Ludwig Ott’s Tome

I just finished reading Ludwig Ott’s Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma this morning. It is quite a remarkable feat of compression. In this regard, it reminds me of Turretin. It is certainly not easy going. It is a very thorough and clear exposition of Roman Catholic teaching in a somewhat scholastic mode. I say somewhat, since Ott does not always defend each and every doctrine from opponents. Most of the time he does, but not always.

Ott’s work is extremely Thomistic. Aquinas is not only cited more often than any other source, but is also the source with which Ott agrees the most (occasionally he will disagree, but always in the context of having cited and understood Aquinas’ position). It must be pointed out, therefore, that there are other streams of theology within Roman Catholicism that are not Thomistic. The most obvious example, of course, is the so-called “Nouvelle Théologie” (“new theology,” a name given to the movement by its detractors).  This movement actually preferred to call itself Ressourcement, a name referring to a desire to return to original sources. After Vatican II, this newer movement split into two factions, one basically progressive, and the other basically conservative. The former is represented by such theologians as Rahner, Congar, and Küng. The latter is represented by de Lubac, von Balthasar, and the current pope. So, we can see that there are at least three major streams of Catholic thought, all with significant overlap, of course, but distinguishable in their basic approach to theology: the Thomistic and Neo-Thomistic stream, which is a scholastic tradition based on Aquinas; the progressive Ressourcement stream, a more humanistic (in the Renaissance definition of the term) methodology, and the conservative Ressourcement stream, which currently has the upper hand in Roman Catholicism, given that the current pope is probably its best-known practitioner.  Ott is obviously a representative of the Thomistic stream. Of course, the conservative Ressourcement theologians owe a great deal to Thomism, and so these categories must not be seen as hermetically sealed from each other. Ott’s work is pre-Vatican II.

A fascinating question arose as a result of reading Ott’s position on the duration of purgatory. He argues that purgatory will cease to exist at the final judgment, the need for it being gone. I wonder what happens, then, to a person who dies just before the final judgment, and who needs purifying, but will not have the opportunity (!?) of being purified before the Final Judgment. Is there a gigantic intensified push of purifying before the end of purgatory? Or does the final judgment take care of the remaining impurities?

About these ads

97 Comments

  1. John Harutunian said,

    December 13, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    Aside from the fact that you obviously know your stuff, I, as an Anglican, appreciate your fair-minded approach to Roman Catholicism. But here’s a provocative question about purgatory: May it be that Catholics believe that it’s something which occurs _after_ death, whereas Protestants (presumably including Reformed) are free to believe in a final cleansing which occurs just _before_ -or even at- death?

  2. Stephen said,

    December 13, 2012 at 2:41 pm

    Lane,

    Out of curiosity, why all the focus in recent months on things relating to Roman Catholicism?

  3. Dozie said,

    December 13, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    “Out of curiosity, why all the focus in recent months on things relating to Roman Catholicism?”

    The reason is that Protestants generally have nothing positive to say about their religion. It is safer for Protestants to talk about Catholicism (usually their common enemy). If a Protestant ventures to talk about Protestantism as he or she knows it; he or she will draw fire and brimestone from other protesting Protestants who have other viewpoints on the same issue. Catholicism is therefore a safe and even uniting topic among Protestants. Secondly, topics on Catholicism are far more interesting and fascinating than mundane and superficial Protestant theology.

  4. Bob S said,

    December 13, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    I wonder what happens, then, to a person who dies just before the final judgment, and who needs purifying, . . .

    Obviously (in order to head off an appearance by Bryan Cross) these kinds of questions are symptomatic of a protestant/atomistic paradigm.

    The assumption that we are made in the image of God and have a reasonable soul is not something we can act upon in questioning the church who may not be questioned regarding any, even perceived, inconsistencies.

    But as a separated brothren(!), you’ll only come to know this after you are through with purgatory. Until then all the little protestant grasshoppers will have to bide their time and rein in their questions.

    3. Come on Dozie, tell us what you really think.

    Yet if the roman church is the antichrist prophesied by Daniel, Paul and John, as well the devil’s masterpiece in that it epitomizes the most cunning and devious sort of works righteousness under the guise of an external piety and spirituality, then a discussion of Rome is always timely.

    Romans 9:16  So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.

    IOW the natural religious man loves to hide under the cover of his free will and at least deceive others, if not also himself, that he is truly saved.

    Romans 9:18  Therefore hath he [God] mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.

  5. Kevin Davis said,

    December 13, 2012 at 9:03 pm

    I really appreciate that you rightly identify the different streams in Catholic theology. Indeed, Ressourcement is basically the court theology at Rome, and I think this conservative stream of Ressourcement is actually the only genuine stream…after all, the major initiators of this ad fontes movement (Etienne Gilson, Jean Daniélou, Henri de Lubac, etc.) repudiated the humanist-existential starting point of Rahner and Kung. It’s greatest theologian, Hans Urs von Balthasar, made this the decisive point at issue (and with the help of his Protestant friend, Karl Barth).

    It is also worth noting that the ascendancy of the Nouvelle Théologie has more to do with John Paul II than any other single person. Going back to his doctoral dissertation, John Paul II was developing a phenomenological approach that was “modern” over-against the scholastics and, thereby, favorable to the Nouvelle Théologie. Along with his right-hand man, Cardinal Ratzinger, the Polish pope basically enthroned the Nouvelle Théologie as the authoritative interpretation of Vatican II, much to Hans Kung’s dismay!

  6. Andrew McCallum said,

    December 13, 2012 at 10:42 pm

    Lane,

    I’m sure your question would have fascinated Aquinas and his followers. The Scholastic seemed to revel in these kinds of theological conundrums. I would guess that your question might be answered by first noting that according to RC dogma, Purgatory only remits venial sins and not mortal ones. No doubt there is some leeway given with venial sins since they are lesser matters and could be dealt with even within the special case you pose.

    I have to admit though I never quite got where the division is between mortal and venial sins. It seems to me that there are some venial sins which are quite serious and some mortal sins which are less heinous than some of the venial ones. All very confusing stuff, but I’m sure one of the Catholics reading here could give us some insights.

    And very interesting the insights that you and Kevin Davis have on the various Roman Catholic factions. Thanks for sharing….

  7. Dennis said,

    December 13, 2012 at 11:59 pm

    Lane,

    He argues that purgatory will cease to exist at the final judgment, the need for it being gone. I wonder what happens, then, to a person who dies just before the final judgment, and who needs purifying, but will not have the opportunity (!?) of being purified before the Final Judgment. Is there a gigantic intensified push of purifying before the end of purgatory? Or does the final judgment take care of the remaining impurities?

    First off, nice review! As a Catholic, the way I understand the Purgatory question is that there are three divisions of the Church: Church Militant, Church Suffering, and Church Triumphant (which I will assume you know so won’t bother explaining).

    So, after the Final Judgment, we will all be either in Church Triumphant or in Hell and thus there would be no Purgatory as that would be Church Suffering and the world will have ended so no Church Militant.

    At least, that’s how I’d interpret it.

    Now, it does bring up a good point that I think is what you’re getting at. If we are alive (i.e. Church Militant) right before the Final Judgment, how are we purged of our imperfections before entering the Church Triumphant? Maybe the process of judgment by Christ (which I’m sure will be severe) will be such an experience that we are purged at that point.

  8. Dennis said,

    December 14, 2012 at 12:17 am

    Andrew,

    I have to admit though I never quite got where the division is between mortal and venial sins. It seems to me that there are some venial sins which are quite serious and some mortal sins which are less heinous than some of the venial ones. All very confusing stuff, but I’m sure one of the Catholics reading here could give us some insights.

    I’m sure you have studied this but I’ll reiterate. Venial sins wound charity in the heart and Mortal sins destroy charity.

    The best way to think about it would be to think of a relationship between a father and son.

    Venial Sin: The father has rules of the house and the son disobeyed them, the father would forgive him for the disobedience but would be disappointed by the actions however still loves him and would appreciate an apology for the disobedience.

    Mortal Sin: The son is angry about the house rules and storms out of the house and runs away in defiance so that he doesn’t have to live by the father’s rules. The father is heartbroken and waits for his son to return. The love for the son is still there but the son can’t feel the love because he ran away from home to avoid the rules.

  9. greenbaggins said,

    December 14, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    Stephen, I am attempting to write a book on Roman Catholicism, a fairly comprehensive one. This, in turn, was stimulated by the conversion of Jason Stellman to Roman Catholicism.

  10. Pete Holter said,

    December 14, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    Hi Lane!

    Blessed be God, forever!

    “So, we can see that there are at least three major streams of Catholic thought…”

    Don’t forget the massive Augustinian movement represented by me and I think one other Catholic I’ve met in the past three years. Ha, ha.

    “I wonder what happens, then, to a person who dies just before the final judgment, and who needs purifying, but will not have the opportunity (!?) of being purified before the Final Judgment. Is there a gigantic intensified push of purifying before the end of purgatory? Or does the final judgment take care of the remaining impurities?”

    I’ve wondered this too. But when we understand this purgation to occur in our post-mortem encounter with Christ, I think that this perplexity dissolves:

    “Some recent theologians are of the opinion that the fire which both burns and saves is Christ himself, the Judge and Savior. The encounter with him is the decisive act of judgment. Before his gaze all falsehood melts away. This encounter with him, as it burns us, transforms and frees us, allowing us to become truly ourselves. All that we build during our lives can prove to be mere straw, pure bluster, and it collapses. Yet in the pain of this encounter, when the impurity and sickness of our lives become evident to us, there lies salvation. His gaze, the touch of his heart heals us through an undeniably painful transformation ‘as through fire.’ But it is a blessed pain, in which the holy power of his love sears through us like a flame, enabling us to become totally ourselves and thus totally of God. In this way the interrelation between justice and grace also becomes clear: the way we live our lives is not immaterial, but our defilement does not stain us for ever if we have at least continued to reach out towards Christ, towards truth and towards love. Indeed, it has already been burned away through Christ’s Passion. At the moment of judgment we experience and we absorb the overwhelming power of his love over all the evil in the world and in ourselves. The pain of love becomes our salvation and our joy. It is clear that we cannot calculate the ‘duration’ of this transforming burning in terms of the chronological measurements of this world. The transforming ‘moment’ of this encounter eludes earthly time-reckoning—it is the heart’s time, it is the time of ‘passage’ to communion with God in the Body of Christ. […]

    “A further point must be mentioned here, because it is important for the practice of Christian hope. Early Jewish thought includes the idea that one can help the deceased in their intermediate state through prayer (see for example 2 Macc 12:38-45; first century BC). The equivalent practice was readily adopted by Christians and is common to the Eastern and Western Church. The East does not recognize the purifying and expiatory suffering of souls in the afterlife, but it does acknowledge various levels of beatitude and of suffering in the intermediate state. The souls of the departed can, however, receive ‘solace and refreshment’ through the Eucharist, prayer and almsgiving. The belief that love can reach into the afterlife, that reciprocal giving and receiving is possible, in which our affection for one another continues beyond the limits of death—this has been a fundamental conviction of Christianity throughout the ages and it remains a source of comfort today. Who would not feel the need to convey to their departed loved ones a sign of kindness, a gesture of gratitude or even a request for pardon? Now a further question arises: if ‘Purgatory’ is simply purification through fire in the encounter with the Lord, Judge and Savior, how can a third person intervene, even if he or she is particularly close to the other? When we ask such a question, we should recall that no man is an island, entire of itself. Our lives are involved with one another, through innumerable interactions they are linked together. No one lives alone. No one sins alone. No one is saved alone. The lives of others continually spill over into mine: in what I think, say, do and achieve. And conversely, my life spills over into that of others: for better and for worse. So my prayer for another is not something extraneous to that person, something external, not even after death. In the interconnectedness of Being, my gratitude to the other—my prayer for him—can play a small part in his purification. And for that there is no need to convert earthly time into God’s time: in the communion of souls simple terrestrial time is superseded. It is never too late to touch the heart of another, nor is it ever in vain. In this way we further clarify an important element of the Christian concept of hope. Our hope is always essentially also hope for others; only thus is it truly hope for me too. As Christians we should never limit ourselves to asking: how can I save myself? We should also ask: what can I do in order that others may be saved and that for them too the star of hope may rise? Then I will have done my utmost for my own personal salvation as well” (Spe Salvi, 47, 48).

    This solves the conundrum because this same encounter could take place prior to death, both at His coming and in the lives of believers now. Augustine answered the question that naturally arose for me: How can our prayers and love benefit those who have died in Christ when they are no longer in the body, when it is also true that “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10)?

    “For this apostolic sentence does before death admonish to be done, that which may profit after death; not then, first, when there is to be now a receiving of that which a person shall have done before death. True, but this question is thus solved, namely, that there is a certain kind of life by which is acquired, while one lives in this body, that it should be possible for these things to be of some help to the departed; and, consequently, it is according to the things done by the body, that they are aided by the things which shall, after they have left the body, be religiously done on their behalf. […] So it comes to pass as well that not unmeaningly does the Church, or care of friends, bestow upon the departed whatever of religion it shall be able; as also that, nevertheless, ‘each receives according to the things which he has done by the body, whether it be good or bad,’ the Lord rendering unto each according to his works. For, that this which is bestowed should be capable of profiting him after the body, this was acquired in that life which he has led in the body. […] And when this affection is exhibited to the departed by faithful men who were most dear to them, there is no doubt that it profits them who while living in the body merited that such things should profit them after this life” (On the Care of the Dead, 2, 6).

    Well wishes, on your book, Lane! I expect that it will be excellent. I remember reading Roman Catholicism: Evangelical Protestants Analyze What Divides and Unites Us before coming back to the Church. I read it before reading much from the Catholic Church’s own mouth and it seemed like a powerful book that demolished Catholicism. But then I read it again after learning the one true faith from the sources and it seemed very weak to me. William Webster’s chapter was the best, the second time through, if I remember. Anyway, I pray for the same experience in your life.

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  11. andrew said,

    December 14, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    Lane,

    If you ever get the chance to have a chat with Carl Trueman, that might be interesting. On a fairly regular basis, he suggests a worthwhile response to Catholicism as the pressing need of the Reformed world.

    I don’t know if he has specific areas he thinks we are weak in, but you never know.

    In any case, best wishes.

  12. John Harutunian said,

    December 14, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    Pete, who was the author of your two quotes?
    Thanks.

  13. Dozie said,

    December 14, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    “Stephen, I am attempting to write a book on Roman Catholicism, a fairly comprehensive one. This, in turn, was stimulated by the conversion of Jason Stellman to Roman Catholicism”.

    From your effort on this blog, your book on “Roman Catholicism” will be a worthless/useless (implying the pure sense of the word, useless) book because you will not be able to get any of Catholic theology right. First, you have just now started reading Catholic authors and within weeks, you are in the process of writing a readable book on Catholic theology. If you succeed in anything, it will be to disgrace Protestantism. Writing a meaningful book on Catholicism is something grown-ups (theologically) do.

  14. Pete Holter said,

    December 14, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    Greetings in Christ, John!

    Benedict the XVI (http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/encyclicals/documents/hf_ben-xvi_enc_20071130_spe-salvi_en.html) and Augustine (http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1316.htm).

    I have additional thoughts from Augustine on purgatory if anyone is interested.

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  15. John Harutunian said,

    December 14, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    (This post has reference to more than one earlier posting.) I’m beginning to see a tendency to incivility on this blog. Let’s see if we can nip it in the bud.

  16. Dennis said,

    December 14, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    Lane,

    Good luck with your book. I would be interested in buying it. I don’t know if anyone has recommended Peter Kreeft but he’s a former Calvinist who converted and he’s one of the great Catholic minds out there. He’d be someone I think you’d be interested in to better understand the Catholic mindset. Also, his conversion story is somewhere on the internet as well.

  17. Pete Holter said,

    December 14, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    Dozie.

    Why do you go around insulting everyone? http://turretinfan.blogspot.com/2012/04/benedict-xvi-and-word-of-god.html#comment-505795189

    Please go to confession. Your brother has something against you and he rebukes you with love in the LORD.

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  18. John Harutunian said,

    December 14, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    And the peace of the Lord be also with you, Peter. (Do I know you as someone who once worked at a camp on Lake Winnepesaukee? [And who recommended Simone Dinnerstein's CD of the Goldberg Variations?])

  19. December 14, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    The basic author and book information, as it hasn’t been mentioned yet: Ludwig Ott (1906-1985) was a German Roman Catholic theologian and medievalist. The English translation of his book, “Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma,” was published in 1952. Just to place him and it within the stream of history, so to speak.

  20. Pete Holter said,

    December 14, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    Thank you, John!

    Nope, not me. My only connection with NH would be with the Department of Transportation. And just about the only piano I’m familiar with is from Savatage from my pre-Christian Days: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bodRTBs-W-g

    “And Father hear me
    “I am tired
    “Shall I waken
    “In Thy home

    “And hold me closer
    “I am trying
    “Sweet Lord Jesus
    “Heal my soul.”

    Savatage became the metal side to the Trans-Siberian Orchesta, if you’ve listened to any of their music (Christmas albums, Beethoven’s Last Night).

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  21. Dennis said,

    December 14, 2012 at 9:15 pm

    Pete,

    Did you play piano for Savatage?

  22. Pete Holter said,

    December 14, 2012 at 9:40 pm

    Hi Dennis, my brother!

    Thanks for being here.

    Nope; they were my favorite band before I became Christian. I got to see them in concert after the Wake of Magellan album came out. Interesting looking back and noticing the Christian themes in their music and even explicit mention of Jesus as our needed Savior, but none of it reaching to my unconverted heart.

    Sorry for the side comments, Lane.

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  23. Dennis said,

    December 14, 2012 at 10:33 pm

    Hey Pete!

    Thank you very much! It’s been good interacting with fellow Christians and learning from them. It’s also been good reading your comments and perspectives. Thank you for sharing.

    A friend of mine was a big fan of that group. Me not so much. Sounded like church music!

    Peace!

    Dennis

  24. Dozie said,

    December 14, 2012 at 11:17 pm

    “Why do you go around insulting everyone?”

    Peter:

    First, it is incorrect to claim that I go about insulting everyone. I do not recall insulting you or anyone else on this blog site. However I do, sometimes, respond to Protestants in the manner they are accustomed to.

    I am happy to repeat what I said about Protestants at the site you linked to. An individual who goes by “Turretinfan” had the temerity to call the Pope a liar and I told him he was foolish for doing so.

    The pope had allegedly said: “the Word of God, fixed in the holy texts, is not an inert matter at the heart of the Church but the supreme rule of her faith and her life force”; to which TF commented:

    “That is true of Christians, where “the Word of God” refers to the Scriptures. It’s not really true that the Word of God is the supreme rule of faith for those in the Roman communion, however”.

    In reaction to TF’s rude and false remark about the pope, I wrote:

    “The worst thing about dealing with Protestants, especially of the TF stripe, is coming to the frustrating recognition that they are mostly shabby thinkers. This group of Protestants often do not know how much they do not know and therefore treat everyone as being on the same level as they are. Where I come from, it is said that it is only a child who can’t tell who can really beat him up. In the family, this child will hit father, mother, and older sibling and may not know why he or she is left alone – he is a child. When TF takes on the pope, he demonstrates how childish he really is”.

    This statement remains true of most blogging Protestants who comment on the Catholic Church. I am confident that the proposed book on Catholicism mentioned here will simply confirm that most Protestants who oppose the Church do not know what they do not know about the Church.

    Still, on this site, the individual named Ron has been saying some silly stuff against the Church and about himself (how his religion is about him and his bible alone – without the need of an interpreter); I am yet to see a forceful response to him. Recently, he wrote:

    “In conclusion, Dennis cannot accept this [the gospel of grace] until Scripture, the very word of God, becomes his authority. Once he does that, the popes and all the rest can be seen and judged for what they are”.

    Again, this insulting remark about the Catholic Church and the popes passed by without an equally ardent response from you. Yet, when I call Protestants out, you think you can impose yourself on me as my spiritual director while mimicking an insulting comment made by the same “Ron” to another Catholic: “I suspect that confusion such as yours can only be eradicated by prayer and fasting, not sound argumentation”.

    I am of the opinion that the best approach to Protestants is to leave them to their folly. I observe that this is the attitude of the Holy Father (he rarely says a thing about them) but if one is to engage them, one has to acquire and deploy the same language they speak.

  25. Pete Holter said,

    December 15, 2012 at 12:17 am

    “you think you can impose yourself on me as my spiritual director”

    Thank you for your response, Dozie.

    I invite you to print out your comments and the passages of Scripture that I shared, and take them to your confessor. See what he says. :)

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  26. Brad B said,

    December 15, 2012 at 2:03 am

    “I am of the opinion that the best approach to Protestants is to leave them to their folly.”

    Yet here you are.

  27. John Harutunian said,

    December 15, 2012 at 10:01 am

    Dozie and Pete: As an Anglican I’m nevertheless going to have the temerity to step into a disagreement between my Catholic brothers.

    Dozie, in post #3 you called Protestant theology mundane and superficial. My own favorite writer is C.S. Lewis, whom almost no one would characterize that way. But of course one could argue that Lewis wasn’t a theologian as such. However, that does leave Luther and Calvin -deep thinkers as well as brilliant exegetes. (And I personally am neither Lutheran nor Reformed.)

    Second, you know far more about the Pope than I do. But from what little I do know, I’d infer that (as you point out), he rarely says a thing about Protestants -not because he’s leaving them to their own devices, but because he wishes to be charitable.

  28. Ron said,

    December 15, 2012 at 10:12 am

    Brad,

    Yes(!), and to his shame Dozie is here without a polemic, just assertions.

    Dozie finds certain things offensive, but the question is whether offense has been given (by TF or anyone else). Of course that question must be probed by analysis and not mere conjecture.

    (how his religion is about him and his bible alone – without the need of an interpreter)

    Is that a true statement from Dozie? Sadly for him it’s not.

    1. For the record, all Protestants believe that Scripture interprets Scripture. Accordingly, this remark of Dozie’s is simply false. An honest and informed Roman Catholic understands that Protestants do not think that Scripture has no need for an interpreter. I’m not calling Dozie dishonest but he is uninformed.

    2. Even for the Roman Catholic Scripture interprets Scripture for for the magisterium and in turn they relay their interpretation of Scripture to the laity. Even Marian doctrines are to have been derived from Scripture.

    3. Even when a Roman Catholic lay person offers an argument from Scripture, say to reconcile James with Paul, they too operate under the principle that Scripture interprets Scripture. Rarely does one find a Roman Catholic assert “the pope as said so and that settles it.” Consequently, not only has Dozie impugned Protestants unjustly; he has a double standard.

    Finally, Dozie took issue with this statement: “In conclusion, Dennis cannot accept this [the gospel of grace] until Scripture, the very word of God, becomes his authority. Once he does that, the popes and all the rest can be seen and judged for what they are” – calling it “silly”.

    Silly or not, that statement was the conclusion of an argument that was based upon a revelational epistemology. It did not drop from the sky on a parachute.

  29. Pete Holter said,

    December 15, 2012 at 11:43 am

    Dennis, Dozie, and everyone else. If you’re ever in the western MD/DC area and would like to talk about the faith, let’s get together!

    Lane. My wife and I love the snow on your website. As you continue studying Catholicism, I highly recommend adding http://www.thesacredpage.com and http://www.salvationhistory.com to your repertoire of Catholic resources. They’re my favorite! I love em all (Barber, Pitre, Hahn, Bergsma), but I like Bergsma the best. For an example of Bergsma, you can listen to him here: http://www.salvationhistory.com/studies/lesson/the_genesis_of_jesus_matthew_chapters_1-2.

    Here’s another talk from Bergsma that I really appreciated: http://www.salvationhistory.com/studies/lesson/lesson_one_-_in_the_johannine_tradition_part1

    All of the audio Scripture courses on Salvation History are free, they just ask you to register. I’m in the middle of the Matthew one now. Here’s the link to their courses: http://www.salvationhistory.com/studies/courses/online

    Pitre also has his own website: http://www.brantpitre.com/. You can catch his free video on the Eucharist, here: http://www.theholyeucharist.com/.

    I don’t have much money, so I love free resources. :)

    And, of course, stay close to Augustine and he will keep you close to Christ and the unity of His Church. I always find this quote encouraging:

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

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  30. Dennis said,

    December 15, 2012 at 11:18 pm

    Pete,

    Thanks for the invite and for those links. I may take you up on that when I’m in the DC area.

    Dozie,

    I don’t really care what you say or do; however, I will say that your actions go against Church teaching from Unitatis Redintegratio. Again, you really should read it and reflect on it.

    John,

    Below is a link to a speech by Pope Benedict to Lutherans about Luther. And for the record, I love Lewis but don’t know much about Luther or Calvin. I do believe that we all can learn something from each other and become better Christians.

    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/speeches/2011/september/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20110923_evangelical-church-erfurt_en.html

  31. Dozie said,

    December 16, 2012 at 1:33 am

    “I don’t really care what you say or do; however, I will say that your actions go against Church teaching from Unitatis Redintegratio. Again, you really should read it and reflect on it”.

    Dennis:

    I have heard from you before and you need to move on. I however thank you for the link to the pope’s speech you provided. You should know that this one citation does not negate my claim that the pope rarely says a thing about Protestants and Protestantism. Also, if you read the pope carefully, he seems to be summarizing everything I have said about Protestantism on this blog. The pope says:

    “Faced with a new form of Christianity, which is spreading with overpowering missionary dynamism, sometimes in frightening ways, the mainstream Christian denominations often seem at a loss. This is a form of Christianity with little institutional depth, little rationality and even less dogmatic content, and with little stability”.

    The pope was speaking about Protestantism and not about Catholicism. Regarding rationality, Ron, for example, can hardly provide a rational basis for his beliefs other than the fact that he is able to read the bible for himself.

    Ron Said:

    “For the record, all Protestants believe that Scripture interprets Scripture”.

    The is a mere assertion; the fact is that not all Protestants believe that Scripture interprets Scripture. There is no rational basis for this claim. If Protestants believed that Scripture interprets Scripture, why are there so many denominations and so many applications of what the bible actually says?

    The assertion that “Scripture interprets Scripture” is first and foremost, an interpretation of the nature of Scripture. Can Ron point to a verse in the Scriptures that teach what he asserts or is he simply promoting a form of religion with little dogmatic content?

    Ron belongs to a form of religion that is big on book publishing and the adherents of this religion are often boastful about this. It is not unusual for Protestant to speak of one another in this way: “RC Sproul is the author of more than 50 books”; “James White is the author of more than 42 books”; etc, etc. All the books are attempts to interpret scripture. If you really believe that Scripture interprets Scripture, you really have some soul searching to do with regard to the so called Christian-book industry in Protestantism.

    I often listen to Protestant radio; the one observation that I quickly made was that radio hosts do not bring on guests who do not have a Protestant book to promote. Yet, without shame, the mantra is repeated: “Scripture interprets Scripture”; how about showing how this works in reality!! Why are there several views on baptism in Protestantism, for example? If the answer is not that Protestant beliefs are often formulated with “little rationality and even less dogmatic content”, I have no idea what else the answer can be.

  32. Ron said,

    December 16, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    The is a mere assertion; the fact is that not all Protestants believe that Scripture interprets Scripture. There is no rational basis for this claim.

    Even Wikipedia gets this right: “In conservative Protestantism Romans 12:6 is viewed as the biblical reference for the term ‘analogy of the faith’ (i.e., αναλογἰα τῆς πἰστεως). The Bible alone is considered the word of God and the only infallible standard for judging faith and practice; hence, for conservative Protestantism, the analogy of the faith is equivalent to the analogy of scripture – that is, opinions are tested for their consistency with scripture, and scripture is interpreted by the Holy Spirit speaking in scripture (compare sola scriptura).”

    If Protestants believed that Scripture interprets Scripture, why are there so many denominations and so many applications of what the bible actually says?

    To the thinking and honest Roman Catholic the fallacy is apparent. To agree on the “analogy of Scripture” does not imply that those with that view must, therefore, agree on the interpretation of all doctrines or passages of Scripture.

    The Westminster Standards, for instance, affirm the analogy of Scripture in 1.9. Does that logically imply Reformed agreement on eschatological views or the application of the civil case law? No – it merely implies that Protestants are to be committed to settle such doctrinal matters by employing the final authority of Scripture. An honest Roman Catholic who is informed will admit as much.

    The assertion that “Scripture interprets Scripture” is first and foremost, an interpretation of the nature of Scripture. Can Ron point to a verse in the Scriptures that teach what he asserts or is he simply promoting a form of religion with little dogmatic content?

    Notice the sophistry here. It was shown that it’s simply false that Protestantism denies that Scripture must be interpreted. It was also shown that the theology of Roman Magisterium operates under the same principle of “Scripture interprets Scripture” by which they make statements about Scripture to the laity. After all, if Scripture does not inform the magisterium about what Scripture has to say, then who or what does?! To deny that the popes affirm the anlogy of Scripture for the magisterium is to reduce Scripture to brute particulars that have no coherence. It was further demonstrated that individual RC’s apply this same principle of interpretation whenever they try to argue a doctrine from Scripture as opposed to merely appealing to assertions by the Roman See. Note well that Dozie didn’t address his inconsistencies or double standard. He simply cut and pasted a statement and called it an assertion.

  33. Reed Here said,

    December 16, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    Doozie is at it again. Well did Jesus warn that we shall be known by our fruits.

  34. Pete Holter said,

    December 16, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    Dozie wrote,

    Recently, [Ron] wrote:
    “In conclusion, Dennis cannot accept this [the gospel of grace] until Scripture, the very word of God, becomes his authority. Once he does that, the popes and all the rest can be seen and judged for what they are”.
    Again, this insulting remark about the Catholic Church and the popes passed by without an equally ardent response from you. Yet, when I call Protestants out, you think you can impose yourself on me as my spiritual director while mimicking an insulting comment made by the same “Ron” to another Catholic: “I suspect that confusion such as yours can only be eradicated by prayer and fasting, not sound argumentation”.

    Hi Dozie. I don’t feel sent by God to Ron. Ron also wrote to me,

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

    […]

    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.

    So I’m not sure what I could say to Ron that would be helpful. But if anyone wants to get together for some bench-presses, look me up on Body for LIFE!!! I just got on insulin this week for diabetes and I feel AWESOME!!! Ready to work out again!!! And maybe what I say here on this website will make more sense now that my brain isn’t fogged by blood sugars over 500. WOOO BABY!!!

    Reed just wrote,

    Doozie is at it again. Well did Jesus warn that we shall be known by our fruits.

    You mean like the Reformed people here saying things to me like,

    “Pete Holter’s, uh, fanciful exegesis. You’d think they’d be embarrassed of this performance.”

    “Pete, as Westley told Vizzini in “The Princess Bride”, truly you have a dizzying intellect.”

    Someone else chiming in and saying,

    “I wish I had said that.”

    and

    “So far, Mr. Holter comes across as an amiable, if not genial dunce”

    and, elsewhere:

    “Lay off the ‘brother’ stuff – we’re not good buddies. I don’t even know you, and if you’ve gone from being Reformed into Roman Catholicism, I don’t consider that to be a “brotherly” activity. There is a huge distance between Roman Catholicism and the Reformed faith; I’ll be polite and respectful, but I’m not inclined to get all kissy-faced with a Reformed convert to Roman Catholicism.

    type comments? :)

    I don’t have a martyr’s complex, but let me just say that I do not feel drawn by the love of Christ to the Reformed communion.

    “But if you should ask of me by what fruits we know you rather to be ravening wolves, I bring against you the charge of schism, which you will deny, but which I will straightway go on to prove; for, as a matter of fact, you do not communicate with all the nations of the earth, nor with those Churches which were founded by the labor of the apostles. Hereupon you will say, ‘I do not communicate with traditors and murderers.’ The seed of Abraham answers you, ‘These are those charges which you made, which are either not true, or have no reference to me.’ But these I set aside for the present; do you meanwhile show me the Church. Now that voice will sound in my ears which the Lord showed was to be avoided in the false prophets who made a show of their several parties, and strove to estrange men from the Catholic Church, ‘Lo, here is Christ, or there.’ But do you think that the true sheep of Christ are so utterly destitute of sense, who are told, ‘Believe it not,’ that they will hearken to the wolf when he says, ‘Lo, here is Christ,’ and will not hearken to the Shepherd when He says, ‘Throughout all nations, beginning at Jerusalem?’ ” (Against Petilian, Bk. 2, Ch. 16.37)

    With the love of Christ,
    Pete

  35. John Harutunian said,

    December 16, 2012 at 10:40 pm

    Pete, regarding your post no. 10, I’m really interested in knowing the writer of the second quote. On the one hand, I find its articulation impressive, and it includes some fine spiritual insight. On the other hand, I do have a problem with Purgatory as it’s ordinarily taught in Roman Catholicism. The idea that normatively speaking, the immediate post-mortem experience of Christians will involve a pain which is so intense as to make fire an appropriate symbol of it (however cleansing and remedial such pain may be) -this really does seem foreign to the New Testament. The fact that the same symbol (fire) is used for the pain of Hell seems to imply that, at least in some cases, the intensity of the felt pain will be the same in both instances.

    Dozie, in post #31 you write,

    > not all Protestants believe that Scripture interprets Scripture….All the [Protestant] books are attempts to interpret scripture.

    But “interpreting Scripture” is a pretty broad concept, which itself can be understood in more than one sense. Please forgive me for saying so, but I see in your writing the same kind of strongly linear perspective which (ironically) is generally associated with extreme Calvinists.

    Back to Pete.

    > I do not feel drawn by the love of Christ to the Reformed communion.

    If an emphasis on the love of Christ is paramount, wouldn’t you be drawn to Eastern Orthodoxy more than to Roman Catholicism? But I hasten to add that you have a point. The Reformed may be following the lead of Monsieur Calvin himself in this respect. I’ve often reflected on the fact that if most Evangelicals today (among which I include myself) were ever to read what Calvin said about the Baptists of his day (i.e., Anabaptists), they’d be pretty shaken up.
    Which might not be entirely a bad thing. I think all of us need to be shaken up once in a while. Agreed?
    The peace of Our Lord be with you.

  36. Pete Holter said,

    December 16, 2012 at 11:41 pm

    Hi John!

    Do you mean Augustine’s On the Care for the Dead?

    I’ve often reflected on the fact that if most Evangelicals today (among which I include myself) were ever to read what Calvin said about the Baptists of his day (i.e., Anabaptists), they’d be pretty shaken up.

    It certainly had an impact on me in leading me away from ever accepting Wayne Grudem’s Reformed Baptist position!

    Which might not be entirely a bad thing. I think all of us need to be shaken up once in a while. Agreed?

    Yes, I do appreciate people speaking to me in a direct manner. Which is why I don’t have bad feelings. :) It was a Catholic saying “Shame on you” for eating a meat-filled deli sandwich that helped lead me to vegetarianism.

    Love,
    Pete

  37. Reed Here said,

    December 17, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    Pete: thanks. Let me just say that given the love I’ve received at that and of Christians – I’d never feel drawn to Christ. That’s not my point, But then, again, we are known by our fruits.

  38. Pete Holter said,

    December 17, 2012 at 7:03 pm

    I’m sorry Reed. You are loved by a Catholic here in Maryland! Let me know how I can pray for you if you’d like. I’d love to pray for you until the day we can meet.

    And prayer for anyone else on this thread! Let me know.

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  39. Pete Holter said,

    December 17, 2012 at 11:27 pm

    The fact that the same symbol (fire) is used for the pain of Hell seems to imply that, at least in some cases, the intensity of the felt pain will be the same in both instances.

    Hi John!

    I think you’re talking about the Augustine quote, so I’ll run with it. For Augustine, it is not necessarily the fire on the outside of the person, but at least the subjective experience of the person in the fire that makes the difference in the pain suffered.

    He surmises of the condemned “that even the eternal fire will be proportioned to the deserts of the wicked, so that to some it will be more, and to others less painful, whether this result be accomplished by a variation in the temperature of the fire itself, graduated according to every one’s merit, or whether it be that the heat remains the same, but that all do not feel it with equal intensity of torment” (City of God, Bk. 21, Ch. 16), and that “the soul also is tortured with a fruitless repentance” (City of God, Bk. 21, Ch. 9). And the same type of logic would hold true for the fire that saves: it being proportioned in pain to the amount of sin to be purged.

    ‘the immediate post-mortem experience of Christians will involve a pain which is so intense as to make fire an appropriate symbol of it (however cleansing and remedial such pain may be)”

    Here is Augustine talking about just this…

    And because it is said, ‘he shall be saved,’ that fire is thought lightly of. For all that, though we should be ‘saved by fire,’ yet will that fire be more grievous than anything that man can suffer in this life whatsoever. [And you know how great sufferings bad men have endured, and may endure; yet their sufferings are only just so great as good men may have endured also. For what has any malefactor, robber, adulterer, any desperately wicked, or any sacrilegious person, endured by the law, which has not been endured by a martyr in his confession of Christ? These evils which are here, are far more tolerable; and yet observe how men often do any thing which you command them, that they may not suffer them. How much better were it would they do what God commands, that they might not suffer those more grievous ills! […] [A]nd he begins to enumerate [his sufferings in this life], by way of satisfying God; offering what he suffers now, that he may not have to suffer worse evils hereafter” (Psalm 38, 2, 3).

    He thinks that this is true because “the spirit in its departing from [the body] took with it the consciousness without which it could make no odds how one exists, whether in a good estate or a bad” (On the Care to Be Had for the Dead, 7). And this consciousness may demand a painful separation from venial sin in those who had faith working through love. And the greater the attachment our consciousness has to this sin, while still built on the foundation of Christ, the more painful the purging fire will be. You can see this here:

    “Further, if he were possessed by a certain carnal affection about his riches, although he should give much alms of them, and should neither form plans of fraud or violence in order to increase them, nor through fear of lessening or losing them fall into any sin or act of guilt, (were he to do otherwise, he would be thus now withdrawing himself from the assuredness of That Foundation,) still by reason of a carnal affection, as I said, which he had in them, whereby he could not without pain suffer the loss of such good things; he would build upon That Foundation, wood, hay, stubble; chiefly if he possessed a wife too, so as for her sake also to have thoughts of the things which are of the world, how to please his wife. Therefore inasmuch as these things, being with carnal affection loved, are not lost without sorrow, for this reason, they who so have them, as to have as a foundation faith which worketh through love, and who do not in any way, or through any desire, prefer these things to that faith, having suffered harm in the loss of these things, attain unto salvation through a certain fire of sorrow […] whatsoever sorrow of heart in this separation he shall sustain by reason of his carnal affection for his wife, this is the loss which he will suffer, this is the fire through which, the hay burning, he himself shall be saved” (Of Faith and Works, Ch. 16.27, 28).

    At the day of judgment there will be a fire of judgment that “separates the carnal who are to be saved by fire from those who are to be condemned in the fire” (The City of God, Bk. 16, Ch. 24). The fire in both cases is painful. In the one case purgatorial and temporary; in the other punitive and eternal.

    Sorry if I muddled this up.

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  40. Bob S said,

    December 18, 2012 at 12:34 am

    36 Yes, I do appreciate people speaking to me in a direct manner

    Indeed.

    34 ”So far, Mr. Holter comes across as an amiable, if not genial dunce”

    Yep, that was me, Pete.
    Any clue as to why I said it? Or that is what you come across as?

    As in consider the following in 38

    Let me know how I can pray for you if you’d like. I’d love to pray for you until the day we can meet.>/I>

    If you really are a Christian, what are you doing in a church that infallibly believes in praying to anybody else but Jesus? As in Mary? As in do we really have to ask that question?

    Oh, but praying to Mary is not idolatry, blasphemous or a slap in the face as it were, to Christ? Really? And a whore wipes her mouth and says she has done nothing wrong Prov. 30:20.

    Likewise the mass is not a presumptuous and abominable idolatry that pretends to re-sacrifice a transubstantiated Christ – inevitably because his first sacrifice wasn’t good enough contra Heb. 10:10,12,14? Come on, that is not even a credible assertion, never mind rebuttal.

    IOW maybe, just maybe we aren’t brothers in Christ like you seem to so readily and blithely assume we all are, all the ‘love in Christ’ and exclamation marks! notwithstanding.

    I know, you can rustle up something from the ECFs or from the forest of mirrors that make up the double tongued papal encyclicals, but the plain and straight forward testimony of Scripture, written in toto by inspiration of the Spirit of Christ not so much. Better yet, make that: Not At All. But this is fidelity to Christ? Pray tell then, what is not? Forgetting to wear my little badge with the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on it?

    There is a divide between Rome and Protestantism as deep as that between Lazarus and the rich man in Hades all the while the sacramentally orientated want to persuade the scripturally orientated that It’s No Big Deal. (Roman faith, if it is word orientated at all, is in the word of the pope rather than the word of Christ, who never once called Peter, His Holiness, Pontifex Maximus or Vicar of the Apostolic See, while he did most certainly call him “Satan”. Matt. 16:23 )

    But hey, can’t we all get along? Why so much so much vinegar and vitriol from the prots? Whatever happened to ecumenicism? Can’t we all be friends? A little palaver, a little hand holding and we can all become good Catholics and kiss the pointy little silver slipper of the pope, amen. What could be more Christlike than that?

    So is the petulant query of the woman on the beast drunken with the blood of the saints and the martyrs of Jesus. And the papists fronting for her, whether they realize it or not.

    The answer is that of Jehu, ‘How can there be any peace, so long as the whoredoms of thy mother Jezebel and her witchcrafts abound?’ cf. 2K. 9:22

    Ah, but the unloving/judgmental card trumps all.

    As if the Scripture doesn’t say faithful are the wounds of a friend while the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. Prov. 27:6 Must we as protestants play Judas to Christ and the truth as it is in him in order that your feelings aren’t hurt?

    Rather the blunt remarks are meant to be a bucket of cold water on your naive ecumenicism and unscriptural enthusiasm – if you really are a Christian – and a stern rebuke if you are not, in order that your blood is not on anybody’s hands on that great day, much more that you would repent and come out of that Babylon, in order not to partake of her sins and receive her plagues.

    peace,

  41. greenbaggins said,

    December 18, 2012 at 9:22 am

    There is no doubt more than enough sin to go around on both Protestant and Catholic sides. Neither side should use “how they’re treated” by the opposition as an argument against that position. Cheer up: it was much, much worse in the time of the Reformation, when life itself was at stake. So, put on some body armor, stop being thin-skinned, stop insulting your opponent, and instead answer the arguments.

  42. Pete Holter said,

    December 18, 2012 at 10:08 am

    Any clue as to why I said it? Or that is what you come across as?

    I’ve never heard it put quite that way. But a friend of mine thought, “Haha! Genial dunce! That’s classic. You need a t-shirt.” So maybe the shoe fits. :) Praying to the saints for their help is great. I don’t do it much, but it’s great being part of this great big family of God. Kissing the pope’s feet sounds safe for me because I honor and respect him, but perhaps dangerous for him if he does not guard against pride. Jesus is offering Himself to the Father in heaven on our behalf. The Mass brings us into the presence of this intercession. You think that none of it comes down to earth except in a spiritual sense. We go a step beyond you and say that all of it comes down to earth in both a spiritual and sacramental sense. Calvin will also use the word and say that there is a sacramental descent, but doesn’t seem to leave anything behind to fill up this word with any meaning.

    Please give me a double-tongued quote and maybe I’ll have something helpful to say about it. :)

    With love in Christ (<– really!),
    Pete

  43. Reed Here said,

    December 18, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    Thanks Pete. Just to qualify, I said treatment by Christians, in general. My point being I was not jumping on Doozie for his catholicism.

    No need to feel sorry for me. I’m actually grateful for God’s use of the all the “love” I’ve received from Christians. It has been a blessed source of humbling me to see how much I don’t love and how much I must rely on the King and Creator of love to live.

    To conclude, tongue in cheek as I offer a response of affection back, one that respects our differences as well, while I’m grateful for a Catholic’s love, I’d much prefer it carry a different label. ;-)

  44. Ron said,

    December 18, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    Love, if it’s to be according to Christ, must be walled in by knowledge and judgment (or discernment). Philippians 1:9 It must be accompanied by at least some understanding of biblical truth and the centerpiece of that truth is the gospel of grace, not of works lest any man should boast. Similarly, our prayers and songs of praise shall not be just with the spirit but with the mind. 1 Corinthians 14:15

  45. Pete Holter said,

    December 18, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    Reed!

    I don’t feel sorry for you, except insofar as you are not Catholic. I love your icon! I appreciate your disappointment that my love for you is the love of a Catholic. But you’ll appreciate it more the more we get to know each other. Yes, praise God for His love towards us. Thank you for your humility before His throne of grace. You guys edify me. Sorry if I come barging in here unable to mutually edify in return. But, I’ll tell you, I have a lot of fun being Catholic. My confidence in Jesus is exploded beyond what it ever used to be before I was Catholic. I hope you have the same experience in becoming Catholic yourself (may it begin even now as you think on His mercy in your life. I’m sure that it has!). May you grow strong in your faith in His Son as you give glory to God!

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  46. Pete Holter said,

    December 18, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    Love, if it’s to be according to Christ, must be walled in by knowledge and judgment (or discernment). Philippians 1:9 It must be accompanied by at least some understanding of biblical truth and the centerpiece of that truth is the gospel of grace, not of works lest any man should boast. Similarly, our prayers and songs of praise shall not be just with the spirit but with the mind. 1 Corinthians 14:15

    Ron!

    The gospel of grace. I know all about it! The worst of sinners, God, having mercy on me in accordance with His promise—the Yes in Christ—in accordance with what He has done in me. Reckoned to faith, reckoned to him who trusts in God Who justifies the ungodly. It’s His own grace that He rewards! He sees His sinless Son in me and is well pleased. Oh the depth!

    Absolutely! May we offer to God our rational worship and may we be ready to give our apologia for the reason for our Hope: Christ the Logos in us, the hope of glory! Ron, my mind is rock solid. I’m sorry you can’t keep up with me. :) I am a little crazy, but my love is genuine. My love for you is genuine, Ron. Come down to MD and I’ll show you. I abhor what is evil. I hold fast to what is good and true and beautiful: I think about these things! What is noble, what is excellent, seeking after glory and honor – God’s glory, not mine!

    Not just with the Spirit, but with the mind. Amen! For God must be worshiped in Spirit and in Truth, i.e., in His Son, the Logos made flesh. Let the man who boasts boast in the LORD.

    You’re speaking my language. The language of God in the Sacred Scriptures.

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  47. Ron said,

    December 18, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    “I abhor what is evil.”

    Then renounce the papacy.

  48. Bob S said,

    December 18, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    42. Pete, if it isn’t invincible ignorance, it’s got to be chutzpah to match that of the unsinkable Molly Brown, all the while spiritual blindness exacts its toll.

    Any scripture, never mind reasonable exposition thereof to justify praying to saints, Christ offering himself now in the Mass in heaven etc. will not be forthcoming. IOW so much for Heb. 10:12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God.

    There’s no question we by faith partake of Christ in the Lord’s supper, but if a mouse breaks into the sacristy and eats some crumbs – Mickey too, truly partakes of Christ? Come on. Who do you expect to believe this, Peter? (No, Dennis, John 6 is not about eating Christ in the sacramental bread. He himself says eating and drinking is equivalent to coming to him in faith and believing in him 6:35.)

    IOW humanly speaking, we should have known better. The abyss between Rome and those who separated from her on the basis of Scripture – which she professes profusely to revere even as she redefines or contradicts it – is so not easily papered over or explained away the CTC notwithstanding.

    Just how does one harmonize Trent with Vatican 2? Just how does the fork tongued father papally explain away when life begins in 1895 versus when it begins today? (HT John Bugay!) Where does Scripture itself include oral traditions as part of Scripture?

    Come now, don’t tell me that the NT doesn’t include what Paul taught in person to the Bereans in Act 17 and which he even encouraged them to check against the OT which they had at hand at the time. But if the Scripture was a good enough rule for Jesus (Matt. 4) or Paul, it ought to be good enough for us.

    The medium is the message. Ultimately Rome appeals to the sacrament if not her own inherent authority while protestantism appeals to Scripture over and against Rome’s traditions and implicit/blind faith in the same.

    FTM Neil Postman nailed it in his Amusing Ourselves to Death (1985), when he said the popularity of TV is all about the divide between the verbal spoken or written and the visual. (The alphabet is not pictographic; letters represent sounds.)

    But the Reformation was all about preaching in distinction to pictures of Jesus, Passion plays, if not the drama of the Roman Mass with the divine wafer, statues, incense, candles etc. Greg Reynolds rings the changes on all this in principle in his The Word is Worth a Thousand Pictures (2000) in critiquing what is a modern secular return to the Roman/medieval – if not primitive – emphasis on the visual.

    For Plato’s man in the cave, truth was somewhere beyond the shadows dancing on the wall. For Rome it is the wafer exalted and lifted up in the mass. For Protestants it is the Word of God written by the Spirit of the Word of God become flesh, the Lord Jesus Christ.

    John 8:32  And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

    cheers

  49. Pete Holter said,

    December 18, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    Hi Ron.

    Show me that the papacy is evil and I’ll renounce it. Perhaps over on the history of the papacy thread.

    The papacy exists to confirm our faith in Christ. Show me that this is evil and come to find for yourself that it is in reality good.

    Love,
    Pete

  50. Ron said,

    December 18, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    Pete,

    Come now… If “the papacy exists to confirm our faith” then how can I persuade you “that the papacy is evil?”

    No scriptural exegesis or logical argumentation can possibly persuade you because your governing axiom is that the papacy cannot err on its interpretation of Scripture. Given that the papacy ruled on itself at Vatican 1 with favorable marks, you cannot possibly be informed by Scripture about the evil of the papacy lest you deny the papacy. A change of heart is what is needed, which at the point is not a matter of proof but a sovereign work of the Holy Spirit.

    You’ll excuse me as I retire into another room to begin my weekly Bible study with my aged mother who raised her four sons Romanists but has since time seen many of Rome’s hypocrisies and heresies. It’s amazing what Scripture can show to those who don’t fear men.

  51. Ron said,

    December 18, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    Don’t get me wrong – it’s always a sovereign work of the Spirit that is needed to convert the soul. Notwithstanding, proof is often under good regulation so that the Spirit might give increase. In your case, I’m afraid, you’ve rejected so many arguments against Rome that argumentation is no longer needed I should think. Just prayer and grace.

  52. Pete Holter said,

    December 18, 2012 at 10:26 pm

    if a mouse breaks into the sacristy and eats some crumbs – Mickey too, truly partakes of Christ? Come on. Who do you expect to believe this, Peter?

    Of course. If they bit him during his earthly ministry, would they have partaken of Christ? Of course! I should expect that everyone would easily believe this. Next! :)

    Just how does one harmonize Trent with Vatican 2?

    Read them in light of each other. Like you do with Exodus and Hebrews in order to determine the position of the altar of incense.

    “The Pope held that the monk was not irregular if the fetus was not ‘vivified.’ ”

    If the fetus was living, then the abortion was murder. This is most likely the most prudent thing anyone could say. We didn’t know when human life began back when Innocent was pope, now we do. Not a problem for us. We still believe that “no homicide occur(s) in a stopping of life prior to the time a fetus receive(s) a soul.” The Catechism of Trent asserted contraception to be homicide. But John Paul II said that the use of contraception is, more strictly speaking, a sin against chastity; it is not, strictly speaking, a sin against justice, i.e., it is not murder. So we actually agree more strictly with Pope Innocent. Contraception can only be conceived of in terms of homicide if we think of it as an anticipatory killing: killing before it has the chance to exist. This is indeed a form of homicide, one that precludes one’s very existence, and is a popular way to conceive of it. So both are, in the final analysis, true, albeit in different senses.

    “Certainly, from the moral point of view contraception and abortion are specifically different evils: the former contradicts the full truth of the sexual act as the proper expression of conjugal love, while the latter destroys the life of a human being; the former is opposed to the virtue of chastity in marriage, the latter is opposed to the virtue of justice and directly violates the divine commandment ‘You shall not kill.’

    “But despite their differences of nature and moral gravity, contraception and abortion are often closely connected, as fruits of the same tree” (Evangelium Vitae).

    By the way, what was your claim at the beginning of the thirteenth century?

    Come now, don’t tell me that the NT doesn’t include what Paul taught in person to the Bereans in Act 17 and which he even encouraged them to check against the OT which they had at hand at the time. But if the Scripture was a good enough rule for Jesus (Matt. 4) or Paul, it ought to be good enough for us.

    Scripture is a good enough rule for me. Prove to me from the Scriptures that the Catholic faith is not true. But this you will in truth never do.

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  53. Pete Holter said,

    December 18, 2012 at 10:42 pm

    “you’ve rejected so many arguments against Rome that argumentation is no longer needed I should think.” I honestly haven’t seen you make an argument yet. Although I admit that it may have flown right over my dunce’s hat. Aren’t you the one who complained, “to his shame Dozie is here without a polemic, just assertions”? Let’s see your argument.

    You say of me that “your governing axiom is that the papacy cannot err on its interpretation of Scripture.” Show me where you think the papacy has erred in its interpretation of Scripture, and I’ll have to let go this governing axiom.

    Love,
    Pete

  54. Ron said,

    December 18, 2012 at 11:17 pm

    “Show me where you think the papacy has erred in its interpretation of Scripture, and I’ll have to let go this governing axiom.”

    Pete,

    You don’t recognize it but you really don’t mean what you just said. Let me explain what you said and then what you actually meant to say. What you literally said is if I show you where I think the papacy has erred, you will then give up on the papacy. What you meant to say is that if I show you where the papacy has erred and you agree with me, then you will give up on the papacy. And although that is what you meant to say, what you don’t appreciate is that you have a pre-commitment to the papacy that forbids you from thinking it can be wrong. You’re truly a papist, no harm intended. The implications of your commitment to Rome is fleshed out below as it pertains to what you intended to say.

    The papacy interprets Scripture for you, not the reverse. Accordingly, you judge Scripture’s meaning through the lens of Roman dogma and you do not judge Roman dogma through the lens of Scripture. For instance, you cannot build a formal deductive proof from Scripture for a perpetual papacy located in Vatican City, Rome, yet you submit to Rome without remainder. You begin with the papacy in Rome on Rome’s say-so and then impose that premise upon Scripture, in turn inferring – not deducing, the papacy from Scripture. Since the papacy is your highest authority which governs your interpretation of Scripture then even if I “prove” the papacy has erred, such proof will never persuade you in and of itself. A work of grace is needed.

    In the end, saying you will abandon the papacy if proven evil is simply misleading. It would be sort of like me saying I’d depart from Christ if I thought him not God. It implies I could deny Christ’s deity, but as a child sealed until the day of redemption I am not able. The analogy does break down of course because the Spirit bears witness of Christ. He does not bear witness of the popes. Accordingly, Grace can overcome your problem whereas grace cannot cause one to become apostate.

  55. John Harutunian said,

    December 18, 2012 at 11:50 pm

    Here goes the Anglican-in-Residence with his via media again.

    Pete, in your post #39 on Purgatory, I don’t think you muddled anything up. But I do think Augustine did! (Just as he muddled things up when he consigned unbaptized babies to hell.) As far as I can see, the New Testament uses the term “fire” (be it literal or symbolic) solely in reference to the destiny of those who reject the Gospel. Some would quote I Corinthians 3:15 in this connection. But there Paul is speaking of a man’s “works” which shall be “burned up”. The expression “saved through the fire” doesn’t mean “by means of the fire” -any more than Pharaoh’s army was saved “by means of” the Red Sea!

    Regarding the hypothetical instance of a mouse biting Jesus during His earthly ministry and how that would (or wouldn’t) apply to a rodent-infested sacristy: I really think Luther got things right here. Just as Christ, though fully God, was also fully man (in substance as well as form), the consecrated elements are both bread and wine _and_ Christ’s body and blood. Substantially so, in both cases. I’d have to part company with my Catholic brothers re: the belief that Christ’s divine nature is present in the actual elements. So I’d beg to differ if you say that the mouse partook of Christ (in the ordinary sense).

    >Jesus is offering Himself to the Father in heaven on our behalf. The Mass brings us into the presence of this intercession.

    As far as I know, the New Testament presents Christ as indeed presently interceding for us, but never as presently offering Himself for us. Yes, He is our eternal High Priest; that is His role. But that doesn’t
    mean that He is eternally making a sacrifice. Just as a person might have the role of a mother -even have such a role eternally. But that doesn’t mean that she is eternally bearing children!

    Hope you don’t find any of this offensive. Thanks, Pete, for your irenic spirit -not to speak of your faith in our common Lord, Jesus Christ.

  56. John Harutunian said,

    December 19, 2012 at 12:00 am

    Ron, as a fellow Protestant I’d have to take issue with a couple of your critiques of Pete in your #54. First, your opening paragraph would be valid if Pete regarded his commitment to the papacy as a presupposition -I doubt that he does so. More seriously, when you say that Pete is in need of “a work of grace”, do you mean regenerating grace? I hope not -this would surely violate the basic Reformed tenet that only God can read hearts.

  57. Pete Holter said,

    December 19, 2012 at 12:35 am

    Augustine muddle something? Never! :) Ahh, but our works form who we are. We grow strong in our faith when we give glory to God. The act of giving glory forms our faith (faith works through love). So it is with the works that pass with us from this life into the next. They are not outside of us. We don’t always give glory to God as our father in the faith did, whose hope did not waiver. Those acts of ours which went into our hearts to form our character (you know, the ones that aren’t like the ones that Peter lists in his second epistle: brotherly affection, love, etc. heh, heh. I try! I try!), and which do not stand in the heat of God’s judgment will be painfully burned away from our twisted hearts that none can comprehend to make them pure. But we love Jesus and His grace and love carry us through. It’s gonna be awesome! I have written about purgatory here: http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=559394#9. Lots of material and rabbit trails to lose yourself in. I have the MP3 of the debate in question if you’d like a copy. I’m assuming I can offer it to you since it was free when I got it.

    “Just as he muddled things up when he consigned unbaptized babies to hell”

    What!?!? I know that Calvin thought he erred on this point, and that 99% of Catholics today think that he erred on this point too (do I count for 1%?). But how can this be? Well, I guess if you become Catholic, we will reluctantly – I mean eagerly! – embrace your faith in this regard.

    Just as Christ, though fully God, was also fully man (in substance as well as form), the consecrated elements are both bread and wine _and_ Christ’s body and blood.

    Yeah, we don’t like this. Here we don’t like Luther’s conception because it seems to unite Christ’s substance as the God-Man, to a third nature, to that of bread. Transubstantiation avoids this difficulty of what happens when the substance of the God-Man (a Physical Being) becomes present to us at Mass (and takes up residence, so to speak, in the space consigned to the physicality of bread). The substance of both cannot remain. We want to do away with the substance of bread and wine to avoid any ignoble comingling of divinity with bread. Yucky, no.

    Luther also held to the ubiquitous presence of Christ in His humanity in order to formulate his doctrine (please correct me if I’m wrong). I do not find this in the Scriptures. But only where the “This” that Jesus held in His hands, only there by the words of the priest is His glorified body to be found outside of heaven in substance. But I appreciate Luther’s sacramentality and the no-compromise position he staked against Zwingli; so necessary in the defense of the Gospel.

    The Reformed don’t want a substantial presence at all. They want it all spiritual. But how can this be? Paul says whether in the body or out of the body – he did not know. i.e., if it is “out of the body” and only a spiritual presence, then there is no body for Christ to point to and say, “This is My Body.” Does this objection from Scripture make sense? Makes big sense to me, but then again, I am very small.

    “But that doesn’t mean that He is eternally making a sacrifice. Just as a person might have the role of a mother -even have such a role eternally. But that doesn’t mean that she is eternally bearing children!”

    That’s true, but upon what basis is He interceding? With what does He go before the Father? Is it not with His blood – our purchase price – and as the Lamb Who was slain? Can we offer less at Mass? This supper that we celebrate is that supper, as John Chrysostom would say. And many other rambling thoughts from a man that just started taking insulin last week and feels like a new man. Behold, the old has passed away. The new has come! Ha ha.

    You don’t offend me at all. I am sad that Ron and others have lost the Catholic faith. I pray that I can be a beacon of a small glimmer of light of Christ if He can work through this earthen vessel to save even one soul! Wouldn’t that be a miracle of grace!

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  58. Pete Holter said,

    December 19, 2012 at 12:44 am

    “your opening paragraph would be valid if Pete regarded his commitment to the papacy as a presupposition”

    That’s true. I’m Sproulian anyway: predestined to presuppose Classical Apologetics. Down with Van Til!

    Heh, heh. Have you enjoyed this great song about the conversion of Augustine by Catholic music artist, Matt Maher: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ziJQJI2uElI ?

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  59. Pete Holter said,

    December 19, 2012 at 12:46 am

    John – are you a piano player with a website named after yourself???

  60. Bob S said,

    December 19, 2012 at 2:40 am

    56. More seriously, when you say that Pete is in need of “a work of grace”, do you mean regenerating grace? I hope not -this would surely violate the basic Reformed tenet that only God can read hearts.

    You left out credible confession, John. As if the responses in the combox are not a prima facie case.

    FTM I might just as well ask Pete to prove that we are not reformed catholics. (Or that mice are saved.)

    Oh well. When you worship a piece of bread, that’s what your mind, if not your arguments become and I haven’t seen anything yet to persuade me otherwise.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I got to go talk to Uncle Remus about a tarbaby he’s got for sale. I am sure he’ll give me a good deal, but I don’t want to keep him waiting. Once he puts it on Craigslist, it’ll be gone in a flash.

    cheers

  61. John Harutunian said,

    December 19, 2012 at 4:04 am

    Pete-
    Yes, I’m a pianist with a website. And I’m also an Anglican evangelical who loves exchanges between evangelicals and Catholics! (I can’t take liberals terribly seriously.)
    So, to continue: What Luther held to be “ubiquitous” was Christ’s _risen_ body. And (at least according to good old Wikipedia), what he taught about the Eucharist is best described as “sacramental union.” There’s no “commingling” of substances. But even if there were, would this be more “ignoble” than Christ’s birth in a manger, or indeed His indwelling the teenaged Mary’s womb?

    Plus, I’m now seeing an additional problem with the Catholic (well-mannered Anglicans don’t say “Romanist :)) view:

    >we don’t like Luther’s conception because it seems to unite Christ’s substance as the God-Man, to a third nature, to that of bread.

    Here you’re implying that as the God-Man, Christ had one substance. But don’t the creeds, from Chalcedon onwards, say two?

    Now, I think we have to go very slowly:
    >upon what basis is He interceding?

    That of His shed blood. No disagreement here.

    >With what does He go before the Father?

    But He doesn’t “go” before the Father. He’s _always_ before the Father, sitting at His right hand. I can’t see that He is continually making His sacrifice[s]. Even granting the fact that we’re now talking about the eternal dimension rather than the earthly, temporal one -why is His crucifixion at Calvary “present” in heaven any more than is His turning water into wine at Cana, His multiplying the loaves and fishes, His prayer of agony in Gethsemane, etc.?

    >Is it not with His blood – our purchase price – and as the Lamb Who was slain? Can we offer less at Mass?

    Looks like the Calvinist in me (of which there isn’t very much) is coming out at this point! I’d have to say that “we” can’t offer Christ’s blood, either in the Mass or under any other circumstances. He alone can do that.

    Thanks, Pete, for your knowledgeable explanations of Catholic theology.
    Peace.

  62. Ron said,

    December 19, 2012 at 7:47 am

    Ron, as a fellow Protestant I’d have to take issue with a couple of your critiques of Pete in your #54. First, your opening paragraph would be valid if Pete regarded his commitment to the papacy as a presupposition -I doubt that he does so.

    John,

    Of course the infallible interpretation of the papacy is a presupposition for Peter, just like Scripture’s consistency is a presupposition for me. When I come to a passage of Scripture that seems at first glance contradictory, I marshal my efforts according to my commitment to the internal consistency of Scripture – my presupposition. In the like manner, when Pete comes across a verse that would seemingly contradict Rome, he doesn’t question Rome’s integrity. He tries to reconcile the passage with his communion because he presupposes Rome has the truth. Certainly you don’t think that Pete, or anybody else, is presuppositionally neutral, do you?

    More seriously, when you say that Pete is in need of “a work of grace”, do you mean regenerating grace? I hope not -this would surely violate the basic Reformed tenet that only God can read hearts.

    For starters, although one cannot know what’s in another man’s heart, we may and must make assessments based upon another’s words (and actions). I can’t imagine that Pete could become a member of a Reformed denomination, which if true would be a statement about his soul. He couldn’t honestly answer the questions for a credible profession of faith while remaining true to his Roman Catholicism. Nonetheless, my point is that Pete needs grace – whether saving or sanctifying, to overcome his idol of Rome. Obviously I think that if Pete truly believes in his heart what Rome teaches about salvation, then he must be on his way to hell. I just can’t know what he actually believes.

  63. John Harutunian said,

    December 19, 2012 at 9:24 am

    Ron-

    What I mean is: Does Pete regard the Pope’s infallibility as self-evident? The Catholics whom I’ve encountered try to find common ground between their position and those of others (a la Thomas Aquinas) -church history is one such suggested ground. (As you doubtless know, Anglican C.S. Lewis uses the same approach in “Mere Christianity” -his common ground is the moral law.) Which would seem to rule out presuppositionalism.
    I appreciate your distinction between saving and sanctifying grace; I’m with the Protestants on that point. On the other hand, when you say,

    >if Pete truly believes in his heart what Rome teaches about salvation, then he must be on his way to hell.

    you’re raising another issue: Is a person justified by “faith alone” or by “faith in faith alone”?

    Peace.

  64. Ron said,

    December 19, 2012 at 10:29 am

    What I mean is: Does Pete regard the Pope’s infallibility as self-evident?

    Ah, that’s something you need to ask him, though it’s not terribly germane to my point. Whether Pete has a well thought out epistemology does not preclude his epistemic allegiance to the papacy.

    The Catholics whom I’ve encountered try to find common ground between their position and those of others (a la Thomas Aquinas) -church history is one such suggested ground. (As you doubtless know, Anglican C.S. Lewis uses the same approach in “Mere Christianity” -his common ground is the moral law.) Which would seem to rule out presuppositionalism.

    The common ground of the moral law is not at odds with Presuppositionalism. In fact, the moral law is a point of contact (ethics), as is reality and knowledge. Some of the statements about Van Tillian thought on this thread are tiresome and seemingly partisan.

    you’re raising another issue: Is a person justified by “faith alone” or by “faith in faith alone”?

    Obviously the former and I appreciate your point and I was cognizant of the notion when I wrote. Maybe I should have parsed it out further but I think the heart-felt notion should have made the sentiment clear. In any case, if one embraces Christ as he offered in the gospel of Rome he cannot be saved.

  65. John Harutunian said,

    December 19, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    Ron, I in turn appreciate your well thought-out reply. As we wrap up our exchange, it’s occurred to me that I could use a definition of presuppositionalism! Do you have any insights on the difference between Aquinas and, say, Augustine, on this point? (I don’t know a great deal about Van Til, but I do know that he came down on C.S. Lewis in this connection.)

    Thanks!

  66. Pete Holter said,

    December 19, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    I can’t take liberals terribly seriously

    Yeah, they speak a different language. Which is why I was happy to see our CDF Prefect complain of “a type of liberalism within the Church which has caused us to lose our direction a little. We must look to our own resources — the Scriptures, the Fathers, the dogmatic teachings of the Church — and, like a good captain, steer the way ahead” (http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/archbishop-mueller-the-church-is-not-a-fortress/#ixzz2FWUoHngT). Amen! Have you read the interview? Very great.

    Here you’re implying that as the God-Man, Christ had one substance. But don’t the creeds, from Chalcedon onwards, say two?

    Yes, but I think that in the uncritical use of daily language we laity can speak of a larger category of the unique substance of the God-Man, a unique substance found nowhere else in nature, which is really two substances, unmixed, undivided, and all the rest. Maybe Aristotle doesn’t allow for this. But, we follow, Paul, right? :) No, please excuse my unguarded use of language. I agree with Pope Leo. Especially when he said that Mary’s “virginity was as untouched in giving Him birth as it was in conceiving Him.” Where is this same, one, Christian faith found today? With the Catholics! :)

    What Luther held to be “ubiquitous” was Christ’s _risen_ body. And (at least according to good old Wikipedia), what he taught about the Eucharist is best described as “sacramental union.” There’s no “commingling” of substances.

    Yes, I don’t see the Lutheran concept borne out by the words of our Lord. I came to the conclusion that if consubstantiation were true, then Jesus would have said, “Here is My Body” rather than “This is my Body.” “This is My body” is only explainable by transubstantiation. I came to this conclusion and subsequently I saw that Aquinas had come to the same conclusion. This was exciting for me to be confirmed in this way. It makes sense. Please see my comments here: http://beggarsallreformation.blogspot.com/2012/06/stuff-you-dont-see-on-catholic-answers.html. Our friend Steelikat responded to me by saying, “I don’t see it.” But look at his comment further down, where he uses the word “this” in the very same exclusivist manner that I was talking about:

    I put “this” in quotes since it is not definitively specified what the referent of the demonstrative is referring to. Was Jesus pointing to Himself as he said it, or did he mean “my flesh and my blood?” Grammatically and simplistically the most likely answer is the latter, but the former would refer back to verses 35-40 (himSELF not his flesh and blood), tying everything together in a rhetorically neat way.

    Do you see how Christ’s use of the word, “This,” points to one (His Body) or to the other (bread), but not to both? That’s what we’re saying. :) Steelikat, if you’re reading and lurking, that’s what we are saying… :) We rest our case on the words of our Lord.

    But He doesn’t “go” before the Father. He’s _always_ before the Father, sitting at His right hand. I can’t see that He is continually making His sacrifice[s]. Even granting the fact that we’re now talking about the eternal dimension rather than the earthly, temporal one -why is His crucifixion at Calvary “present” in heaven any more than is His turning water into wine at Cana, His multiplying the loaves and fishes, His prayer of agony in Gethsemane, etc.?

    Because He *is* in heaven as the Lamb Who was slain per Revelation; and because His blood *is* poured out, rather than will be or has been (cf. Matthew 26:28, Mark 14:24, Luke 22:20); and says, This is My body which *is* for you (1 Cor. 11:24).

    Looks like the Calvinist in me (of which there isn’t very much) is coming out at this point! I’d have to say that “we” can’t offer Christ’s blood, either in the Mass or under any other circumstances. He alone can do that.

    You’re right. But we are commanded to offer or present our bodies as a living sacrifice to God. This only happens in a pleasing way when offered in union with the offering of His first-born Son. What can we offer back to God that is not already His? Nothing. But if we’re going to present something back to Him, what will he accept? Only His Son. We are not passive in our salvation. We need to receive Christ and offer Christ in us back to God by walking in a manner worthy of the Gospel. This is what we celebrate at Mass. Augustine’s description is by far my favorite. He said it best, of course!

    “Since, therefore, true sacrifices are works of mercy to ourselves or others, done with a reference to God, and since works of mercy have no other object than the relief of distress or the conferring of happiness, and since there is no happiness apart from that good of which it is said, “It is good for me to be very near to God,” it follows that the whole redeemed city, that is to say, the congregation or community of the saints, is offered to God as our sacrifice through the great High Priest, who offered Himself to God in His passion for us, that we might be members of this glorious head, according to the form of a servant. For it was this form He offered, in this He was offered, because it is according to it He is Mediator, in this He is our Priest, in this the Sacrifice. Accordingly, when the apostle had exhorted us to present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, our reasonable service, and not to be conformed to the world, but to be transformed in the renewing of our mind, that we might prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God, that is to say, the true sacrifice of ourselves, he says, “For I say, through the grace of God which is given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, according as God has dealt to every man the measure of faith. For, as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another, having gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us.” Romans 12:3-6 This is the sacrifice of Christians: we, being many, are one body in Christ. And this also is the sacrifice which the Church continually celebrates in the sacrament of the altar, known to the faithful, in which she teaches that she herself is offered in the offering she makes to God” (City of God, Bk. 10, Ch. 6).

    Now, I do prefer at times praying the chaplet of the divine mercy by saying, “Eternal Father, I receive from You, the Body and the Blood…” rather than, “Eternal Father, I offer You, the Body and the Blood…”; and we must receive first! But it is only the second version of offering back that captures the whole story of our salvation. For what do we have that we have not received? Nothing is of ourselves. Our sufficiency comes from God alone! But we must walk as He walked and so need to be poured out as libations upon the sacrificial offerings of the faith of our brothers and sisters and become a pleasing aroma to God in Christ offered up to the Father.

    But on this topic, so that I do not lure you away with my own theological musings and limited understanding, end up having you reject only that but thinking that you’ve rejected the Catholic faith… I wonder, have you read John Paul II’s, Ecclesia de Eucharistia? I think that what would be most profitable is for us to find what you might object to from this document and try to work through only this. This will prevent me from propagating error when my heart’s desire is to faithfully present the teaching of Christ’s Church.

    I will have to check out your website some more before I write further…

    With the great love of Christ (because He first loved us),
    Pete

  67. Pete Holter said,

    December 19, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    He tries to reconcile the passage with his communion because he presupposes Rome has the truth.

    Using Augustine as an example would hit closer home than does Rome, but I see your point. :) Augustine submitted to Rome, so it all works out. And I do fully embrace the Catholic faith. One way to heaven. Please keep eyes peeled for Benedict’s encyclical on faith, slated for release next month. Can’t wait! Show me in this document where Rome has erred on the faith. I’m not challenging you to do it, but I invite you to it. Please read. I pray that it will be beautiful to you; but only if it is true.

    Love,
    Pete

  68. Ron said,

    December 19, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    John,

    I’d say that Thomas thought that faith takes over where reason left off, whereas Augustine may have thought that faith (knowledge of God) saves reason. Neither believed that faith is believing what you know aint so. :)

    Regarding Presup apologetics, it’s a two step process. (1) The apologist performs an internal critique of the other person’s worldview, beginning at the presuppositional level and then running with those presuppositions to the point of absurdity. For instance, if ethics are merely conventions, then Hitler’s Germany was not universally wrong. Hitler’s Germany was not not-wrong (i.e. it was wrong), therefore, ethics are not merely conventions. That’s the reductio ad absurdum of the opposing worldview. However, that’s not peculiar to CVT.

    Then (2), the apologist puts forth a revelational epistemology: Scripture provides the justification for knowledge, reality and ethics. People can know apart from Scripture but they cannot offer a robust justification for what they know apart from appealing to Scripture – God’s revelation.

    This link might help.

  69. Pete Holter said,

    December 20, 2012 at 12:39 am

    John! I couldn’t find Moonlight Sonata on your website. What’s the deal???

  70. John Harutunian said,

    December 20, 2012 at 4:24 am

    It’s simple enough -I haven’t recorded it!

    Speaking of music, as I’m preparing a full response to your erudite post, I should confess that part of my bias against Augustine is due to his distrust of the sensual attraction of good worship music. Practically speaking, he did really seem to believe that the senses were more radically affected by the Fall than was the mind. Which is not a position which receives much sympathy either from Anglicans or from church organists!

  71. TurretinFan said,

    December 20, 2012 at 9:29 am

    Pete: Thanks for your comments.
    Dozie: I can understand the mentality of people taking criticism of the head of their church (more specifically criticism of his teachings) personally. But that kind of emotional response obscures your judgment.

    I encourage you to search the Scriptures to see whether they teach that the church is to be governed by a succession of Roman bishops as the earthly head of the church.

    The unanimous testimony of the Scripture and the early fathers is that the church universal has only one head, Christ. Thus, even your own catechism is forced to acknowledge:

    CCC669 As Lord, Christ is also head of the Church, which is his Body. Taken up to heaven and glorified after he had thus fully accomplished his mission, Christ dwells on earth in his Church. The redemption is the source of the authority that Christ, by virtue of the Holy Spirit, exercises over the Church. “The kingdom of Christ [is] already present in mystery”, “on earth, the seed and the beginning of the kingdom”.

    But nevertheless, in Vehementer Nos, Pope Pius X stated: “Its officials, representatives though they were of a Catholic nation, have heaped contempt on the dignity and power of the Sovereign Pontiff, the Supreme Head of the Church, whereas they should have shown more respect to this power than to any other political power – and a respect all the greater from the fact that the Holy See is concerned with the eternal welfare of souls, and that its mission extends everywhere.” (Vehementer Nos, at 6, 11 February 1906)

    -TurretinFan

  72. Pete Holter said,

    December 20, 2012 at 10:41 am

    John, if you record Moonlight Sonata we’ll buy it!!! Charge at least $5 for it.

    TurretinFan!

    Is James White still preparing to debate Peter Williams this coming year? It sounds like Peter drinks too much alcohol to really be effective. Heh, heh. Just kidding, Peter!

    You and James made some comments about the papacy… I think that the following program had some helpful things to say:

    http://www.catholic.com/radio/shows/peters-authority-7622#

    The segment beginning at 12:21 and running through 18:06 in particular. If I were the one debating James, I would raise some of these points and watch him crumble. BaBOOM!!! Ha ha. :)

    Ron. That picture with your wife and girls. I was listening to some of John’s piano while viewing the pic and I thought I was watching the beginnings of a train robbery in an old western. Anyone else get that feeling?

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  73. John Harutunian said,

    December 20, 2012 at 10:29 pm

    Peter-

    First, you’re the only person I’ve corresponded with on any blog so far who has taken any interest in my classical CDs. Thanks for the ego boost, my Catholic brother!

    Second, I checked out your -and other people’s- comments on (http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/archbishop-mueller-the-church-
    is-not-a-fortress/#ixzz2FWUoHngT). Overall, I was struck by two things: a)arguments which seemed to go around and around and lead nowhere, and b)a good deal of incivility, especially on the part of my fellow Protestants. By God’s grace, I think that you and I have been able -and will continue to be able- to avoid those pitfalls.

    Having said that, let me try to address a couple of your points. First, I recognize your view of the implication of “_This_ is my body” as ruling out the continued presence of bread and wine. Here’s my problem with that. It seems to me that any of Our Lord’s disciples in the Gospel accounts could have gestured towards Him while truthfully saying the words,”This is God.” (St. Thomas in particular!) Absolutely, and without a doubt. But of course this would in no way deny Christ’s full humanity. And I’m sure you can anticipate the next step in my argument!
    Which is why I think that Luther came closer to the truth of the Eucharistic Mystery than did anyone else.
    Re: the Augustine quote,

    >This is the sacrifice of Christians: we, being many, are one body in Christ. And this also is the sacrifice which the Church continually celebrates in the sacrament of the altar, known to the faithful, in which she teaches that she herself is offered in the offering she makes to God”

    Which offering indeed the Church continually “celebrates”. I don’t see why this would have to mean “perpetuates” or “re-presents to the Father”. And at one point (I’m sorry I can’t give the precise reference) Augustine says that the consecrated bread and wine are indeed Christ’s body and blood, but “only after a certain manner”.

    We are indeed to present out bodies to God as “living sacrifices”. I can’t see that they are therefore _atoning_ or _propitiatory_ sacrifices. Similarly, I have no problem in seeing the Eucharist (literally “thanks-giving”) as a sacrifice of thanksgiving and praise. (Let’s face it, there really are times when we’d rather be doing something else! By God’s grace these times will become fewer as we press onward to the prize.)
    But, as I see it we _offer up_ bread and wine; having done that, we then _receive_, in a mystery, Christ’s body and blood.

    >[W]e are commanded to offer or present our bodies as a living sacrifice to God. This only happens in a pleasing way when offered in union with the offering of His first-born Son.

    I’d say that _all_ of our sacrifices, including those we make in connection with the Eucharist, are “covered by”, or “made acceptable through” Christ’s unique, once-for-all sacrifice. I can’t see that they are conjoined with it.

    Finally,

    > Where is this same, one, Christian faith found today? With the Catholics! :)

    OK, but why specifically the “Roman” Catholics rather than the Eastern Orthodox?

    Thanks, Peter, for your gracious willingness to continue the dialogue.
    And peace, in Our Lord Jesus Christ.

  74. John Harutunian said,

    December 21, 2012 at 10:57 am

    Pete, I just thought of another example to illustrate my first point, above. Both you and I would have no problem holding up (or pointing to) a Bible while saying the words, “This is the Word of God.” Yet neither of us holds to the dictation theory of the inspiration of Scripture (unlike some of our fundamentalist brethren!). We recognize that the Bible also consists of the words of men. Because we do so, would that constrain to say merely, “Here is the Word of God”? Not that I can see.

    Peace.

  75. Pete Holter said,

    December 21, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    John. You are right about the use of the word “This.” But I think that it is still more suitable to transubstantiation, and that “Here,” is more amenable to consubstantiation. So “This” could point to either, but consubstantiation would be better supported by “here.” It is something held by faith so I can’t press the argument too forcefully. When I point to Jesus and say that He is God, all the while knowing Him to be human, it is because I have precedent from elsewhere to substantiate that He has two natures (unique!).

    Scripture too, has two levels of being: it exists as the work of man and as the very words of God both at the same time. Both aspects are proven in different places. But the book itself is purely physical and ordinary. No transformation of the Book itself, except for a transformation in us when the Spirit Who wrote the words bears witness in our hearts and the veil is lifted to reveal Christ in our hearts (by the way, for those of you who’ve followed the exchange between Svendsen and Sungenis on heos hou, I believe that we have an example of what we’re looking for in Matthew 1:25 right there in scripture, right there in 2 Peter 1:19: “the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts” when the Spirit lifts the veil from our hearts and we see Christ therein; but we continue to pay attention to the prophetic word even after this has happened nonetheless and now with even greater alacrity, even though Peter uses heos hou to say that we only do this until the rising of Christ in our hearts! No change in our activity here. Why aren’t other people pointing out this non-transitional instance of heos hou in favor of the Catholic faith? Or is this being done and I’ve missed it?).

    But I think you have a valid point. I let it stand! “This” does not settle the case… but I do think that it points in the direction of transubstantiation. And regarding inspiration… dictational model seems unpopular. But the end result is, nevertheless, that the human authors wrote all those things and only those things that God wanted consigned to writing. So it does still have the same end result, regardless. I’m happy with that. I’m happy with acknowledging a certain “hidden” dictation in those places where it doesn’t seem obvious, and with boldly asserting straight-up dictation to Isaiah and the other prophets, where this applies. I have a very high view of inspiration. :) The authors being carried along by the Holy Spirit as He gave utterance. The musical instrument being played by the Musician.

    The further point in connection with transubstantiation and the use of the word “this” is the taking up of space. If we are talking of only a spiritual presence of Jesus glorified humanity, then there is room for the bread to be there. You have a physical object and spiritual object in the same place. We already have this everywhere we have a human being. But two physical objects in the same place? Jesus’ Body and plain bread in the same place? And no hypostatic union on top of it all? Relying on ubiquitous presence of our Risen Lord, a physical glorified body everywhere? All of this would be something brand new. I’d much rather work with existing categories based on our knowledge of the dual natures of Christ and the Trinity. This is what transubstantiation does. We have a new word, but it is based on our existing categories. Two physical objects: something has to move out of the way, unless, again, it is only a spiritual presence. But then what are we saying of Christ when we say that He descends both spiritually and sacramentally? Sacramental descent must add something to the equation if we are not to be duplicitous and equivocal or whatever words make sense in this connection. :) And, again, if it is only spiritual, then, again, per Paul, it is “out of the body,” and we therefore could not have a sacrament of His body. But I’ll leave it at that because it is something we hold by faith.

    What is the bread that we break? Is it not the Bread come down from heaven, the True Manna? The Bread itself is Jesus, not physical bread. :) I don’t know. I feel like I don’t have anything helpful to say here.

    Yeah, I don’t think that Augustine reached the point of transubstantiation. But there was movement in this direction. And I don’t want to rule it out definitely. I’d like to continue to grow in understanding of his position before I weigh in. In most places where Augustine speaks of Christ removing His bodily presence from us, you will also see him talking about what we see with our eyes. This is something to pay attention to. TurretinFan has a good collection of Augustine quotes on this topic.

    And Augustine gave us the tools to arrive at this knowledge of faith regarding transubstantiation: stay with the Church! Grow with the Church. Submit to the Church. Follow the decisions of the councils of bishops. This leads me to Vatican II, the safe haven for my soul. Thousands of bishops. Would Augustine oppose himself to them? Never.

    It is re-presentation because it is a memorial offering of the one sacrifice (anamnesis). The sacrificial offering at Mass is a portion of the sacrifice of Calvary. Without taking away from Calvary as with what happens in the multiplication of the loaves not taking away from the loaves themselves, but only expanding them out to make them available to everyone. The memory of His sacrifice on our behalf is being presented to us at Mass. When we remember something, that thing comes alive inside of our minds and we can “relive” it, so to speak. Even a mere memory inside of our minds becomes real to us in this way. The Mass “objectifies” this memory outside of ourselves and allows us to enter into the mystery of reliving Christ’s death on our behalf. It’s a true miracle! So beautiful. We see actors on tv who have rested from their acting years ago. But there they are, right there in our living room, doing their acting. I listen to your music on your website. The Mass is the miracle of God that goes beyond all the contrivances of man. The Mass is the “recording” of the cross to make it available to everyone in sacramental form. Christ’s sacrifice becomes present to us even though He died once for all and is seated at the right hand of the Father. Too big for us to comprehend. Just stand in amazement and receive the gift of God being offered to you. :)

    Why Catholicism. Why Roman Catholicism. Augustine. Prevenient grace. Contraception. Transubstantiation. Purgatory. Original sin. The Immaculate Conception. The Bodily Assumption. The Bishop of Rome. The Council of Trent. Indulgences. A defined Doctrine of Justification. The Catechism. Providentissimus Deus. Spiritus Paraclitus. Divino Afflante Spiritu. The love of Pope Benedict for our Savior. The Truth to which Christ came to bear witness. The Catholic faith is the one true faith. I have too much John Calvin in me to go east. Too much predestinarianism in me and too little room for so much praise of free will. They need to come west to meet me. :) Jesus was promised the inheritance of all nations. Where is His inheritance? Not with the Orthodox. Not with the Calvinists. Not with the Lutherans. But in Big Mama Catholic Church! The stone that became a mountain and filled the whole earth! We’re an odd assortment, I admit it! But please, consider joining us in our worship of the Heavenly Father. Amen!

    Let me know when you have Moonlight Sonata. Do you have any intentions? Is it too much trouble? Could you do it? My wife enjoyed your music. It made her want to get a piano for our boys to start practicing. She played when she was little.

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  76. John Harutunian said,

    December 22, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    Pete, I can’t say that I’m planning to record Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. There are so many great performances available, I don’t feel like I’d have any unique interpretive perspective to add. But I am presently working on Bach’s Goldberg Variations. Of course, this work also has been recorded by dozens of pianists and harpsichordists -but I actually think I’ve got something to say about it which hasn’t yet been said.

    Thanks so much for your beautifully expressed -and thorough!- response. Since I work as a church organist, I won’t be able to respond with the thoroughness which it in turn deserves until one or two days after Christmas! Needless to say, I will affirm all that I can affirm -as well as voice my problems with that which I disagree with.

    In the meantime, a Blessed Feast of the Incarnation to you and yours!

  77. Pete Holter said,

    December 23, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    Pete, I can’t say that I’m planning to record Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. There are so many great performances available, I don’t feel like I’d have any unique interpretive perspective to add.

    You have the John Harutunian perspective to add! Just playing it well.

    Thanks so much for your beautifully expressed -and thorough!- response.

    “Can anything good come out of Pete Holter?” (John 1:46)

    Since I work as a church organist, I won’t be able to respond with the thoroughness which it in turn deserves until one or two days after Christmas!

    May you play to the edification of the people of God these next few days in the Name of Jesus Christ to the glory of God the Father. We have an organ in our Church. So if you move to the area, there you go! We also live in a wonderful neighborhood, praise God, so I can help you find a nice home.

    In the meantime, a Blessed Feast of the Incarnation to you and yours!

    And to you, my brother! We’ll be worshiping in Spirit and Truth at Saint Momma Mary’s in Hagerstown, MD. Mass is at 12:15 PM. Look us up on the Internet. I hope to see someone (anyone!) there. Come on down to MD! Goodbye to MA! Although I may as well mention that my best friend from high-school graduated with an EE degree from WPI! And my best friend in the Air Force grew up in Framingham. But there’s nothing good keeping you up there. Come on down!

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  78. Pete Holter said,

    December 23, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    Mass is at 12:15 PM <– Christmas Day, that is.

    In the LORD of Lords,
    Pete

  79. John Harutunian said,

    December 26, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    First, Pete, thanks for your patience!

    >When we remember something, that thing comes alive inside of our minds and we can “relive” it, so to speak. Even a mere memory inside of our minds becomes real to us in this way.

    Agreed. I think Augustine had some insights along these lines.

    >The Mass “objectifies” this memory outside of ourselves and allows us to enter into the mystery of reliving Christ’s death on our behalf.

    I find this confusing. Yes, we die (to sin and self) together with Christ. But the concept of “enter[ing] into the mystery of reliving Christ’s death on our behalf” isn’t only non-Scriptural (I don’t necessarily say “anti-Scriptural”), but is indeed meaningless to me. Can you elaborate?

    >We see actors on tv who have rested from their acting years ago. But there they are, right there in our living room, doing their acting.

    But what is really (i.e., substantially) in our living room is a television set.

    >The Mass is the “recording” of the cross to make it available to everyone in sacramental form.

    I’d concur that the _benefits_ of Christ’s death are communicated through the Eucharist. (Even Calvin granted this much.) But of course this doesn’t imply a _perpetuation_ of Christ’s sacrifice itself through the rite.

    >[R]egarding inspiration… dictational model seems unpopular. But the end result is, nevertheless, that the human authors wrote all those things and only those things that God wanted consigned to writing. So it does still have the same end result, regardless.

    Assuming that we’re dealing with a normative dictational model, I’d have to disagree. A secretary’s personality doesn’t shine through a letter dictated by her employer; only the employer’s personality does so. Similarly, the very different human personalities of St. John and St. Paul shine through their writings (which would seem to rule out dictation).

    >But two physical objects in the same place? Jesus’ Body and plain bread in the same place?

    The big issue here is whether or not this would be an intrinsic and absolute impossibility, such as God creating a 4-sided triangle. But if it weren’t this _kind_ of an impossibility (but only a _relative_ impossibility), and if God were to do it, it would only deepen the mystery of the Eucharist, wouldn’t it?

    >Without taking away from Calvary as with what happens in the multiplication of the loaves not taking away from the loaves themselves, but only expanding them out to make them available to everyone

    Not having been present at the scene [!], I can’t be too dogmatic about exactly what happened. But I doubt that Jesus derived the miraculous loaves and fishes out of the substances of the original ones. More likely He created them ex nihilo. So I don’t see the relevance of this to the Mass.
    And I think that this touches on a deeper problem. Please understand that I fully agree with the concept of doctrinal development, There were certain things which (as Cardinal Newman put it) took some time to “settle into the mind of the Church”, The classic example is the Trinity. (Though even here, I’d have to point out that the Baptismal formula is quite clear: one is baptized into the “name” [singular] of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. So the concept is there. But of course there’s no reference to three Persons sharing the same Substance. So the principle is fine.) My problem is that you’ve articulated two major concepts which I’ve never heard before: 1)The Mass as making Christ’s Sacrifice [literally?] available to everyone, and 2)the concept that “we offer Christ-in-us [hyphens editorial] back to God by walking in a manner worthy of the Gospel”.
    More to the point, I see no hints of these in Scripture, even implicitly. Not that I might reasonably expect to necessarily see them in the Gospels. But I’d expect to see no. 1 in at least some of the evangelistic preaching recorded in Acts, as well as some of Paul’s epistles (certainly Romans, where he covers everything). And I’d expect to see no. 2 in the Pastoral epistles, as well as in other places where Scripture tells us how we are to walk. And they seem totally absent to me.
    Which makes it look like they were brought in _after_ the Catholic Church moved decisively in the direction of transubstantiation (around the 10 century?).
    So it looks like we’re dealing with a basic hermeneutical difference here.
    Thanks again for your graciousness in dialogue, in the true spirit of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

  80. Pete Holter said,

    December 29, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    Greetings in Christ, John!

    the concept of “enter[ing] into the mystery of reliving Christ’s death on our behalf” isn’t only non-Scriptural (I don’t necessarily say “anti-Scriptural”), but is indeed meaningless to me. Can you elaborate?

    Union with Christ in His death to sin on the cross happens for us sacramentally at baptism (cf. Romans 6). But baptism is the sacrament of faith. So it is by this sacramental faith that we are buried with Him into death. The sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, on the other hand, is the sacrament of His very Body. It is not the sacrament of the virtue that leads us to union with His Body, but the sacrament of His Body itself (cuts out the middleman). And so the contact that we have with Christ in His death is brought to another level. In the case of baptism, we touch His body by faith and receive the saving benefits of His death and Resurrection through faith alone (because, again, baptism is the sacrament of faith). But in the case of the Lord’s Supper, we touch His Body by both faith and by sacrament because the sacrament in this case is not the sacrament of the virtue by which we lay hold of His Body, but immediately of His Body. I’m repeating myself because I’m not sure if I’m successfully bringing out the distinction that I’m trying to make… at any rate, the Lord’s Supper itself is the proclamation of “the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Cor 11:26). But proclamation in what form? The form of a sacrament. The sacrament of what? Of His body. It really all comes back to the nature of what a sacrament is and of what implications there might be for a sacrament of a physical object (as opposed to the sacrament of a spiritual object, such as what we have with baptism being the sacrament of faith, a virtue).

    you’ve articulated two major concepts which I’ve never heard before: 1)The Mass as making Christ’s Sacrifice [literally?] available to everyone, and 2)the concept that “we offer Christ-in-us [hyphens editorial] back to God by walking in a manner worthy of the Gospel”.

    I’d expect to see no. 1 in at least some of the evangelistic preaching recorded in Acts, as well as some of Paul’s epistles (certainly Romans, where he covers everything). And I’d expect to see no. 2 in the Pastoral epistles, as well as in other places where Scripture tells us how we are to walk. And they seem totally absent to me.

    In Acts we have the proclamation of the Gospel of repentance from sin, of faith in Jesus as both Lord and Christ, and of baptism into the forgiveness of sins via the reception therein of the Holy Spirit. Subsequent to this initial proclamation, we have the disciples devoting themselves “to the breaking of bread” (Acts 2:42). We can gather from this chain of events that the apostolic preaching included instruction on the Gospel proclamation’s orientation towards participation in the Lord’s Supper, “that they may be one” (John 17:11, 22). For, as Augustine pointed out in his discussion with the antinomians of his day, the evangelists and other authors of sacred scripture sometimes only briefly made mention of this or that point of Catholic doctrine and “needed not to insert whole Catechisms” into the sacred narrative (Of Faith and Works, 13.19). A great point!

    We may also read Acts in light of Luke’s Gospel and draw particular attention to the scene in Luke 24. Christ Himself opens the Scriptures to the disciples. But their eyes were not opened to know Jesus until the breaking of the bread. How can the breaking of bread bring us to an intimacy with Christ that is even greater than Christ Himself expositing all of the Scriptures concerning Himself? Only Jesus Himself could effect a greater intimacy, and this is exactly what the Eucharist offers to us: direct contact with Jesus Himself. I see that I am not answering your question (sorry for this), but trying nevertheless to evoke an ever greater appreciation for what God offers to us in this great sacrament of our salvation…

    In Romans, Paul speaks of the offering of our “bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Romans 12:1). Our bodies become living sacrifices, pleasing to God, only through union with the one and only bodily and living sacrifice that was ever pleasing to Him: the offering of His own Son. “A body have You prepared for Me” (Heb. 10:5), and the Eucharist is this Body “which is for you” (1 Cor. 11:24). It is only through participation in this offering of His Body that the offering of our bodies becomes possible. And this offering is made by us in the sacrament of His Body: our lives as Christians are offered up to God in union with His offering in the celebration of this sacrament. The sacrament is the perfect offering of the imperfect offering of our daily lives because it is the offering both of Christ Himself and of what we are meant to be in Christ. Again, it all falls back on the nature of the sacrament. Of what it means for His Church, which is also His body, to celebrate the sacrament of His Body. We become one body in Christ precisely through participation in the sacrament of His Body which is for us (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:16-17; 11:24). So that, the sacrament is, strictly speaking, His Body which is for us; but it is through participation in this Body which is for us that we become the offering of one Body in that Body.

    I am rereading this last paragraph and I see that I am not able to communicate the thoughts in my head. Uh oh! May the Spirit of Christ speak on my behalf “with groanings too deep for words” (Romans 8:26).

    I doubt that Jesus derived the miraculous loaves and fishes out of the substances of the original ones. More likely He created them ex nihilo. So I don’t see the relevance of this to the Mass.

    That’s fair! But let us just draw from this the more basic point of taking something more isolated and expanding it out to make it more available. See it in connection with the Eucharistic discourse of John 6. Read it in light of the grain offering of the Mosaic Covenant wherein the “memorial portion” is itself both a sacrifice, and a portion of the original sacrificial offering (cf. Lev. 2); and thus do we come to see that the memorial offering is substantially connected with the original sacrifice.

    As to inspiration, the Pontifical Biblical Commission will be releasing a document in the next year or two regarding inspiration and truth in the Bible. I think that you will be pleased with what they have to say on this topic. They’re much more sophisticated than this lughead. Wanna do some bench presses?

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  81. John Harutunian said,

    December 30, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    Greetings to my brother in the Catholic faith!

    Pete, there’s a good deal of what you’ve written that I agree with. Plus, there’s a good deal which I don’t understand! Nevertheless, I think a few points can be made.

    1.)Look at the unfolding of God’s Word (i.e., the writing of canonical Scripture) through the lens of early Church history. (Something which both Catholics and Protestants should do more!) First came Paul’s letters (excluding the prison epistles). Shortly thereafter, Mark’s Gospel. Subsequently, Luke’s twin volumes (his Gospel and Acts). Around that same time, Matthew’s Gospel. And finally, John’s Gospel and Revelation. Leaving aside the whole question of sola Scriptura vs. Scripture and Tradition, this would seem to allow ample time for the two crucial concepts which you mention to develop: a)the Mass as the means whereby Christ’s sacrifice becomes available to an otherwise lost humanity, and b)the offering up of our bodies/lives to Christ in a manner which unites our offerings with His. But, as far as I can see, the earliest historical documents (i.e., the canonical writings) make no mention of these critically important, indeed, allegedly indispensable, beliefs.

    2.)Since Augustine didn’t hold to John 6 as having direct reference to the Eucharist, your quotation of him does seem a bit selective :)

    3.) You make an interesting point about Christ’s revealing Himself to the disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24). But first, what caused their hearts to “burn within them” was His exposition of the Scriptures (verse 32). Second, even within the context of a Catholic perspective, I can’t see a view that Jesus was present “in” the bread which he blessed in a fuller mode than He was in His literal, historical body as He walked along the road. And even today, we “recognize” Christ by faith (however dimly), then subsequently take the Eucharist in which we truly receive His body. Now, I see no reason why God would not, in His sovereignty, use the _occasion_ of a Eucharistic observance to regenerate someone. Calvin himself would have acknowledged this. (Indeed, I believe it actually happened in Kentucky during the 19th century.) But of course, unless the person is already in communion with Christ, he shouldn’t be receiving the elements. Wouldn’t you agree?

    4.) Regarding the Catholic belief that Christ’s sacrifice is made available through the Mass, Protestants tend to be aware of a dark side: that (at least ordinarily) it is _only available through the Mass. A bit of equivocation here would go a long way ecumenically!

    5.) Finally, I can’t see that what you’ve written would necessarily rule out the Lutheran view of consubstantiation. Providentially or otherwise, I’ve just received the latest issue of “First Things” (a journal whose arrival I eagerly look forward to every month). On p. 14 there appears a letter by one Dale Coulter critiquing, of all things, an article by Peter Berger about Pentecostalism. This seems like we’re pretty far afield! But here are some relevant quotes:

    “For Pentecostals, because God’s reign abounds, the world is charged with his grandeur. It is a fundamentally sacramental view of life akin to the ‘symbolist’ mentality attributed to the twelfth century by the great medievalist Marie-Dominique Chenu.”

    “Berger’s desire for a worldview in which the supernatural is at work within nature has already been embraced by many Pentecostals. Most Pentecostals I know pray for healing _and_ go to the doctor, as Berger suggests. In the same way, they see tongues as both human expression and mystical rapture; they are synergists.”

    “Berger seems to miss that Luther partly grounded his view of the Eucharist in the resurrection body of Jesus, filled with the life of the world to come. It is this overcoming life that Pentecostals see bubbling up, yes, “in, with, and under” the natural in all kinds of ways and yes, with much more volume.”

    Peace in Our Lord.

  82. Pete Holter said,

    December 31, 2012 at 11:03 am

    Since Augustine didn’t hold to John 6 as having direct reference to the Eucharist, your quotation of him does seem a bit selective :)

    Greetings in Christ, John!

    Hmmm… perhaps you are thinking of something he said in his homilies on the Gospel of John? Here’s a good selection to gain an appreciation for Augustine’s sacramental view of John 6:

    “Well, then, let us remove the doubt; let us now listen to the Lord, and not to men’s notions and conjectures; let us, I say, hear what the Lord says—not indeed concerning the sacrament of the laver, but concerning the sacrament of His own holy table, to which none but a baptized person has a right to approach: ‘Except ye eat my flesh and drink my blood, you shall have no life in you’ (John 6:53). What do we want more? What answer to this can be adduced, unless it be by that obstinacy which ever resists the constancy of manifest truth?” […] And what else do [the Christians of Carthage] say who call the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper life, than that which is written: ‘I am the living bread which came down from heaven’ (John 6:51); and ‘The bread that I shall give is my flesh, for the life of the world’ (John 6:51); and ‘Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, you shall have no life in you?’ (John 6:53) If, therefore, as so many and such divine witnesses agree, neither salvation nor eternal life can be hoped for by any man without baptism and the Lord’s body and blood, it is vain to promise these blessings to infants without them” (On Merit and the Forgiveness of Sins and the Baptism of Infants, Bk. 1, Ch. 20.27 & 24.34).

    I read your other comments and appreciate your thoughts. I tried to check out the article over on the First Things website, but it was subscription only. I think that I should let your final thoughts stand until another time. I’m sure I’ll see you around. :)

    By the way, everyone, I am currently reading History of the Catholic Church by James Hitchcock. I’ve very much enjoyed it so far. It’s down to $18.33 on Amazon!

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  83. John Harutunian said,

    December 31, 2012 at 9:15 pm

    Greetings, Pete!

    Yes, I also have been starting to feel that we should wrap up our exchange. I hope you don’t take this response as an insistence to have the last word. As a matter of fact, after reading the Augustine quote, I thought I was dead wrong about him and the Eucharist.
    Perhaps I was, but I think the whole picture is more complicated. As a Catholic friend once remarked to me, “Augustine was all over the map.” So I googled “Thoughts of Francis Turretin: Augustine -Christ’s Words in John 6.” Before I say any more: I’m not a Turretin fan (there’s no way I can go with double predestination). But presumably the man had the integrity not to tamper with a quote. Here are four of his more convincing ones:

    NPNF1: Vol. II, On Christian Doctrine, Book III, Chapter 16 (section 24).
    If the sentence is one of command, either forbidding a crime or vice, or enjoining an act of prudence or benevolence, it is not figurative. If, however, it seems to enjoin a crime or vice, or to forbid an act of prudence or benevolence, it is figurative. “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man,” says Christ, “and drink His blood, ye have no life in you.” This seems to enjoin a crime or a vice; it is therefore a figure, enjoining that we should have a share in the sufferings of our Lord, and that we should retain a sweet and profitable memory of the fact that His flesh was wounded and crucified for us.

    2. NPNF1: Vol. VII, Tractates on John, Tractate 25, §12.
    “They said therefore unto Him, What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” For He had said to them, “Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that which endureth unto eternal life.” “What shall we do?” they ask; by observing what, shall we be able to fulfill this precept? “Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He has sent.” This is then to eat the meat, not that which perisheth, but that which endureth unto eternal life. To what purpose dost thou make ready teeth and stomach? Believe, and thou hast eaten already.

    3. NPNF1: Vol. VII, Tractates on John, Tractate 26, §1.
    Wherefore, the Lord, about to give the Holy Spirit, said that Himself was the bread that came down from heaven, exhorting us to believe on Him. For to believe on Him is to eat the living bread. He that believes eats; he is sated invisibly, because invisibly is he born again. A babe within, a new man within. Where he is made new, there he is satisfied with food.

    4. NPNF1: Vol. VII, Tractates on John, Tractate 26, John 6:41-59, §18.
    In a word, He now explains how that which He speaks of comes to pass, and what it is to eat His body and to drink His blood. “He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.” This it is, therefore, for a man to eat that meat and to drink that drink, to dwell in Christ, and to have Christ dwelling in him. Consequently, he that dwelleth not in Christ, and in whom Christ dwelleth not, doubtless neither eateth His flesh [spiritually] nor drinketh His blood [although he may press the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ carnally and visibly with his teeth], but rather doth he eat and drink the sacrament of so great a thing to his own judgment, because he, being unclean, has presumed to come to the sacraments of Christ, which no man taketh worthily except he that is pure: of such it is said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

    You may or may not feel it appropriate to respond. Needless to say, if you do, I’ll definitely read your insights with an open mind. Meanwhile, to wrap this up on a note of agreement, perhaps you could comment about my fourth numbered quote in blog #81; I believe that it’s authentic Catholic teaching that under certain circumstances, the desire to receive a sacrament can confer the benefits of an actual reception?

    Peace in Our Lord Jesus Christ.

  84. Pete Holter said,

    January 1, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    Greetings in Christ, John, my music loving friend!

    In On Christian Doctrine Augustine intends to deflect the interpretation that leads us to think that we are to murder and cannibalize; for, as he tells us, the unbelieving disciples “indeed [wrongly] understood the flesh, just as when cut to pieces in a carcass, or sold in the shambles; not as when it is quickened by the Spirit” (Tractate 27.5 on the Gospel of John); or, again, “they fancied that, in saying this, Jesus meant that they would be able to cook Him, after being cut up like a lamb, and eat Him” (Tractate 11.5). But the truth is that He is consumed “whole” in the sacrament (Tractate 27.3 on the Gospel of John). When Augustine says that the words of John 6 are “enjoining that we should have a share in the sufferings of our Lord, and that we should retain a sweet and profitable memory of the fact that His flesh was wounded and crucified for us,” he is referring to the grace that is represented and bestowed by the sacrament and that should be lived out in our lives. For “the sacrament is one thing, the virtue of the sacrament another” (Tractate 26.11).

    Similarly, when Augustine exhorts us to “Believe, and thou hast eaten already” (And the other citations from Tractate 26.1 and 26.18), he again is referring to the moral life and spiritual virtue that conforms to what is being represented by the sacrament. This exhortation, it is important to keep in mind, is being given to Christians who are already partaking of the sacrament of His Body. Augustine is exhorting them to be what they eat. But for the one who simply believes without partaking of the sacrament, this person has not eaten either because he has not participated in the sacrament. To help illustrate this point, consider these words:

    “Give good heed, my beloved, and understand. If we say to a catechumen, ‘Do you believe on Christ,’ he answers, ‘I believe,’ and signs himself; already he bears the cross of Christ on his forehead, and is not ashamed of the cross of his Lord. Behold, he has believed in His name. Let us ask him, ‘Do you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink the blood of the Son of man?’ He knows not what we say, because Jesus has not trusted Himself to him” (Tractate 11.3).

    I am wary of those who say that “Augustine was all over the map.” I’ve heard this before, but I have not been convinced of it. I think that there are two potential sources for this conclusion: (1) the person has not read enough of Augustine’s writings, first-hand, in order to gain the necessary background knowledge for Augustine’s individual assertions/statements; and, (2) the person is reading the opposing viewpoints of those who have read Augustine, and is taking these viewpoints as equally representative of Augustine’s actual thought when in fact they are not. I think that it is rather the case that I should believe that I have not grasped Augustine’s meaning than to think that Augustine was a sloppy thinker, which is what “all over the map” suggests to me. I am not saying that you were making this claim. I am answering your Catholic friend. :)

    Point 4 of comment 81. Hmmm… Jesus invites us to participation in the sacraments that He has given to His Church for the sake of our salvation. He says that we must partake of His flesh and blood and he has made this participation available to us in the Eucharist. He is also all powerful and is never at a loss for bringing about the salvation of any individual. Jesus says to all of us, Repent and believe the good news! :)

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  85. John Harutunian said,

    January 3, 2013 at 12:21 am

    Greetings, Pete!

    Re: your blog #82, I forgot to mention that I, also, have bought ‘History of the Catholic Church” by James Hitchcock. Despite some ongoing differences, I, also, find it well-organized, eminently readable and enjoyable. Indeed, there’s one sentence on p. 24 (bottom) which is worth the price of the whole book:

    “Christ conferred freedom, but it is a paradoxical freedom -not self-will but the conquest of self-will, which is the very instrument of bondage.”

    A profound insight.

    Peace in Our Lord.

  86. Bob S said,

    January 4, 2013 at 8:58 pm

    85 “Christ conferred freedom, but it is a paradoxical freedom -not self-will but the conquest of self-will, which is the very instrument of bondage.”

    Self will. Isn’t that kind of like over at JJS’s site where last time I looked he still willfully refuses to look at the reformed alternatives to his interpretive paradigm for the rich young ruler and Rom. 2/obedience to the law for salvation?

    While it’s one thing to disagree, it’s entirely another when you can’t even admit there are alternative solutions/paradigms, much more even go through the motions of refuting them. But of course that’s must be a mean spirited and uncharitable protestant paradigm uncontrollably kicking in to ruin the ecumenical tea party.

    As to whether we have at this late date received a succinct – mark that – biblical explanation for purgatory, praying to Mary, the mass/transubstantiation … forget we said anything. There are more than just trolls from Mordor on the internet that need no excuse to spam the combox and sing paeans of praise to their glorious leader.

    While they certainly say many good and true things about the real head of the church, they also go on to say the same exact things about the church and the pope . . . which gives one good cause to question whether they even know what the genuine catholic faith is to begin with.
    But we is repeating ourself/provoking others to take both offence and the offense at our remarks.
    Not good.

  87. Pete Holter said,

    January 5, 2013 at 11:33 am

    I forgot to mention that I, also, have bought ‘History of the Catholic Church” by James Hitchcock.

    Oh, that’s great! Yes, I love to see his faith coming through in his writing. Like on page 31:

    “Christianity proclaimed a radical idea of equality but in an essentially negative way—all men are equal in sin and in need of redemption; none can be saved by their own merits…”

    I have to quibble about a few things he says in connection with Augustine. Heh, heh.

    Page 68:

    “The power of baptism to remit sins was so great that rigorists held that sins committed after baptism were possibly unforgiveable, and this motivated some people—Constantine but also future saints such as Basil, Gregory Nazianzen, Ambrose, Augustine, and Chrysostom—to delay receiving it.”

    This makes it sound like Augustine himself chose to delay his own baptism. But it was more Monika than Augustine who caused his delay of baptism. For he says of himself that when he fell sick as a youth, “I solicited from the piety of my mother, and of Your Church, the mother of us all, the baptism of Your Christ, my Lord and my God”; but he says that she prevented him from pursuing this upon his recovery because, as he tells us, his future wickedness was “foreseen by my mother” (Confessions, Chs. 11.17-18). Maybe Hitchcock has something else that Augustine said in mind.

    Page 92:

    “Augustine thought God predestined only a finite number of souls to Heaven, accommodating His grace to each individual in accordance with His foreknowledge of how each will respond to the gift…”

    This sounds a little misleading to me. Augustine didn’t hold that God’s grace is given to a man on the basis of His foreknowledge of the response of that man to His grace; rather, God’s foreknowledge is of the grace itself by which the man responds. Augustine defines predestination as “the foreknowledge and the preparation of God’s kindnesses, whereby they are most certainly delivered, whoever they are that are delivered” (On the Gift of Perseverance, Ch. 14.35). The kindnesses themselves—not our response to them—are what God foreknows and prepares in His predestination. Maybe I’ve misunderstood what Hitchcock was trying to say.

    Page 94:

    “Pelagianism was again condemned at the Council of Orange (529), which affirmed that death and sin are inherited from Adam and that divine grace is necessary for any good human choice. But despite Augustine’s enormous prestige, the Council stopped short of fully embracing his own statement of the question, and it condemned the doctrine of predestination.”

    But what the council actually condemned was “that any are foreordained to evil by the power of God.” Both qualifications in Orange—i.e., “to evil” and “by the power of God”—are necessary to carefully relay what was being said at this Council. Trent likewise condemned the belief that the non-elect who are called but ultimately not saved are “predestined unto evil… by the divine power.” Although Augustine asserts a doctrine of predestination to hell, he would have no qualms about agreeing to these statements from Orange and Trent. And I don’t think that these councils differed from Augustine in anything that he held to be crucial. Hitchcock definitely needs to add more to what he has said here.

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  88. Pete Holter said,

    January 5, 2013 at 11:35 am

    The Confessions reference is to Book 1. Sorry, I forgot that.

  89. John Harutunian said,

    January 6, 2013 at 8:54 pm

    Hello again, Pete!

    > Although Augustine asserts a doctrine of predestination to hell

    This is one scary thought. (It certainly was so to poor William Cowper.) It sounds more like Calvin to me. Can you elaborate?

    >The kindnesses themselves—not our response to them—are what God foreknows and prepares in His predestination. Maybe I’ve
    misunderstood what Hitchcock was trying to say.

    And maybe I’m misunderstanding _you_! What God _predestines_ is a person, isn’t it? Wouldn’t it be better just to say that God _plans_ His acts of kindness?

    Thanks!

  90. Pete Holter said,

    January 9, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    Hi Brother John!

    I think that a link I was including has been causing this comment to get trapped. This is my third attempt, this time with the link removed…

    I hope you’ve been working on that Moonlight Sonata recording! Ha, ha. I am like Quodvultdeus pestering Augustine to write his work On Heresies: “I knock late, but I suffer hunger, and I assure you I will not cease knocking until you grant to my unwearied persistence what no merit of mine can claim as a prerogative” (Letter 223 in Augustine’s collection).

    I’ve collected some of what Augustine had to say about predestination to hell here: (do a Google search for “The predestination of the reprobate to hell is certainly held by Augustine”). I hope that this summary accurately portrays Augustine’s thought.

    And here are a couple of additional statements from him regarding this same topic:

    “How then is it said, in the passage which he has quoted and left unsolved, ‘There is none that does good, no, not one,’ unless that the Psalmist there censures some one nation, among whom there was not a man that did good, wishing to remain children of men, and not sons of God, by whose grace man becomes good, in order to do good? For we must suppose the Psalmist here to mean that good which he describes in the context, saying, ‘God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God.’ Such good then as this, seeking after God, there was not a man found who pursued it, no, not one; but this was in that class of men which is predestinated to destruction. It was upon such that God looked down in His foreknowledge, and passed sentence” (On Man’s Perfection in Righteousness, Ch. 13.31).

    “How much better, then, is it, that I should not separately dispute and affirm about the soul, what I am ignorant of; but simply hold what I see the apostle has most plainly taught us: That owing to one man all pass into condemnation who are born of Adam unless they are born again in Christ, even as He has appointed them to be regenerated, before they die in the body, whom He predestinated to everlasting life, as the most merciful bestower of grace; while to those whom He has predestinated to eternal death, He is also the most righteous awarder of punishment not only on account of the sins which they add in the indulgence of their own will, but also because of their original sin, even if, as in the case of infants, they add nothing thereto. Now this is my definite view on that question, so that the hidden things of God may keep their secret, without impairing my own faith” (On the soul and Its Origin, Bk. 4, Ch. 11.16).

    But, again, it is always important to bear in mind that God in no way causes us to commit moral evil, and that our being predestined to hell finds its causative force always and only in our free choice to sin…

    “Our sins which He heals we must undoubtedly attribute not to God’s operation, but to the wilfulness of man, and submit them to His righteous punishment; as, however, we acknowledge that it was in our power that they should not be committed, so let us confess that it lies in His mercy rather than in our own power that they should be healed” (On Nature and Grace, Ch. 34.39).

    At any rate, that’s my understanding of Augustine’s thought.

    Of course, Augustine is on one side of the theological spectrum with regards to grace, free will, and predestination. So if this sounds a bit repugnant to you, please consider embracing a more tenderhearted flavor of Catholicism. :)

    Here are some thoughts from Pope Benedict that he shared this past weekend in one of his homilies. I love what he says about faith being “nothing less than being interiorly seized by God”:

    “[A bishop] must be gripped by God’s concern for men and women. He must in some way think and feel with God. Human beings have an innate restlessness for God, but this restlessness is a participation in God’s own restlessness for us. […] The restlessness of men for God and hence the restlessness of God for men must unsettle the Bishop. This is what we mean when we say that, above all else, the Bishop must be a man of faith. For faith is nothing less than being interiorly seized by God, something which guides us along the pathways of life. Faith draws us into a state of being seized by the restlessness of God and it makes us pilgrims who are on an inner journey towards the true King of the world and his promise of justice, truth and love. […] The Bishop, as a pilgrim of God, must be above all a man of prayer. He must be in constant inner contact with God; his soul must be open wide to God.”

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  91. John Harutunian said,

    January 11, 2013 at 5:14 pm

    Greetings, Pete!

    Regarding the “Moonlight Sonata” -I’d strongly recommend Rudolf Serkin’s CD of it. It’s a great interpretation, to which (I assure you!) I would have nothing to add.

    What Augustine says about predestination is indeed difficult for me to swallow. Maybe the critical point lies here:

    >Such good then as this, seeking after God, there was not a man found who pursued it, no, not one; but this was in that class of men which is predestinated to destruction.

    The question would be: What is the relationship of a)men not seeking after God to b)their predestination to destruction? Specifically, is “b” the cause of “a”?

    A great study, in my opinion, is “God’s Strategy in Human History” by Paul Marston and Roger Forster. One of its conclusions is that on the subject of predestination, early Augustine maintains a continuity with the Church Fathers -while late Augustine is innovative.

    I’m not a Bible scholar. But I can point out that the book received a jacket blurb as being “sound, biblically and exegetically” from the late Harold Ockenga, Ockenga was one of the major figures of 20th-century Evangelicalism.

    Blessings in Christ.

  92. Pete Holter said,

    January 13, 2013 at 11:36 pm

    Thanks for the book recommendation. No preview on Google Books so I took a look at John Piper’s critique. There is one statement that he quotes from the authors…

    ‘This is not to say that he wills evil himself, or even that he willingly allows it, but such is his greatness that he can use it for good’ (93.3).

    Without knowing all that they have to say on this point, I’m afraid to say too much; but I do not see any other way for me to take this than as necessarily implying that the authors think that God unwillingly allows evil.

    This is not possible. I can only repeat with Augustine that “of course His permission is not unwilling, but willing” (Enchiridion, Ch. 100).

    Piper also mentions that they quote John Chrysostom’s semi-Pelagianistic notion—expressed in Homily 12 on Hebrews—that God waits for us to make the first move, and that only then does God move (Chrysostom expresses the same notion in, for example, Homilies 16, 23, and 45 on Matthew). Chrysostom has written some beautiful things about the grace of God, but, for Catholics, this particular notion of his was definitively condemned at the Council of Orange. God’s grace precedes our will.

    On the other hand, Catholics do not speak of irresistible grace as does Piper. Rather, we may speak of infallible grace (resistible, but never actually resisted). Pope Benedict shares a balanced reflection on the relationship between grace and freewill in his recent book that you might appreciate. In it, I think that he offers the best of what Piper has said in his critique, and of what the others seem to be saying in their book. The discussion centers around the different translations of Luke 2:14, “…and on earth peace among men [of good will] / [with whom he is well pleased]”…

    “The man ‘with whom he is pleased’ is Jesus. And the reason for this is that Jesus lives completely oriented toward the Father, focused upon him and in communion of will with him. So men ‘with whom he is pleased’ are those who share the attitude of the Son—those who are conformed to Christ…

    “Behind the differences in translation, what is ultimately at stake here is the relationship between God’s grace and human freedom. Two extreme positions are possible: firstly, the idea of the absolutely exclusive action of God, in which everything depends on his predestination. At the other extreme, there is a moralizing position, according to which everything is ultimately decided through the good will of the human person. The older translation—men ‘of good will’—could be misconstrued in this direction. The new translation can be misinterpreted in the opposite direction, as if everything depended uniquely on God’s predestination.

    “The overall testimony of sacred Scripture demonstrates beyond doubt that neither of the two extreme positions is correct. Grace and freedom are thoroughly interwoven, and we cannot unravel their interrelatedness into clear formulae. It remains true that we could not love if we were not first loved by God. God’s grace always precedes us, embraces us and carries us. But it also remains true that man is called to love in return, he does not remain an unwilling tool of God’s omnipotence: he can love in return or he can refuse God’s love. It seems to me that the literal translation—‘of good pleasure’ (or ‘of his good pleasure’)—captures this mystery most fully, without resolving it one-sidedly” (pp. 75-76).

    Please swing by my house with this book and your piano if you’re ever in the area. I’d like to see what they say about Augustine while I listen to some tunes. :)

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  93. Pete Holter said,

    January 13, 2013 at 11:47 pm

    Ron wrote,

    “For the record, all Protestants believe that Scripture interprets Scripture.

    We had an Augustinian priest celebrate Mass today and he said that to understand the Scriptures you need to know the whole of the Scriptures, because Scripture interprets Scripture. I thought I should pass this on.

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  94. John Harutunian said,

    January 14, 2013 at 2:29 am

    Peter,

    I find both Benedict’s quote and your paragraph which precedes it pretty convincing!

    I’ve recently discovered that I have an extra copy of “God’s Strategy in Human History”. If you’d like to send me your email address (at johnharutu@verizon.net) I’ll be happy to send it to you gratis.

    Peace.

    P.S. Thought I’d mention that although I’m an Anglican, my home church is Congregational. It’s Park Street Church in Boston, where the aforementioned Harold Ockenga spent 33 years as pastor. The preaching there is unparalleled. But: my efforts to persuade them that there really should be a prayer of consecration in connection with the Eucharist have been unavailing. I’d be interested to know if there’s a Catholic consensus on this: When I received Communion under such circumstances, am I truly receiving Christ’s body?

  95. John Harutunian said,

    January 14, 2013 at 2:32 am

    Pete: what I meant of course is if you’d like to send your _home_ address to me at johnharutu@verizon.net, I’ll mail the book to you gratis.

  96. Jason Loh said,

    January 16, 2013 at 6:47 am

    Yes, the late Augustine could be regarded as an innovator. But he didn’t see himself as such. Augustine saw himself as a faithful expounder of St Paul. This is not doctrinal development ala Newman but reformation of the church’s public theology according to the Gospel in Word and Sacraments in a life-and-death struggle with heresies.

    For example, Baptism provided Augustine with the argument against Pelagius’s denial of Original Sin, and by extension the argument for sacramental efficacy corresponding to operative grace. Original Sin also became a basis for understanding Romans 9 as teaching predestination ante merita praevisa (before foreseen merits).

  97. Jason Loh said,

    January 16, 2013 at 7:01 am

    “Grace and freedom are thoroughly interwoven, and we cannot unravel their interrelatedness into clear formulae.”

    Yes, *but* true human freedom (i.e. of the Christian) is freedom TO BE; not freedom to do/ act. Ironically, irony of all ironies, by emphasising DO-ING, Roman theology succumbs to the very accusation of “extrincism” it likes to level at Protestantism. Indeed, do-ing presupposes and implies *distance*, *space*

    That is, the Christian does not relate to God on the basis of the free-will (works) but faith (person) – “personal” union – between the Divine Person and the human person.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 351 other followers

%d bloggers like this: