Monday, April 30, 2007

An ancient voice for the day #12

Chrysostom (349-407):

"In the case of the soul, on the other hand, none of these things is necessary, unless, just as you daily spend money to give nourishment to the body, you are likewise determined not to neglect the soul and let it die of hunger but to provide it with proper nourishment from the reading of Scripture and the support of spiritual advice: “Not on bread alone does man live,” Scripture says, remember, 'but on every word coming from the mouth of God.' "

Source: FC, Vol. 82, Homilies on Genesis 18-45, Homily 21.22 (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1990), p. 66.


For an excellent compilation of quotes of the Church fathers teaching on the primacy, sufficiency and ultimate authority of Scripture, get a copy of Holy Scripture:The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith Vol III- The Writings of the Church Fathers Affirming the Reformation Principle of Sola Scriptura.

27 comments:

Pope_St_Peter said...

What a powerful view of the Christian life! As I examine the history of Catholic doctrinal thought, I find myself exhausted much of the time, trying to figure out what is tradition and what is not tradition, what is infallible and what is not infallible, what is a consistent development and what it is not a consistent development. At the end of the day, I lay my head in the only inspired inscripturation of Tradition, and thus the only infallible Tradition, namely, the Sacred Scriptures.

Anonymous said...

"pope st peter,"

If I may, I bet Jerry-Jett gives you a hard time! HAHAHAHAHA!!!

Robbie

David Waltz said...

Hello PSP,

You posted:

>>What a powerful view of the Christian life! As I examine the history of Catholic doctrinal thought, I find myself exhausted much of the time, trying to figure out what is tradition and what is not tradition, what is infallible and what is not infallible, what is a consistent development and what it is not a consistent development. At the end of the day, I lay my head in the only inspired inscripturation of Tradition, and thus the only infallible Tradition, namely, the Sacred Scriptures.>>

I would say that the Sacred Scriptures are the only inspired and infallible Tradition, but would add that SOME tradition is infallible.

Let us not forget that the Sacred Scriptures must be interpreted, and I can think of few doctrines (any?) that are not contested by competent Biblical scholars.

BTW, if you want to experience some real exhaustion [grin] try reading Richard A. Muller’s unparalleled four volume work, Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics – The Rise and Development of Reformed Orthodoxy, ca. 1520 to ca. 1725. This incredible work clearly demonstrates that it is not just the Catholic faith that has deeply rich history of doctrinal thought. As such, is ii not fair to say that one will experience a certain sense of exhaustion with any Christian sect that takes the study of the Sacred Scriptures seriously?

Grace and peace,

David

Anonymous said...

Pope Saint Peter:
It's encouraging to see you write that.

David:
You point out that Sacred Scripture must be interpreted, and that there are many disagreements among scholars as to its doctrines. However investing your eternal destiny in the infallibility of the Roman Catholic magisterium does not get you off the hook. As a Roman Catholic, you must interpret the Fathers, not to mention the Councils, and the Papal encyclicals and other decrees. As you know, Roman Catholics--not to mention Eastern Orthodox--disagree widely as to the "correct" interpretation of the numerous extrabiblical traditions. Such traditions must be interpreted one-by-one by individual Roman Catholics living at different times in different places and possessing various levels of intelligence and communicative ability.

You say that some tradition--here I assume you mean extrabiblical tradition--is also infallible. But how do we know which traditions are God-breathed, which are wrong, and which are heretical? It is not enough to merely invoke the "unanimous consent of the fathers" , for as far as the vast majority of Christian doctrines is concerned, there was no such thing. You have your fathers, the Eastern Orthodox has his, as does the Arian.

Saint Irenaeus suggested that Jesus lived to an age of fifty years (Against Heresies, Book II, Chapter XXII). Would you agree with this tradition? If not, who are you to say Irenaeus was wrong? Are you going to say he was wrong based on the claims of later fathers? Why should you believe later fathers over a father who was closer in time to the apostles?

Simon

David Waltz said...

Hi Simon,

Thanks for responding. You posted:

>>You point out that Sacred Scripture must be interpreted, and that there are many disagreements among scholars as to its doctrines. However investing your eternal destiny in the infallibility of the Roman Catholic magisterium does not get you off the hook. As a Roman Catholic, you must interpret the Fathers, not to mention the Councils, and the Papal encyclicals and other decrees. As you know, Roman Catholics--not to mention Eastern Orthodox--disagree widely as to the "correct" interpretation of the numerous extrabiblical traditions. Such traditions must be interpreted one-by-one by individual Roman Catholics living at different times in different places and possessing various levels of intelligence and communicative ability.>>

Me: In a very real sense you are correct. However, certain dogmas require little interpretation given the doctrinal history behind their formal declaration/s. For instance, the doctrine of the Trinity and some important Christologocial doctrines are pretty straight forward, especially if you read the surrounding history of the councils that produced the related formal creeds. I would argue that many of the formal decrees and creeds produced in the Ecumenical Councils are quite clear (but then, so are many Protestant extra-Biblical documents, like the Westminster Confession of Faith).

>>You say that some tradition--here I assume you mean extrabiblical tradition--is also infallible.>>

Me: “Extrabiblical” only in the sense of interpretation, for I hold to the material sufficiency of the Scriptures.

>>But how do we know which traditions are God-breathed,>>

Me: “God-breathed” (theopneustos) is reserved for the Scriptures only. Some traditions are infallible (e.g. doctrine of the Trinity, deity and two-natures of Christ, baptism of infants, real presence, etc.), but they are not “God-breathed” in the sense that the Scriptures are.

>>but are not which are wrong, and which are heretical? It is not enough to merely invoke the "unanimous consent of the fathers" , for as far as the vast majority of Christian doctrines is concerned, there was no such thing. You have your fathers, the Eastern Orthodox has his, as does the Arian.>>

Me: My appeal to traditions that are infallible is limited to the creeds and decrees, on faith and morals, that were produced by the Ecumenical Councils, and the two ex cathedra Papal pronouncements.

>>Saint Irenaeus suggested that Jesus lived to an age of fifty years (Against Heresies, Book II, Chapter XXII). Would you agree with this tradition? If not, who are you to say Irenaeus was wrong? Are you going to say he was wrong based on the claims of later fathers? Why should you believe later fathers over a father who was closer in time to the apostles?>>

Me: The age of our Lord at His death is not in either the “faith” or “moral” category—as such, Irenaeus’ opinion on this issue is just that: his opinion.

Hope this helps, but if I have been unclear, please feel free to fire some more questions my way.

Grace and peace,

David

Anonymous said...

[David Waltz's words are in italics.]

>>You point out that Sacred Scripture must be interpreted, and that there are many disagreements among scholars as to its doctrines. However investing your eternal destiny in the infallibility of the Roman Catholic magisterium does not get you off the hook. As a Roman Catholic, you must interpret the Fathers, not to mention the Councils, and the Papal encyclicals and other decrees. As you know, Roman Catholics--not to mention Eastern Orthodox--disagree widely as to the "correct" interpretation of the numerous extrabiblical traditions. Such traditions must be interpreted one-by-one by individual Roman Catholics living at different times in different places and possessing various levels of intelligence and communicative ability.>>

Me: In a very real sense you are correct. However, certain dogmas require little interpretation given the doctrinal history behind their formal declaration/s. For instance, the doctrine of the Trinity and some important Christologocial [sic] doctrines are pretty straight forward, especially if you read the surrounding history of the councils that produced the related formal creeds. I would argue that many of the formal decrees and creeds produced in the Ecumenical Councils are quite clear (but then, so are many Protestant extra-Biblical documents, like the Westminster Confession of Faith).


(1) If you are saying that the doctrine of the Trinity is clear from, say, the Canons of Nicea, but it is not clear from the Bible, I deny that.

(2) You made an appeal to "the surrounding history of the councils that produced the related formal creed". The "surrounding history" also forms a part of the hermeneutical grid through which Protestants interpret the Bible, viz., the grammatical-historical method (GHM). So why does the GHM work for the creeds and presumably (in your view) patristic writings and Papal pronouncements, but not the Bible?

>>You say that some tradition--here I assume you mean extrabiblical tradition--is also infallible.>>

Me: “Extrabiblical” only in the sense of interpretation, for I hold to the material sufficiency of the Scriptures.


Your view of material sufficiency is contrary to that of Trent and numerous Roman Catholic theologians, including the current Pope in a commentary on the documents of Vatican II (Dei Verbum):

"no one is seriously able to maintain that there is a proof in Scripture for every catholic doctrine." [Joseph Ratzinger, "The Transmission of Divine Revelation" in Herbert Vorgrimler, Ed., Commentary on the Documents of Vatican II.] (Granted, the commentary was written before he was Pope, but is there any evidence he has changed his mind?)


>>But how do we know which traditions are God-breathed,>>

Me: “God-breathed” (theopneustos) is reserved for the Scriptures only. Some traditions are infallible (e.g. doctrine of the Trinity, deity and two-natures of Christ, baptism of infants, real presence, etc.), but they are not “God-breathed” in the sense that the Scriptures are.

>>which are wrong, and which are heretical? It is not enough to merely invoke the "unanimous consent of the fathers" , for as far as the vast majority of Christian doctrines is concerned, there was no such thing. You have your fathers, the Eastern Orthodox has his, as does the Arian.>>

Me: My appeal to traditions that are infallible is limited to the creeds and decrees, on faith and morals, that were produced by the Ecumenical Councils, and the two ex cathedra Papal pronouncements.


(1) As I've already mentioned, the Ecumenical Councils and Papal pronouncements still have to be interpreted by each individual Roman Catholic.

(2) From where among the infallible conciliar and Papal pronouncements do you obtain your precise criteria for a tradition to be infallible? And where is "faith and morals" defined for us?

(3) What criteria were Christians to use before the Ecumenical Councils and the two ex cathedra Papal pronouncements, i.e., before Nicea?

(4) Can you please provide an infallible list of the "Ecumenical Councils"? The Eastern Orthodox says there were 7. The Roman Catholic says there are many more. Why should I believe you rather than him?

(5) Would you care to list those two ex-cathedra Papal pronouncements, and explain how you know that they are in fact ex-cathedra Papal pronouncements? How can I know that you are correct about this list, since I know other Roman Catholics who would disagree with you about the number of such pronouncements.

(6) If the conciliar and the two ex cathedra Papal pronouncements can only give us the infallible interpretation of matters pertaining to faith and morals, that leaves much of the bible uninterpreted, does it not.

important matter of ait If no such interpretation exists, would not the RC magisterium seem to be of limited value?

>>Saint Irenaeus suggested that Jesus lived to an age of fifty years (Against Heresies, Book II, Chapter XXII). Would you agree with this tradition? If not, who are you to say Irenaeus was wrong? Are you going to say he was wrong based on the claims of later fathers? Why should you believe later fathers over a father who was closer in time to the apostles?>>

Me: The age of our Lord at His death is not in either the “faith” or “moral” category—as such, Irenaeus’ opinion on this issue is just that: his opinion.


How do you know it is not a matter of faith or morals?

Simon

Anonymous said...

I erronously hit "send" before finishing the above comment (#6).
The line after

"(6) If the conciliar and the two ex cathedra ..."

should be deleted.

Simon

Pope_St_Peter said...

Mr. Waltz,

I think that Tradition is the Church's history of interpretive reflection and application of God's Word. This interpretive reflection and application, however, is by no means neatly laid out. Yes, it is true, that the trinitarian and christological truths are, for the orthodox Christian, clear as day, and that the Councils that defined them are authoritative. I just got through reading Dr. Mathison's work, The Shape of Sola Scriptura, and he argues that the Early Church's tradition and Councils are essential for utilizing the principal of Sola Scriptura.

I would caution you, however, not to associate the trinitarian and christological truths of the Early Church with, say, the Marian dogmas of much later history. Tracing the development of the belief in the Bodily Assumption of Mary is no easy task (see, Dr. Stephen J. Shoemaker's groundbreaking work, The Ancient Traditions of the Virgin Mary's Dormition and Assumption (Oxford)). Neither is the Dogma of Purgatory an easy one (see Jacques Le Goff's The Birth of Purgatory).

Currently I am involved in an intense and thorough study of the development of the Papacy and Episcopacy (some resources are: Fr. Francis Sullivan's From Apostles to Bishops: The Development of the Episcopacy in the Early Church; Robert Lee Williams's Bishop Lists: Formation of Apostolic Succession of Bishops in Ecclesiastical Crises; Margherita Guarducci's The Primacy of the Church of Rome: Documents, Reflections, Proofs), and let me tell you this is no easy task, i.e., it is not clearly layed out like the trinitarian and christological truths of Christendom.

Also, I am finishing up my second semester of (Catholic) Systematic Theology, and there are quite a number of things of Catholic import that are not clarified by the Magisterium. For instance, regarding the nature of Purgatory, Pope Clement VI, in the 14th century, seemed to indicate that there is a physical pain of some sort that one feels in Purgatory, but we're not exactly sure what he meant in his words. This is important because many of the Saints of his time advocated a very painful experience in Purgatory. So was he merely expressing his personal belief in what these Saints were advocating, or was he expressing his belief as Pope, or was he not expressing this belief at all?

Like I said, there are many issues like this in Catholicism. I don't see how Muller's work demonstrates that Protestantism has these same problems. Perhaps you could clarify.

In Christ and His Bride,
Pope St. Peter

David Waltz said...

Hello Simon,

Thanks again for your response. Due to its length, I shall attempt to address your comments one topic at a time. First, comment (1):

Simon:>>(1) If you are saying that the doctrine of the Trinity is clear from, say, the Canons of Nicea, but it is not clear from the Bible, I deny that.>>

Me: “Clear” only to those who embrace an ecclesiastical tradition that accepts one of the developed forms of the doctrine of the Trinity. The following site is illuminating:

http://www.arian-catholic.org/arian/arian-home.html

I would also recommend listening to the debate between James White and Greg Stafford:

http://www.elihubooks.com/online-audio/ [Parts 1 – X.]


Now, I seriously doubt that a “clear” doctrine would need centuries of development. Fact is, one will find no Christian writer before Nicea who embraced a fully orthodox view of the Trinity. The following brief essay I wrote a few years back sheds some light on this issue:


All honest scholars know that the particular doctrine of the Trinity (Augustinian) held to by most, but not all, Evangelicals was not developed until after the Council of Nicea. Bettenson writes, “‘Subordinationism’, it is true was pre-Nicene orthodoxy...”.(1) Hanson wrote the following, “Indeed, until Athanasius began writing, every single theologian, East and West, had postulated some form of Subordinationism. It could, about the year 300, have been described as a fixed part of catholic theology.”(2) The following are a few examples from the early Church Fathers. First, Justin, “Our teacher is Jesus Christ...and we reasonably worship Him, having learned that He is the Son of the true God himself, and holding Him in the second place, and the prophetic Spirit in the third...”(3) The Son is, “...the first-born of the unbegotten God...”(4) And, “...next to God, we worship and love the Word, who is from the unbegotten and ineffable God...”(5) Justin then says to Trypho the Jew, “I shall attempt to persuade you...that there is said to be, another God and Lord subject to the Maker of all things...”(6) The Son, “...was begotten of the Father by an act of will...”(7) And, “...this Offspring, which was truly brought forth from the Father, was with the Father before all the creatures(i.e. creation)...”(8)

Tatian, a disciple of Justin, in his Address to the Greeks, wrote that God, ‘was alone’; that the Logos ‘was in Him’ and ‘by His simple will the Logos springs forth’ and becomes ‘the first-begotten work of the Father’; and that ‘the Logos, begotten in the beginning, begat in turn our world’.(9) Theophilus, wrote that, “...at first God was alone and the Word was in Him...The Word, then, being God, and being naturally produced from God, whenever the Father of the universe wills...”(10) Athenagoras, “...we acknowledge one God, uncreated, eternal, invisible, impassible, imcomprehensible...by whom the universe has been created through His Logos...Nor let anyone think it ridiculous that God should have a Son...the Son of God is the Logos of the Father...the Son, I will state briefly, that He is the first product of the Father...”(11)

Leaving the second century Fathers, and moving on to the third, we will examine what Origen had to say on our subject. From his work De Principiis we read, “That there is one God, who created and arranged all things...This just and good God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ...Jesus Christ Himself, who came (into the world), was born of the Father before all creatures...”(12) In Origen's Against Celsus we read, “We therefore charge the Jews with not acknowledging Him(Jesus) to be God, to whom testimony was borne in many passages by the prophets, to the effect that He was a mighty power, and a God next to the God(13) and Father of all things.”(14) Origen in his Commentary On John wrote, “He(John) uses the article, when the name of God refers to the uncreated cause of all things, and omits it when the Logos is named God...God on the one hand is Very God(Autotheos, God himself); and so the the Saviour says in His prayer to the Father, ‘That they may know Thee the only true God;’ but all beyond the Very God is made God by participation in His divinity, and is not to be called simply God (with the article), but rather God (without the article). And thus the first-born of all creation, who is the first to be with God, and to attract to Himself divinity, is a being of exalted rank than the other gods beside Him...The true God, then is ‘The God’, and those who are formed after Him are gods, images as it were of Him the prototype.”(15) The following quote is from Origen’s Dialogue With Heraclides and His Fellow Bishops On The Father, The Son and, and the Soul:

Origen said: “Since the beginning of a debate is the time to declare what the topic the debate is, I will speak. The whole Church is here listening. It is not fitting for doctrinal differences to exist from church to church, for you are not a Church of falsehood. I call upon you, Father Heraclides: God is the almighty, the uncreated One, who is above all things. Do you agree to this?” Heraclides said: “I agree; for this is what I too believe.” Origen said: “Jesus Christ, though he was in the form of God (Phil. 2.6), while still being distinct from God in whose form He was, was God before He came into the body: yes or no?” Heraclides said: “He was God before.” Origen said: “Was He God distinct from this God in whose form He was?” Heraclides said: “Obviously distinct from the other and , while being in the form of the other, distinct from the Creator of all.” Origen said: “ It not true, then, that there was a God, the Son of God, and only begotten of God, the first born of all creation (Col. 1:15), and that we do not hesitate to speak in one sense fo two Gods, and in another sense of one God?” Heraclides said: “What you say is evident. But we too say that God is the almighty, god without beginning, without end, who encompasses all and is encompassed by nothing, and this Word is the Son of the living God, God and man, through whom all things were made, God according to the Spirit, and man from being born of Mary.” Origen said: “You don’t seem to have answered my question. Explain what you mean, for perhaps I didn’t follow you. The Father is god?” Heraclides said: “Of course.” Origen said: “The Son is distinct from the Father?” Heraclides said: “Of course, for how could He be son if He were also father?” Origen said: And while being distinct from the Father, the Son is Himself also God?” Heraclides said: “He Himself is also God.” Origen said: “And the two Gods become a unity?” Heraclides said: “Yes.” Origen said: “We profess two Gods?” Heraclides said: “Yes, [but] the power is one.”(16)

Before leaving Origen, it is important to note what he had to say about prayer. The following is from Origen’s treatise On Prayer:

If we understand what prayer really is, we shall know that we may never pray to anything generated–not even Christ–but only to God and the Father of all, to whom even Our Saviour Himself prayed, as we have already said, and teaches us to pray...For if the Son, as shown elsewhere, is distinct from the Father in nature and person, then we must pray either to the Son, and not to the Father, or to both, or to the Father only...There remains, then, to pray to God alone, the Father of all, but not apart from the High Priest who was appointed with on oath by the Father...The saints, then, in their prayers of thanks to God acknowledge their thanks to Him through Christ Jesus.(17)

Next, we shall look at Tertullian whose writings are late second century through the first two decades of the third. From one his polemical works, Against Praxeas, we read that ‘before all things God was alone’, and the Word ‘proceeds forth from God’. The Word which is also called Wisdom was ‘created or formed’ by God and is His ‘first-begotten’(18). From Against Praxeas we also read:

I should not hesitate, indeed, to call the tree the son or offspring of the root, and the river of the fountain, and the ray of the sun; because every original source is a parent, and everything which issues from the origin is an offspring...I confess that I call God and His word–the Father and His Son–two...there must be two; and where there is a third, there must be three. Now the Spirit indeed is third from God and the Son; just as the fruit of the tree is third from the root, or as the stream out of the river is third from the fountain, or as the apex of the ray is third from the sun...Now, observe, my assertion is that the Father is one, and the Son one, and the Spirit one, and that They are distinct from Each other...Thus the Father is distinct from the Son, being greater than the Son...we...do indeed definitively declare that Two beings are God, the Father and the Son, and, with the addition of the Holy Spirit, even Three...(19)

Tertullian, like Origen, can speak of two, and three in one sense, and in another sense, of just One God. Eusebius, too, strongly asserts this same theme. We read the following in his Proof of the Gospel:

Remember how Moses calls the Being, Who appeared to the patriarchs, and often delivered to them the oracles afterwards written down in Scripture sometimes God and Lord, and sometimes the Angel of the Lord. He clearly implies that this was not the Omnipotent God, but a secondary Being...This same being who appeared to Abraham is called Lord and God. He teaches the saint mysteriously of His Father’s rule, and speaks some things, as it were, of another God...surely there are Two...we have, by thirty prophetic quotations in all, learned that our Lord and Saviour the Word of God is God, a second God after the Most High...(20)

With the above examples from the Pre-Nicene Fathers in mind, to which dozens more could be added, we can objectively concur with Bettenson and Hanson that subordinationism was in fact Pre-Nicene orthodoxy.

As we move into the Nicene period, we are going find that the theme of subordinationism is not abandoned, it fact, it will be demonstrated that it continues as the dominate theme well into the fifth century. Evangelical apologists strongly suggest that when the term homoousion was put into the Nicene creed we have the triumph of “orthodoxy” over subordinationism. This “orthodoxy” is the affirmation that homoousios teaches the Godhead is one, single, identical substance shared by three Persons. Most anti-Trinitarian apologists enforce this conception seeing the Nicene Creed as an unscriptural departure from true doctrine. But is this really the case? Concerning the subject at hand, Philip Schaff wrote:

The term homoousion, in its strict grammatical sense, differs from monoousion...and signifies not numerical identity, but equality of essence or community of nature among several beings. It is clearly used thus in the Chalcedonian symbol, where it is said that Christ is “consubstantial (homoousios) with the Father as touching the Godhead, and consubstantial with us [and yet individually distinct from us] as touching the manhood.” The Nicene Creed does not expressly assert the singleness or numerical unity of the divine essence...and the main point with the Nicene fathers was to urge against Arianism the strict divinity and essential equality of the Son and the Holy Ghost with the Father.(21)

The great Reformed theologian Charles Hodge admits that the term homoousios, “...may express either specific sameness, or numerical identity. In the former sense, all spirits, whether God, angels, or men, are homoousioi.”(22) Although Hodge believes that the Nicene Creed teaches the latter sense, he cites a German theologian who disagrees with him:

Gieseler goes much further, and denies that the Nicene fathers held numerical identity of essence in the persons of the Trinity. The Father, Son and Spirit were the same in substance as having the same nature, or same kind of substance. This he infers was their doctrine not only from the general style of their teaching, and from special declarations, but from the illustrations which they habitually employed. The Father and the Son are the same in substance as among men father and son have the same nature; or as Basil says, Father and Son differ in rank, as do the angels, although they are the same in nature. Gieseler says that the numerical sameness of nature in the three divine persons, was first asserted by Augustine. It was he, according to Gieseler, who first excluded all idea of subordination in the Trinity.(23)

Note that Gieseler made the assertion that it was Augustine “who first excluded all idea of subordination in the Trinity”. As we know from history, it was Augustine’s doctrine of the Trinity that eventually became the dominate view of Catholic theology. The reformers inherited, and for the most part embraced Augustine’s view.

Footnotes:

1. Henry Bettenson, The Early Christian Fathers (London, England: Oxford Univ. Press, 1978 4th impression) p. 239.

2. RPC Hanson, “The Achievement of Orthodoxy in the Fourth Century AD” in Rowan Williams, ed., The Making of Orthodoxy (New York, NY: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1989) p. 153.

3. Justin Martyr, The First Apology of Justin, ch. 13, in Roberts & Donaldson, ed., The Ante-Nicene Fathers volume 1(Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1979 edition) p. 167.

4. Ibid., ch. 53, p. 180.

5. Justin, The Second Apology, ibid., ch.13, p. 193.

6. Justin, Dialogue With Trypho, ibid., ch. 56, p. 223.

7. Ibid., ch. 61, p. 227.

8. Ibid., ch. 62, p. 228.

9. Tatian, Address of Tatian to the Greeks, ch. 5, in Roberts & Donaldson, ed., The Ante-Nicene Fathers volume 2 (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Co. 1979 edition) p. 67.

10. Theophilus, Theophilus to Autolycus, ch. 22, ibid. p. 103.

11. Athenagoras, A Plea for the Christians, ch. 10, ibid., p. 133.

12. Origen, De Principiis, preface, chapter 4, in Roberts & Donaldson, ed., The Ante-Nicene Fathers volume 4 (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Co. 1979 edition) p. 240.

13. This is one of many passages in which Origen contrasts Jesus Christ as “a God” (theos) with the Father who is “the God” (ho theos).

14. Origen, Against Celsus, book 2.9, ibid. p. 433.

15. Origen, Commentary On John, book 2.2, in Roberts & Donaldson, ed., The Ante-Nicene Fathers volume 10 (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Co. 1979 edition) p. 323.

16. Origen, Dialogue With Heraclides, chapters 1-2, Ancient Christian Writers volume 54 (New York, NY: Paulist Press, 1992) pp. 57-59.

17. Origen, Prayer, chapter 15.1-2, Ancient Christian Writers volume 19 (New York, NY: Paulist Press, 1954) pp. 57-58.

18. Tertullian, Against Praxeas, chapters 5, 7, in Roberts & Donaldson, ed., The Ante-Nicene Fathers volume 3 (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Co. 1979 edition) pp. 600, 601.

19. Tertullian, ibid., chapters 8, 9, 13, pp. 602, 603, 604, 608.

20. Eusebius, Proof of the Gospel, books 1.5, 5.25, 30 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1981 reprint) pp. 26, 27, 267, 271.

21. Philip Schaff, History of the Church volume 3 (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1981 edition) pp.672-673.

22. Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology volume 1 (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1981 reprint) p. 460.

23. Ibid., p. 463.



More later, the Lord willing.

Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Simon posted:


>>2) From where among the infallible conciliar and Papal pronouncements do you obtain your precise criteria for a tradition to be infallible? And where is "faith and morals" defined for us?>>


Although the bishops, taken individually, do not enjoy the privilege of infallibility, they do, however, proclaim infallibly the doctrine of Christ on the following conditions: namely, when, even though dispersed throughout the world but preserving for all that amongst themselves and with Peter's successor the bond of communion, in their authoritative teaching concerning matters of faith and morals, they are in agreement that a particular teaching is to be held definitively and absolutely. This is still more clearly the case when, assembled in an ecumenical council, they are, for the universal Church, teachers of and judges in matters of faith and morals, whose decisions must be adhered to with the loyal and obedient assent of faith.

This infallibility, however, with which the divine redeemer wished to endow his Church in defining doctrine pertaining to faith and morals, is co-extensive with the deposit of revelation, which must be religiously guarded and loyally and courageously expounded. (“Dogmatic Constitution on the Church”, para. 25, from Vatican Council II – Sudy Edition, ed. Austin Flannery, 1992 rev. edition, pp. 379-380.)

As for what constitutes “faith and morals”:

Faith means the speculative doctrines of revelation; morals, the practical doctrines of revelation. Faith is what we have to believe, morals what we have to do, in order to obtain eternal life. Both faith and morals are parts of the deposit which Christ left for the guidance of His Church; so far as the obligation of assent is concerned, there is no difference between them; the distinction is made for the sake of convenience rather than for the sake of any substantial difference between them so far as they are the objects of active infallibility. Doctrines of faith or morals which are formally revealed are called the direct object of infallibility, while doctrines which are only virtually revealed, or are only intimately connected with revelation, such as dogmatic or moral facts, are called the indirect object of infallibility. The Church has authority to issue definitions in connexion with both the direct and the indirect objects of active infallibility. It is not, however, de fide that the Church has infallible authority over the indirect doctrines of faith and morals, though it cannot be denied without theological censure. (Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. IV, p. 676.)

Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Simon posted:

>>(3) What criteria were Christians to use before the Ecumenical Councils and the two ex cathedra Papal pronouncements, i.e., before Nicea?>>


Me: Pretty much the same as today—i.e. the Sacred Scriptures as interpreted by the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.

St. Irenaeus put it this way:

But, again, when we refer them to that tradition which originates from the apostles, [and] which is preserved by means of the succession of presbyters in the Churches, they object to tradition, saying that they themselves are wiser not merely than the presbyters, but even than the apostles, because they have discovered the unadulterated truth. For [they maintain] that the apostles intermingled the things of the law with the words of the Savior; and that not the apostles alone, but even the Lord Himself, spoke as at one time from the Demiurge, at another from the intermediate place, and yet again from the Pleroma, but that they themselves, indubitably, unsulliedly, and purely, have knowledge of the hidden mystery: this is, indeed, to blaspheme their Creator after a most impudent manner! It comes to this, therefore, that these men do now consent neither to Scripture nor to tradition…

It is within the power of all, therefore, in every Church, who may wish to see the truth, to contemplate clearly the tradition of the apostles manifested throughout the whole world; and we are in a position to reckon up those who were by the apostles instituted bishops in the Churches, and [to demonstrate] the succession of these men to our own times; those who neither taught nor knew of anything like what these [heretics] rave about. For if the apostles had known hidden mysteries, which they were in the habit of imparting to “the perfect” apart and privily from the rest, they would have delivered them especially to those to whom they were also committing the Churches themselves. For they were desirous that these men should be very perfect and blameless in all things, whom also they were leaving behind as their successors, delivering up their own place of government to these men; which men, if they discharged their functions honestly, would be a great boon [to the Church], but if they should fall away, the direst calamity.

Since, however, it would be very tedious, in such a volume as this, to reckon up the successions of all the Churches, we do put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vainglory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorized meetings; [we do this, I say,] by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its pre- eminent authority, that is, the faithful everywhere, inasmuch as the apostolical tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere. (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 3.2.2 and 3.3.1, 2 - ANF 1.415.)

And:

Wherefore it is incumbent to obey the presbyters who are in the Church, — those who, as I have shown, possess the succession from the apostles; those who, together with the succession of the episcopate, have received the certain gift of truth, according to the good pleasure of the Father. But [it is also incumbent] to hold in suspicion others who depart from the primitive succession, and assemble themselves together in any place whatsoever, [looking upon them] either as heretics of perverse minds, or as schismatics puffed up and self-pleasing, or again as hypocrites, acting thus for the sake of lucre and vainglory. For all these have fallen from the truth. And the heretics, indeed, who bring strange fire to the altar of God — namely, strange doctrines — shall be burned up by the fire from heaven, as were Nadab and Abiud. But such as rise up in opposition to the truth, and exhort others against the Church of God, [shall] remain among those in hell (apud inferos), being swallowed up by an earthquake, even as those who were with Chore, Dathan, and Abiron. But those who cleave asunder, and separate the unity of the Church, [shall] receive from God the same punishment as Jeroboam did. (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 4.26.2 – ANF 1.497.)


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Simon posted:


>>(4) Can you please provide an infallible list of the "Ecumenical Councils"? The Eastern Orthodox says there were 7. The Roman Catholic says there are many more. Why should I believe you rather than him?>>

In all honesty, I do not have [a] ‘good’ answer/s for your above questions. Though I must say, if you were to only embrace the first seven Ecumenical Councils and enter one of the Eastern Orthodox churches, I would be quite pleased. Perhaps others reading this thread have some constructive thoughts on your questions; in the meantime, I think you will finding the following of great interest:


http://catholica.pontifications.net/?p=183


Grace and peace,

David

P.S. How do you determine which books/epistles should comprise the canon of the Bible? Would you agree with R.C. Sproul that any list you come up with is “fallible”?

David Waltz said...

Simon posted:

>>(6) If the conciliar and the two ex cathedra Papal pronouncements can only give us the infallible interpretation of matters pertaining to faith and morals, that leaves much of the bible uninterpreted, does it not.>>

Me: Yes it does; as such, it would appear that the Holy Spirit still has some work to do before the Second Coming.

But, with that said, I think it is safe to say that quite a few more important doctrines have been defined by Holy Spirit via the Catholic magisterium than the body of doctrines that have a clear consensus among the Protestant world—in actuality, the number of “essentials” (i.e. doctrines necessary for salvation that are “clearly” taught in the Scriptures) agreed upon by the Protestants has become so tiny that the claim for the perspicuity of Scripture is pretty much a hollow one (IMHO).

Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Simon posted:

>>Your view of material sufficiency is contrary to that of Trent and numerous Roman Catholic theologians, including the current Pope in a commentary on the documents of Vatican II (Dei Verbum):

"no one is seriously able to maintain that there is a proof in Scripture for every catholic doctrine." [Joseph Ratzinger, "The Transmission of Divine Revelation" in Herbert Vorgrimler, Ed., Commentary on the Documents of Vatican II.] (Granted, the commentary was written before he was Pope, but is there any evidence he has changed his mind?)>>


Me: First, the isolated quote from the then Cardinal Ratzinger needs to be read in the light of other statements he made in print. From his pen we read:

For the moment we shall turn directly to the actual problems themselves which immediately prompt the question, what exactly does “sufficiency of scripture” mean? Geiselmann himself, as a Catholic theologian, has to hold fast to Catholic dogmas as such, but none of them is to be had sola scriptura, neither the great dogmas of Christian antiquity [i.e. the Trinity, two-natures, etc.], of what was once the consensus quinquesaecularis, nor, even less, the new ones of 1854 and 1950. (Ratzinger, “Revelation and Tradition”, in Revelation and Tradition, Rahner and Ratzinger, trans. W. J. O’Hara, p. 33.)

Notice that NONE of “the great dogmas of Christian antiquity” are “to be had sola scriptura”. This does not mean the “material” for the dogmas are not in Scripture, but rather, that the dogmas are not “formally” there; in other words, there was a need for development.

Ratzinger also wrote:

“The question whether certain express affirmations were transmitted from the beginning side by side with scripture, whether, therefore, there is a second material principle besides scripture, independent from the beginning, becomes quite secondary in comparison; but it would probably have to be answered negatively”. (Ibid. p. 46)

[And importantly, note what Ratzinger had to say about Vatican II’s Dei Verbum, cited below – which, BTW, is from the same book you quoted from!]

Now as for whether or not “material sufficiency is contrary to that of Trent”, the majority of post-Vatican II scholars who have written on the subject disagree with your assessment. The following from Thomas G. Guarino is but many of examples:

Evangelicals, of course, have generally followed the Reformation dictum of sola scriptura. The essence of this phrase has a long and interesting theological history and is, with nuances, accepted by many, if not most, contemporary Catholic theologians. (Thomas G. Guarino, “Catholic Reflections on Discerning the Truth of Sacred Scripture” in Your Word Is Truth, edited by Charles Colson and Richard John Neuhaus, 2002, p. 79.)

As for Trent he writes:

The conciliar decree is open to this interpretation [material sufficiency] in asmuch as Catholics believe that statements of ecumenical councils are providentially guided by the Holy Spirit. Yves Congar closes by noting that the proper way of summing up the relationship between Scripture and tradition as found in both the Fathers and the pre-Tridentine period is in the formula used by Newman and the nineteenth-century theologian, J. E. Kuhn: Totum in scriptura, totum in traditione.

While Congar and J. Geiselmann believe that Trent left the door open for the thesis of the material sufficiency of Scripture, Joseph Ratzinger stakes the same claim for the Dogmatic Constitution of Vatican II, Dei Verbum #9. This text is “…the product of the attempt to take into account, to the widest possible extent, the points made by the Reformed churches and [was] inteneded to keep the field open for a Catholic idea of sola scriptura…” If these theologians are correct, and the majority of contemporary Catholic theologians surely agree with them, then Catholics, in their own way, could agree with the position that the entire truth of salvation is found in Scripture. (Ibid. pp. 85, 86.)

[Note: the Ratzinger quote is from the very source you quoted (though a separate essay); Joseph Ratzinger, “Commentary on Dei Verbum,” in Commentary on the Documents of Vatican II, vol. 3, ed. Herbert Vorgrimler (New York: Herder & Herder, 1969) p. 192.]

Grace and peace,

David

Pope_St_Peter said...

Mr. Waltz,

Are you Catholic?

In Christ and His Bride,
Frank

Anonymous said...

David Waltz said...

Hello Simon,

Thanks again for your response. Due to its length, I shall attempt to address your comments one topic at a time. First, comment (1):

Simon:>>(1) If you are saying that the doctrine of the Trinity is clear from, say, the Canons of Nicea, but it is not clear from the Bible, I deny that.>>

Me: “Clear” only to those who embrace an ecclesiastical tradition that accepts one of the developed forms of the doctrine of the Trinity. The following site is illuminating:

http://www.arian-catholic.org/arian/arian-home.html


I must admit I don't recall ever hearing of "Arian Catholics" before. So we have yet another stream of traditions to evaluate...

I would also recommend listening to the debate between James White and Greg Stafford:

http://www.elihubooks.com/online-audio/ [Parts 1 – X.]


I listened to it last year. While I thought the Jehovah's Witness Greg Stafford did a reasonable job in some areas, his circular reasoning was apparent, especially under cross examination by James White.

Now, I seriously doubt that a “clear” doctrine would need centuries of development. Fact is, one will find no Christian writer before Nicea who embraced a fully orthodox view of the Trinity. The following brief essay I wrote a few years back sheds some light on this issue:

So the apostle Paul did not "embrace a fully orthodox view of the Trinity"? If you are insisting that the "fully orthodox view" involves the use of terms such as homoousios, then you may be correct that no Christian writer before Nicea embraced a fully orthodox view of the Trinity. However the divinity and personhood of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit on a par with the person of the Father was certainly recognized well before Nicea (e.g., by Ignatius in the early 2C). Such understanding came directly from the NT.

Simon

Anonymous said...

The following is meant to be a part of my previous comment, which is a reply to David Waltz's view of the development of the doctrine of the Trinity.

You cite several fathers who apparently disagreed with the formulation of the Trinity that you and I believe today. For you, this is evidence that the doctrine of the Trinity was a development. From my perspective, it is evidence that such fathers are capable of misinterpreting the Bible, as we all are.

Since you hold to material sufficiency, you would agree that the doctrine is contained in the Bible. (Perhaps you would say it only existed in "seed" form, a la Newman.) Would the RCC consider someone living in the 2C or 3C to be saved if they had the Bible but believed Jesus Christ was a created being ("there was a time when He was not")? In the case of someone living in the 2C or 3C, material sufficiency is of little value if a fundamental doctrine such as the Trinity has not yet been infallibly expounded.

Simon

Anonymous said...

David Waltz said:

Simon posted:

>>2) From where among the infallible conciliar and Papal pronouncements do you obtain your precise criteria for a tradition to be infallible? And where is "faith and morals" defined for us?>>

Although the bishops, taken individually, do not enjoy the privilege of infallibility, they do, however, proclaim infallibly the doctrine of Christ on the following conditions: namely, when, even though dispersed throughout the world but preserving for all that amongst themselves and with Peter's successor the bond of communion, in their authoritative teaching concerning matters of faith and morals, they are in agreement that a particular teaching is to be held definitively and absolutely. This is still more clearly the case when, assembled in an ecumenical council, they are, for the universal Church, teachers of and judges in matters of faith and morals, whose decisions must be adhered to with the loyal and obedient assent of faith.

This infallibility, however, with which the divine redeemer wished to endow his Church in defining doctrine pertaining to faith and morals, is co-extensive with the deposit of revelation, which must be religiously guarded and loyally and courageously expounded. (“Dogmatic Constitution on the Church”, para. 25, from Vatican Council II – Sudy Edition, ed. Austin Flannery, 1992 rev. edition, pp. 379-380.)


OK, but where were these criteria stated by the RCC before Vatican II? Are you implying that for more than 19 centuries after Christ, we did not have criteria to judge which traditions were infallible? Even your statement here from Vatican II leaves unanswered many questions, such as the definition of an Ecumenical Council, but I see you have mentioned in a later comment that you don't have a good answer for this definition.

As for what constitutes “faith and morals”:

Faith means the speculative doctrines of revelation; morals, the practical doctrines of revelation. Faith is what we have to believe, morals what we have to do, in order to obtain eternal life. Both faith and morals are parts of the deposit which Christ left for the guidance of His Church; so far as the obligation of assent is concerned, there is no difference between them; the distinction is made for the sake of convenience rather than for the sake of any substantial difference between them so far as they are the objects of active infallibility. Doctrines of faith or morals which are formally revealed are called the direct object of infallibility, while doctrines which are only virtually revealed, or are only intimately connected with revelation, such as dogmatic or moral facts, are called the indirect object of infallibility. The Church has authority to issue definitions in connexion with both the direct and the indirect objects of active infallibility. It is not, however, de fide that the Church has infallible authority over the indirect doctrines of faith and morals, though it cannot be denied without theological censure. (Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. IV, p. 676.)


How do we know "The Church has authority to issue definitions in connexion with both the direct and the indirect objects of active infallibility."? I would like to see where this is found in a conciliar or Papal pronouncement.

Simon

Anonymous said...

David Waltz said:

Simon posted:

>>(3) What criteria were Christians to use before the Ecumenical Councils and the two ex cathedra Papal pronouncements, i.e., before Nicea?>>

Me: Pretty much the same as today—i.e. the Sacred Scriptures as interpreted by the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.


My reason for asking the question is was that before Nicea there was no "Ecumenical Councils and the two ex cathedra Papal pronouncements". So by your own standards, Christians before Nicea could not have had access to an infallible interpreter of the Bible. Now you say that pre-Nicean Christians relied upon "the Sacred Scriptures as interpreted by the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church". But where was this interpretation to be found? What of competing patristic interpretations of issues pertaining to faith and morals? And what of patristic interpretations of issues not pertaining to faith and morals? Could they be written off as mere opinions, as you did with Irenaeus' statements on the age of Jesus at His death?

If RCs are allowed to disagree on matters not pertaining to faith and morals, why won't most RC apologists grant the same to Protestants?

Simon

Anonymous said...

David Waltz said:

Simon posted:

>>(4) Can you please provide an infallible list of the "Ecumenical Councils"? The Eastern Orthodox says there were 7. The Roman Catholic says there are many more. Why should I believe you rather than him?>>

In all honesty, I do not have [a] ‘good’ answer/s for your above questions. Though I must say, if you were to only embrace the first seven Ecumenical Councils and enter one of the Eastern Orthodox churches, I would be quite pleased. Perhaps others reading this thread have some constructive thoughts on your questions; in the meantime, I think you will finding the following of great interest:

http://catholica.pontifications.net/?p=183

Grace and peace,

David


I read the link you gave me to Al Kimel's blog. It only serves to reinforce the view that even among RCs there are numerous disagreements as to how one recognizes an Ecumenical Council. If only these councils are infallible, then is it not of utmost importance to identify such councils and have criteria for identifying future Ecumenical Councils? Without such, you cannot know if you are in possession of the full content of the Roman Catholic faith.

I'll mention in passing that your ecumenical view towards Eastern Orthodoxy, while popular today, would not have found support among earlier councils after the Great Schism. Your view would have been regarded as heretical. In fact you really can't be sure that what you call RC orthodoxy today is not going to be declared heretical 100 years from now.

Simon

Anonymous said...

David Waltz wrote:

How do you determine which books/epistles should comprise the canon of the Bible? Would you agree with R.C. Sproul that any list you come up with is “fallible”?


Insofar as I am fallible, my decision to accept the 66-book canon is a fallible one. Just as your decision to accept the RCC as the "true church" is also fallible, as are your interpretations of conciliar and papal pronouncements. In fact the canon according to the RCC was not dogmatically defined until Trent. Recourse to 4C local councils such as Hippo and Carthage will not do, since they disagreed with Trent on the Apocrypha, and they are not Ecumenical Councils.

How do I determine which books/epistles should comprise the canon of the Bible? By various means: We have historical evidence that since the earliest times Christians received/recognized the books of the NT canon as having been inspired by God. No doubt the reception (of OT and NT) was through the Holy Spirit, since the canon is the list of books God inspired, and desired His people to recognize and possess. Today the Christian also has the internal witness of the Spirit to discern the canonical books. We also have, in the case of many books, self-attestation as to their divine origin, not to mention intra-canonical attestation. These are just a few reasons off the top of my head; obviously one could say much more about this.

Simon

Anonymous said...

David Waltz wrote:

Simon posted:

>>(6) If the conciliar and the two ex cathedra Papal pronouncements can only give us the infallible interpretation of matters pertaining to faith and morals, that leaves much of the bible uninterpreted, does it not.>>

Me: Yes it does; as such, it would appear that the Holy Spirit still has some work to do before the Second Coming.


But according to your criteria, is it not the case that matters not pertaining to faith and morals will never be infallibly interpreted? How will time take care of the problem?

But, with that said, I think it is safe to say that quite a few more important doctrines have been defined by Holy Spirit via the Catholic magisterium than the body of doctrines that have a clear consensus among the Protestant world—in actuality, the number of “essentials” (i.e. doctrines necessary for salvation that are “clearly” taught in the Scriptures) agreed upon by the Protestants has become so tiny that the claim for the perspicuity of Scripture is pretty much a hollow one (IMHO).

I deny that consensus establishes the truthfulness of a bible doctrine. In fact during the time of the apostles, there were disagreements over any number of issues, including the essentials, even among the apostles themselves (cf. Galatians 2). But that did not prove the apostles wrong. And in the middle of the 4C, the consensus was Arianism.

The doctrine of the perspicuity of Scripture does not say there will never be disagreements among professing believers, even on major issues. Throughout the ages rebellious men have decided they would believe human traditions instead of the Bible, even in regard to those doctrines we would agree are perspicuous. That can hardly be used to disprove perspicuity. God has spoken clearly, and the Holy Spirit will help His people to understand the essentials from the Bible.

Simon

David Waltz said...

Hello Frank (PSP),

I am falling a bit behind in my responses to many of the posts contained in this excellent thread; as such, I shall answer your direct question first, before proceeding on to one of your earlier posts: yes, I am Catholic. I entered the RCC in April of 2002. With that said, I think it is important to point out that I remain ‘open’; by this I mean that I continue to examine much of the Catholic paradigm with somewhat critical/objective ‘eyes’, and continue to pray to God for guidance in my ongoing studies.

Now, on to your post; you wrote:

PSP:>>I think that Tradition is the Church's history of interpretive reflection and application of God's Word. This interpretive reflection and application, however, is by no means neatly laid out. Yes, it is true, that the trinitarian and christological truths are, for the orthodox Christian, clear as day, and that the Councils that defined them are authoritative. I just got through reading Dr. Mathison's work, The Shape of Sola Scriptura, and he argues that the Early Church's tradition and Councils are essential for utilizing the principal of Sola Scriptura.>>


Me: I am pleased to hear that you have read Mathison's, The Shape of Sola Scriptura. I think Mathison’s particular form of sola scriptura is much closer to that of the Church Fathers than some other recent treatments. He penned:

Unlike modern Evangelicalism, the classical Protestant Reformers held to a high view of the Church. When the Reformers confessed extra ecclesiam nulla salus, which means “there is no salvation outside the Church,” they were not referring to the invisible Church of all the elect. Such a statement would be tantamount to saying that outside of salvation there is no salvation. It would be a truism. The Reformers were referring to the visible Church…The Church is the pillar and ground, the interpreter, teacher, and proclaimer of God’s Word…The Church has authority because Christ gave the Church authority. The Christian who rejects the authority of the Church rejects the authority of the One who sent her (Luke 10:16). (Keith A. Mathison, The Shape of Sola Scriptura, pp. 268, 269.)


Me: My question to Mathison would be: what visible Church should us laymen look to as “the pillar and ground, the interpreter, teacher, and proclaimer of God’s Word”?


PSP:>>I would caution you, however, not to associate the trinitarian and christological truths of the Early Church with, say, the Marian dogmas of much later history. Tracing the development of the belief in the Bodily Assumption of Mary is no easy task (see, Dr. Stephen J. Shoemaker's groundbreaking work, The Ancient Traditions of the Virgin Mary's Dormition and Assumption (Oxford)). Neither is the Dogma of Purgatory an easy one (see Jacques Le Goff's The Birth of Purgatory).>>


Me: I agree. Raymond E. Brown in his, Biblical Exegesis & Church Doctrine, identifies 3 distinct categories concerning the “relationships between scripture and doctrine”: first, “Doctrines for which There is Abundant but Incipient Basis in Scripture”; second, “Doctrines for which There is Slender Basis in Scripture”; and third, “Doctrines about which the Scriptures are Virtually Silent” (see chapter 2, pp. 26-53).


PSP:>>Currently I am involved in an intense and thorough study of the development of the Papacy and Episcopacy (some resources are: Fr. Francis Sullivan's From Apostles to Bishops: The Development of the Episcopacy in the Early Church; Robert Lee Williams's Bishop Lists: Formation of Apostolic Succession of Bishops in Ecclesiastical Crises; Margherita Guarducci's The Primacy of the Church of Rome: Documents, Reflections, Proofs), and let me tell you this is no easy task, i.e., it is not clearly layed out like the trinitarian and christological truths of Christendom.>>


Me: I have read Sullivan’s above work, and his excellent Magisterium. I have also read Guarducci’s above mentioned book, but have not read Williams’ treatment. I would like to recommend some other works: Rahner and Ratzinger’s, The Episcopate and the Primacy; Felix L. Cirlot’s, Apostolic Succession: Is It True?; Hans Urs Von Balthasar’s, The Office of Peter and the Structure of the Church; and Papal Primacy and the Universal Church (volume 5 in the “Lutherans and Catholics in Dialogue series), ed. by Empie and Murphy.


PSP:>>Also, I am finishing up my second semester of (Catholic) Systematic Theology, and there are quite a number of things of Catholic import that are not clarified by the Magisterium. For instance, regarding the nature of Purgatory, Pope Clement VI, in the 14th century, seemed to indicate that there is a physical pain of some sort that one feels in Purgatory, but we're not exactly sure what he meant in his words. This is important because many of the Saints of his time advocated a very painful experience in Purgatory. So was he merely expressing his personal belief in what these Saints were advocating, or was he expressing his belief as Pope, or was he not expressing this belief at all?>>


Me: I am sure you are aware that many of the issues surrounding infallibility are still ‘open’ for discussion among Catholic scholars. There has been a flood of essays and books following the publication of Hans Kung’s, Infallibility? (1971 – with an expanded second edition appearing in 1994). A good portion of Sullivan’s Magisterium addresses many of the issues that Kung raised.


PSP:>>Like I said, there are many issues like this in Catholicism. I don't see how Muller's work demonstrates that Protestantism has these same problems. Perhaps you could clarify.>>


Me: Muller’s 4 vol. work reveals a different set of doctrinal struggles within the Reformed camp. Some of doctrinal tensions were left unresolved; I personally believe that the recent splits within the conservative Reformed community here in North America are partially due to those unresolved tensions. See the following links for a few examples:

http://www.auburnavenue.org/

http://mercersburg.reformedcatholicism.com/

http://www.dougwils.com/

http://www.crechurches.org/

http://www.hornes.org/theologia/


[Another excellent work along these lines is G. R. Evans, Problems of Authority in the Reformation Debates (1992).]


In ending, I would like to suggest that you continue keeping an ‘open’ mind when delving into such complex issues, seeking the ongoing guidance of the Holy Spirit in your studies.

God bless,

David

David Waltz said...

Hi Simon,

You posted:

>>So the apostle Paul did not "embrace a fully orthodox view of the Trinity"? If you are insisting that the "fully orthodox view" involves the use of terms such as homoousios, then you may be correct that no Christian writer before Nicea embraced a fully orthodox view of the Trinity. However the divinity and personhood of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit on a par with the person of the Father was certainly recognized well before Nicea (e.g., by Ignatius in the early 2C). Such understanding came directly from the NT.>>

Me: I am grabbing a shield to deflect the stones I am sure that will be shortly coming my way [grin]: I do not think that Paul (nor any of the apostles) had a developed view of the Trinity. Like everyone else, they needed the ongoing guidance of the Holy Spirit in order to process the God-breathed revelation/s they were receiving.

Though I certainly do not agree with everything he has to say, I still shall recommend that you read James D. G. Dunn’s Christology In the Making. I read this work back in early 80’s while auditing some classes at Western Theological Seminary. It was also during this time that I started my in depth study of Patristics. To make a very long story short, my understanding of the development of doctrine underwent a drastic change.

Now, before the stones start coming, I think all of us should soberly reflect on the following words penned by the highly respected Evangelical scholar Harold O. J. Brown:

It is a simple and undeniable fact that several major doctrines that now seem central to the Christian faith—such as the doctrine of the Trinity and the doctrine of the deity of Christ—were not present in a full and well-defined, generally accepted form until the fourth or fifth centuries. If they are essential today—as all of the orthodox creeds and confessions assert—it must be because they are true. If they are true, then they must always have been true; they cannot have become true in the fourth or fifth century. But if they are both true and essential, how can it be that the early church took centuries to formulate them?

The answer, or at least the best attempt at an answer, lies of course in the assertion that they were implicit in Christian faith from the beginning, even though they did not become explicit until considerably later. (Heresies, p. 20.)

Grace and peace,

David

Anonymous said...

This thread may be getting difficult to follow---I'll take the blame for that---but to give a partial answer to the question David Waltz posed to Keith Mathison (and perhaps to Protestants in general)...

David Waltz wrote:
Me: My question to Mathison would be: what visible Church should us laymen look to as “the pillar and ground, the interpreter, teacher, and proclaimer of God’s Word”?


Perhaps Mathison is alluding to 1 Tim 3:15, which we know is a favorite RC prooftext. When we turn to the context of 1 Tim 3:15, we find that Paul characterizes the church as having
(1) offices of elder/overseer and deacon (no mention of Pope),
(2) who are the husband of one wife (no celibacy of the priesthood), and
(3) whose elders manage their own household well, keeping their children under control with all dignity (1 Tim 3:4, NASB).
We then find in 1 Tim 4:3 (NASB) that Paul warns of "men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth".

So whatever the ekklesia refers to in 1 Tim 3:15, it does not characterize the Roman Catholic church of today.

Yes, the Reformers had a high ecclesiology, and some of them expllcitly affirmed that there was no salvation outside the church. However they also denied the RCC of their day was a true church.

Simon

Pope_St_Peter said...

Mr. Waltz,

Thank you for your post. I will definitely be getting those recommendations. I too am a convert to Rome. I entered the Church Easter 2001. I too would like to add that "I remain ‘open’; by this I mean that I continue to examine much of the Catholic paradigm with somewhat critical/objective ‘eyes’, and continue to pray to God for guidance in my ongoing studies."

You comments about the division within the Reformed tradition are intriguing because, in all honesty, Mr. Waltz, I have begun to doubt our Catholic Faith. Catholic mariology, official and popular, has always been an obstacle for me. When I converted it was with the belief (hope really) that everything Marian would just fall into place - it has not. After reading Shoemaker's truly ground-breaking work on the origins of the Assumption/Dormition, this hope is all but gone. I highly recommend Shoemaker's work; he translates for the first in English the earliest known literature on the Assumption/Dormition. In fact, half of his book is nothing but these early writings. Anyway, I don't want to give the impression that this was the only thing involved in my doubts; far from it.

David Waltz said...

Hi Frank,

Thank you for gracious response. I too still have certain difficulties with the Marian dogmas, but the more I study the development of dogma, the more I can appreciate how such dogmas arose within Christendom. I have recently read two interesting books on Mary: the then Cardinal Ratzinger’s, Daughter Zion; and Karl Rahner’s, Mary Mother of the Lord—I think you would enjoy reading both. Another incredible resource for the study of Mary is Michael O’Carroll’s, Theotokos – A Theological Encyclopedia of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Also, I quite sure you will find Paul Owen’s reflections (and the following responses) on Mary’s Bodily Assumption quite interesting:

http://www.reformedcatholicism.com/?p=944


God bless,

David