A Guest Post by Leonardo de Chirico

I received an email from Leonardo de Chirico, which has a fascinating analysis of possible candidates for the next Pope. I reproduce that email here, with his permission. I have only very lightly edited it. I also make another disclaimer that Chirico says a few things here in a way different than I would. I found the piece very interesting, chiefly for his analysis of the candidates for the next Pope.

Papabili: A Short Guide Waiting for the Conclave

The outcome of a conclave can be unpredictable. Whether or not one believes that the Holy Spirit actually works in the election of the Roman pontiff, its results defy easy previsions. As an absolute monarchy, the Vatican does not normally operate according to democratic procedures. The conclave, however, is one of the few instances where each vote counts and the total amount of them (two thirds is the majority for the first 34 ballots) determines history. So there is room for political maneuvering and surprises.

The Role of Benedict XVI

Having resigned from office at over 80 years of age means that Benedict XVI will be cut off from the conclave. During the conclave he will be living at Castel Gandolfo, the papal summer residence on the hills outside of Rome. Though physically absent, his influence will be powerful in a couple of respects.

First, as a living former Pope his shadow will be a major factor in determining what the cardinals will decide. It is likely that no cardinal will vote someone that the present Pope would not himself vote. It is unlikely that the conclave will elect someone who would radically depart from Ratzinger’s trajectory, since he will still be around during and after the conclave. Following the new Pope’s election, Benedict XVI will go back to the Vatican where he will live in a former monastery inside the Vatican walls. He will be there and around. The co-habitation with the new Pope suggests that the latter will be somewhat a prolongation of the former. Without voting and without using words, Benedict XVI will have a say in the next election.

Second, his input in the conclave is evident in considering the fact that during his pontificate he has nominated about half of the 117 electors. The composition of the conclave is largely shaped by men personally chosen by Benedict XVI, men he trusted.

There are two counter-elements to be considered. One is that the conclave will not be held in the emotional atmosphere that generally follows the funerals of the previous Pope. It will be more cerebral than sentimental. The other is that, given the unprecedented decision by Benedict to resign and the shock that has caused in the curia, the conclave could be used as a showdown in the Vatican checkerboard. It is clear that Ratzinger’s weakening conditions that led to his resignations were hastened by internal fights and unresolved tensions in various Vatican departments. The conclave will have to decide what to do about them and the outcome could be surprising. Benedict surrendered to the stand-still situation, but the new Pope will have to act.

A List of Candidates

After two non-Italian Popes (the Polish Wojtyła and the German Ratzinger) is it time for an Italian one? If this is the case, then the Archbishop of Milan Angelo Scola (72) is the first and perhaps only option. The Italian candidates, however, could pay the price of a possible showdown. Many of the recent scandals (e.g. Vatileaks and the Vatican bank’s financially opaque maneuvers) originated in the Roman curia, which is mainly governed by Italian prelates. Moreover, the Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone (78), himself an Italian, is part of the on-going controversy. So the poor performance of the Italian hierarchy may result in leaving Italians out of the game to wait for the next round.

Two solidly “Ratzingerian” candidates are the Archbishop of Québec Marc Ouellet (68) and the Archbishop of Vienna, Christoph Schoenborn (68). The French-speaking Canadian Ouellet is the Prefect of the Congregation of Bishops and knows the Vatican machinery very well. His role of selecting the new bishops allowed him to have the pulse of the world-wide Church, though he is not a “charismatic” figure in Weberian terms. Schoenborn is a brilliant theologian that denounced some of the silences over the sex abuses scandal. His bold exposition on this issue could find resonance in some traditional circles. Adding to that, the fact that a growing number of Austrian priests are taking critical stances on the celibacy issue may falter Schoenborn’s candidacy. Another papabile in the same group is the Archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan (63). Historically, North-American candidates have been excluded for the simple fact that the Roman Catholic Church did not feel comfortable with the idea of having a Pope coming from a super-power of the world. This emotional and political obstacle should be overcome to give Dolan a chance.

Finally, there are three outsiders. Voices around the world repeatedly say that the time has come for a “black” Pope. Cardinal Peter Turkson (65), Ghanean, is President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and a rising star in Vatican circles. A non-Western Pope would definitely come to terms with the reality of the Christian growth in the Global South and the need to move the axis of the Church toward it. In 2012, however, Turkson caused many eyebrows to rise when he launched a document evoking the creation of a global agency to preside over the world’s economy. “Does he want a Soviet-type of control over the world?”– people asked. Turning to Asia, the Archbishop of Manila (Philippines), Luis Antonio Tagle (56) is another option if the Roman Catholic would turn the page in a more radical way towards becoming a less Western institution. This smiling, apparently simple, yet engaging and charming young cardinal made a positive impression at the last Synod of Bishops for the New Evangelization and attracted immediate positive feedback. A middle way solution could be the Archbishop of San Paulo (Brazil) Odilo Pedro Scherer (63), the Brazilian bishop with a German name and European “heart”. Latin America is perceived as being a continent of solid Catholic traditions (like the old Europe), yet expressing the spiritual vitality of the Global South.

An Evangelical Preference?

Given the range of possible candidates, who is the more Evangelically inclined or Evangelical-friendly? This is difficult to say. Here are three criteria that could form a list of Evangelical desires for the next conclave.

First, generally speaking, those ecclesiastical figures with first-hand experience among Evangelicals in their pastoral work tend to be more inclined toward friendly relationship with non-Catholic Christians. It is true that where the Roman Catholic Church is strongly attached to the national state in a privileged position, the leaders tend to have a more “defensive” attitude and inward-looking vision. On the contrary, where the Roman Church experiences the stresses and strains of being a religious institution in the midst of other movements and in the context of a separate political power, there the Church has a more positive attitude towards religious pluralism. To the extent that the next Pope comes from a background of interaction with the plurality of Christian experiences and orientations, the better he will be among evangelicals.

Second, those who have more global perceptions of the state of Christianity surely have a better consideration of Evangelicals than those who are grounded in regional areas where Catholics have a traditional majority status. The challenges of the persecution of Christians, global poverty, and the rising secularism of the West are common concerns that allow conversations and cooperation between different Christians. A Pope who is aware of global trends and who has knowledge of the complex geography of the Christian Churches will be in a better position to appreciate the contribution of Evangelicals around the globe.

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150 Comments

  1. Dennis said,

    March 5, 2013 at 9:35 am

    Lane,

    Thanks for sharing. That’s probably the best analysis I’ve read from any perspective.

    I’ve really enjoyed reading Pope Benedict’s homilies and speeches online and was saddened by his resignation. I’m fascinated with the possibility of a Canadian Pope. I keep seeing Marc Ouellette’s name pop up.

    I was in Canada last week for work and we talked about it briefly in a meeting I was at (I work in automotive!).

    Thanks again.

  2. March 5, 2013 at 11:40 pm

    And we Reformed types need to care about any of this because why now?

  3. John Bugay said,

    March 6, 2013 at 4:44 am

    Richard (#2), if only to understand how a vast enemy and mission field works. If we are more cognizant of the inner workings of Roman Catholicism, we are better able to discuss their religion with them on their own terms, show them its weakness, and introduce the Gospel at appropriate points in the discussion.

  4. Cris D. said,

    March 6, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    I think the Reformed should pay attention to develoments, the ostrich posture(head in the sand) is unproductive & unbecoming.

    But I’m not sure there’s an “evangelical-friendly candidate to hope for. Both Rome and the Reformed Churches are best served by reaming true to their own type, the own genius. If there is a central core to Roman Catholicism, then a pope that represents and reflects that is best.
    But beyond some (organizational) loyalty to the office of the Pope, is there any unified or central Catholicism remaining in the RCC ?

  5. Cris Dickason said,

    March 6, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    Correcting typos in #4 …
    > > “evangelical-friendly”

    Meant to say that everyone is
    >> best served by remaining true to their own type, their own genius… Perhaps instances of /pope/ should be capitalized?

    Sorry, I was commenting from sorta-smart phone from Columbia Airport in sunny SC.

    Kane: come on down to the Columbia Airport. We can shoot the theological breeze in person. I’m stuck here for hours due to Philadelphia weather (3rd time this winter).

    -=Cris=-

  6. John Bugay said,

    March 6, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    Cris — I think the only “evangelical-friendly” candidate would be one who would be honest with the historical facts about the early papacy. But that would mean conceding that Vatican I (and in fact, most of the medieval papacy) was overblown.

    Any “unified or central Catholicism” might be found in the CCC. But people pick and choose from that, and have more trouble “interpreting” from that, than liberal Protestants from the Bible.

  7. Cris Dickason said,

    March 6, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    Correcting a typo in my typo-correcting posting: Misspelling the host’s name, appalling. Sorry, Lane.

    John @ 6: I think were on on the same wavelength there.

    Quitting while the typing is good…

  8. Dennis said,

    March 6, 2013 at 3:53 pm

    John,

    I have a feeling you could have your “ideal” candidate and you still wouldn’t like him.

    Any “unified or central Catholicism” might be found in the CCC. But people pick and choose from that, and have more trouble “interpreting” from that, than liberal Protestants from the Bible.

    Do you have examples of people “picking and choosing” or “interpreting”?

  9. greenbaggins said,

    March 6, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    Cris, I would love to, except that I have a bit too much to do up here.
    However, it might be fun to talk on the phone. I’ll shoot you my phone number.

  10. Cris Dickason said,

    March 7, 2013 at 7:20 am

    A delightful phone call with our Bagginses host that enabled me to pass some time in the airport, along with catching up on recent posts here! Thank you for the hospitality, Lane, and all you regulars.

    -=Cris=-

  11. greenbaggins said,

    March 7, 2013 at 9:09 am

    You’re very welcome, Cris. Anytime.

  12. John Bugay said,

    March 7, 2013 at 6:18 pm

    Dennis #8:

    I have a feeling you could have your “ideal” candidate and you still wouldn’t like him.

    My ideal candidate would become pope and then say, “while Peter was an important apostle, there was no “succession” in Rome, and the papacy has fraudulently sought its own aggrandizement since the 4th century, therefore I am disbanding it and asking my fellow patriarchates to forgive me for all the harm that the papacy has caused. And I ask the followers of Martin Luther and John Calvin and all the Reformers to forgive me for the sins of the actual church [not "the sins of the children of the church"] during that time period.”

    Stuff like that. I would like that very much.

    Do you have examples of people “picking and choosing” or “interpreting”?

    Yes, for one: http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2013/03/the-conservative-roman-catholic-yuck.html

    the conservative Roman Catholic LifeSite News “details” a Huge homosexual underground in the Church. Not that not that that’s something we didn’t know about before. But that conservative Roman Catholics are bringing it up now points again to that “yuck” factor.

    Of course, they are stuck with it now – it’s been enshrined into dogma. Note how the Catechism of the Catholic Church has given practicing homosexuals in the priesthood (and higher) a license to practice, practice, practice, while only gradually approaching the “Christian perfection” of “chastity”, to which they are called:

    Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

    And if you don’t think that last paragraph is a license to practice, then you’ve missed Bryan Cross’s various justifications for all kinds of aberrations. The “hierarchy” is a crowd that knows how to obfuscate behind seemingly good-sounding words.

  13. CD-Host said,

    March 7, 2013 at 8:41 pm

    @John Bugay #12 —

    How is that any different that the Protestant view, or the Christian view in general of sin? Are you really asserting that certain sexual sins are so powerful that Christ is ineffectual with regard to them? If not, then the Catholic position is just that a homosexual inclination is like any other temptation towards sin. Some people have drinking problems and are drawn towards drunkenness, others don’t like alcohol and most drink in moderation easily. Some people have problems with petty theft most other people are able to control those impulses easily. Some people have problems with temper but most are able to control it?

    I’m not sure why you would expect the Catholic Church to treat homosexuality entirely differently than other sexual sins. Heck they still 2352 on the books and I’d be willing to assert 90+% of all priests break that one every year.

  14. Dennis said,

    March 7, 2013 at 10:13 pm

    John,

    My ideal candidate would become pope and then say, “while Peter was an important apostle, there was no “succession” in Rome, and the papacy has fraudulently sought its own aggrandizement since the 4th century, therefore I am disbanding it and asking my fellow patriarchates to forgive me for all the harm that the papacy has caused. And I ask the followers of Martin Luther and John Calvin and all the Reformers to forgive me for the sins of the actual church [not "the sins of the children of the church"] during that time period.”

    And if this happens, you would become Catholic??? I don’t think so. Besides, if this were to happen, what would you complain about? You would hate it as your whole raison d’etre would be gone.

    Of course, they are stuck with it now – it’s been enshrined into dogma. Note how the Catechism of the Catholic Church has given practicing homosexuals in the priesthood (and higher) a license to practice, practice, practice, while only gradually approaching the “Christian perfection” of “chastity”, to which they are called:

    No, that’s not what it says. The Church calls homosexuals to chastity. Through disciplne and self mastery, they can and should approach Christian perfection.

    We are all called to approach Christian perfection. Homosexuals are called to chastity. If there are homosexuals in the Vatican (and there likely are), they are sinners and are called to chastity. If they fail, they need to pick themselves up and are continuously called to chastity.

    The Church is made up of sinners. If one sins (be it homosexuality, masturbation, or any other sin), we are called to seek forgiveness from the Church.

  15. John Bugay said,

    March 8, 2013 at 4:50 am

    The point is, Dennis, Christ said “go and sin no more”. The Roman Church, officially says “gradually approach” the point at which you are no longer practicing homosexual. The question was, “Do you have examples of people “picking and choosing” or “interpreting”? There clear evidence of a whole huge underground priesthood who are practicing homosexuals, who believe they have sanction for it in the CCC, and who, being priests, interpret themselves to be “good Catholics”.

    And no, I would not become Roman Catholic in any case.

  16. John Bugay said,

    March 8, 2013 at 4:57 am

    CD-Host, in your CCC 2352, they are “lessening” and “reducing to a minimum” “moral culpability” for what they call “an intrinsically and gravely disordered action”. They are speaking out of both sides of their mouth. Alcoholics (the example which you brought up) know they may absolutely NOT have their very next drink. And they work toward a lifetime of abstinence. They truly follow Christ’s command, “go and sin no more”, in spite of the pressures that they come under to drink.

    Yet Rome now gives license for all sorts of things which it still calls “gravely disordered”. They are reprehensible for permitting the sin, yes, but also for the way they change their policy while saying “we have not changed”. Roman infallible dogma is full of blatant lies.

  17. CD-Host said,

    March 8, 2013 at 9:25 am

    @John #16 —

    OK we agree on the alcoholic analogy. Its not entirely the case that alcoholics don’t drink. Some of them, most of them, after they’ve decided to quit drinking have slips and do drink. The attitude is that after a slip they should stop drinking as soon as possible and go back to temperance. The attitude is that they should stop the slip not that they should resign quit Christianity as a result of the slip.

    Christianity is a religion that preaches that personal sins are a serious matter of interest to God, but do not destroy the relationship with God because forgiveness is available. That’s the point of the cross. Catholics are Christians. They believe themselves to be sinners whose sins have been forgiven through Jesus.

    I can understand the position that preaching a doctrine of forgiveness is “talking out of both sides of your mouth” with respect to sin. But that’s intrinsic to all Christianity.
    ______

    Now in terms of the seriousness of various sins, I’d say that most moral codes consider acts to be bad if done deliberately with intent and less bad based on situational factors. I don’t think anyone doubts that US states consider homicides serious but they certainly allow for mitigation to create a range from first degree murders down to involuntary manslaughter. That’s not being hypocritical rather it is looking at the full picture.

  18. Sean Patrick said,

    March 8, 2013 at 9:41 am

    “There clear evidence of a whole huge underground priesthood who are practicing homosexuals, who believe they have sanction for it in the CCC, and who, being priests, interpret themselves to be “good Catholics”.

    There is clear evidence of a much larger above ground priesthood who genuinely possess the gift of celibacy and devote their lives to the service of the body of Christ.

  19. John Bugay said,

    March 8, 2013 at 9:55 am

    Sean, whether above ground or underground, Roman Catholic law now permits them to practice “gravely disordered” sexual practices; sure, they have to confess them to another priest, but that’s where the fun begins, so to speak.

  20. sean said,

    March 8, 2013 at 10:09 am

    Sean Patrick,

    This was true when I was in seminary. The lack of vocations was an overriding issue, still is. The need for clergy allowed for a distinction to be made amongst homosexual clergy, that distinguished heterosexual sex with the possibility of procreation, from homosexual sex without same opportunity, such that homosexual sexual indiscretion was considered allowable so long as public scandal was avoided. Thus the ‘underground’ nature of it. These compromises are at least 30 years old at this point and well established in many novitiates.

    Sean Moore

  21. John Bugay said,

    March 8, 2013 at 10:16 am

    CD-Host, this isn’t about how people “slip”. Nor is it about forgiveness. It is not inherent to Christianity. It is about how the law is now written, compared to how it used to be written.

    Imagine that a group of convicted murderers becomes the city council for a city. They re-write the law to say “murder is a grave act, and we don’t condone it, and now all murderers should gradually approach the state in which they no longer commit murders “. You’d think that was ludicrous.

    But that’s precisely the thing that has happened with this “underground” band of homosexual bishops who have now “infallibly” re-interpreted that particular law.

  22. Sean Patrick said,

    March 8, 2013 at 10:47 am

    …whether above ground or underground, Roman Catholic law now permits them to practice “gravely disordered” sexual practices;

    That is just completely false John. Nobody is ‘permitted’ to practice sinful practices under canon law. Not homosexuals. Not heterosexuals.

    sure, they have to confess them to another priest, but that’s where the fun begins, so to speak.

    All sins are confessed and having experienced the grace of the sacrament for the better part of a decade, while I would not characterize it as ‘fun’ I would thank God for the blessing.

    As an aside, I would think that you would if anything stand with the Catholic Church in its teaching about human sexuality. My goodness, the Church is against homosexuality, pro marriage, pro life, anti abortion, anti contraception…and here you are, throwing mud not based on reality but based on the worst possible perception available.

    Sean Moore,

    There may be some truth to that. Pope Benedict shut the door on allowing homosexuals into seminaries (even celibate ones) quite early in his papacy.

    And, it is STILL true that there are many (the majority) of priests that serve the body of Christ with honor and integrity.

  23. John Bugay said,

    March 8, 2013 at 10:59 am

    Sean Patrick — this discussion began as a question about “interpretations”. A large underground group of homosexual bishops and priests certainly do disagree with your “interpretation”. And they are the “bishops and priests”, whereas you are not.

  24. sean said,

    March 8, 2013 at 11:00 am

    Sean Patrick,

    There’s a lot of truth to it. I understand Benedict’s stance, it’s kinda telling of the clerical culture he inherited that he NEEDED to take a public stand against it. I think there’s a number of seminaries and formation centers that are trying to apply Benedict’s order, I think there are probably more that are giving it a head nod with their fingers crossed behind their back. If there was just an abundance of heterosexual men looking to enter celibate life, I’m sure it would help curb some of it. As it is, the need for bodies to fill the pulpit is winning against Benedict’s and others, demand for chastity.

  25. Sean Patrick said,

    March 8, 2013 at 11:21 am

    Sean Patrick — this discussion began as a question about “interpretations”. A large underground group of homosexual bishops and priests certainly do disagree with your “interpretation”. And they are the “bishops and priests”, whereas you are not.

    Despite the fact that I am not a priest, it is still the case that in no way, at all, has sin become permissable. So, everything you’ve said is completely false.

    Sean Moore,

    The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. That has always been and it will always be. As for me, I believe Paul when he spoke about the spiritual gift of celibacy and I believe that the Holy Spirit will provide men who are legitamately called to that vocation.

  26. John Bugay said,

    March 8, 2013 at 11:36 am

    Sedan Patrick- and your opinion carries precisely how much weight among the homosexual bishops and priests and their “flocks”?

  27. Sean Patrick said,

    March 8, 2013 at 11:51 am

    John.

    In order to prove Roman Catholic law now permits them the practice “gravely disordered” sexual practices, you would have to show where Roman Catholic law has changed in order to permit ‘gravely disordered’ sexual practices. You have not done that and you cannot do that because it is a false claim.

  28. Sean Patrick said,

    March 8, 2013 at 11:57 am

    And, it is not ‘my opinion.’ It is obejectively declared that such acts are sin.

  29. sean said,

    March 8, 2013 at 11:58 am

    Sean Patrick,

    In no way at all has sin become permissible? That’s just not the case. In many and varied forms with an interpretive parsing that would make Hans Kung blush, it’s going on with magisterial sanction.

  30. Sean Patrick said,

    March 8, 2013 at 12:05 pm

    sean moore,

    In no way at all has sin become permissible? That’s just not the case

    Let’s hear it. Please cite chapter and verse the magisterial teaching that allows sin.

    Hans Kung? You mean the same Hans Kung who had his teaching faculties revoked by the same magisterium that supposedly is now permitting sin?

  31. Sean Patrick said,

    March 8, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    This is like, “It is permissable in the PCA to sin because PCA ministers sin.”

  32. sean said,

    March 8, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    Sean Patrick,

    I was using Hans Kung as an example, for you particularly, of the absurdity of the INTERPRETIVE parsing that has been used, by cardinals and bishops, to allow the practice of homosexuality within the priesthood. This is why John refers to it as ‘underground’. When cardinals and clergy make pastoral interpretive application, it has magisterial sanction. That’s why Benedict had to address it, in his papal role.

  33. sean said,

    March 8, 2013 at 12:21 pm

    Sean Patrick,

    It’s not anything like a PCA minister giving sanction. Your paradigm presupposes placing yourself under the authority of the church that Jesus Christ founded ™, as the means by which we receive correct interpretation. It’s the protestant paradigm you find fault with that regards the assessment of faithful doctrine first, BEFORE submitting to that teaching authority.

  34. Sean Patrick said,

    March 8, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    sean.

    There is nothing to ‘interpret’ about homosexual acts. The Church defines them as ‘gravely disordered.’

  35. Sean Patrick said,

    March 8, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    sean # 33.

    Apparently you haven’t made the membership vows yet.

  36. sean said,

    March 8, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    Sean Patrick #35,

    Au contraire. But then, we believe in the perspicuity of the scriptures, and my bounding to the local leadership of the PCA session, follows from my bounding to Jesus Christ as revealed under original apostolic authority. The PCA never intends in it’s vows to displace such a binding. That’s why it’s the last question. Not the first.

  37. Sean Patrick said,

    March 8, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    Then each person’s conscience decides what is and is not permissible and what is and is not sinful. Therefore the PCUSA church down the road from your church really does declare homosexual acts permissible. But you had John Bugay shouldn’t worry about that! Instead focus on the Catholic Church that expressly forbids it.

  38. sean said,

    March 8, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    Sean Patrick,

    I’m not sure who you are speaking to, the PCA is not the PCUSA. Though we have the good sense to part ways when honest communion is no longer possible. Perspicuity, amongst other things, acknowledges that God has spoken clearly, either directly or by good and necessary consequence in His canon as it regards man’s salvation, faith and life and further assigns the assurance/full persuasion of such things to inward work of the Holy Spirit.

    Sean, we both affirm the church proper. We both affirm rightful authority and submission. We both are bound by conscience.

  39. John Bugay said,

    March 8, 2013 at 2:20 pm

    Sean Patrick, what’s the difference between “be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect” and “gradually approach” perfection, as your CCC puts it? Are they the same thing? How does the CCC “interpretation” improve upon Jesus’s statement?

  40. Sean Patrick said,

    March 8, 2013 at 3:08 pm

    # 39

    Sanctification is a process, John. We are all working, through God’s grace, towards holiness because that is what we are called to do.

    This is not unique to our Catechism. Even the WCOF Shorter Catechism even puts forth sanctification as a gradual process.

    Q. 35. What is sanctification?
    A. Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness.

    But since you are quoting the catechism of the Catholic Church did you notice how in 2357 the CCC says about homosexual acts: “Under no circumstances can they be approved.”

    So, what do you tell a homosexual John? That they should kill themselves? Or that they should live celibate and by the Grace of God and the Holy Spirit working with them, they can overcome their sin?

    BTW, I take it that neither you or Sean Moore are going to produce proof of your earlier allegations?

  41. John Bugay said,

    March 8, 2013 at 3:19 pm

    Again, Sean Patrick, it is a matter of different interpretations — gay bishops and priests, looking at CCC 2359, and while acknowledging 2357, still make 2359 their guiding light, and “gradually” get to say, (with Official sanction and with Magisterial approval), I’ll be a homosexual now, and I’ll worry about perfection later. Tell me this isn’t their “interpretation”.

    This has nothing to do with sanctification; it has everything to do with an *acknowledged* homosexual faction in the priesthood, enabling it to perpetuate itself under the cover of “the Church”.

  42. Sean Patrick said,

    March 8, 2013 at 3:28 pm

    John.

    You sound just like a liberal Christian telling an orthodox Christian that the NT allows for homosexuality even when the NT expressly rejects it.

    In your town, Pittsburgh I think, I bet I can find 100 Protestant ministers who profess to believe the bible and also believe that homosexuality acts are permissible.

    Are you going to tell everybody that the New Testament enables homosexuals to practice homosexuality because millions of Christians interpret the NT in such a way as to allow it. Be consistent John.

    So, you aren’t going to provide any actual proof that the magesterium says that homosexual acts are permissible. When I ask for proof all you say is, “Well, maybe there are gay bishops that look at 2359 and think, “Oh, this means homosexual acts are permissible.”

    That figures.

  43. John Bugay said,

    March 8, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    Sean Patrick, here is the real question: “prove that there are no homosexual bishops and priests who “interpret” CCC 2359 as a sanction for them to continue to practice their homosexuality.” that was the original point of my comment. All your other objections are just subterfuge.

  44. CD-Host said,

    March 8, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    @ John

    Imagine that a group of convicted murderers becomes the city council for a city. They re-write the law to say “murder is a grave act, and we don’t condone it, and now all murderers should gradually approach the state in which they no longer commit murders “. You’d think that was ludicrous.

    That very situation is not uncommon at all. It happens all the time when terrorist organizations evolve into guerrilla organizations. They start to gradually establish rules and procedures for administrating justice in the territory they control. While many of them used to engage in murder they no prohibit it, and where it used it is used reluctantly and with controls that weren’t in place a few years prior. I have no idea where to go with the metaphor from here since the situation in which precisely that does happen is very much unlike the church. The metaphor is falling apart.

    But that’s precisely the thing that has happened with this “underground” band of homosexual bishops who have now “infallibly” re-interpreted that particular law.

    I don’t think so. The Catholic church has had to operate in societies in which homosexual sex was looked upon as a natural and beneficial relationship that helps adolescent boys mature sexually into men and kept them out of trouble before they were ready. The Catholic church has had to operate in societies where homosexuality was looked upon as a learned perversion carefully cultivated. The Catholic church has had to operate in societies where homosexuality was looked upon as a grave temptation to which some people are highly susceptible. The Catholic Church has never fully embraced any of these positions, it has had to find a balanced approach.

    Western society in the last hundred and fifty years has moved from a society where homosexuality was looked upon as a learned perversion to one where it was looked upon as a dangerous natural inclination to one where it is now being looked upon as a matter of personal preference of moral indifference. I don’t think an underground group of bishops did anything. I think the Catholic church quite above ground, has responded to the changing attitude by trying to find a middle position. They are aiming for a position consistent with traditional Catholic teaching and at the same time acceptable to the membership. By acceptable I mean a position that the membership may not agree with but is not beyond the moral pale.

    You can go back to Aquinas and find that homosexuality for him is a frustration of the natural function of semen and thus a violation of natural law. I don’t think the church’s moral position is any different today. The only thing that has changed, is a pragmatic decision about what to do with homosexuals. There have been a few rare times when the church persecuted homosexuals in its own ranks. Such behavior today would generate strong moral condemnation. It does the church no good to be seen as wicked by its own membership on moral issues.

    When the state was burning them, the church was mildly to moderately disapproving this was too stringent. When the state is morally indifferent the church is mildly to moderately disapproving that this is too lenient. A bishop who openly preached that homosexuality was a more desirable state would be removed from office. A bishop who carries on homosexual affairs in a discrete manner is treated like any other sinner who is falling short of the church’s moral code.

    _____

    At the same time there have been moves in the other direction. In the last generation, paederasty, and in general any adult / adolescent sexuality, has moved from a disapproved of but tolerated behavior to one that is strongly disapproved of and sharply criminally prosecuted. The note you keep quoting conflates these two groups. The Catholic Church is dealing with this change like many organizations have had to.

    Finally, in the 1960 and 70s homosexuals frequently joined organizations with strict chastity and celibacy requirements. This affected the Catholic Church for the same reason it affected the ISKCON (Hare Krishna). The old structure where homosexuals would marry and then carry on affairs were collapsing, but there was not yet a society structure to handle mainstream “out” homosexuals. Organizations that promoted celibate lifestyles, with the obvious sexual discretion that demanded offered a culturally appropriate alternative. I don’t think the Catholic church is unaware of that, nor do I think they are particularly dishonest about that.

  45. Sean Patrick said,

    March 8, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    That is ridiculous. I can’t prove a negative.

    You are supposed to prove it. You are the one claiming that they’re are gay bishops who look at 2359 and ‘interpret’ it to mean that homosexual acts is permissible even though 2357 says that such acts are never approved.

  46. Sean Patrick said,

    March 8, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    con’t

    Sean Patrick, here is the real question: “prove that there are no homosexual bishops and priests who “interpret” CCC 2359 as a sanction for them to continue to practice their homosexuality.”

    And, even it that was the case, this does not mean that the magesterium has given homosexuals the idea that homosexual acts are ok! It would only mean that Bishop X’s heart is corrupted and professing a position contrary to the faith.

    This is insane.

  47. John Bugay said,

    March 8, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    Sean Patrick, Bishop X doesn’t think so, and you are in no position to tell him his “interpretation is wrong.

  48. sean said,

    March 8, 2013 at 5:04 pm

    Sean Patrick, Bishops are part of the magisterium. Your beef isn’t with John or I, it’s with Bishop X. Cardinal O’Brien was one of them. Don’t get frustrated with us for pointing out a crisis that already existed and how it came about. John nor I are arguing for the religious legitimacy of homosexuality or homosexual clergy. The situation of gay clergy and the requirement for celibate clergy is a hot topic in your own communion and that’s O.K., Vat II allows for an interpretive paradigm that embraces the movement of God among the people of God. There’s more than a little bit of sticking your finger in the air to see which way the winds are blowing. But, there’s no ‘Jack Chick’ type conspiracy going on here. Go read your own press. First things, National Catholic register, Catholic Examiner etc… I lived shoulder to shoulder with these guys for years. There’s no big secret here. I already acknowledged that Benedict had to call them out. There’s your proof btw, unless you think Benedict was chasing ghosts. Even members of the Curia got reproved. The bigger question, as it’s been since ’65, is who’s interpretation of Vat II will eventually win out, and it’s an open question from the pew-sitter, to various members of the magisterium.

  49. Sean Patrick said,

    March 8, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    John.

    # 47

    When a liberal Christian thinks the NT permits homosexuality do you think the problem is with the writers of the NT or the liberal Christian?

    sean

    # 48

    But Bishop X is not ‘the magesterium.’ And, I never said that there weren’t gay priests or even gay bishops. Look at Weakland. I only said, rightfully, that the mageserium has never permitted homosexual behavior or given license to it.

  50. sean said,

    March 8, 2013 at 6:20 pm

    Well, Sean Patrick, since ex-cathedra is rarely employed and pastoral application of not only practice, but intepretation is disseminated out through the priesthood and the religious faithful(Vat II) and until there’s an infallible commentary issued on every sacred text much less council documents, you’re gonna have about as diverse a body of belief as you find in protestant liberalism. Which, is in fact, the theological diversity that RCC exhibits. Which seems to be just fine with any number of RC’s, but creates problems for those trying to argue for a monolith of interpretive application.

  51. Dennis said,

    March 8, 2013 at 11:57 pm

    John,

    I’ve been traveling down to Cleveland all day and just got to the computer now. Unless you have evidence that Bishop X interprets 2359 and disregards 2357, then your argument is too weak to even address.

    In regards to the Church tacitly accepting homosexuality, that’s wrong as well. I can concede that there are gay priests and bishops. That doesn’t mean the Church accepts it. CCC 2357 is pretty cut and dry. If a priest is committing homosexual acts, he needs to come back to the Church for forgiveness or his soul is in peril.

    Christ hand picked 12 apostles and one betrayed Him. Jesus allowed it to happend and told Judas to “do it quickly.” Does this mean that Judas’ betrayal wasn’t a sin? Of course not! However, from your logic, Judas’ betrayal wasn’t a sin because Jesus allowed it.

    Your logic is flawed.

  52. John Bugay said,

    March 9, 2013 at 6:54 am

    Dennis, you asked in #8:

    Citing JB: Any “unified or central Catholicism” might be found in the CCC. But people pick and choose from that, and have more trouble “interpreting” from that, than liberal Protestants from the Bible.

    Do you have examples of people “picking and choosing” or “interpreting”?

    And now in your latest, you are changing the goalpost.

    I am not suggesting “the Church tacitly accept[s] homosexuality.” What I am suggesting is something much more subtle than that. The phenomenon was described by David Wells in his “Revolution in Rome”. Wells says:

    One kind of interpretive problem, then, which an analyst of the (Vatican II) documents faces concerns the existence of those passages which are so brilliantly ambiguous as to be capable of serving the interest of both parties.

    The three statements in the CCC on homosexuality are of this kind of nature. Wells explained it in the context of another statement:

    The statement on biblical inerrancy best illustrates this problem. The council affirmed:

    “since everything asserted by the inspired authors or sacred writers must be held to be asserted by the Holy Spirit, it follows that the books of Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching solidly, faithfully and without error that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings for the sake of salvation.” (Dei Verbum 11).

    This statement, over which there was a considerable tussle both in private and in public, seems at first sight to affirm Rome’s traditional stance on this matter. For this reason, conservatives in the Council agreed to it, and some Protestants subsequently have been led to think that Catholicism’s historic stance on this matter is unaltered….

    But is this really the case? A careful scrutiny of the Council’s statement shows that it can be interpreted in an entirely different way, one which a majority of Catholic scholars are now following. In perhaps the most lucid account of the Council’s theology, B.C. Butler, explains how. The council obviously spoke of the Bible “teaching without error”, but the significance of this phrase, he argues, depends on the view of “the truth” which Scripture is said to teach without error. ‘Here the word “truth” is qualified by a statement of the finality or purpose of inspiration; it is a question of truth relevant to God’s saving purpose summed up in Christ. The point he is making is that many truths of science and history have no part to play in our salvation. “For instance” he says, “the date of the appearance of the human species in natural history is not formally relevant to our salvation; the reality of Christ’s death and resurrection is formally relevant.”

    The illustration in the first half of Butler’s sentence is so obvious that the reader is disarmed against the thrust of the second half. The council’s statement, he argues, guarantees as inerrant only those truths necessary for our salvation. The meaning of the passage, therefore, turns on the question of how much we need to know with certainty to be saved. Apparently there is room for discussion on this point. Butler has limited the inerrant statements of Scripture to those which bear on the saving actions of God which were summed up in Christ, but Gregory Baum has trimmed this core even further. To be saved, he says, we need to know exceedingly little; exceedingly little, then, is inerrantly taught in scripture. (Wells, p. 29).

    The CCC passages on homosexuality take this same form. Look at the entire CCC section in the context of itself:

    2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

    2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

    2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

    Note that 2357 is cited from elsewhere; 2358 and 2359 come out of nowhere. There is no “historical teaching” from which these paragraphs draw.

    Raymond Brown described what you see here in his 1981 “Critical Meaning of the Bible”:

    “Essential to a critical interpretation of church documents is the realization that the Roman Catholic Church does not change her official stance in a blunt way. Past statements are not rejected but are requoted with praise and then reinterpreted at the same time” (Raymond E. Brown, “The Critical Meaning of the Bible,” New York, NY: Paulist Press ©1981, pg 18 fn 41).

    This is how Rome gives the impression of appearing to remain semper eadem, while actually changing the substance of what is being said.

    So what you see here, in 2357, are “past statements requoted with praise” and then the “re-interpretation” follows. The “gradually” statement is the “re-interpretation”, based not on 2357, but on 2358 – which is not doctrinal at all, but which really is psychobabble. In the first, Rome opposes homosexuality but immediately, with the other fork of its tongue it then opposes those who oppose homosexual “rights”. And in 2359 is the “gradually” statement which is not, “go and sin no more”, but “if you sin, it’s not such a big deal, because you can try again later”.

    Again you asked for instances of different “interpretations” being able to be ascertained from supposedly “infallible” Roman doctrines. I have now given you two instances here, where the doctrines themselves are written so as to offer plausible deniability to both sides.

    The culpability lies not just with the “interpretation”. The greater culpability lies with the writers of this section, who purposely gave these loopholes.

    Eric Svendsen wrote a book entitled “Upon This Slippery Rock”. It’s an extremely accurate title. Such is your “infallible Magisterium” today.

  53. CD-Host said,

    March 9, 2013 at 8:16 am

    @John #52

    It is simply not true that historically the RCC had a zero tolerance policy with respect to sexual sin or homosexuality. The doctrine has always been one that people struggle with it, including those in the church and that the people struggling should be shown compassion.

    If you want some historical quotes:

    Saint Moses the Black (died 405):

    Once when the monks gathered to judge a member who had sinned, Brother Moses arrived carrying a leaky basket filled with sand on his back. He explained that what he was holding behind him represented his own many sins, now hidden from his own view. “And now I have come to judge my brother for a small fault,” he remarked. The other monks then each personally forgave their erring brother and returned to their cells.

    John Climacus (7th century):

    Let them take courage who are humbled by their passions. For even if they fall into every pit and are caught in every snare, when they attain health they will become healers, luminaries, beacons and guides to all, teaching about the forms of every sickness and through their own experience saving those who are about to fall

    ______

    In terms of practice while in high office, homosexuality was in fashion during the high middle ages and:

    Pope Paul II (1464–1471)
    Pope Sixtus IV (1471–1484)
    Pope Leo X (1513–1521)
    Pope Julius III (1550–1555)

    were all likely gay and active homosexuals during their papacy. None were forced out of office for it.

    Pope Benedict IX (1032-1048 with breaks) was forced out of office for homosexuality but he was involved in more than just simple love affairs.

    I don’t see any evidence for your claim that church tradition ever was nearly as unforgiving and hostile as you make it out to be.

  54. Sean Patrick said,

    March 9, 2013 at 9:06 am

    Dennis.

    Unless you have evidence that Bishop X interprets 2359 and disregards 2357, then your argument is too weak to even address.

    No. John Bugay wants us to prove that there are no bishops who interpret 2359 the way he imagines.

    You see, for his ‘argument’ to work we have to prove the negative and he gets a pass.

    He may have hit on a rock solid apologetic method. All one has to do is invent things in his mind and then demand that the opponent prove that the invented thing does NOT exist.

  55. Dozie said,

    March 9, 2013 at 10:28 am

    “No. John Bugay wants us to prove that there are no bishops who interpret 2359 the way he imagines”.

    The best way to deal with John Bugay is to ignore his arguments because he is a complete waste of time. The man enjoys being a Jack Chick and we should let him enjoy his state. Perhaps John Bugay has not noticed but whenever he enters a conversation, the conversation dies. Now, he should have fun interpreting what that means.

  56. John Bugay said,

    March 9, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    CD-Host 53: You are simply failing to take into consideration what actual Roman dogma says, and you are putting out the very kind of theological and historical statements that Sean Patrick and his group feel free to dismiss with a wave of their hands.

    Sean Patrick 54: You see, for his ‘argument’ to work we have to prove the negative and he gets a pass.

    The way you do with “prove there was no early papacy”? The way your buddy K Doran is always asking me for “direct evidence” of someone saying, for example, “there was no early papacy” before believing that the historical reconstructions themselves exclude an early papacy? The way Bryan makes the stipulation that he never has to give historical justification for the Roman Catholic view of things?

    Dozie — the name-calling gives you away. You simply have no other response than an impotent insult. Always good when you show up.

  57. Sean Patrick said,

    March 9, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    John # 56.

    Oh, you mean when you said on Jason’s old blog, ““there is overwhelming historical evidence that there was no successor” and then we asked you for the evidence and then you complained that we were asking you to prove a negative?

    You said that there ‘was overwhelming evidence’, we asked for it. You complained that we asked.

    So, now that we’ve moved beyond the fact that in this thread your earlier argument about the magesterium is false and you resorted to asking us to prove a negative, you are reaching back into discussions from two years ago? Is that it?

    Thankfully, I don’t think I’ll have much time to keep up my end of the conversation.

  58. Sean Patrick said,

    March 9, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    Your various chosen modern scholars does not constitute ‘historical evidence.’

    But, I’ll take the fact that you’ve gone silent on your ‘magesterium allows homosexual acts’ as an admission that you actually have no evidence and the entire thing is of your imagination.

  59. John Bugay said,

    March 9, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    Sean Patrick: “yip yip yip yip ….”

  60. Sean Patrick said,

    March 9, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    John # 60,

    To quote you from a few hours ago:

    “You simply have no other response than an impotent insult.”

  61. CD-Host said,

    March 9, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    @Sean #57

    there is overwhelming historical evidence that there was no successor” and then we asked you for the evidence and then you complained that we were asking you to prove a negative?

    OK so you had to go and spoil it. Well I also made that claim. Lets start with the basics:

    The literature of 1st and 2nd century Christianity shows no evident knowledge of an existing hierarchy that’s both Catholic and non Christianities. Time and time again references are made to theological or political disputes and they generally handed as equals. The language which people use in a situation when appealing to a recognized authority is simply absent and what we see in its place is peer to peer relations. Similarly language about property is lacking any knowledge of an authority, in various disputes.

    Time and time again we see 2nd and 3rd century literature referring to the formation of a hierarchy and its authority in either a positive or a negative light. And throughout the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th centuries in places not under the political control of Rome we see Christian sects that are either unaware of not directly controlled by this hierarchy. More importantly we have at least one example for which we do have a full history, the Sethians, who formed a Christianity prior to encountering Catholicism, encountered the hierarchy and rejected it. Proving rather definitely that Christianity did not originate out of a sect from which Peter exercised absolute control.

    And I said all of this in the debates on CtC. So let’s cut the nonsense that John’s strong well documented and often historically accurate thesis about the early church, are in anyway tied to this other theory about a secret homosexual underground changing doctrine.

  62. Sean Patrick said,

    March 9, 2013 at 3:28 pm

    CD Host.

    Firstly, John brought it up, not me. He brought it up to obscure the fact that he asked me to prove a negative earlier.

    Secondly, John had ample opportunity to provide extant evidence for his claims such as in this thread and failed to do so.

    Thirdly, I invite you to state your case on the aforementioned thread.

  63. CD-Host said,

    March 9, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    @Sean #63 —

    Thirdly, I invite you to state your case on the aforementioned thread.

    On CtC? Not a chance. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times? Even I’m not that dumb.

    But if you search you’ll see these points were addressed years back on CtC.

  64. Sean Patrick said,

    March 9, 2013 at 5:48 pm

    CD host.

    I wish I knew what you meant by that. If you have a compliant or some criticism email me at spctc2008@gmail.com

  65. Sean Patrick said,

    March 9, 2013 at 7:00 pm

    CD Host # 62. I think I remember now. Your claim was that the Sethian Gnostics were somehow legitimate Christians who existed before the founding of the apostolic Church or some such. We answered that the existence of heretical sects from the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and modern times is not evidence against apostolic succession. In fact, Irenaeus and other fathers often used the fact that they lacked apostolic succession as an apologetic. But, that is quite a rabbit trail from the original topic isn’t it?

    Nevertheless, your even-handedness with addressing John Bugay on the topic of homosexuality is noted and I, for one, appreciate it.

  66. March 9, 2013 at 10:30 pm

    [...] A Guest Post by Leonardo de Chirico (greenbaggins.wordpress.com) [...]

  67. CD-Host said,

    March 9, 2013 at 11:02 pm

    @Sean #66

    Nevertheless, your even-handedness with addressing John Bugay on the topic of homosexuality is noted and I, for one, appreciate it.

    Well thank you. I always try and be fair.

    We answered that the existence of heretical sects from the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and modern times is not evidence against apostolic succession. In fact, Irenaeus and other fathers often used the fact that they lacked apostolic succession as an apologetic. But, that is quite a rabbit trail from the original topic isn’t it?

    You are correct that the existence of heretical sects existing from the late 1st century CE would not be a big problem in your scheme. The Sethian literature with Christian / proto-Christian themes dates back to around 100 BCE. There is 200 years of evolution and development from Jewish Gnosticism towards Christian Gnosticism which all predates any contact with anything like mainstream Christianity. Which shows an independently evolving Christianity.

    And that is a moderate problem for the doctrine of apostolic succession. Because once we have Christianities evolving independently of some Jerusalem church, of Peter, of the Catholic church the idea that Christian Gnosticism was a schism from the at one time Catholic church is gone. To use Bryan’s expression: Principium Unitatis is gone.

    Now if this was just the Sethians everything would still be fixable. You could still have a a variety of Christianities evolving independently of one another. And one or more of them had apostles which founded them, and thus still have apostolic succession. The Sethians just wouldn’t be one of these apostolic churches. So in and of itself, I agree not quite a smoking gun, but a bigger problem than you make it out to be.

    You see while Sethians have a really solid record dating back to 100 BCE the same cannot be said of a Catholic Church with apostolic succession coming from Peter and down through a line of Popes ruling over Bishops. And that’s where Peter Lampe at all come in. Because they provide a nice contrast between a sect that really did exist during those 200 years and one that didn’t, and the difference is striking.

    Something that one can reasonable call the Catholic Church shows clear evidence of forming during the 2nd century. Theological the writings look like an amalgamation of Marcionite Christianity, Ebionite Christianity and Logos Christianity. The writings we have show clear evidence of this amalgamation happening. And so what you are left with is a documentary record that support Catholicism of having been born from pre-existing Christian sects jelling together not descended from the apostles.

    So now a reader of history has to pick between two hypothesis for the creation of the creation of the Catholic Church. One that supported by the evidence and one that is contradicted by the evidence. And then the total lack of confirming evidence and the plethora of contradicting evidence is a real problem for apostolic succession.

    I’ll address the rest of your post in the next part.

  68. CD-Host said,

    March 9, 2013 at 11:27 pm

    @Sean #66 (part 2)

    Your claim was that the Sethian Gnostics were somehow legitimate Christians who existed before the founding of the apostolic Church or some such.

    The argument on CtC was a different point about apostolic succession. At this time you (and by you I mean the CtC crowd) were using the apologetic that if a doctrine of papal authority hadn’t existed in the 1st century and wasn’t introduced until later you would expect to see Christian literature objecting to this introduction. Let me quote the claim exactly

    If you think that the Church immediately fell into the ‘error’ of apostolic succession, then how does your position avoid ecclesial deism? Do you posit the continual existence of an unknown remnant, preserved for 1500 years, that didn’t believe in apostolic succession, but simply preserved the apostles’ doctrine, and then finally handed it on to Luther? Why wasn’t there some great controversy or debate, as the ‘heretical’ practice of apostolic succession universally swept over the Church in the first and second centuries, and swallowed up the original notion that ecclesial leadership was based entirely on agreement with the Apostles’ doctrine? Or do you posit that there was such a great controversy, and that the winners later blotted out all records of it from Church history? Or did the Apostles so poorly transmit to the churches their instructions regarding the basis for Church authority, that nobody made a peep as the ‘heresy’ of apostolic succession swept over the entire Church, because no one even realized that it was wrong?

    To which I replied by citing that precisely the sort of debate they claimed didn’t happen did happen. That we have somewhere between 50-100 still existent whole books that show controversy and rejection of this new doctrine of apostolic succession. Whole churches and whole branches of Christianity that rejected it.

    Examples:

    Marcion: none of the other apostles besides Paul had understood Jesus at all.

    Gospel of Mary Magdalene, where Mary presents pages of the actual teachings of Jesus while Andrew and Peter (representing the Catholic church) reject the real teachings because they only accept the things the savior said to them.

    Pistis Sophia — This theme from the Gospel of Mary gets developed even further in Pistis Sophia again apostolic succession rather than revelation is attacked as being contrary to the instruction of Jesus. Peter’s rejectionism (again symbolic) is expanded to the whole doctrine of hyclic, psychic and pneumatic Christians.

    Dialogue of the Savior — likely authored about 120 where the Jesus himself attacks the notion of spiritual authorities of any sort.

    Mark where the apostles are constantly denigrated as being essentially idiots. They reject the savior as he dies. There is no appointment of the apostles.

    Gospel of the Ebonites somewhere between 140-200 rejects the supposed apostolic church (pre-Catholic Church) as being the church founded by the apostles is falsifying their bible.

    The Gospel of Thomas rejects that there are a distinguished group of people called “apostles” everyone is a disciple.

    In the Book of John the Baptizer is essentially a counter to Luke/Acts which builds the case for the construction of the church as John -> Jesus -> Peter -> Paul -> Church.

    The Great Declaration of Simon Magus argues that just as thought and soul are invisible the true church equally invisible, the visible church, apostolic church, is corrupted like the body.

    The Apocryphon of John argues against those who claim you need to follow their rites to be saved.

    The Sayings of Jesus (Sufi) attacks the apostolic church as a financial scam designed to rip people off by selling them a false message of Jesus.

    _____

    To which the response was that those don’t count because they aren’t Catholics.

    Of course the Catholics of the 2nd century accepted apostolic succession, it was one of the core doctrines of their church! The original claim was that Christians in general hadn’t and that there was no evidence of any debate. When the facts are there was enormous evidence of a strident debate. The documented record shows precisely the sort of traces you would expect if apostolic succession was not a 1st century doctrine of “Jesus” but rather a 2nd century invention to give the Catholic Church a privileged position with respect to the other Christianities of the day.

    The Sethians are important for this argument because the Sethian record shows:

    a) That the (proto-)Orthodox Christians the Sethians first encounter do not themselves believe in apostolic succession.

    b) That the Orthodox Christians come to believe this doctrine.

    c) Traces the Sethian rejection reaction to this doctrine over the next 150 years.

    The “legitimacy” of the Sethians is not relevant at all. The reason the Sethian record is relevent is because they provide a great deal of insight into the evolution and function of this doctrine.

  69. Sean Patrick said,

    March 10, 2013 at 8:30 am

    CD Host.

    I don’t see how you get from “Hey look, these heretical sects existed and some rejected the visible authority of the Church” to “the Church had no/has no visible authority.” And, I do not accept the notion of ‘Christianites.’ Either one is Christian or one is not a Christian. The early Gnostics, no matter how early, were not Christian.

    Going back to the thread on CTC, here is one response (from Bryan) that summarizes my reaction:

    You point to the second-century opposition between the successors of the Apostles on the one hand, and the Gnostics on the other hand, as evidence that Apostolic succession was a novel doctrine/practice that caused great controversy when it swept through the Catholic Church, displacing the primitive Gnostic Christianity that Christ had originally taught. The true Church, you are claiming, was not that of St. Clement of Rome, St. Ignatius, St. Polycarp, or St. Irenaeus, or St. Hippolytus, or St. Cyprian, or St. Athanasius. Those were men who had co-opted the Church by smuggling in this doctrine of Apostolic succession. The real second-century Church can be seen, in your view, in those who rejected Apostolic succession, namely, the Gnostics. The historic precedent for the 16th century Protestant rejection of Apostolic succession is found, in your view, in the second century Gnostics, such as Cerinthus, Valentinus, Marcion and Cerdo. (See here.) They are the real ‘Church fathers,’ in your view. Your claim thus creates the following dilemma[...]: Either the real ‘Church fathers’ were the second-century Gnostics, in which case the Nicene Creed and Chalcedon and the canon of Scripture were all products of a heretical sect, and we should all embrace the Gnostic writings to which you refer, or the real ‘Church fathers’ were those who possessed authorization by succession from the Apostles, in which case the great second-century controversy to which you refer was between the Church on the one hand, and Gnostic heretics on the other. So you have offered [...] the choice between Catholicism and Gnosticism. And that indeed is the choice.

  70. Sean Patrick said,

    March 10, 2013 at 8:45 am

    I do want to emphasize that I find the whole approach you are taking to be very unusual.

    Assuming you are today a Christian who at least accepts Nicene/Chalcedon orthodoxy, why would you look at an ancient controversy and say, ‘When it comes to rejecting the authority of the church that claims apostolic succession, I am going to pitch my tent with the “Christianite” Gnostics?”

    It’s like, ‘The orthodox fathers got the creed right and man those Gnostics were heretics but, gee, the Gnostics were right in rejecting the authority of those orthodox fathers!”

    I’ll close with this, from St Irenaeus, who wrote against the ‘Christianites.':

    “Since, however, it would be very tedious, in such a volume as this, to reckon up the successions of all the Churches, we do put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vainglory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorized meetings (the ‘Christianites’ as you call them); [we do this, I say,] by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its pre- eminent authority, that is, the faithful everywhere, inasmuch as the apostolical tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere.” Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 3:3:2 (A.D. 180).

  71. CD-Host said,

    March 10, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    @Sean #69 —

    I don’t see how you get from “Hey look, these heretical sects existed and some rejected the visible authority of the Church” to “the Church had no/has no visible authority.”

    In terms of “has visible authority” that’s not what I’m doing. What I’m doing is saying “these sects existed and predated Catholicism and therefore Catholicism was not the ‘original church'”. Ergo the historical apologetic for apostolic succession which depends crucially on Catholicism having been the original church are false.

    In terms of “had a visible authority” it is not the mere existence of these sects that is important. What’s important is their witness to the transformation. They provide a documented record of the timeline for the development of the doctrine of apostolic succession and its political purpose.

    Either one is Christian or one is not a Christian. The early Gnostics, no matter how early, were not Christian.

    By which you mean they weren’t Catholic. I disagree. I’d use something like:

    a) the incorporation of Jewish myth as the central mythic structure with a rejection of the mainstream Jewish rites / law..
    b) belief in Jesus as central part of their mythic structure as some form of intermediary between God and man who play a reconciling role
    c) the use of baptism and the eucharist as key rites

    as the definition of Christian. In which case the Gnostic Christians qualify. I think using Catholic creeds to try and define Christianity is begging the question.

    As for Bryan’s summary he’s summarizing my views. Thus I feel comfortable with a simple appeal to authority of myself on what my views are in agreeing and disagreeing with Bryan’s summary.

    1) Yes I believe apostolic succession was a novel doctrine in the 2nd century.

    2) No, I am not claiming the “true church” is the church of the Gnostics. I’m claiming Gnostic proto-Christianity predated Orthodox Christianity by two centuries. Tying the doctrine of origins to the doctrine of “true church” is applying a Catholic paradigm to a non-Catholic analysis.

    3) That “historic precedent for the 16th century Protestant rejection of Apostolic succession is found in the second century Gnostics”. I’d go even a bit further. I’d tie them somewhat more directly together. I think the reformation traveled west from the east where elements of Gnostic Christianity had survived. So I’d tie the Brethern of the Free Spirit to the Cathari, the Cathari to the Bogomils, the Bogomils to Manichaeism… (graphic)
    So I’d wouldn’t say it is just a historic precedent but rather there is complex indirect intellectual descent.

    4) “Either the real ‘Church fathers’ were the second-century Gnostics, in which case the Nicene Creed and Chalcedon and the canon of Scripture were all products of a heretical sect” and here I’d say neither one. The “real church fathers” interpreted as early forms of proto-Christianity were 1st century Jewish sects reacting to pressures that were specific to their time, place and culture. As the Christian movement spread throughout the empire and became more mainstream it needed to become less tied to Jewish culture a much broader movement. Catholicism and 2nd century Gnostic Christianities were attempts to do that.

    History is an onion. There is nothing other than the layers.

    5) That Protestantism should embrace its Gnostic heritage. Yes I believe that. In the same way I think it should embrace other aspects of primitive Christianity like Hermeticism and try and reinterpret them for the modern world.

  72. Sean Patrick said,

    March 10, 2013 at 12:54 pm

    CD Host.

    I won’t have much time today but wanted to offer a quick reaction to # 71. Sorry if the format of copy/paste your words than my reaction looks abrasive. Just under a time restraint.

    What I’m doing is saying “these sects existed and predated Catholicism and therefore Catholicism was not the ‘original church’”.

    It does not follow that because various sects existed before or after Pentecost that the Catholic Church is not what you call ‘the original church.’ Or, to put it more simply, the Catholic Church’s stature as the Church that Christ founded is not threatened by the existence of various Gnostic sects.

    I said, ” The early Gnostics, no matter how early, were not Christian.”

    You responded, “By which you mean they weren’t Catholic.” No, I mean they were not Christian. Many of them rejected the incarnation. The Trinity. The resurrection. Unless anybody else watching this conversation wants to chime in and disagree, even the Reformed agree Gnostics were not Christian. In other words, I don’t agree with the definition of “Christian’ that you use.

    1) Yes I believe apostolic succession was a novel doctrine in the 2nd century.

    Huh? How can you say that when you just argued that from even pre-Christian times and shortly after from the 1st and 2nd century there were Gnostic sects that rejected apostolic succession. What were they rejecting if apostolic succession did not exist yet?

    No, I am not claiming the “true church” is the church of the Gnostics. I’m claiming Gnostic proto-Christianity predated Orthodox Christianity by two centuries.

    That is outrageous. You deny that the orthodox Christian faith did not exist with the apostles??? You deny the book of Acts???

    That Protestantism should embrace its Gnostic heritage.

    Do any other Reformed Protestants here want to claim that position? Is anybody watching this?

  73. CD-Host said,

    March 10, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    @Sean #70

    ‘When it comes to rejecting the authority of the church that claims apostolic succession, I am going to pitch my tent with the “Christianite” Gnostics?”

    Because their claims are supported by the documentary record while the Catholic claims are contradicted by that record. As the saying goes “you are entitled to your own opinions, you aren’t entitled to your own facts”.

    I’ll close with this, from St Irenaeus.. “, inasmuch as the apostolical tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere.”

    Can you not see how question begging that quote is. The evidence of theological evolution makes a doctrine of preservation rather than creation impossible to believe based on the evidence. Your argument is just one gigantic circle

    i) We should believe in apostolic succession by the church because
    ii) the apostolic church tells us to believe in it and we should believe them because
    iii) they are the unique church authorized by the apostles and we should believe that
    iv) without it there is no apostolic succession

    How about just admitting the circle is false. There was no apostolic succession. There was no uniquely authorized church and the early Catholic church invented this doctrine to counter other churches, to take what had been a level playing field and make is biased.

    Irenaeus’ does a so/so job documenting the faiths forgotten. Some information can be derived from him. His counter arguments to them though are stupid. You cannot in an argument simply claim without proof that Paul was Catholic when Paul never identified himself as such and his identification was one of the key points of dispute between many of the Gnostics and the Catholics. Catholics just a generation prior to Irenaeus frequently identifies Paul with the Gnostics not with the Catholics. Tertullian’s “apostle to the heretics” is Paul.

    So no I don’t see this quote as proving anything.

  74. Sean Patrick said,

    March 10, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    Just so I am not imagining this…you are saying that the Sethians existed and thought Seth was the Messiah that they were ‘Christianite’ and therefore the Catholic Church is not what She claims??? Really?

    Because their claims are supported by the documentary record while the Catholic claims are contradicted by that record.

    That is not true. There is plenty of documentary evidence of the Catholic claims.

    As for the rest, I am going to stand Irenaeus and not with the Gnostics.

    Catholics just a generation prior to Irenaeus frequently identifies Paul with the Gnostics not with the Catholics

    Name one single Catholic prior to Irenaeus who identified Paul with Gnosticism and cite the evidence.

  75. John Bugay said,

    March 10, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    Sean Patrick, your “name one piece of evidence” line is a training-wheels form of argumentation that Bryan seems to have taught you well, but what CD-Host is advocating is far more complex than that. If you really want to address his claims he is advocating a form of what’s known as “the Bauer Thesis”, which some NT scholarship has advocated since 1934. Your buddy David Waltz advocates for it too, but in your kissy-kissy moments when he was criticizing Lampe, you failed to notice it.

    You may want to check a work by Andreas Kostenberger and Michael Kruger, called “The Heresy of Orthodoxy.” it’s about $10.00, and it responds nicely to Bauer.

  76. Sean Patrick said,

    March 10, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    John.

    Well, thank you. I am admittedly new to the “Bauer Thesis.” But just to be clear, you reject it right? You don’t stand with CD Host when he advocates for Protestantism to ‘get in touch’ with its Gnostic roots?

    As for asking for evidence, I don’t agree that my asking is somehow unfair or somehow misses the point of how ‘complex’ the issue is.

    When somebody says something like, “Catholics…frequently identified Paul with Gnosticism…” it is perfect reasonable to ask for the direct evidence. If the evidence is so convoluted and obscure that not even a single citation in favor of the theory can be presented it should tell you something.

    If I say, “The early church frequently cited apostolic succession against heretics who had no succession” and somebody said, “Name one instance!”, I would be able to immediately name instances proving my claim.

    That is how extant historical inquiry should work.

  77. Sean Patrick said,

    March 10, 2013 at 3:45 pm

    I mean, show me a Catholic who identified Paul with Gnosticism. Shouldn’t be that hard if it happened ‘frequently.’

  78. John Bugay said,

    March 10, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    Sean 76 — No, I don’t accept the Bauer thesis, although as I’ve written in the past, it is a complex thing, and while conservative NT scholars have largely separated the wheat from the chaff, some of its premises are not completely discredited, and Rome does not come out well in any case.

    I have no intention of getting into a long discussion of it. But you might benefit from the book I recommended.

  79. CD-Host said,

    March 10, 2013 at 9:19 pm

    I mean, show me a Catholic who identified Paul with Gnosticism. Shouldn’t be that hard if it happened ‘frequently.’

    It isn’t. First example would be Justin Martyr. We know he knows of Paul since he mentions Marcion and Marcionic churches multiple times. He mentions Pauline doctrines multiple times yet never ties them to Paul. He seems not to recognize Paul and the Pauline literature as Catholic but rather as Marcionic.

    Another source is the Homilies of Clement (see 17:14 link chapter 17). Notice the identification of Simon Magus here with the apostle who claims to know Jesus through visions (i.e. Paul). The Simon character is an opponent of Peterine Christianity.

    Clement isn’t unusual BTW. This is something you see all throughout first century literature, an identification of Pauline teaching with Simon Magus. F.C. Baur did a nice job on this identification and why 2 centuries ago. I’m not sure how many links I can do without going to moderation jail so add the http to books.google.com/books/download/Paul__the_apostle_of_Jesus_Christ.pdf?id=bxNKAAAAMAAJ&output=pdf&sig=ACfU3U2Iby9YtUFdTyn48qubIuXUPt97PA

    We might even see an even earlier version of this in the Kerygma Petrou. Depends on your opinion of the origins of the Clementine literature. In Irenaeus and Tertullian what you see is a later stage of trying to distance the earlier conflict. Tertullian is clear about this, he believes that Marcion discovered Galatians and in Adv Marcion 4.3.1 and does see it as an attack on Peter. He accepts Paul as canonical based on the church’s teaching (he is in submission) but still calls Paul the “apostle to the heretics”.

    Going even back further, the author of 1Timothy felt he needed to distance Paul from gnostic associations. There are a bunch of verses of this type. For example verse 6:20
    “O, Timothy, guard the precious deposit recoiling from profane and empty jabbering and the Antitheses (Oppositions or Contradictions in English, the title of Marcion’s book) of the falsely labeled ‘gnosis’ for some who profess it have shot wide of the faith ”

  80. CD-Host said,

    March 10, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    @Sean —

    Now on to your miscellaneous points.

    It does not follow that because various sects existed before or after Pentecost that the Catholic Church is not what you call ‘the original church.’ Or, to put it more simply, the Catholic Church’s stature as the Church that Christ founded is not threatened by the existence of various Gnostic sects.

    Of course it is. If A predates B then B cannot be the father of A. Causes precede effects. I’m not sure how much more basic a question can be than this. If Christian Gnosticism predates Catholic Christianity than the Catholic Church cannot be the first or original church. The Catholic Church has been unequivocal on the issue that truth is defined by who got their first. You want to stand with Irenaeus, that’s his argument, “we are right because we have the original apostles and you don’t”.

    In keeping with this tradition, the entire apologetic on CtC depends absolute crucially on Catholicism predating other Christianities. That’s how you argue you aren’t in the same box as the Protestants. Lose the claim to original church then the Protestants have just as much say on how best to pick up the pieces. http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2009/07/ecclesial-deism/ makes this pretty clear. If the proto-Christianities of 30 CE died in the 1st century and what replaced it, were new faiths built on the raw material of those proto-Christianities it becomes ridiculous to talk about Catholicism preserving the original deposit of faith. The door the “original deposit” becomes: Theosophy, Archeology, Deconstructionism, Jewish History …. not Catholicism.

    Now one could argue that the Catholic Church, while a 2nd century invention, is in far better shape than American Protestantism which in today’s forms is an early 19th century invention. I think it is plausible, but that ain’t the argument on CtC. Protestantism does have restorationist strands. There are groups of Protestants that express a genuine enthusiasm for looking for 1st century in the eye. I don’t know if that enthusiasm dies when they get their wish for a pure original undiluted Christianity of Jesus’ time and find sects like angel worshiping Jewish members of Sophia cults carrying around amulets to ward of demons and quoting from the hidden revelations of Enoch and Seth. They may come to appreciate why the Catholic church built a Roman and not a Jerusalem Christianity; the desire to go back that’s driven Protestantism may die. But then again, they might embrace the rich world of mysteries and layers of myth and magic that are now open to them. Hard to tell.

    That is not true. There is plenty of documentary evidence of the Catholic claims.

    OK. Lets start. Since your theory is there was a line of Popes from Peter let’s take the very next one. Give me a single 1st century source that mentions Linus as Pope / Bishop of Rome? How about a single consistent theory of how he died and an explanation of why the sources disagree? Why is the only decree he’s associated with a direct copy of 1Cor 11:5? Where are some other decrees?

    Let’s see the evidence that he existed at all. Then if we can get that far, we’ll go after the more substantial claim that he was universally recognized as an authority over Christianity during his life.

  81. Sean Patrick said,

    March 10, 2013 at 11:19 pm

    # 80

    CD Host.

    The weekend is drawing to a close and I am traveling next week. So, if we’re going to start down this tangent I may not be able to get back to it for a while.

    Trying to argue that Justin Martyr identified Paul with Gnosticism is the stretch of the century. That he did not name Paul when his words echoed Pauline teaching does not mean he thought Paul was a Gnostic How you get from Point A to Point B on that is beyond me..

    The pseudo Clementine that you site is anti-Christian Gnostic literature from the 4th century. So, it does not qualify as evidence of Catholics ‘frequently’ identifying Paul as a Gnostic ‘one generation’ before Irenaeus.

    1st Timothy was written by the apostle Paul. Therefore, its pretty darn unlikely that Paul would identify himself as a Gnostic in code to the young teacher, Timothy.

    In short, your first example is an incredible stretch and an argument from silence.

    The ‘Clementines/Kerygma Petrou’ are anti-Christian/anti-orthodox (anti Pauline) Gnostic literature from much later. Its no wonder they were anti-Paul. Because Paul was orthodox. Not Gnostic.

    # 81.

    You have not shown that ‘Christian Gnosticism’ pre-dates the Catholic Church! You have the Sethians, who were NOT Christian. They thought Seth was the Messiah. That they existed does not mean that Christ was not the true Messiah and that Christ did not ascend into heaven and that the apostles did not receive the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

    In keeping with this tradition, the entire apologetic on CtC depends absolute crucially on Catholicism predating other Christianities.

    And it seems that it is crucial for you to adopt the claims of 3rd and 4th century Gnostic sects that denied the true Messiah for your argument to hold up.

    If the proto-Christianities of 30 CE died in the 1st century and what replaced it, were new faiths built on the raw material of those proto-Christianities it becomes ridiculous to talk about Catholicism preserving the original deposit of faith.

    You have not gotten there. You have not shown that ‘proto-Christianites’ in AD 30 died and then the orthodox Christian faith was born out of their wacky beliefs about Seth.

    I believe the earliest reference to Linus succeeding Peter is found in Against Heresies Book 3, Chapter 3

    The blessed apostles, then, having founded and built up the Church, committed into the hands of Linus the office of the episcopate. Of this Linus, Paul makes mention in the Epistles to Timothy.

  82. Don said,

    March 11, 2013 at 1:53 am

    Sean Patrick #82,
    If I may jump in here, I’d like to point out that your “earliest reference to Linus” (one century after his death) immediately follows a passage which identifies Peter and Paul as the founders of the church at Rome. Are you comfortable with the historicity of these statements, in view of Romans 1:8-15 and 15:23-24?

  83. CD-Host said,

    March 11, 2013 at 8:19 am

    @Sean —

    Take your time when you come up with a better response. Or don’t. I’m not terribly interested in engaging an unthinking fundamentalism.

    1st Timothy was written by the apostle Paul.

    Are you sure it wasn’t written by the Easter Bunny? The verse I mentioned had a reference to a 2nd century book. Other 2nd century references aren’t uncommon in the pastorals. The language used in 1Tim doesn’t match Paul’s. The theology and structure of the church is different. The Syriac Orthodox church has always rejected these are forgeries. They aren’t part of the original collection of Paul’s work published (the Apostolicon), etc…

    There are conservative scholars who argue for the Pastorals being 1st century. But all of them understand that the archeological, linguistic and and historical facts are heavily against them. Their argument depends crucially on the continuity of the church to the 1st century. So when arguing with someone advancing the “Bauer Thesis” (to use the term John taught you) it would be a massive case of question begging to assert Pauline authorship. They wouldn’t casually assert it like you did when confronting with something holding to the normal, mainstream position of 2nd century authorship.

    The counter evidence for Paul’s authorship of Timothy is just about as strong as the counter evidence for anything we know about the ancient church. If you are going to dismiss that then you aren’t really interested in evidence at all. If you don’t know the counter case for pastorals being 1st not 2nd century then the more complex stuff about the origin of the church isn’t going to work. You aren’t going to be able to assume some tax collector who knew Jesus wrote Matthew, that Acts is written by a traveling companion of Paul’s or that 1Tim was written by Paul.

    The discussion here is about evidence not church dogma. If you just want to make stuff up then this conversation is pointless. There is no way I can argue against a 1st century history you just make up out of whole cloth. Why not make the 1st century more interesting and have aliens in spaceships confirming Peter as the head of the church? We’ve hit sort of the most basic stopping point here.

    I believe the earliest reference to Linus succeeding Peter is found in Against Heresies Book 3, Chapter 3

    I agree. And that’s a serious problem for your thesis. Link 2 in the chain of people running Christianity has mostly no evidence for his existence prior to the fully formed doctrine of apostolic succession. That’s not a small problem for arguing the evidence supports your case. You would have expected some mention of this Pope. In your theory Justin Martyr is living under this complex hierarchy that’s fully in place but writes as if it didn’t exist.

    That’s a problem for your theory.

    Trying to argue that Justin Martyr identified Paul with Gnosticism is the stretch of the century. That he did not name Paul when his words echoed Pauline teaching does not mean he thought Paul was a Gnostic

    Its more than that you aren’t accurately summarizing what I wrote. He had Paul, quotes Pauline doctrine but doesn’t make an appeal to authority. He does make appeals to authority in similar situations with other literature. He shows no evidence of recognize Paul as part of his church, yet obviously since he knows of Marcion he knows who Paul is.

    No of course Justin’s failure to mention Paul doesn’t mean he rejected Paul. But it is very strong evidence in that direction. Maybe Justin’s hand cramped up every time he was about to cite Paul. Maybe the Easter Bunny that wrote 1Timothy was still around and figured Paul had already gotten enough credit so told Justin not to write about him. But the most plausible theory is that Justin rejected him considering him a founder of the Marcionic not the Catholic church.

    And if you are going to assert it doesn’t mean that. What does it mean? You tell me. Start defending a plausible counter theory that’s consistent with your view of how developed the church is by Justin Martyr’s time and how easily accepted Paul was.

    As for Kerygma Petrou it is cited by Clement of Alexandria who claims to have learned about it from Heracleon. Similarly with Origin. So no the 4th century dating is off. It can’t possibly be that late.

  84. CD-Host said,

    March 11, 2013 at 10:04 am

    @Sean —

    I wanted to break this one off.

    You have not shown that ‘Christian Gnosticism’ pre-dates the Catholic Church! You have the Sethians, who were NOT Christian. They thought Seth was the Messiah.

    Traditionally Catholicism has argued that heretics broke off from the Catholic church, not that they had mostly independently developed forms of Christianity. And the reason for that is very clear. If Catholicism and religion X both developed independently of one another then they are on equal footing. If X broke off from Catholicism then Catholicism has a privileged footing.

    Now if you are willing to acknowledge that Sethianism developed independently, that’s a concession in line with reality. Let’s address the issue of whether Sethianism is Christian. Because both the Catholics and the Sethians consider themselves to be part of the same or cousin religions they react to one another. The Sethians cannot be heretics if they aren’t Christians. Zeus worshippers weren’t heretical Christians, they weren’t Christians at all. The fact that they know they are part of similar faiths is what creates the reaction. Subjectively the Sethians are Christians until the 4th century because other Christian sects think of them as Christian.

    Now lets objectively, your objection to Seth playing a role. The Sethians believed, like most Jews of the time, that Seth was associated with righteousness and mystical teaching. Seth in Hasmonean Jewish literature was associated strongly with astrology as well as other such mysteries. 100 BCE and earlier Sethians went further than most Jews and tried to get in contact with these mysteries of Seth, they made it a focal point of their faith and not a side issue. In contradiction to your claims above, there was no association between Seth and the Messiah whom they considered a military figure. Sophia / Baptismal cults, which are also proto-Christians had the notion of a messiah the way you are using the term but the Sethian’s hadn’t incorporated that theology. The Sethians, agreed with mainstream Judaism and had no association between messiah and teaching.

    As time goes on, Seth becomes part of the an eternal hero: Adam Kadmon. This is the “other adam” 1Cor 15:45-50. This is similar theologically to Wisdom being manifest Sir 1:1-18; 4:11-19; 6:18-31; 14:20-15:10; 24:1-31; 51:13-30; Wis 7-9; Baruch 3:9-38 . Sethian theology continues to develop over the next two hundred years both on its own and by merging idea from other proto-Christian sects. By the time they encounter proto-orthodox Christianity around 100 CE they are fully proto-Christian including things like the Eucharistic rites. Some even have a theology of Jesus, though he plays a variety of roles at this point and most of them minor.

    There is nothing unique to the Sethians in this. Jesus’ role wasn’t stable in primitive Christianity. If you are going to demand a stable theological role for Jesus, there weren’t any Christians in the 1st century. Just look at the bible itself:

    Jesus as a messianic candidate in the synoptics
    Jesus as the incarnate logos in John
    Jesus as the heavenly crucified savior, the secret knowledge of whom is a sign of the last days in Paul
    Jesus as a ideal for the earthly temple in Hebrews
    Jesus as the judge of the churches with no association of the earthy child swept directly into heaven to defeat the dragon in Revelations

    I’ll mentioned these proto-Orthodox Christians don’t know they belong to a Catholic church being run by Evaristus, Alexander I or Sixtus I. They’ve never heard this authoritative hierarchy they supposedly are subject to. And that supports John Bugay’s theories above. Why is it that all the Christians we run into prior to the mid 2nd century seem to have never heard of the Catholic hierarchy was established a century earlier?

    Going back to the Sethians, most don’t have a significant Jesus theology. But once they encounter Christians they work Jesus into their system generally as a reincarnated Seth as a teacher of wisdom. This gets merged with Jesus as Sophia the suffering divine emanation associated with spiritual purity. This gets merged with Philo logos theology. And then you do really have something that is impossible not to call a Christianity. What this shows is that the parts of Christianity all mostly existed from the earliest Sethian writings what was missing was the identifications with Jesus.

    And this Sethianism with the identifications is the later Sethianism of the kind Irenaeus wrote about. This sort of identification process is happening all over Christianity. To pick a different sect, with different issues: between Paul and Marcion Jesus goes from a purely heavenly being about whom scripture teaches us, to someone who himself taught. This identification of Jesus with a body of teachings, a body of teachings which is clearly originally from earlier teachers like John the Baptist had to come from somewhere. If we had a record of them encountering the Sethians, and from that encounter coming to believe that Jesus taught mysteries not just was the subject of mysteries that wouldn’t mean that Pauline Christianity wasn’t Christian prior to this encounter.

    What the Sethians give us is second example of a Christianity evolving for which we have a good documentary record. Their record goes earlier than the Catholic record and drops off sooner. This earlier start means their theology in their earlier works is far less Christian than the Catholic record. So what? Their theology is far more Christian than what you see in the record from the deuterocanonicals which are from about the same time.

    That they existed does not mean that Christ was not the true Messiah and that Christ did not ascend into heaven and that the apostles did not receive the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

    You completely lost me with these lines.

  85. Sean Patrick said,

    March 11, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    CD Host.

    If I am an ‘unthinking fundamentalist’ because I profess;

    1) That Gnosticism is heresy
    2) That the apostle Paul wrote 1st and 2nd Timothy
    3) That Justin Martyr did not identify Paul as a Gnostic
    4) That Sethians were not ‘Christianite’
    5) That Jesus Christ is God made flesh and not the ‘reincarnated Seth’

    …then I’ll wear the badge of ‘unthinking fundamentalist’ proudly.

    What the Sethians give us is second example of a Christianity evolving for which we have a good documentary record.

    That, and everything you’ve written about Gnostic heretics and how they were really “Christianite” rests on the faulty notion that Sethians/Gnostics were Christian or ‘proto-Christian.’

    Again, this is it for me this week.

  86. Dennis said,

    March 11, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    CD Host,

    I’m not an early Christian scholar and know absolutely nothing about Sethianism but it’s hard to get around “inerrancy” and Paul’s authorship when you read 1 Timothy 1:1.

    Perhaps it was another Apostle named Paul???

    I think it’s reasonable to believe Paul wrote the epistles to Timothy.

    You can chalk me up as well to “unthinking fundamentalist.”

  87. CD-Host said,

    March 11, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    @Dennis #87 —

    There is a style of writing that was more common in the ancient world where people who belonged to schools attributed their own thoughts to predecessors they identified with. For example look at the way Socrates is a character in Plato’s dialogues whose thinking continues to evolve over the course of Plato’s writing, long after Socrates’ death. Clearly Plato is putting his own ideas in Socrates mouth, the Socrates character represents Plato he’s not a reflection of the historic Socrates.

    The doctrine of inerrancy is usually interpreted as prohibiting a belief that this sort of thing was going on with the bible itself. In a historical context inerrancy was a response to higher criticism and scientific criticism. One of the very first issues higher criticism asserted was “who wrote what”. So I’d go as far to say that not only does inerrancy absolutely prohibits the consensus view on Paul’s non-authorship of 1Tim but the doctrine of inerrancy came out of a conservative response to try and assert that higher critical methods were outside the bounds of Christianity, period. Fair enough?

    The context of the conversation with Sean was not what the bible says but what history says. The claim was that there was historical evidence. In particular historical evidence that would be convincing to someone who rejects the claims of the Catholic church. The context here were people like:
    * Peter Lampe: a liberal Christian who rejects inerrancy
    * Walter Bauer: “the NT is both too unproductive and too much disputed to be able to serve as a point of departure””
    * Me (an atheist)…

    So historical evidence starts with the presumption that the bible is errant. None of those 3 should be expected to believe that Paul wrote 1Tim. Inerrancy should not and cannot be an assumption when discussing history in this context. The primary, and possibly only, argument for believing Paul wrote the pastorals is the opinion of the church of the 2nd and later centuries.

    Obviously you cannot assert that Christianity evolved naturally out of a 1/2 dozen Jewish sectarian movements and believe that Luke/Act’s view of history is applicable and inerrant. At most one of those two views of history can be true. There is no way to even have this conversation with an assumption of inerrancy. Which is why I called this a stopping point. A liberal view of the bible is an absolute foundations stone to discussing Bauer.

    The bible,in a historical conversation stops being the judge and just becomes pieces of evidence, testimony of biased semi-reliable witnesses. I’d say 1Tim identifies itself on the surface as being Pauline in authorship. Underneath, there are problems. That’s not uncommon. I can show you dozens of still existent books which claim to be of Pauline or apostolic authorship that you would reject as having that authorship. And many of those have far far stronger claims and weaker counter-evidence.

    Let me give you an analogy. Lets assume that people on Green Baggins were doing one of their regular justification debates. And someone chimed in with some verses about Vishnu from the Gita. Anyone who understands the Protestant vs. Catholic justification debate understands that Vishnu / Gita is not admissible evidence in that debate. If someone believes that Vishnu is God, and that we are trapped in a cycle of birth, death and rebirth then fine. But they can’t use those beliefs when discussing whether we are saved by justified by faith or justified by faith plus works.

    John Bugay and Lampe have a doctrine that the original church consisted of coequal Bishops and that the hierarchy didn’t exist till centuries later. Catholicism was a perversion of the Christianity of the ancient world.

    Walter Bauer and myself have a doctrine that there was no single original church at all. That the notion of Bishops and later a hierarchy of Bishops came out of Catholics battling for supremacy with other sects
    some of whom predated the Catholics.

    Sean was arguing his side had evidence. But when pressed all we see is non sequiturs having to do with his personal beliefs about who he thinks Jesus is.

    So to be honest I think that proves the case. There is no evidence for the Catholic position. It just boils down to an appeal to authority: the church existed because the church claims to have existed and they are trustworthy because they existed and thus were blessed with being trustworthy. Paul was a Catholic Bishop because Catholic Bishops around 170 and 180 said he was a Catholic Bishop and we know they are telling the truth because Paul was a Catholic Bishop and thus the Catholic Church is special.

    The whole Catholic apologetic is shockingly simple. You still see this today:

    There was a unique type of Christian church as long as you exclude all the other ones. This church taught a unique theology, as long as you exclude all but one of the theologies it taught. The leaders within it were subject to a binding leadership, as long as they didn’t suffer from “personal failings” and do something this leadership didn’t approve. And the fact that they are all acting as if this binding structure teaching a unique theology to a unified church doesn’t exist, and in fact frequently indicate the opposite shouldn’t be counted as any evidence against this position because in context there is some good reason.

    ____

    Now if you want to have a discussion about 1Tim, the disagreement between the Lampe and the Bauer position melts away. That’s a much simpler conversation and has to do with internal literary analysis and mostly undisputed history.

  88. Dennis said,

    March 11, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    CD Host,

    I’m not saying Paul wrote Timothy. I’m saying that it’s reasonable to think so.

    Regarding what you believe or what John Bugay believes, I’m fine with it and I’m hardly qualified to argue it.

    I’m not all that familiar with Church history aside from the obvious things. I do know that I’ve been to Rome and I’ve seen Peter’s tomb underneath the altar.

    Ajacent to Peter’s tomb is Linus’ tomb and it’s marked “Linus”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Peter%27s_tomb

    I’ve seen it. That’s good enough for me.

  89. CD-Host said,

    March 11, 2013 at 6:18 pm

    @Dennis —

    Ajacent to Peter’s tomb is Linus’ tomb and it’s marked “Linus”
    I’ve seen it. That’s good enough for me.

    That’s a 4th century building. I could put up a headstone for James Madison’s and the historical distance would be less. As Luther put it regarding these relics he had, “a piece of the left horn of Moses, three flames from the burning bush, and a lock of Beezlebub`s beard”. He used to also joke about the 26 apostles buried in Germany. Catholic relics have been discredited since well before the Reformation, and the evidence just keeps pilling up as these things get tested.

    The Catholic Church likes to be very cute on things that might prove disprovable. They encourage veneration but never authoritatively state these relics are genuine. That way if something comes up to disprove them they can back off, while at the same time allowing for people’s natural religious impulses to cause them to believe.

    Belief is much more fun. But if you want to talk evidence, I’d assume all relics are fake until proven otherwise.

  90. Dennis said,

    March 11, 2013 at 6:36 pm

    CD-Host,

    That’s a 4th century building.

    No it’s not. I’ve been there. The details are too ornate and it’s directly beneath the altar and stretches for acres.

    The foundation of the basilica is from Constantine is 4th century and underneath that is a Necropolis which dates back to the time of Christ. I’ve seen it. The Church could NOT have manufactured it.

    Belief is much more fun. But if you want to talk evidence, I’d assume all relics are fake until proven otherwise.

    I can agree that some of the Catholic Church’s relics can be deemed questionable. This is not one of them. Inside Saint Mary’s in Rome is a relic of the manger. Is it real? I don’t know. It’s fun to think it is but it wouldn’t wreck my faith if it wasn’t.

    These aren’t relics. It’s an entire cemetery (necropolis) that has not and cannot be fully excavated directly underneath St. Peter’s. If they were to excavate more, St. Peter’s would collapse.

    Much of it is pagan and as it gets closer to Peter’s tomb, you find more and more Christian graffiti. Specifically, you see writing that asks for Peter to pray for them.

    The artwork and mosaics (pagan) were incredible and would have taken too long to fabricate…

    You don’t have to believe. For me, it is enough.

  91. Dennis said,

    March 11, 2013 at 6:45 pm

    Here’s more info on the necropolis under St. Peter’s:

    http://www.culturaltravelguide.com/roman-mausoleums-saint-peters-basilica

    And on St. Peter’s tomb:

    http://www.culturaltravelguide.com/real-tomb-saint-peter-under-saint-peters-basilica

  92. CD-Host said,

    March 12, 2013 at 11:02 am

    @Dennis —

    I’m having a bit of trouble trying to figure out your thread because I see you as saying two very different things:

    a) I’m not an expert on the ancient world but I saw this building and I was impressed by it.

    b) The St. Peter’s tomb was constructed during the 1st century. The necropolis is real 1st century stonework. Inside of the necropolis is a tomb of a Linus placed next to St. Peter which dates to this time period. Showing that a Linus existed that was strongly associated with Peter, prior to the 2nd century, what you would expect if they played the same role (i.e. Pope). Thus there is 1st century evidence for Linus. These statements don’t require faith but can hold up to a hostile review.

    I completely believe (a) and completely believe (b) is BS. The necropolis is 2nd century, but the markings are much later. Most of the building is 4th, there was all sorts of pagan construction in Rome until the early 4th century so pagan artifacts don’t mean much. There are no ties to anything 1st century and Linus being there is just evidence that later Catholics, 4th century Catholics associated Linus with Peter. What happened in 322 when this church was commissioned in well known

    I’m not an expert on ancient stone masonry. I’m pretty sure an expert stone mason who built a building last week but tried to make it look older would fool me. But there are experts, and when I Google I find 0 support from any experts at all for the necropolis dating to the time of Christ. They all place the detail much later. There are frequent references in the pagan parts to things that happened after, dead people who were conceived during the circus of Nero. As late as the 250s I see Peter and Paul buried together in a church from which Peter’s body was taken with no mention of Linus.

    If you are saying that being in the church was inspiring I have no doubt. Rome is amazingly inspiring. You can help but feel spiritual. But if you are saying that this piece of evidence meets the criteria then you need step up beyond “good enough for me” to “good enough for harsh critics of Catholic myth”

  93. Dennis said,

    March 12, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    CD Host,

    I don’t think there’s anything I can say that will make you believe. And yes, you’re correct that I don’t have verifiable evidence that the graffiti is not from the fifth century. Regarding St. Peter’s, Vatican Hill was one of the seven hills of Rome. Peter was buried on the side of the hill and Constantine leveled the hill to build the Church. Not only that…but he desecrated a place for the dead. Doesn’t necessarily PROVE that Peter was buried there but leveling a hill is no small feat. I’m pretty sure they could have built St. Peter’s anywhere…why put it on top of a cemetery?

    But there are experts, and when I Google I find 0 support from any experts at all for the necropolis dating to the time of Christ.

    From what I’ve found, the Necropolis was built during the time of Caligula which would be about 41AD.

    http://www.ts.mu.edu/readers/content/pdf/27/27.1/27.1.4.pdf

    From The Bones of St. Peter:

    Positive material gathered by Margherita Guarducci, professor of classical epigraphy at the University of Rome, illustrates the first-century origin of the east-west Vatican necropolis

    1st century and Linus being there is just evidence that later Catholics, 4th century Catholics associated Linus with Peter.

    The thing is though is that the tombs of the other Popes were supposedly found and none of them were marked. The only one with a marking was Linus’. If this would have been a Catholic conspiracy, we would have likely manufactured markings of the other Popes surrounding the area.

    Again, if you don’t believe now, there’s nothing I’ll say that will convince you so arguing about it is pretty pointless.

  94. Brandon said,

    March 12, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    Cd-Host,

    Thanks for all the information. I just have a simple question about your views of the structure of the church. When we read NT documents, almost all of them seem to imply some form of government or constitution for the Church (i.e. Apostolic connection). This seems to be the appeal of the Gnostics themselves; though they appealed to information that was passed along through different mediums than in the “Catholic” church.

    In your reconstruction of the first century church, do you recognize “offices” in the church? Could you perhaps elaborate on any continuity/discontinuity that you see between modern notions (particularly Presbyterian, but you can expand) of church office?

  95. TurretinFan said,

    March 12, 2013 at 10:09 pm

    There’s such an amazing parallel between the Roman Catholic Church and those who Christ criticized:

    “Truly ye bear witness that ye allow the deeds of your fathers: for they indeed killed them, and ye build their sepulchres.” (Luke 11:48)

    The necro-mania of Roman religiosity is absolutely breathtaking – far more severe than that of those Christ criticized. I challenge anyone to point to Pharisees trying to communicate with or invoke the supplications of those in the sepulchres.

    -TurretinFan

  96. Dennis said,

    March 12, 2013 at 11:30 pm

    TF,

    I think you’re not reading Luke 11 correctly. Christ is criticizing them because they lack charity. (Luke 11:42). He says they’re clean on the outside but are filled with “extortion and wickedness.”

    Christ is criticizing the Pharisees because of their lack of love…something that we should all try to avoid.

    This is not a criticism of “necro-mania.”

    The necro-mania of Roman religiosity is absolutely breathtaking

    Alright, I’ll share some scripture verses for you to reflect upon…

    When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?” (Mark 16:1-3)

    Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb …. (John 20:1)

    Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. (John 11:38)

    If Catholics honor the dead–or as you put it, practice “necro-mania” perhaps it’s because Christ did. Perhaps it’s because Catholics have been doing it since the early days.

    Perhaps it’s because Scripture tells us to.

  97. Robert said,

    March 13, 2013 at 6:13 am

    Dennis,

    There is a difference between honoring the dead in the sense that we make sure they get a proper burial and express legitimate sorrow, and trying to get them to pray for you. Scripture commends the former and forbids the latter.

  98. TurretinFan said,

    March 13, 2013 at 8:45 am

    Dennis,

    I think you’re seeing the forest, but missing the trees.

    Recall that Jesus states:

    Luke 11:47-48
    Woe unto you! for ye build the sepulchres of the prophets, and your fathers killed them. Truly ye bear witness that ye allow the deeds of your fathers: for they indeed killed them, and ye build their sepulchres.

    Your explanation only accounts for Jesus’ criticism in general – not his particular accusation that their building of the supulchres amounts to endorsement of the killing.

    Jesus coming to Lazarus’ tomb to raise Lazarus is hardly a valid counter-example. Your co-religionists aren’t at the graves of the martyrs in order to raise them. They are not calling to them to raise them to life.

    Likewise, the women coming to Jesus’ tomb to complete his burial is not a valid counter-example either. Your co-religionists aren’t completing the burial of the martyrs.

    Don’t deceive yourself, Dennis. The reason for the practices of your co-religionists is not because the Scriptures command such practices – but because of human tradition.

    Christ never asked the dead to pray for him. Christ never asked God to hear his request based on the merits of the dead. Christ did not teach his disciples to do these things, and the apostles did not do them. It is a later tradition – one that did not come from the apostles – a “development” not the once-delivered tradition.

    -TurretinFan

  99. CD-Host said,

    March 13, 2013 at 9:42 am

    http://www.ts.mu.edu/readers/content/pdf/27/27.1/27.1.4.pdf

    Dennis I think you should reread that article. The author is not saying the necropolis is 1st century. Rather what they are doing is arguing that even though we know the structures are from 160 it could have been in use as a graveyard as early as 41 and thus could contain Peter’s body. In other words this is an apology for the Catholic claim not being entirely impossible, it is far from a defense of it being a reasonable possibility, much less likely must less almost certain.

    I feel perfectly comfortable with the views in that source as reflective of what else I’ve seen, that the necropolis is mid 2nd century.

    I have no idea why Constantine put it there. My guess is the site was chosen because under Nero this was a place where Christians had been crucified. Since Peter supposedly died around that time in Rome, the legends got connected.

    In terms of the amount of work starting in the 310s and continuing for several more centuries there was a concerted effort to replace pagan shrines with Churches, to repurpose them as a way of suppressing paganism. You mentioned the pagan graves. Vaticanum (Vatican Hill) goes back 700 BCE pre-Roman Etruscan in being associated with prophecy. Vagitanus is the God of prophecy, from which we get the Latin word vates for a prophet from which we get vatican the name of the hill. Given the naming I suspect there was a long standing tradition of prophetic activity there. Given the fact it was a cemetery and thus a place for communing with dead spirits I can imagine that putting a church there was precisely to stop the activity Vatican Hill is named for.

    But regardless it clearly was a place of some sort of pagan activity. There is a reason the obelisk in St. Peter’s Square was put there by Caligula.

    The thing is though is that the tombs of the other Popes were supposedly found and none of them were marked. The only one with a marking was Linus’. If this would have been a Catholic conspiracy, we would have likely manufactured markings of the other Popes surrounding the area.

    Linus’ marking is a fragment. We aren’t even sure Linus is the name and not Aquilinius, Anullinus…. I think it is very much like when they found those bones in the walls during the 1940s. They found some bones of some guy who died around the time of Nero in an unusual position and suddenly that’s Saint Peter. They find a rock that has a name that might be Linus and suddenly this is the Pope Linus from 2 Timothy 4:21.

    There is a combination of:

    a) An honest tendency towards belief. Where the evidence is iffy assume the best case for the church.
    b) Exaggeration and suppression of opposing evidence.
    c) Really impressive showmanship as an appeal to emotion.

    being combined and feeding into one another. It is not all one or the other. This is typical of the discussion above.

    If I had to guess, there were some legends about this being where Peter died or was buried. There was a graveyard. Later popes then really were buried there. So if you went in the mid 19th century, there was no doubt this was the resting place of Peter. But… as people have looked more carefully and seen that the graveyard is about 100 years too late the tours have shifted to being a bit more circumspect.

    The reality is though if you strip away the tendency towards belief, and weight all the evidence. It really is just showmanship. There is 0 evidence for Peter or Linus being buried there. Most of the evidence we have is evidence against their being buried there because the graveyard is too late and the contrasting claims as late as the 3rd century.

  100. Dennis said,

    March 13, 2013 at 9:46 am

    Robert and TF,

    Are they dead?

    As Catholics, we are taught that they are still members of the Church. They have been more united to Christ.

    Christ explains that those who believe in Him and eat His flesh and drink His blood will live forever

    They are members of the Church Triumphant.

    As such, we can appeal to them. They are not dead. We can ask for their intercession to Christ.

    Christ never asked the dead to pray for him.

    Well, we know that Christ talked to the dead. He spoke directly to Moses and Elijah–two dead people. We don’t know what He said to them. I can imagine it was likely something to do with His upcoming passion.

    It’s reasonable to believe that He may have asked them to pray for Him during His upcoming ordeal…as it was kinda a major event that Jesus did have difficulty with.

    Your explanation only accounts for Jesus’ criticism in general – not his particular accusation that their building of the supulchres amounts to endorsement of the killing.

    What Jesus is pointing out is the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. The ancestors of the Pharisees killed the prophets and these Pharisees are building monuments and sepulchres to the prophets that they killed. There is an evil in their heart that wants to murder men and then pay them homage because they are dead.

    That’s hypocrisy and Jesus is pointing it out to them. This is not a criticism of Catholic veneration.

  101. Sean Patrick said,

    March 13, 2013 at 9:47 am

    TF.

    Maybe you and your ‘co-religionists’ could learn from St Augustine about holy relics.

    Chapter 7

    Also, I might ask what you think of CD Host’s theories in this thread about how the ‘original’ church was really Gnostic.

  102. Dennis said,

    March 13, 2013 at 9:59 am

    CD-Host,

    Yes, I’ve heard your arguments before and they are reasonable to believe as well. I obviously fall on the other side of the belief. I have seen these things and I choose to believe. You don’t. No problem with me.

    There is a reason the obelisk in St. Peter’s Square was put there by Caligula.

    The Church actually moved the obelisk by about a few hundred feet. The original location is marked with an “X” or something and it was the center of the turn of the chariot races in the Circus (like the radius of the oval).

    We believe it’s the last thing Peter would have seen before he died which is why it’s in the center of St. Peter’s Square.

    Peace!

  103. Robert said,

    March 13, 2013 at 11:51 am

    Dennis,

    Thanks for taking the Transfiguration and applying it out of context as if

    1. Jesus was actually asking them to pray for Him
    2. That event was normative for new covenant believers.

    The saints of God who have gone on to glory are still alive, but Scripture nowhere endorses us to have any contact with them. In fact, communicating with the dead is routinely forbidden.

    Once again we have Romanism trying to justify a later belief that arose in their nebulous concept of tradition. As is customary, Scripture has to be twisted so far out of its context as to be unrecognizable in order to do so.

    I just hope God is keeping Mary, Peter, Paul, James, et al from seeing the blasphemy committed in their name.

  104. Sean Patrick said,

    March 13, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    The saints of God who have gone on to glory are still alive, but Scripture nowhere endorses us to have any contact with them. In fact, communicating with the dead is routinely forbidden.

    I believe in the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins….

    Scripture never forbids the communion of saints. Scripture does prohibit divination or fortune telling but that is not what the communion of saints is about.

  105. TurretinFan said,

    March 13, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    Sean Patrick:

    a) Augustine isn’t Scripture.
    b) Augustine doesn’t make a Scriptural argument for his expressed views in Confessions, Book 9, Chapter 7.
    c) Considering (a) and (b), you’re just reinforcing my point that you are following human traditions – since you appeal to bare human tradition to support your practice.
    d) And, of course, even with all his faults and human traditions, Augustine did not go so far as to engage in the abominations of trying to communicate with the dead in prayer or to plead the merits of the saints as his basis of acceptance before God. Those are later and worse developments.

    “Also, I might ask what you think of CD Host’s theories in this thread about how the ‘original’ church was really Gnostic.”

    I don’t think you have a clue what he is saying. Read #68 and #72.

    -TurretinFan

  106. TurretinFan said,

    March 13, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    Dennis:

    a) Yes, they are dead. Haven’t heard that creed you say in church about waiting for the – you know – resurrection of the dead?

    b) Your appeal to the transfiguration would be relevant if you had that kind of relationship with the dead. You don’t. You can’t see them, you can’t hear them, and they can’t see or hear you. They are dead.

    c) Jesus refers to the Pharisees as hypocrites, no doubt. But in the particular verses I quoted he claims “Truly ye bear witness.” That’s not an accusation of hypocrisy. Read what it actually says. And no – it’s not referring to the unsettling fascination with death in medieval and (to a lesser degree) contemporary Roman religion, but rather to a practice of 1st century Palestine.
    The problem is analogous, however. Indeed, when Rome had temporal power beyond Vatican City and Gandolf Castle, we all know how she exercised it.

    -TurretinFan

  107. Sean Patrick said,

    March 13, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    We follow Apostolic tradition as did St Augustine:

    “A Christian people celebrates together in religious solemnity the memorials of the martyrs, both to encourage their being imitated and so that it can share in their merits and be aided by their prayers”

    Against Faustus the Manichean A.D. 400

    “At the Lord’s table we do not commemorate martyrs in the same way that we do others who rest in peace so as to pray for them, but rather that they may pray for us that we may follow in their footsteps”

    Homilies on John 84 A.D. 416

    “Neither are the souls of the pious dead separated from the Church which even now is the kingdom of Christ. Otherwise there would be no remembrance of them at the altar of God in the communication of the Body of Christ”

    The City of God 20:9:2 A.D. 419

    Now we do reject non apostolic man made tradtions such as sola scriptura. But you already know that.

  108. Rooney said,

    March 13, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    Is it an infallible apostolic tradition to follow EVERY SINGLE infallible tradition?

  109. CD-Host said,

    March 13, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    OK this thread is about to move to a very good debate about veneration from the dead. I just want to close before it does with a key summary point.

    The argument for apostolic succession is:

    1) There is good evidence for it: scriptural, ECF…
    2) That there couldn’t have been a period without it and then a period with it, because a sudden introduction would have left a paper trail. And you don’t see evidence of the transition
    3) Theological, without it everyone would be on an equal playing field. Heresy just becomes relative: heresy relative to me; major schisms become coequal forks.

    What we see is:

    1′) There is no good evidence for it. The very next supposed Pope after Peter has 0 evidence for him ever having been Pope. The ECF before the 2nd century from testifying to the existence of a hierarchy write as if they have never heard of such a thing.

    2′) The documentary record we have is fully consistent with a sudden introduction of the doctrine around 160-250. We have Christian groups with a clear record of never having heard of the doctrine existing for several centuries prior to being exposed to these claims by Catholics and when exposed considering it a novel innovation and rejecting it. We have a documentary record inside the church that the doctrine is not fully formed until much later, if it is even fully formed today.

    This started with a discussion of John Bugay’s quotes of material from Lampe who presents a pretty good case for how the record we have is not consistent with a episcopal church dating back to the apostles.

    3′) The bible, and other pre late 2nd century church fathers do consider themselves to be on a level playing field. They make appeals to scripture and reason not appeals to institution. It is only with Irenaeus that we have broad claims that issues should be settled fully on the basis of authority. Tertullian follows in this regard and both tie their arguments quite clearly to apostolic succession.

    Which is to say this doctrine appears to be a reaction to Christian diversity, the diversity came first. In particular I think any fair reading of the history would show that the groups that became the Catholic church were inspired by Peter’s church in the same way the Anabaptists were inspired but not fully descended from Waldensians.

    I can understand why being on an equal playing fields if frustrating, but that doesn’t change the fact that the argument against one is spurious. Historically the Catholic Church was able to maintain a unified Christian set of doctrines through the use of state terror. That started in the 4th century, resumed in the 11th and escalated every century after that until the Reformation created a zone free of doctrinal uniformity through state terror. The situation today is exactly the one that existed prior to the access to state terror, a diversity of Christianities and semi-Christianties and semi-Christianities pulling in ideas and influences from the broader religious / philosophical ecosystem and at the core recombining them to develop religions with popular appeal and staying power.

    ____

    And with that enjoy the discussion of what’s acceptable for the dead.

  110. CD-Host said,

    March 13, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    @Dennis —

    The Church actually moved the obelisk by about a few hundred feet. The original location is marked with an “X” or something and it was the center of the turn of the chariot races in the Circus (like the radius of the oval).

    I stand corrected on that one. You’re right. It was in the square but not put where it by Caligula.

  111. TurretinFan said,

    March 13, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    Sean Patrick (#107):

    a) You assume, rather than demonstrate, that Augustine followed Apostolic tradition.

    b) In the places you quote, Augustine himself does not claim that these are apostolic traditions.

    c) And, as I noted above:

    d) And, of course, even with all his faults and human traditions, Augustine did not go so far as to engage in the abominations of trying to communicate with the dead in prayer or to plead the merits of the saints as his basis of acceptance before God. Those are later and worse developments.

    -TurretinFan

  112. Sean Patrick said,

    March 13, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    #111.

    I don’t need your approval and agreement on this. I can read what St Augustine wrote.

    # 110.

    CD Host.

    Your # 1 and # 2 amount to a complaint that there is not sufficient evidence, as far as you are concerned, from AD 33 – AD 180 or so in support of apostolic succession. So, when we get our first explicit testimonies to apostolic succession after, AD 180, you assume that it was at that point invented out of thin air.

    That is a faulty premise. For one thing, there is very scant extant historical record from the church that era (AD 33- AD 180).

    For instance, the best you could do when I pressed for evidence of your claim that Paul was ‘frequently’ idenified as a Gnostic in the 1st century was to quote 4th century anti-Christian Gnostic texts.

    Its just a fact of history that there is not much one way or another that survived history from that era.

    You fill in that ‘gap’ with 4th century Gnostic inventions. I fill in that ‘gap’ with what immeidately followed…strong affirmations of apostolic succession that went uncontested within the Church.

    By the way, Viva Pope Francis!

  113. Sean Patrick said,

    March 13, 2013 at 4:09 pm

    # 112 –

    TF – if I was unclear, my point is that apostolic tradition is what we find in the apostolic tradition.

    In other words, that St Augustine, in the 4th century, in Africa, as a Bishop was teaching that, “A Christian people celebrates together in religious solemnity the memorials of the martyrs, both to encourage their being imitated and so that it can share in their merits and be aided by their prayers”, demonstrates that the 4th century church viewed such prayers as apostolic tradition.

    Nowhere in the 4th (or 3rd or 2nd or 1st) century Church is there any sign of an apostolic tradition that did not believe in the communion of the saints. On the contrary, over and over again we see fathers of the church reveal that such prayers and petitions to the saints were part of the life of the church from the very beginning. That is apostolic succession.

    So, no amount empty challenges to the contrary will alter the fact. We know what apostolic tradition consists of because we have apostolic tradition.

  114. CD-Host said,

    March 13, 2013 at 4:30 pm

    @Sean —

    That is a faulty premise. For one thing, there is very scant extant historical record from the church that era (AD 33- AD 180).

    That has to do with your circular definition. We have a lot of datable documents from 200 BCE – 200 CE showing the evolution of Christianity. Somewhere in the neighborhood of several hundred. It is nowhere near enough, but it is not a situation where we have a void until the late 2nd century. Because of the degree to which Christianity is influential in the modern world, there has been tremendous resources spent on collecting, protecting, organizing and correlating early Christian and early quasi-Christian documents. We would certainly like to know a lot more than we do, but we are not in the dark.

    Now if you define Christianity so narrowly as to exclude all the other groups of Christians that weren’t Catholics, you are absolutely correct we have scant evidence of Christianity even existing prior to the mid 2nd century. Which pretty much indicates that Catholicism didn’t exist until the early-mid 2nd century.

    So, when we get our first explicit testimonies to apostolic succession after, AD 180, you assume that it was at that point invented out of thin air.

    I don’t have to assume it. I have a historical track record from other Christian groups asserting it. The evidence we do have from the 2nd century church is wholly inconsistent with apostolic succession having existed during most of that period.

    For instance, the best you could do when I pressed for evidence of your claim that Paul was ‘frequently’ idenified as a Gnostic in the 1st century was to quote 4th century anti-Christian Gnostic texts.

    First off you asked for one simple example. That was not the best I could do. The original challenge was one simple example and I provided 4 easily.

    The best I could do Acts, but that’s a much more complex case. I linked off the Baur material. The entire Catholic apologetic of Luke/ Acts and the Pastorals scream of the problem the church is having in trying to tie itself to Paul and thus argue apostolic succession against Marcion’s far better claim to Paul.

    Homilies is not 4th century. That’s just a silly case of special pleasing. Homilies is quoted and referred by early 2nd century Catholic writers. Our surviving set is from the 4th century.

    This is tremendous special pleading to argue that works should be dated regardless of when they are quoted based on only latest surviving manuscripts. Under that a dating theory that hostile whole sections of the old testament might be as late at 10th century CE.

    I fill in that ‘gap’ with what immeidately followed…strong affirmations of apostolic succession that went uncontested within the Church.

    And lets just be clear “uncontested” means not contested by the people who agreed with them. The same way that the Paul Ryan Budget is uncontested in the House by everyone who is going to vote for it.

    If we define Christians in the normal way, or the church as people who are worshipping in the same buildings as Catholics it was heavily contested and more often than not rejected.

  115. Sean Patrick said,

    March 13, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    Now if you define Christianity so narrowly as to exclude all the other groups of Christians that weren’t Catholics, you are absolutely correct we have scant evidence of Christianity even existing prior to the mid 2nd century. Which pretty much indicates that Catholicism didn’t exist until the early-mid 2nd century.

    I do not consider a group that believed Jesus was Seth reincarnated to be Christian, no. Does anybody here accept that??? Turretin Fan? Want to comment? Were the “Sethians” Christian?

    The evidence we do have from the 2nd century church is wholly inconsistent with apostolic succession having existed during most of that period.

    If that is the case, I wonder why you have not offered any evidence. The Gnostics existing does not mean that apostolic succession did not exist.

    First off you asked for one simple example. That was not the best I could do. The original challenge was one simple example and I provided 4 easily.

    I don’t agree that anything you presented is convincing. You made an argument from silence with Justin Martyr and you cited various Gnostic texts (regarldess of dating). If it sounds like I completely dismiss Gnostic texts as being legitimate sources its because I completely dismiss them.

    So, Turretin Fan, you agree with CD Host that Maricon has a better claim to St Paul than St Augustine?

  116. michael said,

    March 13, 2013 at 5:55 pm

    Sean Patrick,

    First, I congratulate your church on their selecting a successor so swiftly. The urgency of the internal strife and external grave nature of your church’s troubles of late warrants a speedy selection. That must have weighed heavily on the minds of the cardinals that voted in pope Francis I?

    I did wonder something I notice in your comments above that comes across to me, a former Roman Catholic, now reformed Protestant, as peculiar.

    Would you take a moment and put into perspective the RCC’s process for sainthood? The way you use that phrase “communion of the saints” in your comments above this comment of mine gives me pause wondering why you do that?

    In our communion, the Protestants and Baptists and all like minded but varying to some degree denominations acknowledge everyone who has been forgive in Christ being washed in the Blood of the Lamb and baptized and partakers of the sacraments are the collective body of the Saints on earth also acknowledging they are just as much and more so Saints in heaven at the moment they pass, the dying thief next to Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, most likely is the first of the apostolic order of the priesthood of Saints that Jesus is the High Priest of of this Faith once delivered to the Saints.

    Has something changed recently within the Roman Catholic Church about sainthood and who you deem is a saint within your Church?

  117. Dennis said,

    March 13, 2013 at 6:11 pm

    michael,

    The Church teaches that the entire church is comprised of the “communion of saints.” (CCC 946, 960) If one is in good standing with the Church (i.e. free of sin) then they are within the communion of saints. The communion of saints includes “those who are pilgrims on earth, the dead who are being purified and the blessed in heaven.” (CCC 962)

    Sean Patrick is referring to the saints in heaven. Anyone who is in heaven is a saint (small ‘s’) as they are united to Christ and thus one with God perfectly. We who are still living are struggling to “be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect” and while we may technically be saints–depending on the state of our souls as determined by God, we were not the target of Sean Patrick’s discussion.

    The Catholic Church has deemed some Saints (with a capital ‘S’) as they have examined their lives and determined that these men and women who lived a certain holiness are most certainly in heaven.

  118. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 13, 2013 at 6:13 pm

    CD, I’m not an early text expert, so let me just ask a few questions.

    (1) Is it not the case that most of our manuscript evidence comes from Egypt?

    Just browsing through Comfort, Early Manuscripts, I see “location of discovery” as Egypt, Egypt, Egypt, Egypt, Switzerland, Egypt, Egypt…

    (2) If so, then what is the basis for your claim that Luke is 2nd century?

    (3) And why do Sethians and/or Gnostics receive equal priority in your eyes?

    I’m trying to sort out two issues: orthodoxy, and hierarchy. It seems to this non-expert that the evidence is better for the former than the latter.

  119. TurretinFan said,

    March 13, 2013 at 6:56 pm

    Sean Patrick (#113):

    “TF – if I was unclear, my point is that apostolic tradition is what we find in the apostolic tradition.”

    And in case the rebuttal was unclear, let me expound three primary branches of it:

    1) Just calling something “apostolic tradition” doesn’t make it apostolic.
    2) Something that is “apostolic tradition” in the sense of being a human tradition that sprang up after the apostles among the community of people who followed the apostles’ teachings, is different from “apostolic tradition” in the sense of something actually handed down by the apostles. Your examples are the former kind, not the later kind.
    3) Such a broad concept of “apostolic tradition” inherently includes all kinds of contradictory doctrines, as Abélard’s “Sic et Non” aptly demonstrates.

    In other words, that St Augustine, in the 4th century, in Africa, as a Bishop was teaching that, “A Christian people celebrates together in religious solemnity the memorials of the martyrs, both to encourage their being imitated and so that it can share in their merits and be aided by their prayers”, demonstrates that the 4th century church viewed such prayers as apostolic tradition.

    a) “Such prayers”? Yes, the fact that the martyrs in heaven pray to God is apostolic tradition. But did Augustine pray to the martyrs?

    Faustus accused him of that. He wrote: “The sacrifices you change into love-feasts, the idols into martyrs, to whom you pray as they do to their idols.” But Augustine denied the charge. It’s in that very 20th book against Faustus that you quoted.

    Augustine states: “No one officiating at the altar in the saints’ burying-place ever says, We bring an offering to you, O Peter! Or O Paul! Or O Cyprian! The offering is made to God, who gave the crown of martyrdom, while it is in memory of those thus crowned.”

    Indeed he goes on to state: “Accordingly we never offer, or require any one to offer, sacrifice to a martyr, or to a holy soul, or to any angel. Any one falling into this error is instructed by doctrine, either in the way of correction or of caution. For holy beings themselves, whether saints or angels, refuse to accept what they know to be due to God alone. ”

    And he even gives the counter-example of Daniel, who refused to pray to anyone but God: “Thus the holy Daniel was accused and persecuted, because when the king made a decree that no petition should be made to any god, but only to the king, he was found worshipping and praying to his own God, that is, the one true God.”

    Nowhere in the 4th (or 3rd or 2nd or 1st) century Church is there any sign of an apostolic tradition that did not believe in the communion of the saints. On the contrary, over and over again we see fathers of the church reveal that such prayers and petitions to the saints were part of the life of the church from the very beginning. That is apostolic succession.

    Your anachronism is showing. What signs of non-belief in later-developed human traditions should one hope to find?

    Do you mean something like Origen, On Prayer, Chapter X: “It remains, accordingly, to pray to God alone, the Father of All, not however apart from the High Priest who has been appointed by the Father with swearing of an oath, according to the words He hath sworn and shall not repent, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” In thanksgiving to God, therefore, during their prayers, saints acknowledge His favors through Christ Jesus”

    Or Origen, Against Celsus, Book 8, Chapter 37: “In the next place, Celsus forgets that he is addressing Christians, who pray to God alone through Jesus; and mixing up other notions with theirs, he absurdly attributes them all to Christians.”

    That doesn’t mean Origen rejected “the communion of saints,” just that he rejected the concept of praying to anyone but God.

    And no – the “fathers of the church” do not provide numerous examples of “prayers and petitions to the saints.” You tried to find support in Augustine, but Augustine rebuffs Faustus’ accusation – he doesn’t endorse it. St. Thomas may think it is ok to pray to the saints, but where before him do you see “fathers” endorsing such an idea?

    You don’t find contemporaries of Origen disputing his position that we pray only to God, do you?

    And your claim that these practices go back to the very beginning and constitute some kind of apostolic succession (of practice?) doesn’t have historical support. By the time of Augustine, an obsession with the martyrs had begun to flourish, but historians who study this topic will confirm that this was itself a development – one that particularly blossomed during the 4th century.

    “So, no amount empty challenges to the contrary will alter the fact. We know what apostolic tradition consists of because we have apostolic tradition.”

    a) I suppose you mean that you think you know what the apostolic tradition was, because your church today tells you. But your church isn’t historically reliable.

    b) And the historical record doesn’t support your or your church’s claims.

    -TurretinFan

  120. TurretinFan said,

    March 13, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    “So, Turretin Fan, you agree with CD Host that Maricon has a better claim to St Paul than St Augustine?”

    They did not have a better claim to the gospel Paul preached, but that’s not what CD Host is saying (as far as I know). See the discussion here:

    http://turretinfan.blogspot.com/2011/07/gnosticism-hermeneutics-and-rome.html

    I assume CD Host is talking about a claim of “succession.” That question is moot to me, of course. Simon Magus was instructed by Peter himself, but he was the first heretic. Even if your church’s false claims of succession were true, I wouldn’t follow your false gospel, because it is not the gospel that the apostles preached.

    Obviously, CD Host and I have very different starting points in our analysis (I think he described himself as an atheist, whereas I trust God’s Word). So, we are going to look at the historical evidence rather differently.

    -TurretinFan

  121. Sean Patrick said,

    March 13, 2013 at 7:42 pm

    TurretinFan.

    You are conflating the offering of sacrifices and prayers to saints with Augustine. The sacrifice is offered to God alone but prayers are offered to saints, as Augustine articulated quite simply.

    Notice that Augustine’s response is about the offering and to whom the offering is made. The offering is made to God. Go to mass Sunday. Note that there is intercessory prayer to the saints. Then the sacrifice of the Eucharist is offered to God. Augustine’s position was not unique. It was apostolic tradition:

    “Then we commemorate also those who have fallen asleep before us, first Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Martyrs, that at their prayers and intercessions God would receive our petition. Then on behalf also of the Holy Fathers and Bishops who have fallen asleep before us, and in a word of all who in past years have fallen asleep among us, believing that it will be a very great benefit to the souls, for whom the supplication is put up, while that holy and most awful sacrifice is set forth.”

    Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, 23:9 (A.D. 350).

    On Origen, you are conflating the issue between what kinds of prayers we offer to God and what kind of prayers are offered to saints. For instance, we don’t ask saints to forgive our sins. We ask God to forgive our sins.

    Note how Origen distinguished between prayers that are offered to God alone and prayers offered to saints. See here for a further explanation.

  122. Sean Patrick said,

    March 13, 2013 at 8:28 pm

    All.

    Regarding St Augustine and praying to saints. Read TF’s # 120 and then my response in # 121.

    Then read the actual chapter from “Against Faustus” here. It is Chapter 21.

    Augustine is telling Faustus that ‘latria’, which is worship, is given to God alone. Hence, he frames it by saying that sacrifices are made to God alone. The Catholic Church continues to make that distinction. The whole issues is that Faustus saw the Church’s practice of praying to saints and accused Augustine of worshiping the saints. Sound familiar? Augustine responded by saying that it is true that we honor and pray to saints but ‘latria’ is due to God alone.

    Here is what Augustine says about praying to saints:

    It is true that Christians pay religious honor to the memory of the martyrs, both to excite us to imitate them and to obtain a share in their merits, and the assistance of their prayers.

    It is TRUE that Christians pay honor to martyrs…to ‘obtain a share of their merits and the assistance of their prayers.’

    And then he goes not to say that to God alone is due latria.

    Now, TFan accused me of looking at this anachronistically. After reading the actual evidence, I can safely answer that it is not me who is looking at the data anachronistically.

  123. TurretinFan said,

    March 13, 2013 at 8:30 pm

    “Augustine responded by saying that it is true that we honor and pray to saints”

    That’s not true, Sean. Honor yes, pray to, no.

    I’m not sure what anachronism you think I’m engaging in. Which age’s beliefs am I trying to impose on Augustine? It’s easy to identify your anachronism – you even say “sound familiar” to encourage people to read modern Roman attitudes into Augustine’s words.

    -TurretinFan

  124. TurretinFan said,

    March 13, 2013 at 8:59 pm

    And again with Cyril’s lectures, what is missing is not the general idea the commemorated dead pray for us, but any statement by Cyril that he tries to communicate with the dead.

    What’s amusing about these attempts is that, of course, when you get as late as Thomas Aquinas, who actually argues for praying to saints, we’re cheerful to admit that he did make that mistake. We’d cheerfully admit that Cyril and Augustine made the same mistake, if they did. But they didn’t.

    Your supposed distinction regarding Origen is mistaken. You assert “Note how Origen distinguished between prayers that are offered to God alone and prayers offered to saints.” But that’s not true – that’s Perry Robinson’s fiction, not what Origen actually said. Read what Origen wrote – the part Perry quotes is about our dealings with people we see in front of us – it’s not talking about prayer in the sense we use the term. See, it says:

    Now request and intercession and thanksgiving, it is not out of place to offer even to men—the two latter, intercession and thanksgiving, not only to saintly men but also to others. But request to saints alone, should some Paul or Peter appear, to benefit us by making us worthy to obtain the authority which has been given to them to forgive sins—with this addition indeed that, even should a man not be a saint and we have wronged him, we are permitted our becoming conscious of our sin against him to make request even of such, that he extend pardon to us who have wronged him.

    Why would he say “should some Paul or Peter appear” (or as Perry’s translation has it “should there be found a Paul or a Peter”) if he is referring to prayers to the departed? No, he’s talking about the fact that we make requests for forgiveness from our fellow humans sometimes, and that we ask for intercession and thank them as well.

    And I should have included in my previous comment that “The sacrifice is offered to God alone but prayers are offered to saints, as Augustine articulated quite simply,” is not true (Augustine does not admit that prayers are offered to saints) and falsely distinguishes between prayers and sacrifices. Recall that in the theological discussion Augustine is having with Faustus, prayers are one kind of sacrifice.

    Remember how, for example, in Confessions 5:7, Augustine states “For Thy hands, O my God, in the secret purpose of Thy providence, did not forsake my soul; and out of my mother’s heart’s blood, through her tears night and day poured out, was a sacrifice offered for me unto Thee; and Thou didst deal with me by wondrous ways.” Likewise in Confessions 11:2, Augustine states: “I would sacrifice to Thee the service of my thought and tongue; do Thou give me, what I may offer Thee.”

    -TurretinFan

  125. CD-Host said,

    March 13, 2013 at 9:24 pm

    @Brandon —

    Thanks for all the information. I just have a simple question about your views of the structure of the church.

    Let me just comment that several of the Reformed people here are a lot better than me on structure of the “orthodox” church in the first few centuries. I could nitpick but I don’t have much interesting to say beyond what your typical conservative Presbyterian would say. I could be a bit more interesting about the “heretical churches” and how they fit in.

    To start with orthodox church. I’d be willing to do is to say at this general level, there wasn’t much of a pattern. There was some congregationalists churches. There were groups of churches which had a single bishop. There were some episcopal structures with pastors answering to bishops or bishops answering to each other, but these were fragile. There were tons of rogue players. There were competing bishops representing different factions. The reason the bible and the later record is such a confusing mess, is because the church of early Christianity was a confusing mess.

    Catholicism gets more authoritarian starting from the late 2nd century. As Catholicism becomes more authoritarian and gets state sponsorship the groups that had identified as non-Catholic but Christian stop identifying with Christianity. Since we’ve talking about Sethians, after they become the Gnostic Christians Sethians that are famous from the heresies they start distancing themselves from Christianity all together and attach themselves to the Neo-Platonistist movement. You can see in the late 3rd century, late 4th century they are losing a connection with Jesus as playing more than a side role in their theology. It is a bit more complex than this but basically Jesus is just one of their gods.

    Similarly the Collyridians (primarily female priesthood Christianity which identifies Mary with the Holy Spirit, strong on Eucharist and Baptism…). They break off further and further from Catholicism start evolving in ways separate and hostile to Catholic Christianity becoming Islam.

    When we read NT documents, almost all of them seem to imply some form of government or constitution for the Church (i.e. Apostolic connection).

    I’d such much the opposite. Look at the problems Paul has for example in Corinth or Galatia. Look at 1John. Look at Hebrews, there is no apostolic. Where are you seeing an appeal to apostolic authority rather than scripture or reason?

    This seems to be the appeal of the Gnostics themselves; though they appealed to information that was passed along through different mediums than in the “Catholic” church.

    Gnostic the way we’ve been using it is a catch-all for people who rejected catholic authority. Certainly there were Gnostics who claimed special knowledge. But most Gnostics believed Gnosis was something you had to learn at a deeper level than just “knowing”. Gnosticism is like math, or literary analysis or a sport; it is not like memorizing a poem. Think about “knowing how to play tennis well” a coach can help you learn the game but ultimately you have to be actively not passively know the teachings. And you can learn and improve on your own.

    Knowing how to multiply is not knowing the answer to a long specific questions, but having the true deep knowledge of how to answer all questions.

    In your reconstruction of the first century church, do you recognize “offices” in the church?

    I’m not sure what you mean by “recognize”. My point was that there wasn’t one first century church. There were varieties of teachers. There were ties to synagogues with those structures. God fearers often had ties to pagan temples and Christianity among God fearers often associated with other groups like Stoics.

    Could you perhaps elaborate on any continuity/discontinuity that you see between modern notions (particularly Presbyterian, but you can expand) of church office?

    Again I have nothing terrible insightful to say. I think Martin Bucer made it up. It really is a good structure for trying to capture the advantages of an Episcopal structure while checking some of the disadvantages. But even think it is a good compromise, I don’t think there is any evidence of Presbyterianism proper existing in the ancient church. By the time Christianity was powerful enough to have hierarchies over hierarchical groups of churches there were Bishops with ties to state institutions. Even late in the 4th century it wasn’t clear if a bishop could fire a priest under his control.

    Now on the other hand if you mean a passion for conciliarity government over monarchical. I think there are centuries of that. The monarchy prior to the dark ages is the emperor, often with the church leadership as his puppet. After the dark ages there just isn’t much power to go around. It really isn’t until the High Middle Ages that the Popes aggressively assert their authority.

  126. Sean Patrick said,

    March 13, 2013 at 9:39 pm

    TFan.

    And I should have included in my previous comment that “The sacrifice is offered to God alone but prayers are offered to saints, as Augustine articulated quite simply,” is not true (Augustine does not admit that prayers are offered to saints) and falsely distinguishes between prayers and sacrifices. Recall that in the theological discussion Augustine is having with Faustus, prayers are one kind of sacrifice.

    He is talking about ‘the sacrifice at the altar’ TurretinFan. He then distinguishes latria from the dulia (honor) paid to saints. He then explains how saints are invoked ‘at the altar.’

    So, contrary to your confident response, Augustine is talking about prayers to saints during the Eucharistic prayer that is held ‘at the altar’ and that doing so gains the assistance of their prayers and allows the faithful to share in their merits.

    This all started when you accused Catholics of ‘necro-mania’ because the burial place of St Peter in Rome. I chose to demonstrate that Augustine also, according to your anachronistic understand, practiced ‘necro-mania’ and even wrote how he saw people healed by the bones of martyrs. And then I showed that Augustine wrote about the Catholic practice of praying to saints at the altar during the Eucharistic prayer.

    I encourage anybody who is watching to read the primary sources themselves and see for themselves.

  127. Dennis said,

    March 13, 2013 at 9:43 pm

    TF (107),

    a) Yes, they are dead. Haven’t heard that creed you say in church about waiting for the – you know – resurrection of the dead?

    The Catholic understanding of the term “resurrection of the dead” from the creed actually refers to the “flesh” and is that we believe that our physical bodies will be resurrected at the end of time. Our souls live forever. (CCC 990) So, yes, their bodies are dead but their souls are still alive and we can ask them for their intercession.

    they can’t see or hear you. They are dead.

    Catholic teaching explains that these saints in heaven are more closely united to Christ than we are. (CCC 1025, Phillippians 1: 21-23, 1 Thessalonians 4:17) We are all united to Christ and we are all one Church. They can and do hear us and intercede for us as we are all one Body of Christ. (CCC 956)

  128. CD-Host said,

    March 13, 2013 at 10:21 pm

    @Jeff #119

    (1) Is it not the case that most of our manuscript evidence comes from Egypt?

    I’m not sure where you are going but I’d say no. The vast majority of our textual evidence comes from the Eastern Rite Churches: Greece, Russia… What Egypt is giving us is interesting stuff that is older. A lopt of the work of the last 2 centuries has come out of Egypt because in the 15th, 16th, 17th centuries we dealt with the more mainstream European text sources. The Egyptian Greek stuff is newer and dominated a lot of the 19th century collection work. The 20th has been translations: Syriac, Old Latin… 21st is some new Coptic sources.

    Egypt has a lot of the better manuscripts. I’m not sure I’d say “most evidence” though. Again I’m not sure where you are going with this so I’m unsure how to answer.

    (2) If so, then what is the basis for your claim that Luke is 2nd century?

    1) First references to Luke are late and all are after the Apostolicon. There is just no reason to give it an early date.

    2) I date all the gospels with the exception of Mark as after most epistles. The theology in the epistles is most like what we see in pre-first century sects. Luke is clearly Christian. Revelations is very Jewish. So it is fair to date Luke as likely after Revelations.

    Taking this a step deeper: Luke/Acts + Pastorals have a focus on the church as an institution. They are books struggling to defend institutional Christianity, how the church should be run. Which means they likely came after the early theological problems in books like Hebrews or Galatians…

    3) Documentary hypothesis. Gospel of the Lord seems to meet the description of Ur-Lucas. If Luke is based on GoL and Marcion is 2nd century then Luke is 2nd century. Either one of those 2 hypothesis could be false. I think it is possible that GoL could just be a truncation of Luke but there are a lot of places where Luke has material Marcion would have liked. Marcion and the New Testament (1942) is the classic making the case for GoL being Ur-Lucas.

    As far as the early date for Marcion I can’t see him before the fall of Jerusalem. I think he could be 80-90 and then Luke might be just barely make it. But that isn’t much of a window.

    4) I think canonical Luke and Acts have the same author. Many of the specific issues in Acts seem like a response to Marcion and Marcion’s Christianity. If that’s the case we are in the 2nd century, same as (3). Note that Acts and the Pastorals are not part of the Apostolicon.

    5) The concerns of Luke/Acts and the Pastorals are similar. The Pastorals have clear 2nd century references. Also the references to Paul probably make them after the Apostolicon.

    (3) And why do Sethians and/or Gnostics receive equal priority in your eyes?

    Assuming you mean equal priority for history, well simple you want multiple independent views on any question about any historical topic. If I have 8 Gnostic sects saying X and the Catholics saying Y, then X is very likely true. If I have 4 Gnostic sects on one side and 4 Sects on the other than who knows. If I have 7 Gnostics sects and the Catholics in agreement and only one opposed then I’m comfortable believing the Catholics.

    I’m not really sure about “equal”. Generally I want clear cut when I can get it. I’m looking for supermajorities so that equal doesn’t matter.

    I’m trying to sort out two issues: orthodoxy, and hierarchy. It seems to this non-expert that the evidence is better for the former than the latter.

    I think heresy and orthodoxy are really Catholic terms, when you think in those kinds of terms you are reading the 2nd and 3rd century battles back into the 200 BCE – 100 CE time frame.

    Once you escape the fiction of the formation of the early church it becomes hard to apply those ideas. The first question is what do you mean by the early church?

    Like me work a simplified hypothetical. Take the Hebrews for example. This talks about Jesus as a priest of the order of Melchizedek in a heavenly temple performing rites. What that very easily could have originated from (and there is some strong evidence did originate from: http://www.gnosis.org/library/commelc.htm ) is a doctrine of Melchizedek in a heavenly temple performing rites.

    So assume you had a Jewish group which is rejecting the temple system because of a theology something like Hebrews but rougher and more primitive. But instead of it being about Jesus as a the heavenly priest of the order of Melchizedek it is about Melchizedek? But the theology is close to that of Hebrews?

    1) Is that even Christian in your book?
    2) Does that count as the early church?
    3) Is that theology close enough to orthodoxy?

    etc… That’s what Christianity is going to look like 100 BCE. Hebrews is say 30-130 years after 11Q13. Say they have Hebrews but no Gospels and no Paul (I don’t know where Hebrews came from just want to work a simple example). So they have Jesus as a heavenly priest but no notion of crucifixion, incarnation any of the teachings…

    1b) Is that Christian?
    2b) Does that count as the early church?
    3b) Is that theology close enough to orthodoxy?

    OK lets assume they make contact with the Pauline church and now believe that the method by which Jesus is our priest is a heavenly crucifixion. They still don’t believe in the incarnation, but they believe we are saved by faith in the blood Christ shed for us:

    1c) Is that Christian?
    2c) Does that count as the early church?
    3c) Is that theology close enough to orthodoxy?

    I could keep going but you get the point. Define Christianity strictly enough and it doesn’t exist. If you use the definitions of most Conservative Reformed Christians mean by “orthodoxy” in terms of their creeds and sharing their understanding of the creeds, I’m not sure there were any Christians at all prior to the 19th century. As you get broader Christianity gets earlier. My proposal was any group:

    a) the incorporation of Jewish myth as the central mythic structure with a rejection of the mainstream Jewish rites / law..
    b) belief in Jesus as central part of their mythic structure as some form of intermediary between God and man who play a reconciling role
    c) the use of baptism and the eucharist as key rites

    And that’s very broad. Islam wouldn’t qualify (Sufi possibly exempted) but almost the “heretical forms” of Christianity existing today would.

    So I think we need to settle that question first.

  129. michael said,

    March 14, 2013 at 2:05 am

    Dennis, thanks for answering the question for Sean P.

    It would be better if Sean would also give his, though?

    While you seem responsive let me ask you who wrote and when was (CCC 946, 960) written?

  130. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 14, 2013 at 8:07 am

    CD,

    Thanks. So help me understand your answer to (1). The Wiki gives a similar overview as Comfort: The early manuscripts are generally from Alexandria and the rest of Egypt, while the Byzantine uncials are later.

    Are you saying the same thing, or are you speaking of yet other manuscripts? I’m not at all disputing you, I just don’t understand the field very well.

  131. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 14, 2013 at 8:23 am

    With regard to (2), I’ll just throw out a couple of trial balloons and leave it there.

    (a) If indeed our manuscript evidence is very sketchy, it would seem unsound to reason from “few references” to a date-no-earlier-than.

    I’m thinking here in terms of rejecting the null hypothesis: Is there really enough evidence geographically and chronologically to have a meaningful date?

    (b) I’m fairly persuaded by the lack of reference to the fall of Jerusalem in either Luke or Acts.

    Luke is not reticent about pointing out the ways that Jesus fulfilled His own prophecies. We know independently that the early Jerusalem believers left Jerusalem on the strength of Jesus’ prophecy (Luke 21).

    Luke records the prophecy. He doesn’t record its fulfillment. So we must have either

    * The author recorded the prophecy and he simply left the readers to draw the obvious conclusion from the already-fallen temple.

    This is not his style.

    OR

    * The author recorded the prophecy but not the fulfillment because the fulfillment had not happened yet.

    On the one hand, it’s an argument from silence; on the other, it’s the simplest explanation.

  132. CD-Host said,

    March 14, 2013 at 9:31 am

    @Jeff #131 (some 132)

    To the best of my knowledge I’m not saying anything controversial on manuscripts. So I agree with Wikipedia and Comfort.Lets take a simple example.

    Alice and Beth in Accounting write a document on Monday they both have versions as they pass it back and forth.

    They send it to carol in Accounting who makes further changes on Tuesday
    Carol sends to to Doris who is also in accounting who makes some changes and emails it to 50 people in HR on Wednesday.

    The majority of the texts not counting duplicates come from Accounting
    The majority of the copies come from HR
    Most texts are from the Doris / HR school

    The most interesting differences are looking at Alice / Beth vs. Carol.

    etc…

    That’s more or less the situation we have with early manuscripts.

    But I have a better idea of where you are going.

    (a) If indeed our manuscript evidence is very sketchy, it would seem unsound to reason from “few references” to a date-no-earlier-than.

    I’m thinking here in terms of rejecting the null hypothesis: Is there really enough evidence geographically and chronologically to have a meaningful date?

    I would agree that are manuscript evidence from the 1st and 2nd centuries is fragmentary. In of itself it helps to create latest possible dates but is rather poor for excluding reasonable early dates. This is good for a max not a min. So for example I think P4, and P75 are pretty good in showing that Luke had stabilized into its current form (modulo the stuff in Comfort) by around 275 CE. The manuscripts don’t tell you if that happened almost exactly then or at 175 or 75 CE. The record isn’t even think enough to tell you if this was a process of stabilization or a process of destabilization.

    So no I don’t think based on manuscripts you could reject any early date. I’m not making an argument for Luke based on primary materials but dateable secondary references. That is places where we expect to have canonical Luke show up and he doesn’t. Now that doesn’t prove Luke wasn’t written, it just proves Luke was heavily circulated. But then you start combining that with 2nd century themes and the most likely reason for believing it wasn’t heavily circulated is that didn’t exist yet.

    Finding a super early manuscript could disprove my late Luke hypothesis. But I’m unsure what sort of manuscript evidence could confirm it.

  133. Dennis said,

    March 14, 2013 at 9:35 am

    michael (130)

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) was published back in 1992. I’m not sure who wrote it. My copy in the front has a facsmile signature of Pope John Paul II but I’m sure it was just his imprimatur/approval.

    CCC 946 references Nicetas of Remesiana’s work Explanatio Symboli which was written around 400 A.D.

  134. michael said,

    March 14, 2013 at 10:12 am

    Dennis,

    Thanks again for your information.

    I’m still waiting for Sean P. to respond?

    So you have established a work done relatively recent for the basic definition of sainthood and in it there is reference to a paper written back in 400 AD.

    Let me ask with this information do you feel all that have died in your catholic faith are saints and you can pray to them too?

  135. CD-Host said,

    March 14, 2013 at 10:25 am

    @Jeff —

    (b) I’m fairly persuaded by the lack of reference to the fall of Jerusalem in either Luke or Acts.

    So under that situation Luke/Acts needs to be 73 CE at the latest.
    My biggest problem with a date that early is I think there is a dependency on the Jewish War which came out in 75 CE.

    I’m assuming going with the traditional dating you are having Luke as the companion from Col? The traditional criticisms about and theological interests would all apply.

    Luke records the prophecy. He doesn’t record its fulfillment. So we must have either

    * The author recorded the prophecy and he simply left the readers to draw the obvious conclusion from the already-fallen temple.

    This is not his style.

    The problem with this argument is it runs either way. Luke 21:5-20 is in GoL with a close match (verse 18 is missing but nothing much changes). But Luke 21:21-4 is missing in GoL Then they mostly match up 21:25-33 except for “this generation vs. heaven and earth”.

    Now given that Marcion is definitely after the temple your version has him removing an already fulfilled prophecy from Luke that he would have found inspiring. Why does he do that? I don’t see how you don’t end up with the exact same problem either way with respect to this issue.

    As an aside GoL/Luke are both more specific than Mark and Matthew so both are enhancing the prophecy.

    Beyond that though, under my theory where the author of canonical Luke (we’ll call him Luke) is casting himself as Paul’s companion for political reasons. How can he possibly refer to things after his sudden stopping off point in the early 60s? If Luke/Acts is a 2nd century apologetic for a particular brand of Christianity (Catholicism) trying to sound like it came from the pre-temple apostolic age how can it possibly have reference to what happens after?

    I’d say that the change of 21:32 “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled” is creating the prophecy as immediate, but that’s the best he can do. Certainly where Luke is pulling text from Mark, he pulls in Mark’s style of “this action X is in fulfillment of prophecy Y”. But with the temple prophecy that isn’t treated that way in Mark. If Luke is a response to GoL and GoL picked this up from Mark, Luke is indirectly picking it up from Mark.

    IMHO Luke in his apologetics is much more subtle than Mark. So to meet achieve his theme in Acts Luke has Paul giving Petrine theology and Peter giving Pauline theology. He never directly draws attention to this, he lets the speeches hang there undermining the idea there were different schools and not everyone was a happy Catholic.

    So to summarize:

    a) The prophecy problem doesn’t go away if you make Luke early. You just shift the prophecy problem to Marcion

    b) Assuming Luke is late, Luke does bolster the prophecy as best he can under the circumstance.

    c) I don’t agree with you on Luke’s style. I think you are conflating Mark’s style, where Luke is quoting him directly or indirectly with Luke’s style. Luke is more subtle.

    d) There is evidence across the gospels that Luke is using what did happen to bolster his version (though I believe this is happening via. GoL) but is he is then he can’t be before 70 CE.

    e) I think the references to Josephus are a problem for the early view.

    I could keep going on this passage but I’ll let you take a turn.

  136. Dennis said,

    March 14, 2013 at 10:43 am

    michael,

    Let me ask with this information do you feel all that have died in your catholic faith are saints and you can pray to them too?

    To tell you the truth, I don’t know who’s in heaven. My hope is that all men (Catholic or non-Catholic) are saved but that’s God’s judgment and not mine.

    Regards to who I can pray to/ask for intercession, I can ask for intercession from anyone in heaven. I don’t necessarily ask for prayers from people I didn’t know unless they are Saints. I have asked my father who died several years ago for his help to let me know Christ more fully.

  137. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 14, 2013 at 11:31 am

    CD, I can see your point of view, but I don’t think you give enough weight to Marcion’s clear practice of excision.

    *Why* would he remove the temple prophecy? Dunno. Maybe he didn’t like it. Maybe his manuscript got rained on at that point.

    But he most certainly had a general habit of removing what he didn’t like, so it makes the most sense to refer the absence of temple prophecy to that habit.

    Beyond that though, under my theory where the author of canonical Luke (we’ll call him Luke) is casting himself as Paul’s companion for political reasons. How can he possibly refer to things after his sudden stopping off point in the early 60s?

    Point taken, but Mark and Matthew do the same, and they have no such restriction.

    So to meet achieve his theme in Acts Luke has Paul giving Petrine theology and Peter giving Pauline theology. He never directly draws attention to this, he lets the speeches hang there undermining the idea there were different schools and not everyone was a happy Catholic.

    So Luke is the shy editor, unlike just about every other apologist of that era. :)

    Well, I think I understand where you’re coming from, and I appreciate that you have thought it through. Thanks.

  138. michael said,

    March 14, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    Dennis,

    Again, quite refreshing to read your candor and honesty.

    Reflecting back now from your latest response can you see why I easy embrace Turretinfan’s argument that your catholic faith and dogmas engenders and causes outright necro-mania with prayer?

    The “righteous” live by Faith and this Faith is the only Faith delivered to the Saints. Of the three great tenets of the True Christian “FAITH”, Faith, Hope and Love, which of these three will no longer be necessary in Paradise, that place Jesus while in His agony on the cross told the thief he would go to because of the Faith at work in him while in his own agony, too, when he breathed his last on earth?

  139. Brandon said,

    March 14, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    CD-Host,

    Thanks for your thoughts. You answered many of my questions but I’d like to focus in particular on the authority of the church.

    For example, when I asked about church authority you responded,

    “I’d such much the opposite. Look at the problems Paul has for example in Corinth or Galatia. Look at 1 John. Look at Hebrews, there is no apostolic. Where are you seeing an appeal to apostolic authority rather than scripture or reason?”

    Even in the books you cite there are important mentions to some structure of authority. 1 John 1:1-4, Hebrews 2:1-4, the entire book of Corinthians, the commission of the Apostles in Matthew & John. Galatians certainly prioritizes the content of the Gospel above office, but Paul also argues for his legitimate connection to the Apostles. I’m trying to think of a book of Scripture that does not reference a “church” but cannot. Perhaps you have other examples in mind?

    You may retort that these are all documents written by the “orthodox” position that come later. That’s fair. My question is not assuming that reason or Scripture were unimportant, but Apostolic authority is also given a very serious consideration.

    By Apostolic authority I do not mean Apostolic succession in the Catholic sense. Instead I mean that the teaching of a various group is connected to the Apostles. The “Orthodox” make their appeals to the Apostles while the Gnostics make a similar appeal.

    If I’m understanding you correctly, you are suggesting that these competing schools (I’m pitting the wide range of Gnosticism here against the more monolithic orthodoxy, even though Orthodoxy was perhaps broader than many realize) emerged as co-heirs of the Apostolic teaching with one side triumphing over the other for different reasons. Am I correct to summarize that your argument this way:

    Neither Gnosticism nor Orthodoxy represents the actual Apostolic position because the concept of a unified Apostolic teaching is a construct of latter orthodoxy. Early Christianities manifested equally legitimate expressions of teachings connected to Jesus and the Apostles.

    Is this an accurate understanding of your position on the development of early Christianity?

  140. CD-Host said,

    March 14, 2013 at 12:56 pm

    @Jeff #138

    CD, I can see your point of view, but I don’t think you give enough weight to Marcion’s clear practice of excision.

    I’m saying they cancel each other out. In either case you have a complex excision. Either Marcion is dropping stuff that it appears he would have liked from Luke, or Luke is failing to mention fulfillment.

    But just to make sure you aren’t missing my point. I’m going to link to an image from wikipedia (since you seem OK with them for manuscripts): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Streeter%27s_the_Four_Document_Hypothesis.PNG

    What I’m proposing (or more accurately what John Knox proposed and I agree with) as the main theory (i.e. outside the hypothetical) is GoL for what in this image is “proto Luke”, what I called early Ur-Lucas (modulo some complexity). Marcion isn’t practicing excision Luke (the writer of canonical Luke) is expanding on Marcion.

    But [Marcion] most certainly had a general habit of removing what he didn’t like

    I don’t agree with this. There are large sections of the Apostolicon where Paul is saying stuff I don’t think Marcion would have liked. Even Tertullian agrees that Galatians came from Marcion. Now in Marcion Galatians 2:8 is missing. In Galatians Peter is always rendered Cephas like “James, Cephas, and John” from the next verse. But in 2:8 we suddenly have Peter. Moreover you can see we have modern variants with that shift being made in 2:9 (which is common to both). So…

    Are you sure Marcion is doing excisions? Isn’t it more likely that his versions are just earlier and the later Catholic writers are claiming excisions since they don’t want to admit the documents are evolving through the decades?

    Point taken, but Mark and Matthew do the same, and they have no such restriction.

    Well first off, I’m fairly comfortable with Mark being early. I think Mark most likely doesn’t mention the fulfillment because from his perspective it hasn’t happened yet.

    Matthew is trickier. Let me start by saying I’m not proposing anything unusual for Matthew outside the standard Liberal theories: Jesus Seminar… I think a more primitive version of Matthew like Gospel of the Nazarenes might have had influence on Luke even if canonical Matthew does predate Luke, which I think it does.

    It is entirely possible for example that Matt 7:15-23 is directed at the Marcionic / Pauline churches and represents the early hostility.

    I don’t think you could have had a fully developed Matthew given Luke. Nor do I think you could have had something like canonical Luke, and its theology prior to the development of Matthew. So in terms of Luke I’m proposing they mostly develop at least semi-indepdently
    Canonical Matthew was not in heavy circulation prior to Luke.
    Canonical Luke was not in heavy circulation prior to Matthew.

    Mostly though they have different concerns. Matthew is still focused on the Jewish community while Luke is clearly gentile with no particular interest in Christian / Jewish relations. For that reason I’d lean towards canonical Matthew being much earlier possibly late 1st century but mostly in circulation in Antioch while Luke evolves in Rome with limited cross over.

    So Luke is the shy editor, unlike just about every other apologist of that era. :)

    Look at the places where Luke has a free hand the infancy narrative for example where he works in a harmony with John the Baptist point by point but showing Jesus as greater in each step. He doesn’t follow up John’s leap by saying “John leaping for Jesus rather than Jesus leaping for John shows Jesus was the greater of the two”.

  141. CD-Host said,

    March 14, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    @Brandon #140 —

    OK lets start with Hebrews. Hebrews is early, there would be no point in telling people not to participate in temple rites after 70 CE. So under the Catholic theory this would be during the time of the apostles.

    Now if you look at Hebrews 2:1-4

    Let me throw a slightly different translation to emphasize the point. Check the Greek using an interlinear or against the Greek if you speak Greek:

    3 What escape can there be for us if we ignore a salvation so great? For this salvation was first annnounced through the Lord; those who heard confirmed it to us, 4with God adding his testimony by signs, by miracles, by various powerful deeds, and by distributing the gifts of the Holy Spirit at his own will.

    Notice the appeal here. We as a community experienced miracles that were announced by God in scripture (the Septuagint). This follows Hebrews chapter 1 where it is argued that the Son’s revelation is superior to the angel’s (who delivered Torah) and we know that, because scripture itself tells us. Again and again and again the author of Hebrews does not make an appeal to living human authorities but makes a direct appeal to scripture. We know Jesus not by the apostles but by scripture.

    That is not at all what you would see were the author of Hebrews a Catholic. You see the same thing in Hebrews 3:5-4:8 we have heard the voice of scripture and we must obey, the voice of scripture. And every single time the author makes a point he/she defends it by pointing back to scripture. He is anonymous. There is no appeal to personal authority at all.

    Hebrews 5:12 you need to learn the truth of God’s words that is of scripture.

    I could keep going with Hebrews but I see the opposite of what you would expect were the author of Hebrews a Catholic. The author apparently has no concept of institutional authority it never even occurs to him.

    _____

    1 John 1:1-4. Take a look at John 5:9-12:

    9 We accept human testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. 10 Whoever believes in the Son of God accepts this testimony. Whoever does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because they have not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. 11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

    It is hard to imagine an argument more undercutting the idea of earthly authority as the ultimate authority. The testimony that is the most important is the testimony of scripture that is from God about his Son. John does not make an appeal to his own authority (assuming you believe the apostle John wrote 1John) but says precisely the opposite.

    Contrast this with similar debates from the ECF a century or two centuries or three centuries later debating similar issues. There the authority is to an institution.

    I’ll stop here and then turn to the Gnostics in the next post.

  142. Brandon said,

    March 14, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    CD-Host,

    I think we may be missing each other. I’m not suggesting there is a monoepiscopate or that the NT Scriptures prioritize office over Scripture. I’m simply observing that even in Hebrews and 1 John there is an appeal to Apostolic doctrine. The connection between the Apostles and the Word of God seems to be stronger than you are indicating. The author of Hebrews is passing the information along that he received from those who witnessed the events. Clearly those who were close to Jesus were given some importance if they are to be listed along side the teaching of Jesus, God’s word, and miracles that further confirmed this message.

    Furthermore, even in the Book of Hebrews we have an injunction in Hebrews 13 for the people to submit to their leaders who have been entrusted to watch over them. Is it centralized authority? No. But is there an authority structure in place? Yes.

    I’m not arguing for the Catholic position (that Rome is the Church that Christ founded) but I think that it is undeniable that there were loose authority structures in place in the earliest church. The Church is not presented as possessing authority to determine God’s Word on the one hand, but on the other hand, even in Hebrews the people are commanded to follow the leadership who have been appointed.

    The church leaders in Hebrews are not functioning as a Magisterium, but they do have some role in the governance of the Church. I think we may be closer to agreement than disagreement here. Thoughts?

  143. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 14, 2013 at 2:27 pm

    CD: Hebrews is early, there would be no point in telling people not to participate in temple rites after 70 CE.

    Oh, but the editor could have been veeery clever. Maybe Hebrews is an anti-Ebionite polemic using temple sacrifices as a metaphor. ;)

    Just yanking the chain.

  144. CD-Host said,

    March 14, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    @Brandon #140 —

    Neither Gnosticism nor Orthodoxy represents the actual Apostolic position because the concept of a unified Apostolic teaching is a construct of latter orthodoxy. Early Christianities manifested equally legitimate expressions of teachings connected to Jesus and the Apostles.

    Ok well there are a couple things here.

    1) I’d separate out the issue of teachings of Jesus and teachings about Jesus. Those appear to have formed separately and merged at some later date.

    For example if you read Paul or Hebrews you see teachings about Jesus from scripture. You don’t see teachings of Jesus. Even when Paul says stuff that Matthew or Luke assigns to Jesus, Paul doesn’t assign them to Jesus. Paul does not appear to accept a doctrine that Jesus taught.

    Conversely when we see the Q material, a lot of that has nothing to do with Jesus. Q1 is standard Cynics that you can read from multiple sources. Q2 is apocalyptic material regarding a baptismal sect focused heavily on John the Baptist. It is entirely possible that in an earlier incarnation this was the teachings of John the Baptist or his sect that later got drawn into Christianity.

    We were talking about the Sethians above, and how they had a doctrine of a teachings of Seth that they later assigned to Jesus. They may have been one of the sources of the doctrine that Jesus taught.

    Teachings about Jesus are early
    What will later be called “Teachings of Jesus” assigned to different figures are early
    Teachings of Jesus as a reflection of scripture are early
    Unique teachings of Jesus assigned to Jesus are later

    2) 2nd century writers treat the apostles as mythic / symbolic figures. To use our Luke example, when Luke puts Peter’s words in Paul’s mouth he’s not thinking of Peter and Paul as historical figures but as symbols Peter, at this point for the Catholic church and Paul as a hero for the Valentinians and Marcionites.

    To pick another example from this thread: I think Paul, actually wrote Galatians. I think Catholic apologists decades after Paul’s death wrote 1Tim. What do you mean by the teachings of Paul?

    When you talk about the teaching of the apostles do you mean the teachings of them as symbols or do you mean the views of the actual historical figures underlying these later mythic figures? This is not an easy thing to separate out. Even today we talk about schools that exist that follow in a person’s footsteps with their name. Where does Hegel stop and Marx begin? Is it OK to call Marxism “Hegelian Economics”? Where does Socrates stop and Plato begin? Where does Freud stop and Jung begin? Can we just call it all the “Freudian school”? And those are people for whom we have essentially perfect records.

    3) Let me link to a longer article with some more detail: http://church-discipline.blogspot.com/2012/09/sects-to-evangelicals.html

    to oversimplify:

    Starting around 200 BCE there are Jewish sect with some Christian aspects. They are not yet meaningfully Christian, they are most senses fundamentally Jewish or Samaritan.

    These sects evolve and combine into a about a dozen proto-Christianities. Many of those are what you could call Jewish Gnosticism.

    Those proto-Christianities evolve and combine into the 2nd century Catholics and other Christianities.

    Sean’s use the term “Gnostics” in this thread would refer to both the proto-Christianities and the other Christianities that evolved. As a category Gnosticism is very broad like “Protestantism” is today. They have a huge range of theologies. Some of the them like Marcionism I’d have trouble considering Gnostic in any proper sense because they don’t have doctrines tied to gnosis. But Gnostic here in context just means “sects other than Catholics”.

    That original Jewish forms of Christianity, the early forms cannot exist outside of 1st century Judaism. There is no Roman army to rebel against. Pharisaic Judaism exists, gain dominance and completely wins. The religion of the priesthood, the religion of Ezra isn’t dominant, it isn’t the minority it is as dead a faith. The battle over Greek culture is over, Judaism is thoroughly westernized.

    So again oversimplifying:
    Hasomean Judaism gives rise to
    Hellenistic Judaism gives rise to
    Jewish Gnosticism gives rise to
    Christian Gnosticism gives rise to
    Orthodox Christianity

    I don’t like to use words like “legitimate”. Christianity exists today because it evolved into something else. If it doesn’t evolve and reach out it dies along with other Jewish sects during the 3 Jewish – Roman wars. Because it does reach out, it evolves into something that those Christian leaning Jews in 100 BCE would never recognize but we can recognize in the acorn the oak to come.

    But ultimately there is no original. Take baptism as a rite of purification:
    Magians -> Sabians -> Dosithians -> from which John the Baptist emerges who gives it to the Ophites and the Elkasaites where it moves into Proto-Catholicism along with most of the Gnostic sects. Where is the original? Magians might go back to 1000 BCE? I don’t want to call that Christianity.

  145. CD-Host said,

    March 14, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    @Brandon #143

    The author of Hebrews is passing the information along that he received from those who witnessed the events.

    Really, where is he doing that? And more importantly what events that require witnesses? Read through Hebrews. Find me some events to which there could even be human witnesses. Jesus sitting down on the right hand of the father? Jesus making the universe? Jesus performing his sacrifice in an ideal heavenly temple? What events that he talks about could have been witnessed?

    The witnesses he speaks of to these events are the community seeing through the eyes of scripture. Read through Hebrews try and find events like Lazarus, try and find the feeding of the 5000. None of that is there. Everything is witnessed through scripture. Moreover what’s spoken about could only be witnessed through scripture and prophecy.

    Furthermore, even in the Book of Hebrews we have an injunction in Hebrews 13 for the people to submit to their leaders who have been entrusted to watch over them. Is it centralized authority? No. But is there an authority structure in place? Yes.

    Absolutely. Lets check the verse. “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.” How does that not apply equally to a minister in 2013? There is no special dispensation based on apostolic succession and knowledge?

    even in Hebrews the people are commanded to follow the leadership who have been appointed.

    Be careful about “appointed” Hebrews gives us no indication of the system by which leaders are chosen that community. The only thing we know about the leaders in Hebrews are:

    a) They teach God’s word
    b) Some of them are from Italy

    I think we may be closer to agreement than disagreement here. Thoughts?

    Probably. I’m having trouble figuring out what position you are advancing. Right now I’m just setting up preliminaries.

    I sorta figure you are looking for some sort of structure handed down from the apostles for governing a church.

    What are the authority structures for governing football fans? What doctrines must they believe to be considered football fans? How does one exclude someone who is unworthy from football fandom? Who are the appointed leaders of football fandom? How much authority does ESPN have? How much does the NFL have?

    Christianity existed as a movement before there was a church. The process by which Christianity stopped being a movement and became the institution of Catholicism is how those questions stopped being ridiculous and started having real answers.

    There were institutions like the Marcionic church but they still existed as a brand among hundreds of other brands of sects. How much authority does Pepsi really have?

    Authority in a real sense comes with the use of state terror.

    The Catholic church had an overwhelming majority of Christianity under their control. They had rules for governing themselves tied to a state religion. They used the state to enforce church rule and the church became a branch of the state.

    That’s real authority. Prior to that.

    The Catholic church had a large share of Christianity during the late 3rd century. They had some rules for governing themselves that they could sorta enforce sometimes.

    And the Catholics had to fight like mad to even get to that place.

  146. CD-Host said,

    March 15, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    Well we are getting the sound of crickets so I’d like to wrap up this subthread on Hebrews with an important point regarding apostolic succession.

    Nothing in the analysis of Hebrews requires believing in a multiplicity of early Christianities. Regardless of what position one holds on the evolution of 1st century Christianity the textual witness of Hebrews is to:

    1) A church where doctrine comes from public scripture not secret knowledge of an elite.

    2) The truth of doctrine is believed to be self evident, and this self evidence is the proof of the doctrines.

    3) The author is totally unaware of any deep hierarchy which appointed those leaders. The appeal to truth of doctrine not to office.

    The emphasis in Hebrews is on the authority of Jesus not the authority of the minister. The author / minister claims no intrinsic authority for himself at all. Hebrews in and of itself is strong evidence against the claim of a 1st century Catholic church being normative. The author of Hebrews simply could not have belonged to a church where the leadership’s claim to authority is direct or indirect apostolic appointment. The author of Hebrews could not have belonged to a church with a hierarchy. The author could not have come from a church where the church rather than scripture defined truth.

    ____

    I find it interesting how CtC claim that the evidence from the early church supports their position, when almost without exception when you look at any of early writing in detail it undermines their position.

  147. Dennis said,

    March 15, 2013 at 5:58 pm

    Michael (139)

    As a Protestant, I can understand that you have an aversion to praying to saints. You embrace TF’s arguments because you view Scripture through a Protestant lens. You have a certain uneasiness to Catholicism because you believe in your heart that it is wrong. Yes. I understand.

    The “righteous” live by Faith and this Faith is the only Faith delivered to the Saints. Of the three great tenets of the True Christian “FAITH”, Faith, Hope and Love, which of these three will no longer be necessary in Paradise, that place Jesus while in His agony on the cross told the thief he would go to because of the Faith at work in him while in his own agony, too, when he breathed his last on earth?

    I don’t quite understand the statement you have here but I’ll try to see if I can reckon it. You appear to have taken a preconceived idea of faith (or “FAITH”) and twisted some passages of Scripture to coform to your understanding. I’m going to give you my understanding of these passages.

    for we walk by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthian 5:7)

    To me, Paul is explaining that while we are alive, we don’t quite see the Lord. We walk by faith as we trust in the Gospel that we will inherit God’s kingdom and “be further clothed with our heavenly habitation.”

    <I now feel a need to write to encourage you to contend for the faith that was once for all handed down to the holy ones. (Jude 1:3)

    Jude is explaining that he needs to reexplain the faith that’s been given to the people reading the letter. He continues that while the faith has been given, it can be perverted by false teachers who are twisting the gospel. He warns them to be careful and not be like the people of Egypt who never saw the promised land or the angels who were cast out of heaven, etc. This is a warning that even though the promise has been given to us, we cannot live licentiously.

    So faith, hope, love remain, these three;h but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)

    You’re asking me which of these three great tenets will no longer be necessary when we are in Paradise. My response is that Faith and Hope will no longer be necessary. Per 1 Corinthians 13, Love is the greatest of the three. Faith is needed when we are alive and we have hope in the message of Christ and Salvation but Love endures all. When we become united to God—who is love—then we become love. Faith and Hope will have been fulfilled but the love still endures.

    We need love in our lives. We need to love all things as God loves all things. We need people to see us and through our love, see God. That’s how we evangelize. That’s how we bring people to Christ.

    Michael,

    Let me ask a question to you…what is faith? I’ve noticed Reformed struggle to give me a good definition of the Gospel. You enjoy throwing the word “FAITH” around. What does that word mean to you?

  148. TurretinFan said,

    March 16, 2013 at 10:37 am

    “He is talking about ‘the sacrifice at the altar’ TurretinFan. He then distinguishes latria from the dulia (honor) paid to saints. He then explains how saints are invoked ‘at the altar.’”

    He does distinguish latria from dulia. But he doesn’t say that saints are “invoked,” he says they are commemorated. He calls them memorials to the martyrs.

    Reading back, I see where you are going off the rails. You wrote at #122 that he’s referring to “the sacrifice of the Eucharist.” You seem unaware that for Augustine the Eucharist was a commemoration – a memorial:

    “this sacrifice is commemorated in the sacrament” (Against Faustus, Book 20, Section 21)

    “This sacrifice is also commemorated by Christians, in the sacred offering and participation of the body and blood of Christ.” (Against Faustus, Book 20, Section 18)

    There is a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving offered by the people of God, no doubt, but it is not by immolating a victim. We present our bodies as a living sacrifice – and we offer prayers – but those are offered to God, not to the saints

    “So, contrary to your confident response, Augustine is talking about prayers to saints during the Eucharistic prayer that is held ‘at the altar’ and that doing so gains the assistance of their prayers and allows the faithful to share in their merits.”

    It’s hard to know what the source of your conclusion is. It’s not an accurate reading of Augustine.

    -TurretinFan

  149. Sean Patrick said,

    March 17, 2013 at 8:12 am

    TFan.

    #149.

    Commemoration and sacrifice are not mutually exclusive.

    Even the CCC calls the Eucharist both a sacrifice and a commemoration, just like St. Augustine.

    And, St Augustine not only refers here to what is prayed at the altar but often refers to the Eucharist as sacrifice and even says that it is Christ offered and immolated on the altar.


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