Friday, August 17, 2007

Second Clement on Baptism, Advocates, and Purgatory


I've been reading An Ancient Christian Sermon commonly known as Second Clement. If you've read First Clement, it reads differently in content, tone, and style. It seems apparent this sermon was not written by the same author. The date of its writing? Hard to say, but scholars speculate anywhere from 98-170 AD.

Here was an interesting snippet:

"And the Scripture also says in Ezekiel, 'Even if Noah and Job and Daniel should rise up, they will not save their children' in the captivity. Now if even such righteous men as these are not able, by means of their own righteous deeds, to save their children, what assurance do we have of entering the kingdom of God if we fail to keep our baptism pure and undefiled? Or who will be our advocate, if we are not found to have holy and righteous works?"

Source: Michael W. Holmes, ed. The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations (Michigan: Baker Books, 1999), p.113

Well, I can just imagine a Roman Catholic reading this, and pointing out it is an example from the early church on baptismal regeneration. On the other hand, the quote asks a question "who will be our advocate?" Some may be tempted to think this is simply a rhetorical question, with the answer being: Christ. But as I work through the text, I don't think it is. This writer seems to be implying that Christians who sin do not have an advocate! Try harder! ...or else!

But this quote was even more interesting... so much for purgatory:

"So then while we are yet on earth, let us repent. For we are clay in the Craftsman's hand. For example: if while a potter is making a vessel, it becomes misshapen or breaks in his hands, he simply reshapes it; but if he has already put it into the kiln, he is no longer able to repair it. So it is with us: as long as we are in this world, let us repent with our whole heart of the evil things which we have done in the flesh, in order that we may be saved by the Lord while we still have time for repentance. For after we have departed from the world, we are no longer able there either to confess or to repent anymore."

Source: Michael W. Holmes, ed. The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations (Michigan: Baker Books, 1999), p.115.

This is said to be the oldest extra-Biblical sermon in existence. Besides these examples, there are plenty of other things that could be pointed out about the text. I presented these examples for a few reasons:

1. An early church document needs to be allowed to say what it is saying, however muddled or clear it may be.

2. Simply because a writer is ancient, doesn't mean his theology is more Biblical than someone writing in 2007. In many ways, we are closer to the original writings of the Bible than whoever wrote Second Clement. We have a complete Bible. We have the Bible in its original languages. We may think that this writer has an advantage because he is chronologically closer to the time of the New Testament writing, but as you read such documents like this, it is apparent that this is fallacious reasoning.

24 comments:

Churchmouse said...

Excellent read Jim! I always find the appeal to church fathers, when it comes to proving alleged oral apostolic traditions, a bit hardpressed. I'm sure you've heard it before, some argue that the closer one is to the Apostolic age, the clearer the orthodoxy. The "John taught Polycarp taught Irenaeus" scenario. Yet, you read statements like this, a writing purported to be "really close" to the time of the Apostles and a statement that goes completely against the RC purgatory and wonder "I guess there was no purgatory the closer you get to the Apostolic age", but "NO!!" it is asserted, it wasn't important to speak of these things. The church was being persecuted. Who had the time to elaborate on doctrines such as this one? Well, Second Clement goes against the concept. But wait! It is asserted that there was Tertullian and he seems to have believed it. But no, Tertullian's eschatology was closer to the Eastern Orthodox who believed in an intermediate place where the righteous and wicked were given a foretaste of their eternal destiny. Did he receive this teaching as a result of "oral apostolic tradition" where the written merely "implies" it? No, there was no purgatory in his view, but a state much like what you find in Luke 16 (see Le Goff's "The Birth of Purgatory"). And what about the Orthodox? Here is a church that claims the same antiquity as Rome AND has a history with Rome leading up to the 11th century (before the Schism) and they hold to no such concept of purgatory. Where was purgatory throughout this common history? If Catholics were honest with themselves they would see that the concept was born from a seed planted by two Alexandrians (Clement and Origen) which remained a theory henceforth (even to Augustine) but gradually "developed" into a full-blown doctrine after the Schism. All in all, the testament of history goes AGAINST the alleged apostolicity of purgatory, and points to just another error taught de fide by a church which refuses correction.

Peace,
Ray

Kepha said...

C'mon, TQuid, everyone knows that the teacing of purgatory was a development of doctrine! And jusging from the way Catholic apologist are teaching it as opposed to the Middle Ages, I would say that the doctrine is still developing!

David Waltz said...

Hello James,

You wrote:

>>1. An early church document needs to be allowed to say what it is saying, however muddled or clear it may be.>>

Me: Amen! Each Christian sect has a tendency to anacrhonistically read back their unique “traditions” into the early church documents (including the Bible).

>>2. Simply because a writer is ancient, doesn't mean his theology is more Biblical than someone writing in 2007.>>

Me: Agreed.

>>In many ways, we are closer to the original writings of the Bible than whoever wrote Second Clement. We have a complete Bible. We have the Bible in its original languages. We may think that this writer has an advantage because he is chronologically closer to the time of the New Testament writing, but as you read such documents like this, it is apparent that this is fallacious reasoning.>>

Me: Once again, I agree. However, I would be quick to add that the writers of the late 1st century and early 2nd century had an important ingrediant that we do not have: possible communion with the apostles and/or the church officers they taught and ordained. I certainly wonder what it would have been like to ask say, the apostle John, in person: what did you mean when you wrote…?

Grace and peace,

David

http://articulifidei.blogspot.com/

Ken Temple said...

As always, a great entry and discussion James!

Keep up the good work.

I never saw that before in 2 Clement and so I greatly appreciate your work.

Are there any books that deal with the early ideas of perseverance and repentance and sin and confession and how penance started, and assurance of salvation written from a Reformed view, with citations from the fathers and history?

Anonymous said...

Where did you read that the Catholic Church teaches that we can "confess" or "repent" in Purgatory? Just curious. Nice straw man you got there.

Churchmouse said...

anonymous, where did you read someone claiming that the Catholic Church teaches that one could "confess or repent" in purgatory? I've read each post and I can't find anything even remotely resembling the straw man you claim.

Anonymous said...

Churchmouse,
Ahem: "But this quote was even more interesting... so much for purgatory:

'So then while we are yet on earth, let us repent. For we are clay in the Craftsman's hand. For example: if while a potter is making a vessel, it becomes misshapen or breaks in his hands, he simply reshapes it; but if he has already put it into the kiln, he is no longer able to repair it. So it is with us: as long as we are in this world, let us repent with our whole heart of the evil things which we have done in the flesh, in order that we may be saved by the Lord while we still have time for repentance. For after we have departed from the world, we are no longer able there either to confess or to repent anymore.'"

Let me emphasize what he said again: "SO MUCH FOR PURGATORY," as if the quote had about the importance of repentance and confession in this world have anything to do with purgative fire. That straw man. Big, goofy face; stiff, stuffed arms; hollow chest... see it now? Why should anyone take you people seriously?

Churchmouse said...

anonymous,

It is stated in the context of Clement's passage which, when taken as a "closer to the Apostles" statement, pretty much gives ample reason to state "so much for purgatory" at least for Clement's view. Therefore, it is no straw man to state what Clement implied. Clement DOESN'T seem to hold to ANY purgatorial thought.

You downplay the implications. Did you not read:

>> but if he has already put it into the kiln, he is no longer able to repair it.<<

There is no way to repair the vessel that the potter made BECAUSE it has ALREADY been put in the kiln.

Seems it is you who are sidestepping the implications.

Ray

Anonymous said...

Ray,
Au contraire. If a person leaves this world in a state of mortal sin, the fire will be punitive, not purgative; this is elementary Catholic doctrine. II Clement perfectly comports with it. Hence Swan's dismissive comment was and remains ludicrous. It shows deliberate deception or heinous misunderstanding, whether willful or not. Care to try again?

GeneMBridges said...

If a person leaves this world in a state of mortal sin, the fire will be punitive, not purgative; this is elementary Catholic doctrine. II Clement perfectly comports with it. Hence Swan's dismissive comment was and remains ludicrous. It shows deliberate deception or heinous misunderstanding, whether willful or not. Care to try again?

Where's the supporting argument that this is about mortal sin?

The text is quite plain, after death, there is no such thing as purgative fire - period. For, "For after we have departed from the world, we are no longer able there either to confess or to repent anymore.'"

James Swan said...

Anonymous,

It is my policy not to interact with those who post anonymously. However, I will make an exception with you.

I won’t quibble with you if those (allegedly in purgatory) are able to confess or repent. I realize that the Roman Church wrongly believes those in purgatory are being purified so as to achieve holiness. That really wasn’t my point. My point was that the Ancient Christian Sermon doesn’t have any inkling of Purgatory.

Even in the quote I provided, note, “ if while a potter is making a vessel, it becomes misshapen or breaks in his hands, he simply reshapes it; but if he has already put it into the kiln, he is no longer able to repair it.

The writer goes to say immediately after the quote in blog entry, “So, brothers, if we have done the will of the Father and have kept the flesh pure and have observed the commandments of the Lord, we will receive eternal life.”

If you read my post closely, you will note I said, “An early church document needs to be allowed to say what it is saying, however muddled or clear it may be.” This is indeed by exhortation to you.

Churchmouse said...

>>Ray,
Au contraire. If a person leaves this world in a state of mortal sin, the fire will be punitive, not purgative; this is elementary Catholic doctrine. II Clement perfectly comports with it. Hence Swan's dismissive comment was and remains ludicrous. It shows deliberate deception or heinous misunderstanding, whether willful or not. Care to try again?<<

No, I don't care to "try again" considering my argument stands and I believe you are begging the question by applying the concept of mortal sin to Clement's eschatology, that is unless you care to provide evidence that he believed in either concept.

Being an ex-Catholic I am fully aware of what Rome teaches on the consequences of "mortal" sin. However, Clement's words are indicative of the absence of this doctrine early on. The facts are that you won't find any afterlife purgation until we find the seeds of the concept in the writings of Clemant of Alexandria and Origin. It remains a "theory" within Augustine's eschatology (why theorize if it was truly a teaching of the early church?), and the word "purgatorium" doesn't appear until the 11th century. And then there is the testimony of the East who, share a common history with Rome (until the Great Schism of the 11th century), yet deny purgatory. Both claim Apostolic succession, both claim traditions, and yet the East denies purgatory.

All in all, the citations from II Clement aren't just indicative of the absence of purgatory in early writings, but of the absence of the concept altogether in early church eschatology.

Ray

Anonymous said...

Mr. Swan,
By all means, call me whatever silly animal nickname comes to mind (Churchmouse and Carebear are already taken, but I'm not particular). I can see how that makes all the difference. My name is Mike Burgess. That should be more than sufficient for you as a basis of interaction. I don't have a blogger id, and I didn't choose other, and I failed to "sign" my name before, mea culpa.

You were in error by interpolating any implicit denial of Purgatory in II Clement. Here is why:
1) II Clement said that neither repentance nor confession are possible after we have departed the world.
2) Catholic teaching has never been that repentance or confession were possible after anyone, whether in a state of grace or a state of mortal sin, departs this world.
3) The text is quite explicit that the eternal consequences of departing this world without repentance: "...as long as we are in this world, let us repent with our whole heart of the evil things which we have done in the flesh, in order that we may be saved by the Lord while we still have time for repentance."
4) II Clement does not directly and specifically address the topic of purgation in the passage you quoted. It does not address the nature of purgation as opposed to eternal damnation.
5) It does directly and specifically address the eternal punishment attendant with "the Craftsman" putting a vessel into the kiln when the "vessel" has not repented and/or confessed.
6) You, sir, attempted to read into the text a dismissal of Purgatory when no such dismissal is present. At best, we could ostensibly agree that the concept of purgation after this world is unmentioned, so it bears repeating: your assertion "So much for Purgatory," is a non sequitir. This was my original objection. Please reconsider your remark, and your subsequent assertion that I am the one who needs to let the text "say what it says." I did. I never said that the text affirms definitively or directly addresses the concept of Purgatory. You read into the text your bias and overstepped the bounds of the text itself. Please also bear in mind that II Clement need not have directly addressed the topic for the writer to have held to it; I am not asserting that he did or did not. Paul need not have directly addressed and specifically articulated, say, a comprehensive Chalcedonian Christology in order to have held to it. Especially when he was dealing with, say, factionalism or Judaizers.

Ray,
1)I didn't realize you had made an argument. Here is what you said:
"It is stated in the context of Clement's passage which, when taken as a "closer to the Apostles" statement, pretty much gives ample reason to state "so much for purgatory" at least for Clement's view. Therefore, it is no straw man to state what Clement implied. Clement DOESN'T seem to hold to ANY purgatorial thought.

You downplay the implications. Did you not read:

>> but if he has already put it into the kiln, he is no longer able to repair it.<<

There is no way to repair the vessel that the potter made BECAUSE it has ALREADY been put in the kiln.

Seems it is you who are sidestepping the implications."

And again, for the sake of simplicity, please read the above answer I just made to Mr. Swan, which is no different from my initial point, and there was never any assertion to the effect that Purgatory was mentioned. I want to remind you that 1) Purgatory is a purgative removal of temporal punishment, it has nothing to do with removal of the guilt of mortal sin, and 2) you guys read into it the "implication" of denial of such a concept in II Clement. You cannot seriously assert that a nonrepentant vessel (which is what the passage was referring to) is equivalent to a repentant vessel. It is, again, absurd for you to then presume that the unrepentant vessel put into the kiln after this world which is "unable to be repaired" is anything other than an affirmation of the damnation of the unrepentant vessel. Purgation is not damnation. Repentant vessels who do what their Master calls them to do will receive eternal reward. The text does not here state whether the repentant vessel will be forgiven but still need to make temporal satisfaction or restitution, etc. I didn't say it did; Mr. Swan said it definitely did not. Who needs to let the text say what it says? Who needs let the text deny what it denies and let it not deny what it does not?

GeneM,
see above. You have apparently also confused or conflated purgative fire with punitive fire.
Easy to rectify. As to your question, if you cannot see that the consequences of leaving this world after failing to repent and/or confess is fire from which the Craftsman cannot affect a reparation, I will be of no help to you. You need not make a distinction between mortal and venial sin to see clearly that the consequences in view are for an unrepentant sinner, and Catholicism has never taught that such ones will be saved. I don't understand what you think the fire or kiln in question refers to if not the punishment for sins unrepented of. I don't know how I can make my position any clearer, and I honestly don't know why you all are denying that Mr. Swan committed a huge logical fallacy at the outset. Reread his post. Reread my objection. Reread the off-topic answers, then reread my lengthy excursion into obvious land. After that, you're all on your own.

Mike Burgess

Leo said...

"And the Scripture also says in Ezekiel, 'Even if Noah and Job and Daniel should rise up, they will not save their children' in the captivity. Now if even such righteous men as these are not able, by means of their own righteous deeds, to save their children, what assurance do we have of entering the kingdom of God if we fail to keep our baptism pure and undefiled? Or who will be our advocate, if we are not found to have holy and righteous works?"

Indeed, very illustrious of the doctrine of Purgatory. But first of all I point out the last sentence on the necessity of good works for justification, second, this plainly refers to perseverence in the faith.


"So then while we are yet on earth, let us repent. For we are clay in the Craftsman's hand. For example: if while a potter is making a vessel, it becomes misshapen or breaks in his hands, he simply reshapes it; but if he has already put it into the kiln, he is no longer able to repair it. So it is with us: as long as we are in this world, let us repent with our whole heart of the evil things which we have done in the flesh, in order that we may be saved by the Lord while we still have time for repentance. For after we have departed from the world, we are no longer able there either to confess or to repent anymore."

I don't see how this has anything to do to say anything against purgatory. I think it illustrates nicely the sacrament of confession in the RCC, yet, I still see not how this is supposed to regute Purgatory:

St. Cyprian of Carthage, (+246) Treatise III, #29: "I entreat you, beloved brethren, that each one should confess his own sin, while he who has sinned is still in this world, while his confession may be received, while the satisfaction and remission made by the priests are pleasing to the Lord. Let us turn to the Lord with our whole heart, and, expressing our repentance for our sin with true grief, let us entreat God's mercy. Let our soul lie low before Him. Let our mourning atone to Him. Let all our hope lean upon Him. He Himself tells us in what manner we ought to ask."Turn ye," He says, "to me with all your heart, and at the same time with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts, and not your garments." Let us return to the Lord with our whole heart. Let us appease His wrath and indignation with fastings, with weeping, with mourning, as He Himself admonishes us."

I first point out the similarities herein with the above passage, they both refer to the remission of sin and penance, which seems to me to be perfectly in line with the teachings of the the Roman Catholic Church's beliefs on penance. I good find nonetheless.

Churchmouse said...

Mr. Burgess,

Maybe you’re not getting it. The Church didn’t teach a purgatory in Clement’s day. As I stated before, the roots of purgatory are found in the philosophical musings of Clement of Alexandria and Origen. Prior to this the Church is silent. Now, you can argue that “silence” doesn’t necessarily mean that it wasn’t taught, but only that it wasn’t as important as other matters, but this doesn’t clarify much considering that the Eastern Orthodox, who claim the same antiquity, deny that it was ever taught by the early church. Now, this is a church which shared common roots with the Latin West until just prior to the Great Schism (when the disagreements which lead to the schism were already in the burner). Now, add this all together and we can understand that Clement never held to a purgatorial concept, thus his “kiln” analogy doesn’t harbor any purgatorial “feel”, neither does it take away from it. The whole point is that Clement cannot be made into a guy who didn’t take away from purgatory with his “kiln” analogy, but that Clement NEVER held to purgatory to begin with.

Ray

Churchmouse said...

"And the Scripture also says in Ezekiel, 'Even if Noah and Job and Daniel should rise up, they will not save their children' in the captivity. Now if even such righteous men as these are not able, by means of their own righteous deeds, to save their children, what assurance do we have of entering the kingdom of God if we fail to keep our baptism pure and undefiled? Or who will be our advocate, if we are not found to have holy and righteous works?"

Indeed, very illustrious of the doctrine of Purgatory. But first of all I point out the last sentence on the necessity of good works for justification, second, this plainly refers to perseverence in the faith.


Er…where does it imply purgatory in the passage? What these three men had in common is that they were “righteous men” and delivered from the ruin that fell on others. Overall, I don’t see where you derive purgatory, let alone an “very illustrious.”

"So then while we are yet on earth, let us repent. For we are clay in the Craftsman's hand. For example: if while a potter is making a vessel, it becomes misshapen or breaks in his hands, he simply reshapes it; but if he has already put it into the kiln, he is no longer able to repair it. So it is with us: as long as we are in this world, let us repent with our whole heart of the evil things which we have done in the flesh, in order that we may be saved by the Lord while we still have time for repentance. For after we have departed from the world, we are no longer able there either to confess or to repent anymore."

I don't see how this has anything to do to say anything against purgatory. I think it illustrates nicely the sacrament of confession in the RCC, yet, I still see not how this is supposed to regute Purgatory:


How does it illustrate the “sacrament” of confession when it just states “let us repent” and that we aren’t able “…to confess or to repent anymore”?? As for purgatory, it doesn’t have to. There is no reason to believe that Clement believed in a purgatory given what history reveals. (as I detailed to Mr. Burgess above).

St. Cyprian of Carthage, (+246) Treatise III, #29: "I entreat you, beloved brethren, that each one should confess his own sin, while he who has sinned is still in this world, while his confession may be received, while the satisfaction and remission made by the priests are pleasing to the Lord. Let us turn to the Lord with our whole heart, and, expressing our repentance for our sin with true grief, let us entreat God's mercy. Let our soul lie low before Him. Let our mourning atone to Him. Let all our hope lean upon Him. He Himself tells us in what manner we ought to ask."Turn ye," He says, "to me with all your heart, and at the same time with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts, and not your garments." Let us return to the Lord with our whole heart. Let us appease His wrath and indignation with fastings, with weeping, with mourning, as He Himself admonishes us."

I first point out the similarities herein with the above passage, they both refer to the remission of sin and penance, which seems to me to be perfectly in line with the teachings of the the Roman Catholic Church's beliefs on penance. I good find nonetheless.


There are no similarities in these passages. On the former, Clement merely mentions sin, repentance, and confession (he states nothing about confession to a priest or penance. On the latter, Cyprian states that each should confess their own sin, but as J.N.D. Kelly states (with Jason Engwer’s comments from his CBNRC series):

(Kelly) "In spite of the ingenious arguments of certain scholars, there are still no signs of a sacrament of private penance (i.e. confession to a priest, followed by absolution and the imposition of a penance) such as Catholic Christendom knows to-day. The system which seems to have existed in the Church at this time, and for centuries afterwards, was wholly public, involving confession, a period of penance and exclusion from communion, and formal absolution and restoration - the whole process being called exomologesis. The last of these was normally bestowed by the bishop, as Hippolytus's prayer of episcopal consecration implies, but in his absence might be delegated to a priest. There is plenty of evidence that sinners were encouraged to open their hearts privately to a priest, but nothing to show that this led up to anything more than ghostly counsel. Indeed, for the lesser sins which even good Christians daily commit and can scarcely avoid, no ecclesiastical censure seems to have been thought necessary; individuals were expected to deal with them themselves by prayer, almsgiving and mutual forgiveness. Public penance was for graver sins; it was, as far as we know, universal, and was an extremely solemn affair, capable of being undergone only once in a lifetime." (Early Christian Doctrines [San Francisco, California: HarperCollins Publishers, 1978], pp. 216-217)

(Jason's comments) These historical facts are devastating to Roman Catholicism. This early system of penance, which was widespread, is significantly different from the modern Roman Catholic system. Despite these facts, the Council of Trent falsely claimed:

"If any one denieth, either that sacramental confession was instituted, or is necessary to salvation, of divine right; or saith, that the manner of confessing secretly to a priest alone, which the Church hath ever observed from the beginning, and doth observe, is alien from the institution and command of Christ, and is a human invention; let him be anathema." (session 14, "Canons Concerning the Most Holy Sacrament of Penance", canon 6)

Cyprian, however, describes the more *public* penitential system of his day:

"For although in smaller sins sinners may do penance for a set time, and according to the rules of discipline come to public confession, and by imposition of the hand of the bishop and clergy receive the right of communion: now with their time still unfulfilled, while persecution is still raging, while the peace of the Church itself is not yet restored, they are admitted to communion, and their name is presented; and while the penitence is not yet performed, confession is not yet made, the hands of the bishop and clergy are not yet laid upon them, the eucharist is given to them; although it is written, 'Whosoever shall eat the bread and drink the cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.'" (Letter 9:2)

Ray

Leo said...

St. Cyprian of Carthage, (+246) Treatise III, #29: "I entreat you, beloved brethren, that each one should confess his own sin, while he who has sinned is still in this world, while his confession may be received, while the satisfaction and remission made by the priests are pleasing to the Lord. Let us turn to the Lord with our whole heart, and, expressing our repentance for our sin with true grief, let us entreat God's mercy. Let our soul lie low before Him. Let our mourning atone to Him. Let all our hope lean upon Him. He Himself tells us in what manner we ought to ask."Turn ye," He says, "to me with all your heart, and at the same time with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts, and not your garments." Let us return to the Lord with our whole heart. Let us appease His wrath and indignation with fastings, with weeping, with mourning, as He Himself admonishes us."

St. Cyprian of Carthage, Treatise III, #28: "...with grief and simplicity confess this very thing to God's priests, and make the conscientious avowal, put off from them the load of their minds, and seek out the salutary medicine even for slight and moderate wounds..."

St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Lecture II, # 13: "You see that it is good to make confession. You see that there is salvation for them that repent. ...For it is the part of a righteous judge to give sentence according to each case that has occurred."

St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Lecture II, #15: "Take heed lest without reason thou mistrust the power of repentance. Would you know what power repentance has? Would you know the strong weapon of salvation, and learn what the force of confession is?"

St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Lecture II, #20: "Having therefore, brethren, many examples of those who have sinned and repented and been saved, do ye also heartily make confession unto the Lord, that you may both receive the forgiveness of your former sins, and be counted worthy of the heavenly gift, and inherit the heavenly kingdom with all the saints in Christ Jesus; to Whom is the glory for ever and ever. Amen."

Protestants don't confess, and they don't do it to priests, it seems to me that this leans more towards Catholcism than Protestantism.

Churchmouse said...

Leo,

Again, considering that none of your Cyprian-slinging refuted what Kelly or Engwer stated regarding private penance or public confession, how much of a percentage "closer" is this to Catholicism? I've seen Protestant denoms (like my Reformed Baptist church)encourage public confession with the clergy and laity praying for the "confessing" brethren. Does this mimick Cyprian's view? How much "closer" would my denomination be to Cyprian's view as opposed to your denom?

Ray

Leo said...

In Protesantism, priests normally don't forgive sins, in Protestantism, this power according to their theology does not exist because they don't have that power because they don't believe in apostolic succession, which necessarily entails a special power conferred on a certain class of Christian set apart from the rest of the congregation, which is completely contrary to the spirit of the reformation, being an enthusiasm against clericalism, especially priestly powers, like blessings, consecrations, and the ability to forgive sins; my point being, and this is a generalization, of which there are of course exceptions:

1. Protestants don't have priests
2. Preachers cannot forgive people their sins. Quite simply, in this manner, Protestants are not holding to this spirit or rather doctrine which Cyprian bears witness to.

Catholics believe that when they confess their sins, they confess not rather to a man, but to God, for according to our doctrine, the priest holds the office of Christ in his ability to forgive, or rather grant absolution for sins, which Cyprian refers to, so in essence, according to our beliefs, when we turn to the priest, we are turning to God and confessing our sins and the absolution is granted by Our Lord, rather than that a man may independantly of God assume the authority of Him.

St. Cyprian of Carthage, (+246) Treatise III, #29: "I entreat you, beloved brethren, that each one should confess his own sin, while he who has sinned is still in this world, while his confession may be received, while the satisfaction and remission made by the priests..."

Protestant preachers cannot make satisfaction and remission of sins for the souls of his parishioners according to common Protestant theology, and generally, Protestants do not confess their sins to men, either publicly, or privately, because according to them, men do not have such power, and that the words of Christ only bore reference to the Apostles themselves, and that when they died so did that commission.

So, in essence, unless Protestants do as St. Cyprian here states, they are not keeping with this traditional beliefs of the early Church Fathers, where here we note that priests do have special powers and can indeed confer remission of sin, and that they must confess their sins to the priests, and recieve remission of those sins from the priest, and generally, Protestants do not do this, in fact, they repudiate this practice as being false. Thus, Cyprian's theology would appear to be closer to Catholic doctrine than Protestant doctrine.


"There is plenty of evidence that sinners were encouraged to open their hearts privately to a priest, but nothing to show that this led up to anything more than ghostly counsel."


Again, Protestants don't have priests. Further, this contradicts Cyprian who apparently believes that priests could actually forgive sins, the same goes for Athanasius:

St. Athanasius: "As the man whom the priest baptizes is enlightened by the grace of the Holy Ghost, so does he who in penance confesses his sins, receive through the priest forgiveness in virtue of the grace of Christ"

"Indeed, for the lesser sins which even good Christians daily commit and can scarcely avoid, no ecclesiastical censure seems to have been thought necessary; individuals were expected to deal with them themselves by prayer, almsgiving and mutual forgiveness. Public penance was for graver sins"

Indeed, I think this fits nicely in with my point.


"... expressing our repentance for our sin with true grief, let us entreat God's mercy. Let our soul lie low before Him. Let our mourning atone to Him. Let all our hope lean upon Him. He Himself tells us in what manner we ought to ask."Turn ye," He says, "to me with all your heart, and at the same time with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts, and not your garments." Let us return to the Lord with our whole heart. Let us appease His wrath and indignation with fastings, with weeping, with mourning, as He Himself admonishes us."

Leo said...

"If any one denieth, either that sacramental confession was instituted, or is necessary to salvation, of divine right; or saith, that the manner of confessing secretly to a priest alone, which the Church hath ever observed from the beginning, and doth observe, is alien from the institution and command of Christ, and is a human invention; let him be anathema." (session 14, "Canons Concerning the Most Holy Sacrament of Penance", canon 6)

Actually, Trent is right here, anyone who says that the Church of God cannot forgive sins is in error, at least according to St. Augustine:

St. Augustine, De agon. Christ, III: "Let us not listen to those who deny that the Church of God has power to forgive all sins"

Which is basically what the Council of Trent is above saying.

Mike Burgess said...

Ray,
Did you bother to read anything I wrote?

The simple fact of the matter is that I affirm exactly what you did: the passage Mr. Swan referred to had nothing to say about Purgatory and *therefore* it was fallacious for Mr. Swan to state "So much for Purgatory." The analogy would be for me to quote you thusly:

"I've seen Protestant denoms (like my Reformed Baptist church)encourage public confession with the clergy and laity praying for the "confessing" brethren. Does this mimick Cyprian's view? How much "closer" would my denomination be to Cyprian's view as opposed to your denom?"

and follow that up with "So much for baptismal regeneration!"

You didn't even address baptismal regeneration in the passage I cited from the canon of Churchmouse's writings.

That, whatever else it may be, is still known as a straw man.

It would be a straw man if my dismissive comment would *appear to be* even more closely related, e.g., if I said "So much for the P in TULIP according to Churchmouse! Why, he says you need to publicly confess! His church practices it!!"

Are you really missing my point that badly or are you being purposely obtuse?

Please stop lecturing me about early church history. I'd say I have at least as good a grasp on it as you do. I reject, for example, your assertion that "the roots of purgatory are found in the philosophical musings of Clement of Alexandria and Origen. Prior to this the Church is silent."
The New Testament, last time I checked, was authoritative in the Church, and it is not silent on the concept of purgation and purification. I will not belabor the point by pointing to Gospel or Pauline passages. I am sure you are familiar with them but attempt to brush them off or dismiss them as hypothetical or unrelated to the topic. This is your privelege, but you are left with the same sort of quandary you are in with regard to, say, recognition of the canon: the same figures of authority whose "opinion" you respect in one regard you arbitrarily reject in another. The inconsistencies are the crux of the problem.

May I ask you a question? Since you presumably adhere to sola scriptura, please give me an indisputably perspicuous passage which requires that every layman in every generation hold accountable those appointed over him, what method they are to utilize to do so, and what they are to do when the method proves the authority is wrong.

I realize that's off topic, but I beg the indulgence (pun intended) of Mr. Swan.

Carrie said...

There is not much in Scripture on Purgatory except that in Second Maccabees 12:45, Judas sends a collection to the Temple for those fallen in battle, found with amulets on, "that they might be freed from this sin." Luther saw so clearly that this referred to Purgatory--which he rejected--that he rejected this book too, declaring it not part of Scripture. Some have tried to see an implication of Purgatory in Matthew 12:32. There Jesus speaks of the sin against the Holy Spirit that will be forgiven "neither in this world nor in the next." But the expression quoted is known in Rabbinic literature, where it means merely "never." Still less could we deduce purgatory from First Corinthians 3:11-15. Paul means if the work of some Christian worker has been of such low quality that it burns down, he himself will be saved "as through fire." But the fire seems to mean the apocalyptic fire of the last day, not a fire of purgatory.

But our belief in Purgatory rests on the tradition and definitions of the Church, at the Councils of Lyons II, Florence, and Trent.

-The Basic Catholic Catechism

Leo said...

"Wherefore, brethren, by doing the will of the Father, and keeping the flesh holy, and observing the commandments of the Lord, we shall obtain eternal life."

So much for sola fide, this speaks of works, and Even Swann's excerpt seems to point to good and holy works as having some importance. "..if we are not found to have holy and righteous works.." And Again Clement goes on: "For the Lord has said, "Those are my brethren who do the will of my Father."'

But what now of Justification by faith alone?

"Let us, therefore, work righteousness, that we may be saved to the end. Blessed are they who obey these commandments, even if for a brief space they suffer in this world, and they will gather the imperishable fruit of the resurrection."

Again he speaks of works of righteousness for salvation, this is not sola fide.

"For after we have gone out of the world, no further power of confessing or repenting will there belong to us."

This does not condemn purgatory, for purgatory is not for repentance and confession, that is not what we mean by Purgatory, in essence, Clement here is in line with current Catholic dogma concerning Purgatory here, it is true that once we leave this world, the time for repentance and expiation is over, that is why we need a purgatory.

Purgatory was booted out by the Reformers because of two reasons:
1. It involved the clergy, and
2. it involved works, both of which Luther abhorred, and thus why he got rid of it, his unorthodox position of sola fide did not chime with works being necessary for salvation, and then being able to be applicated to the Church suffering, so not only did works have to go, but also Purgatory, since that was a chief means of aiding the faithful departed.
It involved the priest, who could say masses for the dead, and other such salutary things for the dead, and since Luther was already going to get rid of the Mass, and the clerics, and good works, Purgatory had to go. So then, is Purgatory really a false doctrine then, simply because it did not fit in with the opinions of Martin Luther?
Is it false because it is mentioned in the books which Luther amputated from the Bible? I think not, for Luther had no authority,nor commission to butcher the Bible in the first place, nor to act contrary to the entire deposit of faith that had been Christianity for 1500 years. Indeed, if the Catholic Church is false, then Christianity was lost, and then we have no guarantee that Luther gave us anything, since according to Lutheran theology and his corrupted view of fallen human nature, then what Luther did was absolutely fallible, and thus not dependable upon. Furthermore, If the Catholic Church were what Luther said it were, then what guarantee do we have that the Bible that Luther had, or even finished with was genuine? If the entire deposit of faith were so corrupted by the RCC, then how in the world can anyone claim that Christianity is original?

Leo said...

Carrie said...

But the fire seems to mean the apocalyptic fire of the last day, not a fire of purgatory.

But then that is your deduction, not rather definitive.