Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Curious



David Waltz has informed us that the Scriptures are not Trinitarian.

I have two questions for our Roman Catholic friends. I don't know how to put a poll in here but I guess the combox will serve as the poll.

1) Let "the Scriptures are Trinitarian" mean that the Scriptures of OT, NT, and DC present a doctrine of God that reveals Him as a Trinity (the customary definition of "Trinity"). Do you agree with David's statement that the Scriptures do not teach thus?

2) Is it your understanding that the Roman Magisterium would agree or disagree?

43 comments:

Captain Kangaroo said...

Rather than pose this question to Catholics, try posing it to some Protestant sects and cults that deny the Trinity.


But, hey... I'll bite anyway.

Many Scripture verses support Trinitarian doctrine. Many others seem to deny it. Given this apparent state of conflict (I say "apparent" because with the issue settled, we can then go back and reconcile the conflicts.), the Scriptures in total do not (entirely of themselves) explicitly and unequivocally state the doctrine of the trinity as expressed by Christian creeds; and neither do they deny it. The issue was a matter of debate in the early Church. Since the time of this settlement at Nicea many excellent works have reconciled these exegetical differences; however, they require retrograde knowledge based on the assumption of the correctness of the doctrine. Without it, one could misconstrue the antithesis, ala JW "exegesis."

If you'd like to get a better understanding of what the Christian Church actually taught and how it came to dogmatically declare Trinitarian doctrine, try actually reading documents from the council of Nicea or the letters of some of the bishops who were delegates there.

Do some basic, first-year History Student work and read the actual history! (What a NOVEL idea!)

Captain Kangaroo said...

Let "the Scriptures are Trinitarian" mean that the Scriptures of OT, NT, and DC present a doctrine of God that reveals Him as a Trinity (the customary definition of "Trinity"). Do you agree with David's statement that the Scriptures do not teach thus?

By the way Rholly, who said David's statement is a flat denial that the Scriptures teach Trinitarian doctrine? I'm sure he knows that both Scripture and Tradition were cited in support of this dogma at the council of Nicea.

Rather than interpret David, why not let him do so? Or are you yet again using lame debating tactics whereby you take any ambiguity, define it to mean the least reasonable thing, then offer it up as the intended meaning?

Captain Kangaroo said...

While you're at it Rhology, could you please tell us what 'the customary definition of "Trinity"' might be? Please provide it word-for-word and tell us the source. Thanks much.

Once Rholly tells us EXACTLY what the customary definition of "Trinity" is, then perhaps we might be able to get somewhere. In the meanwhile, I'll be off somewhere, NOT holding my breath.

Peter Sean Bradley said...

Rhology,

You are misconstruing the "plain" words of your conversation with David. Your exchange with David went:

R:>>The Scr are plainly Trinitarian. Do you disagree?>>

Me: Yes, I strongly disagree; and on this important point, history is on my side; as well as such respected exegetes as Dr. Raymond Brown.


In other words, the issue that David was responding to was whether the New Testament is "plainly" Trinitarian. In short, David did not assert that the New Testament wasn't Trinitarian.

History and a review of the New Testament establishes that the New Testament is not "plainly" Trinitarian. There were numerous Christians prior - and after - Nicea who were able to to obtain an Arian understanding from the New Testament. There were able to do so because there are passages in the New Testament that are consistent with an Arian interpretation. Hence, Matthew 19:17 is favorite for Arians, Muslims, atheists and Oneness Pentacostals.

On the other hand, the New Testament is Trinitarian in that it contains passages that are consistent with a Trinitarian.

Ultimately, we know that the proper interpretation is that various passages in the Bible are to be understood under a Trinitarian "rule of faith" because that is what the Church inspired by the Holy Spirit teaches us.

Rhology said...

Capt K,

Why would I pose it to sects? I know what they'll say already.
It's that what David W said was a surprise.

Rhology said...

Capt K said:

I'm sure he knows that both Scripture and Tradition were cited in support of this dogma at the council of Nicea.

Why don't we let HIM say whether or not that's true?
Rather than interpret David, why not let him do so?

could you please tell us what 'the customary definition of "Trinity"' might be?

This one is fine.
CCC253 The Trinity is One. We do not confess three Gods, but one God in three persons, the "consubstantial Trinity".83 The divine persons do not share the one divinity among themselves but each of them is God whole and entire: "The Father is that which the Son is, the Son that which the Father is, the Father and the Son that which the Holy Spirit is, i.e. by nature one God."84 In the words of the Fourth Lateran Council (1215), "Each of the persons is that supreme reality, viz., the divine substance, essence or nature."85

254 The divine persons are really distinct from one another. "God is one but not solitary."86 "Father", "Son", "Holy Spirit" are not simply names designating modalities of the divine being, for they are really distinct from one another: "He is not the Father who is the Son, nor is the Son he who is the Father, nor is the Holy Spirit he who is the Father or the Son."87 They are distinct from one another in their relations of origin: "It is the Father who generates, the Son who is begotten, and the Holy Spirit who proceeds."88 The divine Unity is Triune.

255 The divine persons are relative to one another. Because it does not divide the divine unity, the real distinction of the persons from one another resides solely in the relationships which relate them to one another: "In the relational names of the persons the Father is related to the Son, the Son to the Father, and the Holy Spirit to both. While they are called three persons in view of their relations, we believe in one nature or substance."89 Indeed "everything (in them) is one where there is no opposition of relationship."90 "Because of that unity the Father is wholly in the Son and wholly in the Holy Spirit; the Son is wholly in the Father and wholly in the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit is wholly in the Father and wholly in the Son."91

In the meanwhile, I'll be off somewhere, NOT holding my breath.

You may exhale.


PSB said:
History and a review of the New Testament establishes that the New Testament is not "plainly" Trinitarian.

OK, we'll take that as another "no".
This is a poll, remember.

There were numerous Christians prior - and after - Nicea who were able to to obtain an Arian understanding from the New Testament.

Interesting - I wasn't aware those guys were Christians. I thought they were Arians, heretics.

there are passages in the New Testament that are consistent with an Arian interpretation.

Nobody would deny that. We of course deny that the whole of Scripture is Arian-ly interpretable.

we know that the proper interpretation is that various passages in the Bible are to be understood under a Trinitarian "rule of faith" because that is what the Church inspired by the Holy Spirit teaches us.

Yes, that goes without saying.

Peace,
Rhology


PS - Capt Kangaroo, do we put you down for a "yes" or a "no"?

GeneMBridges said...


History and a review of the New Testament establishes that the New Testament is not "plainly" Trinitarian. There were numerous Christians prior - and after - Nicea who were able to to obtain an Arian understanding from the New Testament. There were able to do so because there are passages in the New Testament that are consistent with an Arian interpretation. Hence, Matthew 19:17 is favorite for Arians, Muslims, atheists and Oneness Pentacostals.


This is a non-sequitur. The fact that there are people that interpret the text in a non-Trinitarian manner says nothing about the clarity of the text, eg. whether or not it is "plainly" trinitarian. You're "plainly" just begging the question in favor of a contrary view of Scripture.

Peter Sean Bradley said...

Rhology,

If we can't read the plain language of a comment without assistance, why should we expect to read the language of a book written in another era in a different language?

You wrote:

1) Let "the Scriptures are Trinitarian" mean that the Scriptures of OT, NT, and DC present a doctrine of God that reveals Him as a Trinity (the customary definition of "Trinity"). Do you agree with David's statement that the Scriptures do not teach thus?

My point was that David didn't say that Scriptures don't teach a Trinitarian doctrine, and I never said that Scriptures don't teach a Trinitarian doctrine. In fact, if you re-read my comment I said that they do teach a Trinitarian doctrine.

What I and David - and everyone else with some knowledge of history - said is that Scriptures don't "plainly" teach that doctrine.

You don't seem to be sufficiently acquainted with the "Arian Controversy" to understand how orthodox Christian theology developed. As Captain Kangaroo suggests, you would do well to examine the issue - there is a wonderful lecture series put out by the Reformed Theological Institute that is available on Itunes that you could listen to.

What you will find out is that Arians were doing what you do - they were exegeting the text without confining themselves by the rule of tradition.

The rule of tradition - which was found in the good sense of the average Christian - always taught that Jesus was man and God. The Arians were like Calvinists who thought that they could treat tradition found in the belief of the universal church as so much superstition. They nearly converted the hierarchy but failed because they were opposed by Athanasius, the Bishop of Rome and the tradition held by the universal church in the form of the Christian laity.

So, the point is that we read scriptures in the context of tradition.

The Trinitarian orthodox understanding of Christianity was vindicated because it fit tradition, not because it was held by some clever fellow with a good dictionary. The people with the dictionaries at the time were the Arians.

Were Arians Christian? I guess some of them must have been since the calendar of the Catholic church includes several saints who were Arian.

EgoMakarios said...

DC?

EgoMakarios said...

Rhology, what Catholics mean when saying that the Trinity is not taught in Scripture is that after their Jesuit agents convince everyone to remove the authentic words of Scripture from 1 John 5:7 that it will be easy for them to assert that the Scriptures do not teach the Trinity. That's why Rome and it's Jesuit agents like James White are trying to convince the whole world that 1 John 5:7 isn't authentic--because then they will be able to say "see, the Trinity isn't in Scripture! If you want to beleive the Trinity you'll have to join the RCC and buy into all our traditions."

Peter Sean Bradley said...

genembridges wrote:

This is a non-sequitur. The fact that there are people that interpret the text in a non-Trinitarian manner says nothing about the clarity of the text, eg. whether or not it is "plainly" trinitarian. You're "plainly" just begging the question in favor of a contrary view of Scripture.

I think you are misreading my comment. I didn't "favor" a "contrary view of Scripture." My view of Scripture - like that of David, I suspect - is found in the Nicene Creed that we recite ever Sunday.

What I was pointing out was that people in good faith, starting from the text, have come up with startling conclusions, each of which is reasonable and supported by the text.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.'s dictume was that "the life of the law is not logic, it is experience." He also said - in another aphorism that I've used in front of two juries - that "words are not crystals with fixed invariant meanings; words are the living skin of thought."

In other words, no text is "plain." All texts require interpretation because the author and the reader bring their experience into the words which are the living skin of thought.

One pragmatic way of determining the extent to which a text is "plain" or ambiguous is to see how people acting in good faith interpret the text. If reasonable people acting in good faith interpret the text differently that is the best evidence that the text is not as plain as it might have been.

I don't think that the Arians were malicious in their interpretation of scripture. They had texts in their favor and a simpler way of understanding the relationship of the Father to the Son.

They were wrong, however.

Obviously, Protestants in general are invested in the idea that the Bible has a "plain" meaning on contested theological issues. That investment goes back to Luther's response to Erasmus.

Nonetheless, as an attorney who has tried numerous contract issues, and has had the experience of discerning the ambiguities in what I thought was plain language, I think Erasmus had the better of the argument.

EgoMakarios said...

"They were wrong, however."

Peter Sean Bradley, with your way of viewing Scripture nobody can be wrong. That's why you are wrong. Scripture is plain. Otherwise, we might as well be atheists. If Scripture aint plain, nothing is. The pope's tripe sure aint plain. You have so many infallible rules of determining whether what he said is infallible or not. If the pope speaks with an eggo in his hand, it may be infallible if and only if this is Sunday in a leapyear and the groundhog came out early last year.

Peter Sean Bradley said...

Egomakarios wrote:

Peter Sean Bradley, with your way of viewing Scripture nobody can be wrong. That's why you are wrong. Scripture is plain. Otherwise, we might as well be atheists.

Some questions, if you care to enlighten me with your insights:

What is my way of viewing Scripture?

Where did I say that there is no such thing as truth or that we are incapable of finding the truth?

Why do Christians of apparent good will disagree about so many important things?

Rhology said...

Sorry, DC = Deuterocanonical, ie, the Apocrypha. I'm asking Roman Catholics a question based on their beliefs so I'm allowing for their Scripture.

Rhology said...

PSB,

If we can't read the plain language of a comment without assistance, why should we expect to read the language of a book written in another era in a different language?

I must've missed where an infall interper swooped in to save the day on the language of the blog comment.
Similarly, I must've missed when an infall interper has helped clarify Scriptural teaching without requiring an infallible interper to interp what it said.
We've been over all this before here, recently in fact.

Scriptures don't "plainly" teach that doctrine.

I don't know if I see a practical difference between the two statements.

Arians were doing what you do - they were exegeting the text without confining themselves by the rule of tradition.

This is question-begging; of course I don't grant the premise. But it's a bit off topic anyway.

The Arians were like Calvinists who thought that they could treat tradition found in the belief of the universal church as so much superstition.

hardly a fair assessment of Calvinists.

the point is that we read scriptures in the context of tradition.

Except apparently according to David Waltz, the ECFs were not Trinitarians either, so that doesn't really help us.
To quote him:

--I can state with great confidence that the Jews and Gentiles whom Paul was speaking to were not Trinitarian

--Trinitarianism is clearly a post-apostolic construct. Every patristic scholar of the last 50 plus years (and many much older), I have read acknowledge the clear subordinationism of the pre-Nicene Church Fathers.

--He cites Newman: If we limit our view of the teaching of the Fathers by what they expressly state, St. Ignatius may be considered Patripassian, St. Justin arianizes, and St. Hippolytus is a Photinian...Tertullian is heterodox on the Lord’s divinity...Origen is, at the very least suspected, and must be defended and explained rather than cited as a witness of orthodoxy; and Eusebius was a Semi-Arian.


What you're really saying is that we must read Scr in the context of the infall interper that is Rome.


The Trinitarian orthodox understanding of Christianity was vindicated because it fit tradition, not because it was held by some clever fellow with a good dictionary.


Which is of course not what we believe. A dictionary is more or less irrelevant; reading the entire Scriptural context is what is needed.

I guess some of them must have been since the calendar of the Catholic church includes several saints who were Arian.

Hmm, I didn't know that honestly. Very, very interesting. Do you know a name or 2 offhand?

people in good faith, starting from the text, have come up with startling conclusions, each of which is reasonable and supported by the text.

1) This could easily be said of any statement from RCC.
2) Or any document from any Council.
3) It sounds like you're teetering on the edge of saying that the authorial intent is not find-able... am I reading you right?
4) How would you justify calling Jesus a created being in the light of, say, Hebrews 13:8 and John 8:58? I mean you personally.

One pragmatic way of determining the extent to which a text is "plain" or ambiguous is to see how people acting in good faith interpret the text.

I don't think starting with the experience of sinful people is a good idea.

Why do Christians of apparent good will disagree about so many important things?

That's just as strong a question for your position as it is for ours.

And I'd just like to point out in case you don't know, EgoMak is no friend of our position...




EgoMak said:
That's why Rome and it's Jesuit agents like James White

James White a Jesuit agent, eh? Now I've seen it all.

Peter Sean Bradley said...

Rhology,

I'm not sure how serious you are in your request for information. I assume that you know that Catholics are Trinitarian, that Catholics recite the Nicene Creed in Mass every Sunday, that the Nicene Creed defines the the Son as "one in being with the Father", and that Catholicism teaches that the truths of the faith are found in tradition and scripture. If any Catholic denies these points, that simply means that they are poorly catechized Catholics.

But perhaps your question stems from ignorance, rather than a desire to "tweak."

On that assumption, I've located this list of Scriptural texts that were key to the Athanasian/Arian Controversy. If you haven't seen the "Arian" passages, you might derive some understanding of why there was a controversy.

Jesus was not consubstantial with the Father.

Matthew 19:17, Mark 10:18
And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.

Matthew 27:46, Mark 15:34
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

Mark 16:19
So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.

John 8:40
But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God.

John 14:28
My Father is greater than I.

John 20:17
I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

Acts 17:31
Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

1 Corinthians 11:3
The head of Christ is God.

1 Corinthians 15:28
And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.

Colossians 3:1
Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.

1 Timothy 2:5
For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.

Needless to say, I accept these texts but do not read them as an Arian.

David Waltz said...

Hello Peter,

Good see that there are some objective readers here at Beggar’s All who understand “plainly” what I write; but there are those who sure seem have a need to twist their ‘plain’ meaning in order to create a ‘strawman’ to attack.

Now, I wonder why one would dare trust their interpretations of the Bible (and the CFs) which are much more complex than this Beachbum’s postings...


Grace and peace,

David

Rhology said...

PSB,

I believe I already granted this.
You said:
there are passages in the New Testament that are consistent with an Arian interpretation.
I responded:
Nobody would deny that. We of course deny that the whole of Scripture is Arian-ly interpretable.

Now, would you mind answering my question?
I'll repost it here:

How would you justify calling Jesus a created being in the light of, say, Hebrews 13:8 and John 8:58? I mean you personally.



David W,

If you think you've been misrepresented, feel free to post corrections here. I certainly don't want to attack a strawman.
What is the strawman?

Peace,
Rhology

Captain Kangaroo said...

Rholly said:
"Why don't we let HIM say whether or not that's true?
Rather than interpret David, why not let him do so?"


Obviously my comment did NOT purport to interpret Dave's words, but merely stated what I believe he knows--and nobody (not even you,though you might lie to yourself) believes otherwise. Your petty hypocrisy and fifth-rate discount debaters' tactics are astoundingly foolish. Grow up.

The reason I ask you to pose the question to some Protestant sects and cults that deny the Trinity is so readers get an ample taste of "plain-speaking" Trinitarian doctrine in Scripture as they engage you in a fruitless "proof text" war.

I'm sure you are already familiar with exactly what I'm speaking about.
[Please note that I do not misrepresent your speech as you did David's, but merely speculate that not having been born yesterday, you've already seen it.]

David Waltz said...

Hello Gene,

You posted:

>> This is a non-sequitur. The fact that there are people that interpret the text in a non-Trinitarian manner says nothing about the clarity of the text, eg. whether or not it is "plainly" trinitarian. You're "plainly" just begging the question in favor of a contrary view of Scripture.>>

Me: Peter’s comments can only be construed as non-sequitur if we had Trinitarians (in an orthodox sense) existing side-by-side with non-Trinitarians without the nearly 300 year period prior to Nicea which had no Trinitarians in a fully orthodox sense. I have been studying the Church Fathers for over two decades now, and concur with the assessments of the two patristic scholoars (just the tip-of-the-iceberg) I quoted for Rhology in same thread he mentioned earlier; here is a re-post:


John Henry Newman had this to say:

“If we limit our view of the teaching of the Fathers by what they expressly state, St. Ignatius may be considered Patripassian, St. Justin arianizes, and St. Hippolytus is a Photinian...Tertullian is heterodox on the Lord’s divinity...Origen is, at the very least suspected, and must be defended and explained rather than cited as a witness of orthodoxy; and Eusebius was a Semi-Arian.” (John Henry Newman, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 6th edition 1989, p. 17.)

And perhaps the greatest patristic scholar of the late-20th century stated:

“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.” (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.)

Fact is, the NT and early Church Fathers reserved the title “the one God” for God the Father alone. Once again, some thoughts from Newman:

“No subject was more constantly and directly before the Christian intellect in the first centuries of the Church than the doctrine of the Monarchia. That there was but one First Principle of all things was a fundamental doctrine of all Catholics, orthodox and heterodox alike; and it was the starting-point of heterodox as well as of orthodox speculation… It was for the same reason that the Father was called God absolutely, while the Second and Third Persons were designated by Their personal names of ‘the Son,’ or ‘the Word,’ and ‘the Holy Ghost;’ viz. because they are to be regarded, not as separated from, but as inherent in the Father. In this enunciation of the august Mystery they were supported by the usage of Scripture, and by the nature of the case; since the very notion of a Father carries with it a claim to priority and precedence in the order of our ideas, even when in no other respect he has any superiority over those on whom he has this claim. There is One God then, they would say, ‘not only because the Three Persons are in one usia, or substance (though this reason is good too), but because the Second and Third stand to the First in the relation of derivation, and therefore are included in their Origin as soon as named; so that, in confessing One Father or Origin, we are not omitting, but including, those Persons whom the very name of the One Father or Origin necessarily implies.’” (John Henry Newman, Tracts Theological and Ecclesiastical, pp. 167-169.)


Grace and peace,

David

Captain Kangaroo said...

"How would you justify calling Jesus a created being in the light of, say, Hebrews 13:8 and John 8:58? I mean you personally."

Given that we confess at every Mass as a matter of creed that Jesus is "begotten, not made" and "one in being with the Father," why would any Catholic call Jesus a "created being" except in error? Whether or not the weight of other scriptures could possibly put some spin on the text in Hebrews to interpret otherwise, this question was settled more than 15 centuries ago.

YET AGAIN, if you REALLY want to know how Christianity settled these problems rather than concoct some Calvinistic, sola scriptura fantasy to explain it, try actually reading the records of the councils and letters of those who did it. You will find that they did not have a "plain" understanding of the rinity from scripture alone--and in fact many (including Consantine) favored Arius. To settle it they referenced Scripture, and Tradition. Or were these all complex Catholic lies planted by the Devil a thousand years before as a very clever counter-Reformation ploy?

EgoMakarios said...

"James White a Jesuit agent, eh?"

Why else would he do so poorly in his debates?

Saint and Sinner said...

"Rather than pose this question to Catholics, try posing it to some Protestant sects and cults that deny the Trinity."

Almost every single one of those organizations deny sola Scriptura. So actually, they'd have that in common with you.

"History and a review of the New Testament establishes that the New Testament is not "plainly" Trinitarian. There were numerous Christians prior - and after - Nicea who were able to to obtain an Arian understanding from the New Testament."

The naive assumption of doxastic voluntarism continues. No mention of the fact of sin. No mention of the fact that the natural man cannot accept the things of God (1 Cor. 2:14).

"Do some basic, first-year History Student work and read the actual history! (What a NOVEL idea!)"

OK. This is what I found:

-------------

These are a few testimonies out of many; for we do not pretend to bring up all the passages of Scripture, because we have a tolerably large accumulation of them in the various heads of our subject, as we in our several chapters call them in as our witnesses in the fulness of their dignity and authority. ***Still, in these few quotations the distinction of Persons in the Trinity is *clearly* set forth. For there is the Spirit Himself who speaks, and the Father to whom He speaks, and the Son of whom He speaks.***
-Tertullian, Against Praxeas, ch.11

And this one may see from our own experience; for if when a word proceeds from men we infer that the mind is its source, and, by thinking about the word, see with our reason the mind which it reveals, by far greater evidence and incomparably more, seeing the power of the Word, we receive a knowledge also of His good Father, as the Saviour Himself says, “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father.” ***But this all inspired Scripture also teaches more plainly and with more authority***, so that we in our turn write boldy to you as we do, and you, if you refer to them, will be able to verify what we say.
-Athanasius, Against the Heathen 3.45

***It is plain then from the above that the Scriptures declare the Son's eternity; it is equally plain from what follows that the Arian phrases ‘He was not,’ and ‘before’ and ‘when,’ are in the same Scriptures predicated of creatures.***
-Athanasius, Four Discourses Against the Arians, Discourse 1.4.13

***For there have risen many who have given to the plain words of Holy Writ some arbitrary interpretation of their own, instead of its true and only sense, and this in defiance of the clear meaning of words. Heresy lies in the sense assigned, not in the word written; the guilt is that of the expositor, not of the text.*** Is not truth indestructible? **When we hear the name Father, is not sonship involved in that Name? The Holy Ghost is mentioned by name; must He not exist? We can no more separate fatherhood from the Father or sonship from the Son than we can deny the existence in the Holy Ghost of that gift which we receive.** Yet men of distorted mind plunge the whole matter in doubt and difficulty, fatuously reversing the clear meaning of words, and depriving the Father of His fatherhood because they wish to strip the Son of His sonship.
-Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity 2.3

But should it be the Jew who gainsays these arguments, our discussion with him will no longer present equal difficulty, since the truth will be made manifest out of those doctrines on which he has been brought up. ***For that there is a Word of God, and a Spirit of God, powers essentially subsisting, both creative of whatever has come into being, and comprehensive of things that exist, is shown in the clearest light out of the Divinely-inspired Scriptures.***
-Gregory of Nyssa, The Great Catechism, ch.4

God, then, is One, without violation of the majesty of the eternal Trinity, as is declared in the instance set before us. And not in that place alone do we see the Trinity expressed in the Name of the Godhead; but both in many places, as we have said also above, and especially in the epistles which the Apostle wrote to the Thessalonians, ***he most clearly set forth the Godhead and sovereignty of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.*** For you read as follows: “The Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, as we also do toward you, to the stablishing of your hearts without blame in holiness before God and our Father at the coming of the Lord Jesus.”
-Ambrose, On the Holy Spirit 3.14.94

He answered, “Suffer it to be so now, that all righteousness may be fulfilled”), when He was baptized then, the heavens were opened, and the Holy Spirit came down upon Him in the form of a Dove: and then a Voice from on high followed, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” ***Here then we have the Trinity in a certain sort distinguished. The Father in the Voice,-the Son in the Man,-the Holy Spirit in the Dove. It was only needful just to mention this, for most obvious is it to see. For the notice of the Trinity is here conveyed to us plainly and without leaving room for doubt or hesitation.***
-Augustine, Sermons on Selected Lessons of the New Testament, Sermon 2.1

This, indeed, is I think confessed even by the Arians, who do not call the flesh Godhead, nor address the Godhead as flesh. ***Holy Scripture clearly teaches us both natures.*** Nevertheless, though I have ever thus spoken, certain men are uttering lying words against me. But I rely on my conscience and have as witness to my teaching Him who looks into the hearts. So, as the prophet says, I regard the contrivances of calumny as “a spider's web.”
-Theodoret of Cyrrhus, Letters of the Blessed Theodoret, Bishop of Cyrus, Letter 99-To Claudianus the Antigrapharius

-------------

"On that assumption, I've located this list of Scriptural texts that were key to the Athanasian/Arian Controversy. If you haven't seen the "Arian" passages, you might derive some understanding of why there was a controversy."

Just because there are surface level problems with a doctrine doesn't mean that the text is unclear. In fact, many JW's have been converted to orthodox Christianity simply by comparing Scripture with Scripture.

http://www.carm.org/witnesses.htm
http://www.lightshinesindarkness.com/deity_christ_1.htm

"Once again, some thoughts from Newman:"

Why don't you try reading some of the critiques of Newman from his same period. Newman's arguments were extremely naive:

------

“The fact of certain ideas getting established becomes itself the proof of their truth…Mr Newman of course can no longer concur in this position, and a considerable part of his introduction is occupied with an attempt to remove it out of the way. He takes up the famous maxim of Vincentius, quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus, of which he himself and his Tractarian brethren used to boast so much, and shows conclusively, as many sound Protestants have done before him, that from its vagueness and ambiguity, and the difficulty of applying it, it is of little or no real practical utility. The truth is, that Romanists, though they have laboured to mislead men by talking much about catholic consent and the unanimous testimony of the fathers, have been always aware, and have been sometimes led to confess, that there is much about the system of modern Popery which cannot be traced by anything like a chain of testimonies to apostolic times, or even to the third century.”134
- W. Cunningham, Discussions on Church Principes: Popish, Erastian, and Prebyterian
(Still Waters Revival Books 1991), pp.41-42.

------

"“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.” (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.)"

Yip. And there goes your argument from Tradition. Of course, this isn't the whole truth. As J.N.D. Kelly has noted, most of the church fathers actually affirmed that Christ was of the same substance as the Father. They simply interpreted Scripture through the lens of Platonic philosophy making Christ an emanation from the Father who was the fountain of the Trinity. This is why they considered the Father "the only God".



They attack the formal sufficiency of Scripture and torpedo their own tradition all in order to leave it all up to "Mother Church" to solve the epistemological problem.

SOLA ECCLESIA.

Peter Sean Bradley said...

Rhology,

I must've missed where an infall interper swooped in to save the day on the language of the blog comment.
Similarly, I must've missed when an infall interper has helped clarify Scriptural teaching without requiring an infallible interper to interp what it said.


But there is an “infallible” interpreter in the case of the relevant blog comment – David himself.

You seem to be posing David as a non-Trinitarian.

My position is that David is a Trinitarian, but was disputing that although the text of the Bible teaches Trinitarianism, it does not do so in a way that does not require the application of reason and inspiration. I base my opinion on the text of the conversation and evidence of his blog that reveals him to be a practical Catholic, i.e., a Trinitarian.

Because he is the author, David can authoritatively say whether I’m right or you are right. Then, you can accept what he says or call him a liar.

I don't know if I see a practical difference between the two statements.

I accept your statement as being made in good faith, but I will observe that I find your confusion perplexing.

Do you really not know that a key tenet of the Reformation was of the “perspicuity of Scripture” that assumed that all believers could read the Scripture and come to the same conclusion. If not, you will want to check this essay by John MacArthur.

In other words, there is a significant difference between whether Scripture teaches something and whether it “plainly” teaches it. You may not be able to see that difference because of your “Reformation glasses.”

This is question-begging; of course I don't grant the premise. But it's a bit off topic anyway.

No, it is not “off topic.”

The whole issue is whether Scripture plainly and unambiguously teaches Trinitarianism such that no one could come up with a different conclusion.

The fact that learned and well-versed biblical scholars in the Fourth Century cited scripture for the proposition that Christ was not “consubstantial” is certainly “on-topic” for the issue of whether Scripture "plainly" teaches Trinitarianism.

The Arians were like Calvinists who thought that they could treat tradition found in the belief of the universal church as so much superstition.

hardly a fair assessment of Calvinists.


Why not?

Except apparently according to David Waltz, the ECFs were not Trinitarians either, so that doesn't really help us.
To quote him:

--I can state with great confidence that the Jews and Gentiles whom Paul was speaking to were not Trinitarian


Are you seriously suggesting that the Jews and Gentiles that Paul was converting in 60 AD were Trinitarian?

I take that when David Waltz refers to “Jews and Gentiles” he means “Jews and Gentiles” and not Christians.

If you have some authority for the proposition that the pagans and Jews of the First Century were crypto-Trinitarians, please share it.

--Trinitarianism is clearly a post-apostolic construct. Every patristic scholar of the last 50 plus years (and many much older), I have read acknowledge the clear subordinationism of the pre-Nicene Church Fathers.

Yes and no. Trinitarianism in a latent form can be found in Tertullian and – I think – Origin.

By the way, I get that bit of information from the lectures I listened to from a Calvinist theologian.

The Calvinist theologian implicitly acknowledges that it took time for the Trinitarian implications of scripture to be worked out philosophically so that it made sense.

--He cites Newman: If we limit our view of the teaching of the Fathers by what they expressly state, St. Ignatius may be considered Patripassian, St. Justin arianizes, and St. Hippolytus is a Photinian...Tertullian is heterodox on the Lord’s divinity...Origen is, at the very least suspected, and must be defended and explained rather than cited as a witness of orthodoxy; and Eusebius was a Semi-Arian.

I’m not sure about the exact details, but listening to the Calvinist theologian, and others, it is clear that a fully worked out Trinitrianism developed over time….which is what happens with doctrines.

What you're really saying is that we must read Scr in the context of the infall interper that is Rome.

I don’t think I’ve said that. I think that so far I’ve said something a little different.

Which is of course not what we believe. A dictionary is more or less irrelevant; reading the entire Scriptural context is what is needed.

That’s what the Arians said.

I guess some of them must have been since the calendar of the Catholic church includes several saints who were Arian.

Hmm, I didn't know that honestly. Very, very interesting. Do you know a name or 2 offhand?



St. Nicetas the Goth has his feast day today (9/15). He was a priest in the Arian regions who was burnt to death in 378 during an anti-Christian scourge in the Danube.

St. Artemius (f.d. 10/20) was not only Arian, but even harrassed St. Athanasius. He was martyred in 362 under Julian the Apostate.


Did you think I was bluffing?

people in good faith, starting from the text, have come up with startling conclusions, each of which is reasonable and supported by the text.

1) This could easily be said of any statement from RCC.
2) Or any document from any Council.


Yes, that’s very true, which is why it necessary to have someone who can authoritatively resolve those claims.

3) It sounds like you're teetering on the edge of saying that the authorial intent is not find-able... am I reading you right?

I never said that. I don’t believe that.

4) How would you justify calling Jesus a created being in the light of, say, Hebrews 13:8 and John 8:58? I mean you personally.

I wouldn’t because I’m orthodox.

If I were going to make such a hypothetical argument I might turn to Acts 13:33, which says of Jesus’ resurrection, “You are my son; this day I have begotten you.”

I might also ask “who came first, the Father or the Son?”

Lvka said...

God is one because the Father is one: that's the Patristic axiom. Them all being but one Being is just a result thereof.

The Father is properly called God because of the same reason that a single man is properly called Man (i.e., Adam).

From Adam's loins comes forth his son, and from his rib (near the heart, the center of life) comes forth Eve, whose name means Life.

Adam and Eve are said to be one flesh.

Through begetting comes forth the Son of God, and through procession comes forth the Holy and Life-Giving Spirit of God.

Jesus said: "I and the Father are one".

The 318 from 325 at Nice (Genesis 14:14) said "the Father and the Son are one Being".

For heretics, only vagueness, unclarities and contradictions explained as evolution; for us, the perfectly clear and coherent Teaching once and for all delivered to the Saints.

Carrie said...

I'm confused.

PSB says: "The Trinitarian orthodox understanding of Christianity was vindicated because it fit tradition,"

while

David says: "without the nearly 300 year period prior to Nicea which had no Trinitarians in a fully orthodox sense."

So, scripture was unclear on the doctrine of the Trinity, therefore tradition had to be consulted. Yet tradition was not Trinitarian.

?

Rhology said...

Carrie said:

Yet tradition was not Trinitarian.

That's a fine question.




Capt K,

Given that we confess at every Mass as a matter of creed that Jesus is "begotten, not made" and "one in being with the Father," why would any Catholic call Jesus a "created being" except in error?

I was not implying that PSB thought Christ was created.
Here's what he said:
people in good faith, starting from the text, have come up with startling conclusions, each of which is reasonable and supported by the text.

So I asked him that question, since it seems to be that his point is that the biblical text can be interpreted Arian-ly, which of course I deny (and thought the RCs here would deny as well). So I'm asking him to make good his contention.

To settle it they referenced Scripture, and Tradition

that is not the question at hand here. Read the post again.



Saint and Sinner said:
Almost every single one of those organizations deny sola Scriptura. So actually, they'd have that in common with you.

Very true. Most all of them much more closely fit the description Sola Eccelesia than Sola Scriptura, which puts them in the RCC camp.




PSB said:
You seem to be posing David as a non-Trinitarian.

Did not my post consist of a link directly to what he said and then 2 questions? A question is a request for information.

My position is that David is a Trinitarian,

Yes, of course. I have never questioned that.

it does not do so in a way that does not require the application of reason and inspiration.

I am sorry, I have no idea what that means.

Because he is the author, David can authoritatively say whether I’m right or you are right.

Very good, but when I made the "swooped in" comment, David had not yet said anythg. Just let it go; it's not worth discussing.

the “perspicuity of Scripture”

Yes of course. But that's not what I was getting at.

whether Scripture teaches something and whether it “plainly” teaches it.

Agreed, yes.

The whole issue is whether Scripture plainly and unambiguously teaches Trinitarianism such that no one could come up with a different conclusion.

Exactly.

Why not?

For one thing, I don't know very many Calvinists (or any) that would chalk "most" "tradition" up to superstition.
Though we certainly question what constitutes "most" and "tradition" and especially differ with RCC's naive and arbitrary notions of what constitutes "Sacred Tradition".

Are you seriously suggesting that the Jews and Gentiles that Paul was converting in 60 AD were Trinitarian?

No, that they were converting TO a Trinitarian faith.

I take that when David Waltz refers to “Jews and Gentiles” he means “Jews and Gentiles” and not Christians.

Check the context, friend.
Here's how it went down:

David: Agreed. But, with that said, I can state with great confidence that the Jews and Gentiles whom Paul was speaking to were not Trinitarian; as for Paul, note my following comments to this:

Rhology:>>And the *Christians* of the earliest church were Trinitarians.>>

David: I disagree. Trinitarianism is clearly a post-apostolic construct. Every patristic scholar of the last 50 plus years (and many much older), I have read acknowledge the clear subordinationism of the pre-Nicene Church Fathers.


He meant Christians TOO. And so have others in this thread said the same thing.

Did you think I was bluffing?

No, I was asking out of genuine curiosity. I know that sometimes these threads can get pretty adversarial. Thanks for finding those two for me. I'll read up on them b/c I think it's genuinely interesting.

which is why it necessary to have someone who can authoritatively resolve those claims.

Who then writes things and then it becomes necessary to have someone who can authoritatively resolve those claims and then to have someone who can authoritatively resolve those claims and then to have someone who can authoritatively resolve those claims ad infinitum. That's why I linked to the recent posts above.

I wouldn’t because I’m orthodox.

So... the text DOESN'T support an Arian interpretation.
But earlier you were saying it DID.
To narrow it down, let me ask it this way:

Do you believe that the ENTIRETY of the Scriptures supports an Arian Christology?


Peace,
Rhology

Peter Sean Bradley said...

Carrie,

There is no real conflict.

The unvarying tradition of the universal church found in liturgy, preaching of the bishops and prayers of the laity was (1) Jesus was God, (2) Jesus was a man and (3) there is only one God.

That's the tradition I was speaking about.

Clearly there is tension in between these points that wants some explanation. The tension can be accommodated by minimizing or eliminating one of these "data points" of tradition, which was done for each point and led to particularly heresies.

The orthodox solution, however, has been to insist that the integrity of all "data points" must be maintained, no matter how seemingly confusing or contradictory the points might be with each other.

Hence, because of the tradition, the doctrine developed that the Son and the Father were one in being but different persons as an explanation for beliefs that had always been traditionally held about Christ. Furthermore, the doctrine of the Trinity developed in order to protect those traditions that existed about Christ's divinity.

Eventually, when Trinitarian doctrine was formulated and was recognized as being the best articulation of the traditions that had always existed from the beginning. Explicit trinitiarianism then explicitly became a part of the tradition.

The Arian explanation, however, is not without textual support, as I've pointed out. If one reads the entire Scripture without knowing from tradition which verses to privilege, then one can come up with Arianism or other heretical doctrines that contradict the entirety of tradition.

What I've given is a historical explanation accepted by Calvinists as well as others. I'm sure that David will agree with the substance of my contentions.

Peter Sean Bradley said...

Rhology,

Did not my post consist of a link directly to what he said and then 2 questions? A question is a request for information.

Let’s be realistic here. A question can be phrased in such a way as to contain an argument. I say that as an attorney with hundreds of hours of trial time.

So, the fact that you put a question mark at the end of a statement doesn’t immunize you from the observation that you “assuming facts not in evidence.”

Yes, of course. I have never questioned that.

Excellent, because it sounds like you are confused about whether practicing Catholics are Trinitarian.

it does not do so in a way that does not require the application of reason and inspiration.

I am sorry, I have no idea what that means.


We have to use reason to judge between alternatives and pray for inspiration that our judgment is right.

Because he is the author, David can authoritatively say whether I’m right or you are right.

Very good, but when I made the "swooped in" comment, David had not yet said anythg. Just let it go; it's not worth discussing.


This is actually a key point. You said something about there not being an “infallible” interpreter of comments and I pointed out that there was.

Obviously, I was correct.

Maybe I was just lucky? Notice, however, that I was able to accurately intuit David’s authorial intent because I read the entire context of his statement and placed it in to the context of his religious tradition.

There’s a lesson in there for the interpretation of any text.


The whole issue is whether Scripture plainly and unambiguously teaches Trinitarianism such that no one could come up with a different conclusion.

Exactly.


That’s what David was responding to. I’m glad we’ve established that point.

For one thing, I don't know very many Calvinists (or any) that would chalk "most" "tradition" up to superstition.
Though we certainly question what constitutes "most" and "tradition" and especially differ with RCC's naive and arbitrary notions of what constitutes "Sacred Tradition".


In other words, Calvinists pick and choose what traditions they prefer. For example, Calvinists don’t agree with the universal, unvarying and well-documented tradition that Christ’s statement that “this is my body” means that the Eucharist is his body.

Likewise, Calvinists don’t accept the tradition that the Apostles and their successors had some unique charism to forgive sins in the name of Jesus, which is also documented in the New Testament.

Are you seriously suggesting that the Jews and Gentiles that Paul was converting in 60 AD were Trinitarian?

No, that they were converting TO a Trinitarian faith.

David: I disagree. Trinitarianism is clearly a post-apostolic construct. Every patristic scholar of the last 50 plus years (and many much older), I have read acknowledge the clear subordinationism of the pre-Nicene Church Fathers.

He meant Christians TOO. And so have others in this thread said the same thing.


I think that David is essentially correct. I think that prior to, say, essentially Athanasius, no one was explicitly Trinitarian, but I think that most lay Christians were implicitly Trinitarian for the reason that I explained. I think that the Arian heresy was attractive to intellectuals for reasons that such things are attractive to intellectuals: Trinitarian isn’t neat and tidy, but that doesn’t mean its wrong.

I think that Athanasius articulated the traditional understanding of most Christians in a way that they recognized their traditional belief.

Haven’t you ever had that experience? That kind of thing happens to me all the time. I often read something that neatly says exactly what I’ve believed all along and I never was able to articulate.

which is why it necessary to have someone who can authoritatively resolve those claims.

Who then writes things and then it becomes necessary to have someone who can authoritatively resolve those claims and then to have someone who can authoritatively resolve those claims and then to have someone who can authoritatively resolve those claims ad infinitum. That's why I linked to the recent posts above.


Me, personally, I trust Jesus to tell me who is authoritative.

I wouldn’t because I’m orthodox.

So... the text DOESN'T support an Arian interpretation.


I didn’t say that.

I offered a hypothetical example about how I would do it if I were so inclined. I certainly don’t want to be taken out of context.

Do you believe that the ENTIRETY of the Scriptures supports an Arian Christology?

The ENTIRETY of the Scriptures is susceptible to an Arian Christology. However, in my view formed by my understanding of tradition and the teachings of Church, the ENTIRETY of Scripture is more supportive of a Trinitarian Christology.

What you are missing is that there are verses that support Arianism. If you “privilege” or accent those verses, then the ENTIRETY of scripture is Arian.

What tells us which verses we should give more weight to? The rule of tradition obviously, which affirmed the seemingly contradictory propositions that God is one and that Jesus and the Father are different and yet both God.

Timothy Athanasius said...

I definitely believe that the Inspired, Inscripturated Tradition of the Apostles teaches the triune nature of God!

Of course Catholics need to argue otherwise in order to make room for their apologetics.

Pontificator said...

Let "the Scriptures are Trinitarian" mean that the Scriptures of OT, NT, and DC present a doctrine of God that reveals Him as a Trinity (the customary definition of "Trinity"). Do you agree with David's statement that the Scriptures do not teach thus?

I would suggest that the question, as formulated, cannot be answered.

First, what does it mean to say that God is Trinity? Are you assuming the doctrine of the Trinity as formulated in the 4th and 5th centuries? If so, then clearly the Scripture does not explicitly teach this doctrine. Or do you mean that the Scripture witnesses to a Trinitarian experience of God that can only be adequately explained by the ecumenical doctrine of the Holy Trinity? As a Trinitarian, I most emphatically believe this to be the case; but of course, I am reading the Scriptures through the dogmas of Nicaea and Constantinople. Matters were not so clear before the dogmatic definitions of these two councils. As pointed out above, many of the pre-Nicene Fathers read the Scriptures as plainly authorizing some form of subordinationism. We do not consider them to be heretics, though, because it took the Arian crisis to compel the Church to more deeply reflect on these questions and to create the conceptuality that would allow the Church to speak of the one ousia and three hypostases. Matters get even worse when speaking about the deity and distinct personhood of the Holy Spirit.


Second, what does it mean to say that the Scriptures "teach" _____? Are we referring to the individual books or the Book as a whole. Scripture may be the inspired written Word of God, but it is also a collection of texts, whose authors are no longer alive to answer our questions and tell us precisely what they meant when they composed their writings. Nor could they, even if they were alive, tell us what their words mean once incorporated into the one book that is Holy Scripture--that only the Church can do through the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

I understand and respect the intent behind the formula "The Scripture teaches ..." but it also misleads by hiding the necessary and unavoidable act of churchly interpretation. It is more accurate, I suggest, to say that the Church or Pastor John Doe teaches ____ on the basis of Holy Scripture.

2) Is it your understanding that the Roman Magisterium would agree or disagree?

Of course the Magisterium believes that the doctrine of the Holy Trinity is grounded upon Holy Scripture and faithfully expresses the mystery of God to which Scripture witnesses. But I doubt very seriously that the Magisterium has ever formally addressed the questions posed here, about which faithful Catholic scholars, theologians, and historians may debate and disagree.

David Waltz said...

Hello S & S,

Finally got some time to get back to the internet…my-oh-my, this thread has certainly taken on some interesting dimensions. On to what you wrote yesterday…

All but one of your quotes are POST-Nicene; try to focus grasshopper…

The one PRE-Nicene quote you provided is from Tertullian who also wrote:

"Because God is in like manner a Father, and He is also a Judge; but He has not always been Father and Judge, merely on the ground of His having always been God. For He could not have been the Father previous to the Son, nor a Judge previous to sin. There was, however, a time when neither sin existed with Him, nor the Son; the former of which was to constitute the Lord a Judge, and the latter a Father." (Against Hermogenes, chapter III – ANF 3. 478.)

"For the Father is the entire substance, but the Son is a derivation and portion of the whole, as He Himself acknowledges: “My Father is greater than I.” In the Psalm His inferiority is described as being “a little lower than the angels.” Thus the Father is distinct from the Son, being greater than the Son, inasmuch as He who begets is one, and He who is begotten is another; He, too, who sends is one, and He who is sent is another; and He, again, who makes is one, and He through whom the thing is made is another." (Against Praxes, chapter IX – ANF 3. 603.)

Please do not try to convince me that the above is orthodox, for it clearly is not.

As for Newman, I have read (and own) Cunningham’s highly polemically charged Discussions on Church Principles: Popish, Erastian, and Presbyterian (as well as his 2 volume Historical Theology) and am sincerely wondering if you have read the work for yourself for you said:

SS:>> Newman's arguments were extremely naïve>>

Though Cunningham was certainly one of Newman’s more vocal critics, at least he was astute enough to acknowledge:

“Mr Newman's general character as an author is well known to the British public, and we do not mean to attempt to give anything like an analysis of his merits or defects. It is enough to say, that this work will not detract from his reputation in a merely literary point of view, and that it affords satisfactory proof that there is no ground whatever to ascribe his conversion to Romanism to the decay of his intellectual powers, or to the loss of any portion of the ecclesiastical erudition which he had acquired.” (p. 38)


And further, the quote you provided from Cunningham speaks for Newman’s monumental theory of development, not against it; and his theory of development has been adopted (in vary degrees) by virtually all modern Catholic patristic scholars, and by many Protestant ones too.


David

David Waltz said...

Hi Peter,

I appreciate your cogent defense of my position in my absence. You posted the following:

P:>> My position is that David is a Trinitarian, but was disputing that although the text of the Bible teaches Trinitarianism, it does not do so in a way that does not require the application of reason and inspiration. I base my opinion on the text of the conversation and evidence of his blog that reveals him to be a practical Catholic, i.e., a Trinitarian.>>

Me: Yes, I am a Catholic Trinitarian (and one who has a healthy respect for the Eastern Orthodox view of the Trinity).

Just one slight clarification: I believe that the Bible has all the proper ‘material’ on which Church (which is “the pillar and support of the truth”) was able to develop the formal doctrine of the Trinity via the assistance of the Holy Spirit. IMHO the Bible does not formally teach the doctrine of the Trinity; as such, I would say that the Bible is proto-Trinitarian.

My position is best summed up by Raymond Brown, who wrote:

“Three different figures, Father, Son, and Spirit, are brought into conjuction in the NT. Some NT formulas join the three; other references unite the Father and the Son; and still other references relate the Spirit to the Father and/or Son. Nevertheless, in no NT passage, not even Matt. 28:19, is there precision about three divine Persons, co-equal but distinct, and one divine Nature—the core of the dogma of the Trintiy…If ‘tradition’ implies that first-century Christianiyt already understood three coequal but distince divine Persons and one divine Nature but had not developed the precise terminology, I would dissent. Neither the terminology nor the basic ideas had reached clarity in the first century’ problems and disputes were required before the clarity came…Precisely because the ‘trinitarian’ line of development was not the only line of thought decectable in the NT, one must posit the guidence of the Spirit and intution of faith as the church came to its decision.” (Raymond E. Brown, Biblical Exegesis & Church Doctrine, 1985, pp. 31-33 – bold emphasis mine.)


Grace and peace,

David

Peter Sean Bradley said...

Hi David,

I admire Raymond Brown with reservations. I sometimes get carried away with his despcription of the formation of given texts, but then I pull back and wonder how much of it is unprovable, albeit fascinating, speculation.

Nonetheless, your citation of the following is fascinating:

Precisely because the ‘trinitarian’ line of development was not the only line of thought decectable in the NT, one must posit the guidence of the Spirit and intution of faith as the church came to its decision.” (Raymond E. Brown, Biblical Exegesis & Church Doctrine, 1985, pp. 31-33 – bold emphasis mine.)

Why would any Christian who believes in God's continuing presence in the world find this controversial?

And if it occurred at Nicea in 325, why couldn't it occur after the Fourth Century?

There's the rub.

Timothy Athanasius said...

Mr. Waltz,

I've seen you use this apologetic before. I'm curious, do you believe that there was no normative tradition regarding the nature of God prior to Nicea? Or, to put it another way, that prior to Nicea there was only false understandings of God even within the Church?

David Waltz said...

Hello Timothy,

Thanks for responding; you posted:

>>Mr. Waltz,

I've seen you use this apologetic before. I'm curious, do you believe that there was no normative tradition regarding the nature of God prior to Nicea? Or, to put it another way, that prior to Nicea there was only false understandings of God even within the Church?>>

Me: I would certainly deny “that prior to Nicea there was only false understandings of God”, for varying degrees of truth/s, and as such ‘orthodoxy’, existed among the Catholic CFs. Now, one of the most important ingredients of the theory of development is the elimination of error/falsehood. And one should not loose sight of the fact that the basic truths which were part of the early “normative tradition” became further clarified via the process of the eradication of error.

For instance, though the NT refers to Jesus Christ as “God”, it does not directly address whether or not the term was only being used as a title. The question of the precise ontological status of Jesus Christ required development, and there can be no question in my mind that the early heresies served as a catalyst in assisting the CFs to formulate a more formal and precise orthodoxy.


Grace and peace,

David

Timothy Athanasius said...

So, at the christological and trinitarian councils were the council fathers appealing to the normative tradition left by the Apostles to combat the various heresies, or were developing it because of its insufficiency?

Richard Froggatt said...

Mr. athanasius,

Were the seperate books of scripture insufficient before they were canonized (in one volume)?

Timothy Athanasius said...

Mr. Froggatt,

The apostolic teaching/tradition, which the people of God devoted themselves to (cf. Acts 2:42), was the matrix of inscripturation. As a result, the two are reflective of each other. Thus, to talk about "seperate books of [sic] scripture" before they were put into "one volume" is ignorance of the Spirit's workings within the nascent Church.

The normative tradition given by the Apostles, the "faith which was once for all handed down to the saints" (Jude v3), was always guiding the Church. The early Christians were not wondering and waiting for an infallible declaration regarding Jesus' divinity in the way that Catholics are wondering and waiting for an infallible declaration as to whether or not Mary is Co-Redemptrix and/or Mediatrix of All Grace! Second-century Christians were not wondering what the development of doctrine would yield at the Council regarding their belief in Jesus!

Make no mistake about it, sir, the Apostles did "go" and "teach" as Jesus had commanded them; the people did "devote themselves to the teaching of the Apostles" (Acts 2:42); there was a "faith which was once for all handed down to the saints" (Jude v3); this Faith was/is the "norm" ("[T]ake as your norm," the Apostle Paul wrote, "the sound words that you heard from me"; NAB) for the Church. "This type of Christianity," says Arland Hultgren," was the precusor of, and then the dominant voice at, the ecumenical councils, beginning with the Council of Nicea in A.D. 325." (The Rise of Normative Christianity [Fortress 1994], p. 3.)

Richard Froggatt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Richard Froggatt said...

Timothy,

We've gotten off to a bad start, and it's completely my fault; I can see that the way I addressed you sounded a bit snide. My apologies.

You wrote:
The apostolic teaching/tradition, which the people of God devoted themselves to (cf. Acts 2:42), was the matrix of inscripturation. As a result, the two are reflective of each other. Thus, to talk about "seperate books of [sic] scripture" before they were put into "one volume" is ignorance of the Spirit's workings within the nascent Church.

If you mean by "reflective of each other" that what is in scripture looks exactly like what constitutes tradition; then I must say that you would have a hard time proving that. If not, then I couldn't agree more.

As such, as with the rest of your post, there's not much I would disagree with. In fact, I could use your post (most of it anyway) to advance the case for Catholicism.

CrimsonCatholic said...

I've finally gotten around to writing a response on the subject of death as a metaphorical punishment for original sin in Romans 5. Alas, I think it will have to be my last word on the subject for my own personal reasons, as my priorities have significantly shifted in the past couple of months. I hope it is useful.

Re: the question of the thread, I don't think that the Apostles even necessarily knew what an ousia was, and I certainly don't think that they wrote Scripture to explain what an ousia was, so I doubt that one could say that the Nicene dogma was intentionally taught in Scripture. However, I think that if the Apostles had the benefit of knowing the sorts of philosophical concepts that the Nicene Fathers had in mind, I imagine that they would have affirmed that it was a fitting enough description of what they were naming by Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

One can presumably learn more about someone that one knows, and I think we learned more about what it means to be God at Nicaea. That hardly means that we know God any better than the Apostles did, since there's a difference between knowing someone and knowing about someone. They knew and lived the love of Jesus better than I did; I know the metaphysical nature of Jesus better than they did. You tell me who has the better of that deal.

Rachel Gray said...

Another Catholic here, answering the questions:

1) Didn't it take about three and a half centuries for the Church to parse the nature of the Trinity in the Nicene Creed? That would seem to suggest that the doctrine of the Trinity is by no means obvious from Scripture. If you gave the Bible to an intelligent man who'd never heard of Christianity, I wouldn't be willing to bet any money on his coming up with the correct doctrine of the Trinity on his own.

I think the Trinity is most definitely implied in Scripture, but not clearly enough to be sure of without an infallible authority. The status of the Holy Spirit especially is pretty vague. Can you find a verse (one that couldn't be easily misunderstood) that says he is God, and a Person distinct from the Father and the Son?

2) I believe the Magisterium would say that all Catholic doctrines are implicit in Scripture or can be derived therefrom, but not all doctrines are explicitly found there. I don't think the Magisterium states whether the doctrine of the Trinity is implicit or explicit. The sections of the Catechism on the Trinity quote the Bible, Church councils, and early Church Fathers without attempting to prove the doctrine from the Bible alone. (That's how the Catechism handles pretty much every issue.)

If links work, here's a recent Catholic convert discussing the issue of finding the Trinity in the Bible:
http://www.theymademeacatholic.com/trinity2.html