A Blueprint for Order

Chapter 1 of Not By Scripture Alone is by Patrick Madrid, and is entitled “Sola Scriptura: A Blueprint for Anarchy.” Patrick is editor-in-chief of Envoy Magazine, a journal of Catholic apologetics and evangelization. His undergrad was from the University of Phoenix, and his graduate work (a Master’s Degree in Theology) is from the University of Dallas. Patrick is one of those fighting Catholics. Right from the get-go, he lets us know exactly what he thinks of Protestants, especially in how he perceives them to put forward Sola Scriptura:


It’s funny. For five centuries, Protestants have intimidated, cowed, browbeaten, flustered, put to flight, trodden down, bullied, vexed, and knocked the wind out of countless unwary Catholics by using the “Bible only” approach to religious arguments (p. 1).

It is difficult to know how to respond to this. Perhaps Mr. Madrid has had many bad experiences with Protestants, and is therefore projecting his experiences on to the rest of Catholicism. Also, one does not wish to respond in kind to this kind of rhetoric. Perhaps the best thing is simply to note Mr. Madrid’s vexation with Protestants and move on. I would only point out this one thing, though: such rhetoric does not give me hope that Mr. Madrid has taken the time and patience to understand Protestants. One other thing: it was slightly jarring to me to read Mr. Sungenis’s preface, which spoke of rapprochement between Catholics and Protestants, and then to see this article come right out of the block with both arms swinging hard.

Mr. Madrid states that the entire book is about three major problems with Sola Scriptura: it is unhistorical, unbiblical, and impractical (p. 2). The present chapter, he says, is supposed to give us a “macro” look (his words) at the issues.

He starts, then, by describing the doctrine. Right away we run into problems. While quoting Robert Godfrey’s definition is certainly not a problem, summarizing it the way he does by way of objection (“Scripture is not always clear in all places so that any ‘ordinary believer can find it there and understand it'”) is a complete caricature. One wonders why Sungenis did not catch this straw man. It is not the Protestant position that Scripture is always clear in all places. This is a common Catholic misconception of the Protestant position, and it allows them to introduce all sorts of evidence about how difficult Scripture is to interpret. All of which evidence is beside the point. The Protestant position is that only those things necessary for salvation and for faith and life are clear in Scripture. Nor do we mean by this that the clarity that is in Scripture is all on the surface. The believer has to work to get some of those clear things. But we are NOT saying that all Scripture is clear. I own approximately 1500 commentaries on Scripture precisely because I do not believe that Scripture is always clear. Furthermore, even in the clear passages, there is always more to glean. Indeed, 2 Peter 3 tells us that Paul’s letters can be difficult to understand at times.

The second point that bears mention about this section on the definition of Sola Scriptura is his clear affirmation of the material sufficiency of Scripture (p. 3). What we mean by material sufficiency is that every important doctrine of Scripture can be found in Scripture, whether in seed form, or in scattered form, or in full glory. As we will see, Rome did not always believe in material sufficiency. In can certainly be argued that Trent did not believe in material sufficiency. For instance, David King writes, “Nearly every theologian from the Council of Trent to Vatican I (a span of about 300 years) understood the teaching of Trent to be a denial of both the material and formal sufficiency of Scripture” (Holy Scripture, vol 1, p. 183, emphasis original). He quotes Karl Rahner to the same effect (see Theological Investigations, vol VI, pp. 106-107). So, which Catholicism is correct on material sufficiency? Trent as interpreted by the Magisterium up until Vatican I (which argues against material sufficiency), or John Henry Newman (who argues for material sufficiency)? It is a bit simplistic for the authors of Not By Scripture Alone simply to gloss over this rather large dispute within the Catholic church regarding material sufficiency. They seem simply to assume not only the principle of material sufficiency, but they also seem to claim that this has always been the Catholic position (see Madrid’s wording “2000 years-worth of Christian believers from seeing them in Scripture,” p. 3; Madrid is talking about specifically Romanist teachings, such as the Mass, baptismal regeneration, the primacy of Peter, and sacred tradition). This ahistorical understanding of Catholicism allows Madrid to perpetrate an ad populam fallacy. This fallacy appeals to a number of people as arguing a particular position, and thus concluding that the position is correct simply because a large number of people hold to it. Watch closely:


You can already see the problem. Godfrey’s definition of (and, a fortiori, his arguments for) sola scriptura self-destructs, because his claim insists that all those “ordinary believers” who found the Mass, the sacraments, etc., were completely wrong in their interpretation of Scripture. These Catholic teachings, Godfrey and his fellow Protestant apologists contend, are actually not there in Scripture. But then he must also admit that Scripture was not clear on those doctrines, at least not clear enough to prevent 2000 years-worth of Christian believers from seeing them in Scripture (p. 3).

There are actually two problems here. One is the appeal to the majority, which is not logical. Secondly, there is an assumption that Christian believers, even many Christian believers, could not be mistaken about what the Bible says. However, is it impossible for sin to blind the minds of many people, even if they are Christians?

We’ll tackle one more problem that Madrid raises here, and that is the issue of interpretation. Of course, we only have space here to do a general treatment of this. Nevertheless, this is very important. Madrid writes “There is no way, under the sola scriptura rubric, to know with certainty who’s (sic) interpretation of Scripture is correct and whose is ‘unbiblical.’ Sola Scriptura is epistemologically unviable” (p. 3). I believe here that Madrid proves too much. Madrid would obviously say here that the only way to know with certainty whose interpretation is correct is to submit to the Roman Catholic Church, for the Magisterium is capable of telling us which interpretation is correct. However, the Magisterium has not agreed on the interpretation of Scripture, either. A case in point is the material sufficiency problem noted above. As will be argued in future posts, both Protestant and Catholic interpretations of Scripture can be found in the early church fathers. So the Magisterium cannot tell us what is the perfect interpretation of Scripture either. Ultimately, Madrid’s position makes Scripture completely useless, since it all becomes a matter of interpretation. In interpreting the Catholic tradition to be entirely in favor of material sufficiency, as Madrid does, he has selectively used the Magisterium to prove his own opinion. The Magisterium therefore becomes a wax nose, bendable to the author’s own purposes.

143 Comments

  1. January 6, 2011 at 11:37 am

    “However, the Magisterium has not agreed on the interpretation of Scripture, either.”
    Whenever I point out this obvious problem, I usually hear some mumbling about “ex cathedra.” The problem with *this* is that if the Scriptures used to support Magisterial infallibility (such as John 16:13) actually do support it, then where is the Scriptural clarification about ‘ex cathedra’? Oh wait, the Magisterium conveniently came up with that one, oh, ok… When it comes to revisionism, Rome is worse than George Lucas.

  2. Bryan Cross said,

    January 6, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    Hello Lane,

    Pat isn’t saying that a “position is correct simply because a large number of people hold to it.” A claim that x is [objectively] clear is refuted when 99% of people can’t see it or grasp it. So the claim that Scripture is clear regarding those things you judge to be necessary for salvation, faith and life is refuted when a majority (and especially an overwhelming majority) of persons in history read Scripture and come to conclusions that fall short of what you judge to be necessary for salvation, faith and life. Yes, it is possible for sin to have blinded their minds. But it is epistemically dangerous to claim that Scripture is clear [regarding those things you judge to be necessary for salvation, and for faith and life] and then, when a majority of people who read and study Scripture don’t see in Scripture what you judge to be necessary for salvation, faith and life, claim that sin and the devil has blinded them. I say epistemically ‘dangerous’ because any cult could claim the same sort of thing, as a way of propping up its false system, i.e. “our position is clear, and anyone who disagrees with us has been blinded by sin and the devil.”

    However, the Magisterium has not agreed on the interpretation of Scripture, either.

    Yes it has. The Magisterium provides just that:

    “The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone. Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ.” This means that the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome. (CCC 85)

    You are assuming that the only way to interpret the Bible is to provide official interpretations of individual verses or individual passages of Scripture. The Magisterium provides the authentic interpretation of Scripture, but typically not by pointing to certain verses and giving official interpretations for each one. Every time the Magisterium defines a doctrine, it is giving us an interpretation of the whole of Scripture, one we can know with certainty. And it thereby further clarifies the framework through which and in which to interpret and understand each passage of Scripture. That’s why your conclusion that “Madrid’s position makes Scripture completely useless, since it all becomes a matter of interpretation” does not follow, because we can know the authentic interpretation of Scripture, through the doctrines of faith and morals that the Magisterium has taught definitively.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  3. greenbaggins said,

    January 6, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    It doesn’t matter how clear something is in Scripture, Bryan, people will distort it. Satan is always active in this regard. Therefore, how people may interpret the Bible, even how the majority may interpret something, is not strictly relevant to the argument. That cults use this form of argumentation is neither here nor there. That is a guilt by association argument, and is therefore irrelevant. It would be the same as if someone said, “Well, the Catholics believe in the Trinity, therefore we shouldn’t, because that’s dangerous to believe something that the Catholics believe.” Ironically, it is you who are using the arguments of the cult here.

    Your quotation regarding the interpretation of Scripture is not relevant to my concern, which was not about the question of interpretation in general, but of actual interpretative moves that the Magisterium has made throughout history. This can be gleaned from my post.

  4. Stephen said,

    January 6, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    Here goes Patrick Madrid with his straw man argument that Sola Scriptura leads to anarchy. If his argument is true than Rome has embraced Sola Scriputra because there is anarchy in their ranks as well. Of course a good Roman apologist would refute that by saying they are not Roman Catholic but are acting like Protestants.

  5. Bryan Cross said,

    January 6, 2011 at 2:11 pm

    Lane, (re: #3)

    It doesn’t matter how clear something is in Scripture, Bryan, people will distort it. Satan is always active in this regard. Therefore, how people may interpret the Bible, even how the majority may interpret something, is not strictly relevant to the argument.

    If you claim that boiling lava is cold, the fact that 99.99% of people say it is hot is relevant to the truth of your claim. If you claim that oatmeal is spicy, and 99.99% people say that oatmeal is bland, that is relevant to the truth of your claim. Likewise, if you claim that Scripture is clear about x, and the majority of people who read Scripture arrive at ~x, that is relevant to the truth of your claim. The way to respond is not to say that what the majority says is irrelevant to whether Scripture clearly says x, but to show that he majority of Scripture readers arrive at x.

    If you think I’m using a ‘guilt by association’ argument, then you misunderstood me, because I’m not talking about mere association. I’m talking about the intrinsic danger [to fallible agents] of any epistemic position in which those who disagree with oneself are ipso facto blinded by sin and the devil. If you were Jesus or infallible, this wouldn’t be a problem. But I used the example of cults only because there, hopefully, you can see and agree that such an epistemic position is dangerous in the sense that it tends to prevent deceived persons from seeing outside of their paradigm-protecting bubble, and so coming to a knowledge of the truth. If, for example, you meet a Wesleyan who says that everyone who holds a non-Wesleyan interpretation of Scripture is blinded by sin and the devil, you won’t just say, well, I guess I’m blinded by sin or the devil. Instead, you’ll challenge his arrogant assumption that everyone who disagrees with his interpretation is blinded by sin or the devil. Likewise, I’m challenging your assumption that the reason that all those people didn’t come to what you think is clear in Scripture is because they were blinded by sin and the devil. It is a form of special pleading that props up your claim that what those people didn’t see in Scripture is nevertheless clear in Scripture.

    Your quotation regarding the interpretation of Scripture is not relevant to my concern,

    It may not have been relevant to your “concern,” but I think it is directly relevant to your claim that the “Magisterium has not agreed on the interpretation of Scripture.” The Magisterium has agreed on the interpretation of Scripture — every time it defines a doctrine it is agreeing on the interpretation of Scripture, and it has done this numerous times throughout Church history. That’s why the claim by some Protestants that the Magisterium has never agreed on the interpretation of Scripture is a strawman.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  6. Ron said,

    January 6, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    Bryan Cross states:

    “A claim that x is [objectively] clear is refuted when 99% of people can’t see it or grasp it.

    Wrong, especially when spiritual matters are in view. It’s interesting that Mr. Cross indexes the difficulty most people have with the gospel to the alleged lack of clarity in the message as opposed to the spiritual condition of the hearer. Jesus, however, disagrees with Mr. Cross. Jesus offered a rather different reason than Mr. Cross. Jesus said: “Why do you not understand what I say?.. It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.” John 8:43, 47

    Moreover, Jesus said: “The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” John 10:3 ff.

    Finally, that the majority of people do not hear the CLEAR voice of the Savior should be no surprise to us, though I do think this will change in the end, but notwithstanding it is no surprise that “99% of [the] people can’t see it or grasp it”. After all, Jesus said: “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. Matthew 7:13, 14

    But it is epistemically dangerous to claim that Scripture is clear [regarding those things you judge to be necessary for salvation, and for faith and life] and then, when a majority of people who read and study Scripture don’t see in Scripture what you judge to be necessary for salvation, faith and life, claim that sin and the devil has blinded them.

    Mr. Cross would rather agree with the popes than Jesus.

    I say epistemically ‘dangerous’ because any cult could claim the same sort of thing, as a way of propping up its false system, i.e. “our position is clear, and anyone who disagrees with us has been blinded by sin and the devil.”

    The danger is in disagreeing with Jesus.

  7. greenbaggins said,

    January 6, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    Bryan, regarding your first points, you are assuming that the nature of the question regarding the clarity of Scripture is a question in which people’s judgment is not affected by the Fall. Of course, I would not expect you to argue otherwise, seeing as how (according to Catholicism) the only thing humanity lost in the Fall is the donum superadditum. However, if Romans 1 is followed here, we come to recognize that people’s thinking is distorted by the Fall. Besides this point, your argument still fails to come to grips with the idea that 99% of people can still be dead wrong. Ron answers that point quite well, I think. The clarity of Scripture is there whether 99% of people miss it or not. It is not a question that can be settled by counting heads, especially not when sin is involved distorting people’s opinions.

    Secondly, you in turn do not understand my position. It is a gross extension of my position to say that someone has to agree with me in order for Scripture to be clear. Scripture may very well be exceptionally clear in places where I don’t understand it, or where I am understanding it wrong. This was brought home to me this week when the obvious interpretation of John 1:33 (the descending of the Holy Spirit on Jesus) struck me. I had never interpreted this verse of Jesus’ baptism. All of a sudden it hit me. It was very clear, even though I was too dense to see it before now.

    Thirdly, you are changing the subject when it comes to the Magisterium. I am talking about individual interpretations of Scripture, not about interpretation in general. Furthermore, I am making the claim that the Magisterium has disagreed with itself on the interpretation of passages in Scripture. I gave an example of the material sufficiency of Scripture. Or do you think you are a better theologian than Karl Rahner, who would grant my point here?

  8. The 27th Comrade said,

    January 6, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    Most people who are alleged to have believed, for example, that salvation is by works, rather than by faith (and therefore used as evidence against perspicuity), did not actually read Romans themselves. And where they would have—being literate, for example—they were banned from doing so.
    When people like Augustine did in fact read the New Testament, they did say “sola fide,” for example, before Luther (who also read the New Testament), regardless of the many in-between who paid money to bishops to buy justification, never having read that “Whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life”.
    I read to the end, expecting that Lane would note the spiritual illiteracy of these many that Mr. Madrid refers to, but nothing came. Next I will cite the imperspicuity of Latin, because most people deem “quod erat demonstrandum” to be gibberish.

  9. greenbaggins said,

    January 6, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    You are, of course, correct, 27th. Most of the people in the Middle Ages could not read, and therefore had no opportunity to find out for themselves what Scripture taught. They could only hear the Latin, which many of them could not understand. Forgive me for not mentioning this, 27th, but you have more than made up for my lacuna.

  10. paigebritton said,

    January 6, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    From P. Madrid’s quote above:
    You can already see the problem. Godfrey’s definition of (and, a fortiori, his arguments for) sola scriptura self-destructs, because his claim insists that all those “ordinary believers” who found the Mass, the sacraments, etc., were completely wrong in their interpretation of Scripture…But then he must also admit that Scripture was not clear on those doctrines, at least not clear enough to prevent 2000 years-worth of Christian believers from seeing them in Scripture (p. 3).

    So, those “ordinary believers” to whom Madrid is appealing, would they be (99% of them, anyway) the same ones who had no access to the texts of the Scriptures to even check what they were being told by their church leaders? I am not sure how appealing to the masses of RC parishoners (then or now) supports “seeing” these doctrines in Scripture. When would they ever have looked?

  11. paigebritton said,

    January 6, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    Ha — great minds thinking alike and all that.

  12. Ryan said,

    January 6, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    The “widespread misinterpretation of Scripture disproves Scriptural clarity” argument is effect to cause reasoning. Simple as that. Any RC insinuations as to the relevance of the fact Scripture is misinterpreted to the clarity of Scripture which do not ultimate reduce to the above, fallacious argument are red herrings and a waste of time.

  13. Constantine said,

    January 6, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    Bryan writes,

    The Magisterium has agreed on the interpretation of Scripture — every time it defines a doctrine it is agreeing on the interpretation of Scripture, and it has done this numerous times throughout Church history.

    I don’t think that’s true and even a cursory look at Rome’s interpretation of one key text – Matthew 16:18- shows that it cannot be true. According to Vatican I and “ this absolutely manifest teaching of the sacred scriptures, as it has always been understood by the catholic church” Peter, personally, received a primacy of jurisdiction. (Vatican I, First Dogmatic Constitution of the Church
    Session IV, Chapter 1 On the institution of the apostolic primacy in blessed Peter.)

    But two modern examples clearly put the lie to that interpretation and dispel any possible notion that “The Magisterium has agreed on the interpretation of Scripture.”

    First, Archbishop Kenrick, who, had been a Catholic seminary professor published a paper during Vatican I (1870) that states Catholic are precluded from using Matthew 16:18 in support of the papacy. His reasoning was that it violated the historic principle for dogmatic pronouncements laid out by the Creed of Pius V, which in turn relied on the unanimity of those who had gone before. Apparently there had been no historical agreement in the “Magisterium” to which this Catholic professor could point.

    Secondly, Yves Cardinal Congar interprets Matthew 16:18 as Christ acknowledging Peter’s faith and not his person, which puts him clearly in the headlights of the anathema that resulted from the Magisterial (dis) agreement on this critical matter. (See Congar, Yves. The Meaning of Tradition. San Francisco. Ignatius Press, 2004.) Congar, while not citing the Creed of Pius V, does mention the “tradition” of using the Rule of St. Vincent of Lerins for making dogmatic pronouncements. Lerins, like Pius V, required the “Agreement” you seem to think exists, but both of these members of the Magisterium found lacking.

    So how these two scholarly members of the Magisterium could disagree with you, Bryan, will be interesting to explore.

  14. D. T. King said,

    January 6, 2011 at 10:07 pm

    Mr. Cross asserts: You are assuming that the only way to interpret the Bible is to provide official interpretations of individual verses or individual passages of Scripture. The Magisterium provides the authentic interpretation of Scripture, but typically not by pointing to certain verses and giving official interpretations for each one. Every time the Magisterium defines a doctrine, it is giving us an interpretation of the whole of Scripture, one we can know with certainty.

    Actually, this is Mr. Cross’ parody of the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale, The Emperor’s New Clothes. Remember this tale? It’s the one where the emperor strips naked, puts on his invisible suit, and struts stark naked in procession before his on-looking kingdom, believing his own lie that he’s not naked, and this is the response of the emperor when a child exposes his shame…

    “But he has nothing on at all,” said a little child at last. “Good heavens! listen to the voice of an innocent child,” said the father, and one whispered to the other what the child had said. “But he has nothing on at all,” cried at last the whole people. That made a deep impression upon the emperor, for it seemed to him that they were right; but he thought to himself, “Now I must bear up to the end.” And the chamberlains walked with still greater dignity, as if they carried the train which did not exist. (Cited from the last paragraph of The Emperor’s New Suit).

    This scene from Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy tale is, in essence, an illustration of the Roman claim for the interpretation of Scripture, and our modern day Roman apologists feel the need to fall in line with the thought of the emperor, “Now [we] must bear up to the end.” And the chamberlains walk with still greater dignity, as if they carried the train which does not exist.

    Consider the very remarkable directive given by Pius XII in the papal encyclical Humani generis (August 12,1950), where his language makes it clear that once dogma has been established by the magisterium, the dual sources of Scripture and tradition are then to be sought out in the aftermath to find support for such teaching:

    It is also true that theologians must always have recourse to the sources of divine revelation; for it is their duty to indicate how what is taught by the living magisterium is found, either explicitly or implicitly, in Sacred Scripture and in divine “tradition.” See Denzinger, “Humani generis,” p. 640. On the next page (641), Pius XII interprets this to be the intent of Pius IX as well, when he states, “Our predecessor of immortal memory, Pius IX” taught “that the most noble function of theology is to show how a doctrine defined by the Church is contained in the sources . . .”

    Pope Pius XII makes it clear that dogma is not the result of seeking to interpret Holy Scripture. Rather than Scripture or tradition, it is the Roman magisterium, then, that constitutes the norma normans non normata, and as such, acts as the norma normans (the norm that norms) for both Scripture and tradition. Rome makes itself the final standard for the adjudication of all doctrine. For to paraphrase the prescription of Pius XII as set forth in Humani generis above, the magisterium defines, then the theologians find. Exegesis, interpretation of Scripture is a mere after-thought to the definition of dogma. There is no serious intention of providing any interpretation of Holy Scripure. To show that Rome is not offering any certainty of scriptural interpretation, their theologians even stress that it is only the dogma itself that is being infallibly defined, and that the proofs adduced in favor of it could be wrong! Observe the following quotes from members of his own communion . . .

    “Gen 3:15 appears in the Bull Ineffabilis Deus defining the Immaculate Conception. Infallibility however applies only to the dogma defined and not to any particular argument adduced in support of it; hence the interpretation of Gen 3:15, though of great weight, is not infallible by reason of its inclusion in this decree.” See Dom Bernard Orchard, M.A., ed., A Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture, p. 59, second column.

    Roman Catholic apologist Patrick Madrid: …the dogma being defined here is Peter’s primacy and authority over the Church — not a formal exegesis of Matthew 16. The passages from Matthew 16 and John 21 are given as reasons for defining the doctrine, but they are not themselves the subject of the definition. As anyone familiar with the dogma of papal infallibility knows, the reasons given in a dogmatic definition are not themselves considered infallible; only the result of the deliberations is protected from error. It’s always possible that while the doctrine defined is indeed infallible, some of the proofs adduced for it end up being incorrect. Patrick Madrid, Pope Fiction (San Diego: Basilica Press, 1999), p. 254.

    Peter M. J. Stravinskas: From a positive vantage point, the Church has declared Matthew 16:17f. and John 21:15 as germane to the doctrine of Petrine primacy . . .
    So few examples can hardly be perceived as a heavy-handed attempt to stifle private interpretation. It is also worth noting that whenever a rare definitive interpretation is given, it is done only after consultation with the best exegetes of the day, as well as allowing for the divine guidance promised by Jesus to His Church (see Jn. 14:26, 16:13). To push for one’s own interpretation counter to twenty centuries of authentic and authoritative understanding of a particular passage would appear to be spiritual pride and arrogance of the worst sort. Peter M. J. Stravinskas, The Catholic Church and the Bible (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1987), pp. 15-16.

    Ludwig Ott, while commenting on Pius IX’s papal bull Ineffabilis that defined the dogma of the immaculate conception of Mary, wrote: “The Bull does not give any authentic explanation of the passage [i.e. Gen. 3:15]. It must be observed that the infallibility of the Papal doctrinal decision extends only to the dogma as such and not to the reasons given as leading up to the dogma.” Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, ed. James Canon Bastible (Rockford: Tan Books and Publishers, Inc., reprinted 1974), p. 200.

    Johann Adam Möhler states: “Catholic theologians teach with general concurrence, and quite in the spirit of the Church, that even a Scriptural proof in favour of a decree held to be infallible, is not itself infallible, but only the dogma as defined.” Johann Adam Möhler, Symbolism: Exposition of the Doctorinal Differences between Catholics and Protestants as evidenced by their Symbolical Writings, trans. James Burton Robertson (New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997), p. 296.

    The Roman theologian, Raymond E. Brown, has noted that “Roman Catholics who appeal explicitly to Spirit-guided church teaching are often unaware that their church has seldom if ever definitively pronounced on the literal meaning of a passage of Scripture, i.e., what the author meant when he wrote it. Most often the church has commented on the on-going meaning of Scripture by resisting the claims of those who would reject established practices or beliefs as unbiblical. Raymond E. Brown, An Introduction to the New Testament (New York: Doubleday, 1997), p. 31.

    Moreover, Joseph A. Fitzmyer, S.J. demonstrates how vacuous the claim of Trent was (and is) when it decreed that Scripture should never be interpreted contrary to the unanimous consent of the fathers, when he noted . . .

    When one hears today the call for a return to a patristic interpretation of Scripture, there is often latent in it a recollection of Church documents that spoke at times of the ‘unanimous consent of the Fathers’ as the guide for biblical interpretation.(fn. 23) But just what this would entail is far from clear. For, as already mentioned, there were Church Fathers who did use a form of the historical-critical method, suited to their own day, and advocated a literal interpretation of Scripture, not the allegorical. But not all did so. Yet there was no uniform or monolithic patristic interpretation, either in the Greek Church of the East, Alexandrian or Antiochene, or in the Latin Church of the West. No one can ever tell us where such a “unanimous consent of the fathers” is to be found, and Pius XII finally thought it pertinent to call attention to the fact that there are but few texts whose sense has been defined by the authority of the Church, “nor are those more numerous about which the teaching of the Holy Fathers is unanimous.” See Joseph A. Fitzmyer, Scripture, The Soul of Theology (New York: Paulist Press, 1994), p. 70.

    Rome’s claim for the interpretation of Scripture is simply bogus, and acting as a magisterium of one with no official authority for doing so, Mr. Cross is simply offering us an example of his excursion in sophistry while presenting to us a modern day Roman apologist’s parody of The Emperor’s New Clothes. And this is why no one who is acquainted with the writings of Roman theologians takes Mr. Cross seriously. And given their status as new converts and novices in the communion of Rome, he and his co-religionists have no business offering themselves as our instructors on behalf of the Roman communion.

  15. Constantine said,

    January 6, 2011 at 11:02 pm

    Bryan writes, again:

    A claim that x is [objectively] clear is refuted when 99% of people can’t see it or grasp it. So the claim that Scripture is clear regarding those things you judge to be necessary for salvation, faith and life is refuted when a majority (and especially an overwhelming majority) of persons in history read Scripture and come to conclusions that fall short of what you judge to be necessary for salvation, faith and life.

    That’s not at all a Biblical perspective.

    A man or group of men can never be the standard by which the truth or clarity is judged because man is fallen in all his capacities including the noetic. (See Genesis 6:5, 8:21). And God, speaking through Jeremiah says very clearly that even religious experts are not to be trusted if they handle God’s word falsely (Jeremiah 8:8-9) So how do you know if its handled falsely by the Magisterium? The Apostle Paul affirms this when he says that it’s possible for every man to be in error, but God to still be true (Romans 3:4; see also Psalm 51:4). So to put the burden of proof of the clarity of Scripture onto man is simply to misplace it.

    What I find ironic is that if Bryan were to apply this epistemological standard to the dogmas of the Catholic Church, I dare say none would survive. No majority can be found in history to support the papacy. No majority showed up at Trent to proclaim the Canon.

    Lastly, it is amazing that Madrid could say, “There is no way, under the sola scriptura rubric, to know with certainty who’s (sic) interpretation of Scripture is correct and whose is ‘unbiblical.’”

    I don’t mean to be harsh, but I find this almost blasphemous. God said through the Psalmist that “The ordinances of the Lord are SURE and altogether righteous.: (Psalm 19:9) Did not Christ Himself say, “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.? (John 14:26). Is the Trinity not good to its word? Did the Holy Spirit forget to teach us “everything” Christ had said to us? Are the Scriptures excluded from “everything” Jesus said?

    I’m sure that Green Baggins will get to this, but the Christian understanding about Christian understanding is: 1. God gives wisdom to the wise (Daniel 2:21), and teaches His people (Isaiah 54:13; John 6:45); 2. God’s people hear his word and believe (Romans 10:17); 3. and they verify what is taught by the Scriptures in order to filter out erroneous teaching (Acts 17:11; 1 Thess. 2:13); 4. There are those who are not taught and who do not believe and verification by them or to them is futile. (“Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.” (John 8:47)).

    Therefore, there is clear explanation in Scripture about its certainty. That certainty is promised to God’s people by the prophets, the psalmist, the apostles and Christ Himself. And it is delivered with the assurance of the Holy Spirit at the command of God the Father and through the instruction of God the Son. What could possibly be more clear?

    All of which is divinely clear to those at whom it is directed – and devilishly obtuse to those at whom it is not.

    Peace.

  16. Constantine said,

    January 6, 2011 at 11:17 pm

    Just to add one more source in support of Pastor King’s use of Raymond Brown’s observation that Catholics may look in vain for any help in interpreting the Bible, here is what a Cardinal of the Church had to say on the matter:

    ”Those, therefore, who imagine that the ideal aimed at in exercising the Magisterium is to produce as many gratuitous “definitions” as possible, assigning their elaboration to the theologians, are sadly mistaken. The essential thing is not to define, but to keep the deposit faithfully and to bear witness to its totality by respecting the balance of its different parts. The extreme course of “defining”, which the Fathers unanimously consider as a hazardous undertaking…which it is hoped may be avoided, is resorted to only when necessity decrees that this is the sole way to safeguard the integrity and purity of the apostolic testimony, whose content is the truth of the bond of Covenant sealed in Jesus Christ.”
    Congar, Yves. The Meaning of Tradition. San Francisco. Ignatius Press, 2004. p. 65.

    The “extreme course of Magisterial biblical “defining” is to be avoided! And Catholics who think that the Magisterium is about that business are “sadly mistaken”. And all from a member of the Magisterium.

    Fascinating, really.

    Peace.

  17. Ron said,

    January 6, 2011 at 11:28 pm

    You are assuming that the only way to interpret the Bible is to provide official interpretations of individual verses or individual passages of Scripture. The Magisterium provides the authentic interpretation of Scripture, but typically not by pointing to certain verses and giving official interpretations for each one. Every time the Magisterium defines a doctrine, it is giving us an interpretation of the whole of Scripture, one we can know with certainty.

    In other words, When we read our Bibles we can never know what any verse means – i.e. we cannot know what God has said to his people. At best all we can know is that whatever we think God has said it cannot contradict Romanism. So much for Jesus’ prayer in John 17 – “sanctify them by the truth, the Word is truth.” Think about it, Mr. Cross.

    Only the devil in hell and his followers would say that God’s people cannot understand God’s word by the work of the Spirit.

  18. Bob S. said,

    January 7, 2011 at 12:07 am

    Only the devil in hell and his followers would say that God’s people cannot understand God’s word by the work of the Spirit.

    In a sane world, yes, Ron, but we are living in the real world. Enter stage right the romanists. Game, match, set.

    But in light of DTK in #13 it also becomes apparent why I don’t have much else to say. Better to let those that do, than get in their way or create a distraction. An excellent post, sir. I do not expect anything more substantial than typical sound and fury from the usual PhDs.

    I have to say though, I was steeling myself when this series was announced – I thought I remembered something about reviewing a real book, like Whtitaker – in that I don’t know how much more nonsense and non sequiturs I really want to read on the topic. We have had quite a bit previously and frankly imo the edification factor was wearing a bit thin.

    Not to worry though, pilgrim. We bopped over to the CtC site and lo and behold, we find a blog post on images of Jesus, specifically crucifixes, and fixating on them in which one Prof. J. Frame of Orlando – not St. John of Damascus – is duly referenced, along with one T Keller and an honorable mention for a RC Sproul, as the supposed inspiration for J. Tate/others comin round on the queshun. Cool, huh?

    But in the comments #3 Hirduin tells us that the PCA is a liberal denomination which is why there is the OPC.

    Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better. Eccl. 7:3

    Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Rom. 8:26

    Thank you.

  19. DiscipledByHim said,

    January 7, 2011 at 6:15 am

    Pastor King quote’s Ludwig Ott saying:
    Ludwig Ott, while commenting on Pius IX’s papal bull Ineffabilis that defined the dogma of the immaculate conception of Mary, wrote: “The Bull does not give any authentic explanation of the passage [i.e. Gen. 3:15]. It must be observed that the infallibility of the Papal doctrinal decision extends only to the dogma as such and not to the reasons given as leading up to the dogma.” Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, ed. James Canon Bastible (Rockford: Tan Books and Publishers, Inc., reprinted 1974), p. 200

    Let me get this straight, the Holy Spirit “infallibly guides” the Church on doctrinal decisions, yet he possibly uses erroneous Scriptural interpretations to support the dogma itself?

    Who, outside the RC Magisterium, operates on this basis?
    Don’t we compile multiple reasons to form an accurate conclusion on something? And when one of the reasons we use to form this conclusion is wrong, doesn’t this almost always result in our conclusion being wrong also?

    Why is it the polar opposite in the RC Magisterial world, which is supposedly guided by the Spirit of God himself, who by his own authority, spoke a word and brought this world into existence?

  20. paigebritton said,

    January 7, 2011 at 6:31 am

    Some belated new comments added this a.m. that y’all might have missed — starting with #13.
    pb

  21. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 7, 2011 at 7:50 am

    Bryan (#5):

    I’ve been trying to figure out why you chose for your two examples matters that do not have absolute truth values. “The lava is hot” is, of course, a relative claim (compared to the Sun? No. To my oatmeal? Yes.); and “oatmeal is bland” is clearly a subjective matter of taste. If we objectivize the first claim (e.g.: Lava is about 1300K), then our claim’s truth value is self-evidently not dependent on the opinion of the 99.999%.

    What did you have in mind?

    But speaking of cults, if epistemic guarantee is your goal, then the magisterium does not suit. For here are our options:

    (1) Rely on Scripture as the infallible guide, OR
    (2) Rely on the magisterium as the infallible guide.

    The upside of (1) is that we have an objective standard against which our interpretations can be measured. The downside is that we aren’t given a guarantee of totally accuracy in our measuring.

    The upside of (2) is that we have a guarantee of theological precision; the downside is that we have no guarantee that the magisterium is correct. We must place all of our faith in the magisterium.

    And that sounds quite similar to a cult, wouldn’t you agree?

    What good is a magisterium that answers all my questions, if I have no way to confirm that the answers are correct?

    And in any event, as noted before, the early church fathers self-evidently used method (1) and not method (2).

  22. Bryan Cross said,

    January 7, 2011 at 10:43 am

    Lane, (re: #7)

    Bryan, regarding your first points, you are assuming that the nature of the question regarding the clarity of Scripture is a question in which people’s judgment is not affected by the Fall.

    No I’m not. If all those who read Scripture have had their thinking distorted by the Fall, my point still stands. That’s because ‘clear’ doesn’t mean “easily perceivable only to a small percentage of observers.” But if by “Scripture is clear” [regarding those things you judge to be necessary for salvation, faith and life] you mean that it is clear only to those who can see, and by “those who can see” you mean only yourself and those who share your interpretation, then you’ve essentially defined yourself into a compound, such that everyone who doesn’t share your interpretation is ipso facto blind, demonically deceived, and distorted in their thinking. The assumption that everyone’s thinking (except yours and that of those who agree with your interpretation) has been distorted by the Fall is special pleading, as you would say to my hypothetical Wesleyan. There is no preliminary reason why I should grant that you (and those agree with you) are not distorted by the Fall. But, if you too are distorted by the Fall, then if you claim that Scripture is clear about x, and yet the majority of people who read Scripture arrive at ~x, that is evidence against the truth of your claim, because of the very meaning of the word ‘clear.’

    you are changing the subject when it comes to the Magisterium. I am talking about individual interpretations of Scripture, not about interpretation in general.

    Ok, but then your conclusion “Madrid’s position makes Scripture completely useless, since it all becomes a matter of interpretation” is a non sequitur, because from the fact that the Magisterium typically does not provide designated official interpretations of individual verses, and from the claim that Scripture requires interpretation, it does not follow that Scripture is made useless. The authentic interpretation of Scripture given in the Magisterially defined doctrines, and the rightful exposition of the Scriptures within that hermeneutical framework, is very useful.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  23. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 7, 2011 at 11:14 am

    Bryan (#22):

    If we consider which things the Magisterium has made declarations on, they are things that concern faith, salvation, and life. Those three areas, especially the former two, have been tightly proscribed by the Magisterium.

    So what role does the Scripture play? It appears to play only the role of providing formulas that are vehicles for the teaching of the Magisterium.

    On any area that really matters — faith, salvation, sacraments, etc. — the Magisterium has already spoken “infallibly”, and Scripture might as well not exist.

    Can you provide an example of something vital that Scripture teaches that is *outside* the teaching of the Magisterium?

  24. Ron said,

    January 7, 2011 at 11:41 am

    The authentic interpretation of Scripture given in the Magisterially defined doctrines, and the rightful exposition of the Scriptures within that hermeneutical framework, is very useful.

    Given the tenets of Romanism, how can one know he has heard the “rightful exposition of the Scriptures“? He can’t. As I’ve pointed out before, all a Romanist can know at best given the tenets of Romanism is whether an interpretation of a passage of Scripture is consistent with their dogma. So, for instance, given the tenets of Romanism when one hears an exposition of Jesus walking on water in Mark 6, he really doesn’t know that Jesus was not neck high in water. For if he can know that without the imprimatur of the church, then he should also be able to know the meaning of other clear teachings in Scripture – like the meaning of verses such as John 6:37; Romans 8:38, 39; 2 Timothy 1:12 as they pertain to eternal security and perseverance. Consequently, a consistent Romanist should concede that he doesn’t know anything about the plain meaning of that portion of Mark 6 other than things like it does not contradict dogmas such as: “If any one shall say that justifying faith is nothing else than confidence in the divine mercy pardoning sins for Christ’s sake, or that it is that confidence alone by which we are justified … let him be accursed.” In that “framework” it’s easy to see the dubiousness of the claim that the “rightful exposition of the Scriptures within [a Romanist] hermeneutical framework, is very useful.” (In passing I’ll note that the last time I quoted that “canon” on GB, my point was ignored and I was told by a member of “Called to Communion” that I don’t know what “accursed” (actually anathema) means. In other words, he was only interested in “sharing” his opinion rather than arguing against my position let alone for his own.)

    Finally, it is not clear why a Romanist can know the meaning of his communion’s dogma but not the meaning of Scripture passages, which is why I employ the qualifier “at best” when referring to what one can know given the tenets of Romanism. In the interest of progress I’m usually willing to grant their assumption that within their framework they can know what their communion teaches, but frankly I find that unargued assumption arbitrary, inconsistent and downright demeaning to the perspicuity of God’s word.

  25. Ryan said,

    January 7, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    If the words which proceed from the author of language and lightener of minds cannot communicate truth to men, then what can? And if any of God’s self-revelation does not communicate truth to men, what was its purpose?

    Isaiah 55:10 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
    11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

    Whether or not men suppress the truth with which they are confronted when God’s word is preached is not relevant to whether or not the word itself can be understood apart from an allegedly infallible declarations by the church.

    Psalm 19:7 The law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.

  26. TurretinFan said,

    January 7, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    It’s funny, because exactly what we are saying is found in the writings of Augustine (and other fathers of the fifth century).

    Have ye not all heard this present discourse? and yet how many will go from this place untaught! I, for my part, have spoken to all; but they to whom that Unction within speaketh not, they whom the Holy Ghost within teacheth not, those go back untaught. The teachings of the master from without are a sort of aids and admonitions. He that teacheth the hearts, hath His chair in heaven.

    and also

    Consider, moreover, the style in which Sacred Scripture is composed,—how accessible it is to all men, though its deeper mysteries are penetrable to very few. The plain truths which it contains it declares in the artless language of familiar friendship to the hearts both of the unlearned and of the learned; but even the truths which it veils in symbols it does not set forth in stiff and stately sentences, which a mind somewhat sluggish and uneducated might shrink from approaching, as a poor man shrinks from the presence of the rich; but, by the condescension of its style, it invites all not only to be fed with the truth which is plain, but also to be exercised by the truth which is concealed, having both in its simple and in its obscure portions the same truth. Lest what is easily understood should beget satiety in the reader, the same truth being in another place more obscurely expressed becomes again desired, and, being desired, is somehow invested with a new attractiveness, and thus is received with pleasure into the heart. By these means wayward minds are corrected, weak minds are nourished, and strong minds are filled with pleasure, in such a way as is profitable to all. This doctrine has no enemy but the man who, being in error, is ignorant of its incomparable usefulness, or, being spiritually diseased, is averse to its healing power.

    (citations at my link above.)

    What is baffling is why Mr. Cross seems to think that he gets to decide that something is only clear if the unaided man without the Holy Spirit and full of hatred for God correctly understands it. Where did that come from? Why should we accept it?

    That wasn’t our claim. When we say “not that there is so great difficulty in coming through [the Scriptures] to know the things necessary to salvation,” or “All things are clear and open that are in the divine Scriptures; the necessary things are all plain,” we are not denying the necessity of the Holy Spirit or talking about those whose carnal mind is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. Nor were the ancients saying that.

    -TurretinFan

  27. Gil Garcia said,

    January 7, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    Let us not forget what Romanism really believes:

    “We should always be disposed to believe that that which appears white is really black, if the hierarchy of the Church so decides” – Ignatius of Loyola

    Soli Deo Gloria!

  28. drake said,

    January 7, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    William Cunningham in Doctrines and Practices of the Chrch of Rome made this argument: The Romanists sayt that the Church gave us the Bible therefore we should receive the sense of the Old Testament from the Church. Cunnigham says, We recieved the Old Testament from the Jews therefore we should recieve the sense of the Old Testament from the Jews and reject the Messiah.

    Good argument

    Drake

  29. AJ said,

    January 7, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    The Protestant has only probability in his or her rational determinations, while the faithful Catholic has infallible certainty in the Gospel that is preached to Him by the same Living Voice that guided the apostles. Then and only then does his reason begin to plumb the depths of that Revelation. For instance, the Catholic Church’s teaching on Baptismal Regeneration and Original Sin ( by Early Church Fathers as well) is taught infallibly by God’s living Voice in the Church. Man’s rational faculties assent to this infallible truth, and then seeks to understand it and how these infallible truths relate to him in the sacraments etc. For a true Christian, probability is not an option. Manning’s words ring true here, ‘we are saved by truth; and truth which is not definite is no truth to us; and indefinite statements have no certainty; and without CERTAINTY there is no faith.’

    The Protestant claims to live by the infallible written Word of God, but he has not an infallible means to receive the infallible Word.

    The Catholic however does not have this problem because his faith is not based on his own ability to determine what history or even what the Scriptures mean to him individually. He does not create his own Gospel based on his fallible ability to interpret all of these things. The Catholic listens to the Living Voice of God, the voice of certainty preached by Jesus Himself.

    The apostles had the Spirit in a special way. They were inspired preachers and teachers — they had the “Spirit of the Father” speaking through them (read the entire chapter 10 of Matthew ff.20).
    “Ephesians 3:4-6 “When you read this you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to human beings in other generations as it has now been revealed to his Holy Apostles and prophets by the Spirit.”

    There is no reason to believe that the truth will be revealed to each individual. If that were the case, would not the same be revealed to all? The Holy Spirit reveals the truth to the Bishops of the Church, modern day successors to the Apostles.

    Grace

  30. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 7, 2011 at 8:55 pm

    AJ: The Protestant has only probability in his or her rational determinations, while the faithful Catholic has infallible certainty in the Gospel that is preached to Him by the same Living Voice that guided the apostles.

    Nice, except that the faithful Catholic has *fallible* certainty that the voice he listens to, is in fact the same Living Voice that guided the apostles.

    There’s no principle that allows you mathematical certainty of this fact; nor even a high degree of probability. Rather, it is a matter of faith: at some point, you became convinced of the Catholic claims and “jumped”, so to speak.

    But your certainty is only as good as your assessment of those claims.

  31. AJ said,

    January 7, 2011 at 9:27 pm

    Matt. 16:17–19 “keys to the kingdom, BIND anf LOOSE on earth/heaven”.

    If anyone believes that he got the “keys” and right with the Scripture (deflecting the authority claim back to the Bible) to teach a binding doctrine to his fellow christian/flock then he will be held accountable to God Himself.

    With such ideas and principles where pastors teach to their flocks like gay-marriage, casual divorce, embryonic stem cell, artificial contraception, faith alone, bible alone, salvation by saturday sabbath, Jesus is not God (unitarians, church of christ , jehovah’s etc) and other man-made doctrines from Arius, Nestorius, Donatists, Huss, Luther, Calvin, Russell, Joseph Smith etc.

    Matthew 16: 19: ‘I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.’

    Matthew 18: 17: ‘If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church…’

    I really wonder what “church” was Jesus refering to settle, decide and pass a judgment and to speak for Him. A great mind and convert G. K. Chesterton, “The shortest way of putting the problem is to ask whether being free includes being free to bind oneself.”

  32. AJ said,

    January 7, 2011 at 9:43 pm

    To Jeff, I’m glad to say that I have the CERTAINTY and I invite you to investigate with an open heart and mind.

    A purely invisible universal church would be unable to speak her mind (i.e., teach on matters of faith and morals), or regulate her life (i.e., set down norms for sacramental celebrations, life issues e.g. gay-marriage, artificial contraception stem-cell, cloning etc and other communal practices). Yet, it seems clear from Matthew 16 (and other passages) that the church that Christ founded would be able to do these things.

    The Protestant’s view of Church, in regard to both its leadership and its personal members, neither subjects have the gift of infallibility in interpreting Scripture, which is the Protestants only infallible source of divine revelation. As other articles on this site have pointed out, “All appeals to Scripture are an appeal to an interpretation of Scripture.” Here lies the problem. Since, to a Protestant, no Church leader or group of leaders possess, as a divine gift from the Holy Spirit, infallibility when interpreting Scriptures, it is intrinsic to our Church “worldview” that whatever our church leaders teach or whatever “authority” they exercise might not be the correct interpretation of Scripture. Since there is no judge to decide which is the correct interpretation of Scripture amongst competing interpretations. It cannot be Scripture for that is the subject matter. I mean, there is no guarantee that a Protestant Church leader has not “missed” something in the scriptures that some future Biblical scholar might uncover. I mean this is basically what we have in Protestantism, a leadership’s understanding of dogma depending on a war between scholars. The laymen has to become a scholar himself. Its imperative, in the Protestant Church view. If my Pastor, at my Protestant Church, encourages me to confess a certain doctrine, I am discouraged from confessing it based on his authority. I have to become the judge of what he says in order to confess it. So once again, even the ability to understand the Gospel (which you say the Catholic adds to), in Protestantism, depends on the laymen becoming just as scholarly as the leadership, and just as much their judge as they are mine. So, in Protestantism, how could there ever be a right situation, given the possibility of doctrinal error, for the Protestant leadership, or even myself, to ever have the authority to judge that an individual or group should be anathematized? The Protestant view of the Church can never allow it. And this is a problem.

  33. Ron said,

    January 7, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    AJ,

    Since so much rides on it for you, how do you get to a perpetually infallible magisterium from a supposed infallible Peter? It’s a pet question of mine but no Romanist has ever answered it on this site. You have the floor.

  34. Bob S. said,

    January 8, 2011 at 12:21 am

    29 AJ,

    You make it tough to be able to glean anything of value from your screed, but if nothing else, the Capital Letters Really do Do the Trick, if they are Not: The Ticket. When in doubt Resort to Bold, Bald – and as Dozie might put it – wILD Assertions.

    But definitions are still Definitions and the Living Voice for Protestants still is Christ in his Word Written – mark that – and the preaching of it Rom. 10:17, while the Roman perversion of the genuine Catholic truth and church listens to the Pope in Christ’s place if we decipher what’s really behind your capitals. (Of that more below.)

    To be sure, as you have it, the Romanist does not “create his own Gospel based on his fallible ability to interpret all of these things”. Rather if you have been paying attention, instead the Magisterium creates its own gospel and dogma, and worries about what Christ says in His Word later – if at all. Big difference there, my friend. But not so big in that either way, the Dedicated Romanist is going to that place where Christ said the worm always turns and the fire never goes out Mk.9:44,6,8. (Again of that more below.)

    While it is true that as you say “There is no reason to believe that the truth will be revealed to each individual” previous to Matt. 10 what does Christ tell us in Chapt. 7 about those who ask, seek, and knock? Will they go unanswered?

    Neither is it an all or nothing affair. While God gifts his pastors and teachers with more knowledge Eph. 4:11,12, all who apply themselves can know the truth sufficient enough to run the race of which the crown and glory is life eternal in Christ Jesus 1 Jn 5:13,20.

    Yet for those presumptuous enough to measure and boast of themselves by themselves, Romans 9:15-17 also speaks a word of caution.

    For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.

    So too, God raised up the Roman Pharoah from within the Church, the Papacy which usurps the Living Voice of Christ to itself and denies it to the Word of God written, the Scripture and Christ in that Word by His Holy Spirit.

    Much more His Holiness desires to be worshipped and venerated as God 2 Thess.2:4 in vain teaching for doctrine the imaginations and traditions of men Mk.7:7, of whom the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; in forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth 1 Tim. 4:1-3.

    Yet Christ said of the world, if he had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no cloak for their sin John 15:22. Previous to that in John 9:41, Jesus said unto Pharisees, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth. Let the arrogant papist who boasts he can read, make the application.

    Christ’s Gospel goes forth as a savor of life unto life and death unto death and woe be unto them who corrupt that Word 2 Cor. 2:16,17; who neither enter in to the kingdom of heaven themselves nor suffer others to enter Matt.23:13.

    IOW the least you could do AJ, if you really loved your own Roman soul as much as you might profess to love others not so fortunate, would be to stop sharing that Roman lie and get out of the way.

    And in so doing, you too might be saved. Otherwise you have no hope and you, of all men, are to be pitied.

  35. The 27th Comrade said,

    January 8, 2011 at 1:19 am

    AJ,

    The encyclicals have to be interpreted, too. You just swapped God’s Word for the word of the Roman Catholic Church. As for me and my house, Let God be true, and every man a liar.
    You say “… and without CERTAINTY there is no faith.” Actually, if you have certainty, why have faith? For you, certainty precedes faith. For me, certainty comes after faith. Therefore “blessed are they who believe without seeing.” And so it is written, “Faith is … confidence of things not seen.” You, you want a man to say “behold the truth contained in the Word of God, and I speak infallibly,” because if you did not have this man, you would have to have faith that “whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” Instead, you believe the man who says (infallibly) the lies that are contained in paragraph 2010 of the Catechism. Yet what does the Lord say? “My sheep know my voice.” And again, “Your faith has saved you.” Little wonder it is the Roman Catholics, then, who have made theology—which requires faith—a subject of (Thomist) philosophy, which, with Aristotelian logic, makes faith unnecessary. After all, “all who come to Him must believe that He exists,” where believing is “certainty of things hoped for.”

    The Protestant claims to live by the infallible written Word of God, but he has not an infallible means to receive the infallible Word.

    Forget infallible, man. As the Apostle has said, “the god of this age has blinded the minds of the faithless, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays Christ’s glory … but we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that this awesome power is from God, not from us.” So, if you glory in how you cannot know Christ through the writings of which 2 Cor 4 is part, that is your own problem. There are those who do see it, and they are those who are not perishing, being also the ones—fallible jars of clay, unschooled fishermen, harlots, and publicans—who are not scholars, but merely believers in the Great Whosoever Believeth Shall Not Perish; the Catholic anathemata be accursed.

    There is no reason to believe that the truth will be revealed to each individual.

    Why do you pretend the encyclicals do not have to be interpreted? Was that truth (in them, whatever there may be) revealed to you? Why that, if that, and not the truth in “whosoever believeth shall not perish, but have everlasting life”?
    Will you challenge my thesis that Humani generis is merely a well-veiled encouragement for rampant late-term abortion and infanticide? Will you challenge my assertion that Æterni patris is meant as the anti-1 Cor 1 encyclical, raising the Greek tendency to idolatry of the intellect into standard Roman Catholic Church dogma?

    The problem is that the Catholics (and, in general, prevailing Western tendencies) have anathematised fideism, and they look at it disdainfully, after the Greeks from whom they take mantle.
    Yet only by such fideism—even a child-like faith—shall these truths be arrived at. See how the Catholic has capitalised “CERTAINTY”! Yet see how central, instead, faith is to the truth that God gives us! “It is by faith you have been saved.”

    Matt. 16:17–19 “keys to the kingdom, BIND anf LOOSE on earth/heaven”.

    Matthew 16:23, just four verses down, “Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.’”
    I guess I am justified to say you follow the devil, with human concerns, not concerns of God?

  36. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 8, 2011 at 9:44 am

    AJ (#32):

    To Jeff, I’m glad to say that I have the CERTAINTY and I invite you to investigate with an open heart and mind.

    I’ve done a fair amount of that, and I don’t come to the same conclusions. Sorry. Also, you might consider the difference between certitude and certainty.

    A purely invisible universal church would be unable to speak her mind…

    Agreed. Reformed folk don’t hold to a purely invisible church.

    As other articles on this site have pointed out, “All appeals to Scripture are an appeal to an interpretation of Scripture.”

    The provenance of this phrase is Keith Mathison, and I happen to (slightly) disagree with him. Consider the endless regress that is set up by this dictum:

    X is an appeal to Scripture, which is actually an appeal to interpretation Y of Scripture.
    But Y interpretation is itself an appeal to Scripture, which is actually therefore an appeal to interpretation Z of Scripture …

    and so on.

    I think the proper way to say it is this: an appeal to Scripture consists of two parts.

    (1) The Scriptural data appealed to, and
    (2) The interpretation of those data.

    And actually, there’s nothing special about Scripture in this regard. An appeal to any text — including the Catholic Catechism — consists of the same two parts.

    But Scripture is special in that (1) is infallible. The Scripture cannot be broken.

    Catholics push hard on (2) because Protestants can’t seem to all agree on every point of interpretation. Catholics control — or attempt to control — the uniformity of interpretation by means of catechism and papal bulls (some of which are infallible and some of which aren’t?!). Since Protestants don’t do the same, Catholics say (somewhat rightly) that Protestants don’t have a guarantee of infallibility for their doctrines.

    But in the RCC method, the actual authority of Scripture becomes vanishingly small. And here’s the test: is it ever possible for an individual Catholic or group of Catholics to challenge Church teaching on the grounds that it violates Scripture?

    I believe the answer is, No.

    It’s easy to trace the lines of authority based on that question alone. The Church’s authority supersedes the Scripture’s authority for all practical purposes. The Scripture serves only as a vehicle to promulgate Church teaching.

    So there’s a fundamental tradeoff. One can either have (a) an infallible, authoritative Scripture with fallible interpretations thereof, or (b) infallible interpretations of Scripture, which has no real authority of itself.

    The Westminster Confession chooses the former approach; the Roman Catholic Magisterium chooses the latter approach.

    There’s a lot more that could be said here, but let me throw out something for thought: Does Scripture have some kind of an objective meaning? Or, is its meaning entirely subjective — that is, dependent entirely on interpretation?

  37. January 8, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    Hey guys,

    It seems that two distinct propositions are being defended in this thread:

    (1) On essential matters of faith and morals, Scripture is perspicuous.

    (2) In order to understand this clear meaning of Scripture,the interpreter must be sufficiently enlightened by the Holy Spirit.

    My question is, how do we know which interpreters are sufficiently enlightened by the Holy Spirit, so to understand the plain meaning of Scripture, on essential matters of faith and morals?

    Note: Given (2), the “Spirit-illumined” status of any interpreter, including oneself, cannot be reliably verified by consulting the plain meaning of the text, since the plain meaning of the text cannot be ascertained by any except Spirit-illumined interpreters.

    So far as I can tell, the ultimate basis of the [Protestant] theological–hermeneutical position being forwarded here is an unverifiable, existential expression of confidence in ones own spiritual illumination.

    My own position is that the meaning of Scripture is objective, being found in the text, and often clearly expressed. This meaning, the gist of which tends to be expressed by systems and / or definitions of doctrine, is, to some appreciable degree, available to the reasonable interpreter. However, without special illumination, one’s grasp of that meaning, via reasonable interpretation, cannot rise above the level of probable opinion, and will ever remain, in principle, revisable. So if we are, in the formulation of, and assent to, essential biblical doctrine, to rise to the certainty of faith, some form of special illumination is required. Thus, back to my original question.

  38. Ryan said,

    January 8, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    Andrew,

    “In order to understand this clear meaning of Scripture,the interpreter must be sufficiently enlightened by the Holy Spirit.”

    We deny that unaided reason is able to apprehend the meaning of God’s word as well as the words of others, but that does not mean we deny that unregenerate men are able to understand God’s word. Christ, for instance, is the epistemological Logos (John 1:9, 3:27); He causes reprobates to understand God’s word as well as the elect.

    The function of the Spirit is to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). This He does only for the elect. While all men understand God’s word, only those who are regenerated believe it [to have proceeded from God]. Christ’s enlightens everyone, but not everyone is disposed to dwell in the light. Some attempt to suppress it or hide from it. Who does what hinges on what the Spirit has done or not done in an individual’s life.

    I hope you realize that the difference between understanding and assent is significant. The perspicuity of Scripture guarantees men are able to understand God’s word, not that they will accept God’s word. Protestantism is fully consistent with and in fact demands the application of logical principles whereby the full implications of God’s word are able to be understood, contrary to your contention of subjectivity and unverifiability.

  39. The 27th Comrade said,

    January 8, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    Although it seems like a sacrosanct assertion, above reproach and sure, nobody seems capable of defending why it is wrong or even impossible for people to know merely by simple, blind, gut faith that they understand what the Scripture says, and be correct in so knowing.
    Everybody acts as if there is another way for one to know that one understands the Scriptures; yet both Pope and infant will rely only on simple, blind, gut faith when they think they understand anything in the Scriptures.

    This tangential nonsense about requiring an interpreter … does the interpreter not need to be interpreted? Which minds do you people have; are you not apes like the rest of us? And if the interpreter needs to be interpreted, as he does, why is this suddenly the point where the little people can get wrong ideas and everything is still fine? The most-confusing document ever written by the hands of man is the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church, containing no less that four contradictions in the section on Merit alone. This is meant for initiates; yet they leave aside the truth—worrying that people will not understand it—simple as it is:

    For God so loved the World, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.

    Guys, this posturing—pretending that the gospel was written for philosophers and scholars and epistemologists—can be good in online debates, but when God debates with you in the end, you had better have acted on the truth that you have so often and so plainly seen and understood; whether your philosophy allows for it or not will not come up. “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” Encyclical, or gospel? Choose ye this day.

  40. Ron said,

    January 8, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    We deny that unaided reason is able to apprehend the meaning of God’s word as well as the words of others, but that does not mean we deny that unregenerate men are able to understand God’s word… He causes reprobates to understand God’s word as well as the elect.

    Ryan,

    Did you mean that? If as you say God causes Reprobates to “understand God’s word” then how can you say that you deny that unaided reason (presumably the reprobate’s reasoning) is able to apprehend God’s word? Are you drawing a distinction between understanding and apprehending and if so, is that distinction obvious? From what you say below, it might be that you think apprehending is to be equated with “believing”.

    While all men understand God’s word, only those who are regenerated believe it [to have proceeded from God].

    Indeed, unregenerate don’t savingly believe God’s word but I wouldn’t say that they don’t believe it to have come from God. At the very least, the former days of ignorance are gone with the resurrection; if man is culpable for rejecting the resurrected Christ, I would suggest they believe that the Word of Resurrection has “proceeded from God”.

  41. January 8, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    Wouldn’t it be better to say that reason alone is able to understand God’s in a qualified sense? If a normal person who reads English can read and understand The Lord of the Rings, then he can read and understand The Gospel of Luke. But because the Bible is a unique book with a deeper, spiritual meaning that cannot be determined by reason or by the grammatical-historical method, the unregenerate person’s understanding of it can only go so far.

    This seems to avoid the error of insisting that my English Lit prof cannot understand what “Jesus went from Jerusalem to Bethany” means, as well as the error of saying that the mystery of the gospel can be divined by scientific methods of hermeneutics.

  42. D. T. King said,

    January 8, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    My question is, how do we know which interpreters are sufficiently enlightened by the Holy Spirit, so to understand the plain meaning of Scripture, on essential matters of faith and morals?

    Buried in this question is the presupposition that the poster has a way of gnostically determining how he knows which interpreters are sufficiently enlightened by the Holy Spirit, so as to be able to understand the plain meaning of Scripture, on essential matters of faith and morals? If it is indeed “plain” texts (as he has structured his question), it is those very texts themselves which confirm that the interpreter has been sufficiently enlightened. Indeed Chrysostom has a word for our Romanist poster, and these matters are not so difficult as Romanists want to pretend…

    Chrysostom (349-407): Tell me then, I beseech you, if now, when we are all present some one entered, having a golden girdle, and drawing himself up, and with an air of consequence said that he was sent by the king that is on the earth, and that he brought letters to the whole city concerning matters of importance; would you not then be all turned towards him? Would you not, without any command from a deacon, observe a profound silence? Truly I think so. For I have often heard letters from kings read here. Then if any one comes from a king, you all attend; and does a Prophet come from God, and speak from heaven, and no one attend? Or do you not believe that these things are messages from God? These are letters sent from God; therefore let us enter with becoming reverence into the Churches, and let us hearken with fear to the things here said.
    What do I come in for, you say, if I do not hear some one discoursing? This is the ruin and destruction of all. For what need of a person to discourse? This necessity arises from our sloth. Wherefore any necessity for a homily? All things are clear and open that are in the divine Scriptures; the necessary things are all plain (πάντα σαφῆ καὶ εὐθέα τὰ παρὰ ταῖς θείαις Γραφαῖς, πάντα τὰ ἀναγκαῖα δῆλα [PG 62:485]). But because ye are hearers for pleasure’s sake, for that reason also you seek these things. For tell me, with what pomp of words did Paul speak? and yet he converted the world. Or with what the unlettered Peter? But I know not, you sub the things that are contained in the Scriptures. Why? For are they spoken in Hebrew? Are they in Latin, or in foreign tongues? Are they not in Greek? But they are expressed obscurely, you say: What is it that is obscure? Tell me. Are there not histories? For (of course) you know the plain parts, in that you enquire about the obscure. There are numberless histories in the Scriptures. Tell me one of these. But you cannot. These things are an excuse, and mere words. Every day, you say, one hears the same things. Tell me, then, do you not hear the same things in the theaters? Do you not see the same things in the race-course? Are not all things the same? Is it not always the same sun that rises? Is it not the same food that we use? I should like to ask you, since you say that you every day hear the same things; tell me, from what Prophet was the passage that was read? from what Apostle, or what Epistle? But you cannot tell me—you seem to hear strange things. When therefore you wish to be slothful, you say that they are the same things. But when you are questioned, you are in the case of one who never heard them. If they are the same, you ought to know them. But you are ignorant of them. NPNF1: Vol. XIII, Homilies on the Second Epistle of Paul to the Thessalonians, Homily III, Comments on 2 Thessalonians 1:9, 10.
    Greek text: Εἰπὲ δή μοι, παρακαλῶ, εἴ τις ἄρτι παρόντων ἡμῶν πάντων εἰσῆλθεν ἔχων ζώνην χρυσῆν, καὶ ἀνατεταμένος καὶ σοβῶν ἔφησε πεμφθῆναι παρὰ τοῦ βασιλέως τοῦ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, καὶ πρὸς τὴν πόλιν ἅπασαν τὴν ἐπιστολὴν κομίζειν περί τινων ἀναγκαίων, ἆρα οὐκ ἂν ἅπαντες συνεστράφητε; ἆρα οὐκ ἂν καὶ τοῦ διακόνου μὴ παρακελευομένου πολλὴν παρείχετε τὴν σιγήν; Ἔγωγε οἶμαι· καὶ γὰρ ἤκουσα ἐπιστολῶν βασιλέων ἀναγινωσκομένων ἐνταῦθα. Εἶτʼ ἂν μέν τις παρὰ βασιλέως ἥκῃ, πάντες προσέχετε· παρὰ δὲ τοῦ Θεοῦ ἥκει, καὶ ἐκ τῶν οὐρανῶν φθέγγεται ὁ προφήτης, καὶ οὐδεὶς ὁ προσέχων; Ἢ οὐ πιστεύετε, ὅτι παρὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ ταῦτα τὰ λεγόμενα; Ἐπιστολαὶ αὗταί εἰσι πεμφθεῖσαι παρὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ. Εἰσερχώμεθα τοίνυν μετὰ τῆς προσηκούσης τιμῆς εἰς τὰς ἐκκλησίας, καὶ μετὰ φόβου ἐπακούωμεν τῶν λεγομένων. Τί εἰσέρχομαι, φησὶν, εἰ οὐκ ἀκούω τινὸς ὁμιλοῦντος; Τοῦτο πάντα ἀπολώλεκε καὶ διέφθειρε. Τί γὰρ χρεία ὁμιλητοῦ; ἀπὸ τῆς ἡμετέρας ῥᾳθυμίας αὕτη ἡ χρεία γέγονε. Διὰ τί γὰρ ὁμιλίας χρεία; πάντα σαφῆ καὶ εὐθέα τὰ παρὰ ταῖς θείαις Γραφαῖς, πάντα τὰ ἀναγκαῖα δῆλα. Ἀλλʼ ἐπειδὴ τέρψεώς ἐστε ἀκροαταὶ, διὰ τοῦτο καὶ ταῦτα ζητεῖτε. Εἰπὲ γάρ μοι, ποίῳ κόμπῳ λόγου Παῦλος ἔλεγεν; ἀλλʼ ὅμως τὴν οἰκουμένην ἐπέστρεψε. Ποίῳ δὲ Πέτρος ὁ ἀγράμματος; Ἀλλʼ οὐκ οἶδα, φησὶ, τὰ ἐν ταῖς θείαις Γραφαῖς κείμενα. Διὰ τί οὐκ οἶδας; μὴ γὰρ Ἑβραϊστί; μὴ γὰρ Ῥωμαϊστί; μὴ γὰρ ἑτερογλώσσως εἴρηται; οὐχὶ Ἑλληνιστὶ λέγεται; Ἀλλʼ ἀσαφῶς, φησί. Ποῖον ἀσαφὲς, εἰπέ μοι; οὐχὶ ἱστορίαι εἰσί; Τὰ γὰρ σαφῆ οἶδας, ἵνα περὶ τῶν ἀσαφῶν ἐρωτήσῃς. Μυρίαι ἱστορίαι εἰσὶν ἐν ταῖς Γραφαῖς· εἰπέ μοι μίαν ἐξ ἐκείνων· ἀλλʼ οὐκ ἐρεῖς. Πρόφασις ταῦτα καὶ λόγοι. Καθ’ ἡμέραν, φησὶ, τὰ αὐτὰ ἔστιν ἀκούειν. Τί δὲ, εἰπέ μοι; ἐν τοῖς θεάτροις οὐ τὰ αὐτὰ ἀκούεις; ἐν ταῖς ἱπποδρομίαις οὐ τὰ αὐτὰ ὁρᾷς; τὰ δὲ πράγματα πάντα οὐ τὰ αὐτά ἐστιν; ὁ δὲ ἥλιος οὐχ ὁ αὐτὸς ἀεὶ ἀνατέλλει; τροφαῖς δὲ οὐ ταῖς αὐταῖς χρώμεθα; 62.486 Ἐβουλόμην σου πυθέσθαι, ἐπειδὴ τὰ αὐτὰ λέγεις ἀκούειν καθʼ ἑκάστην ἡμέραν, εἰπέ μοι, ποίου προφήτου ἐστὶ τὸ χωρίον τὸ ἀναγνωσθὲν, καὶ ποίου ἀποστόλου, ἢ ποίας ἐπιστολῆς; Ἀλλʼ οὐκ ἂν ἔχοις εἰπεῖν, ἀλλὰ δοκεῖς ξένων ἀκούειν. Ὅταν μὲν οὖν ῥᾳθυμῆσαι θέλῃς, τὰ αὐτὰ λέγεις εἶναι· ὅταν δὲ ἐρωτηθῇς, ὡς οὐδέποτε ἀκούσας διάκεισαι. Εἰ τὰ αὐτά ἐστιν, ἐχρῆν αὐτὰ εἰδέναι, σὺ δὲ ἀγνοεῖς. In epistulam ii ad Thessalonicenses, Homilia III, §4, PG 62:484-485.

    Now, to be sure, the Romanist himself is not really concerned with the interpretation of Holy Scripture, because he is only required to understand the officially defined dogmas of his communion. Now, here is where the double standard of this presupposition is exposed, because he is unwilling to apply the same radical skepticism to his own ability to receive accurately the official dogmas of his communion. He assumes that his priest interprets such dogmas correctly, but how does he know (given such radical skepticism) that he has rightly understood what he believes his priestly has rightly taught? Assuming his priest has instructed him correctly, how does he know that has correctly understood him?

    You see, the Romanist is very comfortable wielding the apologetic tool of skepticism in only one direction, and that is toward Protestantism, but he is most unwilling to subject his own presuppositions to the same radical skepticism. Indeed, he ignores what one of the old encyclopedias from his own communion tells him…

    Catholic Encyclopedia: It is only in connexion with doctrinal authority as such that, practically speaking, this question of infallibility arises; that is to say, when we speak of the Church’s infallibility we mean, at least primarily and principally, what is sometimes called active as distinguished from passive infallibility. We mean in other words that the Church is infallible in her objective teaching regarding faith and morals, not that believers are infallible in their subjective interpretation of her teaching. This is obvious in the case of individuals, any one of whom may err in his understanding of the Church’s teaching; nor is the general or even unanimous consent of the faithful in believing a distinct and independent organ of infallibility. Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. VII, Infallibility (New York: The Encyclopedia Press, Inc., 1913), p. 790,1st-2nd column.

    Our Romanist poster is asking a question of us which the equivalent structure of his own communion does not even attempt to answer for him.

    For these folks, their Roman skepticism works in only one direction. But, hey, it’s a pretty convenient apologetic, that is, so long as one does not look behind the curtain from where it comes. :)

    Cheers

  43. D. T. King said,

    January 8, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    As an addendum to my above post I meant to add this Protestant perspective . . . We need not understand Scripture exhaustively or infallibly in order to understand it sufficiently.

  44. Ron said,

    January 8, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    Jason,

    I think I agree with what you are saying. Obviously, we’re talking about things that lend themselves to many qualifications, but I can interpret your sentiments quite readilly as consistent with what I believe.

    Ron

  45. January 8, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    Hey Ryan,

    I agree that there is a difference between understanding and assent. This thread seems mostly to be about the former–the hermeneutical question, “What does this text mean?” That is why I framed the question the way I did.

    We both agree, together with most folks participating here, that the assent of faith, which can take the propositional form, for example, “What this text affirms is true, because it is the word of God”, is a supernatural gift. Of course, unity of assent, thus formulated, is obviously no guarantee of interpretive unity, since people who thus believe come to all sorts of different interpretive conclusions.

    I took some comments about the agency of Satan and the noetic effects of sin, etc. (cf., GB at #3, TF at #26), to focus more upon the necessity of regeneration and / or illumination in order to *understand* the meaning of the text. That is why it seemed to me that the response here to Bryan’s evidence against (one version of) the perspicuity thesis basically comes down to individual self-attestation of regeneration / illumination; along the lines of, “I am of God, therefore I understand the the clear meaning of Scripture, in its essentials” (cf., 27th Comrade, #39).

    But if we both affirm the sufficiency of unaided reason to, in general, arrive at or near the correct interpretation of at least some texts, and if we grant at least some version of the perspicuity thesis, such that Scripture, in its essentials, falls under the rubric of texts which can be correctly interpreted by unaided reason, then we have somehow to account for the multiplicity of mutually-exclusive interpretations, bearing on matters of great (e.g., schism-inducing / division perpetuating) importance.

    But since the relevant interpretations often belong to careful, sincere, studied and intelligent persons, the “clear in essentials” perspicuity thesis seems questionable. I think that something like was at least a part of Bryan original point (#2). Again, the basic response seems to be: Well, the essential meaning of Scripture is clear if you have supernatural help in interpreting it. (Which seems strongly to suggest a peculiar use of the word “clear.”)

    If we try to bring understanding and assent into relation, as applied to interpreting the text of Scripture, the matter becomes more complex. First of all, the purely rational plain of hermeneutics cannot compel the assent of faith, e.g., that these texts are *sacred* Scripture, i.e. the word of God. Yet there is a distinct sense in which specifically Canonical hermeneutics, the kind we both (probably) have primarily in mind, *begins* with the assent of faith–“I believe in order to understand.”

    Now, what is the content of that faith? If this faith is something we bring to the Bible, so to engage it at a super-natural level (i.e., interpret it and understand it as something more than a collection of ancient Semitic texts), then we seem quickly to revert to my question about the identity of the properly-illumined; i.e., those who have the Holy Spirit, so to engage the text in true faith (subjectively and objectively speaking).

    Since people engaged in rational (i.e., higher critical / historical-grammatical) exegesis come to so many different, often mutually-exclusive, and usually tentative interpretive conclusions, appeal to that quarter, to distinguish the illumined from the non-illumined, is bound not to be determinative. But the question begs for a definitive response, because so much is at stake.

  46. Ryan said,

    January 8, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    Ron,

    “If as you say God causes Reprobates to “understand God’s word” then how can you say that you deny that unaided reason (presumably the reprobate’s reasoning) is able to apprehend God’s word?

    If God causes the understanding, I do not see how the reasoning can be said to unaided. I am not drawing a distinction between understanding and apprehending, no.

    “Indeed, unregenerate don’t savingly believe God’s word but I wouldn’t say that they don’t believe it to have come from God. At the very least, the former days of ignorance are gone with the resurrection; if man is culpable for rejecting the resurrected Christ, I would suggest they believe that the Word of Resurrection has “proceeded from God”.”

    I think we simply disagree as to the words being used. As I said:

    //Christ’s enlightens everyone, but not everyone is disposed to dwell in the light. Some attempt to suppress it or hide from it.//

    Christ may enlighten them, but that doesn’t mean they welcome the light. People may know that Scripture is God’s word, but that doesn’t mean they acknowledge it to be God’s word. They don’t assent to it, and as I think belief entails assent, I would say they don’t believe it.

  47. January 8, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    Hey Jason,

    If the perspicuity thesis includes the essentials of faith and morals, and the Gospel is among the essentials, than wouldn’t it therefore be among the matters clearly set forth in Scripture? If so, then the Gospel should be among the things that average readers, by natural means, can understand (I do not say *believe*); that is, unless the perspicuity thesis necessarily includes the illumination requirement.

  48. Ron said,

    January 8, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    Ah, I think I follow. Well of course, yes, all understanding must be aided by God. You were clear the first time. I just wasn’t tracking. I wasn’t enlightened. :)

    The only thing I might quibble with (but we might agree here too) is that I believe the unbeliever believes God’s word in many respects but he suppresses the belief and in turn deceives himself into believing a lie about himself which he projects to himself (the lie being that he does not believe), the essence of Bahnens’s doctrinal thesis – self deception. So, he doesn’t “assent’ in that he doesn’t live according to what he knows in his heart of hearts is true.

    Thanks, Ryan.

    Ron

  49. The 27th Comrade said,

    January 8, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    … along the lines of, “I am of God, therefore I understand the the clear meaning of Scripture, in its essentials” (cf., 27th Comrade, #39).

    No; mine has no “therefore” in it, for in my arrival at “I understand the Scriptures” I do not reason. There is no implication in it. I just read it, and understand it, and I know that I am right in my understanding, just as is the case for the words my friends say to me.
    I do not see the need for all this contortion and philosophising. Anyway, everybody understands—having heard—the parts of Scripture that will justify or condemn on that day; this nobody can deny in his heart of hearts. The rest is a lot of modern intellectualist look-at-me-my-religion-is-more-philosophically-rigourous-than-yours; and all that is going to be burnt up along with the dung on the Earth.
    “These three remain: faith, hope, and love. And the greatest of these is love.” Meanwhile, these Greeks look for wisdom.

    But the question begs for a definitive response, because so much is at stake.

    Why do we pretend that we are so cool a generation of Homo sapiens sapiens that for us, to us, the meaning of “Your faith has saved you” cannot be known unless it is in a higher-order sentence like “‘Your faith has saved you’ means that …”?
    And let nobody here pretend that there is a solution for such a question, outside of simple fideism, for moving a question about to one level or the other is not to answer it.
    As D. T. King has shown, the Catholics should already fall silent, having realised that their solution is a non-solution. Or do you, resident Catholic commenters, interpret that magisterial declaration differently from others (like me)? —And that solves the problem how?

  50. January 8, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    Andrew,

    If the perspicuity thesis includes the essentials of faith and morals, and the Gospel is among the essentials, than wouldn’t it therefore be among the matters clearly set forth in Scripture? If so, then the Gospel should be among the things that average readers, by natural means, can understand (I do not say *believe*); that is, unless the perspicuity thesis necessarily includes the illumination requirement.

    The gospel is clearly set forth in Scripture, at least as to its basics, but the WCF is clear that the unlearned can only understand it through the due use of ordinary means.

    There’s a fine line between assent and trust. Plenty of people can come under the hearing of the gospel and intellectually understand that Jesus died for them and that they need to repent and trust him. But actually doing that cannot be done without the regenerating work of the Spirit.

    And as a kind of aside, I think that Catholics often understand our use of “essentials” to be a way bigger list of things than we do. You guys always bring up how that we all disagree about baptism as an example. But beyond the simple command to believe and be baptized, the mode and the subjects of baptism are not essential matters of the faith that (1) can be understood by just anyone, and (2) can end up damning those who get it wrong.

  51. The 27th Comrade said,

    January 8, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    Ryan, you could use 2 Cor 4 to make your point. It is written,

    And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.

    But perhaps that is not perspicuous to some and is veiled to them; in which case, as the Apostle says … (you can trust that part is perspicuous to them, malgré their pretences otherwise).

    By the way, because meaning is a commutative binary relation (mathematical terms; since you all insist on rigour), an interpretation of a set of statements cannot be understood by a subject, unless the interpreted statements can also be understood by the same subject. For the interpretation should be equivalent to the interpreted content. Where one could understand an interpretation of J’ai m’envoyé des fleures; des roses que je ne t’enverrait pas, then one would have to be able to understand that as well, since the interpretation does not “add to the contents of this book”.
    If the interpreted cannot be understood by a subject—such as an interpretation of “Nunguhan’kallala simpuluguwe geheh mangan blakasintimomo, chanchabala ngan kom komom.”—then the interpretation cannot be understood either.

    (Corollary 1: There exists no logical explanation for a paradox.
    Corollary 2: There exists no non-random expression of a random sequence.
    Corollary 3: P is probably not equal to NP; this is in complexity theory.)

  52. Ryan said,

    January 8, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    Ron,

    Agreed.

    Andrew,

    “But if we both affirm the sufficiency of unaided reason to, in general, arrive at or near the correct interpretation of at least some texts, and if we grant at least some version of the perspicuity thesis, such that Scripture, in its essentials, falls under the rubric of texts which can be correctly interpreted by unaided reason, then we have somehow to account for the multiplicity of mutually-exclusive interpretations, bearing on matters of great (e.g., schism-inducing / division perpetuating) importance.”

    Well, as I already said, I don’t affirm the sufficiency of unaided reason to understand, and either way, I think my first post (#12) anticipates this objection. You yourself answer this objection:

    “If we try to bring understanding and assent into relation, as applied to interpreting the text of Scripture, the matter becomes more complex. First of all, the purely rational plain of hermeneutics cannot compel the assent of faith…”

    This is precisely the point which explains why perspicuity and the reprobate’s capacity to understand Scripture is not incompatible with the fact that different interpretations of Scripture exist.

    “Yet there is a distinct sense in which specifically Canonical hermeneutics, the kind we both (probably) have primarily in mind, *begins* with the assent of faith–”I believe in order to understand.””

    Are you referring to Hebrews 11:3?

  53. January 8, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    Jason,

    Fair enough. Still, a whittled-down list of essentials would include the Gospel (and maybe all of those matters which are of the essence of the true Gospel [redemption accomplished and applied]) As to baptism, I think that some of your baptist friends are more worried for your lot than I am, regarding not merely the mode, but the very reception of that [essential?] sacrament.

    Ryan,

    Nah. St. Anselm.

    I take it that the natural man’s ability to understand Scripture speaks well of its perspicuity–up to a point. Thus, I agree with the (an important aspect of) the claim that others have been making about the necessity of grace for understanding the “essence” of Sacred Scripture. Its just that, granted the necessary *hermeneutical* role of grace (regeneration / illumination) in understanding the things that the natural man does not “get,” especially the Cross, the Gospel, these things must not be “clear” in the ordinary sense of the word.

  54. January 8, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    2nd sentence, 2nd par. reply to Ryan, “Thus” should be “However.” Started out making a different point. My bad.

  55. Ryan said,

    January 8, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    Andrew,

    I don’t think that the proposition “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures…” is unclear. Any unbeliever can understand that, howbeit he may not understand that he needs to believe that. The proposition is clear regardless of whether or not the unbeliever assents to it or understands the need to believe it.

  56. January 8, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    Ryan,

    That passage certainly has a familiar ring, and the narrative form of this rendering of the Gospel carries within it a certain logic (beginning, middle, end) that makes prima facie sense. In fact, we would probably both affirm that a non-believer, with little background in Scripture or theology, could by the power of God, and with no one else present, be converted to Christ, through faith, on the occasion of reading this text. But I am not sure that granting this wonderful possibility, as I do, is the same thing as granting the perspicuity of Scripture in essentials.

    For one thing, I take it that in this context “essentials” refers to interpretations of divine revelation that are (explicitly) formulated as doctrine. The unlearned individual who believes St. Paul’s Gospel in 1 Cor 15 is not interpreting Scripture in this sense. He may have an implicit doctrinal faith, but he probably cannot tell you what “died for our sins” means, nor what is the ontological status of Christ, nor what “Scripture” is. But these are just the sort of things that we wrestle with when trying to discern what is the meaning of the verses such as the one you cited. And it is on this level of meaning that the “essentials” reside.

    I always appreciate attempts to render more clear the perspective of folks on another side of a discussion. For what its worth, this is my impression of how authoritative interpretations of divine revelation, i.e., the doctrinal formulation of “essential” meaning, arise within the Catholic Church:

    An irreformable definition of doctrine presupposes the activity of believers, pastors and theologians in particular, engaged with divine revelation on a variety of fronts: exposition, analysis, meditation, above all, prayer. The steady round of ecclesial life, including doctrinal controversy, is the context for extraordinary Magisterial interpretations of Scripture. As can be appreciated from history, such authority rarely intervenes (about once a century, on average), and by then the matter has been honed, conceptually and verbally, by the theologians and exegetes (the distinction between these is thoroughly modern), to an edge, so to be susceptible of a definition. This is why Magisterial decrees do not read like Scripture commentaries or theological treatises, complete with detailed argument. The Magisterium may give the gist of an argument supporting its teaching, but its doctrinal role is to define, not to persuade. The terms of the definition are naturally set by the people who have been actively engaged in interpretation and argument. These terms can be more or less useful, but the Catholic’s confidence is in the Holy Spirit, who will protect the Church from error, despite her manifest limitations of understanding and expression.

    We believe in divine illumination, but we do not think that anyone can claim this illumination in defiance of the universal Church, which, being visible, can speak its mind, as the whole Church. This teaching, which is a gift from God, constitutes the (doctrinal) essentials.

  57. AJ said,

    January 9, 2011 at 2:23 am

    Jeff said, “The Westminster Confession chooses the former approach; the Roman Catholic Magisterium chooses the latter approach.”

    Brother, why do we need to appeal to an outside source that is not Scripture like WCF (as against Magisterium) IF we only need the Scripture Alone?

    27th said, “The encyclicals have to be interpreted, too. You just swapped God’s Word for the word of the Roman Catholic Church.”

    So, sorry to disagree with you brother but when the Catholic Church teach (encyclicals) that “X” is bad and whoever commits it freely and knowingly commits a grave sin e.g. gay-marriage, artificial contraception etc. and beside not all are found in Scripture, good example of Life issues like cloning – where one becomes two or three or four, how about stem cell, genetics and more…we must take Life issues seriously because the Author is God Himself, how are we going to know? who will speak for Him?

    There are no set doctrines in Protestantism (because they deny Church infallibility), and thus doctrinal unity is impossible by definition. A Protestant cannot tell another Protestant they must believe X, because that would require the very Church authority Protestants condemn Catholics for exercising.

    The first issue is a binding doctrine which is taught and not obeyed, the second is the inability to teach binding doctrine. If you look carefully at the situation, you will see it is Catholics not being obedient to the Church, which is not at all the same as each Catholic having the ability to define their own doctrines. If a doctor (the Church) gave a patient (the layman) some specific instructions (doctrine) of how to get healthy, and the patient does not follow those instructions (disobedience), then it is not the doctor’s to blame nor does it mean he mislead them. The problem is disobedience to Authority. If the Catholic Church teaches that “X is wrong,” it doesn’t matter how many Catholics are disobedient, the doctrine that “X is wrong” is still true, and any Catholic desiring good standing must accept that doctrine.

    There is doctrinal confusion among adherents of Sola Scriptura precisely because it is impossible, according to the definition of Sola Scriptura, for those in authority to make binding (infallible) doctrine. Without the ability of the Church to make binding doctrines, the job falls upon the head of every individual Protestant to determine for themselves what they want to be doctrine, and at that point the Truth becomes relative to each individual.

    Grace to all.

  58. AJ said,

    January 9, 2011 at 2:26 am

    May I add:

    It is needless to point out that if the Christian Faith is indeed a revealed doctrine, which men must believe under pain of eternal loss, the gift of infallibility was necessary to the Church. Could she err at all, she might err in ANY point. The flock would have no guarantee of the truth of any doctrine.

    I find these words very compelling and logical. What is it for us to drink pure water (Word of God) using a soiled glass (fallible interpretation)? True justice and Divine love for us demands that we humans as His adopted children and under the pain of Eternal lost should be given the FULLNESS Truth.

    Grace to all.

  59. AJ said,

    January 9, 2011 at 2:31 am

    Forgot to add again….after knowing the FULLNESS of Truth then it’s up to us to accept (cooperate) or reject (sinning).

    Apology to everyone.

  60. The 27th Comrade said,

    January 9, 2011 at 5:42 am

    … the Catholic Church teach (encyclicals) that “X” is bad and whoever commits it freely and knowingly commits a grave sin …

    Actually, the Catholic Church teaches that homosexuality is good, and that late-term abortions should increase. That is how I interpret the encyclicals. If you disagree with me, you are wrong. Are you now going to schism, and depart from this teaching of the Roman Catholic Church? Are you also the one laughing at the Protestants?

    … we must take Life issues seriously because the Author is God Himself, how are we going to know? who will speak for Him?

    Because the Catholic god cannot speak for itself. See what happens when you start bowing at the foot of Aristotle’s idol, calling it things like “Unmoved Mover”? You end up also with a god who has to be spoken for. Idolatry doesn’t begin at Mary; it starts at delivering God at the right hand side of a (Thomistic) “ergo”.

    If the Catholic Church teaches that “X is wrong,” it doesn’t matter how many Catholics are disobedient, the doctrine that “X is wrong” is still true, and any Catholic desiring good standing must accept that doctrine.

    I am talking about understanding what “X” is, and understanding that it was deemed wrong. After all, I disagree with you that the Catholic Church does not encourage bestiality. If you disagree, you are going against the Catholic Church. If you dare fight this my ridiculous assertion, you are interpreting the encyclicals, and you see that you have the problem—differing with me in interpretation—that you accuse the Protestants of having. At least they are discussing God’s Word; you are discussing traditions of men.

    There is doctrinal confusion among adherents of Sola Scriptura precisely because it is impossible, according to the definition of Sola Scriptura, for those in authority to make binding (infallible) doctrine.

    Everybody adheres to sola scriptura; it is the scriptures that change. For some, it is the science journals that are scripture. For you, what proceeds from Italy. For me, what proceeds from the mouth of God.

    Grace to all.

    Are you a Roman Catholic?

    … the gift of infallibility was necessary to the Church. Could she err at all, she might err in ANY point. The flock would have no guarantee of the truth of any doctrine.

    The Roman Catholic Church erred. The truth of God remains, regardless of who else errs. As it is written, “Let God be true, and every man a liar.” Therefore, yes, there will always be a guarantee that truth prevails; but Italy can fall into idolatry, and remain there, as she did and has.

    I find these words very compelling and logical.

    Ah, logic. You heirs of the Greeks and their wisdom, their logic.
    But what we preach is foolishness to the Greeks, but to us who are being saved, Christ the wisdom and power of God, for it has pleased God to save those who believe. The logic of the logical God will frustrate, so that you rely on Him alone, if you make it at all: let him who boasts boast in the Lord. Your brains and logical thinking be damned; we children are not even capable of it, yet unless you make yourselves like us, you will not see the Kingdom.

  61. Ryan said,

    January 9, 2011 at 6:44 am

    “He may have an implicit doctrinal faith, but he probably cannot tell you what “died for our sins” means, nor what is the ontological status of Christ, nor what “Scripture” is.”

    If you tell him those things, why shouldn’t he be able to understand them? He may reject them, but again, understanding doesn’t connote assent.

    Your opinion as to the way in which doctrines proceed from the Magisterium was, I found, irrelevant.

  62. paigebritton said,

    January 9, 2011 at 6:57 am

    Thoughts re. perspicuity:

    Remember that the doctrine of perspicuity (in its initial formal expressions) arose in a polemical setting; before it tells us who can understand what, it is a confession of God’s intentions for the text: “When YOU read this, YOU can understand…” (cf. Eph. 3:4).

    Whether intellectual understanding of a text happens immediately or after prolonged study and debate, the point is that it happens without an infallible, divinely appointed interpreter. And even when we hit a text that seems to even the most studious of us to have no clearly apprehended meaning, as when the distance of time or language become insurmountable barriers, yet the confession of perspicuity is that God did not establish an official mediator between the text and his people.

    (E.g., from Muller, “The perspicuity of Scripture as a whole…points directly to the analogy of Scripture as an interpretive device and to the insistence that Scripture itself, not tradition or church, is the primary interpreter of Scripture.” Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 2: Holy Scripture, p.324.)

  63. Sean said,

    January 9, 2011 at 8:19 am

    # 42.

    I don’t have much time to get engaged here because of some family obligations. I just want to point out that Chrysostom never says that the church is not the vehicle in which the proper interpretation is proclaimed. In the same homily, part 4, he even explicitly says that some teaching was not written in the bible but passed orally by tradition. In other homilies he instructed on apostolic succession in the Catholic sense. He was a bishop in the church who believed in the succession of the apostles. This is the framework in which he speaks about scripture, which cannot be dismissed.

    This has been discussed previously, one does violence to the fathers by importing the ‘sola scirptura’ debate to their words about scripture. They were not arguing ‘sola scriptura.’

    Thus it is has been concluded: “Several publications by evangelicals have argued that the doctrine of sola scriptura was practiced, though implicitly, in the hermeneutical thinking of the early church. Such an argument is using a very specific agenda for the reappropriation of the early church: reading the ancient Fathers through the lens of post-Reformational Protestantis…Scripture can never stand completely independent of the ancient consensus of the church’s teaching without serious hermeneutical difficulties…”
    D. H. Williams, Retrieving the Tradition & Renewing Evangelicalism

  64. David Weiner said,

    January 9, 2011 at 9:28 am

    Sean, re # 42,

    Are you aware of an extant teaching such as being referenced in your quote of Chrysostom that had not been written down in Scripture but was being promulgated by oral tradition?

  65. Sean said,

    January 9, 2011 at 11:01 am

    David Weiner –

    Are you aware of an extant teaching such as being referenced in your quote of Chrysostom that had not been written down in Scripture but was being promulgated by oral tradition?

    One example that he left was appealing to apostolic unwritten tradition of intercessory prayers for the dead in Homily 3 on Phillipians.

  66. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 9, 2011 at 11:48 am

    JRC: Jeff said, “The Westminster Confession chooses the former approach; the Roman Catholic Magisterium chooses the latter approach.”

    AJ: Brother, why do we need to appeal to an outside source that is not Scripture like WCF (as against Magisterium) IF we only need the Scripture Alone?

    Slow down, good sir. The point of quoting the WCoF and the CCC is that they are representative of the Protestant and Catholic views respectively, not that either one is proof of the truth of doctrines. So my point was a metaphorical way of saying,

    “Protestants take the former approach, Catholics the latter.”

    But now, in pursuing the minor point, you’ve elided the major one: There are only two possibilities — a Scripture with authority, and interpretations that are not infallible; or infallible interpretations of a Scripture without real authority.

    How do you plead?

  67. David Weiner said,

    January 9, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    Sean, re #65:

    Thank you for the response. Let me see if I am following you. The Chrysostom comment you are referring to is: “Not in vain did the Apostles order that remembrance should be made of the dead in the dreadful Mysteries.” OK so far?

    If so, then I gather that Chrysostom believed that the Apostles had ordered prayer for the dead and had not included this order in the Scriptures. Now, he lived from 347AD to 407AD. Clearly, he never heard them order this. So, why does he believe that they did?

    Well, he says that they gave these orders in the ‘dreadful Mysteries.’ Now, we have reference to a written document that he believed contained apostolic tradition.

    1) How do we know today that we have the same version of this document that Chrysostom had? I surely don’t have a copy on my shelf. Has the Roman Catholic Church a copy that it accepts as apostolic?

    2) How do we know that the part on praying for the dead in the dreadful Mysteries document was authentically from the Apostles? Would you say that if Chrysostom believed this to be truly apostolic then it must be apostolic?

  68. D. T. King said,

    January 9, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    I just want to point out that Chrysostom never says that the church is not the vehicle in which the proper interpretation is proclaimed.

    Notice specifically what is important to the Romanist, and what he considers and/or regards as proof because this is endemic to Roman apologetics. You will see this tactic surface in how they attempt to argue time and time again . . . as I said, it is endemic to their whole approach.

    1. They never deal with positive proof that you adduce from the history of the early church. They will either proclaim what you have cited to be “out of context” though in most cases they could not provide you with the context even if threatened at gunpoint.

    2. The second thing to observe, and this most importantly is how often the Romanist apologist is anxious beyond measure, even at the point of leaving off whatever else it is in which he is presently engaged, to point out to you what this or that father does not say. You, this is his great concern in his his apologetic, what this or that early church father does not say, does not deny, does not reject, does not affirm. In other words, he is obsessed with this argumentum ex silentio (argument from silence) to the point of laying down whatever else he is doing to underscore what an ancient witness does not say! The fact is that Chrysostom didn’t deny a lot of things. He never denied the existence of airplanes in his day. Chrysostom never denied the existence of fossil fueled vehicles in his day. Chrysostom never denied any number of things!!! This proves nothing, but to the mindset of the Roman apologist he is obsessed with this informal fallacy of logic, so much so that he will lay down everything he’s doing to invoke it! LOL.

    3. Moreover, by being obsessed with invoking this informal fallacy (argumentum ex silentio), he even misses what he could have positively argued to some degree in his favor, and that fact being that Chrysostom was accustomed to delivering his sermons in the context of corporate worship! Only an ignoramus would deny that. Even the Reformed emphasize that the church is God’s ordained means for the proclamation and interpretation of His word! But that point is never denied by the Reformed, but rather affirmed. The point is that when Chrysostom said, “All things are clear and open that are in the divine Scriptures; the necessary things are all plain (πάντα σαφῆ καὶ εὐθέα τὰ παρὰ ταῖς θείαις Γραφαῖς, πάντα τὰ ἀναγκαῖα δῆλα)” that does not in any way detract from or deny that proper interpretation is to be found in the church of Jesus Christ, AND that, at the same time, the necessary things are all plain!

    4. But buried in all of this, which the Romanist doesn’t mention, is that in his mind he means by “church” the communion of Rome, and he really doesn’t mean per se the “proper” interpretation of Scripture, but rather the “authoritative” interpretation of Scripture that his friend Mr. Cross claims does not even exist for individual passages of Scripture. Mr. Cross claims that official dogma provides for an overall authoritative interpretation of Scripture, a claim so vague that renders it of no practical worth to say the least.

    This, folks, is all part and parcel of the world of Roman apologetics.

  69. D. T. King said,

    January 9, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    #1 above is incomplete, I meant to say . . . 1. They never deal with positive proof that you adduce from the history of the early church. They will either proclaim what you have cited to be “out of context” though in most cases they could not provide you with the context even if threatened at gunpoint, or they will ignore it altogether.

  70. Sean said,

    January 9, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    David T King –

    # 68

    My name is Sean, not ‘Romanist.’

    1) Your saying that ‘they will never deal with the positive proof’ is misguided. Plenty of apologists have been answering your specific claims for quite some time. Just google “David T King” + “sola scriptura” and you get responses from Catholics discussing your primary evidence.

    Further, what you cited from Chrysostom is something that any Catholic can affirm which is why I did not address it specifically. On the other hand, I can cite plenty affirmed by Chrysostom that would get approved from any PCA Presbytery hearing. I already did to my response to David Weiner. Prayers for the dead. Affirmed by Chrysostom. If we are to take your word for it that Chrysostom was a sola scriptura advocate than praying for the dead must be…scritpural. Or, if you say that it is not scriptural than Chrysostom was did not practice sola scriptura. Which is it?

    2) I believe that because the father(s) did not go as far as you go regarding scripture is important. I believe that the father’s ecclesiology is also important. If you don’t think that either are important than that is your business. You are not the judge and arbiter of what constitutes important evidence in this discussion.
    Lastly, your characterization about being ‘nervous beyond measure’ is untrue and unwarranted.

    3) If you were consistent with this charge than you would have been all over Turretin Fan recently in his debate with several Catholics about transubstantiation in the church fathers. Much of his argument was predicated on ‘what the fathers do not say.’

    4) Yes, when I say “Church” I mean the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church whose universal bishop is the successor to St. Peter. That should be quite apparent given the fact that I am a Catholic who is in communion with the Bishop of Rome.

  71. Sean said,

    January 9, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    ^ should be “I can cite plenty affirmed by Chrysostom that would not get approved from any PCA Presbytery hearing.”

  72. Andrew McCallum said,

    January 9, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    Paige said: ….the confession of perspicuity is that God did not establish an official mediator between the text and his people.

    But Paige, Is not the Church that entity which was established by God to mediate the text to the people (and of course by “the Church” I mean that entity which is defined as such in Scriptures)? I hold that the difference between us and our Catholic friends is not that we reject the ministerial work of the Church in interpreting the text of Scripture while our Catholic friends do not, but rather that the Catholics hold that the Church’s pronouncements are (under some conditions) infallible and irreformable and thus are effectively elevated to the same level of certainty as Scripture itself.

    I don’t mean to suggest God never works immediately through the Scriptures – certainly He does. But I did want to point out that the Reformed doctrine of the perspicuity of Scripture should not be separated from the Reformed understanding of the work of the Church in ministering God’s Word to His people.

    I’m guessing that you will agree with me and that I’m misunderstanding your point but I just wanted to check.

    Cheers for now…..

  73. January 9, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    Hey Ryan (and all),

    You’re right. The second part of my last comment (#58) was not directly relevant to our discussion of whether divine illumination (in its specifically hermeneutical aspect) is an essential part of the perspicuity (in essentials) thesis. I should have addressed that part of my comment to “All.” I included it because it is easy to imagine that, regarding the “essentials,” the Magisterium’s function of defining doctrine is somehow *substituted* for the ordinary hermeneutical processes by which the Church, inclusive of all her members, engages divine revelation. I wanted to indicate how the Magisterium, in its extraordinary function, is situated in the total life of the Church. The extraordinary does not expunge the ordinary, any more than the head cuts off the hands. The Mystical Body is not egalitarian, but neither is it like Alcasan’s Head in That Hideous Strength.

    This observation is, I think, relevant to the broader discussion in this thread, which has touched upon the role (or lack thereof) of a Magisterium, relative to the perspicuity claim. Our position is that believers, by virtue of grace, using both scientific and specifically faith-based exegetical methods. and with the help of their pastors and other learned Catholics, can understand the meaning of Scripture. One difference between this position and some Protestant approaches, is that for us the “faith” in “faith-based” exegesis is the faith of the Church, as defined by the Magisterium.

  74. January 9, 2011 at 9:34 pm

    First sentence, second paragraph, above, should be “*interpretive* role of a Magisterium, relative the perspicuity claim.”

  75. Bob S. said,

    January 10, 2011 at 12:27 am

    Yo, Andrew, how about cutting to the chase and dealing with the substance of 42? You know, where the Catholic Encyclopedia denies that you or any other individual can authoritatively interpret the Magisterium.

    (Not that it really matters. What Rome calls private judgement and denies among protestants is really just the human condition and epistemological box all men find themselves born into. Which means the dilemma is whether Romanists will hypocritically use PJ or deny any reasonable discussion of Rome to begin with.)

    IOW how you are really not doing anything more here than sharing your opinion and wasting bandwidth?

    Nothing personal, mind you, but if we are going to get serious about the authority thing – and if nothing else, Rome is both serious about and jealous of her authority to the point of excommunication – it would seem to be a no brainer.

    Likewise, Sean, we know what your name is.
    Also that you are a member of the Roman communion and an apologist for the same.
    Connect the dots.
    Hence the name and label.
    You don’t like? Who’s fault is that?

    Maybe DTK went the impersonal route to get the focus on the substance of the argument and what the errors were and not the particular individual teaching them. After all there is a certain sameness to the Roman arguments we’re seeing here.
    You have a problem with that? I would think uniformity to the Roman standard would be a plus, especially as acknowledged by those who disagree with Romanism.

    As for Chrysostom, if he taught prayers for the dead, what of it? All it demonstrates is the inconsistency and fallibility of the ECF’s. All protestantism asserts in the name of the ECFs -contra Rome’s claim that the ECF’s doctrine is synonymous with Rome – is that there is no Roman unity in the testimony of the ECF’s, but rather a mixture of Scriptural truth and error.

    Consequently in the self evident light of that Scripture one picks out the bones and eats the meat rather than swallowing whole (and choking on) the ECF’s or Rome.

    That said, there is still a better affirmation of the authority of Scripture with the ECF’s than Rome, inconsistent and fallible as it may be with Chrysostom.
    Beside he was never a pope or a member of the roman communion anyway.

  76. D. T. King said,

    January 10, 2011 at 3:31 am

    No apologies here for #70 – I want everyone to understand I am responding to a typical Romanist type of appeal, and not be personal. Moreover, my point stands.

    Now, I must be a little more personal…

    The Poster (would be Roman apologist) said“I can cite plenty affirmed by Chrysostom that would not get approved from any PCA Presbytery hearing.”

    Well, I am unimpressed, because Chrysostom (349-407) was ordained by a bishop who was out of communion with Rome. In fact, for the better part of his ministerial life, Chrysostom was, technically speaking, out of communion with Rome. Clearly, he was ordained (as most Roman Catholics would argue if consistent) by someone outside the communion of Rome, also claiming to be part of the Church Catholic. Moreover, Chrysostom was baptized (AD 369) and ordained to the diaconate (AD 380) by Meletius (whom Chrysostom recognized as the rightful bishop of Antioch) and who at the time was out of communion with Rome. Chrysostom was ordained to the priesthood (AD 386) by Flavian, again whom Rome refused to recognize as bishop, and had de facto been excommunicated some years before the ordination of Chrysostom! According to the standard of Leo XIII’s Satis Cognitum (1896) both Meletius and Flavian were “outside the edifice,” “separated from the fold,” and “exiled from the Kingdom” inasmuch as they were not in communion with the Roman pontiff, who acknowledged only Paulinus as the rightful occupant of the Antiochene see.

    By receiving baptism and ordination at their hands, Chrysostom was declaring that he recognized them (i.e., Meletius and Flavian) as the proper bishops in succession from and under the jurisdiction of the see of Antioch. While preaching at his tomb, Chrysostom referenced Meletius as a saint, and said of Flavian that he was not only the successor of Peter, but also the rightful heir of Peter to the see of Antioch! Chrysostom could not have been clearer in his repudiation of Paulinus, whom Rome had declared to be the bishop of Antioch. (See his Homily II in Migne PG 52:86).

    So you’ll have to pardon me for not being impressed with your double standard about ecclesial affiliation (and I’m not in the PCA, though I trust they count me as a brother in Christ). Now, a little acquaintance with church history may have prevented your overt double standard with respect to the point of Chrysostom’s ecclesial affiliation, but I tend to doubt it.

    Yes, Chrysostom did believe in praying for the dead, but he was praying for people in hell as that same sermon shows. And since Rome doesn’t believe that prayers avail for people in hell, I don’t think, if I were a Romanist, I would be using Chrysostom in this manner to prove prayers for the dead. But, no worries, that little fact doesn’t disturb the conscience of a Romanist with respect to proof. Here is what the good man, Chrysostom, said in error and which contradicts the position of Rome…

    Chrysostom (349-407): Let us then not make wailings for the dead simply, but for those who have died in sins. They deserve wailing; they deserve beating of the breast and tears. For tell me what hope is there, when our sins accompany us Thither, where there is no putting off sins? As long as they were here, perchance there was great expectation that they would change, that they would become better; but when they are gone to Hades, where nought can be gained from repentance (for it is written, “In Sheol who shall give thee thanks?”) (Psalm 6:5), are they not worthy of our lamentation? Let us wail for those who depart hence in such sort; let us wail, I hinder you not; yet in no unseemly way, not in tearing our hair, or baring our arms, or lacerating our face, or wearing black apparel, but only in soul, shedding in quiet the bitter tear. For we may weep bitterly without all that display. And not as in sport only. For the laments which many make differ not from sport. Those public mournings do not proceed from sympathy, but from display, from emulation and vainglory. Many women do this as of their craft. Weep bitterly; moan at home, when no one sees you; this is the part of true sympathy; by this you profit yourself too. For he who laments another in such sort, will be much the more earnest never to fall into the same sins. Sin henceforth will be an object of dread to thee. Weep for the unbelievers; weep for those who differ in nowise from them, those who depart hence without the illumination, without the seal they indeed deserve our wailing, they deserve our groans; they are outside the Palace, with the culprits, with the condemned: for, “Verily I say unto you, Except a man be born of water and the Spirit, he shall not enter into the kingdom of Heaven.” Mourn for those who have died in wealth, and did not from their wealth think of any solace for their soul, who had power to wash away their sins and would not. Let us all weep for these in private and in public, but with propriety, with gravity, not so as to make exhibitions of ourselves; let us weep for these, not one day, or two, but all our life. Such tears spring not from senseless passion, but from true affection. The other sort are of senseless passion. For this cause they are quickly quenched, whereas if they spring from the fear of God, they always abide with us. Let us weep for these; let us assist them according to our power; let us think of some assistance for them, small though it be, yet still let us assist them. How and in what way? By praying and entreating others to make prayers for them, by continually giving to the poor on their behalf. NPNF1: Vol. XIII, Homilies on Philippians, Homily 3.

    1) Chrysostom says they’ve “died in their sins,” and that they can no longer repent. He says weep for the unbelievers. He says they are with the condemned, i.e. in hell! So much for this being proof for the Roman doctrine of praying for those in purgatory.

    2) He advocates prayer for these in hell, “Let us weep for these; let us assist them according to our power; let us think of some assistance for them, small though it be, yet still let us assist them. How and in what way? By praying and entreating others to make prayers for them, by continually giving to the poor on their behalf.”

    3) Chrysostom says that praying for them actually helps the living in this way – “For he who laments another in such sort, will be much the more earnest never to fall into the same sins. Sin henceforth will be an object of dread to thee.”

    So, the Romanist’s contention that Chrysostom’s advocacy of praying for the dead is a far cry from what Rome propagates because Chrysostom is advocating prayer for the damned! But again, this doesn’t bother the conscience of a Roman apologist that Chrysostom actually advocates prayer for people in hell, which Rome affirms are beyond the pale of assistance.

    You see, we (as Reformed and Catholic) can let Chrysostom be who and what he was, even in his errors. And unlike Rome, we don’t have to try to make him conform to some later Roman development, when in context (as I have shown) he affirms the very thing that Rome denies, namely that prayer aids and/or avails the damned!

  77. D. T. King said,

    January 10, 2011 at 3:51 am

    If you were consistent with this charge than you would have been all over Turretin Fan recently in his debate with several Catholics about transubstantiation in the church fathers. Much of his argument was predicated on ‘what the fathers do not say.’

    No, my inconsistency could only be demonstrated if 1) I was privy to what TF said, 2) that he actually argued in that manner, and 3) if he fell into the same error as you did.

    I suppose if I were omniscient, you’d have a point. But as it is, you’re simply demonstrating the silliness of not owning your informal logical fallacy.

    But it is not an argument from silence when two people are looking at the same patristic pericope, and one is claiming “X said this” and the other says, “No, he did not say that, but was actually saying this…” You know, sorta like the way you wanted to commend Chrysostom for praying for people in hell? :)

  78. D. T. King said,

    January 10, 2011 at 3:59 am

    paigebritton,

    Thanks for the comments in #62. They are most helpful.

  79. paigebritton said,

    January 10, 2011 at 6:46 am

    Hi Andrew M. (#72) —
    You should assume that I always agree with you. :) I am just pointing out (in #62) that the original intent of the doctrine of perspicuity, as it began to be articulated by the Reformers, was to highlight one particular attribute of Scripture: namely, that it did not require a Pope or Magisterium, someone (or someones) with the divine charism of infallibility, to interpret it. So Paul could write, “When you read this, you can understand…” (Eph. 3:4) and mean it.

    I pointed this out because it’s typical for all of us, Protestant and Catholic alike, to assume that “perspicuity” only refers to that which is easily understood. The problem here is that ALL of the texts of Scripture are NOT “perspicuous” in this sense; but if perspicuity is an attribute of Scripture, it must be saying something about the whole. And this was indeed the intent of the idea, back among the Reformers & their successors.

    Interesting note: you bring out the importance of the church acting together in the reading of the Scriptures; but even when this is happening in a healthy way, what we mean by “the church” assumes the “epistemic parity” of the people who make up that body, meaning that anybody, pastor or parishoner, is subject to the same norm for correction. Thus the church is always subject to the Scriptures, not the other way around.

  80. TurretinFan said,

    January 10, 2011 at 8:54 am

    Sean at #63 writes: “I just want to point out that Chrysostom never says that the church is not the vehicle in which the proper interpretation is proclaimed.”

    Chrysostom also never says that John Calvin is not the fourth person of the Trinity. There are lots of things Chrysostom never said. In fact, although he did say lots of stuff (including plenty on the formal sufficiency of Scripture) the body of things he didn’t say is practically infinite.

    What he does say about the Scriptures is, for example, this:

    Tarry not, I entreat, for another to teach thee; thou hast the oracles of God. No man teacheth thee as they; for he indeed oft grudgeth much for vainglory’s sake and envy. Hearken, I entreat you, all ye that are careful for this life, and procure books that will be medicines for the soul. If ye will not any other, yet get you at least the New Testament, the Apostolic Epistles, the Acts, the Gospels, for your constant teachers. If grief befall thee, dive into them as into a chest of medicines; take thence comfort of thy trouble, be it loss, or death, or bereavement of relations; or rather dive not into them merely, but take them wholly to thee; keep them in thy mind. This is the cause of all evils, the not knowing the Scriptures. We go into battle without arms, and how ought we to come off safe? Well contented should we be if we can be safe with them, let alone without them.

    (citation at my link above)

    As for your comment about prayers for the dead. You seem to be confused. Suppose that Chrysostom held to Sola Scriptura and prayed for the dead. That might imply that such prayers are Scriptural, or it might imply that Chrysostom made a mistake. Alternatively, suppose that Chrysostom held to Sola Ecclesia and prayers for the dead. Then either prayers for the dead were the teaching of the church, or Chrysostom made a mistake. Thus, in point of fact, his teachings regarding prayers for the dead are not actually relevant to this discussion.

    You wrote in response to Pastor King’s criticism of your argument regarding what Chrysostom did not say, that I (TurretinFan) had made use of similar argumentation. You said: “Much of his argument was predicated on ‘what the fathers do not say.’” (referring to some discussions I had in a comment box recently)

    Yes, the fathers did not teach what Trent teaches. Not one of them ever says that the bread of the Eucharist becomes the “body, blood, soul, and divinity” of Jesus and ceases to be bread. That’s what Trent teaches.

    Roman apologists don’t like when that’s pointed out, because they like to claim that what Trent teaches is what was always believed. What they like to believe, however, is not supported by the historical evidence. The historical evidence is that the heresy of transubstantiation came much later.

    When Rome claims that the fathers believed what Rome teaches today, the issue of the fathers never teaching what Rome teaches becomes relevant. It is not, in that case, a fallacy to point out the silence of the fathers on the point where Rome claims the fathers speak.

    Tying this back to our current discussion …

    If we had argued, “Chrysostom … says that the church is not the vehicle in which the proper interpretation is proclaimed,” then your allegation that “Chrysostom never says that the church is not the vehicle in which the proper interpretation is proclaimed,” would become relevant. It would no longer constitute a fallacious appeal to silence, and we might actually ask you what your basis for that allegation was, instead of simply pointing out that it is a fallacious appeal to silence.

    Finally, of course, even if Pastor King let me commit the same fallacies he criticizes in you, that does not get you off the hook. Your fallacy is a fallacy whether I join you in it or not. And, in fact, I don’t join you in it, as I’ve explained above.

    -TurretinFan

  81. January 10, 2011 at 9:26 am

    Bob S.,

    I just took a quick look at #42. Just to recap, here is the dilemma that I initially posed (#37):

    It seems that two distinct propositions are being defended in this thread:

    (1) On essential matters of faith and morals, Scripture is perspicuous.

    (2) In order to understand this clear meaning of Scripture,the interpreter must be sufficiently enlightened by the Holy Spirit.

    My question is, how do we know which interpreters are sufficiently enlightened by the Holy Spirit, so to understand the plain meaning of Scripture, on essential matters of faith and morals?

    Note: Given (2), the “Spirit-illumined” status of any interpreter, including oneself, cannot be reliably verified by consulting the plain meaning of the text, since the plain meaning of the text cannot be ascertained by any except Spirit-illumined interpreters.

    To this, DT King responded:

    If it is indeed “plain” texts (as he has structured his question), it is those very texts themselves which confirm that the interpreter has been sufficiently enlightened.

    I don’t see how the very texts themselves can confirm the enlightenment of the reader, without begging the question, as regards enlightenment, which is, per (2), necessary in order to correctly understand the meaning of biblical texts on essentials, such as the Gospel.

    On the other hand, if we deny that the illumination requirement is part and parcel of the perspicuity claim, then it seems as if we are committed to the position that the essential meaning of Sacred Scripture is, in principle, available to the rational exegesis (higher critical, historical-grammatical) of natural man.

    Some here, including myself, question that position, maintaining instead that supernatural help is necessary in order to rightly understand the essential meaning of Sacred Scripture. This view seems more probable, granted that Scripture is unique among all texts, being the word of God, as well as the writings of men.

    The divine aspect of Scripture makes for a unique hermeneutical situation, requiring more than natural discernment, because fundamental interpretive guidelines, which help us to discern the meaning of a text, must be significantly adjusted when that author is God, as well as man. Because men wrote Scripture, at particular times and places, with specific concerns, and with a specific readership in mind, we rightly heed the findings, and use the tools, of the historical-critical method. But because God is also, in a very intentional way, the author of Scripture, the contextual framework of Scripture is not confined to those things that the merely human sciences are equipped to discern; e.g., the historical, cultural, philological, literary aspects of Sacred Scripture.

    In addition, there is a sense, maybe more than one sense, in which Scripture is addressed to a particular community of people. If this is so, then we can reasonably expect that this community will be uniquely equipped to understand the meaning of the texts. Furthermore, if this community is constituted by God as a supernatural people, a family of grace, then we can expect that community to possess a more than natural means of apprehending the essential meaning of the word of God. That “more than natural means” is, in the case of the Church, the Holy Spirit, who illumines believers and assists pastors and teachers in their ministry of the word.

    Concerning opinions and bandwidth:

    Yes of course I am using private judgment, and sharing opinions, as part of my effort to join the dialogue about perspicuity. Aren’t we all? But in addition to this there is the matter of faith: I believe that the Bible is the word of God; therefore, I believe, even when I fail perfectly to understand, everything there written. I also believe that the Catholic Church is the mystical Body of Christ, the pillar and foundation of truth, the fullness of him who fills all in all, having the Holy Spirit to preserve her, that is, the whole Church, from teaching error; therefore, I believe, even when I fail perfectly to understand, everything that the Church defines as doctrine.

    So, in addition to sharing my opinions, I am sharing my faith, in the hope of persuading some, or at least facilitating a better mutual understanding. Thus, my use of bandwidth. This might after all be a “waste,” but maybe not.

  82. Sean Patrick said,

    January 10, 2011 at 9:32 am

    David T King –

    # 76

    The Poster

    My name is Sean.

    You said: Yes, Chrysostom did believe in praying for the dead, but he was praying for people in hell as that same sermon shows.

    Here is what he says, “Let us weep for them, let us assist them the deceased to the extant of our ability, let us think of some assistance for them, small as it may be, yet let us somehow assist them. But how, and in what way? By praying for them and by entreating others to pray for them, by constantly giving alms to the poor on their behalf. Not in vain was it decreed by the apostles that in the awesome mysteries remembrance should be made of the departed. They knew that here there was much gain for them, much benefit. When the entire people stands with hands uplifted, a priestly assembly, and that awesome sacrificial Victim is laid out, how, when we are calling upon God, should we not succeed in their defense? But this is done for those who have departed in the faith, while even the catechumens are not reckoned as worthy of this consolation, but are deprived of every means of assistance except one. And what is that? We may give alms to the poor on their behalf.” – Homilies on Philippians c. 402 A.D.

    Chrysostom within this text is outlining the fate of different types of people. There are people in hell. There are unbelievers. Then there are those who departed ‘in the faith’ with sin on their hearts. It is for those that the priestly assembly prays for, those and the catechumen.

    His words are echoed in contemporary fathers who more explicitly taught the doctrine of Purgatory such as St. Augustine:

    “There is an ecclesiastical discipline, as the faithful know, when the names of the martyrs are read aloud in that place at the altar of God, where prayer is not offered for them. Prayer, however, is offered for other dead who are remembered. It is wrong to pray for a martyr, to whose prayers we ought to ourselves be commended. But by the prayers of the Holy Church, and by the salvific sacrifice, and by the alms which are given for their spirits, there is no doubt that the dead are aided, that the Lord might deal more mercifully with them than their sins would deserve. The whole Church observes this practice which was handed down by the Fathers: that it prays for those who have died in the communion of the Body and Blood of Christ, when they are commemorated in their own place in the sacrifice itself; and the sacrifice is offered also in memory of them, on their behalf. If, then, works of mercy are celebrated for the sake of those who are being remembered, who would hesitate to recommend them, on whose behalf prayers to God are not offered in vain? It is not at all to be doubted that such prayers are of profit to the dead; but for such of them as lived before their death in a way that makes it possible for these things to be useful to them after death.” – St. Augustine Sermons c. 411 A.D.

    “Temporal punishments are suffered by some in this life only, by some after death, by some both here and hereafter, but all of them before that last and strictest judgment. But not all who suffer temporal punishments after death will come to eternal punishments, which are to follow after that judgment.” – St. Augustine, The City of God 21:13, A.D. 419

    “That there should be some fire even after this life is not incredible, and it can be inquired into and either be discovered or left hidden whether some of the faithful may be saved, some more slowly and some more quickly in the greater or lesser degree in which they loved the good things that perish, through a certain purgatorial fire.” – St. Augustine, Handbook on Faith, Hope, and Charity 18:69, A.D. 421

    Now, I pose you the following question. You have previously claimed that these fathers embraced ‘sola scritpura in the fullest sense of the term.’

    We see that these fathers:

    1) believed in a purgation for the faithful who had temporal punishment due for sin

    2) believed that the prayers of the faithful during the liturgy aided them

    3) believed that our giving of alms aided them

    Now, since you have claimed that these fathers embraced ‘sola scriptura in the fullest since of the term’ do you concede that the previous three beliefs are scriptural? Or do you admit that these fathers did not practice ‘sola scriptura?’

    My guess is that you’ll say neither and say that Chrysostom and Augustine were just wrong in their thinking that purgatory was biblical but this just begs the question.

    Lastly, your gloss on the history of Chrysostom and Rome falls short. There is no reason to think that Chrysostom was ever out of communion with Rome. You also gloss that the Church believes that even Orthodox Holy Orders (and others) are valid, even though they are not in communion with Rome.

  83. January 10, 2011 at 10:19 am

    Paige,

    At the end of # 79, you wrote:

    Interesting note: you bring out the importance of the church acting together in the reading of the Scriptures; but even when this is happening in a healthy way, what we mean by “the church” assumes the “epistemic parity” of the people who make up that body, meaning that anybody, pastor or parishoner, is subject to the same norm for correction. Thus the church is always subject to the Scriptures, not the other way around.

    I want to pick up on something in there that highlights what may be the fundamental difference between Catholic and Protestant understandings of the relation of Scripture, Church and individual.

    The Catholic Church is indeed subject to Scripture. The difference between Catholics and Protestants is that for us the ultimate interpretive authority is the Church, which holds the individual accountable to Scripture. For Protestants, the ultimate interpretive authority is the individual, who holds the Church accountable to Scripture. Notice that the difference is not about accountability to Scripture. We agree that everyone is accountable to the word of God. The difference concerns who holds whom accountable to that word.

  84. TurretinFan said,

    January 10, 2011 at 10:20 am

    Sean:

    a) Neither Augustine nor Chrysostom knew of any place called “Purgatory.”

    b) But lets pretend they did. Let’s pretend that they held to exactly what Rome teaches, even though they did not. We can debate whether they held what Rome teaches another day.

    c) Let’s even further assume that they were right. Purgatory exists just as Rome says today and everyone else in the world is wrong.

    d) Are you ready to admit that Scripture does not teach Purgatory? Because if Scripture does teach Purgatory, then this seems to be a moot point.

    e) Are you trying to claim that Purgatory was an essential doctrine of the Christian faith? Because if not – again – the whole issue seems to be a moot point.

    Because who cares if they got non-essential truths from somewhere other than Scripture? And who cares if they got a true doctrine from Scripture?

    What does that have to do with the discussion? Nothing. It’s a giant red herring, as proven above by setting aside all the distracting argument over your false claims regarding Chrysostom and Augustine.

    – TurretinFan

  85. TurretinFan said,

    January 10, 2011 at 10:22 am

    “The difference concerns who holds whom accountable to that word.”

    The difference concerns whether one’s conscience is subject ultimately to the Word of God or to the teachings of one’s church. If you believe that the Bible says “X,” and your church says “not X,” you are required to hold “not X.” From this, it can be seen that you do not submit to the Word of God, but rather to the traditions of men.

    -TurretinFan

  86. Bob S. said,

    January 10, 2011 at 10:44 am

    81
    Not so fast, Andrew.
    You are sidestepping the point.

    You are a Romanist.
    You are advocating private judgement.
    But Rome denies PJ. Or if you prefer, Romanists here in this combox deny PJ.

    But for one, the Cath. Ency. denies that individual Romanists have authority to interpret Roman doctrine, even that of PJ.

    So which is it?

    What’s the official Roman position – not your opinion – on PJ, even the spirit and the letter and is it being honored in the breach or not by you and the other Romanists over here?

    That is my question.
    And your answer?

    Thank you.

  87. D. T. King said,

    January 10, 2011 at 10:59 am

    His words are echoed in contemporary fathers who more explicitly taught the doctrine of Purgatory such as St. Augustine…

    Purgatory was not ever an eastern concept, and Chrysostom was advocating prayer for the damned. If you want to believe that Rome’s myth of purgatory is based in part upon Chrysostom’s witness, even though what he advocated is directly opposed to Rome’s teaching, don’t let me get in the way of such foolishness. Because, in the Roman arena of apologetics, grasping for straws, even contradictory ones, will suffice to serve the cause of a myth.

    Lastly, your gloss on the history of Chrysostom and Rome falls short. There is no reason to think that Chrysostom was ever out of communion with Rome.

    That’s only because a Romanist doesn’t sweat the facts of history, even when they go against him, all he has to do is to declare them null and void. LOL

  88. paigebritton said,

    January 10, 2011 at 11:02 am

    Hi, Andrew P. (#83),
    I can’t agree that “the Catholic church is subject to Scripture,” although I know that it is self-described somewhere as Scripture’s “servant,” for these reasons:

    As TF has just said, the conscience of anyone in the Catholic church is subject ultimately to the teachings of the church, placing the church on a higher level than the Scriptures re. authority, and church authority as beyond correction by the objective norm of Scripture.

    Second, more deeply, the many doctrines of the Catholic church that have arisen out of the Tradition, including the Immaculate Conception, the infallibility of the Pope, transubstantiation, and the veneration of relics, all share the feature of the supernatural transformation of the ordinary. In contrast, the related Protestant doctrines, which claim their basis solely in Scripture, lack this supernatural transformation of ordinary things and people. I hinted at this in that earlier post last month: I believe we are talking about two different versions of reality here, one learned from God’s revelation in Scripture and one not. God’s reality is one, not both. Either the Tradition trumps the Scripture in its description of reality (i.e., the Scriptures are subject to the church), or the so-called Tradition is completely off the mark and heretical. In my view, the contrast between this Tradition-based set of doctrines and our Scripture-based set of doctrines is so vast at a metaphysical level that I cannot see how the Tradition either serves or complements the biblical revelation.

    pax,
    Paige B.

  89. Bob S. said,

    January 10, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    “Pour les vaincre, messieurs, il nous faut de l’audace, encore de l’audace, et toujours de l’audace et la Patrie sera sauvée!” from the French Revolutionary leader Danton, 2 septembre 1792

    “To defeat them, gentlemen, we need audacity, still more audacity, and audacity forever, and the Fatherland will be saved!”

    (Substitute “HolyMotherRome” for “Fatherland” and you get the picture.)

    Ahem, uh, missed this previously in 83

    I want to pick up on something in there that highlights what may be the fundamental difference between Catholic and Protestant understandings of the relation of Scripture, Church and individual.

    Note bene: “maybe” isn’t.

    The Catholic Church is indeed subject to Scripture.

    I know. Suspend your unbelief. Make sure your seatbelt on your highchair is securely fastened. It gets better.

    The difference between Catholics and Protestants is that for us the ultimate interpretive authority is the Church, which holds the individual accountable to Scripture.

    Glaring Obvious Question No. 1: How can something be subject to Scripture when it is the “ultimate interpretive authority” for Scripture?
    Obvious Reasonable Answer: It can’t be.

    For Protestants, the ultimate interpretive authority is the individual, who holds the Church accountable to Scripture.

    Nope. The ultimate interpretive authority is the self interpreting, sufficient and perspicuous Scripture. See WCF 1
    But if Rome wants to take a jab at private judgement here, she needs to turn that skeptical razor on herself and realize that PJ is inescapable, being the epistemological box that all men are born in to, whether they like it or not.

    Notice that the difference is not about accountability to Scripture.

    Au contraire, yes it is. Neither the Roman church or pope is accountable according to this explanation.

    We agree that everyone is accountable to the word of God.

    IOW the pope again is not “everyone”, nor is he one of the “individuals” held accountable to the Word of God (which equivocation/ambiguity/falsehood conveniently resolves any concern the weaker brethren might have according to their pesky private judgement. So there.)

    The difference concerns who holds whom accountable to that word.

    Ah, now that we got that settled, Ecumenicism is Achieved. Drinks for the house and self (righteous) congratulation all around.
    See, that wasn’t so bad.
    Let’s do it again!

    Never mind.

  90. steve hays said,

    January 10, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    Andrew Preslar said,

    “The Catholic Church is indeed subject to Scripture. The difference between Catholics and Protestants is that for us the ultimate interpretive authority is the Church, which holds the individual accountable to Scripture.”

    i) Actually, that’s why the Roman church is *not* subject to Scripture. If Scripture means whatever the Roman church says it means, then the Roman church can’t be subject to Scripture. It’s like an individual who is both judge and plaintiff.

    ii) Andrew is using “the Church” as code language for the Roman episcopate, especially the papacy. But, of course, the problem with a hierarchical institution is that accountability is a one-way street. Some individuals are accountable to other unaccountable individuals–at the top of the food chain.

    “For Protestants, the ultimate interpretive authority is the individual, who holds the Church accountable to Scripture.”

    “Interpretive authority” is Bryan’s prejudicial hobbyhorse. But there’s no good reason to cast hermeneutical issues in authoritarian terms.

    “Authoritative” interpretations can be wrong. The Sadducees are a textbook example. They had institutional authority in 1C Judaism. They were the ruling party, in the Sanhedrin. But that doesn’t make their interpretations correct.

    The real issue concerns correct interpretations, the best interpretations, and the best methods to arrive at correct or probably correct interpretations.

  91. Sean Patrick said,

    January 10, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    Andrew is using “the Church” as code language for the Roman episcopate, especially the papacy.

    No, I think it is pretty obvious that he means the Catholic Church whose bishop is Benedict the 16th. Nothing ‘coded’ about it.

  92. steve hays said,

    January 10, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    Sean Patrick said,

    “No, I think it is pretty obvious that he means the Catholic Church whose bishop is Benedict the 16th. Nothing ‘coded’ about it.”

    Since Andrew has cast the issue in terms of “interpretive authority,” that would kick it upstairs to the teaching office of the Roman church, viz. the Roman episcopate and especially the pope. Magisterial teaching.

    Therefore, that is not synonymous with “the Church.” Rather, that involves a *contrast* between the hierarchy and the laity. Unless Sean has excommunicated the laity en masse, which would be bad news for him and the other CtC gang.

    But we can always count on Sean to share his intellectual confusion with the rest of the world.

  93. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 10, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    Andrew (#83): The Catholic Church is indeed subject to Scripture. The difference between Catholics and Protestants is that for us the ultimate interpretive authority is the Church, which holds the individual accountable to Scripture.

    I think you have hit a nub here, but I my mallet doesn’t bounce the same way yours does.

    Let’s do a thought experiment: In what way is the Church subject to Scripture, in the Catholic schema?

    Let’s say that Scripture says “X.” Well, no, we must back up. Scripture does not say X, the Church says that Scripture says X.

    So assuming that you agree to the above (or if not, explain), where does the subjection of Church to the Scripture fit in? When does the Church defer its own views to those of Scripture?

  94. Andrew McCallum said,

    January 10, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    Paige (re #79) said Interesting note: you bring out the importance of the church acting together in the reading of the Scriptures; but even when this is happening in a healthy way, what we mean by “the church” assumes the “epistemic parity” of the people who make up that body, meaning that anybody, pastor or parishoner, is subject to the same norm for correction.

    Paige

    And I would just add that the methodology by which such correction is made is the Church as she is defined in the Scriptures. So Andrew P’s contention is that the individual is the final bar of authority is just incorrect. The Reformation churches believed in the ministerial work of the Church, just not that of the Church of Rome. My favorite example of the Reformer’s attitude towards the individual as ultimate authority is Servetus. Now here was a man who believed that he was good enough and smart enough and he did not need the Church’s ministerial role. Our Catholic friends think of all of us Reformed types as if we are little Servetuses in the making and while we are still “separated brethren” at this point in time, there is nothing conceptually which stops us from diving whole hog into abject heresy like poor Servetus.

    I’m glad we were on the same page (no pun intended), I just knew we were!

  95. Bob S. said,

    January 10, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    93 So assuming that you agree to the above (or if not, explain), where does the subjection of Church to the Scripture fit in? When does the Church defer its own views to those of Scripture?

    Jeff, despite the patronization of Rome I am only a simpleton and a fool part time, not full time.
    When those very sporadic incidents of rationality occasionally occur I categorically conclude that:

    Since Scripture sez Peter is the first Pope and infallible and Benedict 16 is Pope now, bingo/ergo it irrefutably follows that the RC is infallible and therefore unaccountable in obvious humble deference to those same holy and infallible Scriptures. Or, if you prefer: Because Scripture – Says – So.

    Again, if Scripture gives Rome thru Peter carte blanche, essentially who are you O little pygmy protestant of picayune private judgement to question any of this.

    How’s that for a vicious little circular argument? Pretty sweet little racket, however you want to dress it up, eh? Mind you, all arguments assume unproveable axioms, even Protestantism, but when Rome includes Scripture in the equation, in any thing more than a nominal sense, the inconsistencies and contradictions redline.

    Or perhaps there is more logical alternative explanation. If so, Protestantism has been waiting for nigh on 500 years for it. But are we supposed to be on pins and needles stressing out about it, while CtC concocts the necessary theological cocktail?

    Didn’t think so.

    cheers

  96. AJ said,

    January 11, 2011 at 12:48 am

    “The difference concerns whether one’s conscience is subject ultimately to the Word of God or to the teachings of one’s church. If you believe that the Bible says “X,” and your church says “not X,” you are required to hold “not X.” From this, it can be seen that you do not submit to the Word of God, but rather to the traditions of men.”

    If we turn also the table it would be a submission to the traditions of men like sola fide and sola scriptura and not to the Word of God and the men He gave His authority by sending them to preach, preserve and teach His Word. (Note: not ALL was sent)

    With this kind of principle at the end of the day, it is just me who decides which is right and wrong with the Scriptures and then just point the authority claim to the Book. (in order to wash any culpability). Any written document even the Bible (written by sinful men ) has NO ability to pass, decide and make a judgment of who got it right and wrong. If that is the case which I think God is pretty clever enough to see beforehand, set up an authoritative entity to pronounce the final judgment between competing disputants. True Love for us demands that we should know with certainty which is TRUE and final.

    I also noticed if one has to read the comments from number one up to the latest, there are a lot of name calling and mocking the other side’s view. It is supposed to be an exchange of reasons with charity between followers of Christ.

    Examples:

    “You are a Romanist” (refering to Roman catholics – mind you it’s not the same as calling reformed people Calvinist, the word “romanist” has a prejudice intent, just call us RC if it’s not to much to ask)

    “That’s only because a Romanist doesn’t sweat the facts of history”

    “Our Romanist poster is asking a question of us ” (refering to a person named Sean)

    “Your brains and logical thinking be damned; we children are not even capable of it, yet unless you make yourselves like us, you will not see the Kingdom.”

    I hope we could all be in the Table of the Lord. Grace to all.

  97. January 11, 2011 at 1:54 am

    All things considered, the prevailing assumption seems to be that one’s conscience cannot be ultimately subject to the word of God, and that the Church cannot be subject to Scripture, if it is the case that the Holy Spirit preserves the Church from error in her definitions of doctrine. Conversely, if we assume that every definition of doctrine can, in principle, be reversed, then, and only then, we are ultimately subject to Scripture.

    But I fail to see why we should suppose this to be the case. If I seek to be ultimately subject to divine revelation, that is, to the God who reveals, and if someone helps me to better understand that revelation, and I heed his instruction, then am I ipso facto subject to my teacher *rather than* revelation? No. And if my teacher should be so happily gifted with divine protection from error in his exposition of divine revelation, that would seem only to further my goal of submitting myself to Scripture. But if I doubt such a teacher, and even reject his instruction on some points, then it seems that I am further than ever from submitting to Sacred Scripture.

    Steve, you’re right that I borrowed “ultimate interpretive authority” from Bryan. What I have in mind by that phrase is the definition of doctrine. This act does seem to fall within the pale of hermeneutics, as the culmination of the interpretive enterprise. *Authority* comes into play precisely because, in the Church, there are special teaching offices / charisms. Some have been appointed to teach doctrine to others. This teaching authority is *interpretative* rather than creative, because authentic Christian doctrine is drawn only from one common source, the faith once for all delivered to the saints. Interpretive authority is described as *ultimate* in that the hermeneutical process culminates (in one sense) with a definitive declaration that what has been revealed concerning X is Y.

    Paige, I am struggling to understand what you’re getting at by “supernatural transformation of ordinary things and people.” Maybe you are simply expressing incredulity at any account of the miraculous or extra-ordinary other than those supernatural or extra-ordinary events recorded in Scripture–something like an uber-cessationist affirmation (that is, denial)?

    Jeff, the Church defers to divine revelation in that she does not consider herself authorized to teach anything, whatsoever, other than the truth once for all delivered to the saints. As to what Scripture does and does not say, that can be taken in two senses: (1) Once we know which writings are Sacred Scripture, then we know what Scripture says. It is right there in the manuscripts. (2) Doctrinal definitions are means of concisely rendering what Scripture says on a particular matter. These definitions, not being merely citations of Scripture, say things that Scripture does not say, in the first sense (e.g., Jesus is consubstantial with the Father, babies of Christian parents are to be baptized, icons of Jesus and the saints are to be venerated), but these doctrines, if they are true, do, in another sense, say what Scripture says. It looks like some folks, above, are confusing these senses, or else simply begging the question, by claiming that the Catholic Church teaches things that are not found in Scripture.

    Andrew M., I think you missed a part of the story, which did not begin with Servetus. It goes further back, to another layman, John Calvin, who had his own issues with the ministerial work of the Church in which he was baptized. Therefore, he broke communion with her, in order to follow his own ultimate interpretive authority; namely, himself.

    Bob, sometimes, I use “private judgment” to refer to the use of one’s rational faculties in weighing a matter. A more careful use of the phrase might be to refer to a supposed right, or principle, by which one clings to his opinions when they are shown to be contrary to what is taught by the Church. I don’t know if this is precise enough, but given these distinct senses of the phrase, I affirm PJ in the first sense and reject it in the second.

  98. curate said,

    January 11, 2011 at 2:40 am

    “Since Scripture sez Peter is the first Pope and infallible and Benedict 16 is Pope now, bingo/ergo …”

    It does? Wow, all these years I have been fighting scripture. So where is that again? know that Peter was one of those given the keys, but I didn’t know that scripture says that he was the first Pope.

    I also missed the text that says that the Bishop of Rome is Peter. Where is that written?

  99. Bob S. said,

    January 11, 2011 at 2:42 am

    96
    All I can gather from what you say AJ, is that you demonstrate no real knowledge of what Scripture says, much more what it says about itself, which is a damning admission however inadvertent or unconscious.

    Likewise as a typical Romanist/Roman apologist or whatever, as follows from above, you demonstrate no real respect for Scripture.

    You obviously do not consider it to be anything more that any other book written by mere men. It is simply a dead letter, as opposed to what it really is: The sharp two-edged sword of the Spirit Eph. 6:17, quick and powerful, living and active which exposes the thoughts and the intentions of mens’ hearts Heb.4:12. It is that by which men are born again, the incorruptible seed of the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever 1 Pet. 1:23.

    Even further, if faith cometh by hearing and hearing by that same word of God, so too all that call upon the Lord shall be saved. Rom.1:13,17 as well as all that do not believe shall be damned Jn.3:18. In short, there is no other way to be saved than what Scripture alone reveals.

    But if you insist on prefering the Church – either Roman or Protestant, it makes no difference – over and above that Word of God written, from which Christ, the Word of God become flesh cannot be separated, go right on your merry way.
    But don’t deceive yourself. You cannot and will not be saved as any true protestant will tell you. Biblical Christianity doesn’t work that way and it’s high time you realized it. That’s not what the gospel and the kingdom of God are all about.

    cordially yrs.

  100. Bob S. said,

    January 11, 2011 at 2:53 am

    97 Andrew,
    You still haven’t given us the official Roman position. Not Bryan’s position, your position or CtC’s position, but Rome’s.

    98 I also missed the text that says that the Bishop of Rome is Peter. Where is that written?

    Ummm, I think when you can redefine Verbum Dei to include Scripture, Tradition (including the lost oral ones) and the Magisterium, you can pretty much shoehorn anything you want into the mix for a potpourri of popery.

    (But you saw that last coming, I am sure:)

  101. Bob S. said,

    January 11, 2011 at 2:58 am

    97 Andrew,
    You still haven’t given us the official Roman position on private judgement. Not Bryan’s position, your position or CtC’s position, but Rome’s.

  102. paigebritton said,

    January 11, 2011 at 6:42 am

    Hey, Andrew P. –
    Re. my “transformation of ordinary things and people” comment, I don’t want to get bogged down in this here, but to try to clarify — it’s just an observation I am making about the character of a group of major Catholic doctrines compared to the character of the related Protestant version of these doctrines.

    The former, based on the Tradition and (it is claimed) Scripture, feature supernatural, extraordinary works of God; the latter, based solely on the Scriptures, affirm that God acts supernaturally, but do not involve the alteration of the ordinary things and people (i.e., Mary is not immaculately conceived; the bread and wine stay bread and wine; nobody is gifted with the charism of infallibility; the bones of saints have no power to bless).

    Do you even see the difference I am seeing, between the one group of doctrines (considered as a group) and the other? If you see it, do you think it is a difference in degree only? That would seem to be the necessary conclusion, if the Tradition is either subject to or complements the Scriptures.

    I believe it is not a difference in degree, but a difference in kind: I’m contending that the Catholic doctrines assume an entirely different view of reality, of God and his works, than do the related Protestant doctrines. And I am asking myself the question, how come a theological system (Protestantism) that claims to be based entirely on the Scriptures (which are full of miracles) lack these highly miraculous features, while a system based on the Scriptures plus the Tradition contains them?

    Again, don’t let’s get bogged down on this, but can you tell me if you at least recognize the difference I am trying to point out, between the two systems of doctrine? Thanks.

    pax,
    Paige B.

  103. January 11, 2011 at 10:08 am

    Bob,

    The Catholic Church’s official teaching on private judgment, in the two senses which I distinguished at the end of #97, is set forth in, for example, Chapter Five of John Paul II’s encyclical, Fides et Ratio. Reason is affirmed, in that our rational faculties are designed to apprehend truth (my first sense of “PJ”). However, “the Church’s Magisterium can and must authoritatively exercise a critical discernment of opinions and philosophies which contradict Christian doctrine.”

  104. TurretinFan said,

    January 11, 2011 at 10:24 am

    Andrew:

    I think Ignatius of Loyola provides a better summary of your church’s official teaching with his thirteenth rule:

    Thirteenth Rule. To be right in everything, we ought always to hold that the white which I see, is black, if the Hierarchical Church so decides it, believing that between Christ our Lord, the Bridegroom, and the Church, His Bride, there is the same Spirit which governs and directs us for the salvation of our souls. Because by the same Spirit and our Lord Who gave the ten Commandments, our holy Mother the Church is directed and governed.

    (Ignatius of Loyola, Spiritual Exercises – emphasis is mine)

    -TurretinFan

  105. January 11, 2011 at 10:38 am

    Paige,

    I agree that there is a difference in kind between supernatural events and natural ones. Thus, a system of doctrine that sets forth, for example, the conception of Christ, or the Eucharist, or the Resurrection as ordinary realities (Mary got pregnant just like everyone else, the consecrated elements do not become the Body and Blood of Christ, Jesus’ remains are in a box somewhere in Palestine) is indeed very different from one that sets these things forth as supernatural realities.

    I also agree that Catholic Church contains elements that are found in Scripture, such as the supernatural, whereas many Protestants seem to inhabit a world (intellectually and devotionally) that is very different from the world we find described in the Bible. Thus, I have long thought, in a sort of tongue-in-cheek way, that some Protestants (i.e., the hard-core cessationists, who, I think, are trying to be radically consistent with sola scriptura) will be shocked and appalled by the Second Coming, whereas Catholics, being habitually more open to the supernatural or at least the extra-ordinary in their lives, and to public displays of devotion, will party like its 1999.

  106. January 11, 2011 at 10:49 am

    Hey TF,

    Hyperbole is a common feature of much devotional writing, as well as other sorts of religious literature, from that period. I think that St. Ignatius’ liberties in this regard pale in comparison to some of the rhetorical excesses of the ex-monk, Martin Luther. The shock-value is part and parcel of this rhetorical device, although it does present a danger to the unwary, or careless, reader.

  107. steve hays said,

    January 11, 2011 at 11:11 am

    Andrew Preslar said,

    “Steve, you’re right that I borrowed ‘ultimate interpretive authority’ from Bryan. What I have in mind by that phrase is the definition of doctrine. This act does seem to fall within the pale of hermeneutics, as the culmination of the interpretive enterprise. *Authority* comes into play precisely because, in the Church, there are special teaching offices / charisms. Some have been appointed to teach doctrine to others. This teaching authority is *interpretative* rather than creative, because authentic Christian doctrine is drawn only from one common source, the faith once for all delivered to the saints. Interpretive authority is described as *ultimate* in that the hermeneutical process culminates (in one sense) with a definitive declaration that what has been revealed concerning X is Y.”

    Andrew, you’re giving us an exposition of RC theology rather than a defense of RC theology. I cited counterexamples to challenge your claim. You need to engage the argument. You haven’t given us a reason to accept the claims of your denomination vis-a-vis “interpretive authority.” Appealing to “special teaching offices / charisms” begs the very question at issue.

  108. Bob S. said,

    January 11, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    I’ll get back to you on 103, Andrew.
    Regarding 105, I don’t think you understand the essence or genius of either Loyola or Luther and that’s not hyperbole.
    Neither is it a good thing.

    But I certainly remember the dictum drilled into my skull in Jesuit prep high school by one EB Painter SJ. “In history there are primary sources and secondary sources”. And I thank God that whatever Mr. Painter intended by it, it stood me in good stead when it came to piercing the veil of deceit that the RC throws over all things biblical and Christian. The Bible is The primary source and bedrock of Christianity. Without it, there is and can be no such thing, all vain, idle and stupid babbling to the contrary.

    We must believe in God and that he has spoken in his word. On those two principium, true religion hangs. Luther, to his credit and whatever his faults, understood that. Ignatius didn’t. End of story.

    Thank you.

  109. Bob S. said,

    January 11, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    Ok so we’re fallible, contrary to certain ecclesiastical bodies. In 108, 105 should be 106.

    More to the point or postscript, I can’t speak for any of the other numerous protestants on this site who started out in the Roman church, but not only am I glad to see Green Baggins allowing the discussion, it’s not like yrs. truly didn’t try to make it work. I went back to the Roman church after turning to Christ. After all, that is where I had first heard his name.

    But 3 into 2 doesn’t go evenly.
    You ask questions. You go to the classes. You are given the Roman answers. They either did or didn’t appeal to Scripture, much more that Scripture would blatantly contradict them. Guess what. After a time, you cut your losses and stop trying to explain away the lies.

    I am not bitter. But I am not stupid either. But once Rome appeals to Scripture as an authority of any kind for its traditions or teachings, the gig is up. Scripture has a way of dissolving doubts and exposing religious fraud for what it is.

    That’s why reading the Bible was always forbidden by Rome and she only got around to allowing vernacular translations and the limited reading of them, because of the success and popularity of the protestant bible versions. Likewise catechisms. Before the Baltimore, there was the Shorter. Even many protestants don’t know that.

    In short, they say you can never go home again. Certainly after the Word of God enlightens one that is true, regardless if Wolfe is a literary false prophet, even as Benedict Arnold is the ecclesiastical.

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

    Indeed

    pax vobiscum

  110. Andrew Preslar said,

    January 11, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    Hey Steve, My explanation of “ultimate interpretive authority” was in response to #90, in which you questioned the propriety of the phrase.

  111. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 11, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    Andrew (#97): Don’t know about you, but my eyes are starting to glaze over.

    Jeff, the Church defers to divine revelation in that she does not consider herself authorized to teach anything, whatsoever, other than the truth once for all delivered to the saints.

    However, because she also defines what truth that is, then her authorization has no limitation, right?

    I come back frequently to the perpetual virginity of Mary as an example for three reasons:

    (1) Nothing in the text of Scripture can remotely be said to teach that Mary remained a virgin after Jesus’ birth.

    (I think Catholics and Protestants can agree to this; it’s a relatively objective matter).

    (2) The RC Church has nevertheless defined PV to be a part of the “deposit of faith”; and

    (3) The RC Church has made belief in PV a part of what must be believed to be a Christian — that is, a matter of anathema.

    See, I can understand (but disagree) with the RC church on their doctrines of sacraments or of justification. But PV is this crazy anomaly — a doctrine with zero scriptural support that is supposedly necessary for salvation.

    You would think that if we had to believe in PV for salvation, the Scriptures might mention it somewhere?

    And if you can appreciate what I’m saying, then you can begin to appreciate the problem with saying that the Church can define the meaning of Scripture and simultaneously submit to the Scripture.

    Submission is incompatible with ultimate and infallible authority, at least if we’re talking about human beings.

  112. Andrew McCallum said,

    January 11, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    I think you missed a part of the story, which did not begin with Servetus. It goes further back, to another layman, John Calvin, who had his own issues with the ministerial work of the Church in which he was baptized. Therefore, he broke communion with her, in order to follow his own ultimate interpretive authority; namely, himself.

    Andrew P,

    Calvin was one of many thousands of pastors and theologians who recognized that the ecclesiology of Rome and that of the Early Church were not the same. Servetus was a lone ranger who had no interest in the historical Christian Church but felt that he could interpret the Bible and Christian tradition solo. You obviously don’t agree with the Reformed understanding of the visible Church, but let’s not pretend that the thousands of the pastors and theologians who broke with the Church of Rome were thousands of individuals all acting independently.

    Andrew M

  113. Steve G. said,

    January 11, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    Andrew P said:

    “This teaching authority is *interpretative* rather than creative, because authentic Christian doctrine is drawn only from one common source, the faith once for all delivered to the saints.”

    Really? Then which of the apostles taught the immaculate conception of Mary, her sinlessness and her assumption? Which apostle taught the treasury of merits? Which taught praying to the saints? Which taught Mary as co-redemptrix, co-mediatrix, etc.? That should be easy if this is from “the fatih once and for all delivered to the saints”.

  114. BobS said,

    January 12, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    112 Andrew,
    Agreed. The “protestantism as lone gunman theology” paradigm repeatedly cited by the Roman apologists over here is getting more than a little old. It’s not like JBFA, SS and the Pope is Antichrist is just one of the trillion aberrant theologies out there, never mind the cream of the reformation confessions, the Westminster Standards and the Three Forms of Unity.

    But ignorance is the mother of devotion. To the Roman church and popery. The caliber of converts that CtC seems to pick up and then send over here does not seem for the most part to be capable of doing anything more than citing the party line.

    Much more literacy includes – or at least used to – the ability to follow an argument and not just distinguish between your abc’s and smoke the Dick and Jane readers. Neither does an education or a degree guarantee somebody’s intelligence in these govt. school days nor does it put the same imprimatur on their arguments.

    but hey, we just commenting, not complaining, right.

  115. TurretinFan said,

    January 12, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    “Hyperbole is a common feature of much devotional writing, as well as other sorts of religious literature, from that period.”

    Are you suggesting that Ignatius’ comment here is hyperbole?

    – TurretinFan

  116. January 12, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    Andrew M.,

    You touch on an important underlying issue–the visibility of the one, universal Church. To pursue the questions of whether the Protestant communities, not having Apostolic Succession and separated from one another in government and doctrine, add up to a single, visible Church, and whether such a Church could, in principle, exercise interpretive authority over its members, would be to recapitulate previous discussions, from other forums.

  117. D. T. King said,

    January 12, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    …not having Apostolic Succession…

    Folks, this is how Roman apologists operate. Rather than prove their notion of Apostolic Succession, they simply name it/claim it, and then create the “haves” and the “have nots” distinction. They are using this blog, not to prove, but to pontificate their notions.

  118. January 12, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    TF,

    Yes, in the same sense that “if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away” is hyperbole. Both statements are meant to be taken very seriously, but not, I think, literally.

    In any case, I was responding to a question about official Church teaching on faith and reason. I did so by citing official Church teaching on faith and reason.

  119. January 12, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    DT King,

    I took “not having Apostolic Succession” to be as unobjectionable, and objective, a statement as “not having the Pope.” AS refers to the unbroken, sacramental succession of bishops from the Apostles. Now, you might think that there is no such thing, or that if there is such a thing it is of little spiritual value. But then you would hardly care to complain about my claim about Protestants not having it. Of course, if there is no such thing as AS, then Catholics don’t have it either. But we at least believe that we do, and this belief is crucial to the Catholic position on final interpretive authority.

    As I indicated to Andrew M., some of the relevant arguments, and subsequent discussions, are being made elsewhere. We all, especially in a combox (where compression is of the essence), have to assume some things peculiar to our own position in the course of discussion. This should be kept to a minimum, but it is not realistic to expect everything to be proved in order to be named.

    However, I don’t like to be represented as being merely assertoric. In this thread, I have offered at least a couple of arguments (e.g., in #37, #97) pertaining to the perspicuity claim and sola scriptura. Admittedly, these are pretty modest arguments. But there they are.

  120. D. T. King said,

    January 12, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    AS refers to the unbroken, sacramental succession of bishops from the Apostles. Now, you might think that there is no such thing, or that if there is such a thing it is of little spiritual value.

    You don’t know what I think. And you’ve never defined what you think this is in precise terms. Moreover, whatever you mean by “unbroken” has not been defined. You are simply assuming it, wholly apart from any definition or proof for whatever that definition is.

    As I indicated to Andrew M., some of the relevant arguments, and subsequent discussions, are being made elsewhere.

    Yes, well, elsewhere is not here.

    We all, especially in a combox (where compression is of the essence), have to assume some things peculiar to our own position in the course of discussion.

    Assume? You presume too much, and that is part of the problem with how Roman apologists operate.

    This should be kept to a minimum, but it is not realistic to expect everything to be proved in order to be named.

    If you’re unwilling to prove it, it is simply pontificating. Now, if you want to pontificate, that’s up to you, but I will continue to underscore it for what it is. You have conveniently avoided defining your terms. If you’re going to use it as part of an argument, you should not be granted the luxury of assuming it. Call it unrealistic, and keep invoking those categories of the “haves” and “have nots,” but you’ve proven nothing.

  121. Ron said,

    January 12, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    Andrew P.,

    Maybe you might like to explain how you get from an assumed infallible Peter to a perpetually infallible succession of popes. Please don’t just quote a few Bible verses. Please put forth a validly formed argument with clearly stated premises. Once you’ve put forth an argument, we can then examine your exegetical defense of the specific premises. There are no freebies here so do come prepared to defend your claims with God’s word. (I suspect the Romanists on this site are as tired of hearing this request as I am of making it.)

  122. BobS said,

    January 12, 2011 at 9:17 pm

    119 I second Ron’s request, Andrew.
    This has been an outstanding for some time and is the second or third time he has asked.
    I will also be getting back to you on the PJ material you referenced, but I do note that your qualifications are quite contrary to Bryan’s. But all in due time, eh?

    Thank you.

  123. January 13, 2011 at 3:19 am

    Hey guys,

    The arguments that I’ve made regarding hermeneutics do not depend upon Catholic teaching on AS, nor on our understanding of the specifically Petrine succession, A few of the arguments do sort of point towards that teaching, as a way to distinguish who has been given supernatural help so to rightly discern the doctrine that is set forth in Scripture from who is just setting up on their own.

    I don’t think that this thread is the place to argue for or against AS. Rather, I would prefer to take one step at a time, and stick with the discussion on perspicuity and illumination.

    Bob, I would be surprised if Bryan and I held contrary opinions (in general) on the relation of faith and reason or authority and private judgment.

  124. BobS said,

    January 13, 2011 at 8:01 am

    123I would be surprised if Bryan and I held contrary opinions (in general) on the relation of faith and reason or authority and private judgment.

    Andrew,
    And neither am I really surprised by what I have seen here regarding the opinions of Romanists.

    If you insist, but of course, this thread is not the place to discuss AS. In principle, it never is. We have seen the cut and run tactics at the very least from the beginning of the yarn over the authoritative and binding, yet lost oral traditions.
    And before that it was the ECF’s, ecclesial deism, tuquoque and what all else.

    IOW you may proceed with your argument, Mr. Preslar. But I don’t expect much more than hyperbole from an apologist for Ignatius. I sat at the feet of the same for too long.

    cheers

  125. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 13, 2011 at 9:49 am

    Andrew P (#118):

    Re: Loyola. I think you’re right that Loyola is using metaphor here. But consider what the “white and black” refer to in the metaphor. The Jesuits were not engaged in debates over the color wheel, but in debate and enforcement of the theological teaching of the magisterium.

    I think it’s fair to say that IL is saying here,

    “Even if I see the Scripture clearly saying X; but the church teaches that it says Y, then I must believe Y.”

    Do you agree that this is a fair reading of both Loyola *and also* the Presslar/Cross argument?

  126. January 13, 2011 at 11:26 am

    Jeff,

    To even out the scenario (X or Y), I might put the matter like this: “Even if I see the Scripture clearly saying X, but the Church sees that it clearly says Y, then I must believe Y.”

    In this case, yes, I must believe what the Church sees in Scripture.

    Of course, in order to lay down one’s own interpretation and submit to the Church in such a case, one must first believe, and (ideally) have reasons for believing, that the Church has the relevant kind of illumination / interpretive authority. Otherwise, defaulting to the Church’s interpretation would be arbitrary and irresponsible.

    Also, notice that clearly seeing the meaning of a text, where the text is ancient, large, and of various (human) authorship, etc., is not the same sort of “seeing” as clearly seeing that the cover of my Bible is black. The color of bibles does not fall within the purview of Magisterial authority, but the interpretation of the Bible, in its doctrinal sense, does.

    My position is that clearly understanding this doctrinal sense of Scripture, including essentials, requires the special illumination of the Holy Spirit. I gave some reasons for this in # 81.

  127. steve hays said,

    January 13, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    Andrew Preslar said,

    “…and whether such a Church could, in principle, exercise interpretive authority over its members, would be to recapitulate previous discussions, from other forums.”

    This is classic RC doubletalk.

    Needless to say, “a Church” can’t exercise interpretive authority “over” its members–for the obvious reason that “a Church” is *constituted* by its members. It’s not something over and above its constituent members. Andrew’s statement is nonsensical, like saying your body exerts control over your body.

    You could say your brain exerts authority over your body, but that would be a part/whole relation.

    What Andrew really means is that *some* members of the church exercise “interpretive authority” over *other* members. It’s not church/members, but part/part.

    And if you decode his language further, what he really really means is that bishops exercise “interpretive authority” over the laity. But in that event, accountability is a one-way street.

    BTW, when I say Andrew is using “doubletalk,” I’m not accusing him of deliberate dissimulation. Rather, Roman Catholics become so conditioned to think in these categories that they lose the ability to recognize doubletalk.

  128. Reed Here said,

    January 13, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    Steve: the BTW is a valuable and helpful qualifier. Thanks.

  129. January 14, 2011 at 1:12 am

    Steve,

    The Church can, on my view, exercise interpretive authority over its members in the same way that the Church can discipline its members (Matthew 18:15-17), or a State can govern its citizens.

  130. John Bugay said,

    January 14, 2011 at 4:49 am

    This is from the Vatican II document Lumen Gentium, the “Dogmatic Constitution on the Church”. This is where the latest iteration of Roman Catholic doublespeak comes from:

    Christ, the one Mediator, established and continually sustains here on earth His holy [Roman Catholic] Church, the community of faith, hope and charity, as an entity with visible delineation through which He communicated truth and grace to all. But, the society structured with hierarchical organs and the Mystical Body of Christ, are not to be considered as two realities, nor are the visible assembly and the spiritual community, nor the earthly Church and the Church enriched with heavenly things; rather they form one complex reality which coalesces from a divine and a human element. For this reason, by no weak analogy, it is compared to the mystery of the incarnate Word. As the assumed nature [Christ’s human nature] inseparably united to Him, serves the divine Word as a living organ of salvation, so, in a similar way, does the visible social structure of the [Roman Catholic] Church serve the Spirit of Christ, who vivifies it, in the building up of the body.

    This is the one Church of Christ which in the Creed is professed as one, holy, catholic and apostolic, which our Saviour, after His Resurrection, commissioned Peter to shepherd, and him and the other apostles to extend and direct with authority, which He erected for all ages as “the pillar and mainstay of the truth”. This [Roman Catholic] Church constituted and organized in the world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him, although many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside of its visible structure. These elements, as gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, are forces impelling toward catholic unity.

  131. John Bugay said,

    January 14, 2011 at 5:04 am

    Of course, note the proof-texting of 1 Tim 3:15 from this selection. The Roman Church is constantly mis-using [actually abusing] the Scriptures to support its own authority.

    What this verse is actually saying is that individual members of the household of God, the local church, “support the truth” by bearing witness to it with their behavior. This is precisely Paul’s exhortation to the church in Romans 12:1-3, for example.

    But such abuse of the true meaning of the Scriptures is rampant within that document. It would take a team of top-flight exegets a long, long time to untwist the doublespeak from that document alone.

    This is one reason why, in these types of discussions, there is so much “talking past each other”. Because the Roman Catholics are actually speaking a separate and different code language.

  132. John Bugay said,

    January 14, 2011 at 6:02 am

    The key word from that selection is the word subsists in, which is a change from prior documents, which expressed that “this [Roman Catholic] Church constituted and organized in the world as a society, is the Roman Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him …” It actually went further than that. The language surrounding “the successor of Peter and the bishops in communion with him” is a scale-back of the language of Vatican I.

    What Rome seems to “give back” with one hand [in terms of good will], it takes back with the other. While some theologians understood the word “subsists” as allowing for other Ratzinger, it has been noted that Ratzinger sees the word “subsists in” as meaning “integral existence as a complete, self-contained subject.”

    See the Avery Dulles article in the February 2006 issue of “First Things,” From Ratzinger to Benedict

    It is Ratzinger who is behind the documents that prohibits addressing Protestant churches as “churches,” but rather, calls them “ecclesial communities.”

    Gentlemen, please note this well:

    Catholic ecumenism might seem, at first sight, somewhat paradoxical. The Second Vatican Council used the phrase “subsistit in” in order to try to harmonise two doctrinal affirmations: on the one hand, that despite all the divisions between Christians the Church of Christ continues to exist fully only in the Catholic Church, and on the other hand that numerous elements of sanctification and truth do exist outwith the visible boundaries of the Catholic Church whether in the particular Churches or in the ecclesial Communities that are not fully in communion with the Catholic Church. For this reason, the same Decree of Vatican II on ecumenism Unitatis Redintegratio introduced the term fullness (unitatis/catholicitatis) specifically to help better understand this somewhat paradoxical situation. Although the Catholic Church has the fullness of the means of salvation, “nevertheless, the divisions among Christians prevent the Church from effecting the fullness of catholicity proper to her in those of her children who, though joined to her by baptism, are yet separated from full communion with her.”

    This is the attitude you are dealing with when you speak with the more informed Roman Catholics here.

  133. Reed Here said,

    January 14, 2011 at 7:10 am

    John: kind of knew that, but it is good to see it in so many words. Thanks.

  134. steve hays said,

    January 14, 2011 at 7:51 am

    Andrew Preslar said,

    “The Church can, on my view, exercise interpretive authority over its members in the same way that the Church can discipline its members (Matthew 18:15-17), or a State can govern its citizens.”

    Your Matthean prooftext is counterproductive. For in that passage, the “church” isn’t the clergy (much less hierarchy) in contrast to the laity. Rather, it’s the collective membership. Therefore, it’s not the hierarchy which exercises authority over the laity in that passage. Rather, the collective membership exercise authority over one errant member.

  135. Nick said,

    January 14, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    I’ve not been able to keep up with all the comments, but if this has been discussed already I apologize.

    I had a discussion with TFan on his blog about a year ago on the Reformed notion of Perspicuity, and if you look at my comments to him and his responses to me, to my surprise, the Reformed differentiate the teaching of Perspicuity itself from the actual ‘application’ of the doctrine. In other words, the notion that “all essential doctrines are clearly taught in Scripture” is the Dogma, but actually determining what “all essential doctrines” are is something different and not so easy to actually do.

    This would suggest the doctrine itself is worthless, since it serves no real application – the Protestant ends up effectively saying “the essentials are clear but we don’t know what the essentials are.”

    For example, in that thread, TF said this:
    “we may be able to identify some things as essentials clearly and identify other things as non-essentials clearly, we don’t think we can create a precise list”

    In other words, despite the dogma of Perspicuity, no actual list of essential doctrines can be drawn up.

    I see the Reformed notion of Perspicuity a mockery of God’s intention of giving us Scripture in the first place.

  136. Nick said,

    January 14, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    To build on my last post: the only way this blog post can be titled “A Blueprint for *order*” is if some objective *order* can be established.

    The only way I can see this done in Protestantism is if a definitive list of “all essential doctrines” can in fact be derived from Scripture and universally agreed upon by all Regenerates.

    To my knowledge, nowhere near anything of a clear consensus and list of essential doctrines exists in Reformed history. Thus, there is no *order* by definition.

  137. BobS said,

    January 14, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    127BTW, when I say Andrew is using “doubletalk,” I’m not accusing him of deliberate dissimulation. Rather, Roman Catholics become so conditioned to think in these categories that they lose the ability to recognize doubletalk.

    BTW that’s what’s called brainwashing.

    131Because the Roman Catholics are actually speaking a separate and different code language.

    If GBShaw were not an atheist, he might have said Protestantism and Romanism are two faiths separated by a common religion instead of that England and America are two nations separated by a common language. Rome’s forte is investing words with Roman instead of Scriptural meaning and they can get away with it due to the prevailing ignorance of Scripture, sound doctrine and reason, if not history in their own communion, as well as that of others.

    While the chameleon like nature of Rome was mentioned on the Presupposition thread. I was thinking of a hybrid version of double jointed reptile that speaks with a forked tongue and has both shape and color changing ability; a combination of both a gymnast and contortionist in the moral and spiritual sense.

    More to the point, the psalmist says you become like whatever you idolize 115:8. If it’s a piece of bread, I suppose in a spiritual sense, bread crumbs or shake and bake reasonably follows.

    When we are told that the Roman church is a servant to scripture, I can’t help thinking of Hazael being such a good servant to Benhadad, by spreading a wet cloth – not of traditions – over his face and smothering him. Likewise Joab professing great love for Amasa, who outranked him; with one hand grabbing his beard to kiss him, while with the other stabbing him beneath the fifth rib to leave him to wallowing in his blood by the side of the road till somebody came and covered him up with a blanket, again not of traditions.

    But what really takes the cake is the breezy and open manner. “Hey guys.” Who are we talking to? Am I supposed to pretend that somebody is not the ecumenical internet version of a door to door salesman selling popish poison? Not to be rude, but I don’t think so,

  138. BobS said,

    January 14, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    13b Nick
    For protestantism, the essentials are JBFA and SS (along with the corollary that the Pope is Antichrist for opposing and persecuting the gospel of JBFA as found in SS).

    For the P&R, the true churches preach the gospel and administer the sacraments and church govt./discipline in accordance with Scripture.

  139. John Bugay said,

    January 14, 2011 at 5:38 pm

    Reed 133: I’m just clarifying for folks who may be lurkers.

  140. Reed Here said,

    January 14, 2011 at 5:51 pm

    John: sorry to sound like I was chiding you. Not my intention. More clearly, what I meant to say is that you expressed more clearly what I know, yet at times gets muddled in my thinking with all the scattered discussion that tends to occur with our RCC friends.

  141. John Bugay said,

    January 14, 2011 at 6:42 pm

    Thanks Reed, I appreciate it. Some things just need to be reiterated from time to time. Steve had pointed out the “doublespeak,” and that just reminded me that it starts at the top.

  142. Nick said,

    January 14, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    BobS #138,

    You said: For protestantism, the essentials are JBFA and SS (along with the corollary that the Pope is Antichrist for opposing and persecuting the gospel of JBFA as found in SS).
    For the P&R, the true churches preach the gospel and administer the sacraments and church govt./discipline in accordance with Scripture.

    So nothing about the Trinity, Baptism, etc? And just what level of ‘detail’ is essential for JBFA? It seems to me that the thrust of Protestantism today effectively reduces to one essential, “Jesus is Lord,” and nothing more.

    Your response just doesn’t seem to be adequate, since it leaves much to be desired, even if you might be satisfied with it.

  143. BobS said,

    January 14, 2011 at 11:56 pm

    142 So nothing about the Trinity, Baptism, etc?

    Did you read the post? How much detail do you want? Is not baptism a sacrament? Is not the Trinity part of the gospel?
    The Canons of Dordt, the five points of calvinism, is not that the trinitarian gospel?

    All men fell in Adam.
    God the Father elected.
    Christ the Son atoned.
    The H. Spirit calls and regenerates.
    The elect are preserved in perseverance.

    And just what level of ‘detail’ is essential for JBFA?

    Dunno. Trent didn’t have a problem anathematizing it. Sounds like they understood it and opposed it because of what it is: the heart of the gospel. Sounds like you do to, even as you must, sworn as you are to a church of which the Pope is Lord and he has declared against it. IOW you are in the wrong church if you don’t repudiate JBFA and SS. Sounds like you know the practical difference between Rome and protestantism well enough.

    It seems to me that the thrust of Protestantism today effectively reduces to one essential, “Jesus is Lord,” and nothing more.

    True catholic protestantism or those, that like Rome have departed the faith? Thanks for sharing your opinion with us.

    Your response just doesn’t seem to be adequate, since it leaves much to be desired, even if you might be satisfied with it.

    See above. No, really. Thanks for sharing.

    IOW Nick, it’s called the scandal of the gospel. Many are called, but few are chosen.

    But: “Protestantism is not perfect”. But: “I need a list of what you believe before I can believe you are not nuts”.

    But there’s no mirror in your house that works?

    What did Christ say? How many times is Is. 6:10 quoted in the NT?

    Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.

    We have the Word of God written. We have the great Reformation confessions, the Westminster and the Three Forms of Unity – note the last, doctrinal forms to promote the cause of unity , not division. If you want a more detailed list, start there.

    cordially


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