Whither Roman Catholicism?

I was reading Robert Strimple’s outstanding article on modern Roman Catholic theology (in the book on Roman Catholicism edited by John Armstrong), and I was faced with a whopping conundrum. That conundrum can be simply phrased: who speaks for Roman Catholicism? For many people, that answer is simple: the magisterium speaks for the church. The problem is that the magisterium is becoming increasingly liberal. One only has to look at the state of Roman Catholic education in the United States to see this. The vast majority of the major voices in American Roman Catholic education are liberal. It is only a matter of time before the Pope is a liberal, and there are some who are claiming that Francis is a liberal.

The problem it creates for Protestants like me, who wish to write on Roman Catholicism, then, is which documents and writers to engage? David Wells, in his book Revolution in Rome (written quite a while ago!), believed that the future of Roman Catholic theology was liberal, not conservative. And so, he decided to engage the liberal Roman Catholicism. What seems to me to be happening is that the conservative element in the magisterium is becoming increasingly isolated and marginalized. If I decide to use the historical documents of the RCC as the basis for engagement, then I won’t engage the majority of Roman Catholic authors who are writing today. If I engage the McBriens of Catholicism, then I risk being accused of distorting the Roman Catholic faith. While it is true that the Catechism of the Catholic Church is a very authoritative document (indeed, one of the few lynch-pin documents available today that seems to be well-loved and well-used by all Roman Catholics), it still doesn’t seem to be getting at the disagreements between the liberals and the conservatives. It is, despite its length, a fairly basic document. That is not a criticism of it, per se. It is a catechism. Catechisms are supposed to be basic! But that limits its effectiveness in solving the problem I have just outlined. The effect of the problem on writing, then, is that I would almost have to write two books, one on historical Roman Catholicism, and the other on Roman Catholic theology today. If I wrote only one, then I would have to choose, or else risk writing a disjointed book that would have two different sections, and that would involve a lot of repetition wherever the historical Roman Catholicism and the modernist Roman Catholicism overlapped.

Equal to the effect this bifurcation in Roman Catholicism would have on my writing is the effect this would have on the readership. The majority liberals would probably not be terrifically interested in a Protestant book on historical Roman Catholicism. They would just respond by saying, “But he doesn’t engage modern thinkers like Rahner and Schillebeeckx.” If I engage Rahner and Schillebeeckx (and that’s only the tip of the iceberg, of course), then the conservatives will retort, “But that is not the magisterium, that’s only individual theologians, who don’t speak for the magisterium.” Again, the problem is this: who speaks for Rome? Technically speaking (de jure), the magisterium does speak for Rome. Practically speaking, the magisterium is becoming increasingly ignored, such that (de facto) the liberal theologians speak for Rome. I know that the Called to Communion folk would probably advise me to ignore Rahner and Schillebeeckx. They have already advised me to ignore McBrien. I don’t think I can do that. But it might mean two books, not just one. They could profitably be divided according to the Roman Catholic distinction between the magisterium and theology (which distinction Strimple helpfully points out as one which evangelicals often ignore, to their great detriment).

The last question is this: what caused this problem and division? Strimple believes that the floodgates were opened with Pius XII’s encyclical Divino afflante Spiritu (1943). This encyclical, while including some conservative-sounding language about Scripture, stressed the need for biblical criticism. Whether Roman Catholic biblical theologians were rightly interpreting it this way or not, the effect was a mass transit to the methods of modern biblical criticism. I would argue that this change was the largest change in Roman Catholic history, and resulted in a great fragmentation of Roman Catholicism into many different groups (a fragmentation largely paralleled in Protestantism, of course). I think that discussion about whether Vatican II changed Rome is actually a moot question in the light of the far larger sea-change that happened after that encyclical. It is, of course, far easier to time-stamp Vatican II than it would be to investigate the changes that modernist biblical methods brought about, but it seems to me that anything that did “change” with V2 is dependent on the prior change of modernism. I would certainly refer the new ecumenical stances in Roman Catholic theology and even magisterial documents to these changes. Having read two histories of V2 so far (Faggioli and O’Malley), the struggle between the curia and the majority of the bishops over the agenda of V2 seems to bear out this thesis.

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95 Comments

  1. Andrew Buckingham said,

    February 2, 2014 at 6:20 pm

    Interesting post, Lane. There’s something else that I thought of reading this. Who would buy your book? Not Catholics, do any care about doctrine or their theology? Not Protestants or EO, we have enough good reading in our own traditions.

    Sorry man, history classes proved too hard, and I became an accountant. God’s fault, not mine (emoticon). But just crunching the numbers here, a book on Roman Catholicism may not be the way the stock market is ticking of late.

    Grace and peace, brah.

  2. Kevin Davis said,

    February 2, 2014 at 7:01 pm

    The problem is that the magisterium is becoming increasingly liberal. One only has to look at the state of Roman Catholic education in the United States to see this.

    These are not really connected, regardless of whether they should be. The magisterium is found in the authoritative declarations and documents, including the CCC which you mention. The CCC is hardly “basic,” but rather clearly represents the conservative wing of Vatican II theology, namely JP2, Ratzinger, Balthasar, de Lubac, Neuhaus, etc. Thus, the CCC includes all of the peculiarly Roman dogmas (e.g., bodily assumption of Mary, papal infallibility, etc.) and morals (sexual ethics included). The true liberals such as McBrien do not like the CCC, as is well known.

    The real scandal, if you are an orthodox Roman Catholic, is why church discipline is so lacking. The famous case of Hans Kung (losing his credentials to teach Catholic theology in Germany) is a notable exception but not the rule. My guess is that the liberal Catholic universities will eventually go the way of mainline Protestant universities, severing ties in all but name or “heritage,” which is already the case with a number of Jesuit schools like Georgetown.

    Moreover, time will tell whether Rome’s magisterium will actually liberalize in the way that McBrien and Kung would like. But I seriously doubt it. Francis has said some stupid things, but that’s neither here nor there. If anyone thinks Rome will ordain women or sanction gay marriage, they are seriously mistaken. I cannot “prove” this, of course, but we can have this conversation again in 50 years and the same liberal-types will still have the same false hopes.

    By the way, I am an evangelical, not a Roman Catholic, and I firmly stand with the Reformers in their prophet reform of the church catholic.

  3. February 2, 2014 at 7:45 pm

    As a Reformed guy, I’ve wondered what it would be like to read Phillip Hughes’s 3-volume history of the Reformation in England, told from the Roman Catholic point of view. Has anyone read it?

  4. Bryan Cross said,

    February 2, 2014 at 9:46 pm

    Hello Lane,

    The problem is that the magisterium is becoming increasingly liberal. One only has to look at the state of Roman Catholic education in the United States to see this. The vast majority of the major voices in American Roman Catholic education are liberal. It is only a matter of time before the Pope is a liberal, and there are some who are claiming that Francis is a liberal.

    This henny penny stuff is easy, and skeptics have been engaged in it for two thousand years. Your great-grandchildren will be long in their graves, and the Church will still be going on, never denying a single dogma she has ever held. And even then there will be skeptics predicting that she will go liberal. She has always outlasted her critics, and prayed for them. But even after two thousand years of not going liberal, the skeptics still have the audacity to predict it will soon happen.

    The very claim presupposes that the Church isn’t who she claims to be. If she weren’t what she claims to be, it wouldn’t even be worth the time speculating that she will go liberal, because she would dig her own grave, and would have done so long ago.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  5. Andrew Buckingham said,

    February 2, 2014 at 10:03 pm

    Bryan:

    The very claim presupposes that the Church isn’t who she claims to be.

    Isn’t the problem that Lane is pointing out that we can’t figure out where the Church is talking, given your pressuposition that the Church is the one headed by the Bishop of Rome? You may have given up your beliefs regarding Westminster chapter 25 that you were taught in school.

    We haven’t.

    Why don’t you point us to the list of infallible doctrines, since your church claims the same. You know the drill.

  6. greenbaggins said,

    February 2, 2014 at 10:09 pm

    Bryan, you could be right about the future. I don’t know what will happen. But Robert Sungenis, for one, believes liberalism is happening. His criticisms of the Pope are drawing a significant amount of fire. But I’m not making a prediction, so much as asking the question: what will the magisterium look like in 20 or 30 years? And what happens if the magisterium is taken over by modernist agendas? Yes, I realize what that question assumes. Isn’t it true that your answer also assumes a particular view of what the church claims?

  7. Andrew McCallum said,

    February 2, 2014 at 10:14 pm

    While it is true that the Catechism of the Catholic Church is a very authoritative document (indeed, one of the few lynch-pin documents available today that seems to be well-loved and well-used by all Roman Catholics), it still doesn’t seem to be getting at the disagreements between the liberals and the conservatives.

    Lane,

    It seems to me that the problem for Catholicism (analogous to the problem in Protestantism ) is that Catholics disagree as to whether the dogmatic statements of Rome are proper reflections of the historic Christian faith. The very liberal to radical traditionalist continuum in the RCC gives us the host of different types of Catholics, all claiming to be faithful to the historic teachings of the Christian Church.

    The conservative Catholic types that post on this site from time to time try to convince us that they are in fact the faithful Catholics while those to the theological right and left of them are the unfaithful ones. Well I don’t know about you guys, but I have no interest in weighing in on the debate between all of these squabbling Roman Catholics as to who is and who is not faithful. But I do think we need to be aware of the range of belief within Roman Catholicism and adjust our apologetic accordingly. From my perspective this would mean writing more than two books to address Catholicism on just about any theological topic.

  8. Andrew McCallum said,

    February 2, 2014 at 10:22 pm

    Bryan,

    Lane points out that the “Church” you speak of is comprised of those who believe in different things. So if he were to write a book addressed to Catholics today on any given subject who should he address it to? Should he just address it to Catholics who agree with you? You know that if a Catholic liberal or Catholic rad-trad type were writing here they would argue that they are the faithful ones and your type has given up on the historic Catholic Church. So why should we take your side on the matter?

  9. Ron said,

    February 2, 2014 at 10:37 pm

    Your great-grandchildren will be long in their graves, and the Church will still be going on, never denying a single dogma she has ever held.

    That’s only true because under the guise of infallibility Rome may reinterpret the prima facie meaning of older teachings in order to comply with newer ones. So, although she’ll never deny a single dogma in such a rigged game, Roman Catholics can’t know whether they believe the final interpretation of any of Rome’s teachings.

  10. Bryan Cross said,

    February 2, 2014 at 11:16 pm

    Lane, (re: #6)

    I don’t know what will happen. But Robert Sungenis, for one, believes liberalism is happening. His criticisms of the Pope are drawing a significant amount of fire. But I’m not making a prediction, so much as asking the question: what will the magisterium look like in 20 or 30 years? And what happens if the magisterium is taken over by modernist agendas? Yes, I realize what that question assumes.

    Here you don’t define the term ‘modernist,’ nor did you define the term ‘liberalism’ (or ‘liberal’) in your post. And when you don’t define your terms, it is impossible to evaluate the truth-value of your claims, even when they’re not prognostications. So, if by ‘liberal’ you mean someone who strongly emphasizes concern for the poor and our obligation to the poor (as does Pope Francis), well, then sure; there can be liberal popes in that political sense of the term. But if by ‘liberal’ you mean denying previously defined dogma, then no, a pope speaking in his teaching office can never deny a previously defined dogma; that can never happen. The Magisterium of the Church can never do that. For her to do that would be for her instantly to destroy herself, undermine her identity, and undermine her authority.

    Andrew M, (re: #8) I answered your question in “The “Catholics are Divided Too” Objection.”

    Ron, (re: #9), that’s a straw man, for the reasons I explained in my conversation with Mark B in the first 80 or so comments of “Conversions to Roman Catholicism.” There are boundaries for authentic development, and hence while we cannot know now what the final stage of development will look like in its full development, we can know now that the dogmatic truths we affirm now are perpetually true, will always be affirmed by the Church, and will never be revoked or denied by the Church.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  11. Andrew Buckingham said,

    February 2, 2014 at 11:31 pm

    PCA brethren:

    I humbly submit the following from OLTS, may it aid you here (this is fun :-) ).

    This 2ker now checks out. Peace to you.

    Old Life has seen more activity of late (not just me and my rants, though there are those..). Underline is DGH. This is from his post at the link above:

    Finally, to round this out, some priests (even former Protestant ones) believe the church needs to recover the language of hell in its evangelistic efforts:

    The most insidious cancer in the Christian church today is universalism and semi-universalism combined with indifferentism. Indifferentism is the lie that it doesn’t really matter what church or religion you belong to. Universalism is the lie that everyone will be saved because God is so merciful he will not send anyone to hell. Semi-universalism is the commonly held lie that there may be a hell, but there probably won’t be very many people there. All of these beliefs are clearly contrary to the plain words of Scripture.

    Ralph writes clearly and concisely with abundant quotes from Scripture and the documents of the Church. He tells us what the New Evangelization is, answers the question “Why Bother?”, discusses the laity’s role, the necessity of the Holy Spirit’s power. He then goes on to outline the simple message of salvation: human beings are sinners separated from God from sin and they need salvation or they will go to hell.

    Sorry folks. That’s the message, and the message is clear from Scripture and the unanimous teachings of the church from antiquity to the present day. Ralph goes on to advise how to share this message with joy and compassion–avoiding the “bull in a china shop” approach and avoiding any sense of being judgmental and un loving. There is no room for the Westboro Baptist approach, but plenty of room for a joyful, honest and firm proclamation of the faith.

    Yikes!

  12. Bob S said,

    February 2, 2014 at 11:36 pm

    Only one book apart from Scripture is needed and it would be on the Roman dialectic aka Ignatius’s 13th rule:

    If Holy Mother Church tells me black is white, I must submit.

    IOW Rome is truly semper eadem.
    Though the lies might change, it ever remains a liar and always will.

    It’s in her DNA and to change/repent would mean she is no longer Rome, infallible and unreformable.
    Which means on the practical level, she has to resort to Newman’s development of doctrine or what Voltaire foretold as Scripture as a wax nose.

    Of course to those, who performatively possess the apostolic rabbits foot bones, the paradigm of lying is not visible on their ad hoc radar screen.

    But then again there are those who are blind that claim they can see.
    Yet their lies remain.

    Because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

  13. Andrew McCallum said,

    February 2, 2014 at 11:58 pm

    I answered your question in “The “Catholics are Divided Too” Objection.”

    Well no you didn’t Bryan, but then I did not expect you to. The assumption in your article is that “Catholic dissenters” are the unfaithful ones while the Catholics you hang around with are the faithful ones. But those Catholics you refer to as “dissenters” see you as unfaithful to historic Roman Catholicism.

    The questioning of the assumption you start with in your article is foundational to the question that Lane asks. But you continue to cling to an assumption that we have not granted, as your article demonstrates.

  14. Kenneth Winsmann said,

    February 3, 2014 at 2:30 am

    There are a great many factors that contributed to the crises facing the Church today. The best history that I have read on the topic is “The Rhine Flows into the Tiber: A History of Vatican II”…. Ultimately I think that the “time stamp” of V2 is more accurate because it marks the rampant spread of modernism and not biblical criticism. The “Spirit of Vatican 2″ was cited as the mandate for change not Divino Afflante Spiritu. The changes in the mass and bazaar ecumenical activities can not be traced back to biblical criticism. Neither can the call to “dialog”. In any case, can the changes in the Church post V2 be considered the greatest in her history? Only if they are considered to be legitimate developments. If they are illegitimate, than the historical time we have found ourselves in very closely parallels that of the Arian heresy post Nicea. Andrew asks who we are to trust…. those who claim to be “conservative” or the “liberals”? That is a question that can only be answered by Sacred Tradition. A sure rule of faith and something no liberal catholic can tolerate.

  15. Ron said,

    February 3, 2014 at 7:39 am

    Ron, (re: #9), that’s a straw man, for the reasons I explained in my conversation with Mark B in the first 80 or so comments of “Conversions to Roman Catholicism.” There are boundaries for authentic development, and hence while we cannot know now what the final stage of development will look like in its full development, we can know now that the dogmatic truths we affirm now are perpetually true, will always be affirmed by the Church, and will never be revoked or denied by the Church.

    Bryan,

    Not only don’t you know what the final development will look like, you don’t even know whether you’ve understood the most recent pronouncements. You only think you do. This is why we so often hear from Roman Catholics that Rome has changed over the years. Mind you, that sentiment does not testify to Rome’s opinion of herself, but it does testify either to Rome’s internal contradiction or else her lack of perspicuity.This is where you turn to the church’s interpretation of herself, which spanning considerable time undermines your confidence of what she means whenever she speaks. After all, are we to believe that 14th century Christians were to believe that Unam Sanctamallowed salvation for those not in subject to the Roman Pontiff? No, they would have thought the very opposite even had they held your view of “boundaries for authentic development.”

    An analogy of councils whereby unclear or partially conveyed dogmas are given more breadth of meaning within developmental boundaries would present no problem for the RC if those pre-Vatican II pronouncements that are so repugnant to evangelicals (and an embarrassment to modern day Roman Catholics) were no less clear in their prima facie interpretation than those later pronouncements that contradict them. That is why we must maintain that either Rome’s clarity accuses her of outright doctrinal contradiction or else there is no perspicuity of Roman Catholic doctrine. Either way, you don’t know what she means (because she does not speak the truth).

  16. Bryan Cross said,

    February 3, 2014 at 8:36 am

    Andrew M, (re: #13)

    But those Catholics you refer to as “dissenters” see you as unfaithful to historic Roman Catholicism.

    Feel free to lay out the argument (on my thread if you wish) showing how I am unfaithful to “historic Roman Catholicism.” Hand-waving accusations are easy, but unhelpful.

    Your general argument, so far as I can tell (since you don’t lay it out), is something along the following lines. Because there is a person who presently calls himself Pope Michael therefore we can’t know who is presently the actual pope of the Catholic Church. If that’s the general structure of your argument, I’m willing to show you why that conclusion does not follow from that premise. If that’s not the structure of your argument, then please lay out your argument.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  17. Bryan Cross said,

    February 3, 2014 at 9:00 am

    Ron,

    Not only don’t you know what the final development will look like, you don’t even know whether you’ve understood the most recent pronouncements. You only think you do.

    These are claims about me, and thus do not refute the truth of what I said in #10 above.

    This is why we so often hear from Roman Catholics that Rome has changed over the years.

    This is a claim about yourselves (“we”), and thus also leaves intact the truth of what I said above.

    Mind you, that sentiment does not testify to Rome’s opinion of herself, but it does testify either to Rome’s internal contradiction or else her lack of perspicuity.

    This is a claim about a sentiment, and thus leaves untouched the truth of what I said above.

    This is where you turn to the church’s interpretation of herself, which spanning considerable time undermines your confidence of what she means whenever she speaks.

    No, it doesn’t. My confidence is not undermined. Mind-reading is not easy.

    After all, are we to believe that 14th century Christians were to believe that Unam Sanctamallowed salvation for those not in subject to the Roman Pontiff? No, they would have thought the very opposite even had they held your view of “boundaries for authentic development.”

    Speculation is easy. But the Church has never made any judgments about which persons are in hell. If, however, it was ever a Church doctrine that every person who died outside visible membership in the Church ipso facto went to hell, then the Church would have known with certainty that every person who died without baptism went to hell. That’s why your speculation about Unam Sanctum is incorrect. It overstates what it meant. The document is not about persons in a condition of invincible ignorance.

    An analogy of councils whereby unclear or partially conveyed dogmas are given more breadth of meaning within developmental boundaries would present no problem for the RC if those pre-Vatican II pronouncements that are so repugnant to evangelicals (and an embarrassment to modern day Roman Catholics) were no less clear in their prima facie interpretation than those later pronouncements that contradict them.

    This just begs the question, by presupposing that there is a contradiction, when there is none, nor have you established that there is one.

    That is why we must maintain that either Rome’s clarity accuses her of outright doctrinal contradiction or else there is no perspicuity of Roman Catholic doctrine.

    That’s a false dilemma, because there is a third option in which there is no contradiction, and there is perspicuity by the light of Tradition (but not apart from Tradition).

    Either way, you don’t know what she means (because she does not speak the truth).

    That presupposes your false dilemma.

    The way to preserve your straw men about the Catholic Church (for years), is to talk only to people who share your views, in the ‘safety’ of sites like this. I don’t have time to jump in here frequently. So I suggest seeking out well-catechized Catholics, and running your objections by them.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  18. Ron said,

    February 3, 2014 at 9:13 am

    Bryan,

    Your sophistry is laughable. These “claims” merely corroborate the thesis you choose to avoid at every turn, namely that Rome’s clear teachings have often contradicted each other, leaving Roman Catholics to believe propositions that elude justified belief.

  19. Ron said,

    February 3, 2014 at 9:56 am

    The way to preserve your straw men about the Catholic Church (for years), is to talk only to people who share your views, in the ‘safety’ of sites like this.

    Bryan,

    You behave as though being Protestant disqualifies one from understanding the average Roman Catholic’s mindset.

    Most Roman Catholics believe Rome has changed. My experience is no different than yours on that matter; whether you will admit it or not is another matter. Again though, this does not imply that Rome thinks she has changed, but that was never a point of contention.The point is that Roman Catholics think she must have changed because her pronouncements appear to have changed to most Roman Catholics. Most Roman Catholics think of modern day Roman Catholicism as taking on a new face, even with a Protestant feel to it. That claim corroborates the claim of lack of perspicuity pertaining to Roman dogma given that her official position is that she is incapable of change. In other words, if Rome cannot change, then her apparent change must be indexed to some other principle, which I index to her willingness to lie when it suits her. No surprise there I trust.

    Now then, you may choose to say that these card-carrying Roman Catholics share my views, but on essentials they don’t for my view is that Rome lies whereas the average Roman Catholic doesn’t even think about how to reconcile infallibility with apparent contradiction. They have no mature view; so it’s a surd to say they share mine. They think Rome has put on a new face, whereas I simply find her two-faced.

    This just begs the question, by presupposing that there is a contradiction, when there is none, nor have you established that there is one.

    There’s no question begging at all going on here because the challenge is quite simple. Please explain to me how it is possible that the following pronouncement could have been interpreted in the 14th century as allowing room for the modern day notion of separated brethren? “Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff.” You can’t, which only corroborates that you have no rational reason to believe that you understand anything Rome says given the clarity of that pronouncement has taken on a contrary meaning.To dismiss these as mere “claims” is to say “I have no answer to this.”

  20. February 3, 2014 at 11:37 am

    Feel free to lay out the argument (on my thread if you wish) showing how I am unfaithful to “historic Roman Catholicism

    Bryan,

    As I stated above, I have no interest in weighing in on who is a “faithful” Roman Catholic. Roman Catholics across the vast continuum of theological perspectives, from the very liberal to the ultra-conservative, all read the same history that you do but come to different conclusions as to who is faithful and who is not. You believe that you are “faithful” but that’s just your interpretation of the history of the Church, or at least the interpretation of the sub-culture within the RCC that you identify with. Again, I have no interest in taking sides among all of the squabbling Roman Catholics as to who is and who is not “faithful.”

    Lane’s point in all of this is that the liberals in the RCC are becoming an increasingly larger part of the teaching authority of the RCC. The question he raises concerns how we address our apologetic to this increasingly fractured Roman Catholic world. And it’s not just a Catholic liberal vs conservative sort of thing. Reformed and Evangelical missionaries in Latin America, to take one example, have to address their apologetic to Catholics in a different way than Reformed/Evangelical folks would in the US because of the unique culture and history of the Latin American countries. Catholicism is sometimes called the Buddhism of the West because of its ability to absorb such a great many belief systems. We Reformed folks can’t ignore this fact and we have to tailor our approach depending on what kind of Catholic we are speaking with.

    In the articles like the one you linked to above, you assume that the sub-set of Catholics you associate with are “faithful” based on your understanding of the history of the Church. But whether or not you are “faithful” does not get at the challenge that we have to deal with in addressing the Roman Catholic world. Keep in mind that we meet very few of your brand of conservative Catholic (what you call “faithful”) outside of these on-line forums.

  21. Ron said,

    February 3, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    Hi Andrew,

    The polemic would depend upon whether you are refuting Roman Catholicism or trying to evangelize a professing Roman Catholic. Regarding the former you would want to stick to the official dogmas that bear the imprimatur of that communion, wouldn’t you? Whereas when dealing with Roman Catholics I would think you would want to focus on the misguided confidence they have in their own merit.

    Three things… 1. If Trent has been refuted, then there’s no need to deal with Roman Catholicism in any fresh way. 2. Not every Roman Catholic is saved, so there is plenty of reasons to deal with them as sinners in need of Christ. 3. As for dealing with the latest “scholarship” from professing Roman Catholics, what’s the point? They don’t speak for the Roman communion (and such discussions only seem to cloud the issue of their personal need for Christ).

    My 2 cents.

  22. February 3, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    The polemic would depend upon whether you are refuting Roman Catholicism or trying to evangelize a professing Roman Catholic. Regarding the former you would want to stick to the official dogmas that bear the imprimatur of that communion, wouldn’t you?

    Ron,

    The conservative RC’s are still a major intellectual force, and so here yes I agree, if we are trying to refute them we need to stick with the official RCC dogma. But how about in the case that Lane brings up of a liberal RC? If you were interacting with someone who denied, for example, the Assumption, your approach would be different. And if we were speaking with a Roman Catholic who denied something basic to the historic Christianity, like the Virgin Birth, we would take yet a different approach. Would you agree?

    And maybe you are right that it’s more about evangelism than apologetics when speaking with a RC who denies dogmas central to the RCC, but I think that Lane’s got a good question as to whether our apologetic ought to be redirected given the the shift in the theological orientation of the teaching authority of the RCC.

  23. Ron said,

    February 3, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    Andrew,

    Briefly, regarding your paragraph 1, I can’t imagine a RC liberal denying the virgin birth apart from granting that he had departed from Rome on the issue. If he won’t agree with that, then his intellectual dishonesty would be sufficient for me to end the discussion. If he does agree that he’s departed from Rome, then we can either discuss his soul in the face of Scripture or else Rome according to their own documents. In either case we wouldn’t be confusing his liberal theology with Rome’s official theology.

    This doesn’t seem that complex to me, but maybe I’m missing something.

    Your turn.

  24. Bob B said,

    February 3, 2014 at 1:58 pm

    Beliefs and teachings lead to actions. One cannot claim in the same breath that the beliefs and teachings that lead to the Crusades, or the burning of heretics at the stake are the same beliefs and teachings that lead Pope Francis to such a lenient position on homosexuality.

    Either there are errors in teaching then, or errors in teaching now. What else can explain such a different approach, both sanctioned by the Catholic church?

    I suspect that the change in action is largely because of the Catholic Churches reduced power in the face of modern secularism… which has little patience for using violence to settle doctrinal disputes. I have no doubt that given half a chance the Catholic church would behave exactly as it did in the middle ages today, complete with state-sanctioned inquisitions against protestants. After all, they are infallible.

  25. Ron said,

    February 3, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    Give her an inch and she’ll take a life.

  26. Mark B said,

    February 3, 2014 at 3:47 pm

    Brian said:
    “But if by ‘liberal’ you mean denying previously defined dogma, then no, a pope speaking in his teaching office can never deny a previously defined dogma; that can never happen. The Magisterium of the Church can never do that. For her to do that would be for her instantly to destroy herself, undermine her identity, and undermine her authority. ”
    And:
    “Ron, (re: #9), that’s a straw man, for the reasons I explained in my conversation with Mark B in the first 80 or so comments of “Conversions to Roman Catholicism.” There are boundaries for authentic development, and hence while we cannot know now what the final stage of development will look like in its full development, we can know now that the dogmatic truths we affirm now are perpetually true, will always be affirmed by the Church, and will never be revoked or denied by the Church.”
    Rom covered this in 17, So I’ll just point out once again that this is a bare assertion not in any way connected with reality, Is it really necessary to list major theological contradictions throughout the history of Rome and explain it again? I think a referral to the archives of this blog would net more than enough examples..

  27. Bob S said,

    February 3, 2014 at 4:04 pm

    16. These are claims about me, and thus do not refute the truth of what I said in #10 above.

    If what was said was the truth.
    But we don’t know that, so maybe this is more like it:

    These are claims about me, and thus do not refute the truth of what I said what I was asserting by way of hand waving claims in #10 above.

    IOW behold the jesuitical modus operandi in action, in all its splendor, glory and dialectical deception.

    The Reformed adage was that Rome in the minority, acts like a lamb; in equality, plays the fox; in the majority, roars and devours like a lion.
    Not to mention as above, it is a chameleon and a weasel whenever it is convenient, which is most of the time, if not all.

    FTM Horton in his dialogue with Cross in the Nov./Dec. 2010 “Sola Scriptura” edition of Modern Reformation commented on the latter’s radical postmodern skepticism toward Scripture and radical modern absolutism about the church. Rather the radical skepticism dates back to Véron and others at the time of the Reformation, if not the earlier Greek Pyrrhonists, while implicit, if not ignorant or even blind faith has likewise been a pillar and fundamental of Romanism.

    If the 13th rule of the founder of the Jesuit Order is not satisfactory for establishing the last – and the new pope, Francis, is a Jesuit – consider Cardinal Bellarmine (1542-1621) – who is also a Jesuit:

    If, however, the Pope should err by enjoining vices and forbidding virtues, that is, he will enjoin a particular work, although it would be actually vice, but not obvious vice, or prohibit a good work but not an obvious good work, the Church would be bound to believe vices to be good, and virtues to be evil, unless she would be willing to sin against conscience.

    But there’ s nothing to see here folks, so move along like a good mindless romanist should.

  28. Andrew McCallum said,

    February 3, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    riefly, regarding your paragraph 1, I can’t imagine a RC liberal denying the virgin birth apart from granting that he had departed from Rome on the issue. If he won’t agree with that, then his intellectual dishonesty would be sufficient for me to end the discussion. If he does agree that he’s departed from Rome, then we can either discuss his soul in the face of Scripture or else Rome according to their own documents.

    Ron,

    Yes, but this sounds just like the Protestant liberals, doesn’t it? Protestant liberals may affirm some confession (i.e. the WCF if they are in the PCUSA) but have no intention of abiding by it. So we can’t appeal to the creeds and have to treat them like heretics. As you point out it’s the same thing with the Catholic liberals.

    The question that I understand Lane to be asking is how big is the problem with liberalism in Catholicism and how should we as Reformed apologists respond? Sounds like David Wells has concluded that Catholicism has become so liberal that it’s a better use of his time to address the liberals in Catholicism than the conservatives. I tend to agree with Well’s perspective. I still think it’s still important to confront the conservative RC’s and I agree that their perspective is an important one, but the conservatives in Catholicism seem to be a dwindling breed.

  29. Ron said,

    February 3, 2014 at 6:59 pm

    Andrew,

    If a Protestant liberal doesn’t want to abide by the Confessions is irrelevant to the question of whether you want to debate what the Confessions teach or whether you’re looking to build a case from Scripture regarding salvation.

  30. Ron said,

    February 3, 2014 at 7:44 pm

    Andrew,

    Please stick with this discussion. As for the quandary, I haven’t the foggiest. I think the problem some might be having is that they want to refute a system of liberal Roman Catholicism that even if it were monolithic, which it’s not, would not translate into a victory over the false teachings of Rome. It would be like trying to shoot not at one but a bunch of moving decoys. About two years ago I think we were dealing with this same issue.

  31. Andrew McCallum said,

    February 3, 2014 at 11:09 pm

    It would be like trying to shoot not at one but a bunch of moving decoys.

    Ron, did you read Lane’s original post? This is exactly his point – he cannot shoot at just one target given the liberalism in Rome today. See the end of Lane’s second paragraph above.

    And Lane further notes that folks like Wells are so convinced of the domination of liberalism in Rome that they are directing their apologetic at the liberals. I don’t think there is much to argue about here. In the end it does mean that we are taking a multi-pronged approach, but that’s only because Rome is a multi-faceted creature.

  32. Andrew McCallum said,

    February 3, 2014 at 11:21 pm

    Ron,

    One of my concerns with the apologetics directed at the RCC is that we are burning so much energy on countering the arguments by the folks at places like Called to Communion, but these folks represent a very small percentage of the Roman world and the only people that are going to fall under their sway are Protestants with advanced degrees in philosophy or theology, or at least those with the interest and background to converse at this level (a very small percentage of even Reformed Protestants). So maybe we need to take a look at the rest of the Catholic world and see what the best apologetic is for them. David Wells has apparently done that in his writings, and my point was to agree with this position and extend it.

  33. Ron said,

    February 3, 2014 at 11:25 pm

    Andrew,

    It was said above that the problem is that the magisterium is becoming increasingly liberal and that one book could be dedicated to Roman Catholic theology today.The problem is that this so-called “Roman Catholic theology” that is alleged to be coming from the “magisterium” is not the magisterium’s Roman Catholicism. It’s an imposter. So, again, you can’t defeat Rome by defeating these aberrant views that are floating within the pale. It would be like somebody taking down Peter Leithart and thinking he put a hole in Reformed theology.

    Anyway, i can’t make my case any better than I have.

    Best of luck with the project though. :)

  34. Ron said,

    February 3, 2014 at 11:27 pm

    So maybe we need to take a look at the rest of the Catholic world and see what the best apologetic is for them. D

    Yes, it’s called witnessing to our confused Roman Catholic neighbor who never heard of Trent and could care two straws about the magisterium.

  35. Andrew McCallum said,

    February 4, 2014 at 12:33 am

    The problem is that this so-called “Roman Catholic theology” that is alleged to be coming from the “magisterium” is not the magisterium’s Roman Catholicism.

    You are not grasping Lane’s point that part of this aberrant theology was WITHIN Rome and held to by folks who do deeply understand the Magisterium and are in fact part of the teaching authority of Rome. Go back and read Lane’s original post. Lane says “The problem is that the magisterium is becoming increasingly liberal.” and then he backs his point up with various references.

    Yes, it’s called witnessing to our confused Roman Catholic neighbor who never heard of Trent and could care two straws about the magisterium.

    But even this is part of Rome and you have to understand RCC theology to be this witness. You just need a different apologetic when dealing with this different version of Roman Catholicism. What is so complicated about this Ron?

  36. Ron said,

    February 4, 2014 at 8:01 am

    Andrew,

    The more I read your responses the more confident I am that I grasp Lane’s point. What would be your goal with these people with whom you want to engage that are “WITHIN Rome” who “deeply understand the Magisterium,” that you call “liberal” and might, by your example, deny the “virgin birth” or some other tenet of “historic Christianity”? Do you want to show them that they are denying Roman Catholic theology, or do you suppose they already now that given that they deeply understand the Magisterium? You really don’t know what you want to do, which is why you’re scratching your head about what polemic to use. Once you get an end game in mind you might begin to see that the “authority” you think these people have is no authority at all. Your false premise that leads you to all these forks in the road is that you’re in some sense debating Rome by debating liberals.

    Please, if you’re going to respond, do us both the favor of telling me what you think you would like to do with these liberals.

  37. Ron said,

    February 4, 2014 at 8:55 am

    Andrew,

    It occurs to me, do you believe that if a man has “teaching authority” that his teachings are ipso facto authoritative? Secondly, are you scratching your head over “theologians” that are not bishops or only bishops?

  38. greenbaggins said,

    February 4, 2014 at 10:30 am

    Just so everyone knows what I meant by “liberal,” I was using the term to refer to someone who rejects the verbal plenary inspiration of the Scriptures. So this would include anyone who posits errors in the Bible. In the Roman Catholic context, what this looks like is that the liberals tend to say that individual texts do not prove the dogma that the RCC has claimed comes from that text. One thinks of Raymond Brown, for instance, who said this often.

  39. Ron said,

    February 4, 2014 at 10:52 am

    Hi Lane,

    That’s helpful I think. Just a couple of things more then… It’s implicit that the ordinary magisterium is subordinate to the solemn magisterium. Even “ordinary” presupposes unanimity (but feel free to check me on that). Accordingly, mavericks and pockets of liberals, even if holding the office of Bishop, cannot establish authoritative rules for faith and practice virtue of even a majority opinion.There’s a relevant difference between (a) being an authoritative teacher with the consensus of all the Bishops and (b) a large groups of Bishops positing doctrine. (Similarly, if you were to write a paper or book, it would not be authoritative in the Reformed tradition even though it reflected the Reformed tradition). To add to the confusion, not all ordinary teachings are considered “sacred tradition.” They might be correct in the eyes of the magisterium, even enforced if not, also, one day become part of the fabric of the tradition, but nonetheless they are not infallibly defined as such (not that all authoritative dogmas must be defined “infallible”). Notwithstanding, those particular teachings are fair game in my mind in that they are truly “Roman Catholic,” but they are not by any stretch liberal, nor in any sense controversial or seemingly at odds with the tradition given the very nature of the ordinary magisterium (e.g. unanimity of bishops – and not mere theologians like Kung for instance). So, again, the issue in my mind comes down to the formal pronouncements of councils and popes, which have been addressed ad nauseam already.

    This all reminds me of National Treasure when Patrick Gates said to Ben that the legend was invented to keep the British occupied searching for buried treasure. Of course Ben was right in the end, so by all means keep searching for that polemic, but I think your time can be better spent writing on another topic. :)

  40. John Bugay said,

    February 4, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    Ron — I think it’s one thing to “address the Magisterium” (which has happened, over the centuries, as you say, ad nauseam already. It’s quite another to “address everyone else, on both sides, clarifying issues”.

    I’ll tell you that I’ve seen and heard many well-educated Protestants, even seminary professors, make factual errors, about Roman Catholicism. My own pastor got it wrong from the pulpit not long ago. Even Greg Bahnsen, in his work “Van Til’s Apologetic”, referred matter-of-factly to Thomas Aquinas as a “Benedictine” (pg 192, n75), when in fact he was a Dominican. “They may all look alike” to us, but there is a real difference there.

    That’s just a bush-league error. Things like that (and some of the other errors that I’ve seen) not only misrepresent our opponents, but they make us, corporately, look stupid in their eyes. When those whom we would call the very best among our tradition make such bush-league errors, it seems certain to me that we, as Protestants, need to do more, not less, of something. Even if it is distasteful to us.

  41. Ron said,

    February 4, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    Hi John,

    So, what do you propose, that we point out to very Roman Catholic liberal that they are far afield from Roman Catholicism? Or, maybe we should show them how far afield they are from Scripture? What if one person’s deviation is the over two natures of Christ and the other person’s has to do with the alleged immaculate conception? Again, what’s the end game? Once that is defined then maybe we might put some meat on the bones. *shrug*

  42. John Bugay said,

    February 4, 2014 at 2:09 pm

    Ron, I think there is a need for both offensive and defensive apologetics on our part. They (generally through the “new evangelization” and specifically through groups like CTC) see us as a kind of mission field, and Roman Catholicism certainly is a place where the Gospel needs to be preached.

    WIth that said, who would go to a country to be a missionary without learning the native language? That would make the task infinitely more difficult.

  43. Ron said,

    February 4, 2014 at 2:12 pm

    John

    What is the end game? Nobody knows hence the problem finding a topic for the project. But, have fun! :)

  44. John Bugay said,

    February 4, 2014 at 2:16 pm

    Ron, what has the end game ever been? Why are you even putting it into these terms?

  45. Ron said,

    February 4, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    Why are you even putting it into these terms?

    John,

    You believe a “native language” needs to be acquired in order to refute x. I’m simply pointing out that at the moment x eludes definition. Accordingly, maybe you ought simply to stick to refuting y (Roman Catholicism) or z the generic notion of liberalism, which opposes Scripture and the gospel, at least until you define this non-authoritative system of doctrine that seems to elude you at the moment.

    At best this effort seems to reduce to unproductive pleasure, but nobody needs my blessing on how they spend their time. So as Darcy said to Bingley, better get to it man. :)

  46. dgwired said,

    February 4, 2014 at 8:54 pm

    Meanwhile, the laity are speaking for the church more than the bishops. http://www.frontporchrepublic.com/2014/01/can-talk/

  47. David Meyer said,

    February 5, 2014 at 11:27 pm

    This is in response the the main post. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is fairly exhaustive. Actually, it is very exhaustive. And precice. And I think it is fairly aparent where the various theologians stand in relation to it. Particularly the ones that are more likely to be styled as “conservative” or “Liberal”.
    I am tempted to see your confusion of “who speaks for Roman Catholicism” as hand wringing, but that is not fair to you. So I just suggest you stick with the magisterium, and the best way to see what she says is in the catechism. It is a fat volume that can be got for a couple bucks at your local Goodwill store. Rahner? Are you really questioning where he is on the spectrum of “who speaks for Catholicism”?

  48. rooney said,

    February 7, 2014 at 6:54 am

    I just want to know what CTC-style people think of Vatican II.

    I have heard some conservative apologists say its “pastoral”, so not infallible, but other apologists like Sungenis say that it contains “no error”.

    Thanks.

  49. Mark B said,

    February 7, 2014 at 7:46 pm

    @rooney 48
    Having actually asked them that, and having received a response, I’d say it boiled down to “the magisterium said it, so it’s equivalent to the voice of God” followed by a lot of words spilled trying to show that the statements in it that are absolute contradictions to previous declarations (like Vatican 1, for example) aren’t absolute contradictions. I half thought they might express a little dismay over some of the things I quoted, but them I’m not catholic, where A can be A and not A at the same time.

  50. rooney said,

    February 8, 2014 at 6:02 am

    @Mark B [#49]
    In a Vatican II debate between Fastiggi [Non-sedevacantist] and Sanborn [Sedevacantist], Fastiggi quoted Bellarmine saying that “if Ecumenical councils can err, there is no firm judgement in the church”.

    So I guess since Vatican II was an ecumenical council, it must be infallible for RCs.

    I find it strange why so many RCs shy away from saying that it was infallible.
    I have even heard people say its status is “unclear” or that there is room for “nuance” or that it was an “ambiguous council” and that future clarifications will gain better understanding of it and bring out its true meaning.

  51. Mark B said,

    February 8, 2014 at 11:37 am

    @rooney 50

    Agreed. Those seem to be typical views of it (sometimes by both liberals and conservatives), which actually brings us back to the subject of the original post and some of the subsequent comments. I tend to agree with those who argue that, in order to respond to liberal Catholics, we need to know how we define that. For example, your quote from Bellarmine about councils is part of how I would define a liberal Catholic. They believe things which define them as catholic; about the church, the pope, councils, history, etcetera (the catholic paradigm). CTCers have their preconceptions about what they think the church should look like and use the catholic paradigm to try to make all the things they don’t like (that they can’t reject because they are official) fit with the things they do like. What a liberal catholic (as I’m defining it) does is the same thing, only instead of making Vatican 2 say the opposite of what it actually said, they make Vatican 1 (for example) fit Vatican 2. They both have to do so, no matter how ridiculous some of their comments seem to any logical person (read Brian above as example), because if they don’t, they will fall outside the paradigm and no longer be catholic (just liberal, or whatever). Some of those involved in the women’s ordination movement of late are a example of striving to remain catholic, but desiring something different for the church. The liberals (my definition) seem to be a little more intellectually honest in that they realize that an ecumenical council next year could fundamentally change the church, whereas CTCers (read some of Brian’s comments here and on other threads) really seem to believe that it could never change beyond what they personally feel is ‘catholic’.

  52. dgwired said,

    February 9, 2014 at 8:08 am

    For what it’s worth, here’s an SSPXer on Roman Catholic liberalism: http://unamsanctamcatholicam.blogspot.com/2014/01/profile-of-theological-liberal.html

    “Clearly, different people have different definitions of what it means to be a “liberal” Catholic.

    “This confusion, I think, is due to the fact that Catholics have appropriated secular-political definitions of what it means to be “liberal” or “conservative”, essentially equating indicators of political liberalism with theological liberalism. In the political realm, for example, a liberal is likely to be in favor of same sex marriage, abortion, and at least an indifferentist on religious matters, if not an outright agnostic or atheist. These are what are adopted as the indicators of liberalism. Thus, when it comes to a Catholic prelate or theologian, it is the presence or lack of these indicators that determine whether that individual is “liberal” or not. Understood this way, Cardinal Timothy Dolan cannot be liberal because he is fiercely Pro-Life; Cardinal Schönborn is not liberal because he writes beautiful things about the need for society to turn to God; Cardinal Bergoglio could not be a liberal because he had defended traditional marriage in strong language during his time in Argentina. It is not my purpose to suggest that the aforementioned prelates are liberals, only point out that the indicators for who is and is not a ‘liberal’ are usually social-moral questions lifted from the political spectrum.

    “But is this what it means to be ‘liberal’ in the traditional, Catholic sense? When Bl. Pius IX or Leo XIII or St. Pius X wrote scathingly against “liberalism”, what were they condemning? Were they condemning homosexual marriage, or abortion, or agnosticism?

    “Those moral issues certainly are part of liberalism, but anyone who has really studied the thought of the pre-Conciliar popes on this question knows that these moral issues are fundamentally not what the popes of the 19th century were worried about. Fr. Salvany, in his classic work Liberalism is a Sin, devotes an entire book to demolishing the errors of liberalism and never mentioned abortion or homosexuality. This is because for Salvany, as well as Bl. Pius IX and the other pre-Conciliar popes, liberalism is primarily a troubling theological trend within Catholicism, not a position on hot-button moral issues. It has to do with holding certain theological opinions, most of which are not relatable to any corresponding positions on the political spectrum, because they are problems internal to Catholic theological thought. This is why Fr. Salvany can write a whole book against liberalism and not mention these moral indicators; he simply does not see them as the essence of liberalism.

    “Once we understand this, we will begin to see why there is a divergence here; why where one sees a conservative prelate, another sees a liberal or modernist. If you are still thinking inside the liberal-conservative political paradigm, you may be surprised to see what the Church’s definition of a liberal-progressive actually is.”

    If SSPXers have a point, and I think they do see the discontinuity of Vatican II much more clearly than CTC, then Bryan Cross and Jason Stellman are to Roman Catholicism what evangelicals in the PCUSA are like to Presbyterianism.

  53. The Pundit said,

    February 9, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    Darryl,

    Bryan Cross and Jason Stellman are to Roman Catholicism what evangelicals in the PCUSA are like to Presbyterianism.

    For your analogy to work I think we’d have to determine if the PCUSA is a liberal church, or whether it’s an orthodox church with liberals in it (or whether that distinction even matters to you).

    For my part, I would just as soon keep the liberal/conservative nomenclature in the political arena, and use orthodox/heterodox when speaking of theological matters.

    That said, the CC is officially a theologically orthodox institution with many heterodox people in it, both politically liberal and politically conservative. As for where I fall, I’m an orthodox liberal like the pope. And I highly doubt Bryan would identify himself in this way, which is why I always chuckle when you lump us together constantly.

    ¡Viva la Revolución!

  54. February 9, 2014 at 7:16 pm

    (Not sure why WordPress called me “The Pundit” above!

  55. rooney said,

    February 10, 2014 at 1:23 am

    @dgwired [#52]

    Very refreshing views. It seems CTC are not the only ones equally or more Catholic than the Magisterium.

    Unfortunately, you cannot stop at the SSPX. You have to take it to the next level and look at the views of the CMRI, Matatics, SSPV and MHFM. They seem to have even clearer understanding of the recent Popes / Vatican II than the SSPX.

    Sede vs SSPX debates frequently end up with the SSPX being exposed for his lack of consistency in accepting recent Popes but being out of communion with them. SSPX also reject Vatican II as non-infallible, which is not consistent with Papal interpretations of the council.

  56. greenbaggins said,

    February 10, 2014 at 8:40 am

    Too many abbreviations for me. Could someone tell me what SSPX, CMRI, Matatics, SSPV, and MHFM are?

  57. Reformed Apologist said,

    February 10, 2014 at 8:46 am

    “Matatic” is Gerry Matatics. He has debated James White.

  58. Ron said,

    February 10, 2014 at 8:48 am

    Not sure why my posts reverted to my blog. Let’s see if this works better.

  59. Bob S said,

    February 10, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    54 (Not sure why WordPress called me “The Pundit” above!

    From that fountain of all knowledge, Wikpedia:

    A pundit (sometimes called Talking Head) is someone who offers to mass media his or her opinion or commentary on a particular subject area (most typically political analysis, the social sciences, technology or sport) on which they are knowledgeable (or can at least appear to be knowledgeable), or considered a scholar in said area. … In certain cases, it may be used in a derogatory manner as well, as the political equivalent of ideologue.

    IOW if the shoe fits and Cinderella ain’t barefoot, maybe Snow White ought to look in the mirror for a change take a selfie on her cellphone.

    cheers

  60. February 10, 2014 at 2:58 pm

    Lane, I want to say SSPX is some pious collective, while the FFers are all about Peter. But get it from the horse’s mouth, not me, a presby.

    We need Cats to chime in and help this ecumenical effort.

    Is there a website, Cats, that shows your various groupings, preferably by number of adherents? I’ll still with the wiki on this in the meantime.

    Peace

  61. February 10, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    Whoops, Lane didn’t mention these guys, the FFSP (we have one commenting on Darryl’s blog lately):

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Priestly_Fraternity_of_St._Peter

    Here’s me answering my own question for Catholics, namely, their internal groupings by numbers per wiki. Just FYI:

    Catholic Church – 1,166 million[1]
    Latin Church – 1,149 million
    Eastern Catholic Churches – 17 million
    Alexandrian Rite
    Ethiopian Catholic Church – 0.2 million[2]
    Coptic Catholic Church – 0.2 million[2]
    Antiochene Rite
    Maronite Catholic Church – 3.1 million[2]
    Syro-Malankara Catholic Church – 0.4 million[2]
    Syriac Catholic Church – 0.1 million[2]
    Armenian Rite
    Armenian Catholic Church – 0.4 million[2]
    Chaldean Rite
    Syro-Malabar Catholic Church – 3.8 million[2]
    Chaldean Catholic Church – 0.4 million[2]
    Byzantine Rite
    Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church – 4.3 million[2]
    Melkite Greek Catholic Church – 1.3 million[2]
    Romanian Catholic Church – 0.7 million[2]
    Ruthenian Catholic Church – 0.5 million[2]
    Hungarian Greek Catholic Church – 0.3 million[2]
    Slovak Greek Catholic Church – 0.2 million[2]
    Italo-Albanian Catholic Church – 0.1 million[2]
    Belarusian Greek Catholic Church – 0.1 million[2]
    Georgian Byzantine Catholic Church – 0.01 million[3]
    Albanian Byzantine Catholic Church – 0.01 million[2]
    Bulgarian Greek Catholic Church – 0.01 million[2]
    Croatian Greek Catholic Church – 0.01 million[2]
    Greek Byzantine Catholic Church – 0.01 million[2]
    Macedonian Greek Catholic Church – 0.01 million[2]
    Russian Greek Catholic Church – 0.01 million[2]
    Breakaway Catholic Churches – 25 million
    Philippine Independent Church – 6 million[4]
    Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association – 5 million[5]
    Brazilian Catholic Apostolic Church – 5 million[6]
    Old Catholic Church – 0.6 million
    Society of St. Pius X – 0.5 million
    Polish National Catholic Church – 0.025 million

    Sent from my HTC One™ X, an AT&T 4G LTE smartphone

  62. Bob S said,

    February 11, 2014 at 12:34 am

    61 Yo Andrew, that list was worth the price of admission.
    Holy Mother Rome has plenty of step daughters contra the prevailing mantra of unity, unity, unity over and against those sola schismatic prots.
    I’d say pot, kettle …, but we already got Photiphar’s wife’s routine down pat.

  63. rooney said,

    February 11, 2014 at 12:43 am

    To clarify on abbreviations:

    SSPX= Society of St Pius X. Traditionalist organisation founded by RadTrad bishop Marcel Lefevbre. Accepts modern popes, but rejects Vatican II. Currently in schism with RCC. Policy is to “resist bad Popes”.

    SSPV= Society of St Piu V. Sede+Non-sede group. Broke from SSPX over disagreements over Mass details.

    CMRI= Congregation of Mary Immaculate Queen. Sede group. Quite compromising.

    MHFM= Most Holy Family Monastery. Sede group. Most active and powerful apologetics group for Sedevacantism on the internet by far. They are the only group that reject baptism of blood/baptism of desire and hold that all non-catholics, without circumstantial exception, are damned. Possibly the most extreme fundamental group and has been labelled as a hate group. Catholic answers forums label them as a “cult” and will ban you from CAF if you use “MHFM Cult” arguments.

  64. February 11, 2014 at 3:49 am

    Yo yo, striker Bob. Word..

    Rooney et al, thanks. Sedevacantism is another fascinating topic:

    Sedevacantism is the position, held by a minority of Traditionalist Catholics,[1][2] that the present occupant of the papal see is not truly pope and that, for lack of a valid pope, the see has been vacant since the death of Pope Pius XII in 1958. A tiny number of these claim the vacancy actually goes back to the death of Pope Pius X in 1914

    Anyway, whither Bry and Jase? Scare you off from this thread, Yo?

  65. dgwired said,

    February 11, 2014 at 6:24 am

    Pundit, the, for your argument to work you’d have to decide when the PCUSA became liberal since their creeds and catechisms haven’t changed to liberal ones.

  66. Don said,

    February 11, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    dgwired 65,
    Obviously you are not paying attention to the PCUSA. Just go on their website and try to find what their “creeds and catechisms” are!

  67. JackMiller said,

    February 11, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    Don,
    Here’s the Shorter Catechism on their site:
    http://www.pcusa.org/resource/daily-westminster-shorter-catechism-samuel-robinso/

  68. Don said,

    February 11, 2014 at 4:50 pm

    Jack Miller 67,
    That’s one of them. Can you find all eleven? Do you think that most of the readers of this blog would not consider the latest entries to that list to be “liberal”?

    Or, perhaps a more relevant question to dgwired, is whether that set of confessions makes a noticeable effect in the way the PCUSA operates. It’s easy to hide a list of confessions on your website, and then ignore them.

  69. JackMiller said,

    February 11, 2014 at 6:15 pm

    Don, I think that may be the point of Darryl’s comment. You would have to search high and low to find the regular Roman Catholic who knows of and considers important Rome’s doctrinal standards. Whether hidden in websites such as the PCUSA or not part of the common Mass-goer’s understanding of Catholicism because it isn’t relevant to (hidden due to irrelevance) his weekly confession and taking of the transubstantiated body of Christ.

  70. Don said,

    February 11, 2014 at 7:36 pm

    JackMiller 69,
    Oh, OK. I had no idea what his analogy at the end of #52 was supposed to mean. And his comment in 65 makes it seem like he thinks that any of the creeds or catechisms are important to the PCUSA, which, um, appears naive at best.

  71. Andrew McCallum said,

    February 11, 2014 at 8:20 pm

    the CC is officially a theologically orthodox institution with many heterodox people in it,

    Jason,

    So what’s the difference between an officially orthodox congregation whose clergy and laity embrace heterodoxy, and an officially heterodox congregation whose clergy and laity embrace this same heterodoxy?

    Or putting this in a way I have to you before, why would a Protestant join a Roman Catholic congregation overrun with heterodoxy just to be part of an institution which is only officially orthodox?

  72. Andrew McCallum said,

    February 11, 2014 at 8:33 pm

    and BTW, I totally agree with you Jason that we should keep the political jargon out of the discussion when we are trying to describe theological constructs. If I cannot use the term “liberal” without folks immediately thinking about politically left-wing ideology then I should probably not use the term.

  73. dgwired said,

    February 11, 2014 at 9:07 pm

    If pundit, the thinks the PCUSA is liberal because it is undisciplined, talk about black pots and kettles.

  74. February 11, 2014 at 9:22 pm

    The Pundit said,
    February 9, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    ¡Viva la Revolución!

    Maybe there’s some inside PCA joke, but does Jason envision some kind of revolution or something?

    Just an outside observation from all yalls internal struggle.

    Peace.

  75. February 11, 2014 at 11:13 pm

    Andrew,

    … why would a Protestant join a Roman Catholic congregation overrun with heterodoxy just to be part of an institution which is only officially orthodox?

    If a Protestant concluded that Christ founded a visible church that is identifiable by its unity, holiness, catholicity, and apostolicity, and if he further concluded that the Catholic Church is that church, then he would have no choice but to join it.

    If that church had problems with liberalism among its leaders, he should do what he can to help bring about change and reform. What he mustn’t do, however, is simply start an alternate church (or join one that someone else started) because the one Christ founded fails to live up to his standard in some respect. But simply appealing to problems in the CC as de facto justification for not being Catholic is to presume Protestant ecclesiology.

    PS – I’ll make you a bet that there are plenty of Catholic congregations within ten miles of you whose priests are perfectly orthodox. This appeal to liberalism is often just a smoke screen to hide one’s schism behind.

  76. Robert said,

    February 11, 2014 at 11:33 pm

    Jason (75)

    Unity—When Nancy Pelosi and Bryan Cross are both members in good standing, unity is a meaningless concept.
    Holiness—Um, we do remember the abuse cover up don’t we.
    Catholicity—Nominal RCs can indeed be found on every continent. Not sure how that’s a mark in Rome’s favor…
    Apostolicity—Where is that infallible list of Apostolic doctrines again. I keep looking, but no one can give it.

  77. Ron said,

    February 11, 2014 at 11:49 pm

    …What he mustn’t do, however, is simply start an alternate church…

    “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.” 2 Cor. 6:17

  78. rooney said,

    February 12, 2014 at 12:10 am

    You know what, I read on a few different RC websites that papal elections are not infallible. Is that a true fact?

  79. rooney said,

    February 12, 2014 at 12:14 am

    Can people like Bryan Cross even call Nancy Pelosi, or non-RCs as “heretics?” or do they need a council to call these people heretics? Thanks.

  80. February 12, 2014 at 1:42 am

    Lettin’ her rip:

    If a ProtestantCatholic concluded that Christ founded a visible church that is identifiable by its unity, holiness, catholicity, and apostolicity, and if he further concluded that the Catholic Church is that churchthere existed a protestant communion of this kind, then he would have no choice but to joinurge protestants in that communion to remain in it.

    If that church had problems with liberalism among its leaders, he should do what he can to help bring about change and reform. What he mustn’t do, however, is simply start an alternate churchremain in a church in which he has been defrocked (or join one that someone else started) because the one Christ founded fails to live up to his standard in some respectupholding of the Gospel of Jesus can require unexpected measures to maintain the purity of the same, such as starting a new church. But simply appealing to problems in the CCa true church as defined by WCF 25 as de facto justification for not being CatholicProtestant is to presume Protestant ecclesiologyRomanist triumphalism.

    PS – I’ll make you a bet that there are not plenty of Catholic Presbyterian congregations within ten miles of you whose priestspresbyters are perfectly orthodox, but that doesn’t change anything, we simply are smaller, and size doesn’t matter. This appeal to liberalismbeing the Church Christ Himself founded is often just a smoke screen to hide one’s schismepistemic crisis behind.

  81. February 12, 2014 at 1:46 am

    Easier on the eyes formatted like this (sorry for double posting, yo)

    If a ProtestantCatholic concluded that Christ founded a visible church that is identifiable by its unity, holiness, catholicity, and apostolicity, and if he further concluded that the Catholic Church is that churchthere existed a protestant communion of this kind, then he would have no choice but to joinremain in it.
    If that church had problems with liberalism among its leaders, he should do what he can to help bring about change and reform. What he mustn’t do, however, is simply start an alternate churchremain in a church in which he has been defrocked (or join one that someone else started) because the one Christ founded fails to live up to his standard in some respectupholding of the Gospel of Jesus can require unexpected measures to maintain the purity of the same. But simply appealing to problems in the CCa true church as defined by WCF 25 as de facto justification for not being CatholicProtestant is to presume Protestant ecclesiologyRomanist triumphalism.
    PS – I’ll make you a bet that there are not plenty of Catholic Presbyterian congregations within ten miles of you whose priestspresbyters are perfectly orthodox, but that doesn’t change anything, we simply are smaller, and size doesn’t matter. This appeal to liberalismbeing the Church Christ Himself founded is often just a smoke screen to hide one’s schismepistemic crisis behind.

  82. John Bugay said,

    February 12, 2014 at 2:36 am

    Jason Stellman: …unity, holiness, catholicity, and apostolicity,..

    This is actually a 4th century phrase. Did you know that? Each of the words has a history, and meaning, prior to the 4th century. Do you know what those are? Probably not — yet you throw the phrase out as if you do know something about it, and as if everything else should too. In fact,in the first and second centuries (before Jesus ever used the term about “The Church that He Founded®”, “catholicity” was a political term, used by a political movement called “the Second Sophistic”, a movement among the Greek city-states conquered by Rome, to hold onto their Greek political culture while not going so far in claiming this identity as to tee-off their Roman political masters.

    “Holy”… for example, did not mean that the clergy and hierarchy had the means and, well, the “authority” to circle the wagons and excuse one another from prison time for child molestation and obstruction of justice (a meaning which it has today).

    The Reformed believers here should be aware of J. Gresham Machen using the term “Liberalism” in reference to theology. There’s a definite meaning there, too, and if someone wants to take on the task of outlining the ways that the liberal lines of thinking that Machen combatted worked their way into Roman Catholicism (through the works of the 20th century Roman Catholic writers who found themselves at the wheel), that’s maybe not everyone’s cup of tea, but in the same way we owe a debt of thanks to writers like Philip Schaff and J.B. Lightfoot, we would owe a debt of thanks to a scholar who could trace Kant and Hegel and Schleimacher and Ritschl through the works of Johann Adam Mohler, Henri de Lubac, Yves Congar, etc.It was “Congar’s Council”, after all.

    Children like Jason Stellman, who thinks he has found a shiny new toy, and who’s showing it off as if he actually knows what he’s talking about, has no idea what the working parts on the inside of his toy actually do. He should be challenged at every level

  83. John Bugay said,

    February 12, 2014 at 2:46 am

    I used the words “tee-off” in my previous post in honor of the resident Golfer Andrew Buckingham.

  84. John Bugay said,

    February 12, 2014 at 3:04 am

    Here is a lecture by Nick Needham, who is citing “Martin Lloyd Jones on Roman Catholicism Today”. Here is Lloyd Jones’s assessment:

    “Then others say, ‘what about their new attitude to the Bible?’ Let us face it. Did you know that the new attitude to the Bible, in the Roman Church, is mainly the higher-critical attitude? And that what is coming into the Roman Church, is modernism, liberalism and higher criticism. Not evangelicalism. Do not be deluded my friend. Those are the facts concerning the Roman Catholic Church. (1:58)

    Here’s more from Needham’s lecture:

    After the First World War, a new generation of Roman Catholic thinkers emerged who began to grapple again with the same sorts of ideas which had been condemned in 1907. Among this new generation, outstanding figures included the German theologian Karl Rahner (1904-1984), the Swiss Hans Urs von Balthasar (1905-88), and the French thinkers Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881¬1955), Henri de Lubac (1896-1991), and Yves Congar (1904-95).

    The activities of such men gave rise to the broad school of thought known as the “Nouvelle Theologie” (the ”New Theology”). The movement is also known as “Ressourcement”, which has the idea of going back to the original sources and making them live again – the sources being the Bible and the early church fathers. In fact, Ressourcement was the name preferred by the practitioners of this school of thought; it was their Neo-Thomist enemies who called it Nouvelle Theologie – New Theology, meaning a novel, unheard-of theology, an invention never before seen. But Nouvelle Theologie was the name that stuck.

    The goal of these theologians was a reformation of the whole approach to theology within Roman Catholicism. In particular, they questioned three things: (i) the reigning orthodoxy of Neo- Thomist scholastic theology; (ii) the negative, defensive attitude of their religious communion towards modem civilisation; and (iii) its negative, defensive attitude towards other faiths, including both other forms of Christianity and non¬-Christian religions.

    The Nouvelle Theologie thinkers tried to correct these errors, as they considered them, by exposing Roman Catholic theology to the liberating influences of the Bible and the early church fathers, although (it must be said) what this often really meant was the Bible and the fathers as interpreted by the Nouvelle Theologie. Together with this, they also advocated and practised a broad openness to dialogue with the modem world on matters of religion. Other aspects of the Nouvelle Theologie were a fresh interest in art,
    literature, and mysticism.

    Essentially what the Nouvelle Theologie was seeking to do was free the Roman Catholic communion from the straitjacket of Neo-Thomist orthodoxy by making all theology relative rather than absolute. The truth revealed by God, they argued, was not a set of ideas, but a Person – Jesus Christ. Ideas were a human response to Christ, and these ideas were always inadequate, always caught up in the flux of time and culture. There were different theologies held by different people at different times in the rich, diverse history of the Church; no one single theology, such as Thomism, could be canonised and made absolute. Rather, theologians ought to engage with the different historical varieties of theology, and find tools there for constructing a positive response to present-day challenges. Here were many of the themes of late 19th century Modernism in a new dress.

  85. February 12, 2014 at 6:34 am

    I only saw one word here – golf. And that word wasn’t from me.

    A first..

    A good sign…

    thanks John (insert emoticon) , saw that, yo

  86. February 12, 2014 at 6:58 am

    What I see in blogdom / twitter-verse is a lot of people putting trust in the word of Man instead of the Word of God. Jason, your personal journey, like Bryan Cross’ , or the other Callers, of which you are now fully one of, is what it is, and you come here as a part of an online club seeking to proselytize protestants to your church. Sorry,but that won’t sit well with us.

    Describe just what’s its like being a Caller, with us, as you feel led. It sounds rough, while some of us golf, others of you are chained to your keyboards, answering questions of whomever (i.e. me myself and I) might stop by CtC.

    Rome has nothing for me, personally. Just me and my small opinions here, yo.

    Peace.

  87. Andrew McCallum said,

    February 12, 2014 at 7:16 am

    If a Protestant concluded that Christ founded a visible church that is identifiable by its unity, holiness, catholicity, and apostolicity, and if he further concluded that the Catholic Church is that church, then he would have no choice but to join it.

    Jason,

    Yes, if the Protestant reads those foundational documents penned by those disciples whose mission it was to establish a Church and they came to the conclusion that the modern RCC is the rightful heir of that original Church then this Protestant would be obligated to join the RCC.

    Apart from the question of whether the modern RCC is holy, apostolic, etc that John and Andrew B are raising (and whether such criteria are in any historical sense actually used by RC’s to assess the Church), the foundational documents that describe the Church are almost entirely focused on the issue of what a Christian congregation ought to look like and not on the issue of what the larger ecclesiastical institution that oversees these local congregations ought to look like. This matter of what a Christian congregation ought to look like seems to me to be at the heart of why so many Catholics leave the RCC and join Evangelical and Reformed communions. After all, people live their lives in a congregation, and the foundational documents written by the Apostles describe how a Christian congregation ought to function. It’s these congregations which are described as being one, holy, etc and not some larger Roman institution that later provided the role of an overseer in the West.

    So if a Catholic reads these foundational ecclesiastical documents and notes that the congregation is supposed to be one and holy, and notes that his congregation in no way meets these standards, then I think it’s a reasonable conclusion if he decides to leave that congregation and find one where biblical standards are met.

    Cheers…..

  88. February 12, 2014 at 7:48 am

    For the Catholic, simply knowing that the Church came to a decision on the canon at Trent, means by faith we can know that this decision was true

    Brothers,

    I just read the above citation in a recent combox at CtC. I felt it appropriate seeing as we are talking with a Caller, here.

    The statement cited above needs no comment.

    We press on..

  89. Ron Henzel said,

    February 12, 2014 at 11:01 am

    D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones was cited as saying, “Did you know that the new attitude to the Bible, in the Roman Church, is mainly the higher-critical attitude?”

    Well, as someone with a great deal of respect and admiration for the good doctor, but as someone who also happens to be an ex-Roman Catholic with a fairly good memory of the tumultuous implementation of all things that were new in post-Vatican II Catholicism, and who came to an evangelical faith almost exactly ten years after that council closed, I would have to say that he got it only partially correct.

    Yes, the higher-critical approach did become pervasive in the RC seminaries beginning in the mid-’60s. I’ve talked to those who were candidates for the priesthood during the changes, and the changes really were radical. I’ve been told that books that had spent centuries on the Vatican’s index of forbidden books by the time one academic year ended were suddenly required reading in syllabuses distributed at the beginning of the following academic year—including the works of Calvin and Luther! The windows were suddenly thrown open, and a whole lot of stuff was let in that had formerly been out-of-bounds. But the liberal fallout of all that openness wasn’t really felt by the rank-and-file laity in North America until the New American Bible translation came out in 1970 with its decidedly left-of-center marginal notes and book introductions (e.g., the introduction to the Gospel of John dropped not-so-subtle hints that the fourth gospel was anti-Semitic). But even then, as all that was happening in the academic realm, something quite different was happening at the parish and lay levels.

    While liberal theologians were swaying a new generation of RC leadership, local parishes were distributing English language translations of Scripture like never before. My first New Testament was given to me in my CCD (Confraternity of Christian Doctrine) class, and was not an NAB but a TEV (“Good News for Modern Man”)! Protestant Bibles bearing Roman Catholic imprimaturs streamed off the presses in the 1970s (the Living Bible even had a Catholic edition), and Bible studies began springing up in RC parishes all across North America with the blessing and encouragement of priests and bishops. Various priests began allowing their parishioners to attend the Charismatic “Life in the Spirit” seminars hosted by Episcopalian priest Dennis Bennett and his wife Rita, and Roman Catholics started referring to themselves as “born again” (with varying degrees of accuracy). In many places the Gospel did get into local RC churches at the lay level, with the result that many of those who were genuinely born again eventually left for evangelical congregations as they inevitably went deeper in their study of Scripture.

    I saw this all happen, and I became very much a part of it as I was processing out of Roman Catholicism, even though I myself actually heard the gospel for the first time and responded to it in a small Plymouth Brethren congregation at the end of 1975, to which I’d been invited by someone in my school. But those people whom I still believe were genuine Christians in my RC parish, through the testimony of their faith, were definitely used as instruments in my life as the Father drew me to Himself. Some of them were perhaps merely very zealous Roman Catholics, but many of them, including some from my own family, have since moved on to evangelical Protestant churches. I would be surprised if a lot of RC priests today do not regret, or are at least highly ambivalent about, all the openness to Protestant influence in the ’60s, and ’70s—especially from evangelical Protestantism!

    As a condition of attending that PB church’s Sunday evening youth group my mother required me to obtain the blessing of one of our parish priests, which he freely granted as long as I still maintained my commitment to Sunday as the church’s “holy day of obligation.” The new openness was unfamiliar to my parents’ and grandparents’ generation, and a bit threatening, whose instincts were ironically better than the priests! That arrangement lasted for perhaps a little more than a year, until I was finally out-the-door, and at the beginning of a journey that would find me as a Reformed Presbyterian nearly 30 years later.

  90. John Bugay said,

    February 12, 2014 at 11:45 am

    Ron, you’re right, they did open up vernacular translations of the Bible, and I am one beneficiary of that. But doctrinally, Lloyd Jones was correct about their having moved Scripture out of the realm of plenary inerrancy and only inerrant in that undefined area having to do with salvation.

    The bottom line, though, is that, as Wells noted some years ago, the most important thing for those who crafted the documents at Vatican II was to craft them in such a way as both the theological liberals and the theological conservatives could each take away their own meaning. That’s why Lane had to write a blog post like this one. The liberals are absolutely justified according to their own system to feel as if THEY have “the correct interpretation”

  91. Ron Henzel said,

    February 12, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    John,

    Where I specifically take exception to Lloyd-Jones’ assessment is in his phrase “mainly the higher-critical attitude” as descriptive of the thrust of Rome’s new posture toward Scripture. I think that misses the big Roman Catholic picture by viewing it through the narrow lens of conservative evangelical Protestant concerns.

    From a Roman Catholic perspective, especially since the Reformation (although also to a significant extent before that) the RC attitude toward Scripture was that it must be domesticated under the authority of the magisterium. Too allow Scripture to “run wild” in the church only invited heresy. They did not trust the rank-and-file to bow to their authority while holding authoritative Scriptures in their hands. It was too threatening.

    Until Vatican II, unauthorized Catholics were not actively encouraged to read the Bible on their own, and they were actively discouraged from trying to interpret it for themselves. This is the primary thing that changed in the mid-’60s. There was a new openness to the idea that those outside the hierarchy could read the Bible in relative independence from trained and priests who had taken vows.

    Lane helpfully points out that within the hierarchy the loosening of the reins had actually happened about 20 years earlier with the Divino afflante Spiritu, and it would seem that a case can be made for that document representing the beginning of the current slide, but that encyclical also contained very strong declarations of biblical inerrancy while still assuming the final authority of the church in biblical interpretation. Its primary accomplishment was to signal the willingness of the hierarchy to see fresh translations of Scripture from the Hebrew and Greek texts along with cautious openness to both lower and higher criticism. But even by the time Lloyd-Jones died in 1981, could it be said that the hierarchy’s attitude toward Scripture was “mainly higher-critical” when you had a pope who had just stripped Hans Küng of his license to teach as a Roman Catholic theologian in between rebuking liberation theologians on airport tarmacs in Latin America? Sure, the fragmentation had started, but I don’t think they were quite where Lloyd-Jones thought they were yet.

  92. John Bugay said,

    February 12, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    Thanks Ron — I agree there was a loosening in an evangelical direction, that Needham didn’t bring up — but at the time when Lloyd Jones made that statement, in 1967, it certainly was the case, especially among those “chomping at the bit” to move forward, and again, post JPII/BXVI, I think we’ll see the same kinds of movements. I haven’t read Strimple’s piece in the Roman Catholicism volume, but if I recall, he was making that same kind of point. I think that the tide of sentiment among the Bishops — who were significantly “liberal” under the two highly conservative popes, will move even farther in that “higher criticism” direction now that “Pope Francis” wants to “complete” the implementation of Vatican II.

  93. Ron Henzel said,

    February 12, 2014 at 6:35 pm

    Meanwhile, it is extremely lamentable that the editor of the book that Lane is reading, John Armstrong, has completely reversed himself on the position he took in its closing chapter, that Rome “has fallen and has thus lost the marks of the church” (p. 307) and he now embraces it as a true church.

  94. February 12, 2014 at 7:14 pm

    Well, Ron, that’s where we want all of us to be. Some of us simply don’t buy what they are selling. Not yet, anyway.

    Yo

  95. February 12, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    Further!

    If you are familiar with the Westminster Confession, you already know what the OPC believes and confesses differently than the Roman Catholic Church. The differences are neither small nor few in number, but I could summarize a few things that we consider to be differences in essentials.

    The OPC does not accept the books known as the Apocrypha as the Word of God.
    The OPC believes that the Word of God in the Scriptures is the supreme authority.
    The OPC believes that church councils and tradition are not on a par with the Scriptures, but are required to submit to the Scriptures.
    The OPC believes that salvation is all of grace, persons being justified by grace through faith alone.
    The OPC believes that good works do not merit salvation but flow out of having been saved.
    The OPC believes that even those who attain to the greatest height which is possible in this life fall short of much which in duty they are bound to do, which is to deny that “Saints” have done works of supererogation (that is, works above and beyond the call of duty).
    The OPC believes that Jesus Christ died once for all for the elect, who were predestined before the foundation of the world.
    The OPC believes that Jesus Christ is the only Head of the Church and that the Pope of Rome cannot, in any sense, be head thereof.
    The OPC believes there are only two sacraments ordained by the Lord Jesus for the church: baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
    The OPC believes that the bread and wine in the Lord’s Supper remain bread and wine and that the Roman Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation is superstition and idolatry.
    The OPC believes that the popish sacrifice of the mass is most abominably injurious to Christ’s one, only sacrifice, the alone propitiation for all the sins of His elect.
    The OPC believes that heaven and hell are the only two places men go in death, and purgatory is denied as being an interim place.
    We might ask, can God bring reconciliation between the churches? Of course, he can; and we may certainly pray to that end, and we can be sure that there will be one perfectly united church in heaven. But it must be understood, as the Scriptures make plain, that true reconciliation can only be a reconciliation in the truth. Unity at the cost of the purity of God’s word is not real unity. As Jesus himself said, “The truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).

    It’s not 95 points so maybe we can say progress?

    Sent from my HTC One™ X, an AT&T 4G LTE smartphone

    Peace..


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