation would be through Jesus Christ.

    Romans 2 and LG 16 are saying essentially the same thing. You can deny it or plead ignorance or say that my argument is not clear enough (which may very well be true) or that I’m not “allowed” to exegete Scripture. But yes, LG16 and Romans 2 are essentially saying the same thing.

    I’m not getting emotional about this. My point is that Catholics are encouraged to read Scripture and to hold it in high regard. If Catholics interpret Scripture so that it conflicts with Catholic teaching than they are incorrect in their interpretation and need to go back to the text and read it again correctly.

    Yes, God is not pleased with people who misinterpret Scripture. Your point is?

    My point is that the Catholic interpretation is the correct interpretation. We can’t go against the Church’s official interpretation because that is the one given to us by Christ. To go against it is to go against God…and He wouldn’t be pleased.

    The Roman church has an opinion on the destruction of the temple and the seventieth week of Daniel?

    Alright, I am going to ignore the rest of your comments and focus on this as it’s the most interesting of what you wrote…

    YES! The Catholic Church has an opinion on the destruction of the temple and the seventieth week of Daniel.

    As he was making his way out of the temple area one of his disciples said to him, “Look, teacher, what stones and what buildings!” Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be one stone left upon another that will not be thrown down.”

    Jesus foretells the destruction of the temple as He will become the new temple. In John 2 Jesus explains after cleansing the old temple that He will raise up the temple in three days. The Jews don’t believe Him and John explains that He is talking about His body.

    Jesus becomes the new temple. His Body becomes the new building where we worship. As the Jews gathered into His temple for sacrifice, we are gathered into His Body for the One Sacrifice. The Church becomes the new Jerusalem. As Jesus Christ explains in the Olivet Discourse, His Gospel is being preached to all nations by the Church and His elect are being gathered together into His Body. Per John 12:32, Christ has been lifted up and all men are drawn to Him. They are being drawn into His Body, the new Temple. The Church. The Church is the third temple that replaced the old temple at His Crucifixion–when He died, the curtain was rent and the Holy of Holies was opened up to the world. It’s His Church, the Catholic Church that has gone to the ends of the earth preaching the Gospel and it’s His Church, the Catholic Church that has replaced the temple that was torn down and foretold by Christ.

  100. Ron said,

    November 21, 2012 at 12:26 am

    Okay, let’s go through this again. These Gentiles who do not have the law (Mosaic) have a law for themselves…they show that the demands of the law are written in their hearts. Those who observe the law written in their hearts will be justified. And God will judge those who observe the law (and not observe the law) accordingly through Christ Jesus.

    Dennis,

    We know that all who are outside of Christ are without the Spirit and that the flesh profits nothing. We also know that no one outside of Christ does good; not even one. Accordingly, the demands of the law that an unconverted person fulfills can only be external, which will only serve to accuse him on the Day of Judgment. The fact of the matter is that the external “good” that the unconverted performs is simply a product of one lust restraining another. Such effort yields external good but not from a heart towards God; it is all counted as rubbish. With that said, the gentile who is justified, not by law keeping but by the merits of Christ, must be converted and as one in Christ he does keep the law, though not perfectly. A converted gentile need not have known the Ten Commandments in order to keep the law that is written on his heart (again imperfectly but by the grace of God who causes his people both to will and do of his good pleasure).

    Another possible interpretation is that the law keeping in view is internal yet hypothetical.

    As an aside, all men have the law written on their hearts, same as Romans 1 teaches. When unconverted men do not steal, their hearts don’t condemn them as when they do steal. The law written on the heart accuses and defends them on such requirements of the law. When one does not steal when tempted to steal, he knows he did right. Notwithstanding, the law on their heart does condemn them when they abstain from stealing without giving glory to the grace of God in Christ. SO, that they don’t steal defends them in their conscience in one sense but not fully. Men are condemned in conscience for not giving glory to God for not stealing, for God deserves sincere praise for causing one man to differ from another. Moreover, the first table written on man’s heart always condemns men outside Christ. (Yes, even the principle of the fourth commandment is written on man’s heart.)

    I’m not sure how you can reach the sanguine conclusion that God saves those who never heard of Christ from Romans 2, for if justification is by the law, then Christ is dead in vain. Again, if one keeps the law at all, he must be in Christ. If one keeps the law outside of Christ enough to be justified, then he’d be perfect. Consequently, the passage does not leave room for your interpretation lest we deny the rest of Scripture’s testimony about man and grace.

    To bring this full circle, we may not conclude that people outside of Christ are justified by the law when the very same Paul (and epistle) tells us the opposite. There is an analogy of Scripture.

    My point is that the Catholic interpretation is the correct interpretation. We can’t go against the Church’s official interpretation because that is the one given to us by Christ. To go against it is to go against God…and He wouldn’t be pleased.

    You’ve yet to show that the Roman communion is the true church. To do so you would have to show that Peter was the first pope and that a perpetual line of popes was promised from God in his word. Added to that, you’ve yet to show why you can determine what your communion has said if you are incapable of determining what God’s word has said. If the tradition is indeed God’s, then why is it discernable by you while Scripture is not? Moreover, if you’re incapable of determining what God’s word has said, you really can’t derive from Scripture the papacy, can you?

    Dennis, you’re accepting what you think your communion is telling you on the basis of wishful thinking, not the testimony of God’s word and Spirit. I defy you to put forth a valid proof for the papacy from premises found in Scripture and if it’s not there, then God is not giving increase to that interpretation.

    All of your thoughts regarding the temple cannot be known by you given your epistemic presuppositions. I’m not saying you can’t know the truth. What I’m saying is that such truth cannot be known by you if you’re true to your presuppositions, for your communion has not ruled on the Olivet Discourse.

  101. Bob S said,

    November 21, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    89
    Consider also one of Pope Boniface’s “Rules of Law”:

    41. No one should be blamed for not having done what he had to do, when the possibility of doing it did not depend on him.

    Please consider how this thought might relate to invincible ignorance concerning one’s subjection to Christ’s bishop in Rome. Here, to refresh you, are Aquinas’ thoughts concerning invincible ignorance. . . .:

    Invincible ignorance. Sounds to me like this pretty much takes care of original sin. How can we be held to be responsible for something the possibility of doing did not depend on us, but on Adam?

    (Hey, but it’s one up on Jer. Wright’s black liberation theology (you know, the AA version of a KKK church where the present incumbent spent twenty years) which only politicizes/externalizes original sin instead of abolishing it all together. Maybe that’s why the RC voters went en masse for JW’s understudy instead of the paler shade of Wall Street fascism of his opponent.)

    But forget all about Invincible Ignorance (and the subjection to Scripture by the bishop of Rome). How about the holy hilarious hubris of the following in 86:

    Everyone is subject to the pope. Many Protestants are not aware of the authority of the Bishop of Rome and have not decided either to submit or to not submit to his authority. A Protestant who becomes aware of the pope’s authority and refuses to submit to it is committing the sin of schism. If a Protestant is culpable for this refusal, they are guilty of schism and are outside the Church where there is no salvation.

    Indeed. Abandon all hope, ye who enter in to this hall of mirrors. Once you buy into the Roman paradigm of unflappable unsinkable infallibility, all is lost. The multifaceted dazzle of the subsequent dialectical manipulation of the Roman fatwas and papal encyclicals seduces the minds of those entranced by all the gloriously consistent details. The only genuine antidote in the first place is protestantism’s doctrine of sola scriptura and justification by faith alone along with the corollary: the pope is antichrist for anathematizing JBFA.

    But moving along, 94 is bold to tell us:

    Where in Scripture does it say that the Word of God is over the Church? When does Christ tell people that if they have problems to go to Scripture? He doesn’t. Christ says if there are conflicts to go to the Church. Paul tells us that the Church is the pillar and foundation of Truth. The authority lies in the Church.

    Nobody denies that the church has authority, but rather on what basis? The church decides things on the basis of Scripture, the written word of God not tradition per se.

    Christ came and lived and breathed. He handed down teachings to 12 men over a period of 3 years. SOME of His teachings got recorded in Scripture and these 12 men handed the teachings down to other men. This teaching has been protected by the Church for 2000 years.

    WRONG, if this is not also called being hoisted on your own petard.

    When Paul who was personally chosen by Christ tells us that the various attributes of Scripture, it’s inspiration and infallibility are to the end that “That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works”, ALL good works means exactly that. Not SOME good works, but . . . you get the point.

    Unless determining the true church is NOT a good work and we know ONLY a Jesuit would say that.

    Are there any takers on the last?

  102. Pete Holter said,

    November 21, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    Bob S wrote…

    “Invincible ignorance. Sounds to me like this pretty much takes care of original sin. How can we be held to be responsible for something the possibility of doing did not depend on us, but on Adam?”

    Hi Bob S!

    I do not believe that invincible ignorance removes original sin. Only the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ removes original sin. I believe that explicit faith in our Savior is necessary for salvation. But there is a great quantity of revelation that man could believe implicitly and yet still be saved. The papacy would be an example of this.

    “But forget all about Invincible Ignorance (and the subjection to Scripture by the bishop of Rome).”

    I am not sure if I understand what you mean by the words, “the subjection to Scripture by the bishop of Rome,” but we believe that that…

    “The Roman Pontiff—like all the faithful—is subject to the Word of God, to the Catholic faith” (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, The Primacy of the Successor of Peter in the Mystery of the Church, October 31, 1998).

    The rest of your comment isn’t directed towards me. But I do enjoy your rhetoric and vocabulary. :)

    I think that sola scriptura works, but only in the Catholic Church, and accepting the fact that the Church is likewise infallible under certain conditions, with the Church all the while remaining subject to the infallible Word of God in Sacred Scripture.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    In Christ,
    Pete

  103. Bob S said,

    November 22, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    102 Pete,

    Well! it’s a good thing ignorance isn’t impenetrable! because if it was we’d all be mouthing platitudes and non sequiturs in defense of what we believe like you do!!

    And regardless of what you believe about II and original sin, error has a way of working its way out. Vide the Roman system. No doubt a lot of it started out with good intentions, but where are we at now? The Mass. Mariolatry etc.

    Along with plenty of naive adherents that buy into not only II, but also implicit – i.e ignorant – faith as being the desideratum. So much for having the mind of Christ or that the pope, if he is serious, is supposed to be all about presenting every man perfect in Christ (Col.2:28).

    But if we can’t figure out that a system that hauls itself up by its own bootstraps only proves that the pope’s dainty slippers matches the rest of the emperor’s new clothes, then of course the question of whether the holy father is in subjection to Scripture doesn’t register. At all.

    Neither would any criticisms have anything to do with us, because “implicitly” we are infallible by being members of an infallible church. That after all is the gist of the pope’s argument as the vicar of Christ. One then wonders what other incommunicable attributes of the deity are communicable to the creature who professes to worship that deity.

    “Happy Thanksgiving”

    As a citizen of the home state of Ma and Pa Kettle which just voted to approve relations further degenerated from those which “are not so much as named among the Gentiles”, would even a 2ker be happy?

    I know. Rhetorical question. Thread derail. Again. Disregard.

    cordially

  104. Bob S said,

    November 22, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    And I meant that, Peter.
    If grace can’t overcome ignorance, then we’re all lost.
    You’re a member of a church that is at least dead in its sins and if you are not, you need to get out. As quickly as possible .

  105. Pete Holter said,

    November 23, 2012 at 11:38 pm

    “The Roman church has an opinion on the destruction of the temple and the seventieth week of Daniel?”

    Hey Ron!

    Pope Benedict briefly touched on Daniel in his new book in the section concerning The Annunciation of the Birth of John:

    “The prophet Daniel is the second prophetic voice present in the background of our story. The Book of Daniel is the only one that mentions Gabriel by name. This great divine messenger appears to the prophet ‘at the time of the evening sacrifice’ (9:21), to communicate a message about the future destiny of the chosen people. In response to Zechariah’s doubts, the divine messenger reveals himself as ‘Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God’ (Lk 1:19).

    “In the Book of Daniel, the revelations communicated by Gabriel include the mysterious numerical indications about imminent hardships and the timing of the definitive salvation which it is the archangel’s principal task to announce, amid all the tribulations. Both Jewish and Christian thinkers have repeatedly grappled with these coded figures. Particular attention has been focused on the prophecy of the seventy weeks which ‘are decreed concerning your people and your holy city . . . to bring in everlasting righteousness’ (9:24). René Laurentin has tried to show that Luke’s infancy narrative follows a precise chronology, according to which from the moment of the annunciation to Zechariah until the presentation of Jesus in the Temple, 490 days elapsed, that is to say seventy weeks of seven days each (cf. Structure et Théologie, pp. 49ff.). Whether Luke consciously adopted this chronology must remain an open question.

    “Be that as it may, in the account of the apparition of the archangel Gabriel at the hour of the evening sacrifice, we can surely see a reference to Daniel, a reference to the promise of everlasting righteousness entering time. In this way, the evangelist is saying to us: the time is fulfilled. The hidden event that takes place during Zechariah’s evening sacrifice, unnoticed by the vast world public, in reality ushers in the eschatological hour—the hour of salvation” (Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives, pp. 24-25).

    With the love of Christ,
    Pete

  106. Ron said,

    November 24, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    Peter,

    Did the pope speak from the chair on faith and morals in his book? Since not, then the Roman communion has not ruled on the prophecy, which means parishioners cannot have full confidence in what the Word says on the matter (or the pope for that matter), for the “church” can always overrule one’s interpretation.

    For the RC – by design Scripture takes a back seat to the Word because given an apparent discrepancy between the two one’s allegiance must be with tradition, not Scripture. That, of course, undermines one’s confidence in God’s word regarding passages not yet ruled upon by the Roman communion. Consequently, the mediation of the Roman communion serves to hinder one from direct knowledge and understanding from God’s word for there is an authority other than God’s word that imposes itself upon what one might believe God has said (in his Word).

  107. Ron said,

    November 24, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    Correction in bold

    Peter,

    Did the pope speak from the chair on faith and morals in his book? Since not, then the Roman communion has not ruled on the prophecy, which means parishioners cannot have full confidence in what the Word says on the matter (or the pope for that matter), for the “church” can always overrule one’s interpretation.

    For the RC – by design Scripture takes a back seat to the tradition because given an apparent discrepancy between the two one’s allegiance must be with tradition, not Scripture. That, of course, undermines one’s confidence in God’s word regarding passages not yet ruled upon by the Roman communion. Consequently, the mediation of the Roman communion serves to hinder one from direct knowledge and understanding from God’s word for there is an authority other than God’s word that imposes itself upon what one might believe God has said (in his Word).

  108. Pete Holter said,

    November 24, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    “For the RC – by design Scripture takes a back seat to the tradition because given an apparent discrepancy between the two one’s allegiance must be with tradition, not Scripture. That, of course, undermines one’s confidence in God’s word regarding passages not yet ruled upon by the Roman communion. Consequently, the mediation of the Roman communion serves to hinder one from direct knowledge and understanding from God’s word for there is an authority other than God’s word that imposes itself upon what one might believe God has said (in his Word).”

    Hi Ron!

    I do not see a real difference between us, in practice. For example, I might say (using your words)…

    “For the Reformed – by design Scripture takes a back seat to the doctrine of sola fide because given an apparent discrepancy between the two one’s allegiance must be with the doctrine of sola fide, not Scripture. That, of course, undermines one’s confidence in God’s word regarding passages not yet ruled upon by the Reformed communion. Consequently, the mediation of the Reformed communion serves to hinder one from direct knowledge and understanding from God’s word for there is an authority other than God’s word that imposes itself upon what one might believe God has said (in his Word).”

    You might respond by saying that sola fide is the teaching of Scripture. But this is also my own response as a Catholic Christian concerning whatever dogma of the Catholic faith we might be discussing because “all dogmas must be linked back to Scripture” (Cardinal Ratzinger, The Unity of the Church). This is why I think that Pope Benedict was right when he said that papal infallibility “simply means that in Christianity, at any rate, as Catholics believe, there is a final decision making authority, that ultimately there can be binding decisions about essential issues and we can be certain that they correctly interpret the heritage of Christ. In one form or another, this authority is present in every Christian faith community, but it is not associated with the pope” (Salt of the Earth).

    Unless you are willing to die for what you are merely guessing at, functionally speaking, every Christian faith community is its own infallible interpreter of sacred Scripture. And once a community has abandoned this functional principle of infallibility, it is because it has either disbanded or has been subsumed into another community, a community that still maintains for itself a certainty regarding the content of the faith once delivered.

    Here is an example of what I mean by a community operating as an infallible interpreter of Scripture: sola fide is not up for discussion within the Reformed tradition. For it to not be open to debate is for it to have been infallibly decided, functionally speaking. And, on the other hand, if it has not been infallibly decided, then it should be opened up for discussion with a sincere openness to its potentially being overturned by continued study of the Scriptures. But we do not see this happening.

    This is how things strike me, anyway.

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  109. Ron said,

    November 24, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    I do not see a real difference between us, in practice.

    Pete,

    Of course there is a difference in practice. I don’t have to reserve judgment upon the rendering of a text once the Spirit illuminates Christ’s word because there is no higher authority for the Christian than Christ. Roman Catholics, on the other hand, are prevented from believing with full confidence the Sprit’s testimony of Christ’s word because another authority awaits them that might or might not overrule what is could be believed to be the true interpretation.

    I’ll address your other remarks this time, though they were not germane to matter at hand wherein we find a vast difference between Protestants and Roman Catholics.

    Unless you are willing to die for what you are merely guessing at, functionally speaking, every Christian faith community is its own infallible interpreter of sacred Scripture.

    That statement is simply false. Reformed churches that are consistent in practice with their confession deny by both that any church is its own infallible interpreter of Scripture. After all, a “Christian faith community” can be reformed by the word of God. We saw that at the time of the Protestant Reformation when God reformed his church and we see it today, for instance, when Baptist congregations repent toward the practice of infant baptism. In such instances the church demonstrates what Reformed churches have confessed for years, that the “infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is Scripture itself.” So you’re simply wrong to say that the Christian community functions (either in creed or practice) as an infallible interpreter of Scripture.

    And once a community has abandoned this functional principle of infallibility, it is because it has either disbanded or has been subsumed into another community, a community that still maintains for itself a certainty regarding the content of the faith once delivered.

    The “functional principle of infallibility” is not abandoned by the Reformed but rather to be found in Scripture’s interpretation of Scripture. That is why Reformed folk acknowledge that the supreme judge on doctrinal matters is the Holy Spirit speaking in Scripture. Not to scold, but to have missed this is to argue against something you know little or nothing about.

    sola fide is not up for discussion within the Reformed tradition. For it to not be open to debate is for it to have been infallibly decided, functionally speaking.

    Sola fide, like the Trinity, can be “discussed” in a Sunday school class within a Reformed congregation. If by “up for discussion” you mean not able to be disregarded in creed and practice, well even that too is wrong in one sense since any Reformed community can fall away from what they formerly confessed (e.g. PCUSA), just like a Baptist church may become thoroughly Reformed by denying what it believed and confessed before.

    Now of course, in the denial of what was formerly confessed the church in view might no longer remain what she was before (depending upon the nature of the doctrine being abandoned). But in any case, the point that has been missed is that due to competing authorities and mediation there is a vast difference between what a Protestant can enjoy in God’s word as compared to a Roman Catholic who is true to his communion.

    In any case, the question of whether something is up for discussion does not speak to the question of authority and assurance – why something is to be believed and how something is to be known. In the case of the Reformed, nothing prevents one from knowing with full confidence what the church does not include in its Confession; nor do Reformed tenets prevent one from knowing something contra-confessional. That’s because the sole authority for doctrinal vindication is Scripture. Accordingly, only Scripture may refute a doctrinal persuasion or strong conviction.

    And, on the other hand, if it has not been infallibly decided, then it should be opened up for discussion with a sincere openness to its potentially being overturned by continued study of the Scriptures. But we do not see this happening.

    It’s not happening because it is believed that Scripture’s infallible rule is clear on the matter of sola scriptura, but again your observation has nothing to do with the question at hand.

    Notwithstanding, other things are up for discussion within Reformed circles, though Scripture has ruled on them, like the question of literal six days. Yet even those things, being contained in God’s word, are also knowable apart from the popes.

  110. Brad B said,

    November 24, 2012 at 10:56 pm

    Hi Pete, the Reformed doctrine of faith alone is challenged all the time. This doctrine is not considered infallible as though it rules the scriptures, it is believed because it is what the scriptures reveal. Having watched the Roman Catholic vs. Protestant discussions at this and other blogs, sola fide is assailed by anything but scripture by the RC’s. Your characterization is unreasonably biased so much so it isn’t even being considered.

  111. Ron said,

    November 24, 2012 at 11:49 pm

    Brad B,

    If I may add, another thing Pete misses is that true Protestants never operate under what he calls a “functional principle of infallibility” – a principle that entails the premise that a congregational “community is its own infallible interpreter of sacred Scripture.” So, when a doctrine like sola fide is not questioned but rather accepted by Protestants as a settled matter beyond dispute, it is likely because it is believed to be infallibly interpreted by Scripture (and providentially received by the church). Accordingly, when a doctrine such as sola fide (or the Trinity for that matter) is “not open for discussion,” it is because it is believed that Scripture has interpreted itself on the matter and that the correct interpretation has been received by a fallible church through the infallible hand of divine providence. Obviously, this principle is not at all functionally the same as Pete’s; for given the Reformed principle of infallibility – the saints in Christ may have unhindered confidence when the Holy Spirit speaks through the Word. Such is not available for Roman Catholics who remain under the bondage of the popes while they await the “true” interpretation of Scripture, even though “encouraged” now to read Scripture and have renewal Bible studies.

    The Roman Catholic is no different than the liberal Protestant in this regard. Once something is placed over Scripture as its infallible interpreter, God in Scripture is rejected as ultimate. For the liberal autonomous reason unaided by revelation is the sole arbiter of the feasibility of possibility, like miracles such as the virgin birth. For the Roman Catholic, a blatant disregard for biblical Christology (for instance) gives way to superstitions like transubstantiation.

    Indeed, Roman Catholics, like liberal Protestants, can hear about a sweet lute played sweetly, but unfortunately given their autonomous posture that they’ve placed under the authority of man, they most often cannot hear the lute itself. That is why Roman Catholics know precious little about God and his works of creation, providence of grace. By and large they have not experienced the forgiveness of sins, the adoption as sons, the gift of the Holy Spirit and the hope of glory. Listen to a homily delivered from a Roman Catholic priest and judge as one who is spiritual the content of the message.

    In a word, a saved Roman Catholic is not true to his communion otherwise he wouldn’t accept what Rome has called anathema.

  112. Brad B said,

    November 25, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    Hi Ron, I couldn’t agree more with your expanded comments and this brings up your earlier comment–the same thing Luther lamented namely that the popes and the church do err, or as yout comment offered as alternate, they suffer such a lack of clarity that the RC has no reason to believe that they can securely know anything–what with teachers contradicting themselves infallibly or speaking murkily[is that a word?].

  113. Pete Holter said,

    November 25, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    Hi Ron and Brad!

    I don’t quote from you, Brad, in this comment, but feel free to reply because I intend to be speaking with both of you. :)

    “Of course there is a difference in practice. I don’t have to reserve judgment upon the rendering of a text once the Spirit illuminates Christ’s word because there is no higher authority for the Christian than Christ.”

    You believe that the Spirit illuminates Christ’s word within your Reformed tradition. I believe that the Spirit illuminates Christ’s word within the Catholic tradition.

    Roman Catholics, on the other hand, are prevented from believing with full confidence the Sprit’s testimony of Christ’s word because another authority awaits them that might or might not overrule what is could be believed to be the true interpretation.

    Unless you believe that the individual believer cannot err in believing that he has received the Spirit’s testimony that his personal interpretation is in fact the authentic meaning of Scripture, then we are again placed back on the same footing. The Reformed community can come behind the individual Reformed Christian to correct him, and the Catholic community can come behind the individual Catholic Christian to correct him.

    That statement is simply false. Reformed churches that are consistent in practice with their confession deny by both that any church is its own infallible interpreter of Scripture. After all, a “Christian faith community” can be reformed by the word of God. We saw that at the time of the Protestant Reformation when God reformed his church and we see it today, for instance, when Baptist congregations repent toward the practice of infant baptism. In such instances the church demonstrates what Reformed churches have confessed for years, that the “infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is Scripture itself.” So you’re simply wrong to say that the Christian community functions (either in creed or practice) as an infallible interpreter of Scripture.

    I think that in order for you to be able to say this, you will have to admit that sola fide could very well be a false doctrine that needs to be reformed by the Word of God.

    “The “functional principle of infallibility” is not abandoned by the Reformed but rather to be found in Scripture’s interpretation of Scripture. That is why Reformed folk acknowledge that the supreme judge on doctrinal matters is the Holy Spirit speaking in Scripture. Not to scold, but to have missed this is to argue against something you know little or nothing about.”

    I appreciate that this is your doctrinal stance. But I am trying to show that, in practice, your Reformed tradition functions as if the Reformed understanding of the way in which Scripture interprets itself results in a body of doctrine that is held to be definitively true, i.e., Tradition. And it is the Spirit that enables this body of doctrine to be infallibly discerned by the Church, i.e., by the magisterium. It seems to me that the only refutation of this is to admit that sola fide is actually reformable (as opposed to being merely theoretically reformable, or reformable only in principle).

    You said, “Reformed folk acknowledge…”; “what Reformed churches have confessed…”; “…it is believed to be infallibly interpreted by Scripture …”; “…it is believed that Scripture has interpreted itself …”… I appreciate that you do not confess the Church to be infallible. And I think I appreciate the doctrinal distinctions being made. But let me close with this from you:

    If by “up for discussion” you mean not able to be disregarded in creed and practice, well even that too is wrong in one sense since any Reformed community can fall away from what they formerly confessed (e.g. PCUSA), just like a Baptist church may become thoroughly Reformed by denying what it believed and confessed before.

    Unless you think that the PCUSA has moved closer to the truth in falling away from their former confession, or that the Baptist church has moved further away from the truth by becoming thoroughly Reformed, then I think that my point stands: in practice, you hold your Reformed interpretation of Scripture to be infallible.

    Listen to a homily delivered from a Roman Catholic priest and judge as one who is spiritual the content of the message.

    Yes! Please come to Mass! :)

    With love in our friend Jesus,
    Pete

  114. Ron said,

    November 25, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    Pete,

    You believe that the Spirit illuminates Christ’s word within your Reformed tradition. I believe that the Spirit illuminates Christ’s word within the Catholic tradition.

    To say the Spirit illuminates “within” a tradition is an ambiguous assertion, not a valid argument. Moreover, the Spirit illuminates the Word in the minds of men; whereas men are aligned with traditions. Now then, in the case of one who finds himself in the Roman tradition and so happens to be illuminated in his mind to ttruth, he cannot have full confidence that he has heard from God on the matter because another authority might overrule what the man thinks God has revealed in his word. Consequently, the second authority hinders the justification of the belief of the proposition(s) found within the first authority, Scripture; hence the Roman Catholic’s epistemic dilemma when it comes to knowing through Scripture by the Spirit.

    Unless you believe that the individual believer cannot err in believing that he has received the Spirit’s testimony that his personal interpretation is in fact the authentic meaning of Scripture, then we are again placed back on the same footing.

    Again, this is a very vacuous assertion and based upon another fallacy. That one can err does not mean that one cannot know. Accordingly, a fallible Protestant can know that he has heard from God in his word, whereas a Roman Catholic must consult with another authority to determine whether he heard God aright in the Word. Therefore, given the mediation of the Roman communion, Roman Catholics are hindered from having confidence that they have directly learned truth from God in Scripture.

    I think that in order for you to be able to say this, you will have to admit that sola fide could very well be a false doctrine that needs to be reformed by the Word of God.

    It is simply fallacious to conclude that all doctrines might be false because some doctrines can be false.

    Unless you think that the PCUSA has moved closer to the truth in falling away from their former confession, or that the Baptist church has moved further away from the truth by becoming thoroughly Reformed, then I think that my point stands: in practice, you hold your Reformed interpretation of Scripture to be infallible.

    Why don’t your conclusions ever follow from your premises? Anyway…

    Doctrines are either true or false. Infallible or fallible describes whether something or someone is capable of error. Consequently, a Christian who is fallible can know x-doctrine is true. The interpretation of Scripture, not to be confused with the one interpreting Scripture, is therefore true or false, not fallible or infallible!
    In other words, the interpretation of Scripture is doctrinal by nature and, therefore, can be true or false. If true, then it can be believed with the justification of Scripture and, therefore, known even if other interpretations of other doctrines might be false.

    Peter, I can live with your opinions but I would prefer to interact with something that resembles an argument. Unfortunately, it seems to me that I spend most my time untangling your assertions in an effort try to bring about some sort of semblance of order from them. And when I do, you greet me with rejoinders that are more convoluted than the originals. You’ll understand, therefore, when I choose to pass on your next effort.

    Best of providence,

    Ron

  115. Pete Holter said,

    November 25, 2012 at 11:16 pm

    Ron,

    Thanks. I’m sorry to have wasted your time. I hope you’ll still swing by for Mass. :)

    In Christ,
    Pete

  116. Ron said,

    November 26, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    “I hope you’ll still swing by for Mass. :)”

    …got the t-shirt, worn a hole in it and now use it as a duster, but thanks anyway


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