Your Own Private Interpretation

A common criticism of Protestants from Roman Catholics is that any interpretation of Scripture we put forward that differs from Rome’s interpretation is “your own private interpretation.” The picture that comes to mind in most of these cases is, on the one hand, the weight of the entirety of church history on the side of the RC apologist, whereas the Protestant has only himself. This is really not that accurate of a picture. In my own case, for instance, I have only come up with one interpretation of a single verse that I have never seen before in the history of interpretation. I am not an original thinker when it comes to exegesis. I depend greatly on what other, smarter people have said on the passage before I came along. Calvin, as another example, was able to quote vast swaths of the early church fathers from memory. Calvin never claimed to be re-inventing the wheel. So, the real state of affairs here is not that the Protestant is all by himself, and the Tradition of the RCC is opposed. Many Protestants have written extensively on how the early church fathers had many different interpretations of doctrines, some of which are what Protestants believe today.

Now, a Roman Catholic would probably claim that, during the time of the ECF’s, very few doctrines had been established, and the multiplicity of views was therefore not a problem. Views that were not culpably blameworthy for holding in the time of the ECF would be blameworthy later on. I actually agree with that, to a certain extent, and other Protestants would, too. But the point I am making here is that many Protestants are not operating, in fact, on “their own private interpretation.” In fact, their views have antecedents all throughout church history. The question of whether the Roman Catholic Tradition is correct is a subject for another post.

I do want to ask formally this question: if the RCC has a monopoly on the interpretation of the Bible, how come they have not come out with an inerrant commentary on the Bible? They keep telling us that “our own private interpretations” are wrong when they run foul of the RCC. However, they don’t tell us what every verse in fact means. I would think this would be a rather high priority, seeing as how we are dealing with direct revelation from God. I want to know what God said to me in His Word. How can the Roman Catholic find that out? Would it not be vitally important that we have God’s Word all figured out by the church as to its meaning? If a RC apologist responds by saying that it is all interpreted in the Tradition, I would say that they are operating with a definition of Tradition that doesn’t really work. Tradition is basically what the current RCC teaches. Besides, very few verses have ever been definitely interpreted by the RCC as to their meaning. Where is the definitive interpretation of the Bible? In the Protestant tradition, we really don’t have to worry about that. We have and can learn from all the writers of the past, while not having to agree with any one or group of them, unless, say, we take a vow upholding a particular confessional standard.

One last point: to those RC apologists who have asked me about my authority, I would ask the question back: how can they speak for their Tradition? What gives them the authority to speak about what the RCC teaches? Every RC apologist seems to give off this air that the entirety of the RCC is behind them every single time they speak. I question that. According to the official RC teaching, only the Pope can do that. So, the authority of the RC apologist is quite a bit less than he usually (unconsciously!) arrogates to himself.

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266 Comments

  1. MarkS said,

    January 26, 2013 at 7:32 pm

    Lane,
    Regarding these statements:

    I am not an original thinker when it comes to exegesis. I depend greatly on what other, smarter people have said on the passage before I came along.

    and

    But the point I am making here is that many Protestants are not operating, in fact, on “their own private interpretation.” In fact, their views have antecedents all throughout church history.

    I respect the ECF’s and the great theologians from various times in history. I can recount many interpretations of mine that have changed due to studying the works of these people. Yet, I’m also forced to admit that there are interpretations I have that accord with the teachings of some of these figures, but not others. When I consider the reason for my choosing, it comes down to what I think the text is saying or which interpretation I think is more likely. In other words, I make the final interpretive judgment about which figure I think is right or more likely to be right. I try to be humble about my choosing, but I still have to choose and act accordingly. To me, this seems to be relying ultimately on my private interpretation. This is a reliance which I have come to see as problematic.
    In other words, no matter how much respect I pay to major figures from the past, or how much I have learned from them, in the end I am deciding who’s right and wrong, which is the essence of being one’s own intepretive authority.
    Can you explain how you avoid being your own interpretive authority in this sense? Or, if you believe you are your own authority in this sense, why this is not problematic?
    Thanks,
    Mark

  2. Brad B said,

    January 26, 2013 at 7:57 pm

    Ok, I want to challenge the premise in the first place. How can I be charged with “my own private interpretation” if the logic is sound? If logic demands a certain meaning/interpretation, it is not my interpretation, it is the meaning of the text, due to the law of non contradiction etc… This is not meant to be speaking to an accuracy issue per se, but many of the doctrines I see logically derived, are not doctrines I would have ever called my own, but was compelled to believe by force of logic–they were never my interpretation. Fine, go ahead and charge me with being a bad logician, but please show it to be so.

  3. Andrew McCallum said,

    January 26, 2013 at 11:10 pm

    Can you explain how you avoid being your own interpretive authority in this sense?

    Mark S,

    I hope it’s OK for me to jump in here. Let me take a real example of what you are describing. Let’s say I do an assessment of what Ignatius and Cyprian thought about the authority of the Church. I definitely have opinions on where they were correct and where they were wrong. But I seriously doubt that any of my conclusions are substantially different than most any Reformed theologian since the early 16th century. So is it just my opinion or is it the collective wisdom of the Reformed family of Churches that is reflected in my opinion?

    I have lots of beliefs on doctrinal, historical, and practical matters, but I think for the most part I am well within a tradition that extends back quite some time. So if my assessment of the positions of various theologians of the Church parallels what the Reformed churches have assessed for these several hundred years, in what sense am I making a purely personal judgement on the teachings of a given theologian from the history of the Church?

    Now let’s say our Catholic friends do a similar assessment of Ignatius and Cyprian. They also have opinions on the writings of these ECF’s and will also render judgment on where they were right and where they were wrong. And if they are conservative Catholics, like some of those who come to comment here, they will almost certainly be making judgments that are in line with current RCC tradition. So what is the difference between what I am doing and what they are doing?

  4. January 27, 2013 at 12:01 am

    Lane,

    One thing that’s important to remember is that the Catholic’s claim is not that no one can understand something like “Jesus went to Bethany” without some infallible Magisterium explaining it to us (because otherwise it’s just so hard). Rather, the claim is that without the Church’s interpretation of Scripture being protected from error under certain conditions, the result of even great exegesis is still mere fallible human opinion. And mere fallible human opinion cannot compel the assent of faith.

    That’s not to say that we should not reason together exegetically from Scripture. But at the end of the day, not even the things a Protestant insists are tests of orthodoxy (like the Trinity) rise above the level of opinion, because according to Protestantism no interpretation of the biblical data is ever infallible.

  5. Ryan said,

    January 27, 2013 at 12:34 am

    Jason,

    “…the claim is that without the Church’s interpretation of Scripture being protected from error under certain conditions, the result of even great exegesis is still mere fallible human opinion. And mere fallible human opinion cannot compel the assent of faith.”

    Do you not ask me to consent to your allegedly infallible Magisterium on the grounds of your “mere fallible human opinion” of what it says about itself?

    In any case, I find it strange that a RC would talk about “compelling” assent of faith, as if that were even a possibility [let alone an objective] on Reformed grounds.

  6. Bryan Cross said,

    January 27, 2013 at 12:42 am

    Lane,

    I agree with what Jason said just above. I’ll respond to a couple things you said in your post.

    So, the real state of affairs here is not that the Protestant is all by himself, and the Tradition of the RCC is opposed. Many Protestants have written extensively on how the early church fathers had many different interpretations of doctrines, some of which are what Protestants believe today. … But the point I am making here is that many Protestants are not operating, in fact, on “their own private interpretation.”

    The term ‘private interpretation,’ or ‘private judgment,’ in the discussion between Protestants and Catholics, does not mean that the person who holds a “private interpretation” is the only one holding that interpretation of Scripture. Many people might in fact hold the very same interpretation, and yet do so by private judgment. The term ‘private judgment’ or ‘private interpretation’ means that he holds this interpretation not by way of submission to the Church but on the basis of his own determination, no matter how well informed he might be, or how many other persons have held the same interpretation he holds.

    I do want to ask formally this question: if the RCC has a monopoly on the interpretation of the Bible, how come they have not come out with an inerrant commentary on the Bible? They keep telling us that “our own private interpretations” are wrong when they run foul of the RCC. However, they don’t tell us what every verse in fact means. I would think this would be a rather high priority, seeing as how we are dealing with direct revelation from God. I want to know what God said to me in His Word. How can the Roman Catholic find that out? Would it not be vitally important that we have God’s Word all figured out by the church as to its meaning?

    Your question [Why isn't there an inerrant commentary telling us what each verse means?] reflects what would be expected, from the Protestant point of view. But from the Catholic point of view we don’t get to make the Church teach us as we might want to be taught. Instead, we humbly accept holy Mother Church’s way of teaching us, and seek to learn why, in her wisdom, she teaches us in the way she does.

    If a RC apologist responds by saying that it is all interpreted in the Tradition, I would say that they are operating with a definition of Tradition that doesn’t really work. Tradition is basically what the current RCC teaches.

    Where is the argument demonstrating that the Catholic definition of ‘Tradition’ doesn’t “work”? Claiming that Tradition is what the current RCC teaches does not show that the definition of ‘Tradition’ doesn’t work; it doesn’t rule out the possibility that the reason why Tradition is what the Church currently teaches is precisely because the Church has faithfully preserved the Tradition.

    Besides, very few verses have ever been definitely interpreted by the RCC as to their meaning. Where is the definitive interpretation of the Bible?

    Like I said above, the Church doesn’t work that way. To ask for “the definitive interpretation of the Bible” is to misunderstand how the Magisterial teaching authority works. It provides (negatively) doctrinal boundaries within which to interpret Scripture, and it provides truths (i.e. articles of faith), definitions and a general theological framework in which and by which we understand Scripture. But it does not provide a definitive interpretation of every verse.

    One last point: to those RC apologists who have asked me about my authority, I would ask the question back: how can they speak for their Tradition? What gives them the authority to speak about what the RCC teaches?

    The magisterium, of course. See Apostolicam Actuositatem regarding the vocation of the laity, under the authority of the magisterium.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  7. Ryan said,

    January 27, 2013 at 12:48 am

    Bryan,

    “Like I said above, the Church doesn’t work that way.”

    Is such because it can’t work that way, or is such because it simply has chosen not to work that way?

  8. michael said,

    January 27, 2013 at 12:58 am

    Bryan : (“…. To ask for “the definitive interpretation of the Bible” is to misunderstand how the Magisterial teaching authority works.”).

    Bryan, I get a sense you are just plain delusional! You honestly believe Lane doesn’t understand how the Magisterial teaching authority works?

    I get a sense reading your comments you are in love with your brilliance of knowledge than understanding the Truth of the Grace of God!

    Just something to consider?

  9. Dennis said,

    January 27, 2013 at 1:21 am

    Lane,

    IMO, all interpretation, Catholic or otherwise is private interpretation. A Catholic layperson cannot speak for the Church as we are not in a teaching authority. We can witness but cannot teach. If we read scripture, we read it and discuss from our own personal and private interpretation.

    What we can do is read Scripture and say if it is in line or conflicts with Church teaching and/or Tradition. If our understanding of Scripture conflicts with Tradition, then we must be reading it incorrectly as the Tradition was here before the Scripture was written.

    That being said, it’s still our opinion in reading Scripture and understanding Tradition…unless we are priests. As you rightly point out, we don’t have authority to speak for the Church just as a Presbyterian layperson really can’t speak for the PCA.

  10. Rooney said,

    January 27, 2013 at 7:30 am

    Dennis said [#9]: “If our understanding of Scripture conflicts with Tradition, then we must be reading it incorrectly as the Tradition was here before the Scripture was written”

    So ALL Traditions of the RCC are older than scripture?

  11. Rooney said,

    January 27, 2013 at 8:31 am

    Do we actually know what is this Tradition? What does it contain/not contain?

    If we dont know all Traditions, then I guess we can never interpret scripture within all Traditions, but only a certain number of Traditions, limited by what we know to be Traditions.

    If we are only able to interpret scripture within some (but not all) Traditions, since we dont know all Traditions, then the interpretation of scripture within the Church’s Traditions is itself a Tradition that cannot be followed/achieved and thus influenced by personal opinion.

    In fact, is the Tradition/tradition of “interpreting scriptures within Traditions” even infallible?

    So does it mean that we interpret scripture within ALL the RCC’s Traditions or PART of the RCC’s Traditions?
    If we cannot know all Traditions, does the Magisterium know? How do we know if the Magisterium knows? If I became Pope tomorrow night, will I know?

    JP2 and Benedict 16th in some of their books certainly didnt seem to interpret scripture within Traditions and neither did Vatican II, especially regarding the salvation of non-Christians.

    BTW, if we interpret scripture within the RCC Traditions, isnt that almost eisegesis? How do we know if the original Traditions themselves were not the result eisegesis? How do we test them?

  12. MarkS said,

    January 27, 2013 at 10:20 am

    Andrew (re #3),

    So if my assessment of the positions of various theologians of the Church parallels what the Reformed churches have assessed for these several hundred years, in what sense am I making a purely personal judgement on the teachings of a given theologian from the history of the Church?

    This is where I have been myself. And I don’t think it has to be “purely” personal judgment in order to be problematic. Because in the end we have to ask ourselves why we ascribe to the Reformed tradition instead of the Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, Arminian, EO, etc. In my case, I have to say it’s because I think the tradition I’m in makes the most sense from how I read Scripture. If you have a fundamentally different reason for yourself, I would love to hear it because I can’t come up with another possibility besides someone saying they are in their tradition by default from having been raised in it.

    What is different about this from what the Catholics do? I guess from what I’ve read on this blog and CTC over the years (and from what Bryan says above) at the end of the day after all their study, they say they refuse to interpret Scripture in a way that contradicts the Magisterium.

    Now, we might say that it is their private interpretation that they are supposed to submit to this thing they call a magisterium. But, then aren’t we saying that ultimately there is no such thing as submitting to another interpretive authority? Isn’t that a problem? The Bible says submit to your elders and we would be saying, “Sorry, that’s not possible.” Or are we claiming the Bible teaches us to submit to our fallible elders unless we interpret that they are teaching serious things contrary to Scripture?

    I think it’s important to limit the examination of this issue to those who have concluded that Jesus is Lord and not a liar or a lunatic. The next question is, how do we know what our Lord wants us to believe and asks us to do? We know that really smart people with marks of grace in their lives often reach contradictory conclusions. Are we really willing to say that at the end of the day the only interpretive authority we can truly submit to is ourselves? If you say no, then again I ask, why are you in the tradition you are in and not in another?

    thanks,
    Mark

  13. January 27, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    “if the RCC has a monopoly on the interpretation of the Bible, how come they have not come out with an inerrant commentary on the Bible?”

    This is a fundamental problem in the RC apologetic. The answer is there isn’t one. One cannot help but see this as a very powerful position for Rome to take. It is able then to dictate at will what is authoritative without the inconvenience of any outside authority (like what it already supposedly said). Bryan’s answer that we don’t get to decide how the church would teach us is in fact a teaching of the church. IOW, it begs the question.

  14. January 27, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    If such a BIble were to be published next year, would you all become Catholic? My guess is that the answer is “No,” which makes the question seem like a less-than-serious one. Could we not ask a similar question of Jesus? If he is real, why not appear in the clouds immediately and proclaim himself in terms that would refute all people in non-Christian religions? Or, during his earthly ministry why did he not capitulate to every miraculous demand upon him on the part of the unbelieving Pharisees?

    It seems to me that the Protestant answer would (rightly) be that God just doesn’t always work that way, but instead creates contexts for his children that require us to exercise a measure of faith. If the Father guided the Son in such a way as to require restraint, why can’t the Son guide the Church in a similar way?

  15. Andrew McCallum said,

    January 27, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    We know that really smart people with marks of grace in their lives often reach contradictory conclusions. Are we really willing to say that at the end of the day the only interpretive authority we can truly submit to is ourselves?

    Mark S (re: 12),

    I think there is some subjectivity no matter what conclusion we come to concerning which church we join. Even the conservative Catholics admit to that. You have to decide what church today is most in line with what we know of the Church that Christ founded. Some of the conservative Catholics attempt to remove some of the subjectivity associated with making such a decision, but in the end the choice we make as to which communion of believers to join involves personal judgment. We need to look at EO, Catholic, Reformed, etc teachings and try to determine what most closely conforms to what we see taught by the Church that the Apostles formed. Many of the debates between Catholic, EO, and Protestant occur just over the matter of how we ought to go about making such an assessment. The Catholic folks who try to short circuit the process by making Apostolic succession the sole effective criteria are just giving us one more human opinion to grapple with.

    So do you see some sort of way of getting around such a subjective evaluation? I sure can’t.

  16. michael said,

    January 27, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    Andrew M writes: “( You have to decide what church today is most in line with what we know of the Church that Christ founded. “).

    I say that is very dangerous ground you are standing on if that in fact is the method by which you were joined to the Church Christ is still in the business building adding daily those that our Heavenly Father has given Him to save?

    Saving Faith, the gift, comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.

    This is Salvation reality not a Church tradition!

    I commend you to these verses from Acts:

    So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. (Acts 2:41 ESV)

    and

    …praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2:47 ESV)

    You may by your own efforts “joined yourself” to a group and not be in the Will of God!

    That frightens me to consider what you wrote that I cited above if that is the way you came into the Church, the living active vital Being of The Lord! That frightens me to consider that for anyone who claims to be a member of His Faith!

  17. Andrew McCallum said,

    January 27, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    Jason (re: 4),

    And mere fallible human opinion cannot compel the assent of faith.

    Jason,

    If you will, let me bring your epistemological theory down to a practical level. All throughout the world today there are folks who formerly knew nothing of the gospel, but via the instrumentality of the preached and spoken Word are being convicted of sin and persuaded as to the truths of the Christian faith, as such faith is laid out in Scripture. But their assent of faith comes without any attempt to ground the explanations of the preacher in the dogmas of an infallible church. The assent of faith comes from conviction by the Holy Spirit operating through the Word. So where is the problem? Are these newly formed believers deceived?

    But of course there are always folks who hear the gospel and reject it. They see it as just the opinion of man. So would it help if the preacher was able to tell such a person that his words are not just human opinion but are the words of an infallible Magisterium? I think that most likely the listener would still reject the message of the preacher since the claim that the message is in line with an infallible Magisterium is just another human opinion. In what sense is the Roman Catholic claim that her words (at least those that are pronounced with de fide authority) not just another opinion for the listener of the Roman Catholic gospel to grapple with?

    The Reformed are not attempting to compel the assent of faith by grounding the veracity of the message in any human authority. Such an attempt has much more in common with a Pelagian gospel than it does with a biblical one.

  18. Andrew McCallum said,

    January 27, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    You may by your own efforts “joined yourself” to a group and not be in the Will of God!

    As might you, Michael! I’m sure you are convinced you have not, but then we all have to make such a decision for ourselves. Even the folks at CTC admit that there is some subjectivity to making such a decision. And I agree with them here. There is no escaping such subjectivity. We all have to determine which communion today is most in line with the teachings of the Church the Apostles founded.

  19. michael said,

    January 27, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    Andrew I don’t want to start an argument here but I don’t for minute agree with your last post.

    Let’s just look at the sanctification work Jesus prays about His Bride to the Father He will be joining soon thereafter He asks Him to do?

    And then there is Peter’s word at 1 Peter 1:1-2?

    Finally what was it the Apostle Paul meant when he exhorted the elders and leaders of that newly functioning Church body at Acts 20:32 that builds up and brings one into that divinely promised inheritance?

    There is an ever present work of the Holy Spirit right now actively working in the midst of True Bodies of Believers all around the world that one’s spirit bears witness to as well as mostly the present ruling pastors and teaching elders witness to about your place in the Body that The Lord “sovereignty added” you and your family to unless you were born into a family so added in years gone by? If that’s the case that present Body’s work is to raise you up in the learning and admonition of The Lord.

    I honestly believe people don’t and won’t be able to come into the deeper waters of the work of the Spirit if they decided them self instead of The Lord guiding them and conjoining them to that local work and ministry.

  20. Dennis said,

    January 27, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    Rooney,

    Scripture is part of Tradition. Scripture springs forth from Tradition. So Scripture cannot contradict Tradition.

    Tradition came from the teachings of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ taught the Apostles and they handed down their teachings…some of it was recorded in Scripture.

    An example that we both likely can agree on is the sanctity of life is a Capital ‘T’ Tradition. Christ taught that all life is sacred. So, if a person uses the Bible to justify abortion–which happens–I know they are wrong as sanctity of life is something that Christ taught to the Apostles.

    If you want to know what the Tradition is, the best way to find out is to follow Lane in studying Catholicism. Read it from Catholic writers (and Protestant criticisms) and understand it from a Catholic mindset. Read the Catechism. Start at paragraph 1 and work your way through it. The Tradition can be fully found in there.

  21. Bryan Cross said,

    January 27, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    Brad B, (re: #2)

    <blockquotOk, I want to challenge the premise in the first place. How can I be charged with “my own private interpretation” if the logic is sound? If logic demands a certain meaning/interpretation, it is not my interpretation, it is the meaning of the text, due to the law of non contradiction etc… This is not meant to be speaking to an accuracy issue per se, but many of the doctrines I see logically derived, are not doctrines I would have ever called my own, but was compelled to believe by force of logic–they were never my interpretation.

    In order to use logic to derive conclusions from propositions, you first have to know the meaning of the terms of the propositions, and know that the middle term has the same meaning in both propositions from which you are deriving a conclusion. The method by which you determine the meaning of the terms is already paradigm-relative, and hence already an act of interpretation, for reasons I explained in “The Tradition and the Lexicon.”

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  22. Bryan Cross said,

    January 27, 2013 at 5:12 pm

    Moderator, I’m sorry to trouble you. Would you please correct my blockquote in #21, and delete this comment? Thanks.

  23. Bryan Cross said,

    January 27, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    M. Jay Bennett, (re: #13)

    Bryan’s answer that we don’t get to decide how the church would teach us is in fact a teaching of the church. IOW, it begs the question.

    How, exactly, does my answer beg the question?

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  24. January 27, 2013 at 6:08 pm

    Andrew,

    If you will, let me bring your epistemological theory down to a practical level. All throughout the world today there are folks who formerly knew nothing of the gospel, but via the instrumentality of the preached and spoken Word are being convicted of sin and persuaded as to the truths of the Christian faith, as such faith is laid out in Scripture. But their assent of faith comes without any attempt to ground the explanations of the preacher in the dogmas of an infallible church. The assent of faith comes from conviction by the Holy Spirit operating through the Word. So where is the problem? Are these newly formed believers deceived?

    This is not only an argument against the need for an infallible church, but potentially one against the need for any church whatsoever. After all, if people can simply read the gospel in their Bibles or have it shared with them by a believer in the street, why ordain anyone to the ministry at all, whether fallible or infallible?

    But of course there are always folks who hear the gospel and reject it. They see it as just the opinion of man. So would it help if the preacher was able to tell such a person that his words are not just human opinion but are the words of an infallible Magisterium? I think that most likely the listener would still reject the message of the preacher since the claim that the message is in line with an infallible Magisterium is just another human opinion.

    And this may as well be an argument against the need for an infallible Messiah, since even though Jesus rooted his own authority in his divine mission, people still rejected him.

    So it seems to me that both of your points can be slightly modified and then leveled against you (the first by a churchless evangelical and the second by a theological liberal). What I think you need to establish is either that fallible exegesis results in something more authoritative than fallible human opinion, or that God does not desire us to achieve any kind of certainty beyond fallible human opinion.

  25. michael said,

    January 27, 2013 at 6:49 pm

    Jason I find your words (“…What I think you need to establish is either that fallible exegesis results in something more authoritative than fallible human opinion, or that God does not desire us to achieve any kind of certainty beyond fallible human opinion.”) rather ironic seeing have clearly established to a whole lot of people just how misguided and fallible an opinion you hold!

    Sorry if that wasn’t very gracious of me to make that comment?

  26. January 27, 2013 at 6:51 pm

    I don’t respond to handwaving, uncharitable assertions, Michael.

  27. Bob S said,

    January 27, 2013 at 6:53 pm

    24. What I think you need to establish is either that fallible exegesis results in something more authoritative than fallible human opinion, or that God does not desire us to achieve any kind of certainty beyond fallible human opinion.

    As in #4 above, we have the inevitable fallible human opinion to which we are supposed to respond by agreeing with its inevitable insinuated conclusion. Or if you will, our interlokuter contradicts himself and attempts to reason with us that ultimately we can not and ought not to reason with the Magisterium, but only submit unto it. Because blind fideism is the only way of true faithfulness to Christ, who is ahem, the Word of God become flesh. Not the lost apostolic oral traditions incarnate.

    This after previously confusing the being and well being of the church. As per the WCF 25:2 all who believe and their children are members of the church. Officers are given for the sake of that church 25:3, not the other way around.

    Likewise the perennial and endemic CtC failure to distinguish between the clarity of Scripture on salvation and the other things written which are hard to be understood WCF 1:9.

    Yet Scripture tells us, contra both Rome and Jason, Bryan et al, ‘You shall know the truth and it shall set you free. All who come to Jesus and believe in him have truly partaken of the bread of life and shall never die. Further his sheep know his voice and a stranger they will not follow’. Who should we believe? Or is the truth in Christ promised that we shall know only a fallible human opinion?

    To ask is to answer.

    The CtC cadre continues to want to operate like we can understand what they are saying up until we are told the infallible truth is that there is no infallible truth outside of Rome’s infallible truth.

    Yet if we can understand that infallible truth when we are outside of Rome, why do we have to join in the first place?

    IOW Rome is not necessary to knowing the truth as much as she hates to admit it and the pseudo sophisticated CtC apologetic contradicts its end.

    [Fine print hold harmless boilerplate legalese.
    No one has to read or respond to this comment. Nor will they and they know who they are. ]

  28. Ryan said,

    January 27, 2013 at 7:04 pm

    “I don’t respond to handwaving, uncharitable assertions, Michael.”

    Would you respond to my question in comment 5, Jason?

  29. January 27, 2013 at 7:06 pm

    In a bit. Gotta go watch the Lakers beat the Thunder first.

  30. Bryan Cross said,

    January 27, 2013 at 7:11 pm

    Andrew (re: #17)

    While Jason is watching the Lakers attempt to beat the Thunder, I’ll add to his response to your comment #17. Your question there seems to be the following: If mere fallible human opinion cannot compel the assent of faith, then how is it that Protestants have faith, without recourse to infallible magisterial teaching? I have discussed the answer to that question in “St. Thomas Aquinas on the Relation of Faith to the Church.” It is possible to treat a fallible human opinion about God’s revelation as though that fallible opinion were itself divinely authorized and divinely sanctioned, even when that fallible human opinion is neither divinely authorized nor divinely sanctioned. And it is possible to treat one’s own interpretive opinions in the same way. By this means it is possible to assent in faith to what are mere human opinions about God’s self-revelation, even when the formal content of those opinions also happens to be infallible dogmas taught by the Church (e.g. God is a Trinity), and even when [unbeknown to the person making the act of faith] the formal content of those opinions has been condemned by the Church (e.g. baptism is merely a symbol). However, when human opinion is grasped as mere human opinion, it cannot compel the assent of faith.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  31. michael said,

    January 27, 2013 at 7:22 pm

    Jason,: ( ” I don’t respond to handwaving, uncharitable assertions, Michael.” ) not to belabor the point but might I observe you just did however slight an interaction it was, in my humble opinion.

  32. Rooney said,

    January 27, 2013 at 7:31 pm

    Maybe this is an argument against a single infallible church. What if an undercover atheist (former anti-Catholic Fundamentalist KJV-Only Baptist who knows and hates all denominations, particularly the RCC) decides to join the RCC to weaken its apologetics.

    He rises thru the ranks to become Pope Atheistus and makes infallible interpretations and infallible pronouncements that greatly weaken RCC apologetics.
    Eg. He makes the following ex-cathedra statements:
    1. The infallible interpretation of Genesis is Theistic Evolution [CAF folks love this] or Evolution.
    2. Mary is co-redemptrix and this was believed by all faithful from the very beginning.
    3. Non-Christians can be saved.
    4. Vatican II in no way contradicts other councils in any manner at all.
    5. Protestantism and Orthodoxy are not heresy, but cannot be classified.

    Since this would weaken RCC apologetics, would an RC apologist actually rise up against Pope Atheistus? Will they accept his [infallible] interpretation and zealously defend it? Will they say: “Hey, Pope, that is only your own private interpretation”?

    For example, if the Pope uses scripture to infallibly declare that Peter was married and thus infallibly justify his own marriage to Mrs Atheistus, will the RCC apologist use Solo Traditio Romano/Vaticano to refute him? If that happens it shows Tradition and Scripture to be in conflict and one will triumph over the other.

    Now can this sort of stunt be pulled off by undercover atheists who join the EO or Evangelicalism or even Sedevacantism?

    How do we know if the last few popes (or even large sections of the Magisterium) were not undercover atheists/Fundamentalists? Some RCs actually do believe the last few Popes to be antipopes and some of their ecumenical activities really have given me no other option to believe.

  33. Don said,

    January 27, 2013 at 7:44 pm

    It is possible to treat a fallible human opinion about God’s revelation as though that fallible opinion were itself divinely authorized and divinely sanctioned, even when that fallible human opinion is neither divinely authorized nor divinely sanctioned.

    I wonder if Bryan in #30 realizes he has just described the RCC from the Protestant point of view?

  34. Bob S said,

    January 27, 2013 at 7:58 pm

    21In order to use logic to derive conclusions from propositions, you first have to know the meaning of the terms of the propositions, and know that the middle term has the same meaning in both propositions from which you are deriving a conclusion.The method by which you determine the meaning of the terms is already paradigm-relative, and hence already an act of interpretation, for reasons I explained in “The Tradition and the Lexicon.”

    Popish paradigm translation needed.
    Are we being told that only within Rome can one understand the rules of logic? Or use it properly? But this is not question begging or raw and arrogant fideism?
    Our reasonable faculties are appealed to or assumed only to explain, if not actually deny that we can understand what is being said? Unless we are romanists?
    But this is not a non sequitur/gibberish?

    Neither can there be a Scriptural paradigm that trumps the Roman paradigm.
    Why? Cause the Magisterium says so . . . . .

    30If mere fallible human opinion cannot compel the assent of faith, then how is it that Protestants have faith, without recourse to infallible magisterial teaching?

    Wrong question. Anyone by due use of the ordinary means has recourse to the infallible and perspicuous teaching of the magisterium of Scripture.

  35. January 27, 2013 at 9:19 pm

    Ryan,

    I wrote, “…the claim is that without the Church’s interpretation of Scripture being protected from error under certain conditions, the result of even great exegesis is still mere fallible human opinion. And mere fallible human opinion cannot compel the assent of faith.” You responded:

    Do you not ask me to consent to your allegedly infallible Magisterium on the grounds of your “mere fallible human opinion” of what it says about itself?

    My claim is exactly what it says, which had nothing to do with asking you to do anything. What I said was that unless the Church is protected from error under certain conditions, there is nothing left to consent to but human opinion. Think of it this way: Were the NT writers protected from error under certain conditions? Of course. If they were not, then what would the Bible be besides a merely human and fallible book? This does not seem all that controversial to me.

    In any case, I find it strange that a RC would talk about “compelling” assent of faith, as if that were even a possibility [let alone an objective] on Reformed grounds.

    What you find strange does not really interest me. I am trying to make a clarifying comment to Lane, which is why I entered this discussion. I have now reiterated my comment a couple times, so I am satisfied. Plus, the Lakers won so Suck. It. Oklahoma City.

  36. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 27, 2013 at 9:40 pm

    Jason: Rather, the claim is that without the Church’s interpretation of Scripture being protected from error under certain conditions, the result of even great exegesis is still mere fallible human opinion. And mere fallible human opinion cannot compel the assent of faith.

    Let’s state this formally:

    (1) “The Bible says X.”
    (2) The warrant for (1) is that the Church says (1)
    (3) The Church’s teaching is protected from error under the conditions necessary. Thus (2) is sufficient warrant.
    (4) The warrant for (3) is …

    (a) … fallible human opinions about history and the interpretation of “on this rock”, or
    (b) …faith that the RC Church is what it says it is.

    Option (a) gets you no greater certainty than before. It merely places all of your exegetical eggs into a single basket: Because I am certain that I’ve found the right church.

    Option (b) is fideism: I believe the Church because I believe the Church.

  37. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 27, 2013 at 9:56 pm

    MarkS (#12): But, then aren’t we saying that ultimately there is no such thing as submitting to another interpretive authority?

    Not in the way that RCs would have it. “Voluntarism” is actually impossible: To decide to believe X because the authority says so. The very act itself commits a logical fallacy.

    What an authority can do is to add weight. So for example, the fact that the RC and EO both claim that Mary was perpetually a virgin adds weight to the consideration that she might well have remained a virgin. That weight then has to be taken into account as we sift through the Biblical data.

    In the end, though, good and necessary consequence is what it is: Either Scripture teaches perpetual virginity by good and necessary consequence, or else it doesn’t.

    The teaching of the magisterium might alter our computation of the probability, but it can’t make a fallacious argument into a good one.

    So what does it mean to submit to an interpretive authority? It means that in matters of faith and conscience, the church has the right to make rulings, and these rulings are

    (a) to be received with reverence, meaning given due weight;
    (b) received with submission, meaning: conformity in outward behavior, agreement not to teach against, IF

    they are consonant to the word of God.

    Likewise, the interpretive authority has the corollary responsibility not to teach matters that are not good and necessary consequence from Scripture.

  38. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 27, 2013 at 10:03 pm

    Jason (#35): Think of it this way: Were the NT writers protected from error under certain conditions? Of course. If they were not, then what would the Bible be besides a merely human and fallible book? This does not seem all that controversial to me.

    The difference is that the NT writers were inspired because of the action of the Spirit of God (2 Pet 1), who moves where he wills.

    The Catholic claim, by contrast, is that the gift of infallibility inheres to an office within the Church.

    It is not controversial to suppose that God might speak to man. It is controversial to suppose that man might capture and channel God’s activity within a social construct, even a God-ordained one. The whole Catholic “sacramental” model is the problem here.

    The pushback is against the bronze serpent, not God.

  39. michael said,

    January 27, 2013 at 10:17 pm

    Jeff

    I thought certain you were going to give an opinion as to those certain conditions that protect the infallibility of the Scriptures? My bad.

    However seeing there can be a case made that those certain conditions were developed and approved during the inter testimonial period well before Alexander died and then discovered by the Jews that came to Alexandria to write the Septuagint as those Generals figured out what to do at passing? Seeing those certain protections needed an authority to be in place everyone had to wait until Rome came of age. Don’t you get it yet?

    Now of course that is as I said already just my unqualified opinion why?

  40. Don said,

    January 27, 2013 at 10:18 pm

    What [Jason J Stellman] said was that unless the Church is protected from error under certain conditions, there is nothing left to consent to but human opinion.

    Again we have a Catholic who clearly, but perhaps unwittingly, states the Protestant critique of the RCC.

    I’ve never heard of “the assent of faith” before, so upon googling it I’m unsure why it would be brought up in the present context (i.e., a Protestant blog) as if it were recognized as a good thing. Perhaps Jason can explain himself, now that he’s done rooting for a team that’s only six games under 500.

  41. Bryan Cross said,

    January 27, 2013 at 10:19 pm

    Jeff (re: #36)

    The choice between “fallible human opinion” and “fideism” is a false dilemma. The third possibility is discovering, by way of the motives of credibility, the divinely authorized hierarchy Christ established, and then by grace accepting in an act of faith that hierarchy’s divinely authorized teaching, including its teaching concerning itself, including the conditions under which it is divinely protected from error. The magisterial teaching under that third possibility does not reduce to mere opinion, because it is divinely authorized, nor does embracing it in faith involve fideism, because the magisterial authority is attested to by the motives of credibility accessible by human reason. I explained this in “The Tu Quoque,” and in “Wilson vs. Hitchens: A Catholic Perspective.”

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  42. January 27, 2013 at 10:50 pm

    Jeff,

    Option (b) is fideism: I believe the Church because I believe the Church.

    No Catholic I have ever known has sought to convince a non-Catholic that he or she should accept the Church’s claims on the basis that those claims are infallible. That would be question-begging, pure and simple.

    Rather, when Catholics attempt to make their ecclesiological case they appeal to Scripture and the testimony of the early church fathers, all the while recognizing that the case they make is by no means open-and-shut and undeniable. In fact, they will often concede that the EOs can also make a credible claim to be the church Christ founded, and that at the end of the day faith is needed to decide between the two (as faith is needed for embracing all claims of special revelation).

    So in a word, I don’t really know who you’re arguing against when you say “I believe the Church because I believe the Church.” That certainly doesn’t resemble what I think.

    PS – I entered this discussion to make a clarifying comment to Lane (which he has yet to acknowledge). I will probably not stick around to answer every single objection that may be raised to what I have said. But if anyone wants to talk soteriology, you’re always welcome at Creed Code Cult.

  43. January 27, 2013 at 11:05 pm

    Bryan,

    Earlier you wrote about the RC church, “She teaches us in the way she does.”

    This begs the question because the truth of the conclusion (she is right to teach us in this way) is assumed in the premise (she teaches us this way).

  44. michael said,

    January 27, 2013 at 11:30 pm

    Jason,

    wow,

    for once I believe I can agree with you with regard to this you wrote there above:

    (“…Rather, when Catholics attempt to make their ecclesiological case they appeal to Scripture and the testimony of the early church fathers, all the while recognizing that the case they make is by no means open-and-shut and undeniable.”)

    In fact the New Catholic Encyclopedia seems to agree also as Darrel Hart discovered when reading this recently from it:

    (“Evaluation.
    It is an exaggeration to identify the Reformation with the person of Luther and to equate all of Protestantism with his doctrines. Nevertheless, one must admit the enormous influence that he exercised upon the movement. The survival of Luther’s own brand of evangelicalism was greatly aided by the rise of numerous reformers elsewhere in Northern Europe, that is, by the rise of figures like Zwingli, Bucer, Calvin, and a host of others. Lutheranism’s success as a protest against the Church’s dominant teachings concerning salvation, and its later growth as a church independent of Rome, is also in part attributable to Luther’s long and productive life. He continued to exert his stamp upon the evangelical cause for a quarter century after the movements birth. And upon his death in 1546, he had trained large numbers of pastors and theologians who were prepared to carry on his legacy.”)

    Hart writes: “That’s it. No condemnation, not even a warning. In fact, the article even suggests that some bishops were glad to have Luther’s protest:

    From the New Catholic Encyclopedia:

    ( It is one of the strange turns of history that Luther was never officially prosecuted in his own country, although excommunication, by labeling him a heretic, made him liable to the death penalty in the Empire. A number of circumstances combined to render the ecclesiastical and civil penalties ineffective. In the first place there was strong public reaction that rebelled at the prospect of condemning a man who had become the outright spokesman for their own grievances against corruption in the Church. The conviction that until a council had actually pronounced against him, he and his followers were not definitely cut off from the Catholic Church was widespread. Finally, the majority of the German bishops, still influenced by conciliarism, were hardly inclined to stand in the way of a man whose attacks on papal claims to ecclesiastical supremacy expressed their own opposition to Romanism.)

    It gets better in understanding when you take into account the much earlier writing of the Catholic Encyclopedia which spun a entirely different and harsh critique of him near the end of the following quotation. Hart makes some introductory comments then follows the quotations from the Catholic Encyclopedia:

    ( Over the weekend I was looking around the Catholic Encyclopedia to see what the old definitions of heresy, schism, and modernism were, and to check what they writers said about Protestantism. It was eye opening. Roman Catholics don’t talk that way anymore about Protestants.

    For instance, here’s the part of the article on justification:

    This principle bears upon conduct, unlike free judgment, which bears on faith. It is not subject to the same limitations, for its practical application requires less mental capacity; its working cannot be tested by anyone; it is strictly personal and internal, thus escaping such violent conflicts with community or state as would lead to repression. On the other hand, as it evades coercion, lends itself to practical application at every step in man’s life, and favours man’s inclination to evil by rendering a so-called “conversion” ludicrously easy, its baneful influence on morals is manifest. Add to justification by faith alone the doctrines of predestination to heaven or hell regardless of man’s actions, and the slavery of the human will, and it seems inconceivable that any good action at all could result from such beliefs. As a matter of history, public morality did at once deteriorate to an appalling degree wherever Protestantism was introduced. Not to mention the robberies of Church goods, brutal treatment meted out to the clergy, secular and regular, who remained faithful, and the horrors of so many wars of religion, we have Luther’s own testimony as to the evil results of his teaching.

    Then this on church-state relations (i.e. Caesaro-papism):

    A similar picture of religious and moral degradation may easily be drawn from contemporary Protestant writers for all countries after the first introduction of Protestantism. It could not be otherwise. The immense fermentation caused by the introduction of subversive principles into the life of a people naturally brings to the surface and shows in its utmost ugliness all that is brutal in human nature. But only for a time. The ferment exhausts itself, the fermentation subsides, and order reappears, possibly under new forms. The new form of social and religious order, which is the residue of the great Protestant upheaval in Europe, is territorial or State Religion — an order based on the religious supremacy of the temporal ruler, in contradistinction to the old order in which the temporal ruler took an oath of obedience to the Church. For the right understanding of Protestantism it is necessary to describe the genesis of this far-reaching change.

    . . . From this time forward the progress of Protestantism is on political rather than on religious lines; the people are not clamouring for innovations, but the rulers find their advantage in being supreme bishops, and by force, or cunning, or both impose the yoke of the new Gospel on their subjects. Denmark, Sweden, Norway, England, and all the small principalities and imperial towns in Germany are examples in point. The supreme heads and governors were well aware that the principles which had brought down the authority of Rome would equally bring down their own; hence the penal laws everywhere enacted against dissenters from the state religion decreed by the temporal ruler. England under Henry VIII, Elizabeth, and the Puritans elaborated the most ferocious of all penal codes against Catholics and others unwilling to conform to the established religion.)

    So, not sure what to make of this discovery by Darrel Hart except to say there seems to be varied understandings of the first emergence of Catholic protests within the Catholic Church Luther leading the charge?

    I guess it does bear repeating your words again:

    (“…Rather, when Catholics attempt to make their ecclesiological case they appeal to Scripture and the testimony of the early church fathers, all the while recognizing that the case they make is by no means open-and-shut and undeniable.”)

  45. Bryan Cross said,

    January 27, 2013 at 11:38 pm

    M. Jay Bennett,

    Ok, thanks for clarifying. Lane asked a question which, as I read it, was intended to be an objection to the Catholic paradigm. That question, as you noted in #13, is, “if the RCC has a monopoly on the interpretation of the Bible, how come they have not come out with an inerrant commentary on the Bible?”

    I pointed out in my reply in comment #6 that from the Catholic point of view we don’t get to make the Church teach us as we might want to be taught. Instead, we humbly accept holy Mother Church’s way of teaching us, and seek to learn why, in her wisdom, she teaches us in the way she does.

    You then said, in comment #13:

    Bryan’s answer that we don’t get to decide how the church would teach us is in fact a teaching of the church. IOW, it begs the question.

    And in #43 you clarified just how my answer was question-begging:

    This begs the question because the truth of the conclusion (she is right to teach us in this way) is assumed in the premise (she teaches us this way).

    My reply in #6 was not an argument for the truth of the Catholic paradigm, or intended to be. Rather, I was merely providing answers from the perspective of the Catholic paradigm, to Lane’s objections. So yes, my reply in #6 presupposes the Catholic paradigm. But it doesn’t beg the question, because it doesn’t presuppose the Catholic paradigm (or the standards unique to the Catholic paradigm) in an attempt either to argue for the truth of the Catholic paradigm or in an attempt to argue for the falsehood of the Protestant paradigm. Describing one’s paradigm, and how one’s paradigm responds to particular objections, is not begging the question.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  46. Don said,

    January 27, 2013 at 11:56 pm

    In #42 Jason J. Stellman wrote

    No Catholic I have ever known has sought to convince a non-Catholic that he or she should accept the Church’s claims on the basis that those claims are infallible. That would be question-begging, pure and simple.

    while in #41 Bryan Cross advocates

    discovering … the divinely authorized hierarchy Christ established, and then by grace accepting in an act of faith that hierarchy’s divinely authorized teaching, including its teaching concerning itself

    One may object to positioning these quotes in opposition to each other, since Bryan prefaces this quote by recommending use of “motives of credibility” (RCC jargon alert!). Nevertheless, Jason admits that these claims based on rationality or history are not especially strong and that “faith is needed.” (Bryan, however, in comment #51 of his Tu Quoque article, warns against using too much rationality in trying to determine the historicity of Apostolic Succession.)

    So which is it? Should we believe the Church has authority because the Church says so? Or should we believe it based on the (rather sparse, and sometimes inconsistent) testimony of the early church–and if so, what if our rational processes come up with a different answer than the official RCC one?

  47. Andrew McCallum said,

    January 28, 2013 at 12:09 am

    if people can simply read the gospel in their Bibles or have it shared with them by a believer in the street, why ordain anyone to the ministry at all, whether fallible or infallible?

    Jason (re: 24)

    Do you really need me to build out every specific of my example? How long were you a Protestant minister in the PCA (my denomination)? Come on, you know how the preaching of the gospel works in Reformed ecclesiology. Of course I am talking about a preacher, pastor, or missionary within the context of the church. And I am speaking of a church as such a church is defined in Scripture (can I assume you aren’t expecting me to spell this out?). So no, my argument is against a church which claims infallibility in favor of a church as such entity is described in Scripture without all the additions brought to such a definition by Rome.

    And this may as well be an argument against the need for an infallible Messiah, since even though Jesus rooted his own authority in his divine mission, people still rejected him.

    I don’t understand how you made this inference from what I say. I was not speaking about rejections per se, nor was there anything in my comment that should be interpreted as saying that rejections are a reflection of the preacher. I brought up rejections just to ask you one simple point, and I will repeat it. If a person rejects the preaching of the gospel (again, no fault of the preacher) what help would it be to make the argument that the message is a product of an infallible human authority? If the listener rejects the preaching of the Word, will the reminder of an infallible human judgment of the Word be any more likely to gain the assent of faith?

    My issue with your original comment is that it is dealing with high-minded philosophy and I’m attempting to get you to deal with the day to day preaching of the gospel to the average person. I have no doubt that your argument about fallible human opinion not commanding the assent of faith has a certain intellectual attraction to those folks like at CTC who have an attraction to high level philosophical discussions. But I’m pointing out firstly that such appeals will have no resonance on 99+% of Protestants or Catholics and secondly, that the assent of faith is commanded by the Holy Spirit all over the world every day via the preaching of the Word without any appeal to an infallible human authority judging the words of Scripture. And so again back to my question to you – are all these converts deluded?

    And then to Bryan (re: 30),

    It is possible to treat a fallible human opinion about God’s revelation as though that fallible opinion were itself divinely authorized and divinely sanctioned, even when that fallible human opinion is neither divinely authorized nor divinely sanctioned. And it is possible to treat one’s own interpretive opinions in the same way. By this means it is possible to assent in faith to what are mere human opinions about God’s self-revelation, even when the formal content of those opinions also happens to be infallible dogmas taught by the Church (e.g. God is a Trinity), and even when [unbeknown to the person making the act of faith] the formal content of those opinions has been condemned by the Church (e.g. baptism is merely a symbol). However, when human opinion is grasped as mere human opinion, it cannot compel the assent of faith.

    But I’m not speaking of someone’s attempt to ascertain the words of a preacher (which certainly are fallible). I’m talking about the response of the listener to the Holy Spirit who works through the preacher. The Scriptures speak of people being convicted of their sins and coming to Christ, but it’s not the words of the preacher that are commanding the assent of faith, it is the conviction by the Holy Spirit.

    As with Jason, I’m getting the sense that you only are interested in speaking to those who have a certain level of theological/philosophical sophistication. Do you understand I have a different focus here?

  48. dgwired said,

    January 28, 2013 at 6:38 am

    Jason, your wrote: “No Catholic I have ever known has sought to convince a non-Catholic that he or she should accept the Church’s claims on the basis that those claims are infallible. That would be question-begging, pure and simple.”

    Have you read Bryan Cross lately? His paradigm always ends with an appeal to the church hierarchy that Christ founded and its infallibility.

    Bryan and Jason, can you tell us where the idea of infallibility comes from? Rome did not assert it until the First Vatican Council. I know, development of doctrine tells us it was always there. But where was it before Vatican I? And how do we know that claim to papal infallibility was infallible? Given the hijinks the popes were up to at various times, one could easily read between the lines and think the pope who claimed infallibility was doing something like Boniface VIII — claiming authority over European political rivals.

    I understand as well, you have this idea of charism. But how do you know when the charism light is on and when it is off? Is the guy who has the charism go off the guy who tells you when he has it or when he doesn’t?

    Answers to these questions might help us figure out how the pope differs from Mormon’s chief apostle and the new revelations he has.

  49. Bryan Cross said,

    January 28, 2013 at 8:55 am

    Darryl,

    Have you read Bryan Cross lately? His paradigm always ends with an appeal to the church hierarchy that Christ founded and its infallibility.

    If you think I’ve begged the question, it would be helpful to provide an actual quotation of an alleged example.

    Bryan and Jason, can you tell us where the idea of infallibility comes from? Rome did not assert it until the First Vatican Council. I know, development of doctrine tells us it was always there. But where was it before Vatican I?

    Just to provide some perspective, read The Infallibility of the Church in Orthodox Theology, by Stylianos Harkianakis. The fact that Orthodoxy also teaches the infallibility of the Church is evidence that the doctrine was present in the first millennium before the Catholic-Orthodox schism, and was not a nineteenth century Roman invention.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  50. dghart said,

    January 28, 2013 at 9:48 am

    Bryan, if you’re going to cite Orthodox sources, then aren’t you in trouble? If the Eastern church is infallible, what is the Western church doing calling it schismatic?

    Also, I wonder if you could explain John XXII and what his interactions with the faculty at Paris do to the notion of infallibility. From the Catholic Encyclopedia:

    “In the last years of John’s pontificate there arose a dogmatic conflict about the Beatific Vision, which was brought on by himself, and which his enemies made use of to discredit him. Before his elevation to the Holy See, he had written a work on this question, in which he stated that the souls of the blessed departed do not see God until after the Last Judgment. After becoming pope, he advanced the same teaching in his sermons. In this he met with strong opposition, many theologians, who adhered to the usual opinion that the blessed departed did see God before the Resurrection of the Body and the Last Judgment, even calling his view heretical. A great commotion was aroused in the University of Paris when the General of the Minorites and a Dominican tried to disseminate there the pope’s view. Pope John wrote to King Philip IV on the matter (November, 1333), and emphasized the fact that, as long as the Holy See had not given a decision, the theologians enjoyed perfect freedom in this matter. In December, 1333, the theologians at Paris, after a consultation on the question, decided in favour of the doctrine that the souls of the blessed departed saw God immediately after death or after their complete purification; at the same time they pointed out that the pope had given no decision on this question but only advanced his personal opinion, and now petitioned the pope to confirm their decision. John appointed a commission at Avignon to study the writings of the Fathers, and to discuss further the disputed question. In a consistory held on 3 January, 1334, the pope explicitly declared that he had never meant to teach aught contrary to Holy Scripture or the rule of faith and in fact had not intended to give any decision whatever. Before his death he withdrew his former opinion, and declared his belief that souls separated from their bodies enjoyed in heaven the Beatific Vision.”

    How is one ever to know when the church is infallible? I mean, I know you guys charge us Protestants with having a view of infallibility of Scripture built on the quicksand of opinion. But since Rome’s teachings involve more human authors than Holy Writ, and since Rome’s teachings have evolved over more years than the Bible’s literary remains, don’t Roman Catholics have just as a mirky view of infallibility as Protestants? How are you going to account for all those encyclicals, decrees, councils, and make them cohere? I get it you have the pope as the ultimate appeal for that?

    But where is the red-letter edition of Tradition?

    At least we have God as our final authority — the Holy Spirit.

  51. Bryan Cross said,

    January 28, 2013 at 10:13 am

    Darryl,

    Bryan, if you’re going to cite Orthodox sources, then aren’t you in trouble? If the Eastern church is infallible, what is the Western church doing calling it schismatic?

    Of course I never said that the Orthodox are infallible. I pointed out that Orthodoxy also contains this doctrine of infallibility, and the implications of its containing this doctrine with respect to the thesis that the Catholic doctrine of infallibility arose in the nineteenth century.

    wonder if you could explain John XXII and what his interactions with the faculty at Paris do to the notion of infallibility

    They don’t “do” anything to the notion. The incident is one more example, among many, of Christ protecting the magisterium from teaching doctrinal error to the Church universal. (The doctrine of infallibility does not entail that the pope as private theologian cannot err.)

    How is one ever to know when the church is infallible?

    I’ve already answered that question at OLTS. There are criteria by which we can know. See O’Connor’s The Gift of Infallibility.

    don’t Roman Catholics have just as a mirky view of infallibility as Protestants?

    It might seem mirky if one hasn’t studied it, but that’s the case with many things. We don’t get to stipulate a priori that a revealed religion be as theologically simple as we want it to be.

    How are you going to account for all those encyclicals, decrees, councils, and make them cohere?

    They already do cohere; I don’t have to “make” them cohere.

    But where is the red-letter edition of Tradition?

    See my answer above to Lane’s similar question regarding the non-existence of an infallible commentary on the Bible.

    (I’m gone for the rest of the day, so I can’t reply until tomorrow at the earliest.)

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  52. rfwhite said,

    January 28, 2013 at 10:28 am

    To understand RC positions better, I’d appreciate clarification on some points, as follows.

    Is it your contention that Scripture provides the evidence that is sufficient and necessary to establish the doctrine of the church’s infallibility?

    As to how the church’s infallibility relates to the church’s disciplinary work in the biblical and the post-biblical eras, is it your claim that the church’s infallibility has always been necessary for the church to engage in formative and corrective discipline, or is the church’s infallibility a provision unique to the post-biblical era?

    Thanks for the help.

  53. dghart said,

    January 28, 2013 at 10:36 am

    Bryan, always comes up roses for you. It must be great to live in such an uncomplicated world.

    Still, some members of Rome might be curious — Roman Catholic paradigm and all — why God’s vicar on earth needs the help of theologians at Paris. If the charism works to provide infallible teachings, why doesn’t it also prevent teaching error?

    As for the RC commentary, you wrote: “Your question [Why isn't there an inerrant commentary telling us what each verse means?] reflects what would be expected, from the Protestant point of view. But from the Catholic point of view we don’t get to make the Church teach us as we might want to be taught. Instead, we humbly accept holy Mother Church’s way of teaching us, and seek to learn why, in her wisdom, she teaches us in the way she does.”

    But wouldn’t YOU want Rome to provide comments on God’s word? Couldn’t you encourage the papacy to do so? Isn’t the Bible also important to Roman Catholics and aren’t there any number of questions that the laity might have about the Bible. Instead of issuing encyclicals about the world social and political problems, couldn’t the papacy turn to expounding God’s word some? I mean, it is God’s word after all. Or is it that when you have a view of infallibility the way you do, the Bible recedes in importance as you wait for the next communication of the pope (which we hope the faculty at CUA don’t have to correct)?

    As I say, life in this fallen world is complicated. Please send the prescription that allows me to ignore it.

  54. Sean Gerety said,

    January 28, 2013 at 11:07 am

    Stellman writes:
    ”What I said was that unless the Church is protected from error under certain conditions, there is nothing left to consent to but human opinion.

    You beg the question even in your assumption on what constitutes “the church.”

    Think of it this way: Were the NT writers protected from error under certain conditions? Of course. If they were not, then what would the Bible be besides a merely human and fallible book? This does not seem all that controversial to me.

    What’s controversial is the assumption that Rome informs the Scripture and is the arbiter of truth rather than the reverse.

    BTW, I would like you to refund the money I sent you to help in your pathetic and failed prosecution of Leithart. I didn’t realize at the time you were a lying hypocrite, so IMO you solicited funds under false pretense.

  55. greenbaggins said,

    January 28, 2013 at 11:11 am

    Sean, if you want to talk about the funding of the Leithart case, please take that offline.

  56. Don said,

    January 28, 2013 at 11:46 am

    Bryan Cross #45,

    So yes, my reply in #6 presupposes the Catholic paradigm. But it doesn’t beg the question, because it doesn’t presuppose the Catholic paradigm (or the standards unique to the Catholic paradigm) in an attempt either to argue for the truth of the Catholic paradigm or in an attempt to argue for the falsehood of the Protestant paradigm. Describing one’s paradigm, and how one’s paradigm responds to particular objections, is not begging the question.

    This is not a philosophy department or a rhetoric club; the debate points that you seem to be trying to earn aren’t going to help anyone. This is also not a Catholic medium, under which circumstances it would be appropriate for you to remind The Faithful of what they should believe. Rather, this is a Protestant blog. If you are not here to argue in support of your position (which you apparently admit would be question-begging), then I guess you are merely presenting unsupported assertions. We already know that the RCC says “You should believe we are infallible because our Tradition says so;” what I’m hoping is that you provide an actual argument to support that rather than a rephrasing of the assertion.

  57. January 28, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    Sean,

    BTW, I would like you to refund the money I sent you to help in your pathetic and failed prosecution of Leithart. I didn’t realize at the time you were a lying hypocrite, so IMO you solicited funds under false pretense.

    I already spend the leftover money on a statue of the pope.

  58. Ron said,

    January 28, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    I think that most likely the listener would still reject the message of the preacher since the claim that the message is in line with an infallible Magisterium is just another human opinion.

    Andrew,

    Not to mention, if they won’t hear Moses and the prophets…

  59. Andrew McCallum said,

    January 28, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    This is not a philosophy department or a rhetoric club; the debate points that you seem to be trying to earn aren’t going to help anyone.

    Don, agree 100%. That’s just the point I’m trying to get across, I think without success. If we were trying to make the most philosophically water tight case for a given set of theological propositions, it could be argued that it would be advantageous to have a human court of final appeals by which to test these propositions. The philosophically orientated Catholics like those on Bryan’s loop are obviously attracted to such systems. But in the real world of sin and law and gospel and preaching the Word nobody communicates in the lofty esoteric rhetoric or our Catholic friends at CTC. And yet every day people who formerly knew nothing of the gospel give the assent of faith via the conviction of the Spirit through the power of the Word. And all of this communicated by a “foolish” preacher who knows nothing of infallible human pronouncements!

    Now I do think we should be ready to answer Bryan and Jason’s critiques using their own lingo and system, but I just don’t want to forget about the 99+% of Protestants and Catholics who have neither the interest not the intellectual tools to be debating on this higher philosophical plane.

  60. Andrew McCallum said,

    January 28, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    Not to mention, if they won’t hear Moses and the prophets…

    Ron – Yes, a much more succinct and biblical way of expressing what I was trying to say.

  61. John Bugay said,

    January 28, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    DGH, I’m preparing a blog post now (or series) on the history of papal infallibility. It’s amazing all the forgeries that went into that. 115 wholly-forged “Pseudo-Isidore Decretals”. Aquinas Contra Errores Graecorum, written in 1263, commissioned by the Curia, for Pope Urban IV, “positively wallows in forgeries” (says Kung). This will be a thing to study. Just as the Summa Theologica relies heavily on Pseudo-Dionysius.That’s ok, according to Catholics, because the Forger got a lot of things right. Like the neo-Platonist Great Chain of Being.

  62. Eric said,

    January 28, 2013 at 4:08 pm

    Here is a test case for Roman Catholics. Using the Catholic Interpretive Paradigm, determine if the following proposition is any grade of divinely revealed truth.

    ( Fill in your name here ) contracted original sin.

  63. Ryan said,

    January 28, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    Jason,

    My claim is exactly what it says, which had nothing to do with asking you to do anything. What I said was that unless the Church is protected from error under certain conditions, there is nothing left to consent to but human opinion. Think of it this way: Were the NT writers protected from error under certain conditions? Of course. If they were not, then what would the Bible be besides a merely human and fallible book? This does not seem all that controversial to me.

    I asked you to answer my question. Of course, you don’t have to do so, but your response didn’t answer my question.

    In any case, we too are protected from error under certain conditions, such as when we assent to God’s word. This does not require a ecclesial medium, and yet it does not seem all that controversial to me.

  64. andrew said,

    January 28, 2013 at 6:09 pm

    Byran (or other RC commentators),

    1) If you have time, I am am wondering how you respond to the common question of private interpretation of tradition/teaching of the magisterium? Does an infallible interpreter not just remove the problem a stage, since I, thoroughly fallible, have to interpret the interpretation. As Byran notes in 21, some sort interpretation is necessary in the very act of reading. Does the answer lie it the grater clarity of the magesterium’s interpretion?

    2) I think I understand the limitations of papal infallibility (in terms of the qaulifications that have to be meet). Are councils infallible too? Am I allowed to diagree, for example, with anything in the Catholic Catechism?

  65. MarkS said,

    January 28, 2013 at 6:26 pm

    Andrew (re: 15 & 59);
    I appreciate this comment from you:

    Now I do think we should be ready to answer Bryan and Jason’s critiques using their own lingo and system, but I just don’t want to forget about the 99+% of Protestants and Catholics who have neither the interest not the intellectual tools to be debating on this higher philosophical plane.

    I appreciate it because it is concern for the average Joe Christian (like myself) that got me thinking about this subjectivity problem. Joe Christian wants to know if Jesus wants him to have his kids baptized or not, and either way wants to know what God does thru baptism. He wants to know if salvation can ever be gained and later lost, what the nature of communion is, whether or not predestination means his free will could or could not have rejected grace, and many other things.
    I’m all for making sure we have discussions that aren’t exclusively up in the rare air of philosophy and get down to where the rubber meets the road.

    If I read you right, your position seems to be that Joe is stuck without a surefire test for determining what is objective Christian truth and what is subjective opinion. He can spend his whole life praying and studying the Bible and tradition, but in the end lots of Christians have done those things and reached contradictory conclusions. Some take their conclusions so seriously that they won’t share communion with those who disagree (i.e. MS Lutherans).

    So I think it’s a big problematic deal if we hold to an approach (or a “paradigm” as they say), that says we don’t know Jesus’ will for baptism. We have an opinion. It’s fallible. It’s different from what other Christians have concluded. And even though the Great Commission says we are to do this, we don’t really know why or what it does. Our group of smart guys say X. Other really smart guys say Y.

    Thanks,
    Mark

  66. Brad B said,

    January 28, 2013 at 8:59 pm

    Hi Bryan, in your blog post referred to me, I see your testimony of journey, you seem to have been using your own private ability to reason and judge evidence as you chose a faith. At this time, were you relying on the RC paradigm to come to the conclusion you did in the bolded part of you post that I’m highlighting below?

    “Thanks for your comments. Following up Ray’s comment in #9, and Michal and K.Doran’s replies in #10 and #11, there were three things that were very helpful for me, in grasping the indefectibility of the Church even in light of the scandals. (My decision to seek full communion with the Catholic Church came right on the heels of the sex abuse scandal in the US.)

    First, I thought through the Donatist controversy, and what the Church learned through that controversy, with regard to the nature of the sacraments.

    Second, I came to see the Church’s holiness as that against which these immoral clergy members were seen to be falling short (in much the same way that the problem of evil presupposes some conception of the Good against which evil is recognized as such). Just as unity as a mark of the Church is not diminished by schism, but those in schism are seen to be in schism precisely by their separation from the Church’s unity, so likewise holiness as a mark of the Church is not eliminated or diminished by the sins of her members; rather, their sins are seen to be what they are, and to be the terrible scandal that they are, precisely against the ‘backdrop’ of the holiness of the Church.

    And finally, it became clear to me that in the course of history, no matter how evil the person who happened to be sitting in St. Peter’s chair, the Apostolic See never fell into heresy — it never denied a doctrine it had previously defined. If the Church were defectible, it would be very strange for that defection not to happen for two thousand years, and then start happening. This is a kind of inductive evidence, from the Church’s unblemished doctrinal track record of the past two thousand years. BOLD MINE B/B

    The topics of infallibility, indefectibility and the Donatist schism, deserve their own posts/articles. Hopefully we’ll cover those in the future, here at CTC.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  67. Justin said,

    January 28, 2013 at 9:08 pm

    Brad,

    Regarding the bolded section at #65, what do we do with Honorius I and the monothelites? Even Leo II agreed with the condemnation.

    I’m familiar with the usual responses, but Bryan works consistently and lucidly through his paradigm, so I’d like to see if he stays wholly logical/philosophical or if he goes with an historical gloss (not to set up an either/or between the two).

  68. Andrew McCallum said,

    January 28, 2013 at 9:28 pm

    Mark (re: 64),

    Joe Christian wants to know if Jesus wants him to have his kids baptized or not, and either way wants to know what God does thru baptism.

    Well sure he does. We have friends in my PCA church who believe that they should not baptize their children until these children have a credible profession of faith. We don’t get into any huge debates over it, but if we have the chance to discuss it we go to the Scriptures and see what they have to say. Maybe I can convince my friends from Scripture or maybe I cannot. But I’m not worried about it if my friend disagrees. Now for some Catholics the inability to resolve such matters as this causes some type of crisis of faith (see the conversion stories over at CTC for examples). And some of these Catholics delve into the epistemological intricacies of the development of Christian doctrine in an attempt to resolve these conflicts. And of course they challenge us again and again with the same arguments, which we answer. But the point I made earlier was that the vast majority of Protestants (and Catholics too) will have no interest in such high intellectual debates. Very very few Catholics and Protestants will have the discipline or proclivity to deal with immense amount of deep theology and philosophy that Cross and friends will throw at them. The target audience for CTC is a very small group of Reformed Protestants from what I can see. So my question to Jason and Bryan is how they will convince all the other Protestants.

    If I read you right, your position seems to be that Joe is stuck without a surefire test for determining what is objective Christian truth and what is subjective opinion.

    And what might this surefire test be? Are you speaking of having some sort of supreme human authority to appeal to? That has a certain attraction to it. But if you can come up with such a surfire test, how is the inquirer who wants to use this test supposed to know if this test is what God has ordained? Isn’t he then dealing with exactly the same quandary he started with? He does not have a surefire test to determine if the infallible human authority can render correct judgments?

  69. Pete Holter said,

    January 28, 2013 at 9:54 pm

    Am I allowed to disagree, for example, with anything in the Catholic Catechism?

    Greetings in Christ, Andrew!

    Yes. For example, you are free to believe that the Daniel mentioned by Ezekiel in 14:14 and 14:20 is the Daniel of the Bible and not the Gentile as proposed by the Catechism in paragraph 58. And, actually, this might be the only example. :)

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  70. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 28, 2013 at 9:55 pm

    Jason (#42):

    Thanks for the reply, and I understand that at some point either you or I may have more pressing things. Life calls …

    Here’s the problem: In #36, I lay out two options for the Catholic (not for the Protestant-who-might-become-Catholic) to warrant his belief in the Church’s infallibility.

    Keeping our eye on the ball, we remember that according to JJS, it is necessary for the Christian to have infallible interpretation so that he isn’t believing in mere human opinion.

    So those possible warrants are (a) the proposition that history + Scripture demonstrates that the RC Church has infallible teaching, or (b) that the Church is simply believable when it claims to have infallible teaching. That is, the belief itself is the warrant for the belief.

    (Bryan claims that there is another option, but he does not appear to me to provide any warrant beyond these two. The “Motives of Credibility” seems merely to bootstrap from (a) to (b)).

    Here’s the rub: Because your system is fundamentally deductive in nature, its certainty can only be as great as the certainty of the weakest premise. So even if you fully believe that the Church’s teaching is infallible, you must at the end of the day acknowledge that your belief rests on your own assessment of the historical + Scriptural warrant (a) or else your own private assessment of the Church’s credibility (b).

    Either way, your central anchor is your own opinion.

    Well, here’s a possible out. Maybe truth is objectively knowable? If so, then (a) makes sense, because the Catholic can objectively discover the truth about the Church. Sadly now, the argument against sola scriptura no longer makes sense, because it might well be that the teaching of Scripture is objectively knowable also.

    Contrapositively, if you insist to the Protestant that there is no objective reading of Scripture, then you must admit that there is also no objective reading of history, and your case for (a) dwindles down to your own personal opinion.

    Now Bryan might say that he’s addressed all this in Tu Quoque (link available upon request). But actually he has not. Q4 in his article considers the question, but then begs it by assuming the truth of the Catholic position: “The Catholic Church, by contrast, is not the product of men-lacking-divine authorization. The Catholic Church was founded by Christ Himself, who is God.”

    Such circular reasoning (our position that the RC is the true Church founded by God does not rest on human opinion because our Church was founded by God) does not answer any question.

    Still praying for repentance,
    Jeff

  71. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 28, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    MarkS (#64):

    So I think it’s a big problematic deal if we hold to an approach (or a “paradigm” as they say), that says we don’t know Jesus’ will for baptism. We have an opinion. It’s fallible.

    Consider a completely different paradigm. Instead of thinking of all interpretations as Certainly True or Certainly False, think of them in these piles:

    Good-and-Necessary-Inference
    Very Likely to be True
    Plausible
    Dubious
    Speculative

    Notice that I’m not *at all*, one bit suggesting that there is no truth. Knowing truth is seeing reality as God sees it. Rather, I’m suggesting that since we are *not* God and don’t have the ability to know and know that we know, instead we believe based on warrant.

    Now let’s re-ask the question:

    Do I have warrant to tell a baptist to baptize his kids already?
    Yes, politely.
    Does he have counter-arguments?
    Yes.
    Can the flaws in those counter-arguments be objectively identified? Yes.
    Will identifying those flaws cause him to change his mind?
    Probably not, especially at first.
    Does his unbelief nullify the objective teaching of Scripture?
    No, not really.

    I don’t know if that helps, but there’s a two-part thought process here:

    * There is truth, and it is objectively knowable via observation and inference.
    * Our observation and inference skills are imperfect, so we treat our doctrines (our inferences) not as absolute truths themselves, but as warranted truths, giving higher confidence to those with greater warrant.

    Does this mean that we are forever skeptical about our doctrines? No. I have sufficient warrant to believe in the resurrection to stake my life on it (Lord willing).

    It does mean that we can abandon a certain degree of navel-gazing about whether we are “resting on mere human opinion.”

  72. dgwired said,

    January 28, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    Jeff, very well said. This hyper-deductiveness on CTCs part explains to me anyway why these guys have no feel for history (with Development of Doctrine just being more deduction to account for real change).

  73. MarkS said,

    January 29, 2013 at 12:54 am

    Jeff (re: 71),
    I agree that our observation and intepretive skills are imperfect. And I appreciate you engaging my points and for focusing on the issue of baptism as just one example of an important real-world issue.

    But, baptism is either intended for children or it’s not. Baptism either is intended by God to bring forgiveness of sins, the gift of the Holy Spirit, and spiritual adoption to recipients or not. Baptism either is a big deal or it’s not. Jesus told the apostles to baptize. Many people mentioned in the NT were baptized. It’s safe to assume that many of them asked what this baptism thing is for and would have received clear answers.

    Since baptizing is an explicit command of Christ it seems ridiculous to propose a paradigm for interpreting God’s will that leaves the nature of baptism unclear to honest, intelligent, followers of that paradigm.

    From 71, you seem to have a great deal of confidence that studying Scripture and examining the various arguments will lead reasonable, intelligent Christians to conclude that your view has greater warrant than the baptist view has less. Though, you do list different levels of warrant without saying where you place baptism. I’m sure James White and John Piper have heard all the arguments you would throw their way. Then, on the other side, you have the Lutherans and Anglicans who would poke different sophisticated criticisms at your view (see Mathison’s reflection on one such criticism here: http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/we-believe-bible-and-you-do-not/.) I do not believe there is a good reason to suppose that Presbyterians are better at sola scriptura or logic than Piper, White, Pieper, etc.

    If the Spirit does not speak through methods that yield mutually exclusive results to various intelligent, sincere followers of those methods, then shouldn’t sola scriptura be called into question for yielding such results?

    It may be that you are no longer navel-gazing, as you say. But by your own confessional standard, your view is fallible, as is your view on eternal security, the nature of communion, etc. Further, other sincere, intelligent followers of your method reach conclusions contrary to use, while also acknowledging that their views could be wrong. Why, then would you not question the method?

    Thanks,
    Mark

  74. MarkS said,

    January 29, 2013 at 1:38 am

    Andrew (re: 68);
    Help me understand where you’re coming from. On the one hand you seem to want to focus the discussion on issues Joe Christian is concerned about, but on the other hand you dismiss his concerns by saying you aren’t worried if he disagrees with your argument from Scripture or not and by pointing out that most Protestants aren’t going to be interested in Bryan’s level of philosophical argumentation. Why shouldn’t Joe C be concerned about baptism? If it does what the Lutherans say it does, he should be very anxious to have his kids baptized.

    Of course, Joe C is not going to get into super sophisticated philosophical questions. He just wants to know should he baptize his kids or not and what it does. It doesn’t take a serious interest in philosophy to see that all the Lutherans, Presby’s, and Baptists running around saying, “Bible Alone!” reach contradictory opinions on this and many other kitchen table Christian issues (issues that impact what a father would teach his kids at the kitchen table about the basics of the faith.)

    So what would a surefire test be? Well, for a Joe C who thinks Christ wants him to know the answers to these basic questions, it would at least be a test that yields clear, consistent answers to all those who honestly follow the test. Wouldn’t it? Any other approach would be ruled out automatically. Please correct me if you see something wrong with what I’m saying.

    I grant that the Catholics’ approach gives clearer more consistent answers to Joe C’s about the basics of the faith. It says, Baptism for kids? – yes. Baptism brings forgiveness of sins, the Holy Spirit, and adoption as God’s children? – yes. Can a true Christian ever forfeit his salvation through serious sin or leaving the faith? – yes. Is Christ truly present in communion? – yes. While granting the attractiveness of this approach, your comments seem to oblige you to hold that Christ doesn’t intend for Joe C to have clarity about these things. Right? We can’t say that Joe C’s don’t see clearly because either some or all of them are too sinful to see it. They are no more sinful than converts in the NT who would have asked the apostles what this baptism thing is about and received answers.

    And not just Joe C, but it is seeming to me that the sola scriptura paradigm leaves even honest, ultra-sophisticated Christians in a spot where they can’t plausibly claim their conclusions from the method are more reliable. Why? Because other sincere, intelligent, logical followers of the same method reach different conclusions. Logic can’t compel a Lutheran answer over a Baptist answer. Neither can any exegetical method. So this leaves us with what “seems” more plausible to each individual from the text. Hence – each man as his own interpretive authority.

    Thanks,
    Mark

  75. John Bugay said,

    January 29, 2013 at 5:27 am

    Michael Liccione:

    … getting the true identity of “the Church” right is pivotal for interpretation of Scripture that is truly authoritative …

    “Isn’t it pretty to think so?”

  76. Andrew McCallum said,

    January 29, 2013 at 8:37 am

    On the one hand you seem to want to focus the discussion on issues Joe Christian is concerned about, but on the other hand you dismiss his concerns by saying you aren’t worried if he disagrees with your argument from Scripture or not and by pointing out that most Protestants aren’t going to be interested in Bryan’s level of philosophical argumentation. Why shouldn’t Joe C be concerned about baptism?

    Mark (re: 74),

    You are blending a couple of strands or discussion here and adding some things I did not say. Let’s first address the issue of baptism. I would never dismiss my friend’s concerns and I am not speaking of dealing with philosophical issues in this context. And you are speaking as if my friend and I would have no common ground on baptism, but this is not the case. The baptists baptize their children and see in baptism much of the same content in baptism that I do – baptism pictures for us the washing away of our sins by the cleansing blood of Christ, and so on. My friend is planning to wait until his children can make a profession of faith. I think he is misunderstanding something about the nature of baptism but it’s not like this is something which is “basic” to the Christian faith. If for example, he denied that Christ was God this would be basic. But the exact nature and efficacy of baptism is not something that we can formulate with the same level of certainty than we can with other doctrinal matters, say for instance the doctrine of the Resurrection of Christ. But the fact that my friend and I cannot come to a conclusion on the matter of the efficacy of baptism does not reflect on the objectivity of the teaching of Scriptures on baptism, nor does it mean that my friend and I need to break fellowship as if he was denying the Resurrection.

    Another point to note is that whether you are Reformed or EO or Roman Catholic or whatever else, there are going to be matters in which there is a latitude of acceptable beliefs. In baptism you have hit on one of the few areas where there is a significant difference within the various Reformed confessions. But (since this thread focuses on Roman Catholic) if you look to the confessional positions of Rome at the time of the Reformation there was a great deal more haziness in the dogma of Rome than there was in any of the Reformed confessions. Trent of course helped define some things, but there is still a fair amount of latitude of belief on some things in Roman Catholicism that I would consider to be basic. Take the matter of the relationship between grace and free will. This is not something that has been defined by Rome with a de fide level of certainty. And so among the RCC theologians as well as among the laity there is some considerable differences of opinion. Some of this lack of clarity as to how we are justified prompts Catholics to leave Rome. Anyway, you don’t escape the problem of the latitude of possible theological understandings by going to Rome. The specific dogmas where there is not exact definition are different, and the way you approach trying to resolve the matter changes, but the problem of unanswered questions still remains. If you try to go the EO route the issue becomes only worse since the EO tend to resist systematic definitions of their faith.

    Of course the kind of thing that you describe with respect to baptism frustrates some Reformed folks to the extent that they leave for Rome. But the reverse process also happens. Catholics cannot get answers to what they consider to be basic issues of the Christian faith so they leave for Reformed/Evangelical congregations. Whether folks swim one way or another across the Tiber depends on what they perceive to be “basic” to the Christian faith and their perception of how well one side or another addresses the problems which plague them.

    And not just Joe C, but it is seeming to me that the sola scriptura paradigm leaves even honest, ultra-sophisticated Christians in a spot where they can’t plausibly claim their conclusions from the method are more reliable.

    OK, so does moving to a Scripture + tradition paradigm solve the problem? The EO’s, the Catholics, the Reformed, and others all look at the same Church tradition but come to different conclusions over a number of important matters. The RC’s have taken one among a number of possible interpretations concerning doctrines which I would consider to be basic such as the nature of the Church, the means of our salvation, and other such matters. So how does going to the Tradition + Scripture paradigm help out with respect to resolving the epistemological dilemmas that you speak of?

    So what would a surefire test be? Well, for a Joe C who thinks Christ wants him to know the answers to these basic questions, it would at least be a test that yields clear, consistent answers to all those who honestly follow the test. Wouldn’t it? Any other approach would be ruled out automatically. Please correct me if you see something wrong with what I’m saying.

    And on some matters he may not get the clear answers he likes. This is true whether he is Joe Catholic or Joe Reformed or Joe EO or Joe Calvary Chapel.

    Of course, Joe C is not going to get into super sophisticated philosophical questions.

    Glad to hear you say this, Mark. So given what you say, do you see that the Cross/Stellman answers are lost on almost everyone in the Protestant world except for a small percentage of Reformed folks like those who post on blogs like this one? This is the only point I was making when I spoke of philosophical sophistication.

  77. Ron said,

    January 29, 2013 at 9:17 am

    Jeff,

    You’ve lost me. You said there is truth that is objectively knowable through certain means, but that since those means are imperfect you seem to suggest that we cannot know such truth. Also, you seem to suggest that your belief in the resurrection cannot constitute knowledge. If it’s not knowledge then what more warrant does one need than God’s clear revelation on the matter? If you can’t know that Christ is risen because you are fallible, then why do you think you can know that you can’t know that Christ is risen? Let’s start here. Do you know any Christian doctrine if not the resurrection?

    I’m not looking for a long drawn out discussion or to persuade you from what I think you have communicated. Rather, I’m just having a hard time believing that you actually mean what I think you wrote.

    Thanks,

    Ron

  78. Bryan Cross said,

    January 29, 2013 at 9:26 am

    rfwhite (re: #52)

    I’m not sure if your questions are directed to me or to someone else, but in case they were directed to me, here are my answers:

    Is it your contention that Scripture provides the evidence that is sufficient and necessary to establish the doctrine of the church’s infallibility?

    No, that is not my contention. Viewed by the light of Tradition, Scripture supports ecclesial infallibility. But apart from the Tradition, an interpreter would not necessarily reach the conclusion that the Church is divinely protected from error in certain respects.

    As to how the church’s infallibility relates to the church’s disciplinary work in the biblical and the post-biblical eras, is it your claim that the church’s infallibility has always been necessary for the church to engage in formative and corrective discipline, or is the church’s infallibility a provision unique to the post-biblical era?

    Those two disjuncts are not together comprehensive, so I’ll consider them one at a time, starting with the second. In the Catholic paradigm, the Church’s infallibility is not something that begins only after the death of the last apostle, or at the conclusion of the writing of the last New Testament book, but is present from the birth of the Church on Pentecost. Regarding the first disjunct, infallibility is not directly necessary for discipline. It is necessary for defining orthodoxy and heresy such that these are authoritative and binding, not mere opinions to be gainsaid by anyone else’s private judgments or interpretations.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  79. Bryan Cross said,

    January 29, 2013 at 9:32 am

    Darryl, (re: #53)

    Bryan, always comes up roses for you. It must be great to live in such an uncomplicated world.

    I never said that the world is uncomplicated, nor do I believe that it is.

    Still, some members of Rome might be curious — Roman Catholic paradigm and all — why God’s vicar on earth needs the help of theologians at Paris. If the charism works to provide infallible teachings, why doesn’t it also prevent teaching error?

    Because its purpose is not to make the pope himself personally infallible, but to protect the universal Church from error. And God can (and does often) use many secondary causes to help the pope avoid definitively teaching something erroneous to the universal Church.

    But wouldn’t YOU want Rome to provide comments on God’s word? Couldn’t you encourage the papacy to do so?

    I’m more interested in acquiring the mind of Christ from the Church, than trying to remake the Church according to my own image and judgment, as I might set it up. A key moment in the paradigm shift is precisely this realization, abandoning ecclesial consumerism and submitting oneself to those who have been given watch over our souls, allowing them to form us according to the mind of Christ.

    Isn’t the Bible also important to Roman Catholics and aren’t there any number of questions that the laity might have about the Bible.

    Sure.

    Instead of issuing encyclicals about the world social and political problems, couldn’t the papacy turn to expounding God’s word some?

    Of course. But in its wisdom the magisterium has allowed us to understand Scripture through the Tradition. That’s already a vast treasure of wisdom and insight.

    I mean, it is God’s word after all. Or is it that when you have a view of infallibility the way you do, the Bible recedes in importance as you wait for the next communication of the pope (which we hope the faculty at CUA don’t have to correct)?

    No, the Bible does not “recede in importance.” It becomes clearer in light of the Tradition.

    As I say, life in this fallen world is complicated. Please send the prescription that allows me to ignore it.

    I agree that life in this world is complicated. And nothing I’ve said is incompatible with that.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  80. Ron said,

    January 29, 2013 at 9:44 am

    No, the Bible does not “recede in importance.” It becomes clearer in light of the Tradition.

    Bryan,

    It doesn’t merely become “clearer” for the Roman Cathoic; it becomes intelligible for the first time. It’s this supposed lack of perspicuity and sufficiency that makes Scripture “recede in importance” for the Roman Catholic.

  81. Sean Gerety said,

    January 29, 2013 at 9:46 am

    @71 – Talk about abject skepticism. While it is interesting that Jeff dresses things up with so-called “warrant” in an attempt to mitigate against the force of what he’s saying, but what sort of anti-Christian drivel is this: “we treat our doctrines (our inferences) not as absolute truths themselves.” Really, a man is justified by faith alone is not an absolute truth? How about the Atonement or the Trinity?

    Here’s some advice for those wanting to square off with RC apologist and before you all end up smoking your cigars with Jason Stellman; get yourselves a biblical epistemology. Stop reading Van Til and Plantinga and read Clark instead.

  82. michael said,

    January 29, 2013 at 10:20 am

    Bryan at #79,

    “…But in its wisdom the magisterium has allowed us to understand Scripture through the Tradition. That’s already a vast treasure of wisdom and insight.

    Can you, in light of that, address the Apostle Paul’s exhortation to the Ephesian leaders when he exhorts this as a guiding principle for them to “do” Church in their region gaining from God directly and from the Word of His Grace what is necessary for building up and by this communion directly with God receiving from Heaven the appointed inheritance?:

    Act 20:32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

  83. Sean Gerety said,

    January 29, 2013 at 10:34 am

    I already spend the leftover money on a statue of the pope.

    You sure it didn’t go to set of Mary figurines and an new set of rosary beads? It’s easy to loose your place when your chanting nonsense after all.

  84. michael said,

    January 29, 2013 at 10:37 am

    Ron at #77,

    I hope you do not mind my intrusion into your conversation with Jeff?

    You wrote asking him: “…Also, you seem to suggest that your belief in the resurrection cannot constitute knowledge. If it’s not knowledge then what more warrant does one need than God’s clear revelation on the matter? “

    That intrigues me and struck a cord within. I was wondering if you have considered the two Greek Words the Apostle Peter uses in His second epistle chapter one where English translators translate both those Greek words as “knowledge”?

    There it seems the Holy Spirit gave Peter some sense of understanding the two realms, the created science realm and the Eternal invisible realm known only by the Holy Spirit’s revealing it to our spirit?

    I also see in the Apostle Paul’s and Jesus’ Words too where these men make certain distinctions with Words dealing with both the visible and invisible realms where in the one, the concrete sensory realm where things can be tested, the scientific method and the revelatory sense of knowing what is not observable by the scientific method?

    You might find it intriguing to study out the word Greek words “bios” and “biotikos” as used by both Jesus and Paul in the New Testament.

    At some time in the near future hopefully I will do some research on those two words in the Septuagint Old Testament to see how they bring to life both realities?

  85. Bryan Cross said,

    January 29, 2013 at 11:00 am

    Andrew (re: #64)

    1) If you have time, I am am wondering how you respond to the common question of private interpretation of tradition/teaching of the magisterium? Does an infallible interpreter not just remove the problem a stage, since I, thoroughly fallible, have to interpret the interpretation. As Byran notes in 21, some sort interpretation is necessary in the very act of reading. Does the answer lie it the grater clarity of the magesterium’s interpretion?

    Neal and I address this in section “V. A. Tu Quoque: The Catholic Position Does Not Avoid Solo Scriptura” of our article “Solo Scriptura, Sola Scriptura, and the Question of Interpretive Authority.” I addressed it also in section III. Persons and Texts in my reply to Michael Horton’s last rejoinder in our Modern Reformation dialogue.

    2) I think I understand the limitations of papal infallibility (in terms of the qaulifications that have to be meet). Are councils infallible too?

    Councils can be infallible, under certain conditions. See section 25 of Lumen Gentium.

    Am I allowed to diagree, for example, with anything in the Catholic Catechism?

    The Catechism contains content from all three grades of assent, and therefore not all of it is infallible. Nevertheless, even the third grade of assent requires religious submission of will and intellect on the part of the faithful. See the paragraph that begins with the heading “Disagreements of faith” in my CTC post titled “The ‘Catholics are Divided Too’ Objection,” and read the document linked in the footnote at the end of that paragraph.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  86. Bryan Cross said,

    January 29, 2013 at 11:04 am

    Brad B. (re: #66)

    At this time, were you relying on the RC paradigm to come to the conclusion you did in the bolded part of you post that I’m highlighting below?

    If by “relying on” you mean “Were you presupposing the truth of the paradigm” then no. One can examine the consistency, coherence, and explanatory power of a paradigm on its own terms, without presupposing the truth of that paradigm.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  87. Bryan Cross said,

    January 29, 2013 at 11:06 am

    Jeff, (re: #70)

    (Bryan claims that there is another option, but he does not appear to me to provide any warrant beyond these two. The “Motives of Credibility” seems merely to bootstrap from (a) to (b)).

    The motives of credibility do not “bootstrap” anything. They indicate divine authority. But they do not entail the act of faith on the part of the inquirer. This is why people could see Jesus perform miracles, and still refuse to believe Him. The fact that Jesus indicated His divine authority by His miracles does not entail that those who put their faith in Him did so by way of bootstrapping; nor does it entail that His words were mere human opinion. So likewise for the Church.

    Here’s the rub: Because your system is fundamentally deductive in nature, its certainty can only be as great as the certainty of the weakest premise.

    And there’s the strawman. The Catholic “system” is not fundamentally deductive.

    Q4 in his article considers the question, but then begs it by assuming the truth of the Catholic position: “The Catholic Church, by contrast, is not the product of men-lacking-divine authorization. The Catholic Church was founded by Christ Himself, who is God.” Such circular reasoning (our position that the RC is the true Church founded by God does not rest on human opinion because our Church was founded by God) does not answer any question.

    I never claimed that the basis for knowing that the RC is the true Church is “because our Church was founded by God.” That is, the circular example you provide is a strawman of your own making. The divine origin of the Catholic Church as having been founded by Christ is known through the motives of credibility, not through a tautology.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  88. Ron said,

    January 29, 2013 at 11:29 am

    The divine origin of the Catholic Church as having been founded by Christ is known through the motives of credibility, not through a tautology.

    P1: Peter is the rock
    Conclusion: Rome has an infallible magisterium

    I’d like to see p2, p3…

  89. Sean Gerety said,

    January 29, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    I don’t even see how they can get P1.

  90. rfwhite said,

    January 29, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    78 Bryan: though my questions in 52 were directed to no one of the RC guys in particular, thanks for your interaction. I have some follow-up questions. Would you say that it was necessary to define orthodoxy and heresy (such that these are authoritative and binding) prior to Pentecost? If so, how was this definition accomplished in the absence of an infallible church?

  91. andrew said,

    January 29, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    Re 85

    Thanks for those links. I shall read through them.

  92. Bryan Cross said,

    January 29, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    rfwhite, (re: #90)

    In the OT era there was no charism of infallibility established in a magisterium, by which orthodoxy and heresy were defined infallibly for the whole people of God. Nevertheless, there was an authoritative Tradition (not to be confused with man-made traditions) that was both defended and extended by the prophets, who spoke by the Holy Spirit, and were divinely protected from error when they did so. In this way there was a certain infallibility of persons holding the prophetic office, but there was not a continuous (unbroken) line of prophets. There might be many years from one prophet to the next. So the mode of infallibility under the Old Covenant was different than it is under the New Covenant, when all three roles (prophet, priest, and king) are brought together in the hierarchy of the Church, and divine revelation is completed in Christ — there are no more prophets giving new public revelation. The New Covenant is not only new, but better, and the gifts given are better (Heb 7:22; 8:6).

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  93. rfwhite said,

    January 29, 2013 at 5:01 pm

    92 Bryan: thanks again. Given that there was not a continuous (unbroken) line of prophets, how do you understand that God met His people’s need for an authoritative tradition? In other words, when there were no prophets, was there a mode of infallibility under the Old Covenant and, if so, what or who was it?

  94. Bryan Cross said,

    January 29, 2013 at 5:41 pm

    rfwhite, (re: #93)

    Regarding your first question, an authoritative tradition can remain even when an authorized spokesperson is not present or presently proclaiming it. It can endure in the life and practice of a community. There are communities in Eastern Europe where the last priest was killed by the communists back in the 1940s, and yet the Catholic faithful there (though entirely cut off from any bishop and from the pope by the iron curtain) faithfully retained the Catholic tradition and taught the faith to their children, though without the sacraments. Finally when these areas re-opened more recently, and priests were able to be sent there, these people were able to go to confession and receive the Eucharist for the first time in fifty to sixty years. And the Hebrews preserved the divine tradition similarly, even when no prophet was present, or even alive at that time.

    Regarding your second question, during the times when there was no living prophet, there was no charism of infallibility possessed by any living person. The mode of infallibility under the Old Covenant was an intermittent expression of the form of infallibility enjoyed by the prophetic office, at the times God saw fit to send a prophet who would speak the “word of the Lord.”

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  95. rfwhite said,

    January 29, 2013 at 6:22 pm

    94 Bryan: thanks again. In your understanding, how does the community know that the tradition it has is in fact authoritative when there is no authorized spokesperson around to authenticate the tradition’s authority?

  96. Rooney said,

    January 29, 2013 at 7:19 pm

    MarkS,

    Can you provide us with THE institution that gives us a surefire surefire surefire test?
    How do you know surefire that it provides the surefire test (and is not an institution which is “blind leading the blind”)?

    If no such institution exists, then we can only do the 2nd best thing, which is to evaluate the empirical evidence and come up with the most probable interpretations.

    BTW, has there ever been an institution in the history of Judaism/Christianity (outside of apostolic times) when such an institution existed?

  97. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 29, 2013 at 9:12 pm

    Ron (#77):

    I’m distinguishing between knowing something and knowing that you know something.

    The meta-question comes up precisely because of the “but how do you know that you’re right?” line of questioning by the Catholic apologists.

  98. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 29, 2013 at 9:28 pm

    Bryan (#87):

    Does your Tu Quoque post (or any other post) provide any way of recognizing the true Church other than evaluating the historical and Scripture evidence OR by simply placing faith in the Church’s claims about itself?

  99. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 29, 2013 at 9:30 pm

    Sean (#81): 1 Cor 13.12.

  100. Sean Gerety said,

    January 29, 2013 at 10:08 pm

    Not sure how a passage that refers to the close of the canon really heps you Jeff.

  101. Sean Gerety said,

    January 29, 2013 at 10:08 pm

    that is, helps

  102. Brad B said,

    January 29, 2013 at 10:18 pm

    “1Cr 13:9For we know in part and we prophesy in part,
    1Cr 13:10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.
    1Cr 13:11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.
    1Cr 13:12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
    1Cr 13:13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

  103. Sean Gerety said,

    January 29, 2013 at 10:31 pm

    Thanks Brad. I’m guessing you posted the passage for Jeff’s benefit since I’m well aware of it and it has nothing to do with epistemology or the explicit relativism of his post.

  104. MarkS said,

    January 29, 2013 at 10:40 pm

    Andrew (reply to 76);
    Sorry if I’m confusing or misrepresenting some things you said. Let me briefly summarize the points of our conversation as I see them and you please correct where I’m misunderstanding.

    Basically, you have acknowledged that you rely on your own private interpretive judgment for assessing what Christ wants you to believe and do. You study Scripture, history, and tradition and in the end you have landed in a tradition that you think best accords with the Bible. You deny that Catholics are doing anything different. So private judgment and differences of opinion are not a problem in your mind because despite what RC’s say, we’re all taking the same approach. And you have noted that the sophisticated philosophical arguments on this issue are of no concern to 99% of Christians out there.

    On the 99% point, I have agreed with you, but noted that average Christians do have concerns on the basic private judgment problem because it’s easy to see all the disagreement among serious sola scriptura Protestants. You agree that average Christians do fret over many issues, but you only get really concerned when there is disagreement over what you think (according to your private judgment) are basic issues of faith.

    You note that all traditions give latitude on many issues and suggest that I think latitude or lack of precision is a problem. You point out that people go one way or the other over the Tiber based on how well they think the various sides answer basic questions.

    Ok. I do not think latitude is a problem if there is a sound and consistent basis for noting where latitude is appropriate and where it’s not. I think we are forced to rule out what any individual or body of sola scriptura folk thinks are the proper criteria for what’s basic because many other serious sola scriptura Christians would be in disagreement. For example, a Lutheran would point out that your baptist friend’s young kids are missing out on the opportunity to receive saving grace now. If the Lutheran is right, that’s a big deal. And I can’t see how even if the sola scriptura paradigm is true that it ever settles these matters.

    how does going to the Tradition + Scripture paradigm help out with respect to resolving the epistemological dilemmas that you speak of?

    I assume you mean Tradition + Scripture + Magisterium, correct? Well, the CTC guys are saying IF T+S+M is true, then it does resolve the dilemmas. But IF sola scriptura is true, it still doesn’t resolve them. I’m assuming you would say that “IF” makes all the difference and puts both sides on the same epistemological level.

    Here’s why I struggle with that. If we are left by necessity with these dilemmas, then what did Jesus and the apostles really accomplish in terms of bringing divinely revealed truth? I think this view would force us to take as basic only those things that all sincere and intelligent Christians agree upon. That list isn’t very long. Communion, Baptism, Eternal Security, Eschatology, Predestination, Election, Free Will (and I’m sure I’m missing many others) all become matters of latitude. This would be an enormous break with how the major Reformers saw these things. It would also lead to a very low common denominator form of Christianity.

    Thanks,
    Mark

  105. Brad B said,

    January 29, 2013 at 10:44 pm

    #103, Sean, yes, I was even going to ask “is the perfect come”[?], but decided not to open a dialogue divergent from the intent of the conversation.

  106. Sean Gerety said,

    January 29, 2013 at 10:51 pm

    Correction Brad. It is not entirely true that 1 Cor 13:12 has “nothing” to do with epistemology in that when the canon was closed, something Paul was anticipating in the above passage, the axiom of Scripture, from which all knowledge is derived was complete.

    Speaking of the perfect, you might also look to James who said; “But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.”

    The perfect has come so I’m not sure why Jeff has no absolutes and thinks every doctrine is up for debate? What more does he need or want? A cigar from Stellman’s humidor?

  107. Brad B said,

    January 29, 2013 at 11:02 pm

    Bryan, in #86 you answered me thus:

    “One can examine the consistency, coherence, and explanatory power of a paradigm on its own terms, without presupposing the truth of that paradigm.”

    But your terms and the definitions….you had to understand them [like the inside joke in your family example], you did say to me, and of me:

    “The method by which you determine the meaning of the terms is already paradigm-relative, and hence already an act of interpretation,”

    So, how did you determine the meaning of the terms of the bolded part of your post that I quoted in post 66? If you weren’t in the paradigm kinda as an insider so as to know the terms, how did your judgement keep you from being guilty of assuming what you’re seeing in your church teaching? That is all.

  108. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 29, 2013 at 11:28 pm

    Sean, perhaps we can dialogue off-line about these matters? I’ll post on your website and you can grab my e-mail from there.

    Jeff

  109. Bryan Cross said,

    January 29, 2013 at 11:53 pm

    rfwhite, (re: #95)

    In that sort of case, in the very abstract and general sort of scenario you are describing, a community can know this by living memory handed down generation through generation from those who knew the last authorized spokespersons. That’s partly what tradition is, in general, namely, a community’s living memory of what has been passed down communally, and thereby preserved through a shared narrative and social ritual. So the authority of a tradition can be part of the tradition itself, and known through knowing the tradition.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  110. Bryan Cross said,

    January 30, 2013 at 12:06 am

    Jeff (re: #98)

    Does your Tu Quoque post (or any other post) provide any way of recognizing the true Church …

    In order to answer that question, I first need to know what you mean by “the true Church,” because my relevant writings are generally oriented toward locating the Church Christ founded, which might not be what you mean by “the true Church.”

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  111. Bryan Cross said,

    January 30, 2013 at 12:13 am

    Brad, (re: #107)

    So, how did you determine the meaning of the terms of the bolded part of your post that I quoted in post 66? If you weren’t in the paradigm kinda as an insider so as to know the terms …

    I like that phrase “kinda as an insider.” That’s exactly right. It is like learning another language. You have to learn the language so that in a way, you become “kinda as an insider” to that language-speaking community. That’s what it means to learn and evaluate a paradigm on its own terms. But that doesn’t entail or require presupposing one paradigm in order to evaluate the others. Nor does it require abandoning one’s own (original) paradigm, just as learning a new language does not require abandoning one’s mother tongue.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  112. dgwired said,

    January 30, 2013 at 6:34 am

    Bryan, I am curious that you admit popes err, that John XXII did err. But you also insist that the pope is infallible.

    So how do you know when the pope errs or not? When the theologians at Paris questioned John XXII were they expressing private opinions? They were actually not submitting to the pope.

    So if pope’s err, how can you possibly have the epistemological certainty that you suggested herehttp://www.calledtocommunion.com/2009/06/if-magisterial-confessions-are-fallible/#comment-1483 :

    “This is precisely why the ‘fallible magisterium” position essentially reduces to (and necessarily over time collapses into the explicit practice of) ‘private judgment.’ If the ‘fallible magisterium’ could be wrong about everything, then in the context of a non-sacramental notion of ordination, everything they say can be second-guessed, in which case nothing they say has authority. And then there is no reason why we must submit to their interpretation of Scripture. Who are they? This is why the demon said, ‘I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you?’ (Acts 19:15) The demon is speaking about authority (and the lack thereof), not about his depth of social knowledge. When we consider the various heresies throughout the history of the Church, we can see that any one of them could say, ‘Follow me because my interpretation is right.’ But only the Church could say, ‘Follow us because we have the authority by sacramental succession from the Apostles to say definitively which interpretations are right and which are not.’”

    I am sure you have an explanation for how the pope errs and is also infallible (how it is different from Ignatius’ instruction, ” if [the Church] shall have defined anything to be black which to our eyes appears to be white, we ought in like manner to pronounce it to be black” I do not know). But it sure looks like the average Roman Catholic is in a bit of a dilemma if popes like John XXII errs. Then whom do they trust? How do they know when the pope speaks infallibly? Is it only when he puts on his hat?

  113. Bryan Cross said,

    January 30, 2013 at 6:52 am

    Darryl, (re: #112)

    I am sure you have an explanation for how the pope errs and is also infallible …

    As I’ve pointed out before, the doctrine of papal infallibility does not mean or entail that the pope never errs. It means rather that under certain very specific conditions he is divinely protected from error and that under those conditions we can know (by faith) that he is divinely protected from error. But, apart from those conditions, he can and does err.

    You are oversimplifying the doctrine of papal infallibility by construing it as meaning that the pope can never err.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  114. dgwired said,

    January 30, 2013 at 7:06 am

    Bryan, if I misconstrue infallibility then why do you talk about infallibility the way you do — without infallibility we are left to private opinion, without infallibility we have uncertainty about the church. You have actually appealed again and again to infallibility as the trump card in debates about Protestant and RC “paradigms.”

    But now it turns out that infallibility has within it the concession that popes err. So I ask again, how do you know when the pope is erring and when he speaks infallibly? Someone has to decide. Does the pope only decide when he is infallible? But when he decides, how do you know that he is deciding infallibly? The layers of the onion keep falling off.

    I know this might seem silly or overwrought. But it is only a response to the way you and other CTCers construe infallibility — as if it preserves Rome from all the difficulties that bedevil Protestants. It turns out that you are left with as many opinions and as much diversity and as much uncertainty about the magisterium as Protestants have in their churches and their understandings of Scripture.

    So why not lay off the “we are superior to you” jazz?

  115. John Bugay said,

    January 30, 2013 at 7:14 am

    DG 114, Amen.

    A corollary to that is that the “ordinary Magisterium” (as in CCC 892):

    892 Divine assistance is also given to the successors of the apostles, teaching in communion with the successor of Peter, and, in a particular way, to the bishop of Rome, pastor of the whole Church, when, without arriving at an infallible definition and without pronouncing in a “definitive manner,” they propose in the exercise of the ordinary Magisterium a teaching that leads to better understanding of Revelation in matters of faith and morals. To this ordinary teaching the faithful “are to adhere to it with religious assent” which, though distinct from the assent of faith, is nonetheless an extension of it.

    Neither is this “infallible”, but one mus “adhere to it with religious assent”. I believe the fallback position in case of “fallibility” in these instances is that the ordinary church member is not responsible for the error. Even if he/she embraces it (and perhaps, especially if he/she embraces it with “religious assent”, even though it may be wrong.

  116. Bryan Cross said,

    January 30, 2013 at 7:42 am

    Darryl (re: #114)

    if I misconstrue infallibility then why do you talk about infallibility the way you do ….

    I make the claims and arguments I make about infallibility because I believe them to be true and sound. If you think something I have said is false or unsound, please show it to be false or unsound.

    But now it turns out that infallibility has within it the concession that popes err. So I ask again, how do you know when the pope is erring and when he speaks infallibly?

    As I explained, there are specific *conditions* under which the pope is divinely protected from error. I would repeat them, but I’ve already done so in previous conversations with you.

    I know this might seem silly or overwrought. But it is only a response to the way you and other CTCers construe infallibility — as if it preserves Rome from all the difficulties that bedevil Protestants. It turns out that you are left with as many opinions and as much diversity and as much uncertainty about the magisterium as Protestants have in their churches and their understandings of Scripture.

    That has yet to be shown; you have merely asserted it to be true. Simply because the pope is fallible under some conditions, and not infallible at all times, it does not follow that Catholics, like Protestants, have no principled way of distinguishing opinion from dogma, and are left with the rule of ‘private judgment.’

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  117. TurretinFan said,

    January 30, 2013 at 8:09 am

    DGH:

    On the one hand, Bryan is right about what contemporary RC doctrine is. Benedict XVI himself said, “I also want to say that the pope is not an oracle, that he is infallible in only the rarest of situations, as we know.”

    But the result is what you suggested. Indeed, the “ordain a lady” types in the RCC feel just as justified in ignoring “some pope in a hat” as the traditionalist SSPX folks felt justified in ignoring the innovations of Vatican II.

    And with your point about John XXII you’ve highlighted another point to the magisterial caltrop, namely that sometimes following the public teachings of men who are bishops of Rome leads you into heresy (for example, if you had tried to defend John XXII against his Parisian critics – or if you had tried to defend Honorius’ letter to Sergius – or if you had tried to defend Liberius – and so on).

    And yes, CTC type critiques of the “canon question” echo back against this distinction. No one claims that the pope has provided an infallible canon of infallible statements of the magisterium. Thus, figuring out which statements are fallible and which are infallible can only be done by applying fallible private judgment.

    And it’s not always straightforward. Were the papal condemnations of Jansenism infallible? What about the papal condemnations of modernism? What about the papal endorsements and condemnations of the same books (different popes, naturally) – were either infallible?

    -TurretinFan

  118. TurretinFan said,

    January 30, 2013 at 8:21 am

    Bryan’s item #110 where he refuses to answer Jeff’s question is interesting on the grounds that he doesn’t know what Jeff means by “true Church” is a bit transparent. Why can’t Bryan just answer the question and explain what he means by “true Church” in giving his answer?

    -TurretinFan

  119. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 30, 2013 at 8:39 am

    Bryan (#110):

    OK, to rephrase the question:

    “Does your Tu Quoque post (or any other post) provide any way of recognizing that the Roman Catholic Church is the Church that Christ founded, other than evaluating the historical and Scripture evidence OR by simply placing faith in the Church’s claims about itself?”

  120. Zrim said,

    January 30, 2013 at 8:44 am

    Bryan, now I am curious. The benefit to Reformed Protestantism is that there is no need to make the sorts of qualifications and conditions about the Bible’s infallibility—it is not infallible in certain spots and on certain days, it is always and ever infallible and divinely protected from error. Why is that insufficient and cause for insecurity in the CtC mind? And how is transferring that sort of absolute infallibility from text to human finally any different from the way Bible-church fundamentalists and mega-church evangelicals set up authoritarian cults of personality in their pastors?

  121. dghart said,

    January 30, 2013 at 9:44 am

    Bryan, so it does come down to your opinion. “I make the claims and arguments I make about infallibility because I believe them to be true and sound.” That’s a lot of I there, maybe even a personal opinion. Doesn’t mean it is subjective or without reasons. But it is personal for you and not objective in a way that convinces someone else.

    Your notion of infallibility still doesn’t explain how YOU know when the pope is in error or not. It could very well happen that a pope would err in this generation and another generation would only discover it and another pope would correct it.

    But if that is true, then the certainty that you claim for Rome vanishes and is as much on the quicksand of real history and human uncertainties as Protestantism.

    I also do not see how your position is not a version of fideism. In your article on Wilson and Hitchens, you quote from the Catholic Encyclopedia on fideism:

    “Fideism owes its origin to distrust in human reason, and the logical sequence of such an attitude is scepticism. It is to escape from this conclusion that some philosophers, accepting as a principle the impotency of reason, have emphasized the need of belief on the part of human nature, either asserting the primacy of belief over reason or else affirming a radical separation between reason and belief, that is, between science and philosophy on the one hand and religion on the other.”

    The thing is, you distrust private interpretations and human opinions — which are based on reason. In fact, reason becomes mere human opinion unless it is in fellowship with and in submission to Rome. It does seem that this view of church authority does lead to Ignatius’ line about white being black if the pope says so. That’s not a Protestant caricature even if your position is readily caricatured even by Roman Catholics.

  122. Ron said,

    January 30, 2013 at 10:04 am

    I make the claims and arguments I make about infallibility because I believe them to be true and sound. If you think something I have said is false or unsound, please show it to be false or unsound.

    That Rome contradicts Scripture does not persuade Bryan that he is wrong about infallibility. Yet I have a more basic problem with Bryan’s remark.

    1. There is no OT precedent of infallibility. (From Scripture, which Bryan does not dispute)

    2. The burden of proof is that Bryan proves infallibility in the NT church. (From 1 and def. of fallacious argument from silence)

    3. Bryan has yet to put forth a proof for NT infallibility, only assertions. (Observation)

    4. Bryan’s not taking up the task and shifting of onus to a demand that one must prove infallibility wrong is nothing more than a fallacious argument from silence and, therefore, to be considered invalid. (From 2 and 3)

  123. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 30, 2013 at 10:54 am

    Bryan (#116): If you think something I have said is false or unsound, please show it to be false or unsound.

    We do a fair amount of that. Loyal opposition and all.

    But do you take the time to hear? Your responses don’t always seem to respond; and you seem to move very quickly to “Strawman!”

    I don’t take it personally. I understand that you’re a busy blogospheron and that you have extensive experience analyzing arguments. Still and all: I’m not convinced that you have actually wrestled hard with the arguments presented.

    Here’s the core of it.

    If your warrant for belief is the historical and Scriptural evidence that the RCC is the Church that Christ founded, then it would seem that you must admit that you might be misconstruing that evidence. [If you cannot admit this, then you are claiming personal infallibility in this matter, and you can understand that we are highly skeptical of that! But I don't think this is a conscious premise of yours]

    And if you admit that you might be misconstruing the evidence, then you must further admit that the argument that gets you from

    (1) There is historical and Scriptural evidence that the RCC is the Church that Christ founded.

    (n) Therefore, its claims of infallibility are valid.

    is a fallible human argument consisting of your own private judgments. You cannot even begin to accept the teaching of the RCC as infallible before establishing (n), so the steps (1) – (n) are of force yours alone.

    Having so admitted, aren’t you forced to admit that (n) is possibly in error?

    And if so, then the entire teaching of the magisterium is no more infallible than (n).

    What we have yet to hear from you — or read in your writings — is how you avoid the problem of fallibility in (1) … (n). The Tu Quoque post doesn’t answer this question, but merely asserts that it isn’t really a problem.

  124. michael said,

    January 30, 2013 at 10:56 am

    What I find odd about Bryan is his assertion that the Apostle Peter was the first pope of this True Church he personally claims allegience too and yet Peter shoots down all human infallibility with these Words I suppose Bryan does not dispute as fallible?

    1Pe 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
    1Pe 1:4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,
    1Pe 1:5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

    If there was ever a time when this first Pope/Peter wanted to assert his own infallibility over the flocks under his care he would have done it with his own writings would he not? Yet we see with those Words of Scripture that Bryan does not dispute as fallible seeing he asserts Peter as the first of the Popes of this True Church, Peter relies upon the power of God instead of his infallibility and so instructs his flocks to do likewise! Don’t those Words of Scripture put both God and Peter in a proper perspective about who should be trusted infallible and who we should not trust?

    This conclusion brings me to Jeremiah and his position on infallibilities, and quite possibly Peter got his notion of trust in God and not the arm of the flesh from reading Jeremiah’s Words, which I suppose Bryan does not question as fallible but infallible Scripture all God’s flock can rely upon:

    Jer 17:5 Thus says the LORD: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the LORD.
    Jer 17:6 He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land.
    Jer 17:7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD.
    Jer 17:8 He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”
    Jer 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?
    Jer 17:10 “I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”
    Jer 17:11 Like the partridge that gathers a brood that she did not hatch, so is he who gets riches but not by justice; in the midst of his days they will leave him, and at his end he will be a fool.

    How has God or the Word of God changed then seeing God is immutable, unchanging and makes promises that His People can trust in, totally rely upon and remain strongly in hope of even in the extreme circumstances when facing the fires at a stake as judgment for unrelenting Faith in Our Faithful God!? Some, to be sure, were not licked up alive in the fires as we learn in the book of Daniel, but as one commenter commented about the Roman Catholic Church, at their judgment many lost their life by being burned at the stake because of their Faith in the infallibilities of their Creator!

  125. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 30, 2013 at 11:05 am

    I slightly mis-spoke above. Permit me to clean up. Rather than

    And if so, then the entire teaching of the magisterium is no more infallible than (n)

    it would be more correct to say

    “And if so, then your certainty in the teaching of the magisterium is no more infallible than (n).”

    That is: the actual infallibility of the RCC teaching is not affected by your own fallibility (obviously!). But your confidence in that teaching most certainly is.

  126. De Maria said,

    January 30, 2013 at 11:56 am

    You ask,

    I do want to ask formally this question: if the RCC has a monopoly on the interpretation of the Bible, how come they have not come out with an inerrant commentary on the Bible?

    That’s a loaded question. Let’s break it down.

    if the RCC has a monopoly on the interpretation of the Bible,

    1st. The Church teaches the Word of God. She does not interpret it.

    2nd. It is not a so called, “monopoly”. It is an anointing from God which is confirmed in Scripture:
    Ephesians 3:10
    King James Version (KJV)
    10 To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,

    how come they have not come out with an inerrant commentary on the Bible?

    To what end?

    Jesus Christ established the Traditions and the Church. You discarded both. The Church wrote the New Testament which says:

    Hebrews 13:17
    King James Version (KJV)
    17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

    Hebrews 10:25-31
    King James Version (KJV)
    25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. 26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,
    27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. 28 He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: 29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

    Matthew 18:17
    King James Version (KJV)
    17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

    And you have rejected those teachings. So, to what end would the Church write a footnote on every verse in order for you to reject it?

    Sincerely,

    De Maria

  127. De Maria said,

    January 30, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    michael said,
    January 30, 2013 at 10:56 am

    ….and yet Peter shoots down all human infallibility with these Words I suppose Bryan does not dispute as fallible?….If there was ever a time when this first Pope/Peter wanted to assert his own infallibility over the flocks under his care he would have done it with his own writings would he not?

    First, he did claim infallibility. Perhaps you’re not familiar with that verse:
    2 Pet 1:
    19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:

    20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.

    21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

    Obviously then, St. Peter is claiming the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and having a more sure word of prophecy than anyone that came before him. If the Old Testament is infallible, then, St. Peter is claiming infallibility.

    And St. Paul teaches the same:
    2 Corinthians 3:6
    Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.

    And he means by word, not by letter because the letter kills. As he also confirms in this verse:

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

    So, both St. Peter and St. Paul tell you that the Teaching of the Church is infallible, in Scripture.

    Ephesians 3:10
    King James Version (KJV)
    10 To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,

    Sincerely,

    De Maria

  128. Bryan Cross said,

    January 30, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    Jeff, (re: #119 / #123)

    Of course human persons are fallible. But you write:

    And if you admit that you might be misconstruing the evidence, then you must further admit that the argument that gets you from

    (1) There is historical and Scriptural evidence that the RCC is the Church that Christ founded.

    (n) Therefore, its claims of infallibility are valid.

    is a fallible human argument consisting of your own private judgments.

    We don’t use such an argument. In comment #70 you claimed that the Catholic system is “fundamentally deductive in nature.” In comment #87 I replied:

    And there’s the strawman. The Catholic “system” is not fundamentally deductive.

    But here again in #123 you impose a deductive strawman on Catholics with your numbered argument that we supposedly use.

    So the rest of your comment, which mistakenly presumes that we use this deductive argument, is already off-track as a criticism.

    The motives of credibility indicate the location and identity of the Church Christ founded, and they are accessible to human reason. But the act of faith is not a merely natural act. Its principle is the movement of the Holy Spirit upon the heart, because this movement is ordered to what exceeds the ability of man to see and assent to through natural human reason. By reason we can see the Church only in her human dimension, in her historic and sacramental connection to Christ through the Apostles and the line of bishops. By faith, however, we see her participation in Christ’s divinity and imbued by the Holy Spirit, as only by the Father’s revelation was St. Peter able to see Christ’s divinity. Otherwise, we would be rationalists, unable to assent to anything beyond the reach of human reason’s natural power to ascertain. And this is why the dilemma of “fideism” or “mere human opinion” is a false dilemma, as I explained in comment #41 above, because the act of faith does not reduce to one or the other. This is also why in 1679 the Church condemned the following error: “The will cannot effect that assent to faith in itself be stronger than the weight of reasons impelling toward assent.” (Denz. 1169). That is an error precisely because the act of faith is supernatural, not merely natural. Nor does the act of faith come as the conclusion of a deductive argument.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  129. Bryan Cross said,

    January 30, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    Zrim (re: #120)

    Neal and I answered that question in our article “Solo Scriptura, Sola Scriptura, and the Question of Interpretive Authority.” You can also find my answer in the section titled “III. Persons and Texts” in the second link in comment #85 above.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  130. Bryan Cross said,

    January 30, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    Darryl (re: #121)

    Your notion of infallibility still doesn’t explain how YOU know when the pope is in error or not.

    Actually it does. I can know that the pope is not erring when the conditions I mentioned in my previously reply to you are met.

    It could very well happen that a pope would err in this generation and another generation would only discover it and another pope would correct it.

    Notice that you left out of the scenario whether the pope speaking in this present generation met the conditions under which he is divinely protected from error while speaking this alleged error. If he met those conditions, then your hypothetical scenario begs the question, by presupposing the falsehood of the doctrine of papal infallibility. But if he did not meet those conditions, then we would not assume that what he was saying is dogma, unless it had already been previously defined, or had been taught by the universal ordinary Magisterium.

    I also do not see how your position is not a version of fideism. In your article on Wilson and Hitchens, you quote from the Catholic Encyclopedia on fideism:
    “Fideism owes its origin to distrust in human reason, and the logical sequence of such an attitude is scepticism. It is to escape from this conclusion that some philosophers, accepting as a principle the impotency of reason, have emphasized the need of belief on the part of human nature, either asserting the primacy of belief over reason or else affirming a radical separation between reason and belief, that is, between science and philosophy on the one hand and religion on the other.”
    The thing is, you distrust private interpretations and human opinions — which are based on reason. In fact, reason becomes mere human opinion unless it is in fellowship with and in submission to Rome.

    Denying the actual capacities of human reason is [philosophical] skepticism. Recognizing the limitations of human reason with respect to the *supernatural* is not skepticism, but is right reasoning. This is precisely where and how philosophy leads to but is subordinate to sacred theology. And in these matters (except regarding the motives of credibility) we are dealing not with what lies within the reach of unaided human reason but precisely with what lies beyond the reach of unaided human reason, namely, supernatural divine revelation.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  131. Zrim said,

    January 30, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    Bryan, in the “Persons and Texts” section you seem to be indicating the supremacy of a person over a book because the former can actually engage its inquisitor (whereas the latter cannot). You then make it sound as if this is what is happening when it comes presumably to the Magisterium:

    This unlimited potency of persons with respect to interpretive self-clarification ensures that the hermeneutical spiral may reach its goal; we can continue to ask clarification questions, be heard, and receive answers to those very questions, until the questions are answered. By contrast, a book cannot speak more about itself than it does at the moment at which it is completed; thus without a visible living magisterium, disputes regarding the interpretation of Scripture can in principle be interminable and unresolvable. A person, by contrast, remains perpetually capable of clarifying further any of his previous speech-acts. So likewise an enduring Magisterium made up of persons remains perpetually capable of clarifying and explaining any of its previous statements.

    But then you go on admit something that seems to preclude the possibility of anybody ever really engaging the Magisterium:

    Does my position involve a “radical surrender of one’s fate to ecclesial authority”? Yes, it does. Faith in Christ involves radical surrender to Christ, through radical surrender to those He has placed in authority in His Body the Church, just as for the first generation of Christians listening to Christ involved listening to His Apostles. “He who listens to you listens to me; he who rejects you rejects Me; but he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me.” (Luke 10:16).

    Whoever actually inquires of someone “until all the questions are answered” whom he also has placed a radical implicit faith? I mean, if one maintains that he has radically conceded any reasonable use of his own faculties then isn’t the point simply to get in line regardless of understanding? If not, then when was the last time you sat down with any Pope to get some things cleared up (presuming like the rest of us you really are fallible and limited in your own creatureliness and have ever needed some help). But I also don’t know how you think Protestants don’t any notion of persons just because we ascribe infallibility only to the Bible. We have elders and pastors who are not only much more accessible than Popes, but who also answer our inquires to the best of their abilities. Nor do I understand how you think that because of ascribing infallibility only to the Bible that we have little to no conception of their special authority to bind us even when we don’t understand.

  132. TurretinFan said,

    January 30, 2013 at 3:10 pm

    Bryan wrote: “But if he did not meet those conditions, then we would not assume that what he was saying is dogma, unless …”

    That misrepresents the situation. The fact of whether the conditions are met or not is does not automatically manifest itself in the minds of the faithful.

    Rather, the fact that he met or did not meet the conditions has to be known by the individual. That individual will have to make judgments to arrive at that conclusion. Those judgments will be private and fallible judgments.

    Darryl’s question (“Your notion of infallibility still doesn’t explain how YOU know when the pope is in error or not.”) remains unanswered by Bryan, though even Bryan’s non-answer is telling.

    How does Bryan know when the pope is in error or not?

    1) If Bryan doesn’t think the condition is met (Bryan hasn’t addressed the question as to this case – the pope is not necessarily in error, just because the pope is fallible, as Bryan would surely concede) … ; and
    2) If Bryan thinks the condition has been met, Bryan would assume that the matter is dogma, per his confession above.

    But even in case 2, Bryan still has to exercise private and personal judgment regarding whether the condition has been met. All the more so in case 1 (we assume, unless Bryan is going to tell us he can only be agnostic in those cases).

    -TurretinFan

  133. michael said,

    January 30, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    Bryan sayings this:(“This is precisely where and how philosophy leads to but is subordinate to sacred theology. And in these matters (except regarding the motives of credibility) we are dealing not with what lies within the reach of unaided human reason but precisely with what lies beyond the reach of unaided human reason, namely, supernatural divine revelation.”) is saying that Popes then when under a current spell of the Spirit have the ability to write and continues writing “Scripture” when before the advent of the RCC only “God and the Word of His Grace” are deemed infallible!

    This presumes upon their papacy something that is in and an error. And with that premise Bryan inadvertently makes moot and null and void the teachings of the Apostle Paul:

    Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. (1 Corinthians 12:4-11 ESV)

    And also all judgments (except mine because i am alway infallible) of all you Spirit filled True Believers of the Reformation!

    Maybe we need to recalibrate what got into Martin Luther and those other brave pioneers of the Reformation, theirs and all subsequent Church plants and fresh ones these days while at the same time we are at doing that totally disregard the Bible, too!

  134. michael said,

    January 30, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    Bryan’s response to Hart:(“As I explained, there are specific *conditions* under which the pope is divinely protected from error. I would repeat them, but I’ve already done so in previous conversations with you.”)

    Then in his latest response to Hart:(“Darryl (re: #121)

    Your notion of infallibility still doesn’t explain how YOU know when the pope is in error or not.

    Actually it does. I can know that the pope is not erring when the conditions I mentioned in my previously reply to you are met.”)

    So my question to Bryan is this: “Bryan are you just giving Darrel Hart the run around or are you giving all of us in here it too”?

  135. John Bugay said,

    January 30, 2013 at 6:32 pm

    Brian 126:

    … indicate …

    ??

    That’s certainly a ringing endorsement [not]. You’ve got nothing more “infallible” on that?

  136. Bryan Cross said,

    January 30, 2013 at 6:36 pm

    Zrim, (re: #129)

    Whoever actually inquires of someone “until all the questions are answered” whom he also has placed a radical implicit faith?

    People who desire to know the truth.

    I mean, if one maintains that he has radically conceded any reasonable use of his own faculties …

    Of course that’s a strawman. The Catholic principle is fides quaerens intellectum. Just as belief in God [who is infallible absolutely] does not mean or entail abandoning “any reasonable use of [one's] own faculties, so likewise neither does submitting to rightful ecclesial authority [even if that authority is infallible only under certain conditions] mean or entail “conceding any reasonable use of [one's] own faculties.”

    But I also don’t know how you think Protestants don’t any notion of persons …

    I never claimed, nor do I believe, that Protestants have no notion of persons.

    We have elders and pastors who are not only much more accessible than Popes, but who also answer our inquires to the best of their abilities.

    Of course.

    Nor do I understand how you think that because of ascribing infallibility only to the Bible that we have little to no conception of their special authority to bind us even when we don’t understand.

    See, for example, what I said in comment #47 in the “Two Contrasting Books” thread.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  137. jedpaschall said,

    January 30, 2013 at 7:31 pm

    This is a prime example of how the “limited” infallibility of the papacy is the ultimate loophole:

    How the Vatican Built a Secret Property Empire Using Mussolini’s Millions

    I guess Papal infallibility doesn’t extend to the clandestine banking activities of the Vatican. I realize that the above article doesn’t really address the theological claims of the papacy, but it is really hard for this Protestant to swallow even the limited infallibility of the papacy when to this day the Vatican is riddled with corruption of all kinds. But, I am sure the enormous facility maintenance of the opulent properties under Rome’s control, not to mention all of the gold stitching in the Pope’s britches, somehow justify the continued use of blood money earned by a murderous fascist regime.

    Maybe there are RC’s out there who find as much irony in the fact that while on earth the Son of Man had no place to lay his head, yet the (so-called) Vicar of the same Christ lives in such resplendent luxury – often purchased with blatantly unjust gain.

  138. Zrim said,

    January 30, 2013 at 9:14 pm

    But, Bryan, some of us desire to know the truth yet resist radical implicit faith in men. Either we don’t really desire to know the truth or we grasp the nature and depth of human depravity.

    Re your #47 comment, the point of which seems to be that in the Protestant mind the individual’s private judgment trumps ecclesial authority, indulge a personal response: as a credo-baptist who had situated himself in a Reformed paedobaptist communion, I understood that by the time we had children I’d better submit paedo-wise if I wanted to remain Reformed. Time was faster than my ability to shake the credo-baptism, but I submitted anyway and grew into the paedobaptism. The point is that private judgment took a back seat to personal submission. It eventually caught up, but when you suggest that confessional Protestants and individualistic evangelicals are one and the same, it just doesn’t resonate over here.

  139. dgwired said,

    January 30, 2013 at 9:29 pm

    Bryan, do you have a link to the conditions under which a pope speaking infallibly occurs? Also, why is this not the case, namely, that the conditions are really infallible, not the pope per se, since the pope needs to meet certain conditions in order to be perfect in his teaching.

    That sort of sounds like the infallibility of Scripture, except you’re not referring to Scripture but to conditions determined (apparently) by someone. What happens to the pope who thinks he is speaking authoritatively but finds out he didn’t comply with the conditions? Does he get a retake?

  140. dgwired said,

    January 30, 2013 at 9:40 pm

    Bryan, btw, at the Catholic Encyclopedia on infallibility I see no conditions with which a pope must comply to speak infallibly. I do see these characteristics:

    “1) The pontiff must teach in his public and official capacity as pastor and doctor of all Christians, not merely in his private capacity as a theologian, preacher or allocutionist, nor in his capacity as a temporal prince or as a mere ordinary of the Diocese of Rome. It must be clear that he speaks as spiritual head of the Church universal.

    2) Then it is only when, in this capacity, he teaches some doctrine of faith or morals that he is infallible (see below, IV).

    3) Further it must be sufficiently evident that he intends to teach with all the fullness and finality of his supreme Apostolic authority, in other words that he wishes to determine some point of doctrine in an absolutely final and irrevocable way, or to define it in the technical sense (see DEFINITION). These are well-recognized formulas by means of which the defining intention may be manifested.

    “4) Finally for an ex cathedra decision it must be clear that the pope intends to bind the whole Church. To demand internal assent from all the faithful to his teaching under pain of incurring spiritual shipwreck (naufragium fidei) according to the expression used by Pius IX in defining the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin. Theoretically, this intention might be made sufficiently clear in a papal decision which is addressed only to a particular Church; but in present day conditions, when it is so easy to communicate with the most distant parts of the earth and to secure a literally universal promulgation of papal acts, the presumption is that unless the pope formally addresses the whole Church in the recognized official way, he does not intend his doctrinal teaching to be held by all the faithful as ex cathedra and infallible.”

    Those don’t sound like conditions. They only sound like a road map for the faithful who don’t know when their supposed to regard the church as infallible. But then the Encyclopedia lets us all off the hook by recognizing that the instances of infallibility are small:

    “But before being bound to give such an assent, the believer has a right to be certain that the teaching in question is definitive (since only definitive teaching is infallible); and the means by which the definitive intention, whether of a council or of the pope, may be recognized have been stated above. It need only be added here that not everything in a conciliar or papal pronouncement, in which some doctrine is defined, is to be treated as definitive and infallible. For example, in the lengthy Bull of Pius IX defining the Immaculate Conception the strictly definitive and infallible portion is comprised in a sentence or two; and the same is true in many cases in regard to conciliar decisions. The merely argumentative and justificatory statements embodied in definitive judgments, however true and authoritative they may be, are not covered by the guarantee of infallibility which attaches to the strictly definitive sentences — unless, indeed, their infallibility has been previously or subsequently established by an independent decision.”

    If infallibility is supposed to protect Christians from error and the instances of infallibility are only two — papal infallibility and the assumption of Mary (that’s according to Eamon Duffy), it sure seems infallibility doesn’t do much to protect the church from error. A whole lot of errors out there (in my opinion, of course) and only two instances of infallibility.

  141. Andrew McCallum said,

    January 30, 2013 at 9:43 pm

    Mark (re: 104),

    First let’s forget the matter of philosophical sophistication. I don’t think this is getting us anywhere.

    Basically, you have acknowledged that you rely on your own private interpretive judgment for assessing what Christ wants you to believe and do.

    Basically I have acknowledged that my assessments are what the Reformed churches have held to since the Reformation. Now of course where my personal judgment comes in is whether the Reformed churches have gotten things right. This is the same kind of assessment that the Catholics and the EO go through when they make their assessments of the respective ecclesiastical bodies they submit to. We all have to make such subjective assessments and even the RC’s like those at CTC will admit to this.

    So private judgment and differences of opinion are not a problem in your mind because despite what RC’s say, we’re all taking the same approach.

    As I said before they can be a big problem (i.e. when they cause divisions on matters which are central to the faith – The Resurrection, Christ’s divinity, etc). There are some matters which are central to the Christian faith and there are some matters which are not. Holding to a sola scriptura paradigm may not prevent two people from dividing over matters which at least one of them feels is basic to the Christian faith. Same thing of a Catholic tradition + Scripture paradigm. There are any number of serious Catholics out who all theoretically hold to the same sort of tradition + Scripture approach but come to very different conclusions on matters central to the Christian faith. Now of course the kind of conservative Catholics like those at CTC will agree with each other, but then they represent a rather small segment of the larger Catholic world. The Catholics to the left and right of them on the broad very liberal to ultra-traditionalist continuum look at the same tradition that our CTC friends do but come to very difference conclusions. All of the Catholics think they are the faithful ones but then they cannot all be right, can they?

    The Catholics will sometimes attempt to cut the Gordian Knot of multiple interpretations of tradition by denying that they are doing any interpreting, at least in the same sense as the Protestants interpret (see all of the Tu Quoque articles on CTC). But we cannot see any substantive difference. Can you?

    Ok. I do not think latitude is a problem if there is a sound and consistent basis for noting where latitude is appropriate and where it’s not. I think we are forced to rule out what any individual or body of sola scriptura folk thinks are the proper criteria for what’s basic because many other serious sola scriptura Christians would be in disagreement.

    And for many serious tradition + Scripture folks there are serious disagreements as well. There are serious EO, Oriental Orthodox, conservative Catholics, liberal Catholics, ultra-conservative Catholics, Anglo-Catholics, and others who adopt a Scripture + tradition paradigm but often come to quite radically different conclusions on matters of faith and morals.

    I assume you mean Tradition + Scripture + Magisterium, correct?

    The Magisterium is part of the tradition of the historic Catholic Church, right? So I’m simplifying this as well as attempting to include other traditions which also hold to Scripture + tradition, but who reject the peculiar understanding of the Roman Catholic Magisterium.

    Well, the CTC guys are saying IF T+S+M is true, then it does resolve the dilemmas

    Yes, for those who agree with the CTC understanding of T+S+M.

    Here’s why I struggle with that. If we are left by necessity with these dilemmas, then what did Jesus and the apostles really accomplish in terms of bringing divinely revealed truth? I think this view would force us to take as basic only those things that all sincere and intelligent Christians agree upon. That list isn’t very long. Communion, Baptism, Eternal Security, Eschatology, Predestination, Election, Free Will (and I’m sure I’m missing many others) all become matters of latitude. This would be an enormous break with how the major Reformers saw these things. It would also lead to a very low common denominator form of Christianity.

    So you are saying that Catholics and EO and Reformed of all types and varieties cannot agree with each other on basic matters. But this is true whether we adopt a sola scriptura or some version of the Scripture + tradition paradigm, no? If sola scriptura is true, which I’m convinced it is, then we will have much disagreement over how to interpret Scripture. If some from of infallible tradition + Scripture paradigm is true then we will have battles over how to interpret both Scripture and tradition. I’m afraid there is no easy way out….

  142. michael said,

    January 30, 2013 at 10:50 pm

    DGWired,

    That’s rather interesting what you are quoting from the Catholic Encyclopedia how the papacy/former/current/&future popes of the RCC are to become infallible and there is instruction in place for what Roman Catholic believers are to do if they believe their popes don’t attain to infallibility! Huh?

    Quoting from the source this Catholic Encyclopedia states: “But before being bound to give such an assent, the believer has a right to be certain that the teaching in question is definitive (since only definitive teaching is infallible); and the means by which the definitive intention, whether of a council or of the pope, may be recognized have been stated above”.

    Wow that’s interesting and strange. Let me see. The popes have to refer to an encyclopedia for guidance on how to attain infallibility? Do RC’s believe their Catholic Encyclopedia is on par with Scripture then and written by the same inspiration and is as infallible as Scripture is?

    It seems to me according to what the Catholic Encyclopedia is establishing is the pope has to submit to its understanding of infallibility then and this same book gives the Romanists some judgmental authority to determine their current pope’s infallibility?

  143. Bob S said,

    January 30, 2013 at 11:03 pm

    The more things change, the more the runaround on epistemology and private judgement remains the same. It is the age old question of how the finite fallible creature can truly know that he knows something, rather than wander in an eternal wilderness of opinion and skepticism.

    Traditionally that question has been answered by appealing to revelation, reason/rationalism or sense experience/empiricism. Or arguably Christ, Plato and Aristotle. Further Protestantism says Christ infallibly reveals himself in and through his Word, Rome says Christ reveals himself primarily and infallibly through The Church, i.e. Rome.

    (But this is not self serving in the least, but humble and reverent obedience to what Christ has revealed to his apostles who infallibly deposited them in the Lost Oral Traditions which have yet to be found to this day, never mind the [Not] Universal Consent of the Early Church Fathers on Matt. 16.)

    For his part, Bryan continues to assert that like Cuchulain, he can make an heroic leap of reasonable faith between his (fallible) private judgement/opinion and the certainty of Roman infallibility, if not that they are the same thing. This, even as the Roman paradigm of faith is as seamless as the cloak of Christ and not a heretical quagmire of subjective private judgement like protestantism.

    Yet as TF, dgh, michael and others continue to allude to or ask: how does Bryan know that any particular utterance of the pope is what the pope says it is, infallible or not? That it really is the pope speaking and not Charlie McCarthy’s imitation of Benedict 16 at the instigation of Bishop E. Bergen.

    Answer: he can’t without resorting to the same faculties of mental apprehension that all men are born with since they are made in the image of God with reasonable souls, i.e. his private judgement.

    IOW exercising one’s private judgement, apprehension or discernment in spiritual matters is ordinarily as necessary and as unconscious as breathing is to sustain physical life. Which is what is so infuriating in Bryan’s rote fideistic replies/rebuttals. He uses his discernment daily to remain a papist even as he denies it to protestants and chides them for it hypocritically ad nauseum.

    But God either speaks to us infallibly and directly, all “interpretation” aside in the Scripture. Or in the Church of Rome. Like it or not, both come to us by the way of our apprehension of them through our senses and appeal to and inform our minds, though faith both transforms as it transcends our minds.

    Yet all the hypocritical one way roman skepticism about private judgement aside, if we can know what Rome infallibly declares, how much more can we know what Scripture infallibly declares?

    For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:16

    Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. John 8:31,32

    But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. 1 John 2:20

    And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life. 1 John 5:20

    Not to be disagreeable, but that’s the whore on the beast in the living room, not the pink elephant.

    Of course scandals and offences will come and go, but woe unto him by whom they come.
    While the Scripture is perspicuous that does not mean that it can and will be misread by many who claim to believe it.
    Which is to say the biggest scandal might be that many who claim to be Christian, might not be Christians. That not only goes for Rome, but also professing protestants.
    Is that an argument against protestantism’s sola Scriptura?
    Hardly.

  144. Rooney said,

    January 30, 2013 at 11:10 pm

    If you use the T+S+M paradigm, how does that help you detect a very subtle anti-Pope or a false ecumenical council or a false tradition?
    For example, how do we know if the last few Popes were anti-Popes and how do we know if Vatican II was a false council?

  145. ericascheve said,

    January 30, 2013 at 11:41 pm

    Andrew;

    The Magisterium is part of the tradition of the historic Catholic Church, right? So I’m simplifying this as well as attempting to include other traditions

    I don’t think you are simplifying it. I think you are making it complicated, the very thing you criticize Cross and Stellman for doing by being too philosophical. Then at the end you say there’s no easy way out. Which, essentially means you think the problem is so difficult that the average guy can’t figure it out. So then why be critical of the Catholics for going sophisticated and over the heads of most people?

    When a Catholic refers to the magisterium, it’s not hard to identify who he’s referring to. To the average Christian on the street, comparing the clarity and consistency of the teachings of sola scriptura denominations to the Roman Catholic Church is easy. It’s no comparison.

    Now of course where my personal judgment comes in is whether the Reformed churches have gotten things right. This is the same kind of assessment that the Catholics and the EO go through when they make their assessments of the respective ecclesiastical bodies they submit to.

    I think this is not the case. The assessment you are making is whether or not the teachings of the Reformed churches align with Scripture. Catholics and EO’s aren’t making this assessment. They are assessing whether to submit to a body of leaders who claims to have divine authority.

    We all have to make such subjective assessments and even the RC’s like those at CTC will admit to this.

    Of course. But, the assessment is about what means Christ uses to convey his truth to all sincere people who have come to believe in him and want to know. I take it as a given that it cannot be a method that, based on clear empirical evidence, leads even its most sophisticated and devout adherents to contradictory conclusions. Even Joe C’s can see this about sola scriptura. As I understand you, you are basically saying yes it does, but so does the S+T+M approach. I’m saying, to the average Joe, there’s no comparison between the two. If you say to Joe, “but what about all the EO, Oriental Orthodox, liberal Catholics, ultra-conservative Catholics, etc,” Joe is going to say: “Dude, are those guys you mention in agreement with the Pope?”

    Thanks,
    Mark

  146. MarkS said,

    January 30, 2013 at 11:48 pm

    Oops! I logged comment 143 under my wife’s google account on her laptop!! She’s going to kill me : ) I appreciate the moderator deleting 143. Here’s my response under my own account:

    Andrew;

    The Magisterium is part of the tradition of the historic Catholic Church, right? So I’m simplifying this as well as attempting to include other traditions

    I don’t think you are simplifying it. I think you are making it complicated, the very thing you criticize Cross and Stellman for doing by being too philosophical. Then at the end you say there’s no easy way out. Which, essentially means you think the problem is so difficult that the average guy can’t figure it out. So then why be critical of the Catholics for going sophisticated and over the heads of most people?

    When a Catholic refers to the magisterium, it’s not hard to identify who he’s referring to. To the average Christian on the street, comparing the clarity and consistency of the teachings of sola scriptura denominations to the Roman Catholic Church is easy. It’s no comparison.

    Now of course where my personal judgment comes in is whether the Reformed churches have gotten things right. This is the same kind of assessment that the Catholics and the EO go through when they make their assessments of the respective ecclesiastical bodies they submit to.

    I think this is not the case. The assessment you are making is whether or not the teachings of the Reformed churches align with Scripture. Catholics and EO’s aren’t making this assessment. They are assessing whether to submit to a body of leaders who claims to have divine authority.

    We all have to make such subjective assessments and even the RC’s like those at CTC will admit to this.

    Of course. But, the assessment is about what means Christ uses to convey his truth to all sincere people who have come to believe in him and want to know. I take it as a given that it cannot be a method that, based on clear empirical evidence, leads even its most sophisticated and devout adherents to contradictory conclusions. Even Joe C’s can see this about sola scriptura. As I understand you, you are basically saying yes it does, but so does the S+T+M approach. I’m saying, to the average Joe, there’s no comparison between the two. If you say to Joe, “but what about all the EO, Oriental Orthodox, liberal Catholics, ultra-conservative Catholics, etc,” Joe is going to say: “Dude, are those guys you mention in agreement with the Pope?”

    Thanks,
    Mark

  147. Brad B said,

    January 31, 2013 at 1:59 am

    Hi Bryan, from 111

    “I like that phrase “kinda as an insider.” That’s exactly right. It is like learning another language. You have to learn the language so that in a way, you become “kinda as an insider” to that language-speaking community. That’s what it means to learn and evaluate a paradigm on its own terms. But that doesn’t entail or require presupposing one paradigm in order to evaluate the others. Nor does it require abandoning one’s own (original) paradigm, just as learning a new language does not require abandoning one’s mother tongue.

    In the peace of Christ,

    Well, I have to say my gut is screaming b/s that you hadn’t assumed infallibility when discerning whether the Roman church is indefectible as the linchpin of your decision to join all in.

    I guess I’d still appreciate an answer to my question to you on a different post: “on your best summation, was Martin Luther operating as an insider [from] the Roman paradigm?”

  148. Bob S said,

    January 31, 2013 at 2:44 am

    129
    Does my position involve a “radical surrender of one’s fate to ecclesial authority”? Yes, it does. Faith in Christ involves radical surrender to Christ, through radical surrender to those He has placed in authority in His Body the Church, just as for the first generation of Christians listening to Christ involved listening to His Apostles. “He who listens to you listens to me; he who rejects you rejects Me; but he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me.” (Luke 10:16).

    Translation: This is otherwise known as the fallacy of the missing middle term. And it’s not like it is the first time it has come up.

    The first generation church had to listen to the apostles because they were immediately sent by Christ in person.

    But the officers of the second generation church were not immediately sent by Christ in person, but mediately by the apostles.

    ∴Therefore the second generation church does not submit to its officers as if they were apostles.

    Again:

    The apostles were personally chosen eyewitnesses of Christ’s ministry and resurrection, much more promised his Spirit to infallibly write/dictate the New Testament to their amanuensis.
    Hence they were extraordinary officers in the first generation of the church.

    But the second generation officers were not personally chosen eyewitnesses of Christ’s ministry and resurrection, much more promised his Spirit to enable them to write/dictate the New Testament to their amanuensis.

    ∴Therefore the second generation officers are not extraordinary, but ordinary.

    IOW the presupposition of infallibility or continuation of extraordinary office in the second generation church is not only assumed, it is not deducible from Scripture (Luke 10:17) as Bryan erroneously presumes.

    But as we were told in 87

    The Catholic “system” is not fundamentally deductive.

    Indeed. Rather the Roman church is fundamentally flawed, if not that its chief proponents on this site don’t seem to know as much about logic as they might think they do.

    But what else is new? That’s not to be obnoxious, but if it all is ultimately about faith, which granted is not reducible to reason or tradition/history, the same should be reasonable in the light of Scripture, reason and history. Need we say a certain faith paradigm fails in light of all three references?

  149. Bryan Cross said,

    January 31, 2013 at 10:34 am

    Zrim (re: #136)

    But, Bryan, some of us desire to know the truth yet resist radical implicit faith in men. Either we don’t really desire to know the truth or we grasp the nature and depth of human depravity.

    Or you doubt the power and sovereignty of God to speak and work and govern His Church through sinful men. (You ought at least to keep all the possibilities in view, rather than hide any through false dilemmas.)

    One ‘benefit’ of being a monothelitist is that one never has to submit to Christ’s human will. (Not in this life anyway.) The dyothelitist, by contrast, has no principled reason to refuse to submit to divinely authorized and divinely protected human wills. I’m not saying you’re a monothelitist; just pointing out an implication of dyothelitism, and an implication of rejecting the authority of the sixth council. When submitting to Christ’s human will is normative, it becomes more difficult to justify an a priori aversion to submitting to God by submitting to a divinely authorized human will.

    Re your #47 comment, the point of which seems to be that in the Protestant mind the individual’s private judgment trumps ecclesial authority, indulge a personal response: as a credo-baptist who had situated himself in a Reformed paedobaptist communion, I understood that by the time we had children I’d better submit paedo-wise if I wanted to remain Reformed. Time was faster than my ability to shake the credo-baptism, but I submitted anyway and grew into the paedobaptism. The point is that private judgment took a back seat to personal submission.

    Here’s the dilemma. Either your personal anecdote is meant to be normative [i.e. this is what people *should* do], or not. If your personal anecdote is meant to be normative then Luther violated that norm by refusing to submit to the ecclesial authority over him at the time, and Protestantism is built on that sinful violation, much as Anglicanism is built on Henry VIII’s insistence on divorcing Catherine of Aragorn. On the other hand, if your personal anecdote is not meant to be normative, then it has no implications with respect to my argument in comment #47, in which case my argument (in #47) stands intact.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  150. Bryan Cross said,

    January 31, 2013 at 10:36 am

    Darryl, (re: #138)

    Those don’t sound like conditions.

    They are.

    If infallibility is supposed to protect Christians from error and the instances of infallibility are only two — papal infallibility and the assumption of Mary (that’s according to Eamon Duffy), it sure seems infallibility doesn’t do much to protect the church from error.

    The doctrine of the infallibility of the Church is not limited to papal infallibility. As I mentioned in comment #85, the other ways in which the Church is divinely protected from error can be found in section 25 of Lumen Gentium. The ordinary and universal magisterium is the most common way in which the Church is divinely protected from error (hence the word ‘ordinary’).

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  151. Bryan Cross said,

    January 31, 2013 at 10:36 am

    Michael (re: #140)

    Wow that’s interesting and strange. Let me see. The popes have to refer to an encyclopedia for guidance on how to attain infallibility?

    No. Nothing the article says implies that.

    Do RC’s believe their Catholic Encyclopedia is on par with Scripture then and written by the same inspiration and is as infallible as Scripture is?

    No. We do not.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  152. Bryan Cross said,

    January 31, 2013 at 10:38 am

    Brad, (re: #144)

    Well, I have to say my gut is screaming b/s that you hadn’t assumed infallibility when discerning whether the Roman church is indefectible as the linchpin of your decision to join all in.

    It would be foolish and irrational to assume without any reason that something is infallible. One way to examine a paradigm without presupposing the truth of that paradigm is to look for internal inconsistencies within the paradigm. So in this particular case, one thing I looked for, over some duration of time prior to my decision to become Catholic, was any inconsistency between the doctrine of infallibility and the whole of Church history as understood from a Catholic point of view. That is not the same as assuming the infallibility of the Church as “the linchpin” of my decision. That is examining the internal consistency of a paradigm.

    I guess I’d still appreciate an answer to my question to you on a different post: “on your best summation, was Martin Luther operating as an insider [from] the Roman paradigm?”

    Yes, he was earlier in his life. However, clearly at some point between 1517 and 1520, he abandoned the paradigm.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  153. dghart said,

    January 31, 2013 at 11:04 am

    Bryan, do you think that Urban VIII thought he was infallible when he upheld the condemnation of Galileo? This isn’t a gotcha question. It is an effort to try to understand. It doesn’t seem to me (I know, wrong paradigm), that any person hold the office of pope would actually know when the charism was on or off. Or to put it another way, that the pope would always be bound by some standard other than himself, like Scripture.

    Either way, an element of uncertainty hangs over the certain doctrine of infallibility — both when the teachings actually qualify and when the faithful know which teachings are infallible. I don’t think that the average Roman Catholic could tell whether an encyclical is infallible or not. Unam Sanctum, for instance, receives the kernel and husk approach that liberal Protestant scholars used on Scripture. Pope is superior, but the condemnations of Philip don’t stand.

    So the point is that for all the certainty that you bring to the table, the doctrine of infallibility itself raises a lot of questions, even for those who have the right paradigm (those baptized by priests in fellowship with the Bishop of Rome).

  154. Zrim said,

    January 31, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    Or you doubt the power and sovereignty of God to speak and work and govern His Church through sinful men. (You ought at least to keep all the possibilities in view, rather than hide any through false dilemmas.)

    Bryan, not at all. What I doubt, however, is the premise that in order for God to do this sinful men must be considered in any measure infallible. Not only because sin and perfection cannot inherently co-exist, but also because to maintain at once God’s ability to work through (always) sinful and (never) infallible men actually is to highlight the power and sovereignty of God to speak and work. It is actually your premise of human infallibility that degrades and undermines his power and sovereignty.

    My anecdote is meant to be normative. But it doesn’t impugn Luther who was only appealing to Paul who had direct calling and who prescribed believers to reject any, even himself or an angel, who taught another gospel. What it does, though, is point out how those persons within true communions may well have plenty of occasion to place obedience and submission before understanding and agreement. If that’s true then the Roman charge that there are as many formulas as there are formulators in Reformed Protestantism seems less sticky.

  155. Justin said,

    January 31, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    Bryan,

    I’m thinking off the cuff here and so may use terminology loosely.

    At #146, you write:
    “One ‘benefit’ of being a monothelitist is that one never has to submit to Christ’s human will. (Not in this life anyway.) The dyothelitist, by contrast, has no principled reason to refuse to submit to divinely authorized and divinely protected human wills. I’m not saying you’re a monothelitist; just pointing out an implication of dyothelitism, and an implication of rejecting the authority of the sixth council. When submitting to Christ’s human will is normative, it becomes more difficult to justify an a priori aversion to submitting to God by submitting to a divinely authorized human will.”

    Something here is not sitting right with me. Help me work through what I’m misreading or over-reading.

    Is the implication here that the Church is the human will protected by the Divine will? This seems a rather odd formulation, though maybe it’s just the use of the verb “protected.” When I think of dyothelitism, I think perichoresis, inter-penetration, not “protection.” Maybe you mean this as well. I’ll continue.

    But more to the point, it seems to strike a strange note that one would submit to a will and not to a person. Submitting to Christ isn’t submitting to His human will but to his Divine person. I may be picking nits here, but focusing on His human will–even if a divinely authorized will–strikes me as an odd distinction. Could you point me to Patristic primary texts that make this sort of distinction? I don’t think Cyril or Maximos make this sort of move, and I take these two to be great defenders of proper Christology, especially Maximos when it comes to the two wills of Christ.

    I can see why you frame the analogy the way you have (I hope it is only an analogy) because for you the Church is the instantiation/incarnation of the human will divinely “protected” or “authorized.” A submission to the Church, then, becomes a submission to the real human will of the Church (via, ultimately, the Pope) which becomes a real submission to the human will of Christ, Who is God. But we would not say the Pope is God, but divinely protected. But, to push the analogy, Christ wasn’t simply divinely protected or divinely authorized, He was Divine–his human will interpenetrated by His Divine and vice versa.

    It seems, rather, that the Church (visibly and invisibly) is the location of the synergistic relationship between human will and divine will so that the divine will inter-penetrates the human will (via episcopacy, priesthood, and laity) so the the Church is always uttering, like Christ, “not my will be done but Thine” and is in this way infallible–and divinely protected, when doing will of Christ (both human and divine will inter-penetrated) Who does the will of the Father. In other words, if the Church is led by the Spirit, also a Divine person, and is the Body of Christ, over which He is the head, then it is our human will (again, Bishops, priests, and laity) which must meet the Divine will and be led by the Divine will. Christ as Divine person acts for us as a model for our human will, but I’m not so sure one ought to divide his human so quickly from his Divine will, lest one do some sort of violence to His person.

    But perhaps we agree on everything, and it’s just a matter of emphasis.

  156. michael said,

    January 31, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    Bryan,

    First let me thank you for that little interaction above. I realize I have been a bit caltropic and pointed in my comments directed towards you and J Stellman. I’ll be coming back to those remarks in the next comment I make The Lord willing?

    I do want to respond to what you said in the very next post after you denied my observations about popes getting their guidance from your officially sanctioned Catholic encyclopedia.

    You wrote this: “…So in this particular case, one thing I looked for, over some duration of time prior to my decision to become Catholic, was any inconsistency between the doctrine of infallibility and the whole of Church history as understood from a Catholic point of view.”

    Here’s the very distinct difference between your “works righteousness” approach to Christ which all RC’s I suppose adhere to in your religious orthopraxy and ours (Protestants) when being brought to Christ by the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. Your approach as you clearly state there is based in your decision making process of judging the facts of the religious practices of the Roman Catholic Church and from what History teaches for accepting the rules of the RCC faithful before you decided to join the mother church.

    Here’s simply succinctly the Protestant’s way before accepting Christ:

    No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. (John 15:15, 16 ESV)

    And:

    And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:1-7 ESV)

    Notice the difference?

    According to you you guided yourself through private internal and maybe some external inquiry and came to your own decision to join.

    I as well as countless other multitudes and multitudes the book of the Revelation reveals were not seeking Christ or “chose” Him; no rather we were dead in trespasses and sins and by God’s Will And Purposes and Plan and foreknowledge God chose us making us alive “with” Christ!

    The Greek word used in Eph. 2:5 for making us alive is: συζωοποιέω
    Transliteration: syzōopoieō
    Pronunciation: sü-zō-o-poi-e’-ō
    Part of Speech: verb
    Root Word (Etymology): from G4862 and G2227
    Outline of Biblical Usage:
    1) to make one alive together
    a) of Christians, with Christ.

    Quite a big difference don’t you think?

  157. michael said,

    January 31, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    Bryan,

    Taken from the Catholic Encyclopedia:

    (“1) The pontiff must teach in his public and official capacity as pastor and doctor of all Christians, not merely in his private capacity as a theologian, preacher or allocutionist, nor in his capacity as a temporal prince or as a mere ordinary of the Diocese of Rome. It must be clear that he speaks as spiritual head of the Church universal.)

    Whose telling the Pontiff what “he” must “teach”?

    He must be clear that he speaks as spiritual head of the Church universal. Upon “whose” authority was this directive given to be included in your Catholic Encyclopedia?

    I do a lot of Bible Reading and for the life of me I cannot recall anywhere in Scripture where that is taught. Can you help me out and tell me the originator of that directive and where I can find the scriptural reference for it?

  158. Bryan Cross said,

    January 31, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    Darryl, (re: #151)

    Bryan, do you think that Urban VIII thought he was infallible when he upheld the condemnation of Galileo?

    Recall the conditions you laid out in #138. Disciplinary actions are not doctrinal definitions, and so do not meet the conditions by which we may know that a magisterial action is divinely protected from error.

    It doesn’t seem to me (I know, wrong paradigm), that any person hold the office of pope would actually know when the charism was on or off. Or to put it another way, that the pope would always be bound by some standard other than himself, like Scripture.

    The pope is always bound by the Tradition, which includes what has been previously defined. This is the way in which the doctrine of infallibility is inherently a conservative [i.e. conserving] doctrine, because it restricts what the present (and future) magisterium can do. If nothing were infallibly defined, then the magisterium could (considered abstractly) say or do anything.

    Either way, an element of uncertainty hangs over the certain doctrine of infallibility — both when the teachings actually qualify and when the faithful know which teachings are infallible.

    I agree that you are uncertain regarding which magisterial statements are infallible and which are not, and what are the conditions under which these statements are infallible. You are in the very beginning stage of learning these things, so such uncertainty at that stage is to be expected. But that does not mean that the status of these teachings is ambiguous to those who have been well catechized. Moreover, when there are situations in which the status of a magisterial teaching is unclear, the magisterium can issue a clarification. This happened, for example, when, after Pope John Paul II in 1994 issued his Apostolic Letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis regarding the ordination of women, some people raised questions about the authoritative status of his declaration therein that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women. Did this doctrine belong to the deposit of faith, or was it merely a discipline? The Holy See responded in the following year by issuing a clarification titled “Responsum ad propositum dubium” in which it was explained that the doctrine (that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women) has been infallibly taught by the ordinary and universal Magisterium, and that the ordinary magisterial declaration provided by Ordinatio Sacerdotalis itself gives witness to the infallibility of the teaching of a doctrine already possessed by the Church.

    I don’t think that the average Roman Catholic could tell whether an encyclical is infallible or not.

    There are many things that those not well catechized cannot do. But that’s a catechetical problem, not a doctrinal problem, and not a refutation of any doctrine.

    Unam Sanctum, for instance, receives the kernel and husk approach that liberal Protestant scholars used on Scripture. Pope is superior, but the condemnations of Philip don’t stand.

    Again, note the doctrinal / disciplinary distinction discussed above as pertaining to the Galileo case, in relation to the doctrine of infallibility.

    So the point is that for all the certainty that you bring to the table, the doctrine of infallibility itself raises a lot of questions, even for those who have the right paradigm (those baptized by priests in fellowship with the Bishop of Rome).

    Of course there are and will be additional questions on the part of the faithful, as doctrine continues to develop through the Spirit’s unfolding more fully the deposit of faith until Christ returns. But that is fully compatible with the basic argument that magisterial authority makes possible definitive determinations of dogma and heresy, while Protestantism’s rejection of magisterial authority (per se), makes dogma impossible. The argument you seem to be attempting to make is that if there remain questions in Catholicism, then there is parity between Catholicism and Protestantism with respect to the ability to define dogma (orthodoxy/heresy), and avoid the condition in which all interpretations and ecclesial judgments are reduced to mere human opinions. But that conclusion does not follow from that premise.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  159. Bryan Cross said,

    January 31, 2013 at 2:53 pm

    Zrim (re: #152)

    What I doubt, however, is the premise that in order for God to do this sinful men must be considered in any measure infallible.

    That’s fine, because Catholics don’t believe that either. So that’s not point of disagreement between Catholics and Protestants.

    to maintain at once God’s ability to work through (always) sinful and (never) infallible men actually is to highlight the power and sovereignty of God to speak and work.

    Sure. But we don’t get to stipulate in advance how God must act so as to maximize His exercise of power. Such a theological principle entails occasionalism, and thus a denial of creation. That theological methodology is [bad] philosophy cloaked as sacred theology.

    My anecdote is meant to be normative. But it doesn’t impugn Luther who was only appealing to Paul ….

    So with that added exception clause here’s what’s left. Persons must submit to the teaching of the ecclesial authority of whatever ecclesial body to which they presently belong, except when they, by their own interpretation of Scripture, judge that ecclesial authority’s teaching to be wrong. In other words, they must always submit to that teaching, except when, on the basis of their own personal interpretation of Scripture, they do not agree with that teaching. And at that point, we’re back to the problem laid out in comment #47 of the other thread.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  160. Bryan Cross said,

    January 31, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    Justin, (re: #153)

    But more to the point, it seems to strike a strange note that one would submit to a will and not to a person. Submitting to Christ isn’t submitting to His human will but to his Divine person.

    It is not an either/or but a both/and. There is no submitting to the Person of Christ without submitting both to His human will and to His divine will. The individual who refuses to submit to one of Christ’s wills, has thereby refused to submit to the Person of Christ.

    Christ wasn’t simply divinely protected or divinely authorized, He was Divine–his human will interpenetrated by His Divine and vice versa.

    If by “interpenetrated” you mean that his human will ceased to be human, or that He ceased to have a human will distinct from His divine will, then that’s monophysitism. But if you mean that He in His human will perfectly and freely conformed His human will to His divine will at every moment, then I agree. The human will (as a power of human nature) in itself is not infallible. Hence Christ’s human will, though infallible, was not infallible by [human] nature, but by the hypostatic union, through which His human will is protected from error, not as though it is naturally inclined to error but in the sense just explained, namely, that the human will is not by its very nature infallible.

    It seems, rather, that the Church (visibly and invisibly) is the location of the synergistic relationship between human will and divine will so that the divine will inter-penetrates the human will (via episcopacy, priesthood, and laity) so the the Church is always uttering, like Christ, “not my will be done but Thine” and is in this way infallible–and divinely protected, when doing will of Christ (both human and divine will inter-penetrated) Who does the will of the Father. In other words, if the Church is led by the Spirit, also a Divine person, and is the Body of Christ, over which He is the head, then it is our human will (again, Bishops, priests, and laity) which must meet the Divine will and be led by the Divine will.

    If by “interpenetrated” you mean conformity of the human will to the divine will (rather than obliteration of the human will), then I agree with what you say in this paragraph.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  161. Bryan Cross said,

    January 31, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    Michael, (re: #154)

    Here’s the very distinct difference between your “works righteousness” approach to Christ which all RC’s I suppose adhere to in your religious orthopraxy and ours (Protestants) when being brought to Christ by the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. Your approach as you clearly state there is based in your decision making process of judging the facts of the religious practices of the Roman Catholic Church and from what History teaches for accepting the rules of the RCC faithful before you decided to join the mother church.

    You seem to be assuming that if I speak of making a decision to become Catholic, then I mean to be saying both that I did this apart from the grace of the Holy Spirit, and that this is a “work of righteousness” by which I merit eternal life. But I neither said nor intended anything of that sort, nor do I believe it.

    I as well as countless other multitudes and multitudes the book of the Revelation reveals were not seeking Christ or “chose” Him; no rather we were dead in trespasses and sins and by God’s Will And Purposes and Plan and foreknowledge God chose us making us alive “with” Christ!

    I agree with that, but it does not imply that those already having faith in Christ remain dead in sins. (If you presently think you are dead in sins, then I would have no reason to believe anything you say, at least anything pertaining to divine revelation.) I first professed faith in Christ as a young child, and never subsequently renounced Him or abandoned faith in Him. So your assumption that I was unregenerate during the time of evaluating the “Catholic question” is an assumption I do not share.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  162. January 31, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    It seems to me that the very objections raised against Bryan regarding “uncertainty” and how its existence calls into question the supposed benefits of the CC’s authority claims could just as easily be leveled against Scripture and the process of canonization.

    In other words, shouldn’t the fact that in the early church there were debate and confusion in certain circles regarding which books counted as canonical and therefore inspired invalidate the certainty we now have about what the canon is? But on the other hand, if the lack of scientific precision in the early church regarding the identification of the canon does not undermine our certainty about it now, then there is no reason why disagreement about the status of a papal encyclical needs to undermine the benefits of ecclesial infallibility.

    So it seems that Darryl, ironically, is discounting the CC on the grounds of its lack of perfect harmony and epistemological tidiness. I’m almost tempted to bring a charge of questing for illegitimate religious certainty up in here.

  163. Zrim said,

    January 31, 2013 at 3:19 pm

    Bryan, not quite. Persons must not merely submit to the teaching of the ecclesial authority of whatever ecclesial body to which they presently belong. Rather they must submit to the teaching and authority of true churches. Yes, some measure of private judgment is involved in determining where a true church is, but being Protestant making room for private judgment and driven by scriptura then tradition (instead of Catholic making no room for private judgment and driven by ecclesia and then philosophy), I don’t see the problem.

  164. Bryan Cross said,

    January 31, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    Zrim (re: #160)

    Your not seeing the problem is fully compatible with my argument being sound.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  165. michael said,

    January 31, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    Bryan,

    You responded: “…(If you presently think you are dead in sins, then I would have no reason to believe anything you say, at least anything pertaining to divine revelation.)”

    There is a fundamental disagreement here. I would say it like this that I was born breathing, still am breathing and typing away this comment.

    I just took a deep breath and another.

    I was reborn by the Will of God and made alive, conjoined to Christ. Now I have spiritual Life working in and through me as the Apostle Paul wrote in Galatians:

    Gal 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

    After that he writes this:

    Gal 3:1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified.
    Gal 3:2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?
    Gal 3:3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?

    Apparently according to that testimony you gave above that as a child you:
    “…I first professed faith in Christ as a young child, and never subsequently renounced Him or abandoned faith in Him. …”

    Apparently according to Paul we can begin in the Spirit and then somehow become bewitched and end up serving Christ in the flesh which it seems now you have started doing seeing in order to be a mature Catholic there are a lot of dogmas to keep!

    The Apostle Paul goes on in explaining his understanding of all this by writing this to the Colossians after showing them that Christ defeated His enemies disarming them and publicly displaying it to the world:

    Col 2:16 Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath.
    Col 2:17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.
    Col 2:18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind,
    Col 2:19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.
    Col 2:20 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations–
    Col 2:21 “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch”
    Col 2:22 (referring to things that all perish as they are used)–according to human precepts and teachings?
    Col 2:23 These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

  166. michael said,

    January 31, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    Bryan,

    in light of those Words of Scripture, can you confirm for me something I was either told or read about John Paul 2 that he never slept on a bed but on the floor?

  167. Justin said,

    January 31, 2013 at 4:22 pm

    Bryan,

    As I thought, we agree on lots of things.

    “If by “interpenetrated” you mean that his human will ceased to be human, or that He ceased to have a human will distinct from His divine will, then that’s monophysitism.”
    ***Perichoresis is the proper Christological term. And it means inter-penetrated, not subsumed, consumed, etc. Both wills are at work synergistically. And I think you mean monotheletism.

    “The human will (as a power of human nature) in itself is not infallible.”
    ***We agree. But do you argue that it is fallible? And I do have to ask about a natural will and a gnomic/deliberative one since this distinction is all throughout the Patristic literature. I don’t think I’m picking nits, but it’s very germane to our discussion if Christ did not inherit a gnomic/deliberative will.

    “Hence Christ’s human will, though infallible, was not infallible by [human] nature, but by the hypostatic union, through which His human will is protected from error, not as though it is naturally inclined to error but in the sense just explained, namely, that the human will is not by its very nature infallible.”
    ***I cannot not follow the Christological argument here. For example, I don’t know what this phrase even means: “human will is not by its very nature infallible.” A will doesn’t have a nature; a will is a faculty of a nature ready to be exercised–for good or for ill. You point this out above. If it has a nature, its nature is potentiality. I could be wrong, but I don’t think natures do anything. Persons do.

    “Hence Christ’s human will, though infallible, was not infallible by [human] nature”
    ***For a slightly different direction. see, for example, Maximos’ “Ad Thalassium 21″ on this, especially paragraphs 1 and 2. Let’s just reverse things: using your phrasing, was Christ’s human will fallible by nature? Maximos would say yes and no: yes if he were conceived by normal passionate means; no because He was conceived Divinely and without passions (a recapitulation of Adam’s genesis).

    “was not infallible by [human] nature”
    ***This just gets us back to the gnomic/deliberative will. I don’t know where you stand on this, and so I don’t know what this sentence means.

    “but by the hypostatic union, through which His human will is protected from error, not as though it is naturally inclined to error but in the sense just explained, namely, that the human will is not by its very nature infallible.”
    ***A deliberative will need not be inclined to error but simply to deliberation. The hypostatic union renders it an impossibility for Christ to sin and so He needs no protection (again, this may be a simple problem with semantics and analogy). If God assumes it, does He not heal it? This is what I mean that your use of “protection” strikes me as odd. Again, and I don’t want you to take up a bunch of time doing so, can you give me some sources that speaks of God “protecting” Christ’s will? It’s not in Cyril or Maximos. Your explanation here strikes me as more apropos in a discussion of the Immaculate Conception and Mary’s sinlessness. This idea of “protection” leans to much towards monotheletism, I think. “Protection” lacks the synergy necessary for a properly articulated Christology, I think. Again, I think it works just fine with Mary’s IC.

    But there is a sticking point in your previous analogy that you didn’t address.

    “It is not an either/or but a both/and. There is no submitting to the Person of Christ without submitting both to His human will and to His divine will. The individual who refuses to submit to one of Christ’s wills, has thereby refused to submit to the Person of Christ.”

    1) I agree with the both/and. But why then do you emphasize the human will and not the divine? If they act in concert, then saying one is saying the other, right? I imagine most Protestants here would argue that they in fact submit to the divine will, which would simply be submitting to His human will (whether or not there is any way to adjudicate this is another matter–or the primary one for you). It seems that because you see the visible Church as acting visibly with a human will and invisibly (though hypostatically visibly through the human will) with a Divine one, you try to find an in-road by making the analogy to submitting to Christ’s human will rather than His Divine person (where one can’t really separate the two distinct wills because they operate synergistically). So, by analogy, once you’ve committed yourself to habitually submitting your own human will to Christ’s human will it becomes easier to submit your human will to the Church’s (and, ultimately, ex cathedra, to the Pope’s) because they are the visible human will participating with (though you like “protected by”) and therefore manifesting the divine.

    But what you’re hoping to say all along is that submission to the Church’s human will is submission to the Divine will because we do both/and and not either/or. Maybe it’s an easier pill to swallow if people first get used to submitting to the human will and then discover by living within submitting to the human will it was always the Divine one.

    O.K., that’s enough.

  168. Steve G said,

    January 31, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    Bryan said:

    “I agree that you are uncertain regarding which magisterial statements are infallible and which are not, and what are the conditions under which these statements are infallible. You are in the very beginning stage of learning these things, so such uncertainty at that stage is to be expected. But that does not mean that the status of these teachings is ambiguous to those who have been well catechized.”

    I find this comment very interesting given that the Catholic Church has never provided an infallible list of infallible papal pronouncements. I’ve also been to a number of Catholic websites and there seems to be a great deal of disagreement about what pronouncements would go on such a list. Maybe they haven’t been well catechized? Since I assume that you have been well catechized, can you provide all of us here a list of infallible papal pronouncements?

  169. TurretinFan said,

    January 31, 2013 at 6:26 pm

    Stellman #159 – yes, there’s a remarkable symmetry, but CTC denies that there is symmetry. If you concede the symmetry, then you should recognize that it is much more reasonable to place confidence in the New Testament Scriptures as infallible than in the Roman magisterium as infallible.

  170. michael said,

    January 31, 2013 at 8:33 pm

    Jason S. asked “In other words, shouldn’t the fact that in the early church there were debate and confusion in certain circles regarding which books counted as canonical and therefore inspired invalidate the certainty we now have about what the canon is?”

    I would say that is not novel and would go back a bit further with a verse because the nature and importance of the veracity of God’s Word for future generations is essential to one being established in Truth in their generation in order that when True Believers are buffeted by evil forces to discourage and dislodge them from the truth of a life of Faith they do not stop living by the Spirit!

    1 Cor. 11:19 for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.

    Were there debates producing factions from the start? Of course just as there will be factions today! Nothing novel with that. These events just allow for the genuine among us to be recognized.

  171. Andrew McCallum said,

    January 31, 2013 at 10:03 pm

    I don’t think you are simplifying it. I think you are making it complicated, the very thing you criticize Cross and Stellman for doing by being too philosophical. Then at the end you say there’s no easy way out. Which, essentially means you think the problem is so difficult that the average guy can’t figure it out. So then why be critical of the Catholics for going sophisticated and over the heads of most people?

    Mark (re: 144),

    I’m not criticizing Bryan and Jason for taking their philosophical approach, only pointing that it will only have applicability to a very few Protestants. I asked them how they would answer the 99+% of Protestants who would have no interest or ability to get their minds around Bryan’s complex philosophical system. Neither Bryan nor Jason has answered me on that one.

    But as I stated a number of times, I like these kinds of discussions and I think we Reformed who have the interest in such dialogues should respond. And of course we do. But on the other hand I don’t want to forget about rest of the 99+% who will not resonate with the CTC approach. So if there is any critique, it’s that I think Bryan and friends are speaking one extremely small slice of the Evangelical world. But I don’t think he is debating this.

    In my “no easy way out” comment should probably have left out the word “easy.” I understand how that could be confusing so let me retract that word. I only meant that there is no way of getting away from the kind of subjective interpretation that the Protestants go through in assessing what body of believers they should commune with.

    When a Catholic refers to the magisterium, it’s not hard to identify who he’s referring to.

    Well sure, if we are just talking about the conservative Roman Catholics like those at CTC then they all agree as to what the Magisterium is. But that’s just a very small subsection of those who believe in a tradition + Scripture paradigm. The problem is that there are many different groups of Catholics and EO folks, all who look at the same tradition of the Church, but who come to very different conclusions on quite a number of basic matters. Look at it from a Protestant standpoint – If a Protestant converts, whose interpretation within the Catholic or EO world should he adopt? It’s the same basic question you are asking about which Protestant’s interpretation of Scripture someone should adopt if they leave Rome.

    I think this is not the case. The assessment you are making is whether or not the teachings of the Reformed churches align with Scripture. Catholics and EO’s aren’t making this assessment. They are assessing whether to submit to a body of leaders who claims to have divine authority.

    Right! And there is a whole slough of possibilities depending on whose interpretation of the tradition of the Church is correct. So how does the Protestant coming out of Evangelicalism make this assessment? As I look at those on both the right and left of the CTC crowd within Catholicism, as well as many in one Orthodox Church of another, I find their interpretation of various matters within the history of the Church to be more convincing than the interpretations given by the current RCC Magisterium. So whose interpretation should I adopt and why?

  172. Ron said,

    February 1, 2013 at 12:53 am

    In 156 Bryan linked us to another post of his from yet another thread in which we find a couple of gems worth addressing. Given that Bryan referenced these remarks in this thread I trust I may comment here.

    Whenever any “church” or “pastor” does not conform to what by one’s own judgment the Spirit is speaking in one’s own heart, through one’s own study of Scripture, one is both free and obligated to reject and disobey the “church” or “pastor.”

    Bryan overplays his hand for he unwittingly accuses himself of accepting Rome’s teaching apart from personal judgment, study of Scripture and the Spirit’s illumination and leading. Of course, I readily accept Bryan’s indictment of himself. But is that something Bryan really would like to boast about?

    So the teachings and decisions of the “church” and “pastor” are always subject to the individual’s internal judgment concerning what the Spirit is speaking in the Scriptures. For that reason, the individual’s interpretive authority *is* ultimate, because the “church” and “pastor” can never trump it, but it can at any time trump that of the “church” and “pastor.”

    Bryan rarely misses an opportunity to further embellish his double-standard rhetoric with phrases like “the individual’s internal judgment” and “interpretive authority.” Of course, Bryan himself interprets tradition and makes personal judgment all the time. But aside from the obvious, Bryan’s point presupposes that Roman Catholic pastors never contradict their own tradition; yet upon further reflection Bryan will realize that this is simply false. Bryan even knows that should his “pastor” preach something contrary to Bryan’s own interpretation of what the “church” teaches then he himself will be constrained to make an internal judgment, if not feel “obligated to reject and disobey the ‘church’ or ‘pastor.’”

    I’m truly sorry for Bryan because by not only discrediting but also mocking the study of God’s word, prayerful judgment and divine illumination and leading, Bryan is left to obey Rome blindly, even if it violates a scripturally informed conscience (and when it comes to the hocus pocus of the mass, even common sense.) Of course Bryan will deny that he discredits and mocks these things but that won’t change the perspicuity of his words.

  173. February 1, 2013 at 1:21 am

    Andrew,

    I’m not criticizing Bryan and Jason for taking their philosophical approach, only pointing that it will only have applicability to a very few Protestants. I asked them how they would answer the 99+% of Protestants who would have no interest or ability to get their minds around Bryan’s complex philosophical system. Neither Bryan nor Jason has answered me on that one.

    I’m not a philosopher, nor do I play one on TV. My point earlier was intended to be quite simple: In order for a believer to be expected to respond in faithful assent to some doctrine, that doctrine needs to have been given by divine revelation, and not just by human opinion. Human opinions may be good, and sometimes they’re right, but they can’t bind us like divine revelation can.

    In the same way that without God-given infallibility the Bible is just a human book like any other, so the exegetical and theological formulations of its students, without God-given infallibility, are just human formulations, and as such, cannot bind us any more than Calvin, Plato, or Tolkien can. And since Protestantism makes no claim to infallibility under any conditions at all, it follows that its teachings as such, even when correct, cannot be said to carry divine authority that can bind us to assent to them.

    And if this does seem overly-complex, it’s probably because there is no longer one church, but many bodies competing with one another. Back in the old-timey days when “the church in Corinth” meant “the church in Corinth,” things were probably way easier for simple Christian people.

  174. Don said,

    February 1, 2013 at 2:29 am

    Jason J. Stellman #170,
    In your last paragraph, by “the church in Corinth” do you mean the Pauline church, the Apolline(?) church, the Petrine church, the Christian church? I’m not sure if you were trying to make a subtle point that the church has always faced factions and divisions, but that has been the situation since Acts chapter 6 or so.

    While I’m here, I would present another version of the last sentence of your middle paragraph: “And although Catholicism makes claim to infallibility under certain conditions, it does not follow that its teachings as such, even when correct, must be said to carry divine authority that can bind us to assent to them.”

  175. Bob S said,

    February 1, 2013 at 3:35 am

    144 MarkS
    You’re missing the point. Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide are fundamental to the gospel. If you don’t get that right, you don’t get anything right. Which is Rome’s problem and the chaos and confusion in protestantism which scandalizes you, still doesn’t transmute Rome’s false gospel into gold.

    For that matter compare the presbyterian Westminster, the congregationalist Savoy and the baptist London Confessions, which largely agree on doctrine, but disagree on govt. and baptism.

    And about the only thing that struck me upon becoming a member of a P&R church was the ignorance of American Christianity regarding Scripture, sound doctrine and the Reformation.
    Not good, but better than the ignorance is the mother of devotion attitude of the other alternative under discussion.

    147 Or you doubt the power and sovereignty of God to speak and work and govern His Church through sinful men. (You ought at least to keep all the possibilities in view, rather than hide any through false dilemmas.)

    No kidding? Like in 94 where there is no mention of the OT Scriptures?

    [A]n authoritative tradition can remain even when an authorized spokesperson is not present or presently proclaiming it. It can endure in the life and practice of a community. There are communities in Eastern Europe where the last priest was killed by the communists back in the 1940s, and yet the Catholic faithful there (though entirely cut off from any bishop and from the pope by the iron curtain) faithfully retained the Catholic tradition and taught the faith to their children, though without the sacraments. . . . And the Hebrews preserved the divine tradition similarly, even when no prophet was present, or even alive at that time.

    False dilemma?
    Come on. That’s CtC’s forte in aces and spades.

    In 150 we are told: It would be foolish and irrational to assume without any reason that something is infallible. One way to examine a paradigm without presupposing the truth of that paradigm is to look for internal inconsistencies within the paradigm

    Fair enough. For one example vide 6.

    Where is the argument demonstrating that the Catholic definition of ‘Tradition’ doesn’t “work”? Claiming that Tradition is what the current RCC teaches does not show that the definition of ‘Tradition’ doesn’t work; it doesn’t rule out the possibility that the reason why Tradition is what the Church currently teaches is precisely because the Church has faithfully preserved the Tradition.

    Question. Does anybody remember the previous discussion about the infallible list/table of contents to the (lost) apostolic oral traditions that took place in the GB combox?
    Or how about the invisible Universal Consent/Tradition of the Early Church Fathers on Matt. 16/the papacy?
    Internal inconsistency? Nope.
    Rather the stonewall paradigm dissolves all doubts. As above:

    The Church has faithfully preserved the Tradition.

    Evidently if an untruth/fallible human opinion is repeated often enough, it transcends the propaganda category and becomes true/infallible dogma in certain paradigms.
    Like the clicking your heels and wishing you and Toto were back home in Kansas paradigm?

    Dunno, but enough for now.
    ciao.

  176. michael said,

    February 1, 2013 at 3:37 am

    Don,

    That’s a very ironic response to Jason and referencing Acts6 in light of this verse from there: Acts 6:7 And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.

    Here we that God was very interested even some of those from the one per cent crowd!

    In any event the assent to the Faith once delivered to His Saints was the order of the day both then and now!

    As I continue to refer I refer to a couple realities from the now closed canon.

    Several things can establish you in the Truth from it. One, by this assent you are built up in this common faith and common salvation which gives you the promise inheritance and living hope as these verse address:

    Acts 20:32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

    Romans 15:

  177. michael said,

    February 1, 2013 at 4:03 am

    Hit a button prematurely!

    As well as Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

    The interesting thing is the scriptures and those that use them for all members of the common faith and salvation including oneself strengthen both them and you in our/your personal communion with both God in the power of the Holy Spirit and one another.

    We see all through the scriptures this happening among the nations as the Word of God grew to His Glory and Honor and Praise!

    Acts 9:31 So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.

    Romans 16:25 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages
    26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith—
    27 to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

  178. dgwired said,

    February 1, 2013 at 6:24 am

    Bryan, you wrote: “The argument you seem to be attempting to make is that if there remain questions in Catholicism, then there is parity between Catholicism and Protestantism with respect to the ability to define dogma (orthodoxy/heresy), and avoid the condition in which all interpretations and ecclesial judgments are reduced to mere human opinions. But that conclusion does not follow from that premise.”

    I am trying to show that the conclusion of many Protestant converts to Rome — Protestantism is a mess so we MUST HAVE an infallible authority — does not follow either. The case for Rome to outsiders has as many holes as Protestantism itself (not to mention all those nooks and crannies of heresies and dissent within Roman Catholicism itself).

    As for my catechesis in these matters, if I have to go to several websites to find out what infallibility and the magisterium means, not to mention trying to fathom when the charism is on or not, I think your church comes up woefully inadequate in its teaching capacity (which was partly the point of the Reformation). For instance, here is all the current catechism (and I thought the Larger Catechism was large), has to say on this matter:

    890 The mission of the Magisterium is linked to the definitive nature of the covenant established by God with his people in Christ. It is this Magisterium’s task to preserve God’s people from deviations and defections and to guarantee them the objective possibility of professing the true faith without error. Thus, the pastoral duty of the Magisterium is aimed at seeing to it that the People of God abides in the truth that liberates. To fulfill this service, Christ endowed the Church’s shepherds with the charism of infallibility in matters of faith and morals. the exercise of this charism takes several forms:

    891 “The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful – who confirms his brethren in the faith he proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals…. the infallibility promised to the Church is also present in the body of bishops when, together with Peter’s successor, they exercise the supreme Magisterium,” above all in an Ecumenical Council.418 When the Church through its supreme Magisterium proposes a doctrine “for belief as being divinely revealed,”419 and as the teaching of Christ, the definitions “must be adhered to with the obedience of faith.”420 This infallibility extends as far as the deposit of divine Revelation itself.421

    892 Divine assistance is also given to the successors of the apostles, teaching in communion with the successor of Peter, and, in a particular way, to the bishop of Rome, pastor of the whole Church, when, without arriving at an infallible definition and without pronouncing in a “definitive manner,” they propose in the exercise of the ordinary Magisterium a teaching that leads to better understanding of Revelation in matters of faith and morals. To this ordinary teaching the faithful “are to adhere to it with religious assent”422 which, though distinct from the assent of faith, is nonetheless an extension of it.

    I suspect many Roman Catholics are as confused as I am. And yet their souls are in peril for not submitting to the teachings of Rome. This is not about paradigms and logic, right?

  179. dgwired said,

    February 1, 2013 at 6:27 am

    Jason, to say that an authority must be infallible to be divine means we have no governors or parents to whom we must submit. I know you have an anarchist strain in you (how that works in a tyrannical church I’ll never know), but that equation is down right fundamentalist, i.e., the inerrant Bible is our only source of truth because it is divine and infallible.

  180. Ron said,

    February 1, 2013 at 6:38 am

    In the same way that without God-given infallibility the Bible is just a human book like any other, so the exegetical and theological formulations of its students, without God-given infallibility, are just human formulations, and as such, cannot bind us any more than Calvin, Plato, or Tolkien can.

    Jason,

    So, what you are saying is that if one were to come to the conclusion from Scripture alone that Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father and will one day come again to judge the quick and the dead, then these truths must only be human formulations. It would, therefore, seem that one cannot know any proposition contained in Scripture apart from the Roman church’s pronouncement. This has been many Protestants’ point all along. Given the implication of the tenets or Roman Catholicism it’s useless for one to read his Bible because Rome has not yet provided exegesis for each and every verse. Yet given that true doctrine can be believed apart from Rome’s pronouncement, what you are saying is that one’s belief cannot be justified by the Spirit’s witness working with the Word but rather only by the warrant given by Rome.

  181. Ron said,

    February 1, 2013 at 7:23 am

    I’m not a philosopher, nor do I play one on TV. My point earlier was intended to be quite simple: In order for a believer to be expected to respond in faithful assent to some doctrine, that doctrine needs to have been given by divine revelation, and not just by human opinion. Human opinions may be good, and sometimes they’re right, but they can’t bind us like divine revelation can.

    Jason,

    I realize you’re not a philosopher but surely you can conceptualize that the divine revelation you require can be Scripture. The only question is whether Scripture is intelligible. Jesus’ treatment of the religious leaders of his day indicates it is.

  182. John Bugay said,

    February 1, 2013 at 7:40 am

    DGH, and Bryan — In a thread at Called to Communion, this issue came up: “papal ratifications of dogmatic canons issued by general councils meant to bind the whole Church”. Surely these will give DGH some historical basis for what actually is, and what actually isn’t, an infallible papal pronouncement.

    Of “papal ratifications”, it was said (at CTC):

    Whether purely papal or conciliar, such definitions are exercises of the “extraordinary magisterium” of the Church, and thus require the assent of faith from all believers. All are set forth infallibly.

    Of course, it’s not like “popes” had called these councils, or were leading these councils, or even present at these councils, or were even afterthoughts at these councils. In some cases, they didn’t even know about them until after-the-fact.

    “Pope Sylvester” was not present at the First Ecumenical Council (Nicea 325AD). Only two priests from Rome were present (among the 300+ Eastern bishops at the council) and Sylvester is neither mentioned by, or even apparently though of at this council. At the Second Ecumenical Council, Constantinople (381AD), from which we have “the Nicene Creed” in its present form, “Pope Damasus” (366–384) didn’t even know it was occurring, and only received reports about the council later.

    What was “the papacy” like at this time? This is from Hans Küng: “Infallibility, an Inquiry”:

    Bishop Damasus was the first to claim the title of Sedes Apostolica (“Apostolic See”) exclusively for the Roman See; Bishop Siricius (contemporary of the far more important Ambrose, Bishop of Milan), was the first to call himself “pope,” began peremptorily to call his own statutes “apostolic,” adopted the official imperial style, and energetically extended his official powers on all sides; Bishop Innocent I wanted to have every important matter, after it had been been discussed at a synod, put before the Roman pontiff for a decision, and tried to establish liturgical centralization with the aid of historical fictions, and so on.

    The historian Eamon Duffy writes of this “official imperial style”:

    They [bishops of Rome] set about [creating a Christian Rome] by building churches, converting the modest tituli (community church centres) into something grander, and creating new and more public foundations, though to begin with nothing that rivaled the great basilicas at the Lateran and St. Peter’s. Over the next hundred years their churches advanced into the city – Pope Mark’s (336) San Marco within a stone’s throw of the Capitol, Pope Liberius’ massive basilica on the Esquiline (now Santa Maria Maggiore), Pope Damasus’ Santa Anastasia at the foot of the Palatine, Pope Julius’ foundation on the site of the present Santa Maria in Trastevere, Santa Pudenziana near the Baths of Diocletian under Pope Anastasius (399-401), Santa Sabina among the patrician villas on the Aventine under Pope Celestine (422-32).

    These churches were a mark of the upbeat confidence of post-Constantinian Christianity in Rome. The popes were potentates, and began to behave like it. Damasus perfectly embodied this growing grandeur. An urbane career cleric like his predecessor Liberius, at home in the wealthy salons of the city, he was also a ruthless power-broker, and he did not he did not hesitate to mobilize both the city police and [a hired mob of gravediggers with pickaxes] to back up his rule… (Duffy, 37:38).

    It was Siricius (384-399), who was the successor of Damasus, who “self-consciously … began to model their actions and style as Christian leaders on the procedures of the Roman state. … [Siricius responded to an inquiry from a neighboring bishop in Spain] in the form of a decretal, modeled directly on an imperial rescript, and like the rescripts, providing authoritative rulings which were designed to establish legal precedents on the issues concerned. Siricius commended the [inquiring] Bishop for consulting Rome ‘as to the head of your body’, and instructed to him to pass on ‘the salutary ordinances we have made’ to the bishops of all the surrounding provinces, for ‘no priest of the Lord is free to be ignorant of the statutes of the Apostolic See’” (Duffy 40)

    Interesting that Küng refers to these men as “bishops”, given that they were the first to refer to themselves as “popes”.

    Regarding the way that “historical fictions” worked their way into papal consolidation of their power, Roger Collins, Keeper of the Keys (New York, NY: Basic Books (Perseus Books Group), ©2009) writes:

    In 416 Pope Innocent I (401–417) declared ‘in all of Italy, Gaul, Spain, Africa, Sicily and the isles that lie between them no churches have been established other than by those ordained bishop by the venerable Apostle Peter or his successors”…. (58)

    This was totally historically inaccurate, although it wasn’t the only such incident giving sanction to historical inaccuracy. The purpose of such “novelties”, according to Collins, was “always the” invention “maintenance of tradition” (59).

    Later, Collins writes about the “Symmachan forgeries”:

    This was the first occasion on which the Roman church had revisited its own history, in particular the third and fourth centuries, in search of precedents…. Some of the periods in question, such as the pontificates of Sylvester (314–355) and Liberius (352–366), were already being seen more through the prism of legend than that of history, and in the Middle Ages texts were often forged because their authors were convinced of the truth of what they contained. Their faked documents provided tangible evidence of what was already believed true.

    The Symmachan forgeries reinterpreted some of the more embarrassing episodes in papal history, both real and imaginary. … How convincing these forged texts seemed in the early sixth century is unknown, but when rediscovered in later centuries, they were regarded as authentic records with unequivocal legal authority. … (Collins, 80–82).

    This is how Rome does “interpretation”. The reliance of these bishops of Rome on fictions and forgeries to expand their realm is truly staggering. Collins says “It is no coincidence that the first systematic works of papal history appear at the very time the Roman church’s past was being reinvented for polemical purposes.” We have only seen the tip of the iceberg.

    * * *

    There was a representative of a pope present at the third Ecumenical council. History records a speech from “Philip the Roman Legate” at the Council of Ephesus (431 AD). It is important to note that this was at the third session – after all of the major issues had been decided, “after the conclusion of the whole matter”, after many of the important players had left. Philip stood up in front of an almost-empty room and said:

    No one doubts, but rather it has been known to all generations, that the holy and most blessed Peter, chief and head of the Apostles, the pillar of the faith, the foundation stone of the Catholic church, received the keys of the kingdom from our Lord Jesus Christ the Savior and Redeemer of the human race, an that the power of binding and loosing sins was given to him, who up to this moment and always lives in his successors, and judges (D. 112).

    For Roman Catholics, this counts as “papal ratification” of a council.

    In reality, this speech of Philip’s was a novelty, a burp after a meal, a “don’t-forget-about-me” moment” which wasn’t on anybody’s mind at the time (except for those at Rome), and at Vatican I, we see here the real-life practice of what I’ve been calling “The Roman Catholic Hermeneutic”, returning “to the sources of divine revelation” – interesting how this afterthought of a speech turns into “a source of divine revelation” for the great and certain Roman Catholic IP, that fountain of all epistemological certainty.

    This unimportant speech was cited at Vatican I (D. 1824), as precedent for and evidence of “the Perpetuity of the Primacy of Blessed Peter among the Roman Pontiffs.”

    I know, someone will say, but none of this is inconsistent with the fact that the popes really were infallible in that day.

    But it is upon this sort of activity, and the reporting of this activity, [and the modification of the reports of this activity in history], upon which the “100% certainty” of the “CIP” rests, folks at Called to Communion, at any rate, find “preferable”.

  183. Andrew McCallum said,

    February 1, 2013 at 9:34 am

    Jason (re: 170),

    In the same way that without God-given infallibility the Bible is just a human book like any other, so the exegetical and theological formulations of its students, without God-given infallibility, are just human formulations, and as such, cannot bind us any more than Calvin, Plato, or Tolkien can.

    And the point I made to you earlier in this thread was that the person who hears the gospel and responds in faith is not responding to a human opinion, they are responding to a divine command via the preaching of the gospel. God works through the “foolishness” of preaching to command the assent of faith.

    If we are just talking about human formulations then nobody is ever going to respond, no matter how many “infallible” pronouncements get stamped on the official promulgation of a given dogma. At least they are not going to respond in faith as the Bible speaks of faith. Faith comes by hearing we are told, and hearing by the Word of God. Faith does not come by making claims about certain human formulations of the Word of God and then getting people to intellectually affirm to the epistemic value of the pronouncements.

    I think I know how you will answer this, and no doubt if Bryan were answering me he would refer to one of his convoluted treatises where swimming pools of e-ink has been spilt in the attempt to defend and refute the philosophical approach of Bryan and friends. And this a point I was trying to get across to Mark – It’s just a tiny fraction of Protestants and Catholics who will have the interest and competency to get their minds around such arguments. Several threads ago here on Greenbaggins one of the Reformed seminary students who comments here told us that it was difficult to get even seminary professors to take an interest in such philosophically driven debates. So my question was how the CTC answers the rest of the Protestant world who will never attempt to wrap their minds around one of Bryan’s elaborate discourses. I suppose I’m my own question here – they don’t.

    But as said to Mark, this is not so much of a critique as an observation.

  184. dghart said,

    February 1, 2013 at 9:46 am

    John B., that’s why it’s much easier just to cut to the chase and say that Rome (this church) is the one Christ founded. Too many details when you get bogged down in history (even the history told by Roman Catholic historians). Doh!

  185. Bryan Cross said,

    February 1, 2013 at 11:32 am

    Darryl, (re: #175)

    I am trying to show that the conclusion of many Protestant converts to Rome — Protestantism is a mess so we MUST HAVE an infallible authority — does not follow either.

    I think the common argument typically made by Protestants who become Catholic is not so simple. There are messes in the Catholic Church as well, and everyone is aware of them. In my experience the argument is more like the following. Christ obviously intended that His followers be one. This is clearly a desire of His heart (His human heart), as evident in His prayer in John 17. He intends that our unity be visible to the world, as a testimony to the world of His divinity, His veracity, His unity with the Father in love, and of the Father’s love for the world in the mission of Christ. By our unity we confirm the truth of the gospel of Christ to the world. Disunity among us obscures Christ’s identity to the world.

    But the Protestant experiment indicates that Scripture alone, apart from an authorized interpreter, is not divinely designed to effect this unity. The problem of division within Protestantism is not reducible to some combination of irrationality and/or malice on the part of all the other Protestant sects except the “right” one holding one’s own interpretation; positing some combination of those two factors at work in all those who come to interpretive conclusions contrary to one’s own is obviously ad hoc and self-serving. Our interaction with fellow Protestants within other Protestant traditions makes this evident. Apart from allegiance to a singular interpretive authority, we do not find that the study of Scripture tends to bring all Christians into one Protestant body or one Protestant system of theology, reversing divisions and causing the merging of denominations. In fact, we find just the opposite. The factor needed to establish and preserve visible unity is evidently missing from the resources available within Protestantism. And appeals to private bosom-burning guidance attributed to the Holy Spirit in Montanist fashion likewise result in incompatible claims all over the map. That too cannot be the way Christ intended to achieve and preserve unity among His followers. But Christ, being all-wise, would not have failed to provide such a factor by which His followers could possess the unity He prayed for us to have. To believe otherwise would impugn His divinity.

    When we examine the Catholic paradigm, we find such a factor in the magisterial authority of the Church. Of course there are disagreements among Catholics, but when we examine those disagreements closely we see that they either involve dissent from magisterial teaching, or they are disagreements concerning matters not of faith, as I explained in “The “Catholics Are Divided Too” Objection.” So in this way the Protestant mess of perpetual fragmentation is found to be inherent within the Protestant system on account of essentially inadequate unitive resources within it, making the mess intrinsically irresolvable. Moreover, Protestantism is incapable of adequately explaining the cause of its perpetual fragmentation, since the ad hoc explanation mentioned above fails. The Catholic paradigm, by contrast, not only provides the necessary unitive resources for the possession of the unity Christ clearly wants His followers to have, but it also adequately explains both why there are disagreements among Catholics, and why the disagreements within Protestantism are perpetual and irresolvable by its own resources. That’s closer to the sort of argument I see being made by Protestants becoming Catholic.

    As for my catechesis in these matters, if I have to go to several websites to find out what infallibility and the magisterium means, not to mention trying to fathom when the charism is on or not, I think your church comes up woefully inadequate in its teaching capacity

    That’s simply imposing on the Catholic paradigm your own standard of how much work (and what kind of work) one must do in order to learn Catholicism, rather than allowing the Catholic paradigm to set that standard. Catholic catechesis is not fundamentally book-learning. Catechesis is discipleship. In my parish, inquirers are required to attend weekly two-hour classes for almost a year, before being received. If they are not willing to do it, they are not allowed to become Catholic. It is like Naaman’s choice; dip seven times in the Jordan, or keep your leprosy. In the early Church, the catechumen period was three years, three times longer than it is at my parish. Measuring the Catholic Church’s teaching capacity by how many websites you have to go to is misguided, because the Church’s teaching capacity lies fundamentally not in “websites,” but in her bishops and priests.

    I suspect many Roman Catholics are as confused as I am. And yet their souls are in peril for not submitting to the teachings of Rome.

    In my opinion it is not prudent to attempt to use the confusion of others as an excuse to perpetuate one’s own. Each one will give an account to God for what he as done and failed to do, according to the opportunities and talents given to him, regardless of what others have done or failed to do. Our task is to seek out the truth in the opportunities and talents we have been given, even if or when others fail to do so, either by culpable negligence on their part or culpable negligence on the part of those divinely established authorities given charge to keep watch over their souls.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  186. TurretinFan said,

    February 1, 2013 at 11:44 am

    Christian Man: So, I heard you call yourself “Catholic,” what is your church?
    Roman Catholic: The one Jesus founded.
    CM: Oh, so your church is headquartered in Jerusalem?
    RC: No, in Rome.
    CM: I didn’t know Jesus ever went to Rome.
    RC: He didn’t. Peter did.
    CM: Oh, so it’s the church Peter founded? But did Peter only found the church at Rome? I could have sworn he was at Jerusalem, Samaria, Antioch, and Babylon.
    RC: Babylon was code for Rome. It was too dangerous to mention Rome, someone could get killed!
    CM: I thought Paul wrote … well, let’s just say it was. So, Peter made Rome the headquarters? I can’t recall any historical evidence of that.
    RC: I don’t carry all the historical evidence on me.
    CM: Ok, but at least you can just confirm that your church is organized the way that Jesus organized it. I mean, you have the same church government that Jesus gave.
    RC: It’s similar.
    CM: You changed it?
    RC: We’re allowed to change it.
    CM: So, your church is headquartered some place Jesus didn’t headquarter it, and it’s organized in a way that Jesus didn’t organize it, and – correct me if I’m wrong – your hierarchy is not a hierarchy that was around in Jesus time –
    RC: (nodding)
    CM: So, in what way is your church the church Jesus founded?
    RC: Apostolic Succession!
    CM: Meaning what, exactly.
    RC: The head of the church picks a group of people who will pick his successor after he’s dead. That way the successor is sort of appointed by his predecessor.
    CM: But surely you’re referring to the medieval invention of the college of cardinals.
    RC: Well yes, but there was a different mechanism before then.
    CM: Oh, but at least it has always been clear who that leader is.
    RC: Well, there have been three dozen or so “anti-popes” of the years.
    CM: But at least it has always been clear that the leader is the guy who is in charge in Rome.
    RC: Rome, or Avignon, when Rome is too dangerous.
    CM: You mean, after Jerusalem, Samaria, Antioch, and maybe Babylon?
    RC: Exactly.
    CM: But don’t historians claim that the papacy is a development? How could it be clear and a development?
    RC: In hindsight, it has always been clear.
    CM: Sorry to pester you with all these questions. The reason I asked is that I go to a church that Jesus founded.
    RC: How can you claim that?
    CM: Well, we follow the gospel Jesus preached and the doctrines that Jesus and the apostles taught. We even try to organize our churches the way they said to.

  187. TurretinFan said,

    February 1, 2013 at 11:55 am

    Bryan:

    You wrote: “Christ obviously intended that His followers be one.”

    You can even stamp your foot and pound on the podium when you say this, but the unity Christ had in mind was one of love, not one of denomination.

    The unity of love amongst Christian brethren of different denominations truly is a witness to the world. The fact that there are different denominations no more implies a lack of love than the separate mission trips of Paul and Barnabas suggested a lack of love. Sometimes divisions are useful ways of preserving peace in love.

    And despite your claims, there is an “authorized interpreter of Scripture”: Scripture interprets Scripture.

    In fact, Scripture explains where strife and unnecessary divisions amongst Christians come from – and it is not from “failing to seek out an infallible magisterium.”

    -TurretinFan

  188. Bryan Cross said,

    February 1, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    Ron (re: #169)

    Bryan overplays his hand for he unwittingly accuses himself of accepting Rome’s teaching apart from personal judgment, study of Scripture and the Spirit’s illumination and leading.

    I’ve never claimed that, nor does anything I have said entail that. (If you disagree, please lay out the argument showing how your accusation follows necessarily from what I actually said.) Moreover, I have explicitly and repeatedly stated exactly the opposite. I have done so even earlier in this very thread, when in #150 I described my decision to become Catholic, and when in #158 I acknowledged the aid of the Holy Spirit in my doing so.

    Bryan’s point presupposes that Roman Catholic pastors never contradict their own tradition;

    No, it does not. If you disagree, you’ll need to show (rather than merely assert) how my point cannot be true unless Catholic priests never contradict the Catholic Tradition.

    Bryan even knows that should his “pastor” preach something contrary to Bryan’s own interpretation of what the “church” teaches then he himself will be constrained to make an internal judgment, if not feel “obligated to reject and disobey the ‘church’ or ‘pastor.’”

    That’s true, but that is fully compatible with the authority argument I made in comment #47 and elsewhere. See, for example, Q6 and my reply to Q6 in “The Tu Quoque,” where I address exactly this objection.

    I’m truly sorry for Bryan because by not only discrediting but also mocking the study of God’s word,

    In no place have I “mocked” the study of the sacred Scripture, unless you impose your own definition on the term ‘mock’ by claiming that anyone who does not believe that Scripture alone is designed to function in itself (apart from magisterial interpretive authority) as the means by which all Christians are to be brought into and preserved within visible unity is thereby “mocking” Scripture. Such a definition would clearly be idiosyncratic, and ad hoc. I study the Scripture myself, and would have no reason to mock doing so.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  189. michael said,

    February 1, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    Bryan: “…But the Protestant experiment indicates that Scripture alone, apart from an authorized interpreter, is not divinely designed to effect this unity. …”.

    First, Christ’ sufferings for the sins of His people wasn’t an experiment so you should set that conjecture aside.

    Second, with this latest posting to justify yourself and the papacy and the development of it as John Bugay laid out above not only undermines your whole premise but even more it uncovers the “faith” you hold and your lack of understanding the Scriptures or unity among God’s people.

    There are two Bible stories I’d remind you of found in Scripture Jesus tells. One is non confrontational and the other deals with a deep seated anger against the “mission” Christ was sent to finish which wasn’t an experiment.

    Nicodemus said to him, How can these things be? Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? (John 3:9, 10 ESV)

    But Jesus answered them, You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. (Matthew 22:29 ESV)

    I do not think you have the Spirit of God or Scripture guiding you? Rather I’d say as Jesus did to Nicodemus and then to the Sadducees this loose paraphrase, you don’t know what you are talking about!

    Here is why once a person hears what the Spirit is saying and teaching that person and multitudes like em’ ascend to the Faith once delivered to the Saints:

    In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. (Ephesians 1:7, 9, 10 ESV)

    My counsel is for you to reconsider the choice you made after your deliberative considerations to join the RCC and to repent and get back to that faith you testified you had in Christ when you were a young boy?

    After all Jesus said unless you become as a little boy you cannot enter into the Righteous, Peace and Joy of the Holy Spirit!

  190. Ron said,

    February 1, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    Bryan,

    re: 185

    My post, to which you essentially ignored, interacts with your words. Your words, Mr. Cross, not mine, accuse you of (i) a double standard with respect to making internal judgments while at the same time (b) mocking the leading of the Holy Spirit. Your attempts to mislead could not be more obvious.

  191. Bryan Cross said,

    February 1, 2013 at 1:38 pm

    TF (re: #184)

    but the unity Christ had in mind was one of love, not one of denomination.

    That notion is similar to the contemporary belief of those young men who want love with a girlfriend, but without marriage and its visible, public unity and responsibility and enduring commitment to a family even despite that family’s flaws and hardships and embarrassments. It is Platonic, and gnostic. It isn’t even true love. As St. Thomas explains, schism is precisely a sin against love, writing, “Nevertheless of all sins committed by man against his neighbor, the sin of schism would seem to be the greatest, because it is opposed to the spiritual good of the multitude.” (ST II-II Q.39 a.2 ad 3) And St. Augustine says something quite similar, writing, “There is nothing more grievous than the sacrilege of schism.” We do not truly love one another if we do not pursue unity in the truth of “one faith” and “one baptism” and the visible unity of the one household of the faith (Gal. 6:10), in which the dividing walls have been broken down, and the division of Babel is reversed.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  192. Bryan Cross said,

    February 1, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    Michael, (re: #186)

    Here’s your position (though correct me if it isn’t accurate). You and all those who come to your particular interpretation are being led by the Spirit. All those who come to interpretations contrary to yours are not being led by the Spirit, and should be exhorted to follow the Spirit.

    One problem with that position, besides being self-serving and ad hoc, is that so many people claim likewise to be led by the Spirit, yet hold positions contrary to yours. In their view, on the basis of the very same line of reasoning, you’re one of the people who is not being led by the Spirit.

    Anyone can appropriate being “led by the Spirit” as a divine sanction for their own personal interpretation (or their own personal prophecy or “word from the Lord” if they are Pentecostal or charismatic). Just watch TBN for a while. Appropriating the Spirit’s sanction of one’s own position is so easy, so convenient, and, when you step back and look at the big picture, and see all the disagreements and contradictions among and between persons each claiming to be led by the Spirit, so worthless precisely for this very reason.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  193. dghart said,

    February 1, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    Bryan, first the unity you ascribe to Christ needs to be qualified. The unity for which he prayed did not do away with the language barriers that separated peoples (instituted at Babel) and that Latin could not overcome in your communion. Nor is his unity so entire that he wants everyone to be in the same family, as if marriage is no longer an institution (there have been instances of plural marriage among professing Christians). So there’s unity and there’s unity.

    But Protestantism isn’t to blame for disrupting unity. What disrupted it was the state no longer enforcing religion. Once faith became voluntary, people could regulate their own religious lives (something you couldn’t do in Protestant Scotland where church unity was as good as any Roman Catholic country). And you may want to blame Protestants for separating church and state, but that would be folly since Rome has a long line of clerics and popes who asserted the freedom of the church from the state.

  194. Ron said,

    February 1, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    Good job TF.

    This unity for which Jesus prays takes place when believers are baptized into Christ. And this union with Christ has its fullest expression in love, just as TF has said. Just as the Father is in the Son, Jesus prayed that the church might too “be in us” so that “the world may believe” that Christ was sent by the Father.

    The world cannot see Spirit-baptism, but it can witness love. So, Jesus is very clear that the witness to the world is love and the source of that witness is union with Christ and in him union with the Holy Trinity.

    Again, Jesus prayed: “I in them and you in me – so that they may be brought to complete unity.” Jesus went on to pray: “Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

    Bryan and all the undiscerning who made a run at Evangelicals and Catholics Together have missed the doctrinal import of John 17. It has nothing to do with believers under one “Bishop” at Rome. In fact, quite the contrary is the case. For Jesus prayed that his people might be kept from the evil one.

  195. michael said,

    February 1, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    Bryan

    Hmmmm, and nothing to refute the issue of Unity and God’s plan for bringing it about in the face of or rather TFan’s and my taking issue with your position about “unity”. That’s telling.

    You quote both St Thomas and St Augustine about schism and give us your conjecture about love.

    Here’s St Martin, oh wait, you don’t consider him a saint so here’s a quote from Martin Luther which you might find both ironic and insightful and hopefully irenic when it comes to being loving and showing faith and patience towards you:

    MARTIN LUTHER

    FOR IF I DID NOT HAVE THE WELFARE OF MY BROTHER AT HEART

    I WOULD CERTAINLY BE QUIET AND LET HIM GO

    BUT THE FACT THAT I OPEN MY MOUTH AND REBUKE HIM IS AN INDICATION THAT I LOVE HIM AND SEEK HIS WELFARE

    FOR MY FAILURE TO INSTRUCT AND REBUKE MY BROTHER IS ACTUALLY AN EVIDENCE OF ANGER

    Obviously there were differences between Peter and Paul, the younger, yet as we know when weighing Scripture with Scripture when bringing out the proper intent and eternal purpose of the unity of the Gospel we read this that Peter wrote about Paul:

    And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. (2 Peter 3:15-18 ESV)

    That’s where faithful brothers being led by the same Holy Spirit end up at at the end of the day with one another, unified to the glory of God both now and to the day of eternity .

  196. Bryan Cross said,

    February 1, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    Michael,

    That’s where faithful brothers being led by the same Holy Spirit end up at at the end of the day with one another, unified to the glory of God both now and to the day of eternity.

    I agree with that. It seems to me that the discussion on this thread has run its course, so I am bowing out. I’m grateful for our conversation. May the Holy Spirit bring us to unity in the truth, and in the love of Jesus Christ.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  197. JeffB said,

    February 1, 2013 at 3:17 pm

    Thank you Bryan (#193 et al) for engaging in dialogue and always maintaining such a consistent spirit of charity and patience.The latter does not go unnoticed and adds weight to your words.

  198. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 1, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    Bryan (#126):

    Sorry for the late hit. I’ve been out of pocket.

    Your response indicates a significant misunderstanding. There is no suggestion intended in 119 or 123 that you are reasoning from evidence deductively to arrive at your faith in the infallibility of the Catholic church.

    The reason that the Catholic system is fundamentally deductive is that the infallbility of the Church is the central axiom of the system.

    How does the Catholic know that (M) “Mary, “full of grace” through God was redeemed from the moment of her conception”?

    Because whatever the Catholic church teaches is true (major premise)
    and the Catholic church teaches (M) (minor premise)
    So (M) must be true.

    The whole thing revolves continually around the same syllogism. The Catholic system is fundamentally deductive, with the infallibility of the Church as the axiom of faith.

    But now, what warrants that axiom? This is the question I’ve asked twice. So far, what I see is historical+Scriptural evidence, constructed according to your own opinion, that leads you to faith.

    And there’s nothing wrong with that. But it is your own fallible human opinion.

    And that means that the axiom of faith, the infallibility of the Church, is not any more certain than the strength of your own ability to read the historical and Scriptural evidence.

    You stand in no better place than the Protestant.

  199. February 1, 2013 at 10:31 pm

    Andrew,

    I wrote, “In the same way that without God-given infallibility the Bible is just a human book like any other, so the exegetical and theological formulations of its students, without God-given infallibility, are just human formulations, and as such, cannot bind us any more than Calvin, Plato, or Tolkien can.” You responded:

    And the point I made to you earlier in this thread was that the person who hears the gospel and responds in faith is not responding to a human opinion, they are responding to a divine command via the preaching of the gospel. God works through the “foolishness” of preaching to command the assent of faith.

    My position is not that every single thing a believer should assent to must be a dogma from on high (which answers Darryl’s question about obedience to parents and civil laws). But the problem with Protestantism is not that some of its teachings are human opinions, but that all of them are. In Catholicism you have a vehicle for actually transcending mere human opinion when necessary, thus creating a meaningful distinction between orthodoxy and heresy. Protestantism has no such ability since by its own standards everything devolves into one person’s interpretation of Scripture versus another’s, both of which are admittedly fallible and therefore possibly wrong.

    If we are just talking about human formulations then nobody is ever going to respond, no matter how many “infallible” pronouncements get stamped on the official promulgation of a given dogma. At least they are not going to respond in faith as the Bible speaks of faith. Faith comes by hearing we are told, and hearing by the Word of God. Faith does not come by making claims about certain human formulations of the Word of God and then getting people to intellectually affirm to the epistemic value of the pronouncements.

    I’m pretty sure I addressed this already. Claiming divine authority to speak on God’s behalf despite the possible rejection of what is said has precedent in the ministry of Jesus himself. If the Catholic Church is his body tasked with continuing his ministry, then such claims on their part should be expected. Now if the CC is NOT that church, then those claims are useless. But that’s the issue, not whether the claims themselves should be made.

    I think I know how you will answer this, and no doubt if Bryan were answering me he would refer to one of his convoluted treatises where swimming pools of e-ink has been spilt in the attempt to defend and refute the philosophical approach of Bryan and friends. And this a point I was trying to get across to Mark – It’s just a tiny fraction of Protestants and Catholics who will have the interest and competency to get their minds around such arguments. Several threads ago here on Greenbaggins one of the Reformed seminary students who comments here told us that it was difficult to get even seminary professors to take an interest in such philosophically driven debates. So my question was how the CTC answers the rest of the Protestant world who will never attempt to wrap their minds around one of Bryan’s elaborate discourses. I suppose I’m my own question here – they don’t.

    The irony is that despite its often being bolstered by freakishly smart guys, it is the Catholic Church who can most meaningfully appeal to the simple and untrained seeker. There’s a huge difference between the claim that “the church is where the gospel is” and the claim that “the church is where the bishop is.” This would have been especially true in the early days of the church. The former claim (which is a simplified version of the Protestant claim) involves the seeker needing to be able to read, to read Greek, to have exegetical skills, and have access to all the relevant documents. But the latter criterion (which was Ignatius’s) would have been way easier to judge.

    And for my part, I can’t help but think that Jesus would have established his church in such a way as to make it as easy as possible for simple people to find.

  200. Ron said,

    February 2, 2013 at 12:04 am

    “You stand in no better place than the Protestant.”

    Though logically true, that’s an understatement, Jeff. Bryan’s epistemology reduces to skepticism. In that sense he’s no better off than a Christian, but he is a lot worse off. Bryan is an enemy of the gospel so let’s not mince words, shall we?

  201. Ron said,

    February 2, 2013 at 12:39 am

    “But the problem with Protestantism is not that some of its teachings are human opinions, but that all of them are.”

    Jason,

    Does non-truth become truth upon Rome’s adjudication? If you say yes, then you deny the nature of truth as well as Rome. If you say no, then you’re left to answer why humans cannot have more than mere opinions of gospel truth.

    Because men were saved prior to the popes and since saving faith is not a mere fancy but rather a God sent belief in the truth, it would appear that you need to reflect a bit more on your presupposition that an infallible magisterium is a necessary condition for people to rise above mere “human opinions”.

    It wasn’t too long ago that you were preaching contrary to your new found religion. So it would seem to me that wisdom might suggest that you give these new ideas of yours some more time to settle in before you begin promulgating them.

  202. Bob S said,

    February 2, 2013 at 2:08 am

    195 Nice. Very nice.

    But, but, but sputters the papist, the reason why you say that is because you are assuming the protestant paradigm, which depending on whatever is fideistic, rational or sophist if not all three at once.

    Rather, from the Roman POV i.e. paradigm, inasmuch as it is a vicious, wicked and stupefying ecclesiastical idolatry, it delights in contradicting Scripture, reason and history/tradition. That’s because it is fundamentally all about the domination of the roman denomination over Scripture, reason and history in the most holy name of Matt. 16, skepticism and the Deposit of Lost Apostolic Traditions/Missing List of Infallible Papal Podcasts.

    Further. To reiterate. The church is infallible. Because. It just is. It needs no justification, period.

    But since you insist O’ thou most pesky and irreverent protestant, the Roman church just is the incarnation of the most blessed one, who is infallible and if you will just go to mass once and partake of the sacrifice sacrament, you too will just feel a warmth just steal over your soul and a just irrepressible and mysterious desire to just let go of your cold heartless rational biblicist inhibitions and just bask in the magical glow and superstitious aura that just exudes from just everything papal. One might even term it romantic, scented candles and all.

    But rational? Deductive? A reasonable faith? Get thee behind me thou son of a satanic syllogism and just begone, back to the protestant purgatory from when thou came before thou art dragged before the Most Holy Congregation of the Faith and once and for all exorcised most justly and vehemently into abjuring thy heresies, instigations and insinuations that the faithful serfs, slaves and vassals of the Vatican might find troublesome to their pious instincts, having previously given up whatever claim they might have had to possessing reasonable souls, all the while they boast of that dispossession.

  203. Bob S said,

    February 2, 2013 at 3:21 am

    197 Ron,
    All Bryan is left with is a skeptic fideism; a blind faith that is not consonant with Scripture, reason or history.

    But wait a minute. Skeptical fideism is what he accused Wilson of in his critique of Doug and Hitchens. Huh?

    IOW his presuppositions are skewed to put it mildly, one of them being he can’t perceive that he is just as presuppositional as Wilson, never mind if he can get inside Wilson’s paradigm or not. (He can’t and for once, the Maytag Man/Federal Vision complaint that ‘nobody calls me, nobody understands’ is not just an empty whine on Doug’s part.)

    198 As for our novice taking a well earned rest, like Paul in the desert, Cunningham said Rome never based any of her doctrines (obviously) on Scripture. She only tried to come up with reasons after the usually pagan syncretism occurred. So there you go.

    We’ll probably have to continue putting up with his fallible opinions for awhile in that as a romanist, that’s all men are capable of.

    On the other hand though, JJ in 196 does seem to think that Ignatius is to be believed before Isaiah.

    To be right in everything, we ought always to hold that the white which I see, is black, if the Hierarchical Church so decides it, believing that between Christ our Lord, the Bridegroom, and the Church, His Bride, there is the same Spirit which governs and directs us for the salvation of our souls. Because by the same Spirit and our Lord Who gave the ten Commandments, our holy Mother the Church is directed and governed.

    Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Is. 5:20

    Maybe Ignatius’s fallacy is where CtC gets theirs, despite illumination not being inspiration and men in extraordinary offices as prophets and apostles wrote the Scripture while men in the ordinary offices rule the church in Ignatius’s’ day and ours.

    Still where the true gospel is, there the true church is.

    Loyola’s loyalists? Best I can tell as above in 29, when the sabbath game is on, there the romanist reclines in front of it. Guess that’s why he can opine authoritatively that:

    The irony is that despite its often being bolstered by freakishly smart guys, it is the Catholic Church who can most meaningfully appeal to the simple and untrained seeker.

    Like “Come to mass on the holy days, take communion, go to confession, give your money to the church now and at the hour of thy death and thou are saved.” The bar is set pretty low. You don’t have to believe in anything, implicit faith is a silver bullet for all that ails a man. A free will gospel pacifies the conscience of the natural religious man and all is well till tis time for hell.

    But maybe the difference between the true church and the false is like that between homoousion and homoiousian. (Consult Athanasius if not the Nicean). Or Jesus and the Jesuit.
    Who shall we listen to? A simple enough question for those with the mind of Christ. The foolishly smart guys can answer for themselves.

    If the Greeks seek after wisdom, we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness1 Cor. 1:22

    ciao

  204. dgwired said,

    February 2, 2013 at 9:23 am

    Jason, you mean the early church pre-Nicea where the bishop was an Arian? That’s the one that’s easy to tell where the church is?

    This is why you have to give up this jazz about Rome’s smarts. You guys make arbitrary decisions all the time and yet you justify it in good Reformed fashion that we are the smartest guys in the room because all those logical necessities, paradigms, and evidence.

    No one has yet to prove that the church is infallible. It is a leap. But it is also another layer between Christians and God’s word. Now I have to trust the church but not the word of God since the church has it all taken care of.

    Not even the priest in Brideshead Revisited engaged in these kinds of caricatures. You’re making the world safe for the gullibility of Rex Mottram.

    And as for this idea that you can’t fathom how Christ would make the church hard to find, why is what you can fathom the standard. Some can’t fathom that Christ would keep women out of the ministry, or that Christ would only die for the elect. That’s not a very smart answer.

    But Christ himself was not exactly transparent about the kingdom. Perhaps you remember reading this:
    For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says:
    “‘“You will indeed hear but never understand,
    and you will indeed see but never perceive.”
    (Matthew 13:12-14 ESV)

  205. TurretinFan said,

    February 2, 2013 at 1:33 pm

    Jason wrote: “But the problem with Protestantism is not that some of its teachings are human opinions, but that all of them are.”

    But That’s How Knowledge Works
    a) Let’s assume that it is true that “all of its teachings are human opinions.” In itself that doesn’t seem to be a problem. After all, in most areas of learning “all the teachings are human opinions.” No one says “the problem with Economics is is that all of its teachings are human opinions” or that “the problem with civil engineering is that all of its teachings are human opinions.”

    Truth or Falsehood is the Real Question
    b) Indeed, even if “all of its teachings are human opinions,” what seems more important is whether or not the teachings are true human opinions are false human opinions. That’s what distinguishes astrology from astronomy, Aristotelian physics from Newtonian physics, evolution from creation, dousing from geology, and heresy from orthodoxy – one is a false opinion, the other a true opinion.

    All Beliefs are Technically Opinions
    c) Indeed, all of the teachings of any group are human opinions. If that was not the opinion of the group, they wouldn’t teach it. What Jason seems to be intending is to derogate the opinions as merely human opinions.

    What More Do They Need to Be?
    d) But derogating them as merely human opinions seems to assume that they need to be something more. But what could that something more be?

    Theology is not a Matter of Taste
    e) Traditionally, when people derogate something as “that’s just your opinion,” they mean to suggest that the question is one of taste, preference, or opinion. If you don’t think that some actress is the bee’s knees, well that’s just your opinion. If you don’t think that some sports team is the best thing since sliced bread, well that’s just your opinion. But surely Jason does not accept (and knows we don’t accept) the idea that theology is just a matter of taste, preference, or opinion.

    Authority of Theological Opinion is not Binary
    f) Another traditional use of the derogatory “that’s just your opinion” is to suggest that the person giving the opinion has an opinion that is not worthy of consideration. For example, one might say “well, that’s just your opinion, you’re not a doctor,” or more generally, “that’s just your opinion, what do you know!” It’s a claim that the opinion lacks authority. This seems to be something like what Jason is getting at. But the authority of theological opinion lies along a spectrum. The opinion of a six year old child has very little authority. The opinion of a 90 year old life-long seminary professor has significantly more authority. Jason would have to accept this, as he cannot credibly argue that theological opinion is binary.

    Relativism not a Legitimate Option
    g) Another use of “that’s your opinion,” is expressed in the adage, “opinions are like noses, everybody’s got one,” or the expression “you’re entitled to your own opinion.” The idea here is that everyone has an opinion and they are all more or less equally valid. Surely Jason is aware that both we and he reject this idea. Not all opinions are equally valid.

    Jason’s Position is his human opinion
    h) In point of fact, as per (c) above, even Jason’s own opinion is a human opinion. In fact all his opinions are human opinions. So, if that’s a problem for Protestantism, it’s also a problem for Jason. But Jason clearly doesn’t think his opinions are equal to those of Protestantism – he thinks Protestantism has a problem.

    An Initial Framing of the Question – What Makes One Opinion Better than Another?
    i) One may wonder, if all human beliefs are opinions, and if opinions are not all equal, then what makes one opinion better than another? In order to answer that question, we have to ask a more fundamental question:

    In what way “Better”?
    j) In order to answer the question of which opinion is better, we need some standard of goodness. There a variety of possibilities:

    1) Pleasing the Audience
    In American politics the better opinion seems to be the one that the majority of the mob loves more. A similar standard is applied by “Miss Mary Mack” of the clapping poem, who didn’t pay the doctor or nurse who gave her bad news, but the lady with the alligator purse who gave the news she wanted to hear. But surely this is not the appropriate standard in theology. This is the standard of the itching ears hearers of 2 Timothy 4:3, not the right standard. I think Jason would concede this.

    2) Best Credentials
    We mentioned before that young children have relatively less authority than seasoned seminary professors. For certain purposes, this is helpful. If you don’t have time to investigate something for yourself, it may be practical to simply rely on what an “expert” says, and if an “expert” and young child disagree, one generally will be persuaded to go with the expert’s view. Nevertheless, I think Jason recognizes that this practical “rule of thumb” principle does not completely address the question.

    3) Correspondence to Absolute Truth
    Ultimately, what makes an opinion best for our purposes is correspondence to the Truth. In that sense, sometimes the opinion of a small child is better than that of an old professor, even though the professor’s opinion is more authoritative. Being authoritative is not the same thing as being right, although hopefully there’s some correlation.

    The Question Jason Doesn’t Want to Ask
    The question that Jason doesn’t want to ask is one that moves from the question of authority to the question of truth. I say he doesn’t want to ask that question, because he’s trying to dismiss “Protestantism” as opinion rather than addressing whether it is true. Indeed he goes on to claim:

    “In Catholicism you have a vehicle for actually transcending mere human opinion when necessary, thus creating a meaningful distinction between orthodoxy and heresy.”

    k) The distinction that matters between orthodoxy and heresy is truth, not authority. Even if there were no revelation from God, true doctrines would be true, and false doctrines would be false.
    l) Surely Jason cannot be saying that we can’t know orthodoxy from heresy until after there is an allegedly infallible decision of the church or pope, because everyone seems to recognize that we can.
    m) Rome’s claim that the opinions of its councils and popes are more than mere human opinion is Rome’s claim, but it is is not true. We’ll come back to this issue later, because it raises (not begs) a question.
    n) Likewise, Rome may claim that its allegedly infallible statements come when “necessary,” but this too is not true and raises a question.

    “Protestantism has no such ability since by its own standards everything devolves into one person’s interpretation of Scripture versus another’s, both of which are admittedly fallible and therefore possibly wrong.”

    o) This misstates the difference. “Protestantism” of course is a vast body of different views, some of which include Chrarismatic types claiming new visions and revelations from God. So, “Protestantism” isn’t a very helpful category for this part of the discussion.
    p) Jason recently left a Reformed church, so let’s consider his situation before he left and now that he’s allied with Rome.
    q) Before, Jason’s opinion was based (in theory) on Scripture (Bundle of teachings X). Now, Jason’s opinion is based on Scripture, plus the Apocrypha, plus the infallible teachings of the councils, plus the infallible teachings of the popes, plus the teachings of the universal and ordinary magisterium (Bundle of teachings Y). Jason still has a fallible opinion, though. That hasn’t changed.
    r) Likewise, if Jason disagrees with the “ordain a lady” type “liberals” in his new church he will be expressing his opinion about Bundle Y, just as if he had opposed the ordination of women in the PCA he was expressing his opinion about Bundle X. The Bundles are of different sizes, but the principle of coming to conclusions (opinions) based on evaluating (opining on) the evidence, remains the same.
    s) And the fact that Bundle Y is an open bundle and may get even more full later does not change the fact that only what is in the bundle now can be used.
    t) In other words, whether the bundle is complete for ever does not changes that it is complete for now. Moreover, as far as Jason can know, that bundle is sufficiently complete for now (assuming as addressed at (n) above new infallible statements come when necessary). If Jason cannot determine when new infallible statements are needed, he can only judge by whether new infallible statements have come, and clearly they haven’t.
    u) But, of course, that means that both PCA Jason and RC Jason are arguing from bundles that are allegedly sufficiently complete bundles.
    v) Jason can allege that the PCA’s bundle is not sufficiently complete, but if he bases that conclusion on the strong disagreements between people who hold to the bundle, he’s undermined the RC bundle, since people who hold to that bundle also strongly disagree (the sedevacantists on the right, the “ordain a lady” types on the left, for example). If Jason simply appeals to the idea that his church teaches that the Scriptures are insufficient, that simply leads us back to the question of whether his church’s teaching are more than mere human opinion (and more importantly to whether his church’s teachings are right).

    Jason goes on to argue:

    “There’s a huge difference between the claim that ‘the church is where the gospel is’ and the claim that ‘the church is where the bishop is.’”

    a) There is a huge difference.
    b) Only the former claim can be legitimately apostolic, because the apostles didn’t appoint only one bishop per region. That was a later development.
    c) Moreover, the church of Jesus Christ is defined by faith, not walls or men – see Matthew 16.

    - TurretinFan

  206. Ron said,

    February 2, 2013 at 2:44 pm

    TF,

    We might do well to label your post “the RCC opinion-fallacy” and simply link to it each time it occurs.

    Though tragic, it is not surprising to me that a one-time minister of the gospel committed apostasy. What is striking to me though is that lack of understanding that I have seen from this particular apostate over the past few years. Prior to his formal apostasy I remember marveling at a couple of seemingly sincere, even childlike questions he asked of DTK regarding the canon and certainty. Even if one doesn’t embrace a distinctly Reformed revelational-epistemology, I would think that one would have to understand it to be ordained in a Reformed denomination. Also, I’m not sure how one could receive high marks in at least one seminary class on apologetics, The Christian Mind for instance, without a better grasp of these things.

    Many years ago I went to hear Darryl Hart speak on a Saturday at Emmanuel OPC Wilmington, DE. I don’t remember the exact topic but it had something do with liberalism I believe. During the Q&A I remember trying to ask whether Darryl thought that an ordination requirement for a distinctly Reformed theory of knowledge would minimize the apostasy of future Reformed ministers. My question was I’m sure poorly stated, but I do believe the answer would be ‘yes’ to such a question. (I think I appreciate that understanding and adherence does not guarantee salvation, let alone fully prevent formal apostasy, which I believe was the focus of Darryl’s response to me and probably sufficient given the forum.) My question today is not so much whether we could reduce the number of future ordained apostates by requiring a grasp of these things, (since at the very least raising the bar reduces the number of both Christians and non-Christians), but whether the Confession permits the latitude that so many presbyteries seem to grant when ordaining pastors to the gospel ministry. I don’t want to be sectarian yet there seems to be a philosophical aspect lacking in the Reformed church when it comes to a Reformed defense of the faith, which includes a Reformed defense of the Bible.

    Oh well, back to my hole…

  207. Ron said,

    February 2, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    RC: Rome, or Avignon, when Rome is too dangerous.

    LOL!

  208. February 2, 2013 at 3:28 pm

    Darryl,

    Jason, you mean the early church pre-Nicea where the bishop was an Arian? That’s the one that’s easy to tell where the church is?

    I was quoting Ignatius: “See that ye all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father. . . . Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.” (Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to the Smyraens, 8 c. A.D. 110)

    My point was simply that the Catholic position, which follows the early fathers, is that the church can be found by locating a duly ordained bishop, and that locating a duly ordained bishop is easier than locating a doctrinally correct gospel (since one is visible and the other is not).

    No one has yet to prove that the church is infallible. It is a leap. But it is also another layer between Christians and God’s word. Now I have to trust the church but not the word of God since the church has it all taken care of.

    That’s funny, I was just talking with a liberal Christian who said, “No one has yet to prove that the [Bible] is infallible. It is a leap. But it is also another layer between Christians and God. Now I have to trust the [Bible] but not God since the [Bible] has it all taken care of.”

    You fall prey to the same thing you charge me with, is what I’m saying. And of course there is an element of faith involved in all this! We’re not talking about the temperature at which water boils, we’re talking about supernatural mysteries, things that can’t be reproduced in a lab or proven on chalk board.

    And as for this idea that you can’t fathom how Christ would make the church hard to find, why is what you can fathom the standard. Some can’t fathom that Christ would keep women out of the ministry, or that Christ would only die for the elect. That’s not a very smart answer.

    I never claimed that what I can fathom or can’t fathom is my standard for anything. I merely made an observation (which is why I prefaced that sentence with “And for my part, I can’t help but think that….”).

    But Christ himself was not exactly transparent about the kingdom. Perhaps you remember reading this:

    For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says:
    “‘“You will indeed hear but never understand,
    and you will indeed see but never perceive.”
    (Matthew 13:12-14 ESV)

    If citing that text is intended to demonstrate that we find the church by means of comparing its doctrine with our own interpretation of the Bible, you’ve got, like, seventeen more steps to fill in before you’ve made a case.

    For my part, I think it is wisest to judge a church’s apostolicity the way the early fathers did, namely, by including sacramental succession as a necessary condition. And my guess is that if some Reformed denomination actually had this kind of apostolicity, its members would appeal to it, too. And while I’m speculating, I would say that it’s probably not apostolic succession that many object to as much as it’s the fact that the body claiming it promotes ideas they don’t agree with.

    But whatever, I’m perfectly happy dropping this, as it is highly unlikely that either of us is going to convince the other of anything. Plus, this kind of thing takes up time, and I just got a bunch of statues in the mail, and they’re not going to worship themselves, you know.

  209. dgwired said,

    February 2, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    Jason, after going round with converts to Rome, I am well disposed to think that no one is going to convince someone else, though it is funny how some (like the converts to Rome do get convinced, which I suppose is the point of CTC and which prompts a joke about how gullible does a Protestant have to be to believe claims of infallibility; it’s like the joke about how many feminists does it take to change a light bulb — it’s not funny).

    All I am trying to do is to get Rome’s converts to lay off the we’re smarter than everyone else nonsense. Rome’s claims are no more certain that Harold Lindsell’s defense of inerrancy (though I can’t wait to have Bryan tell me how I have begged questions or assumed the wrong paradigm). And it is especially the CTC claim to the early church, apostolicity, and sacramental succession where Rome’s claims to historical and intellectual superiority get dicey. When it comes to antiquity the churches of the East have a whole lot more of it than Rome.

    I have yet to see anyone at CTC admit that, or that the decision to choose Rome over Constantinople like any Protestant choosing to be Baptist instead of being Methodist. If you were still living in Egypt or Bulgaria I might take your point. But Americans fighting over antiquity sure seems silly, even more when it makes people feel smart.

  210. February 2, 2013 at 3:53 pm

    You just begged the question and assumed the wrong paradigm, Darryl. If you were smarter you would have realized that.

  211. Bob S said,

    February 2, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    205 Of course JJ wants to drop it. The discussion according to him is that it is just all fallible human opinion aside from what one is told by the magisterium, if not that as pointed out, this is just his self defeating skeptical fallible human opinion in the first place. Which means it can be disregarded. (After all, we know ours will be as we were so graciously instructed before.)

    IOW the more things change the more they remain the same.
    The attack on the Reformation continues, whether that means assaulting Sola Fide or the Justification of Sinners or undermining Sola Scriptura or the Justification of Knowledge, i.e. “how do you know?”
    If the one is soteriological, the other is epistemological.

    How do you know anything, much more how do you know your ultimate authority is infallible? And how do you know that your opinion of what your infallible authority says is correct. And so on and so forth, with all the various permutations thereof. But its not like the Scripture itself, if not WCF1 doesn’t meet most of them which is why the denial of sufficiency and perspicuity and assertion of “that’s just your interpretation” are the constant refrain with the CtC.

    But whether Bryan likes it or not, it’s all about presuppositions and ultimately faith. You don’t/can’t prove first axioms, Acquinas or Aristotle not withstanding. You can only see how consistent the paradigm is built upon them is and how well it explains/refutes the others out there.

    Is protestantism a faith consonant with Scripture, reason and history or is Rome? That can be determined, whether or not Jason realizes it or is persuaded. Or wants to admit it, which is again maybe why he wants it dropped.

    But if we can only know what we suck out of the infallible teat of Mother Rome like obedient little piglets at the side of mama sow, better make sure she don’t roll over or eat you when she gets annoyed.
    Jus’ saying/just my fallible opinion, mind you.

  212. Bob S said,

    February 2, 2013 at 4:28 pm

    For my part, I think it is wisest to judge a church’s apostolicity the way the early fathers did

    How do we know what the early fathers did? How do we know they aren’t forgeries? How do we know they are infallible? How do we know that our interpretation of them is correct? How do we know . . .

    Never mind. This is from somebody who just told somebody else that they begged the question and assumed the wrong paradigm.
    Pot, kettle, papist.

    Lemme see. There’s invincible ignorance and there’s arrogant ignorance and there’s blind faith and there’s implicit faith and there’s Loyola’s rule and there’s this papal bull and there’s that . . . . .

    cheers,

  213. Pete Holter said,

    February 2, 2013 at 5:01 pm

    The fact that there are different denominations no more implies a lack of love than the separate mission trips of Paul and Barnabas suggested a lack of love. Sometimes divisions are useful ways of preserving peace in love.

    Greetings in Christ, TurretinFan!

    This seems to suggest that the separation of Paul and Barnabas was put into Scripture as an example to emulate, rather than as a fault to reproach. It was not for reason of their profound love “that they separated from each other” (Acts 15:39). Rather, “there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other.”

    Using Scripture to interpret Scripture, it is clear that either Barnabas or Paul or both of them fell short of the call to Christian unity in this particular episode. Luke does not appear to take sides by defending either of them in his narration, and from this we may surmise that both were at fault. Also, as you noted, these were missionary trips. They were not aiming towards establishing permanent, doctrinal and physical divisions among the believers who would gather together in a particular geographical area for common worship week after week. For both of these reasons, it should not be used as a precedent for the separation of Christianity into permanent and lasting divisions.

    “I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment” (1 Cor. 1:10).

    “Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you” (2 Cor. 13:11).

    “[C]omplete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind” (Phil. 2:2).

    “I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord” (Phil. 4:2).

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  214. michael said,

    February 2, 2013 at 5:07 pm

    Jason:

    (“My point was simply that the Catholic position, which follows the early fathers, is that the church can be found by locating a duly ordained bishop, and that locating a duly ordained bishop is easier than locating a doctrinally correct gospel (since one is visible and the other is not).”).

    That’s a fair observation about how Christ structured and set in motion the Life of His Church in many places as He currently neither slumbering or sleeping continues overseeing this Word about men bringing the Gospel to the entire world to add daily to His Church such as are being saved:

    And Jesus came and said to them, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:18-20 ESV)

    I just recently went and read the entire portion from the Catholic Encyclopedia on “infallibility”.

    That was quite eye opening and I came away with a better understanding of how a RC approaches their responsibilities so as not to be deluded or deceived by errors of popes issuing infallible words ex cathedra.

    There was one thing I was looking for in that portion that finally was touched upon by these men who wrote the entirety of this work and in particular J C Toner the man that wrote this portion on papal infallibility way near the end of this section on infallibility. This article was well written but very very long!

    That is this Gospel teaching was finally brought to bear and is I guess the basis for a pope speaking the infallible oracle of The Lord when speaking ex cathedra:

    Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (Matthew 18:19, 20 ESV)

    My question to you is this, how does this idea work for the pope with all the conditions met able to speak infallibly ex cathedra justifying it being there can only be “one” pope sitting in the chair at one time so speaking?

    The encyclopedia uses only those verses to justify this ability by the active pope to speak this way infallibly.

    While we see no such restriction by The Lord except there has to be at a minimum two gathered in this sort of way for a word to be spoken and taken to heart by the hearers.

    Does those verses upend this sort of innovation of speaking and an overreach of presumption on the part of the RCC?

  215. michael said,

    February 2, 2013 at 5:44 pm

    Pete at Law

    Seeing the Apostle Paul’s writings hard to understand and at times twisted by the ignorant or misunderstanding were made a part of the canon and Barnabas’ were not I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest Paul humbled himself and ended up giving this counsel maybe reflecting on that incident you are addressing which in no way void’s the purpose, the intent or the motive for Turretinfan’s point made above about what distinguishes the True Church, the love we have for one another!

    Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. All the saints greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (2 Corinthians 13:11, 13, 14 ESV)

    And

    Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. (Romans 14:18, 19 ESV)

    And you can see that Paul did reconcile with John Mark when we read this written to Timothy :
    Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry. (2 Timothy 4:11 ESV)

    This “Mark” is the “John” Mark that caused it all to come apart:

    Now Paul and his companions set sail from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia. And John left them and returned to Jerusalem, (Acts 13:13 ESV)

    Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. (Acts 15:37, 38 ESV)

    Will there be these sort of things happen in Churches Christ is establishing? Yes why of course there will be you silly fellow Pete at law!

  216. February 2, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    BTW, my “begged the question” remark to Darryl above was a joke. Other than Bob S, I’m sure everyone realized that.

  217. Pete Holter said,

    February 2, 2013 at 7:50 pm

    In my own case, for instance, I have only come up with one interpretation of a single verse that I have never seen before in the history of interpretation.

    I haven’t read all of the comments, so please direct me to the answer if already asked, but what’s the verse? What’s your interpretation?

    I do want to ask formally this question: if the RCC has a monopoly on the interpretation of the Bible, how come they have not come out with an inerrant commentary on the Bible? They keep telling us that “our own private interpretations” are wrong when they run foul of the RCC. However, they don’t tell us what every verse in fact means. I would think this would be a rather high priority, seeing as how we are dealing with direct revelation from God. I want to know what God said to me in His Word. How can the Roman Catholic find that out? Would it not be vitally important that we have God’s Word all figured out by the church as to its meaning? If a RC apologist responds by saying that it is all interpreted in the Tradition, I would say that they are operating with a definition of Tradition that doesn’t really work. Tradition is basically what the current RCC teaches. Besides, very few verses have ever been definitely interpreted by the RCC as to their meaning. Where is the definitive interpretation of the Bible?

    My answer to these questions is to invite you to come to unity with me in the Catholic Church, and help us to come to an ever deeper penetration of God’s truth in His Church.

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  218. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 2, 2013 at 8:03 pm

    Jason (#212):

    My point was simply that the Catholic position, which follows the early fathers, is that the church can be found by locating a duly ordained bishop, and that locating a duly ordained bishop is easier than locating a doctrinally correct gospel (since one is visible and the other is not).

    And yet Paul and Jesus take the opposite view.

    But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse! — Gal 1.8

    Paul doesn’t comment on “ease”, but he is very clear on priority: Preaching the correct gospel trumps being duly ordained, or even being an angel.

    “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. — Matt 7.15 – 17

    Bad fruit trumps office.

    Now here’s the crazy thing. As soon as we point this out, your paradigm requires you to stop your ears and stop listening, for the simple reason that you can throw the entirety of post #214 and everything else that other Protestants write into the wastebin of “fallible human opinion.” Never mind that we might be pointing directly at God’s word and observing what it obviously says!

    In the Catholic paradigm, Scripture doesn’t mean what it says; it means what the Church says it means. The Word of God has been coopted.

  219. Ron said,

    February 2, 2013 at 8:04 pm

    I agree, Don.

    CD-Host,

    Confessions go beyond the gospel of substitutionary death, a doctrine all justified persons agree upon. Secondly, a Confession that goes beyond the teaching of the gospel can recognize, as the Westminster standards do, that not all doctrines are equally plain (undermines 5). In fact, Peter called some of Paul’s writings difficult to understand. Thirdly, it is fallacious to conclude (C4), that disagreement implies non-clarity. Otherwise we’d have to conclude that God’s existence is not clear because professing atheists disagree with theists on God’s existence. At any rate, it is fallacious to conclude that since some doctrines are difficult to agree upon that, therefore, an infallible magisterium is biblical, let alone necessary.

    You said you would address this but somehow I missed it: “But why does Rome get a pass with respect to disagreement? Rome disagrees with the Westminster Confession of Faith, therefore, it would seem incumbent upon CD-Host to rationally extricate Rome from the mix of people who he thinks are fallible based upon disagreement and, therefore, not trustworthy.”
    Remember, a professing atheist may employ the same argument against Rome as you against Protestant denominations. Again, if we lump Rome in with all the rest of Trinitarian Christianity (and apply your reasoning) then the disagreements among the set of all Trinitarians, including Roman Catholics, would imply (by your reasoning) that all doctrine held by Trinitarians is dubious, even Rome’s.
    Below is your argument with one alteration. I substituted Trent for the Lutheran confession.

    1: Westminster Confession states X
    2: Trent states ~X
    3: Both parties agree X and ~X do in fact contradict and cannot both be true.
    4: Both parties assert their doctrine is derived from scripture.
    5: Both parties assert that scripture is clear on this issue, so if a person (an elect person?) is interpreting scripture they cannot help but agree with their position.

    So at least one of the following must be true.
    C1: Those holding to Westminster are not among the elect
    C2: Those holding to Trent are not among the elect
    C3: The X/~X doctrine is not derived from scripture and thus both parties are unable to successfully determine which doctrines are derived from scripture.
    C4: Scripture is unclear or contradictory on the X/~X doctrine and thus not an effective final infallible source of doctrine.

  220. Ron said,

    February 2, 2013 at 8:29 pm

    For time sake, let me preempt your rejoinder. You might argue that since “Scripture is unclear… and thus not an effective final infallible source of doctrine” that, therefore, we need Rome. But how is it that Scripture is clearer to the Roman magisterium than to the Divines? Your only appeal can be that Rome says so. For as soon as you grab your Bible to prove your point you undermine your conclusion that Scripture is “not an effective final infallible source of doctrine.”

    So, in the final analysis, not only do you believe Rome on her say so alone; you are unable to check her claims against Scripture because Scripture is apparently unclear and not effective in settling such matters. (BTW, Mormons have a similar problem.)

    Moreover, there is no OT precedent of infallibility (yet there has always been disagreement over Scripture). Given no such precedent, the burden of proof is not upon Protestants to disprove infallibility, which has been done by comparing Scripture with Trent etc., but upon Rome to positively prove infallibility. Yet you cannot possibly prove your doctrine from Scripture, for you have already asserted that Scripture is not effective in such matters. Consequently, your conclusion of an infallible magisterium rests 100% upon Rome’s claims regarding infallibility. That, CD-Host, is a hazardous way to go about things.

  221. Andrew McCallum said,

    February 2, 2013 at 8:29 pm

    Jason,

    I’m slow in getting back to you and other have already answered much of what you wrote. But let me ask you about this one quote from your post to me (#196):

    There’s a huge difference between the claim that “the church is where the gospel is” and the claim that “the church is where the bishop is.”

    I would also reference your quote and commentary on Ignatius in #205. It seems to me that Ignatius (and other ECF’s) was comfortable making his statement on obedience to one’s bishop because he was convinced as to the orthodoxy of the other bishops he was referring to. But in the Medieval era you had all sorts of bishops teaching all sorts of things and engaged in all manner of immoral activity. The Council of Trent was to a large extent engaged to deal with clerical immorality and to define what it was that bishops ought to believe. So given this don’t you think that before a Medieval believer followed a given bishop they would have been wise to understand what the bishop believed and test it against what they believed to be true? If if that’s the case then what standard were they to use to make such judgments?

    It seems to me that the problem for Catholic worldwide is even greater today since in the Medieval period Rome at least had the Inquisition to deal with with some forms of gross heresy. But today there are any number of belief systems with the RCC that are allowed to exist. As one recent convert from Rome said, Catholicism is the Buddhism of the West because of its ability to absorb such a great many belief systems. So let’s take the case of the Latin American Catholic whose church holds to some combination of Catholicism, one the local pagan religions, and some form of liberation theology (still very popular in Latin American countries). Don’t you think the Catholics in such a situation should question their bishop? And if so what standard do they use to judge this bishop?

  222. February 2, 2013 at 11:03 pm

    Jeff,

    Now here’s the crazy thing. As soon as we point this out, your paradigm requires you to stop your ears and stop listening….

    Are you so new to Catholic/Protestant discussions that you think you’re the first person to bring up Gal. 1:8-9? If not, then you surely have heard countless Catholics answer this question in a thoughtful, non “ear-stopping” way. And if that’s the case, then your charge is mere posturing triumphalism and selective memory, none of which is likely to induce a reponse (if indeed you actually are looking for one).

  223. MarkS said,

    February 2, 2013 at 11:41 pm

    Jeff (re: 215);
    Would you be willing to entertain a couple questions?

    When you say that gospel and fruit trump office, what do you mean by “trump”? It seems like you are saying “trump” means that if a Christian judges that his leader is deficient in the gospel or in morals, that he is free to break communion with that leader. Is this what you are saying?

    thanks,
    Mark

  224. February 2, 2013 at 11:44 pm

    Andrew,

    I wrote, “There’s a huge difference between the claim that ‘the church is where the gospel is’ and the claim that ‘the church is where the bishop is.’” You responded:

    It seems to me that Ignatius (and other ECF’s) was comfortable making his statement on obedience to one’s bishop because he was convinced as to the orthodoxy of the other bishops he was referring to. But in the Medieval era you had all sorts of bishops teaching all sorts of things and engaged in all manner of immoral activity…. So given this don’t you think that before a Medieval believer followed a given bishop they would have been wise to understand what the bishop believed and test it against what they believed to be true? If that’s the case then what standard were they to use to make such judgments?

    The general rule, as Ignatius clearly states and urges his readers toward, is “where the bishop is, there is the church.” The reason he thought this is because Jesus taught the apostles to consider rejection of their message as rejection of him, just as he himself taught that rejection of him is rejection of God the Father. Moreover, Paul instructed Timothy to teach with all authority and to let no man despise him. So the basic principle, I trust, is clear and non-controversial.

    But what happens when, a few hundred years after the ascension, we have bishops warring with one another? This is where you need a principled way to break the tie, as it were. And this is where the pope comes in. When there is a visible head, there is a principled way to adjudicate between claims of disputing bishops that goes beyond the nuh-uh/yeah-huh, he-said-she-said approach, according to which we just side with whomever we agree with.

    It seems to me that the problem for Catholic worldwide is even greater today since in the Medieval period Rome at least had the Inquisition to deal with with some forms of gross heresy. But today there are any number of belief systems with the RCC that are allowed to exist. As one recent convert from Rome said, Catholicism is the Buddhism of the West because of its ability to absorb such a great many belief systems. So let’s take the case of the Latin American Catholic whose church holds to some combination of Catholicism, one the local pagan religions, and some form of liberation theology (still very popular in Latin American countries). Don’t you think the Catholics in such a situation should question their bishop? And if so what standard do they use to judge this bishop?

    As you know, certain things have been defined infallible for the whole church (such as the Trinity), while other things are as-yet undefined (such as differing views of predestination). There is great latitude in the CC concerning those things that have not been defined infallibly, but there is no latitude concerning those that have been.

    Now concerning all this, I don’t expect to convince you, or anyone else, of anything (experience has taught me that much). So I am seeking to clarify some things and explain them, and not so much to argue for them. I hope that’s OK with you, since this is all I am really willing to do at this point. If you want detailed arguments, I am sure you know where to look.

  225. Ron said,

    February 3, 2013 at 1:04 am

    As you know, certain things have been defined infallible for the whole church (such as the Trinity), while other things are as-yet undefined (such as differing views of predestination). There is great latitude in the CC concerning those things that have not been defined infallibly, but there is no latitude concerning those that have been.

    Even if Rome has not ruled against a Reformed view of Predestination at least implicitly, a questionable assertion at that, what does “latitude” really get you, Jason? What good is it to believe something only to find out that Rome condemns it later? You can never know that you know any doctrine because all knowledge is subject to Rome’s approval.

    What spooked you, Jason, into believing you cannot trust your Bible anymore? It seems to me that you believe that disagreement implies lack of perspicuity. Yet Scriptures suggests the very opposite. Peter called some of Paul’s writings difficult to understand. (2 Peter 3:16) So, it’s not surprising that there are differences among believers. In fact, Scripture teaches that doctrinal differences are necessary in order to show who has God’s approval. (1 Cor. 11:19) It’s no wonder that Paul didn’t just point to the papacy instead of Scripture, or that the papacy wasn’t invoked in Acts 15.

  226. John Bugay said,

    February 3, 2013 at 7:59 am

    Jason Stellman 205:

    I was quoting Ignatius: “See that ye all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father. . . . Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.” (Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to the Smyraens, 8 c. A.D. 110)

    My point was simply that the Catholic position, which follows the early fathers, is that the church can be found by locating a duly ordained bishop, and that locating a duly ordained bishop is easier than locating a doctrinally correct gospel (since one is visible and the other is not).

    Do you mean this bishop?

    Yeah, that’s got to be an uncomplicated procedure. Far easier than say, this account:

    Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.

    Imagine this Philippian Jailer going to that easy-to-find Archbishop Mahoney in Los Angeles, any time, say, in the late 1980′s, or 90′s, and even into the 2000′s. Archbishop Mahoney says, “Yeah, this is THE CHURCH, go see Father Michael Baker, he’s a good guy and my authorized representative.

    Or, while you are down home, why not you yourself go see Archbishop Mahoney, and take your would-be altar-server children to see this man?

    Can you imagine that the thing Ignatius was talking about is totally different from what the medieval contemporary RCC has become?

  227. michael said,

    February 3, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    John!

    I’m ashamed of you! You shouldn’t bring out the Truth so plainly! It just might confuse the issues!!

  228. Pete Holter said,

    February 3, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    John Bugay!

    I hope that you and your family are enjoying God’s blessings for you.

    Sacramental ordination in succession from the apostles is not a sufficient criterion, but only a necessary one.

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  229. John Bugay said,

    February 3, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    Pete — I know that the Scriptures don’t specifically say “a bishop must not be a child molester …” but one would think that these “infallible” guys must have somehow figured out that it’s a necessary one — somewhere in the Tradition.

  230. Pete Holter said,

    February 3, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    Pete — I know that the Scriptures don’t specifically say “a bishop must not be a child molester …” but one would think that these “infallible” guys must have somehow figured out that it’s a necessary one — somewhere in the Tradition.

    Hi John!

    We are agreed that a bishop must not be a child molester. But if you find a child molester among the ordained hierarchy, this is not raison d’être for the establishing of a new hierarchy outside of the existing one. Rather, in the case of a notorious sinner among the hierarchy, we recognize the need to “Watch out for false prophets” (Matthew 7:15), and to recognize the “fierce wolves” who “will arise… speaking twisted things” (Acts 20:29-30), and to “test everything” and “hold fast what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Our call is not to attempt to break off communion with the entire existing hierarchy on account of the heinous crimes of some of their number (the error of the Donatists), but to hold ever more tightly to the faithful that we find within the Church of Christ already spread throughout the earth, beginning in Jerusalem.

    Sacramental ordination in succession from the apostles is not a sufficient criterion for identifying a living member of the hierarchy, but only a necessary one.

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  231. John Bugay said,

    February 3, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    Pete, if the whole hierarchy is enabling child molesters, as is has been the case over the last 30 years, that ought to give you a clue that things are somewhat worse than things were in Augustine’s day.

    Check out these two links:

    http://reformation500.wordpress.com/2010/02/18/romes-institutionally-sanctioned-lying/

    http://reformation500.wordpress.com/2010/03/22/roman-catholic-church-obstruction-of-justice/

    The Mahoney thing is just the latest thing we’ve found out about (and if you haven’t read about it, there are actual documents actually lying and obstructing justice, confirming my two blog posts above.

    You ought not to be saying “Hi John!” as if I’m going to be glad to see you [much less to see you happily defending this abusive hierarchy].

    My stomach turns that Roman Catholics like you actively defend this hierarchy on grounds were meant to defend the hierarchy against totally other grounds. Do you know anyone who has been sexually abused Pete? Do you know what it does to them? Sort of, for the rest of their lives?

    Bryan Cross once said “mea culpa” a couple of times, but then he’s also conveniently ignored this mess.

    In the first place, I don’t grant you that “sacramental ordination” is anything at all, much less the basis for any kind of “succession”. But if you want to cite Irenaeus to me, you ought to consider something else he said, which 100% of all Roman Catholics conveniently forget:

    For they (apostles) wanted those to whom they left as successors, and to whom they transmitted their own position of teaching, to be perfect and blameless (1 Tim 3:2) in every respect. If these men acted rightly it would be a great benefit, while if they failed it would be the greatest calamity.” (Against Heresies, 3.3.1)

    http://reformation500.wordpress.com/2010/02/13/irenaeus-on-succession/

    What you are facing, Pete, is “the greatest calamity”, or something close, and you are closing your eyes and smiling at it. Jason is writing books and going on speaking tours. And Bryan is “in the Peace of Christ” with it. Keep that in mind as you contemplate meeting the Lord.

  232. Andrew McCallum said,

    February 3, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    But what happens when, a few hundred years after the ascension, we have bishops warring with one another? This is where you need a principled way to break the tie, as it were. And this is where the pope comes in.

    Jason,

    One of the reasons there was a Reformation was that Pope was just as much part of the problem, and in some cases the instigator of the problems, that he was supposed to be solving. And beyond this it’s not like there is much of an effort to reign in the staggering diversity of opinions within the RCC today. Which leads to the questions as to whether an individual ought to question one’s bishop, how the individual should go about doing it, and what to do when there is no redress (which in the RCC does not happen much). I think it ought to be the right and responsibility of the individual to render some kind of judgment as to whether his/her bishop is being faithful given the official dogma of the RCC. This is no easy task, but I can’t think that you could possibly be advising the Catholics remain faithful to their bishop no matter where that bishop leads them.

    And then at a deeper level the question ought to be what happens when the the RCC magisterial of today does not agree with the RCC magisterial teaching of previous generations. The existence of so many different liberal and conservative groups within the RCC testifies as to what a difficult question this is. And even if you want to dismiss such folks as being unfaithful you have to admit that it is just your opinion that they are unfaithful. If you think that you are being faithful to the historical Roman Catholic Church based on what the current RCC Magisterium holds to, that is just your opinion. Others to the left and right of you within the RCC (not to mention those within various EO communions) are equally convinced based on their interpretation of the tradition of the Church that they are the faithful ones. So whose interpretation is correct?

    So we are all men who have to interpret, whether the raw data upon which that interpretation operates is the Scripture alone or the Scripture + the tradition of the Church. The peculiar spin of the folks at CTC is to try to remove much of this interpretive responsibility and objectify the Christian experience (hence your admonition that the average Christian ought to be told to follow his bishop with no qualification of this following). But I don’t see how we can rid ourselves of the subjective nature of the assessment of our faith. The attempt of the CTC folks to remove the subjective nature of their own assessment just makes it very difficult to communicate with them in any meaningful way.

  233. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 3, 2013 at 4:37 pm

    Jason (#219): …you surely have heard countless Catholics answer this question [of Gal 1] in a thoughtful, non “ear-stopping” way.

    Sadly, I have not. My own experience has been that I receive a flurry of “paradigms” and “your own private opinions” and “strawman”s.

    I am open to hearing your own thoughtful answer, however.

  234. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 3, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    MarkS (#220):

    Well, “trump” is my own word. Let’s start with the language that Paul actually uses: I am astonished that you are … turning to a different gospel… But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!”

    Can we agree that Paul here contemplates the hypothetical possibility that an apostle or angel might preach an alternate gospel? And in that case, Paul clearly expects the Galatians to reject that alternate gospel?

    If we agree so far, then we agree that “gospel trumps office”, meaning that if anyone, even the Pope or the Church, teaches a gospel that is contrary to the gospel revealed in Scripture, then he is not to be listened to.

  235. Brad B said,

    February 3, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    Hi Pete, re:#227, it seems odd to me that your tact here is to defend the purity of bishops by quoting scriptures that govern/quailify them, oughtn’t you to be quoting the authoritative interpreters of these scriptures since mere scripture quoting is ambiguous?

  236. Brad B said,

    February 3, 2013 at 5:00 pm

    Whoops, my bad, the post # for Petes comment is 228

  237. February 3, 2013 at 5:20 pm

    Jeff,

    That’s weird, I adduced the same passage (Gal. 1:8-9) in one of the first discussions I got into about Catholicism, and received a response that wasn’t anything like the “stopping your ears” caricature that you suggested above.

    Anyway, Bryan may want to fill in the details a bit more, but here’s a small section from his response to Horton:

    Regarding Galatians 1:8-9, St. Paul is not teaching that individual laymen should subjugate Church authorities to their [i.e. the layman's] own interpretation of Scripture. St. Paul is saying that the Galatians must not abandon the gospel which he and all the other Apostles had preached to them. The foundation laid is absolutely true and therefore must never be torn up and re-founded on something different. That initial apostolic preaching is an infallible and irrevocable foundation. But the gospel that St. Paul and the others had preached was not defined as the individual Galatian believer’s own personal interpretation of Scripture. It was something much bigger than that. It was the faith that had been preached throughout the world by the Apostles. There was a communal, historical and personal dimension to the received faith and its identity; it wasn’t limited to the letters written by the Apostles. To see whether someone was teaching a novel teaching, one would compare the message in question to the teaching universally received from the Apostles throughout the whole universal Church. The standard by which to measure the message in question was not “my interpretation of Scripture.” Otherwise, anyone following his own novel interpretation of Scripture could claim to be following the original gospel. Instead, St. Paul is exhorting the Galatian believers to test the spirits against what had been originally given to them and to the whole world by the Apostles, namely the Apostolic deposit. He is not advocating the authoritative supremacy of private interpretation of Scripture but rather the irreversibility and irrevocability of the one universally received Apostolic deposit. That’s what Catholics have always affirmed and still affirm.

    If a Catholic priest or bishop comes along who teaches contrary to the Apostolic deposit that has been taught and believed throughout the Church, we must not follow him because he is a heretic. But the standard is not our own private interpretation of Scripture; rather, the public and communally-shared faith received by the whole Church from the Apostles is the standard. It is public and communal, not a standard of private interpretation. So the Catholic Church is not requiring anyone to give more obedience to the successors of the Apostles than did St. Paul because St. Paul was not teaching that each individual has supreme individual interpretive authority. The duty to submit to present interpretive authority is not incompatible with a duty to hold to what has previously been given; the two duties go together, and neither nullifies the other. The duty to hold on to what has been handed down from the Apostles does not give us a green light to pick as our ecclesial ‘authorities’ those who teach according to our own interpretation of Scripture. In other words, the duty to hold on to the Apostolic deposit and not to forsake it does not justify doing what St. Paul condemns in 2 Timothy 4:3-4—i.e. choosing one’s ecclesial ‘authority’ on the basis of their agreement with one’s own interpretation of Scripture.

    I’m sure if you care to look, you can find much more than this. Or, you could just go on accusing Catholics of not addressing your objections even though they do.

  238. Pete Holter said,

    February 3, 2013 at 8:51 pm

    Pete, if the whole hierarchy is enabling child molesters, as is has been the case over the last 30 years, that ought to give you a clue that things are somewhat worse than things were in Augustine’s day.

    But this is just what the Donatists would do: blame the whole world of Catholics for remaining in communion with those in communion with Caecilianus. Augustine noted against the Donatists,

    “Cyprian says in his letter of such bishops of his own time, his own colleagues, and remaining in communion with him, ‘While they had brethren starving in the Church, they tried to amass large sums of money, they took possession of estates by fraudulent proceedings, they multiplied their gains by accumulated usuries.’ For here there is no obscure question. Scripture declares openly, ‘Neither covetous nor extortioners shall inherit the kingdom of God’ ” etc. (On Baptism, Against the Donatists, Bk. 4, Ch. 9:13).

    And Augustine himself had a corrupt bishop ordained (he’s broken about this in Letter 209).

    Even if we are able to identify a systemic failure, this does not implicate each and every bishop in such sins as those of Cardinal Mahoney. And if he has not sufficiently repented, then we rebuke him for the sins he’s committed. And if I had personal contact with the cardinal, I would exhort him right now to discern his need for further repentance, as his letter in response to Archbishop Gomez indicates is needed.

    You ought not to be saying “Hi John!” as if I’m going to be glad to see you [much less to see you happily defending this abusive hierarchy].

    “And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:47-48).

    My stomach turns that Roman Catholics like you actively defend this hierarchy on grounds were meant to defend the hierarchy against totally other grounds. Do you know anyone who has been sexually abused Pete? Do you know what it does to them? Sort of, for the rest of their lives?

    The grounds are actually the same: accusations of grave immorality. I once met a girl who told me about being raped and how her male friends beat the rapist to death. But other than that, I don’t know anyone who has been sexually abused (if I think of someone later, I’m sorry, I just don’t recall anyone else at this time). I appreciate how devastating and evil it is, but only from the perspective of one who has not experienced it. And I might as well add that I was an altar boy in the 1980s.

    In the first place, I don’t grant you that “sacramental ordination” is anything at all, much less the basis for any kind of “succession”.

    The pattern established by the authority of Scripture is for elders in the Church to be ordained through the laying on of hands by those who are already elders in the Church. Whether we call it sacramental ordination or something else, succession through the laying on of hands follows as a matter of course.

    But if you want to cite Irenaeus to me, you ought to consider something else he said, which 100% of all Roman Catholics conveniently forget:

    I hadn’t planned on citing Irenaeus, and I’m not aware of anyone who would disagree with the quote that you supplied.

    What you are facing, Pete, is “the greatest calamity”, or something close, and you are closing your eyes and smiling at it.

    I don’t smile at the sins of anyone, and, by the mercy of God, least of all my own. Also and only by His grace, I am not permitted to sever myself from the Body of Christ on account of the scandal caused by others. Woe to the one through whom scandal comes!

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  239. Bob S said,

    February 3, 2013 at 8:59 pm

    213 BTW, my “begged the question” remark to Darryl above was a joke. Other than Bob S, I’m sure everyone realized that.

    Nope. We still doesn’t get it.
    We’re not talking about a joke.
    Or maybe we are.
    Which is just the point.
    JJ’s opinion that it is just a joke is just . . . a fallible human opinion.
    IOW epistemologically speaking, it’s just a joke.
    But not quite the same one he might have fallibly had in mind.
    Which might mean the joke’s on him and not somebody we don’t talk to or read (which is handy because it gives the appearance of plausible deniablity of credible alternatives to the puerilities of the popish paradigm.)

    Why? Because Rome may not have its wafer and eat it too.
    Rome may not forbid private judgement to protestants, but then turn around in the next breath and assume it even as its adherents argue away in the combox like they do everytime .

    But never like Paul in the synagogue with the Jews or the Bereans, from Scripture, but rather from their own opinions of what Rome says, if not Rome’s own fallible opinions.

    219 Are you so new to Catholic/Protestant discussions that you think you’re the first person to bring up Gal. 1:8-9? If not, then you surely have heard countless Catholics answer this question in a thoughtful, non “ear-stopping” way. And if that’s the case, then your charge is mere posturing triumphalism and selective memory, none of which is likely to induce a reponse (if indeed you actually are looking for one).

    This from a roman newb who has never acknowledged, much more engaged, never mind rebutted the standard responses of Luther, Calvin, Perkins, the Dutch Annotations or Cartwright’s Reply to the Douay Rheims NT to the Roman eisegesis of Scripture.
    It would be laughable if not so pathetically pompous and asinine.

    (And don’t bother with the charges that we have descended to the ad hom level and are ungracious/unChristian. That is just the point. That is just the question. How does anyone know that?

    Answer, they don’t.
    Rome’s skepticism/denial that anyone can know anything true or infallible apart from Rome’s instruction in the same is a two edged sword. That means any assertion that my comments are out of line is just a fallible human opinion and indignant handwaving.
    After all if Bryan can continue asserting that the choice is all or nothing, it’s either Rome or anarchistic anabaptistism of Sola Scriptura, then we can assume the same regarding any knowledge outside of ex cathedra pronouncements.)

    221 The reason he thought this is because Jesus taught the apostles to consider rejection of their message as rejection of him, just as he himself taught that rejection of him is rejection of God the Father.

    Gotta love it. Here our papist essentially tells us that Jesus taught doctrinal succession in the apostolic church and what, apostolic succession in the post apostolic church? Uh,huh. That’s what is called “development”.

    Moreover, Paul instructed Timothy to teach with all authority and to let no man despise him. So the basic principle, I trust, is clear and non-controversial.

    Yup. Sure is.
    Paul instructed Timothy to teach with all authority that:

    All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. 2 Timothy 3:16,17

    IOW if we would be perfect, thoroughly furnished to all good works, even the good work of assessing the Roman doctrine of infallibility, Scripture is both necessary and sufficient.

    As you know, certain things have been defined infallible for the whole church (such as the Trinity), while other things are as-yet undefined (such as differing views of predestination). There is great latitude in the CC concerning those things that have not been defined infallibly, but there is no latitude concerning those that have been.

    But a list or table of contents will not be forthcoming. Not that anyone would lord it over your faith and keep you in purgatory as to what is to be accepted as infallible. Then maybe this infalliblity jazz is not that necessary after all.
    Wait a minute. Rome infallibly teaches implicit faith.
    (Cool, now we get to be like all the other couch apes and go back to staring at the NFL circus on the HiDef while sucking on a Bud Ice pacifier).

    Now concerning all this, I don’t expect to convince you, or anyone else, of anything (experience has taught me that much). So I am seeking to clarify some things and explain them, and not so much to argue for them. I hope that’s OK with you, since this is all I am really willing to do at this point. If you want detailed arguments, I am sure you know where to look.

    Clarify. Explain. IOW an appeal to private judgement.
    But not argue.
    Which is good. We already have a pretty good idea of whether somebody even knows what an argument is, never mind if they can actually argue.
    And we already know where not to look for detailed arguments that beg the question and assume what needs to be proved.

    237 the teaching universally received from the Apostles throughout the whole universal Church.

    Here we go again.

    Is Trent’s anathema against the gospel of justification by faith alone a teaching that is universally received from the Apostles through out the whole universal church?

    Is the supremacy and infallibility of the Roman bishop another teaching universally received from the Apostles throughout the whole universal Church?

    IOW does the Roman church get to define what is the “whole universal church” in the mantra/paradigm of “the teaching universally received from the Apostles throughout the whole universal Church”?

    But this is not begging the question or circular reasoning?

    And how do you define that? What is the teaching universally received from the Apostles throughout the whole universal Church on begging the question/circular reasoning?

    Consult Ignatius of Loyola, Rule 13?
    If the Hierarchy says black is white, so be it?
    Check. Got it.

    Or, you could just go on accusing Catholics of not addressing your objections even though they do.

    Don’t worry about it. They do that well enough not addressing objections on their own without any coaching or coaxing on our part.

    cheers

  240. Erik Charter said,

    February 3, 2013 at 10:04 pm

    Look to Christ & His righteousness. Be kind to others. Don’t let people confuse you or dissuade you from these things. Beware of men who tell you to focus on them rather than on Christ.

  241. February 3, 2013 at 11:06 pm

    Andrew,

    If you’d like to continue this dialogue, please email me privately. The environment here is both hostile and toxic, and I would prefer not to participate and thereby become a plaything which certain regulars here can mock for their own and others’ amusement. There’s a lot more I want to say, but I’ll just hold my tongue.

  242. Pete Holter said,

    February 3, 2013 at 11:33 pm

    oughtn’t you to be quoting the authoritative interpreters of these scriptures since mere scripture quoting is ambiguous?

    Greetings in Christ, Brad B!

    Sometimes we find in the Scriptures passages concerning which we can say with Augustine, “I think that so clear and open a sentence as this only requires to be read, and not expounded,” and that “so clear a matter may rather be obscured by exposition” (On Merit and the Forgiveness of Sins, and the Baptism of Infants, Bk. 1, Ch. 4.4, 7.7).

    :)

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  243. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 4, 2013 at 12:00 am

    Jason (#237): Or, you could just go on accusing Catholics of not addressing your objections even though they do.

    I hear your frustration. You perceive that you and other Catholics are offering genuine explanations that are being ignored.

    Here’s my frustration: I ask question X and get a response that addresses Y and Z but leaves X untouched.

    And so it is with Cross’s response to Horton (which I Googled and read in more depth).

    My original objection was that Paul says very clearly

    * If anyone, including myself or an angel, teaches a false gospel,
    * Let him be accursed.

    The objection is that the truth of the gospel supercedes authority, even apostolic or angelic authority. We are to believe the gospel regardless of who gainsays it.

    The Catholic scheme inverts this and insists that Church authority determines which gospel we should believe. The church is first; the gospel is second. “Who” comes before “What.”

    Bryan sidesteps this objection and returns to the “your own private interpretation” theme:

    Paul is not teaching that individual laymen should subjugate Church authorities to their [i.e. the layman's] own interpretation of Scripture. St. Paul is saying that the Galatians must not abandon the gospel which he and all the other Apostles had preached to them.

    and then goes on to speak of subordinate priests or bishops teaching something that contradicts what the Church has always taught.

    This is a non-answer. The objection does not speak of interpretations, but the actual truth of the gospel. Paul expects that the Galatians can recognize true from false. Paul expects them to reject a false gospel, even if *he himself were to teach it.* Else he would not be astonished at their desertion.

    Bryan doesn’t come anywhere close to addressing this point. The large arc of his response is to reiterate that “Who” comes before “What” without considering the objection itself.

    So I’m sorry to say that Bryan’s answer continues to follow the trajectory I described in #233: His response steps into the realm of “private interpretations” but does not address the real objection that was raised (by either Horton at the time, or myself at this time). Whether this is intentional or unintentional, I don’t wish to speculate. But unsatisfying it certainly is!

    I fear that my response here will simply frustrate you further, but it is a genuine plea: The “own private interpretation” card carries no weight, and is not received as an answer, but as a non-answer and a device to side-step objections and problems.

  244. Bob S said,

    February 4, 2013 at 12:59 am

    205 I was quoting Ignatius: “See that ye all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father. . . . Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.” (Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to the Smyraens, 8 c. A.D. 110)

    Yet another logical fallacy from those that deny Christianity is pre-eminently Scriptural, as well as a reasonable and historical faith.
    The argument is an enthymeme where one of the premises is implied/left out.

    Follow the bishop.
    (As the bishop follows Christ.)
    As Christ follows the Father.

    But the bishop does not follow Christ.
    ∴ Do not follow the bishop.

    As to the rest of Ignatius’s remarks, it is asserted, but not proved that the ECF’s were infallible. How do we know that? Does Scripture tell us that? No. Do the ECF’s tell us that? Not universally though Ignatius might. Does Rome tell us that? Yes. But then why should we believe Rome? (Trust but verify?) First and foremost because it is infallible. But then any error would disqualify Rome categorically, would it not? But that would be just your perception of error.

    IOW welcome to the hall of mirrors, but it isn’t a carnival. It claims to be The Church of Christ, the same who said “You shall know the truth and it shall set you free”. But evidently not free of bondage to Rome where grown men grovel and pride themselves in abasing their judgement, if not worship a wafer. Go figure.

    My point was simply that the Catholic position, which follows the early fathers, is that the church can be found by locating a duly ordained bishop, and that locating a duly ordained bishop is easier than locating a doctrinally correct gospel (since one is visible and the other is not).

    This is the popish version of a poker tell. We do not – contra Paul who had the spirit of Christ – walk by faith, but we walk by sight. Hence Rome’s fascination with idolatry; pictures two dimensional and three as well as passion plays instead of preaching, if not that the drama of the mass and the sacrament over ride the preaching of the Word all of which helped lead to the Reformation.

    You fall prey to the same thing you charge me with, is what I’m saying. And of course there is an element of faith involved in all this! We’re not talking about the temperature at which water boils, we’re talking about supernatural mysteries, things that can’t be reproduced in a lab or proven on chalk board.

    Read Bryan critiquing Wilson and Hitchens. He accuses Doug of fideism because of his skeptical presuppositionalism. Yet the question of authority or infallibility is inescapable. Neither can one prove those first principles, authorities or axioms. One cannot prove that God exists or that the Bible is infallible WCF1:4,5 or even that Rome never makes mistakes, but one rather assumes or takes them on faith. Bryan’s not happy with this standard reply from Doug though, but prefers Aristotelianism ala Acquinas in which reson can prove these things.

    Still the Reformed have affirmed God as the principle of being and the Scripture as the external principle of knowing, while faith is the internal principium. The question then becomes how consonant is one’s faith with Scripture, reason which instrumentally apprehends Scripture and history/tradition or the past consensus and multitude of counselors, pastors and teachers that God has given his church.

    But we know the routine. Private judgement. Outside of Rome’s infallible statements, all is fallible opinion.

    I never claimed that what I can fathom or can’t fathom is my standard for anything. I merely made an observation (which is why I prefaced that sentence with “And for my part, I can’t help but think that….”).

    “Can’t help but think”. Indeed, that’s what men inevitably do being made in the image of God with reasonable souls. Which Rome explicitly denies even as it implicitly assumes and appeals to PJ in its ongoing war against PJ/the justification of knowledge/Sola Scriptura and its counter exaltation of a faith contra Scripture, reason and history, if not a vicious fideism skeptical of Scripture, reason and history.


    For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says:
    “‘“You will indeed hear but never understand,
    and you will indeed see but never perceive.”

    Likewise:

    Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place. For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things? For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ. 2 Corinthians 2:14-17

    Thank you.

  245. Bob S said,

    February 4, 2013 at 1:48 am

    240 If you’d like to continue this dialogue, please email me privately. The environment here is both hostile and toxic, and I would prefer not to participate and thereby become a plaything which certain regulars here can mock for their own and others’ amusement. There’s a lot more I want to say, but I’ll just hold my tongue.

    Unfortunately in the real world, fools are answered according to their folly. Someone buttered their bread and asserted all sorts of things they couldn’t prove, much more they don’t even know where to begin. So now that the shine has worn off the hope, change and transparency thing, if not that it is looking more and more like toast, somebody is upset.

    But again, according to their very own presuppositions all their statements have been from the beginning is a fallible opinion. They cannot be proven according to romanism. But this is our fault? For pointedly pointing it out. Because if we didn’t do so pointedly, we would be continued to be patronized as to what protestantism teaches and catechized in roman sophistries? I don’t think so. The Roman fraud and blasphemy has gone on far too long and we owe it no mercy or quarter.

    Or is truth only what a romanist says?
    Evidently so.

    242 I fear that my response here will simply frustrate you further, but it is a genuine plea: The “own private interpretation” card carries no weight, and is not received as an answer, but as a non-answer and a device to side-step objections and problems.

    As the first pope Peter says, Christ the Word of God become flesh is a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. 1 Pet. 2:8
    And when certain people hear these things, not only are they cut to the heart, they gnash on those who tell them with their teeth cf. Act 7:8

    IOW when someone has been backed into the corner and their arguments for the word of the Pope destroyed, if not shown to be inconsistent and contradictory to their own paradigm, they can either harden their heart or repent and believe the word of God.

    But one, I am not holding my breath. It’s nothing personal, but so help me I will not stand by and allow the Word of God and the reformed faith to be defamed by the despicable religion of Rome.
    Mr. Stellman will not stand down. He will not be quiet. He continues to talk and teach and assume he knows the truth and that he must tell us all about it.
    But then game on and we’re not talking about the NFL or the NBA and he’s a sore loser.

    Two, they will be back. Count on it. As we have said before Romanism is a works righteousness and persecution gets you extra points for purgatory. As a protestant you might not think of that, but they do. Besides where else than at GB, OLTS, BeggarsAll or Trialblogue do they get a run for their money and a real work out? Even Bryan can only spar with the fanclub over at CtC for so long before he gets bored and needs a bucket of cold water to stay awake.

    cheers

  246. John Bugay said,

    February 4, 2013 at 4:26 am

    Pete, your appeal to the Donatists is misplaced.

    First, the 2nd Helvetic Confession, Chapter 17 notes:

    We, therefore, call this Church catholic because it is universal, scattered through all parts of the world, and extended unto all times, and is not limited to any times or places. Therefore, we condemn the Donatists who confined the Church to I know not what corners of Africa. Nor do we approve of the Roman clergy who have recently passed off only the Roman Church as catholic.

    For the Reformed, there is an equal condemnation of the Donatist errors and the claims of exclusivity of the Roman hierarchy. As seen further in Chapter 18:

    Moreover, we strongly detest the error of the Donatists who esteem the doctrine and administration of the sacraments to be either effectual or not effectual, according to the good or evil life of the ministers. For we know that the voice of Christ is to be heard, though it be out of the mouths of evil ministers; because the Lord himself said: “Practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do” (Matt. 23:3). We know that the sacraments are sanctified by the institution and the word of Christ, and that they are effectual to the godly, although they be administered by unworthy ministers.

    That much is not in question. You give lip service to the notion that it would be “the greatest calamity” if “successors” were not “perfect and blameless”, saying “I’m not aware of anyone who would disagree with the quote that you supplied”.

    However, men like Cardinal Mahoney are not only “not perfect and blameless, but they are the worst kind of criminals. Then you quickly to sidestep that whole notion.

    What is a “great calamity” Pete? Is it a reason to make you cheerful to be a Roman Catholic? You, as a Roman Catholic, should be leading the charge to find and prosecute all of those bishops – and there are hundreds if not thousands of them around the world – who actively obstructed justice and protected pedophile priests.

    You should have absolute fear, for these leaders of the Roman Catholic church, and for yourself for supporting, and thus participating in their sins.

    In the same section of the 2nd Helvetic Confession:

    THE LORD RESERVES TRUE POWER FOR HIMSELF. This power the Lord reserves to himself, and does not transfer it to any other, so that he might stand idly by as a spectator while his ministers work. For Isaiah says, “I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David” (Isa. 22:22), and again, “The government will be upon his shoulders, but still keeps and uses his own power, governing all things.

    If you want to attribute “the keys” to Peter based on this verse [and then make the next argument that there are somehow “successors” to Peter], note that three verses later, Isaiah 22:25 warns of a day in which “the peg that was fastened in a secure place will give way, and it will be cut down and fall, and the load that was on it will be cut off, for the LORD has spoken”:

    And I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David. He shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open. And I will fasten him like a peg in a secure place, and he will become a throne of honor to his father’s house. And they will hang on him the whole honor of his father’s house, the offspring and issue, every small vessel, from the cups to all the flagons. In that day, declares the Lord of hosts, the peg that was fastened in a secure place will give way, and it will be cut down and fall, and the load that was on it will be cut off, for the Lord has spoken.”

    Surely the Lord of Hosts permits “pegs in a secure place” to be shown to “give way” and the load that it bears be “cut off”. This is the natural result when Eliakim is given keys that he can’t bear: to him whom the keys are given in this prophecy, and all that he bears up, are “cut off”.

    This image of “calamity” and disaster among previously appointed leadership is reinforced, as Calvin notes in his commentary on Malachi. If it is true that God created “the succession” [and I do not allow that he did God is well within his rights to “cut them off” as well, and more, to “rub dung in their faces”:

    But as the Jews flattered themselves on account of their descent, and ever boasted of their fathers, and as that preeminence with which God had favored them proved to them an occasion of haughtiness and pride, the Prophet here ridicules this foolish confidence, I will scatter dung, he says, on your faces: “Ye are a holy nation, ye are the chosen seed of Abraham, ye are a royal priesthood; these are your boastings; but the Lord will render your faces filthy with dung; this will be your nobility and preeminence! there is then no reason for you to think yourselves exempt from punishments because God has adopted you; for as ye have abused his benefits and profaned his name, so ye shall also find in your turn, that he will cover you with everything disgraceful and ignominious, so as to make you wholly filthy: ye shall then be covered all over with dung, and shall not be the holy seed of Abraham.”

    “I myself,” he says, “am present, to whom ye think your sacrifices to be acceptable; I then will destroy your seed, and I will also cast dung on your faces; all the dignity which ye pretend shall be abolished, for ye think that ye are defended by a sort of privilege, when ye boast yourselves to be the seed of Abraham: it is dung, it is dung,” he says. He afterwards shows what was especially the dung and the filth: for when they objected and said, “What! have our sacrifices availed nothing?” he answers, “Nay, I will cast that dung upon you, because the chief pollution is in your sacrifices, for ye vitiate and adulterate my service: and what else is your sacrifice but profanation only? ye are sacrilegious in all your empty pomps. Since then all your victims have an ill-savor and displease me, and as I nauseate them, (as it is also said in the first and last chapter of Isaiah,) I will heap the dung on your own heads, because ye think it to be your chief expiation.”

    He adds at last, It shall take you to itself; that is, “Ye shall be dung altogether; and thus all your boastings, that ye are descended from the holy Patriarch Abraham, shall be wholly useless; though I made a covenant and promised that you should be to me a royal priesthood, yet the dung shall take you to itself, and thus whatever dignity I have hitherto conferred on you shall be taken away.”

    To be sure, it is Rome which is guilty of schism, not the church of the Reformers. Calvin makes a point of this in his Letter to Sadoleto:

    … the most serious charge of all is, that we have attempted to dismember the Spouse of Christ. Were that true, both you and the whole world might well regard us as desperate. But I will not admit the charge, unless you can make out that the Spouse of Christ is dismembered by those who desire to present her as a chaste virgin to Christ,—who are animated by a degree of holy zeal to preserve her spotless for Christ,—who, seeing her polluted by base seducers, recall her to conjugal fidelity,—who unhesitatingly wage war against all the adulterers whom they detect laying snares for her chastity. And what but this have we done? Had not your faction of a Church attempted nay, violated her chastity, by strange doctrines? Had she not been violently prostituted by your numberless superstitions? Had she not been defiled by that vilest species of adultery, the worship of images? And because, forsooth, we did not suffer you so to insult the sacred chamber of Christ, we are said to have lacerated his Spouse! But I tell you that that laceration, of which you falsely accuse us, is witnessed not obscurely among yourselves; a laceration not only of the Church, but of Christ himself, who is there beheld miserably mangled. How can the Church adhere to her Spouse, while she has him not in safety? For where is the safety of Christ, while the glory of his justice, and holiness, and wisdom, is transferred elsewhere?

    It is the “strange doctrines” which should concern you here:

    For how have arisen so great impieties under the Papacy, except that pastors have exercised tyranny and not just government? For they have not regarded the purpose for which they have been called into their office, but as the name of pastor is in itself honorable, they have dared to raise themselves above the clouds, and to assume to themselves the authority of God himself. Hence it has been, that they have dared to bind consciences by their own laws, to change the whole truth, and to corrupt the whole worship of God: and hence also followed the scandalous sale of justice. How have these things happened? Because priests were counted as angels come down from heaven; and this same danger is ever to be feared by us.

    This then is the vice which the Prophet now refers to; and he shows that the priests had no reason to think that they could shake off the yoke, Ye shall know, he says, that to you belongs this command. We indeed see what they objected to Jeremiah,

    “The law shall not depart from the priests nor counsel and wisdom from the elders.” (Jeremiah 18:18.)

    These are the weapons by which the Papists at this day defend themselves. When we allege against them plain proofs from Scripture, they find themselves clearly reproved and convicted by God’s word; but here is their Ajax’s shield, under which they hide all their wickedness, retailing as it were from the ungodly and wicked priests what is related by Jeremiah, “‘The law shall not depart from the priests;’ we are the Church, can it err? is not the Holy Spirit dwelling in the midst of us? ‘I am with you always to the end of the world,’ (Matthew 28:20;) did Christ intend to deceive his Church when he said this to his Apostles? and we are their successors.” The Prophet now gives the answer, Ye shall know, he says, that to you, belongs this command.

    And in his commentary on Zechariah he says:

    And he adds, not without severity, that my covenant may be with Levi; as though he had said, “On what account are ye thus elated? for God cannot get a hearing for himself, yet ye say that the covenant with Levi is not to be void, as though God had put Levi in his own place, and divested himself of all authority when he appointed that tribe, and made you ministers of the temple and teachers of the people; is he nothing? What was God’s purpose when he honored you with that dignity? He certainly did not mean to reduce himself to nothing, but, on the contrary, his will was, that his own right should remain entire and complete. When therefore I reprove your vices, and show that ye are become vile, and as it were dung, that ye are defiled by everything disgraceful, — when I make these things openly known, I do not violate the covenant made with Levi. God then justly summons you before his tribunal, and strips you of your honor, in order that the covenant he made with Levi may be confirmed and ratified.” This is, as I have said, a severe derision.

  247. Rooney said,

    February 4, 2013 at 5:01 am

    #240: “The environment here is both hostile and toxic”

    I think that Catholic Answers Forums fits this description much better. Any mention of prominent “anti-Catholics” (eg. White, Webster etc) will attract multiple hostile reactions, like a piece of meat thrown into a Piranha pool.

    Someone once tossed up a question about the most bashed religion in Catholic Answers Forums. Guess what it was?

    People there also seem to refuse to name James White as one of the best apologists vs Islam, yet they reluctantly name WLC as the best vs Atheism. Someone I think even named Father Barron as one of the best vs Atheism.

    Lets face it, the “Art of Attack” dialogue style has happened almost everywhere.

    I think we should all calm down a bit.

  248. John Bugay said,

    February 4, 2013 at 5:16 am

    Jason Stellman 237, that selection from Bryan’s response to Michael Horton is another example of Bryan just simply making things up to fit his “paradigm”.
    For example, he claims “the gospel that St. Paul and the others had preached … “ “was not defined as the individual Galatian believer’s own personal interpretation of Scripture”. This is a straw man, for no Reformer suggests that it was “a believer’s own personal interpretation”. That’s a fiction pure and simple.

    He suggests rather, that the gospel “was something much bigger than that. It was the faith that had been preached throughout the world by the Apostles.” Right. But thence comes the second fiction: “There was a communal, historical and personal dimension to the received faith and its identity.”

    Paul is strictly talking “message from God”. “Gospel” is not Rome’s “Apostolic deposit”. “Gospel” of course means “good news”. But if you think that there was “a personal dimension” – and in yours and Bryan’s thinking “an ecclesiastical one”, you are mistaken.

    First, Paul himself allows that if the message preached by he himself or Angels or other apostles is changed, that is what is in view. “It is the message, not the messenger, that ultimately matters. The gospel preached by Paul Is not the true gospel because it is Paul who preaches it; it is the true gospel because the risen Christ gave it to Paul to preach. If Paul himself, or any other apostle, or even an angel were to bring a different message, both the messenger and his counterfeit message should be rejected.”

    Second, there is no “community” or “ecclesiastical” dimension in that passage. The word “accursed” in Gal 1:8-9”, “ἀνάθεμα”, does not refer to excommunication from the church, but rather, “refers to final destruction and condemnation”.
    Paul is talking about “false prophets” in the sense of Deuteronomy 13:1-11:

    “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of slavery, to make you leave the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.

    “If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son or your daughter or the wife you embrace or your friend who is as your own soul entices you secretly, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods,’ which neither you nor your fathers have known, some of the gods of the peoples who are around you, whether near you or far off from you, from the one end of the earth to the other, you shall not yield to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him, nor shall you conceal him. But you shall kill him. Your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. You shall stone him to death with stones, because he sought to draw you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. And all Israel shall hear and fear and never again do any such wickedness as this among you.

    “Your hand shall be the first against him”: The false message is recognizable by as few as one person.

    It’s not “the public and communally-shared faith” that’s being offended. It is “The Lord your God: fear Him and keep His commandments and hear His voice”.

    The accursed is someone who “presumes to speak for God” when he doesn’t.

  249. Andrew McCallum said,

    February 4, 2013 at 7:10 am

    Jason (re: 240),

    Sure, I will drop you a note later today.

    Cheers for now,,,,,

  250. dgwired said,

    February 4, 2013 at 7:18 am

    Jeff and Jason, for what it’s worth, the commentary on Galatians that is “loyal to the magisterium” says almost nothing about office or authority. http://www.veritasbible.com/resources/articles/The_Epistle_to_the_Galatians

    Here is the synopsis of Galatians:

    “Theology of the Epistle.

    “God and the Father: God is one, 3:20; the will of God, 1:4; the grace of, 2:21; He is “not mocked,” 6:7; His kingdom, 5:21; He has “known” the Galatians, 4:9; is not an acceptor of persons, 2:6; His promise, 3:14-29; it is of the Spirit, 3:14; through faith, 3:14, 22; to Abraham, 3:16; is confirmed, 3:17; is not by “the Law,” 3:18, 21; is to Christ, 3:19; we are children of the promise, 5:28; God is the Father, 1:1, 3; glory to the Father, 1:5; has sent His Son, 4:4; also His Spirit, 3:5, 4:6; has revealed His Son, 1:16; Christ is dependent on the Father, 1:4; the Father raised Christ from the dead, 1:1; we are the children of God by faith in Christ, 3:26, 29, 4:5.

    “The Christology: Christ is the Son of God, 2:20, 4:4, 7; He is sent by the Father, 4:4; is made of a woman, 4:4; made under the Law, 4:4; is dependent on the Father, 1:4, 4:4; the promise is by faith in Christ, 3:22; He is of the seed of Abraham, 3:16; we are children of God by faith in Christ, 3:26; He is Lord, 1:3; He gave Himself for us, 1:4, 2:20; was made a curse, 3:13; for the deliverance of this world, 1:4; was crucified, 3:1; redeemed us from the Law, 3:13, 4:5; He loved us, 2:20; did not die in vain, 2:21; was raised by the Father, 1:1; the grace of Christ, 1:6, 6:18; His Gospel, 1:7; He revealed it to Paul, 1:12; Christ was revealed to Paul by the Father, 1:16; Paul is His Apostle, 1:1; His servant, 1:10; He is to be preached by Paul, 1:16; the blessing of Abraham is to come to the Gentiles through Christ, 3:14; the Galatians received Paul as Christ, 4:14; Paul has confidence in Him, 5:10; the persecution of the Cross of Christ, 6:12, 14; the marks of Christ, 6:17; we are nailed to the Cross with Christ, 2:19; they that are Christ’s are crucified, 5:4; we are justified by the faith of Christ, 2:16; and in Christ, 2:17; and live in the faith of Christ, 2:20; and thus are children of God, 3:26; the Law is a pedagogue to Christ, 3:24; He is no profit to the circumcised, 5:2, 4; we must fulfill the Law of Christ, 6:2; are baptized in Christ, 3:27; and so have put on Christ, 3:27; and are all one in Christ, 3:28; and are all His, 3:29; He lives in us, 2:20; the Galatians must have Christ formed in them, 4:19.

    “The Holy Spirit: The promise of, 3:14; is sent by the Father, 3:5, 4:6; received by faith, not by the Law, 3:2; we hope for justification in the Spirit, 5:5;[49] we must walk in the Spirit, 5:16; and be led by it, 5:16; the flesh and the Spirit are opposed, 5:17; the fruits of the Spirit, 5:22-23; we must live in the Spirit, 5:25; and must sow in it, 6:8.
    The Position of the Law: The works of the Law do not justify a man, 2:16, 21, 3:11, 21; the Spirit is not given by the Law, 3:2, 5; nor are miracles worked because of the works of the Law, 3:5; heirship to the promise is not by the Law, 3:18; the Law does not give life, 3:21; it is but “weak and needy elements,” 4:9; those who are under the works of the Law are under a curse, 3:10; we are redeemed from the curse of the Law, 3:13, 4:5; the Law does not disannul the testament nor the promise, 3:17; the Law was set for transgressions, 3:19; through the Law we are dead to the Law, 2:19; the Law is our pedagogue to Christ, 3:23-25; the Law is figured by the son of the bondwoman, 4:22-31; after the advent of faith the Law is useless, 5:2-6; all the Law is comprised in love of our neighbor, 5:14; they that are of the circumcision do not keep the Law, 6:13; the Law we have to fulfill is that of Christ, 6:2.

    “Faith: Is not the justifying principle of the Law, 3:12; is to be revealed, 3:23; it deposes the Law, 3:13-29; it justified Abraham, 3:6-18; faith in Christ justifies, 2:16, 20, 3:22, 4:5-6; it enables us to receive the Spirit, 3:2, 5, 14; is the fruit of the Spirit, 5:23; the faith is revealed to St. Paul, 1:12, 16, 23.”

    It is an arresting letter since Paul also takes on the supreme and infallible Peter, who apparently got the gospel wrong.

  251. TurretinFan said,

    February 4, 2013 at 8:33 am

    Jason wrote:

    There’s a huge difference between the claim that “the church is where the gospel is” and the claim that “the church is where the bishop is.”

    My point was simply that the Catholic position, which follows the early fathers, is that the church can be found by locating a duly ordained bishop, and that locating a duly ordained bishop is easier than locating a doctrinally correct gospel (since one is visible and the other is not).

    I was quoting Ignatius: “See that ye all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father. . . . Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.” (Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to the Smyraens, 8 c. A.D. 110)

    The general rule, as Ignatius clearly states and urges his readers toward, is “where the bishop is, there is the church.” The reason he thought this is because Jesus taught the apostles to consider rejection of their message as rejection of him, just as he himself taught that rejection of him is rejection of God the Father. Moreover, Paul instructed Timothy to teach with all authority and to let no man despise him. So the basic principle, I trust, is clear and non-controversial.

    But what happens when, a few hundred years after the ascension, we have bishops warring with one another? This is where you need a principled way to break the tie, as it were. And this is where the pope comes in. When there is a visible head, there is a principled way to adjudicate between claims of disputing bishops that goes beyond the nuh-uh/yeah-huh, he-said-she-said approach, according to which we just side with whomever we agree with.

    a) Bob S. has pointed out one part of the problem of using the quotation from Ignatius.
    b) A second part of the problem is that Ignatius’ ecclesiology the bishop is not to Jesus Christ as the presbytery (by which he probably means the other elders on the session) is to the apostles.
    c) Another part of the problem is that Ignatius is not addressing “how do you discern heretical bishops from non-heretical bishops.”

    Tertullian’s question seems more appropriate: “Do we prove the faith by the persons, or the persons by the faith?”

    Even more appropriate is Jerome’s statement: “The Church does not consist in walls, but in the truths of her teachings. The Church is there where there is true faith. As a matter of fact, fifteen and twenty years ago, all the church buildings belonged to heretics, for heretics twenty years ago were in possession of them; but the true Church was there where the true faith was.”

    Jason, with his emphasis on authority rather than truth, has gotten things backwards. It’s not that authority in the church is unimportant – it is very important. Nevertheless, what matters is the faith, not the men, the gospel, not the walls.

    -TurretinFan

  252. TurretinFan said,

    February 4, 2013 at 9:03 am

    Mr. Holter:

    Thanks for your response. You wrote:

    This seems to suggest that the separation of Paul and Barnabas was put into Scripture as an example to emulate, rather than as a fault to reproach. It was not for reason of their profound love “that they separated from each other” (Acts 15:39). Rather, “there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other.”

    Using Scripture to interpret Scripture, it is clear that either Barnabas or Paul or both of them fell short of the call to Christian unity in this particular episode. Luke does not appear to take sides by defending either of them in his narration, and from this we may surmise that both were at fault. Also, as you noted, these were missionary trips. They were not aiming towards establishing permanent, doctrinal and physical divisions among the believers who would gather together in a particular geographical area for common worship week after week. For both of these reasons, it should not be used as a precedent for the separation of Christianity into permanent and lasting divisions.

    There was a sharp disagreement that needed to be resolved in some way. Rather than resolving it by appealing to Paul’s higher rank, or casting a vote amongst apostles, or sending off a letter to James or Peter, they solved the disagreement by peacefully separating. That aspect of making the best of a bad situation is something for us to emulate.

    By the way, that also addresses Jason’s claim. You recall, Jason wrote:

    But what happens when, a few hundred years after the ascension, we have bishops warring with one another? This is where you need a principled way to break the tie, as it were. And this is where the pope comes in.

    When Paul and Barnabas disagreed, they didn’t need a pope to “break the tie.” Either the peacefully separated (as in the passage we quoted above), or they sat down and discussed the matter from Scripture with other apostles (as in Acts 15). But never is the solution “I appeal to the emperor of Christianity!”

    Indeed, it would be interesting for Jason to tell us when he thinks the first time was that papal infallibility was employed to “break a tie.” It wasn’t the method of the ecumenical councils – and it is hardly to “break a tie” that papal infallibility was used to define the Marian dogmas. So what does Jason have in mind?

    -TurretinFan

  253. TurretinFan said,

    February 4, 2013 at 11:40 am

    I wrote: “but the unity Christ had in mind was one of love, not one of denomination.”

    Bryan Cross responded: “That notion is similar to the contemporary belief of those young men who want love with a girlfriend, but without marriage and its visible, public unity and responsibility and enduring commitment to a family even despite that family’s flaws and hardships and embarrassments.”

    a) This analogy doesn’t address the text. One reason why Bryan is not addressing the text, is that the text so obviously is about unity of love, not unity of denomination. His point can’t prevail based on the text, so here’s an analogy instead.

    b) The analogy doesn’t establish the intended point.

    i) The principal unity of husband and wife is normally not public (and shouldn’t be public – there are good laws against that sort of thing).

    ii) That same principal unity is not avoided but rather misappropriated by fornicators.

    iii) The idea of “commitment to family” is itself an invisible thing. It may visibly manifest itself in various ways, of course, but it itself is a visible thing.

    iv) In fact, if we’re going to use Rome’s definition of marriage as our standard, the difference between a married couple and unmarried fornicators can be entirely invisible to the world. Rome annuls marriages (i.e. claims they were never married) even in cases where the couple obtain a marriage license, perform a marriage ceremony, change the wife’s name to the husband’s name, present themselves as married to the world, and have children together. The thing that can provide for the annulment can be something as invisible as the mental state of the husband and wife and the time of the wedding.

    c) The analogy is non-analogous. My love for my brethren in other Presbyterian or Reformed denominations or Reformed Baptist congregations,(just as example of the brethren) is not analogous to a relationship of fornication. We’re like sisters – we even sometimes refer to “sister denominations.” The idea that our relationship is akin to fornication would not just be insulting, but stupid.

    d) Likewise, if I have to break denominational unity with brethren of my current denomination, such a movement would be only very remotely like divorce. After all, neither “we” nor “they” are the husband. Rather we are brethren. When Paul and Barnabas went separate ways, they weren’t getting a divorce or anything like that.

    e) On the other hand, if I have to break denominational unity with heretics (like the bishop of Rome, for example), that fits well with Rome’s conception of annulment, since we deny that heretics ever really were brethren. We have no duty to have denominational unity with heretics.

    f) Indeed, “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.”

    In context:

    2 Corinthians 6:14-18
    Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

    So, certain divisions, especially divisions from heretics like the bishop of Rome, are absolutely mandatory. Whether that is to be analogized to marriage and divorce, I leave for you to take up with the Apostle Paul.

    Bryan continued: “It is Platonic, and gnostic.”

    a) A fornicator is not engaged in a strictly Platonic relationship with his girlfriend.
    b) Labeling it “gnostic” is empty rhetoric. Ironically, the early Christians were eager to divide themselves from the Gnostics. They felt no duty to be denominationally one with them. A story (which is almost certainly apocryphal, but apparently dates to the 2nd or 3rd century) tells of John the Evangelist rushing out of a bath house because he heard that Cerinthus was in the same house. The application to ecclesiology should be obvious.

    Bryan continued: “It isn’t even true love.”

    a) At least we can agree that fornication is not true love.
    b) But the assertion that trans-denominational love is not true love remains to be seen.
    c) And, of course, since Rome’s ecumenists profess true love for “separated brethren,” this sort of accusation calls into question their (not our) integrity.

    “As St. Thomas explains, schism is precisely a sin against love, writing, “Nevertheless of all sins committed by man against his neighbor, the sin of schism would seem to be the greatest, because it is opposed to the spiritual good of the multitude.” (ST II-II Q.39 a.2 ad 3)”

    a) Not all divisions are schism.
    b) Moreover, even where a division is because of schism, both sides are not equally to blame.
    c) To take an obvious example, Thomas Aquinas did not accuse the bishop Rome of schism with respect to the division between Rome and the eastern sees.

    “And St. Augustine says something quite similar, writing, “There is nothing more grievous than the sacrilege of schism.” We do not truly love one another if we do not pursue unity in the truth of “one faith” and “one baptism” and the visible unity of the one household of the faith (Gal. 6:10), in which the dividing walls have been broken down, and the division of Babel is reversed.”

    See above regarding Thomas Aquinas and further note that while Augustine did not think that the “Catholics” (not Roman Catholics, mind you) and the “Donatists” were equally at fault over their division. Moreover, he did not (that I can recall) view the division of his church from the Arians to be schism.

    But interestingly, to go back to Jason’s “find the bishop” point, the Donatists had better chains of succession than the “Catholics” of the era. The bishops in their chains were not traditores.

    The analogy also leads into the greater question of marriage. Even assuming that the relationship between brethren in churches is akin to marriage, and even if the heavenly ideal to which we should seek to attain is unity of denomination (like unity of husband and wife in marriage), God provided divorce because of the hardness of men’s hearts. Thus, although the root of a division may (in some cases) lie in mutual sin or sin from one side, the division itself may be a blessing from God that provides relief. In that sense, while the laws of Moses did not reflect the heavenly ideal, they were nevertheless good laws.

    Likewise, while separate denominations do not represent what will be in the time to come, they serve a valuable purpose in this life. That very distant analogy to divorce, however, does not make the remainder of the comparison valid. We are not “married” to the brethren – we and the brethren are married to Christ.

    -TurretinFan

  254. Pete Holter said,

    February 4, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    Pete, your appeal to the Donatists is misplaced.

    Greetings in Christ, John!

    Actually, my appeal to the Donatist controversy has an immediate and well-placed application. When the 2nd Helvetic Confession talks about the Catholic Church, they are talking about the elect. But when Augustine is talking about the Catholic Church with the Donatists, he is talking about the good and bad fish under the headship of bishops ordained in apostolic succession and in communion with the apostolic Churches, i.e., those founded by apostles.

    This first quotation in particular has direct application to the claim being made in the Helvetic Confession. Note that the Donatist wants to be able to say that he is part of the Catholic Church, which is spread throughout the world:

    “[Fortunius the Donatist] was pleased to begin with commending my manner of life, which he said he had come to know through your statements (in which I am sure there was more kindness than truth), adding that he had remarked to you that I might have done well all the things which you had told him of me, if I had done them within the Church. I thereupon asked him what was the Church within which it was the duty of a man so to live; whether it was that one which, as Sacred Scripture had long foretold, was spread over the whole world, or that one which a small section of Africans, or a small part of Africa, contained. To this he at first attempted to reply, that his communion was in all parts of the earth. I asked him whether he was able to issue letters of communion, which we call regular, to places which I might select; and I affirmed, what was obvious to all, that in this way the question might be most simply settled. In the event of his agreeing to this, my intention was that we should send such letters to those churches which we both knew, on the authority of the apostles, to have been already founded in their time. As the falsity of his statement, however, was apparent, a hasty retreat from it was made in a cloud of confused words” (Letter 44, Ch. 2:3-4).

    “[Schismatics] themselves are swept away who read in the Holy Scriptures the names of churches to which the apostles wrote, and in which they have no bishop. For what could more clearly prove their perversity and their folly, than their saying to their clergy, when they read these letters, ‘Peace be with you,’ at the very time that they are themselves disjoined from the peace of those churches to which the letters were originally written?” (Letter 53, Ch. 1:3)

    “Our grief that our brothers hold to their hostility is accentuated by the fact that they hold to the same Scriptures with us, Scriptures in which those most evident proofs are found. As for the Jews who deny the Resurrection of Christ, they at least do not acknowledge the Gospel, but these brothers of ours are bound by the authority of both Testaments, yet they insist on falsely accusing us of betraying the Gospel, and they will not accept it when it is read. Now, it may be that they have studied the holy Scriptures more carefully as a preparation for undertaking this conference, and that they have discovered the numerous proofs of the promise that the Church will exist among all nations and throughout the whole earth, just as we see that it was handed down and presented from the beginning in the Gospel, and in the apostolic letters, and in the Acts of the Apostles. In these we read of the very places and cities and provinces in which the Church increased from its beginning at Jerusalem, and from there it spread into Africa, not by transferring itself there, but by growing there. But, they have not found there any divinely uttered testimony saying that the Church would die out in other parts of the world, and would survive in Africa alone, in the sect of Donatus” (Letter 129, 3).

    “For they admitted that they had nothing to say against the Catholic Church, which is spread throughout the whole world, because they were overwhelmed by the divine testimony of the holy Scriptures, which describe how the Church, beginning from Jerusalem, increased throughout the places in which the Apostles preached. They also wrote the names of those same places in their Epistles and Acts, and from there the Church spread among other nations. Against that Church they admitted openly that they had no case, and there our victory in God’s Name was most evident. For, when they agree to the Church with which we are in communion, but they are manifestly not, they testify that they were long ago beaten” (Letter 141, 4).

    You then wrote:

    You, as a Roman Catholic, should be leading the charge to find and prosecute all of those bishops – and there are hundreds if not thousands of them around the world – who actively obstructed justice and protected pedophile priests.

    You should have absolute fear, for these leaders of the Roman Catholic church, and for yourself for supporting, and thus participating in their sins.

    In a matter of justice and the protection of innocents, the burden is upon everyone to do what they can. I do not support their sins. I am not aware of any current perpetrators of such sins. In my archdiocese, as far as I know, there is no one employed who has any credible charges against them. I am not aware of anything against my bishop, Archbishop Lori. As far as I know, the Catholic Church is today one of the safest places to have your kids. And I agree with this Catholic blogger’s thoughts on Cardinal Mahoney: Yes, Mahoney is right. He is also so very, very wrong.

    If you want to attribute “the keys” to Peter based on this verse [and then make the next argument that there are somehow “successors” to Peter], note that three verses later, Isaiah 22:25 warns of a day in which “the peg that was fastened in a secure place will give way, and it will be cut down and fall, and the load that was on it will be cut off, for the LORD has spoken”:

    You take Isaiah to be speaking of a day in the future when “the peg that was fastened in a secure place will give way.” But Isaiah is speaking of the day on which the keys were handed over from Shebna to Eliakim. Shebna is “the peg that was fastened in a secure place,” and the transference has already taken place in Christ, when He replaced Israel with Himself as the first-born Son with Whom God is well pleased, and established His Church to bear witness to Him. And His Church will not fail. Christ will be with His Church until the end, Mormon argumentation to the contrary notwithstanding.

    I realize that Calvin, after attempting to explain the error of the Donatists, himself fell into the same error in pretending that the whole Catholic world had become corrupt. This is what the Donatists did, this is what Calvin did, and this is what you are doing.

    If you’d ever like to get together in person to discuss these things, let me know. I’ll meet you halfway.

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  255. Pete Holter said,

    February 4, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    Greetings in Christ, TurretinFan.

    You are worthy to be praised in many ways. I wanted to say that first. I appreciate your level of detail and scholarship, your courtesy towards Catholics, and your love for our Lord. Thank you for the interaction and the example that you set.

    There was a sharp disagreement that needed to be resolved in some way. Rather than resolving it by appealing to Paul’s higher rank, or casting a vote amongst apostles, or sending off a letter to James or Peter, they solved the disagreement by peacefully separating. That aspect of making the best of a bad situation is something for us to emulate.

    I do not think that the text shows that the disagreement was solved by separating, or that the separation was peaceful. Rather, the text indicates that the sharp disagreement caused the separation, which disagreement was only to be resolved, it appears, at a later time.

    But interestingly, to go back to Jason’s “find the bishop” point, the Donatists had better chains of succession than the “Catholics” of the era. The bishops in their chains were not traditores.

    Actually, the situation is the reverse of this. Augustine wrote,

    “[W]e hold in our hands the records of the Church and of the State, in which we read that those [Donatists] who ordained a rival bishop in opposition to Cæcilianus were rather the betrayers of the sacred books” (Answer to Petilian the Donatist, Bk. 2, Ch. 8.20).

    “[W]e have other ecclesiastical Acts, according to which Secundus of Tigisis, who was for the time Primate of Numidia, left those who, being there present, confessed themselves traditors to the judgment of God, and permitted them to remain in the episcopal sees which they then occupied; and I stated that the names of these men are in the list of those who condemned Cæcilianus, and that this Secundus himself was president of the Council in which he secured the condemnation of those who, being absent, were accused as traditors, by the votes of those whom he pardoned when, being present, they confessed the same crime. […]

    “We read first how Secundus of Tigisis did not dare to depose his colleagues in office who confessed themselves to be traditors; but afterwards, by the help of these very men, dared to condemn, without their confessing the crime, and in their absence, Cæcilianus and others who were his colleagues. And we next read the proconsular Acts in which Felix was, after a most thorough investigation, proved innocent. These, as you will remember, were read in the forenoon. In the afternoon I read to you their petition to Constantine, and the ecclesiastical record of the proceedings in Rome of the judges whom he appointed, by which the Donatists were condemned, and Cæcilianus confirmed in his episcopal dignity. In conclusion, I read the letters of the Emperor Constantine, in which the evidence of all these things was established beyond all possibility of dispute.

    “What more do you ask, sirs? what more do you ask?” (Letter 43, Ch. 2.3, 2.5-3.6)

    “We must, however, by no means omit the investigation and decision in open court of the case of Felix of Aptunga, whom, in the Council of Carthage, under Secundus of Tigisis, primate, your fathers affirmed to be the original cause of all these evils…

    The Emperors Flavius Constantinus, Maximus Cæsar, and Valerius Licinius Cæsar, to Probianus, proconsul of Africa:

    “Your predecessor Ælianus, who acted as substitute for Verus, the superintendent of the prefects, when that most excellent magistrate was by severe illness laid aside in that part of Africa which is under our sway, considered it, and most justly, to be his duty, amongst other things, to bring again under his investigation and decision the matter of Cæcilianus, or rather the odium which seems to have been stirred up against that bishop of the Catholic Church. Wherefore, having ordered the compearance of Superius, centurion, Cæcilianus, magistrate of Aptunga, and Saturninus, the ex-president of police, and his successor in the office, Calibius the younger, and Solon, an official belonging to Aptunga, he heard the testimony of these witnesses; the result of which was, that whereas objection had been taken to Cæcilianus on the ground of his ordination to the office of bishop by Felix, against whom it seemed that the charge of surrendering and burning the sacred books had been made, the innocence of Felix in this matter was clearly established” (Letter 88, From the Catholic Clergy of Hippo).

    Augustine encouraged the Donatists to admit that “Cæcilianus either was innocent, or at least could not be proved guilty,” and he himself held that “Cæcilianus and his companions… were falsely charged” and that Cæcilianus was “an innocent man” (Letter 93, 4.15, 5.19, & 4.13).

    And in terms of claims to succession, Augustine wrote Letter 53 in response to a Donatist claim to succession, stating that the Donatists has reversed “the natural course of things” by sending a bishop from Africa to Rome, and that “if the lineal succession of bishops is to be taken into account, with how much more certainty and benefit to the Church do we reckon back till we reach Peter himself” in the See of Rome (Letter 53, Ch. 1.2).

    “Whether short or long, I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am” (Acts 26:29) by the mercy of God in our lives.

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  256. Bob S said,

    February 4, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    249 It is an arresting letter since Paul also takes on the supreme and infallible Peter, who apparently got the gospel wrong.

    I’d say that doesn’t pass the sniff test, dgh, but why bother. The stench of the protestant paradigm is almost overwhelming.

    186 was too funny, TF, but with 252 you redlined it.

    So what does Jason have in mind?

    You didn’t. No you couldn’t have been asking him for his fallible private opinion/judgement. Because he, as well as Bryan has made it perfectly clear that only under certain conditions does the pope speak infallibly. (Are we trying to rub somebody’s epistemological nose in it or what? If so, shame on you. That’s reprehensible. Please explain before the tone police make an appearance and start writing citations.)

    But since the pope only does Twitter and not blogs (sorry Bilbo)
    ∴ We remains in lock down, sentenced to mandatory solitary confinement in our respective paradigm jail cells.

    (While it is true, we can only tap out the occasional morse code messages in the combox, with all that time on our hands, that also explains why some of them are so long.)

    253 As far as I know, the Catholic Church is today one of the safest places to have your kids.

    “As far as you know”? How far is that, Peter?
    Are you sure? Are you fallible or infallible?
    Even further, can fallible men ever know infallible truth? Do they know it fallibly or infallibly?
    That’s the real question before the house and of the original post. And it makes no difference if our penpal from Woodinville is a philosopher or not, because philosophy – and theology – are unavoidable. Likewise the question of infallible authority.

    Jesus either said in the Bible or in the Deposit, Suffer the little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.
    Or he did not.

    Jesus either said in the Bible or the Deposit,  But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
    Or he did not.

    But did Jesus say that the little children were saved by being baptized and taking first communion? Or by believing in him?

    Yes, we know what the Roman church teaches, but does Jesus?
    Not the ECF’s, not Benedict Arnold, not the Magisterium or its mirror site over at CTC, but Jesus in the NT?
    In 25 words or less, yes or no?

    It’s the rhetorical question to think about as we ponder whether the Roman church really is the safest place in the world for the souls of our children.

    Thank you.

  257. Pete Holter said,

    February 4, 2013 at 4:10 pm

    You take Isaiah to be speaking of a day in the future when “the peg that was fastened in a secure place will give way.” But Isaiah is speaking of the day on which the keys were handed over from Shebna to Eliakim. Shebna is “the peg that was fastened in a secure place,” and the transference has already taken place in Christ, when He replaced Israel with Himself as the first-born Son with Whom God is well pleased, and established His Church to bear witness to Him. And His Church will not fail. Christ will be with His Church until the end, Mormon argumentation to the contrary notwithstanding.

    I would like to state this more carefully as:

    You take Isaiah to be speaking of a day in the future when “the peg that was fastened in a secure place will give way.” But Isaiah is speaking of the day on which the keys were handed over from Shebna to Eliakim. Shebna is “the peg that was fastened in a secure place.” This is the immediate fulfillment. And the prophetical foreshadowing found in this text has already taken place in Christ, when He replaced Israel with Himself as the first-born Son with Whom God is well pleased, and established His Church to bear witness to Him. And His Church will not fail. Christ will be with His Church until the end, Mormon argumentation to the contrary notwithstanding.

  258. Pete Holter said,

    February 4, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    But did Jesus say that the little children were saved by being baptized and taking first communion? Or by believing in him?

    Yes, we know what the Roman church teaches, but does Jesus?
    Not the ECF’s, not Benedict Arnold, not the Magisterium or its mirror site over at CTC, but Jesus in the NT?
    In 25 words or less, yes or no?

    Hi Bob S!

    I believe that the Scriptures teach us that infants are saved by believing in Christ through baptism, the sacrament of faith.

    Fallibly yours and with love in Christ,
    Pete

  259. michael said,

    February 4, 2013 at 4:17 pm

    Turretinfan
    #2) best credentials

    While that’s an excellent bit of wisdom stated a couple verses come to mind as exceptions to the rule:

    Pro. 20:11 Even a child makes himself known by his acts, by whether his conduct is pure and upright.[fn]

    And

    Isa. 11:6 The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them.

    Not to mention unless you become as a little child you cannot enter the Kingdom!

    Now these verses in no way take away or darken your counsel! :)

  260. michael said,

    February 4, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    Turretinfan

    In the very section, #3) this verse comes to mind: Eccl. 4: 13 Better was a poor and wise youth than an old and foolish king who no longer knew how to take advice.

    I do have to observe here that by reading your comment Jason by them has been gored by the horns of a dilemma of his own making!

  261. Brad B said,

    February 4, 2013 at 10:59 pm

    Hi Pete, you wrote:

    “Sometimes we find in the Scriptures passages concerning which we can say with Augustine, “I think that so clear and open a sentence as this only requires to be read, and not expounded,” and that “so clear a matter may rather be obscured by exposition” (On Merit and the Forgiveness of Sins, and the Baptism of Infants, Bk. 1, Ch. 4.4, 7.7). “

    Were you laughing when you wrote this? I dont think it funny at all.

    You seem to think the scripture verses you quoted [in your response to John in #230] were supposedly useful to help discern child molesters, and that they are too clear to be misread, but if these scriptures were so clear, why do I see them warning of false teaching/teachers. A child molester can certainly profess good doctrine…I think your fast and loose scripture quoting belies your dependency on an authoritative interpreter. Why do you feel so free to quote scriptures in so obvious a misapplication?

  262. TurretinFan said,

    February 5, 2013 at 9:03 am

    Mr. Holter:

    Regarding #255, I think we can at least agree that according to the Donatists, it was not their bishop (but the other bishop) who was a traditore. Their central reason for separating was their objection to the consecration of Caecilian by Felix of Aptonga, whom they accused of being a traditore. Although Augustine was free to object on multiple grounds, Augustine’s resort to arguing that the ordination was valid ex opera operato rather than ex opera operantis is one reason for suspecting that the historical record was somewhat more favorable to the Donatist case. Moreover, the Donatists’ willingness to endure persecution (from 317 to 321) for this point seems to confirm the sincerity of their belief that Felix was a traditore.

    Whether Majorinus (the bishop who was consecrated in opposition to Caecilian) and Donatus the successor of Majorinus were right on their points or whether Caecilian and his successors were right seems moot now. The Muslims wiped out both groups in North Africa when they invaded.

    -TurretinFan

  263. Pete Holter said,

    February 5, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    Hi Brad!

    Were you laughing when you wrote this? I dont think it funny at all.

    No, I was actually trying to think of a quote that you would like so that we could have it to agree upon. I had told my wife how I was happy to have this quote to share, thinking that it would be well received.

    You seem to think the scripture verses you quoted [in your response to John in #230] were supposedly useful to help discern child molesters, and that they are too clear to be misread, but if these scriptures were so clear, why do I see them warning of false teaching/teachers. A child molester can certainly profess good doctrine…I think your fast and loose scripture quoting belies your dependency on an authoritative interpreter. Why do you feel so free to quote scriptures in so obvious a misapplication?

    I didn’t mean to suggest that you would be able to pick out a child molester by listening to his preaching. I was talking about someone who is already known to be “a notorious sinner among the hierarchy,” a false prophet who can be recognized by his fruit to be a bad tree.

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  264. Pete Holter said,

    February 5, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    Regarding #255, I think we can at least agree that according to the Donatists, it was not their bishop (but the other bishop) who was a traditore. Their central reason for separating was their objection to the consecration of Caecilian by Felix of Aptonga, whom they accused of being a traditore. Although Augustine was free to object on multiple grounds, Augustine’s resort to arguing that the ordination was valid ex opere operato rather than ex opere operantis is one reason for suspecting that the historical record was somewhat more favorable to the Donatist case. Moreover, the Donatists’ willingness to endure persecution (from 317 to 321) for this point seems to confirm the sincerity of their belief that Felix was a traditore.

    Hi TurretinFan!

    You must know that I fully side with Augustine. :) I’ll discuss further if you’d like me to. But perhaps this weekend so that I can spend some time with the family. Or sooner if you’d like.

    Please feel free to call me Pete. And thanks for your interaction with Scott Alt. I enjoyed reading Hippolytus’ Against the Heresy of One Noetus after seeing your exchange.

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  265. Brad B said,

    February 5, 2013 at 11:38 pm

    “No, I was actually trying to think of a quote that you would like so that we could have it to agree upon. I had told my wife how I was happy to have this quote to share, thinking that it would be well received.”

    Hi Pete, do you have the freedom to, or should I ask, “is it up to you to” determine if a scripture passage is so clear that it’d qualify for clarity reflective of the quote you gave of Augustine?

  266. Pete Holter said,

    February 6, 2013 at 4:10 pm

    Hi Pete, do you have the freedom to, or should I ask, “is it up to you to” determine if a scripture passage is so clear that it’d qualify for clarity reflective of the quote you gave of Augustine?

    Greetings in Christ, Brad!

    In your first comment to me, you had suggested that my position is that “mere scripture quoting is ambiguous.” Scripture bears witness to itself that there are some passages that are difficult to understand. And the meaning of God’s word is hidden from the wise of this world. But I think that my approach to Scripture is very similar to your own. Where we would differ is in our conclusions as to the communion within which the authentic interpretation of Scriptures resides. I believe that the authentic meaning of Scripture is being ever more fully discerned within the tradition of the Catholic Church, and you think not. May God overcome this division, and may we be overcome by His grace in the study of His words.

    In Christ,
    Pete


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