Sunday, December 09, 2007

Discussions with Catholics

Pilgrimsarbour has made a good comment on a previous post that I thought should be highlighted:

My friends,

I confess to being more than a bit confused by the mix of Catholic teaching I find online. Like Carrie, I am constantly being told that the Catholic Church is exactly the same Church that was given to the apostles, that its doctrines have not changed, nor will they in the future. There is this real push to show an outward and inward unity and even unanimity of doctrine and practice which is designed to give evidence that the Catholic Church is the "one true Church." It's a real "selling point" that Catholics don't have thousands of confused denominations. "Put forty Protestants in a room and you'll get forty interpretations. They can't agree on anything." This is the mantra I hear every day, and it's mighty tiresome for any Protestant who longs to have a fruitful and productive discussion with Catholics.

However, I often find what appear to be contradictory doctrinal statements from online Catholics. For example, I have never received a good explanation for the contradictions I see in Trent's condemnation of the Reformers and the more recent "separated brethren" language. Perhaps Catholics think that Protestants should be happy about being called "separated brethren" now as opposed to "cursed," but the truth is, we just scratch our heads and wonder what in the world is going on. The same is true for teachings I've read on purgatory. It's confusing, at least to me, and I don't know where to turn to get "the real skinny." Everybody has an angle, it seems.

I am encouraged by reading the comments of Pontificator and Mateo. I thank God that, from what I can tell, at least these two appear to have the integrity to not repeat bogus mantras such as the "30,000 Protestant denominations" argument. It makes me think, "now here are a couple of folks who are interested in having a reasonable discussion without all the rancour." And I truly appreciate the significant and thoughtful comments I have found here from these Catholic friends.

Some Catholics are not afraid to say that they may view things somewhat differently at certain points than official teachings would dictate. Nor do they see this, I suppose, as disqualifying themselves from their faith, nor compromising the "one Church, semper eadem" mandate. However, my impression is that Catholics think we Protestants should somehow know intuitively just who the best Catholic writers are and who we should stay away from both online and in books. Now I am not an academic (obviously). But I am a reader. How am I, as a Protestant, to know who is "good" to read and who is not? Frankly, it shouldn't be up to me to decide. I cannot know intuitively who is "good" and who is not, nor do I have the time to research it fully and decide for myself. So I rely on others to make their cases for the best source materials. Obviously, I get differing opinions from different groups. The traditionalists want me to read Gerry Matatics because he represents "true Catholicism." The e-pologists want me to read Steve Ray and Scott Hahn because Matatics is a heretic. I am not in a position to know whose advice to take, who is right. Each group claims the other is "not part of the true Catholic faith."

I submit that there is enough confusion out there amongst the Catholic rank and file that Catholics should cut Protestants a little slack regarding the official teachings of the Catholic Church, and not just assume that Protestants only want to mischaracterise Catholic teaching. I think I can speak confidently for myself and for most of the other Protestants here that the last thing we want is to misrepresent Catholic doctrine in our dialogue. If I can get just one Catholic to understand that many Protestants have a legitimate complaint regarding our confusion about Catholic doctrine, then I think we have grounds to move forward in truly productive discussion.

Having said all this, as I prepared this comment on Wordpad before coming here to post it, I see that Pontificator has made some specific reading recommendations. Thank you, Pontificator, for those recommendations. Now how do I know you're steering me in the right direction?! ;)

I would like to add my own thoughts to what Pilgrimsarbour has said but don't have time right now. I will try to post something later today/tonight.

UPDATE (made "later tonight"): I will post my thoughts in the near future.

50 comments:

Mateo said...

Hi Carrie, maybe it would be best, since you've highlighted this comment, to take my responses to this very point in "Deficient Atonement" and move them here. Just a thought...

Richard Froggatt said...

I returned to the Catholic Church about seven years ago. Before this I was discussing differences with an online Catholic "e-pologist"; I asked about this very topic. [It is obvious that there is disagreement within the Catholic Church.]

However, this disagreement is not the same in Protestantism; in Protestantism the differences are first to a small extent within denominations and then to a larger extent interdenominational.

These disagreements, both Catholic and Protestant are a major concern, for me, and I would imagine, for anyone in Christendom, as they rightly should be.

For a little background; I was born and baptized Catholic. I didn't leave (at around the age of 12) the Church because of doctrine but when I realized that I needed Jesus (around the age of 21)it was because of doctrine that I didn't return (right away).

Now, these same questions you're asking about Catholicism (I asked them too)I asked as a "Bible believer". I started out with Word of Faith teaching and ended (before my return to the Church)with Reformed teaching (James Montgomery Boice being my favorite). There were some churches I went to where I felt worse after leaving than before I went. I asked questions of everyone about everything from the doctrine of the Trinity to "why does God save some and not others?" and everywhere I got different answers.

My fault with Protestantism(aside from doctrinal issues and interpretation of Scripture)is not in the asking of questions nor even in the many answers; but the fact that they cannot be settled. They can be answered but not settled. In Catholicism the questions can be settled. Now, to some extent in Protestantism they can be settled; but not with the force with which the Church settles issues. With the Catholic Church you know that if it settles an issue you are bound to agree out of obedience or you are outside of the Church. Within Protestantism you just move on and it's no big deal.

To clarify, within Protestantism it may not be a big deal to have a minor disagreement and move on (at least not a big deal at the time to the one who disagrees)but over generations these minor disagreements become major disagreements.Within Protestantism each step away from the Church, including each step away from the Magisterial Reformers is a step away from the truth.

Now the point of all this is to show that the questions, for one - can be answered and also - that the question is not one that only Catholics have to answer.

Mateo's post was an excellent answer to this; the Church defines and clarifies, we need not look any further then what the Church teaches than her own documents. There is some good reading to be had from the apologists but nothing compared to what the Church puts out; which is exactly where I had my questions answered. Some may disagree with what the Church teaches, some may not understand and some may just want to be purposely confusing to try to score a point, but it remains that the answers are there.

To make a note in closing: Protestant is here defined as non-Catholic; for even though Jehovah's Witnesses may not have been directly protesting Rome, the founder did directly protest Presbyterian and Congregational churches.

Timothy Athanasius said...

I, too, would like throw in my two cents regarding how confusing Catholicism can be. I've been a Protestant convert to the Catholic Church for seven years now, but in light much studying my Catholic Faith is quickly falling. Like Gerry Matatics, I have come to realize that today's Catholicism is not yesterday's Catholicism; unlike Matatics, I do not think sedevacantism is the answer.

When it comes to understanding Catholicism, I very much take the approach that Dr. White does, namely, basing my understandings on the historical, dogmatic pronouncements of the Popes, Magisterium, Councils, even their infallibly canonized saints. It is primarily in light of these that popular interpreters like Scott Hahn, Catholic apologists and e-pologists should be assessed.

Secondly, it is essential that the chief argument today for Catholic teachings is the Development of Doctrine Theory. Many things could be said about this new methodology of Catholicism. One thing is that it seems to be a flirtation with liberalism. For instance, it is readily and commonly said that the Christian understanding of the Trinity was a development of doctrine. In fact, David Waltz once said on this blog that no one before the Councils had an orthodox understanding of the Trinity. Such a stance on Christian truth is dangerously close to Walter Bauer's widely held thesis that heresy preceded orthodoxy, and that orthodoxy was simply those who won the battle. At any rate, by laying such a foundation Catholics then make an attempt to squeeze the more controversial teachings into this opening, e.g., the Marian teachings.

It is my hope that Protestants will reassert that "the Faith was once for all delivered to the saints"! The Development of Doctrine Theory was not taught by the Apostles or the Early Church Fathers. In fact, it is interesting that just five years ago the chief argument of Catholic apologists against Protestantism was the so-called Vincentian Canon. "Protestantism is obviously wrong," they boldly proclaimed, "because it is a novelty!" The shift from this argument to the Developement Theory is quite interesting, for if one applies the Vincentian Canon to the Development Theory it loses all biblical and historical credibility. The theory itself is seen to be a development of doctrine!

L P Cruz said...

I think the discussion here is maturing...

Richard,

In Catholicism the questions can be settled. Now, to some extent in Protestantism they can be settled; but not with the force with which the Church settles issues. With the Catholic Church you know that if it settles an issue you are bound to agree out of obedience or you are outside of the Church

I do not think so, it is only settled for a while temporarily then new controversies will sprout in the future. Notice for example the differences of Vatican I and Vatican II and how some traditional RCs have snubbed Vatican II. The Pope's encouragement for the Latin Mass is an example of him taking the concerns of anti-Vatican II RCs. R Catholicism is like that - it is big enough to accommodate fluidity and differences. Yet Protestantism is like that too. It is in the nature of pronouncements and each time there are statements, they are technically speaking subject to interpretation and the case is true for Magisterium's pronouncements.

So why do those who differ with the Magisterium do not secede? It is cultural and psychological but in Protestantism with its individualism, that is not the case, it is of a different culture and psychology.

Let me explain, Presbyterians are a bit more horrified when it comes to church splits than Pentecostals are.

The question really is if the Western Church is to reform, what kind of reformation should it be.

The early and Old Prots (Lutherans) saw two kinds, you can do conservative or radical reformation? What you see in splinter groups in the US is a result of ana-baptist thinking that influenced US society of today. The Old Prots saw the RC as supra-catholic, ie with additions, they added the Pope, yet on the other hand, they saw those that opposed their reformation who are not from the RC as sub-catholic, they denied the creeds.

Timothy,

You must have heard of a famous internet writer - Bill Cork who from SDA moved to RC and then back again. The things you are seeing is what Bill Cork saw too.

We can not look for security or certainty in the denomination we are in, because the Christ who died on the Cross is his own denomination, we can find all we need there.

My opinion is first, find out what is this Gospel that Jesus talked about, is it a decision? is it a proclamation, is it a proposition? is it a church? First IMHO, clarify what the Gospel is, then find out who has got it, who has corrupted it, who has misunderstood it, because as Luther said - you can get any other doctrine right, but if you get the Gospel wrong, you are still in error. I think that is a fair enough advice.

I do not mean any disrespect but in my own personal experience, Evangelicals are really functioning Roman Catholics, it is no surprising that they are becoming RCs. They are philosophically and theologically RC except without the Sacraments, they do not look like RCs but when they talk and articulate doctrine, they absolutely sound like an RC. No bells and smells, no rituals but philosophically the same. I will cite one example and I will end... take indulgences, Evangelicals do not have them oh but they do, they have substitutes, like prayer, quiet time, ie they think - now that they have done them, God is pleased with them because they read their Bible.

Their approach to God does not revolve around the Mediatorial work of Christ, he is not their priest instead they are their own priest.



LPC

Tim A. Troutman said...

Another convert to the Catholic Church here.

I think one thing the author of this post (and many Protestants) fail to grasp is the sheer size of the Catholic Church. Mentioning a few Catholic names like Scott Hahn and Steve Ray wouldn't even ring a bell with most Catholics (I'm talking about worldwide not just in American Catholicism).

There is more diversity in the Church than in all Protestant faith communities and at the same time there is but one doctrine.

Protestants point to one or two instances of supposed disagreement in dogma when if the Church were of man being this old and this large it wouldn't have but one or two contradictions.. instead it would be full of them.

I'm still a young Catholic so I haven't closed the door to dialogue with Protestants but my patience is growing thin and I have less and less desire to discuss the faith of our fathers with those who have abandoned it for novelty.

Timothy Athanasius said...

Mr. Troutman,

I feel the same way about Catholics. This is why I really don't bother to dialogue with them. I'm simply reading the sources (primarily the New Testament and the Early Church Fathers. I just finished Tertullian's Apology and have started his On Idolatry), as well as academic works and articles (I just finished Arland Hultgren's The Rise of Normative Christianity and Dr. John Haldane's article, Examining the Assumption). My research has led to me believe that although Catholics accuse Protestants of having left the Faith in the sixteenth century, it is Catholics who left it, and much earlier.

Baptistic Catholicism (i.e., endless testimonies, emotionalism, proof-texting) cannot bear the weight of history. It is in fact history that is the greatest argument against Catholicism. I encourage you to read the sources. There you'll find a Catholicism before Rome.

Mateo said...

It is sad that the irenic tone of the discussion earlier on seems to have been lost. Unlike the two recent posts (one by a Catholic and the other by a Protestant), I for one am very committed to dialogue with brothers and sisters in Christ, with whom I am not in full unity--a scandal to the world. And I will continue to seek Christ alongside them and articulate my convictions about the Gospel in a way which recognizes the obscurity of some "classic" formulations.

This is why, inter alia, the sort of triumphalism in the last two posts is disturbing and wrongheaded in my opinion. Anyone who thinks they have an airtight case from the first two or three centuries of the Church is blind. The data is simply underdetermined; if it wasn't, these conversations would cease. We must listen to Cardinal Walter Kaspar and remember that ecumenism must begin first with all of us "converting" to Christ. Only then, can real work towards full, visible unity become possible.

Just my thoughts on how this conversation has degenerated.

David Waltz said...

Hello Timothy,

You wrote:

>> it is essential that the chief argument today for Catholic teachings is the Development of Doctrine Theory. Many things could be said about this new methodology of Catholicism. One thing is that it seems to be a flirtation with liberalism. For instance, it is readily and commonly said that the Christian understanding of the Trinity was a development of doctrine. In fact, David Waltz once said on this blog that no one before the Councils had an orthodox understanding of the Trinity.>>


Me: It would be more accurate to say I was agreeing with the quotes from Newman and Hansen that I provided. And I would say that Newman’s and Möhler’s theory of development is “new” only in the sense that it affirms what history so clearly attests to. For instance, pick any pre-Nicene Church Father you want (who, of course, discuses Trinitarian concepts – and/or early doctrinal heresies) and I will show that each and every one of them has elements of unorthodoxy in their teachings.


>>Such a stance on Christian truth is dangerously close to Walter Bauer's widely held thesis that heresy preceded orthodoxy, and that orthodoxy was simply those who won the battle.>>


Me: I disagree. Newman’s position has undeveloped “orthodoxy” preceding ALL of the theological heresies (e.g. adoptionism, modalism, Arianism, etc.). In other words, though the early CF’s were not full blown, orthodox Trinitarians, neither were they proto-adoptionsts, or proto-modalists, or proto-Arians—they were proto-Trinitarians. The key elements that clearly defined each of the respective heresies are not to be found in the CF’s (e.g. the adoptionists denial of preexistence of our Lord; the modalists denial of a plurality of persons in the Godhead; the Arians affirmation of the Son’s creation ‘out-of-nothing’). However, the many of the essential elements of what would later develop into Trinitariansim can be found, and precede the heretical ones.


Grace and peace,

David

L P Cruz said...

Timothy Athanasius

My research has led to me believe that although Catholics accuse Protestants of having left the Faith in the sixteenth century, it is Catholics who left it, and much earlier

This has been the charge of the Reformers all along. I think RC Christians should not dismiss this lightly and attribute such a claim as nonsense. The Reformers claim that they are the ones returning to catholicism (small c) and charged that it was the Magisterium that departed from catholicism by additions.

So what kind of reformation should one have? That is the question.

I can appreciate the new Catholics, those who are ex-Prots having vehement criticism towards their former traditions. They feel they have been short changed. However, they need to understand that the Protestant upbringing they were raised is not necessarily that Protestantism the Reformers could identify with. For example, in the last 50 years Evangelicals have morphed into non-confessional Protestantism, they have become generic, cafeteria Protestants. They have thrown away those things that were not broken, for example, creeds, confessions, liturgy etc.

They also morphed away from sola scriptura, what we are seeing today is not sola scriptura as Luther and Calvin and other reformers understood the slogan to be.

They are trying to do Christianity 101 again, so I am not surprised Evangelicals are becoming RCs and EOs too. Who would like to be in a denomination that started 100 years ago and does not even identify with those that have gone before?

So the issue is not because the denomination is old, because the old could have departed, the issue is first what is the doctrine of the Apostles, what is the Gospel?

To find out where the church is (says Luther), first find where the Gospel is preached in all purity and the Sacraments rightly administered.

If we can not even agree what the Gospel is, what for is unity and to what are we uniting for?

LPC

Timothy Athanasius said...

Mr. Waltz,

Let me first say that I have no desire whatsoever to have an extended conversation with you. Let me be clear on this, however: it is not because your are rude or ignorant. Quite frankly, blogs are like really good newspapers to me. They keep me up todate, in other words. I post here and there only to throw my two cents in.

Secondly, all I can say regarding your precious sustenance, i.e., the Development of Doctrine Theory (from the mid-ninteenth century. Talk about about a theological novum!), is apply the Vincentian Canon to it.

I.P. Cruz,

One of the frustrating things for me is how nearly impossible it is for a Protestant convert to the Papal church to honestly question whether or not they are right. On a fundamental epistemological level, they feel that because they have left Protestantism they cannot be wrong about their choice.

I thank God everday that although I, too, had this erroneous epistemology and was working zealously to convert Protestants (for the past seven years!), I was honest with the historical evidence. One of the strongest arguments against the Papal church are the so-called traditionalists. They are what they are because they see the substantial difference between today's Catholicism and yesterday's Catholicism, only they refuse to admit that Protestantism is right. Thus, they come up with all kinds of things in order to maintain Catholic validity.

Another aspect I've come to realize is that Protestant converts to the Papal church don't realize that they believe in, what I call, "trial-by-error Papal infallibility," which has created a thousand qualifications to secure its claims. This is indicated by Fr. Kimel's (a.k.a. the Pontificator) recent comments to me that "the Catholic Church isn't stuck in the past." This is symptomatic of the Development of Doctrine Theory; today's Church dictates what yesterday's Church believed. The question that Protestants should force Catholics to ask is, "What was believed about X-doctrine at that time?" More specifically, did they have the "Development of Doctrine mindset," or did they believe their understanding of Purgatory, for instance, was the right one?

L P Cruz said...

Timothy Athanasius,

A fair point on X-doctrine. Over at ReformedCatholicism.org, this is what I said to the Pontificator (and I blogged about this too)

This is what I observe the RCC is doing on an issue and I am not being humorous in what I am about to say…

The RCC is faced with a situation of making a pronouncement on an issue; that it is either A or NOT A.
So it says it is A.
So years pass and they turn around and say “Oh it is actually NOT A”.
Then we ask: you have changed your position on this, haven’t you? They reply: not actually, we have not changed, the NOT A we are stating today is actually a clarification of that A over there in the past.

Why not say, “Yep we are human beings we made a mistake there, we were wrong”?


In one of the comments there, there was a suggestion by an RC towards an ex-RC just recently become Prot in that she might be looking for positive affirmation that she made the right choice.

I suspect the reverse is also true, it might be that this constant rallying by ex-Prots now RC is also a sign too that they are looking for positive affirmation that they made the right choice.

LPC

Pilgrimsarbour said...

Mentioning a few Catholic names like Scott Hahn and Steve Ray wouldn't even ring a bell with most Catholics...

I mention them because they are "in my face," as it were, in my chosen reading venues: the blogosphere and in bookstores. They are high-profile popular converts from Reformed traditions, and so their stories intrigue me more than conversion stories from non-Reformed post-Evangelicalism. In addition, they have been very influential within Catholicism, as far as I can tell.

It's natural for any religious group to promote converts from other communions. Protestants do it all the time with celebrity conversions, and popular Catholicism is not above using the same tactic. Those of us in the rank and file of our communions can choose not to participate in glorying in the competition of converting one another, or as some have labeled it "sheep stealing." I am no ECTer, no ecumenist, but neither do I want to close the doors on dialogue by touting a kind of triumphal spirit.

As it is, this is an example of what I was saying previously, that Protestants are expected to know intuitively which Catholic writers are "good" and which ones are "not good." I can only go with what is presented to me, and I say honestly that I sometimes get mixed messages. I am speaking from my own perception. You can argue that my perception is wrong, but this ultimately won't get us very far.

If I were inclined, I too could easily say that my patience grows thin. However, I thank God I have had the opportunity to be in dialogue with some Catholics who are able and willing to persevere in dialogue with Protestants, particularly speaking for myself. This encourages me to press on toward better understanding. We may never come to agreement, but I think belittling one's faith by calling it a "novelty" is neither an edifying nor a thoughtful approach to discussion of the issues we face.

Carrie said...

The RCC is faced with a situation of making a pronouncement on an issue; that it is either A or NOT A.
So it says it is A.
So years pass and they turn around and say “Oh it is actually NOT A”.
Then we ask: you have changed your position on this, haven’t you? They reply: not actually, we have not changed, the NOT A we are stating today is actually a clarification of that A over there in the past


LPC,

This a great summary of something I have observed also but haven't been able to describe it as well as you. Timothy has also made some excellent points along these lines.

I hope to cover some of this ground in a future post. These comments are very helpful, thanks.

Richard Froggatt said...

Timothy,

How long have you been a non-Catholic? You start off as saying you are Catholic "but in light much studying my Catholic Faith is quickly falling" but the rest of your post sounds like it should have read like this "but in light much studying my Catholic Faith quickly fell".

You have every right to go where your conscience leads you; but why lead people on pretending to be something you're not? Not only does this post prove it but you're other posts as well.

I will say though that what leads me to believe this is the sounding of your arguments which sound like you've been studying up for quite some time; though that could be just a left over from your former (and I guess present and future) Protestant days.

In closing to address your claims: History like the bible is open to interpretation as well as are the Early Church Fathers. IOW, I see the opposite of what you see.

Your application of the Vincentian Canon fails due to that fact that Developement of Doctrine is not a theory, it's a verifiable fact [Evolution is a theory]. This has been pointed out to you but you reject it; which is your right to do so. Developement of Doctrine is a name given to what has been observed throughout the life of the Church. Your objection to it amounts to something akin to "that word's not in the bible so it must not be biblical"

For example: The Church teaches that outside of the Church there is no salvation - this is what St. Augustine believed. However, the Church also teaches that there are whole communities who cannot be blamed for the Reformation; these we call separated brethren, and the Church takes these under her wing. Now aside from the fact that this is a loving, forgiving and gracious gesture (which becomes something for critics to use to ridicule rather than rejoice); the seeds of this teaching are found with St. Augustine.

It's not my intention to argue for the Vincentian Canon (your posting of it here was the first I've ever heard of it) but to show that what is believed today does have roots historically.

I was initially irritated because you claimed to be Catholic but argued like a studied Protestant apologist but then I realized that I didn't give you credit for your past Protestant years; I guess my thoughts developed. :)

John said...

Timothy/Kepha,
What doctrines would pass the Vincentian canon in your view - ie. "That faith which has been believed everywhere, always, by all."

Of course Vincent himself says there should be progress and the faith is not some stagnant thing:
"But some one will say, perhaps, Shall there, then, be no progress in Christ's Church? Certainly; all possible progress. For what being is there, so envious of men, so full of hatred to God, who would seek to forbid it? Yet on condition that it be real progress, not alteration of the faith. For progress requires that the subject be enlarged n itself, alteration, that it be transformed into something else. The intelligence, then, the knowledge, the wisdom, as well of individuals as of all, as well of one man as of the whole Church, ought, in the course of ages and centuries, to increase and make much and vigorous progress; but yet only in its own kind; that is to say, in the same doctrine, in the same sense, and in the same meaning."

Even protestants agree there is development of doctrine, rc's and protestants disagree on the method of that development of course - we disagree on what constitutes "the condition that it be real progress, not alteration of the faith."

Another related question - can there be development of doctrine without irreformable dogma?

Timothy Athanasius said...

Mr. Froggatt,

Indeed I have been studying for some time now. The examination of theological claims is not something that can be done within a few weeks or even months, as you should well know from your own examinations to become Catholic. I am still formally a Roman Catholic, i.e., I still attend Mass weekly, but in my heart I am not. I am a Christian of the Early Church and the Reformation. I am sorry that I mislead you. That was not my intention.

Also, I'm not sure how you came to the conclusion that I don't believe Newman's theory of development because it is not in the Bible. I reject the contemporary Catholic acceptance of Newman's theory for primarily two reasons: 1.) it was not always the response of Catholicism toward Protestantism. It is a theological novum. Before the theory of the Development of Doctrine was dominant there was another theory called the Two-Source Theory. Based upon this theory (which was not considered to be a theory), Catholics argued for hundreds of years that teachings such as Purgatory and marian teachings were apostolic truths that simply did not make it into the canon. Instead, they were orally handed down. You would be hard-pressed to find a Catholic who believes this know, though there still are some. The answer nowadays is, "Well, it was obviously a development!" The theological implications of such a change in argument is simply too much for me. 2.) The New Testament authors and the Early Church Fathers did not believe in the Development of Doctrine Theory or the Two Source Theory.

Timothy Athanasius said...

John,

Thanks so much for the substantial response. My point in bringing up the Vincentian Canon was twofold: 1.) to show the inconsistency of Catholics in their apologetic against Protestantism; 2.) to show that the Development of Doctrine Theory has no historical foundation.

As for development, I certainly agree that the Church's understanding of "the faith once for all handed down to the saints" grows. This development of understanding, however, is clear and consistent. Thus, the teaching of the Apostles was not that Jesus was merely the "Son of Man," and that this developed over time into Jesus as Son of God. Now please don't misunderstand, I know that Catholics do not believe this. I am simply making a point about how I understand development. The Apostles, rather, taught that Jesus was, in the words of the Apostle Thomas, "my Lord and my God." If you turn the page of history to the second-century, then you'll see Ignatius speaking consistently with the "Faith once for all handed down to the saints," though using even more explicit langauge while unambigously maintaining the distinction between the Father and Son.

When this is applied to Catholic teachings such as the Dogma of the Bodily Assumption, they do not hold up. What I have been doing and will continue to do is examine the Early Church to see what "the faith once for all delivered to the saints" looked like. I hope this clairifes my perspective. It is not my intention to be misleading ot ambiguous.

L P Cruz said...

Carrie,

You are welcome dear sister, use it or extend, improve my articulation of it etc.

RE: Development of Doctrine,

There is development of understanding on an existing doctrine, but development of doctrine is suspect. Besides, theology is the manner of speaking properly on things that pertain to the revelation of God.

For example, take say the Bodily Assumption of Mary, the way this is proved is not based on direct declarations from Scripture.

I wish to share something I am familiar with on this and that is in the area of Maths(my background). In this discipline the shorter proof is always to be preferred, besides each step in the extension of the proof must be clearly seen as either an application of an axiom or a previous theorem (definitions included).

This idea in mathematics is applicable in theology because theology makes use of proofs too. Now apply the so called Development of Doctrine on this, and it does not pass the rigor for a proof. The assertions made for these so called Developed Doctrines are filled with conjectures and sophistic proofs - a charge the Reformers have always leveled at the Magisterium.

In other words, it is an exercise in sophistry, as the Reformers would put it.

Now I understand the RC folk here will take issue with this depiction, but if we can put aside our fanaticisms for a minute, I think, it should be granted as a fair point for the venerable Newman himself, after becoming an RC had himself some trepidations on the things pronounced by the Magisterium.

LPC

L P Cruz said...

Pilgrim,

I meant to say too that I read Dr. Hahn's book and the points he shared as points that made him an RC. I also read Neuhaus' testimony of why he left Lutheranism to be an RC.

My conclusion is that Hahn and Neuhaus had pre-fascination already with the RC.

I say this because - if you wake up one morning, wondering why you are a Protestant, then you'd better be an RC. In other words, if you do not know ***why*** you are a Protestant then you'd better be an RC, the RC has a better system of "works" via the sacraments(I do not mean disrespect when I say this, I use the term because they reject sola fide and to distinguish it from the latter).

LPC

LPC

Pilgrimsarbour said...

L P Cruz,

"...if you do not know ***why*** you are a Protestant then you'd better be an RC..."

You are dead-on with your assessment, in my opinion, of the "pre-fascination," as you put it, with the RC.

One Catholic convert (whom I respect) openly confesses that as a Reformed believer, he never really believed in sola Scriptura. In fact, he found it obviously wrong right from the start. So I have to ask him, "In what way, really, is your move to the RC a conversion?"

I see this same pattern emerging in the Frank Beckwith story and many others I have read. People get comfortable with what they think they believe, and unless something else comes along to stimulate them, they are perfectly happy to stay where they are. It's human nature.

Blessings,

Pilgrimsarbour

Captain Kangaroo said...

"You are dead-on with your assessment, in my opinion, of the "pre-fascination," as you put it, with the RC.

One Catholic convert (whom I respect) openly confesses that as a Reformed believer, he never really believed in sola Scriptura. In fact, he found it obviously wrong right from the start."


What is the point you're trying to make in this story? That no right-minded person who is not already "tainted" by Catholic sympathy would ever convert from Reformed to Catholic/Orthodox Christianity? That such conversions are not really conversions at all, just the bad seed sprouting?

I knew a Catholic priest who left the priesthood and became a Lutheran. I know that although the burden of celibacy was a motivator, I never doubted that this intelligent, obviously well-informed Catholic did not understand the doctrines he abandoned or those he took up. Why is it so difficult (apparently) for some Protestants to even acknowledge that an intelligent person might objectively choose to accept Catholic doctrine over Reformed?

L P Cruz said...

Captain,

I would not say it is difficult for a Prot to understand that people who convert from Protestantism to RC might have done a well informed and intelligent analysis of the situation. However, I am only pointing out that for those cases I have read, there was already an attraction or propensity that was already there. I am not trying to generalize this comment.

Human beings are a lot more complex than what we presuppose, others might have converted for non-doctrinal reasons too.

What you say goes the other way too in that some RCs think and say that those who leave Rome are ignoramuses who are mis-informed or mis-catechized lots.

See Scott McKnight, "From Wheaton to Rome: Why Evangelicals Become Roman Catholic"
Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, 45:2 - 2002, pp451-472.


LPC

Pilgrimsarbour said...

Captain Kangaroo said...

What is the point you're trying to make in this story? That no right-minded person who is not already "tainted" by Catholic sympathy would ever convert from Reformed to Catholic/Orthodox Christianity? That such conversions are not really conversions at all, just the bad seed sprouting?

Not at all. I am merely sharing one of several experiences I have had in this regard. I also have friends and customers who have converted to RC from a Protestant denomination. Some of them had years of RC leanings, some did not. I have the greatest respect for their intelligence, and did not mean to imply the opposite. Nor did I mean to convey that all those who so convert had always had RC leanings to begin with.

Generalisations are important as far as they go. I use them as illustrative of possibilities that may otherwise not be considered by otherwise thoughtful people.

John said...

This is in reply to Timothy's comment but I would certainly welcome others' input as I'm curious of various perspectives.

"When this is applied to Catholic teachings such as the Dogma of the Bodily Assumption, they do not hold up. What I have been doing and will continue to do is examine the Early Church to see what "the faith once for all delivered to the saints" looked like."

Hmm, I'm wondering how you will trace/determine "clear, consistent" valid development from the early church to today even if you were to find complete agreement within the first few centuries of the church in terms of "the faith once for all delivered to the saints" which I think we all know is obviously not the case with the Christological and Trinitarian controversies. As an aside, I assume you subscribe to the filioque - are you thinking of perhaps re-examining your commitment to that as you try to ascertain the original deposit (EO's would certainly like you to do that)?

Do you think the Apostles had a full-orbed, exhaustive understanding of Christology, Trinitarianism, soteriology, and all other doctrines (I'm not saying they did or didn't - just seeing what others think)? If they didn't, what does that do to the meaning of "the faith once for all delivered to the saints"?

And do you assume the GHM is the only valid method of interpreting the Word of God (if not, how does that affect the significance of authorial intent)? Could the interpretation of the OT in the NT be deduced solely through the GHM?

Yup, lotsa questions - sorry :)

Like you, I am a bit interested in "development of the development of doctrine" :) I've read the essay and Vincent of course and have heard of Chadwick's book - From Bossuet to Newman - but am curious if any others know of any good sources (Protestant, Catholic, EO, whatever).

Carrie said...

those who leave Rome are ignoramuses who are mis-informed or mis-catechized lots.

The un-catechized is a personal favorite.

You forgot "the church harmed them in some way" or "they had a bad experience". I get that one alot being an ex-RC - something must have happen to make me "so bitter".

In fact, my friend (also an ex-RC) were laughing yesterday about this comment on another site b/c it is the same stuff I hear over and over:

Rather, it appears more like you're trying to capitalize on Catholics who either weren't catechized properly, had a bad experience growing up, or are looking for a more pop-culture sentimental spirituality that fits their tastes.

Jason said...

Carrie:

I think, ultimately, only God fully knows why any human being does what they do. We don't even fully know ourselves or own motivations.

The decision for a person who is serious about their relationship with God to move from one faith or tradition to another is a complex one with a lot of factors. I don't think any of us, no matter what "side" we're on should try to explain it away with slogans and a wave of the hand. The people who make such a move, in my experience, don't do it lightly and we shouldn't make light of their predicament.

It's only natural for a committed Protestant to think "there is NO WAY God would lead ANYONE into the Catholic Church" and therefore immediately look for the cause of such a move in either diabolic deception or human weakness. And vice-versa for Catholics in the opposite situation.

I do think, however, we owe the decisions of others the same benefit of the doubt we want others to give our decisions. And we need to allow the sovereign God to have the freedom to do with people as he chooses. After all, it was the Holy Spirit that led Jesus into the Wilderness to be tempted.

We should humbly present the case for the hope we have in a humble, charitable manner and pray for the folks we think are deceived. We should also pray for ourselves in case we're wrong.

That's what I try to do, but I don't always hit that mark (one of the many reasons I need a savior.)

Pax.

Carrie said...

I think, ultimately, only God fully knows why any human being does what they do. We don't even fully know ourselves or own motivations.

I'm not sure why you have addressed your comment to me since I wasn't really talking accusing motives. I was just sharing my experience with Catholics questioning my motives. Personally, I don't care too much about motives, a bad decision is a bad decision whether the motives seemed good/honorable or not.

The Catholic faith is not a viable profession of faith. Therefore, I oppose it.

We should humbly present the case for the hope we have in a humble, charitable manner and pray for the folks we think are deceived. We should also pray for ourselves in case we're wrong.

Somehow I think the Apostle Paul would disagree with you. But if you can make a good case why we shouldn't openly oppose false teachings and false teachers I would be happy to hear you out.

What you said isn't incorrect, I just think it is incomplete.

Mateo said...

It's impressive that you've come to such confident conclusions, Carrie. Any suggestions on resources for giving one the ability to make such unequivocal claims about a matter which has been disputed by the "masters" in the field of history, theology, and Biblical exegesis.

I'm honestly interested (please don't read this as sarcasm) in who or what you've studied to erase any doubt about these complex matters. Was it a certain teacher in college? Was it a specific book you've read? Of course, it all comes back to Scripture, but most Scripture scholars have greater reservations about these matters than you've expressed here. Or have I misinterpreted your tone?

Mateo said...

In case it wasn't clear, I was interested in some of the intellectual background for this assertion:

"The Catholic faith is not a viable profession of faith. Therefore, I oppose it."

L P Cruz said...

Carrie,

the church harmed them in some way

You mean like sexually abused? I think those sexually abused by the clergy are still suffering today with all sorts of emotional turmoil. This is just conjecture on my part but I suspect if such a thing happened to me, I probably hate all sorts of associations related to God.

LPC

Carrie said...

You mean like sexually abused?

I don't think that is what is necessarily meant but I am never asked for clarification.

Sorry, I think maybe my comment was unclear or seemed harsh. I was just sharing accusations I have heard from Catholic e-pologists as to why I oppose the Catholic faith.

I could say alot more but I won't.

Carrie said...

Any suggestions on resources for giving one the ability to make such unequivocal claims about a matter which has been disputed

The Bible, the Catholic Catechism, and the Holy Spirit.

in who or what you've studied to erase any doubt about these complex matters.

See answer above.

There's alot more to it than that, but I don't care to go down this road here. I don't blog on this stuff just to pick a fight, I try to share my research and thoughts about Catholicism so other Protestants can be informed. In the end, people have to come to their own conclusions.

I don't see why this is so atonishing, its not like I am alone in this opinion. While I do understand how well meaning people could be confused by this issue, I feel pretty confident in my assertion. And let me make the usual disclaimer - just because I don't believe Catholicism is a viable profession of faith, that doesn't mean there aren't true believers who profess a Catholic faith.

Jason said...

Carrie:

I'm not sure why you have addressed your comment to me since I wasn't really talking accusing motives.

I was trying to agree with you. :)

Somehow I think the Apostle Paul would disagree with you.

But you and I aren't St. Paul, or even Apostles. I'm not talking about his behavior (that's above my paygrade), I'm just speaking about my own.

What you said isn't incorrect, I just think it is incomplete.

That's the problem sometimes when speaking on theological topics, it's hard to say EVERYTHING ALL THE TIME.

We are fully in our rights to oppose what we see as error. I just believe we should do so in accordance to our station in life (we are not all teachers or pastors or bishops or Apostles or Christ) and with humilty and charity.

Carrie said...

I was trying to agree with you. :)

Oh, then all is well :)

Sorry, I misread your comment.

But you and I aren't St. Paul, or even Apostles. I'm not talking about his behavior (that's above my paygrade), I'm just speaking about my own.

I was wondering if you would say that.

While I agree that I am no Paul, he did tell the Corinthians to imitate him.

Jason said...

I was wondering if you would say that.

Survey says? "DING!"

While I agree that I am no Paul, he did tell the Corinthians to imitate him.

Certainly, he exhorted them to imitate him as he imitated Christ.

But what does that mean? Does that men that in his imitation of Christ St. Paul could do and say everything Christ could do and say or was everything Christ was? I think we'd all answer that "no."

So it is in their imitation of the good example of St. Paul (and ours, I'd say.)

It would be wonderful for a child to imitate a virtuous father, but that imitation wouldn't mean they could discipline the other kids, take the car for a spin or use the checkbook. :)

Dozie said...

“I confess to being more than a bit confused by the mix of Catholic teaching I find online.”

Do you mean you are a very pleased by the “mix of Catholic teaching I find online”? As a Protestant, one would suspect that you would have been happy and confirmed in your own beliefs, rather than being confused, by the “incoherence” you find in Catholic teachings. Are you confused about your own faith or are you confused for one who is Catholic? You are not Catholic and probably do not want to be one. Why do you care? As a Catholic, I have never, I repeat never, been concerned about what Baptists or Presbyterians or whatever Protestant group teaches. I am firm in my faith that I have no time to research Presbyterianism; I might as well spend the time researching Buddhism or Islam or Shintoism or whatever – as far as I am concerned, they are all the same to me.


“Like Carrie, I am constantly being told that the Catholic Church is exactly the same Church that was given to the apostles, that its doctrines have not changed, nor will they in the future.”


Well, what does your church teach about itself and the articles of your own faith? Are they constantly changing, are they firm and established?

"Put forty Protestants in a room and you'll get forty interpretations. They can't agree on anything."


Is the above an unfair assessment and in which way? Consider elementary teachings of Christianity – Baptism, Communion, Salvation, Worship, etc, how would forty Protestants from forty denominations decide on these and other issues?

“However, I often find what appear to be contradictory doctrinal statements from online Catholics. For example, I have never received a good explanation for the contradictions I see in Trent's condemnation of the Reformers and the more recent "separated brethren" language.”


Again, why go to Trent? Are you a professional theologian? Why should a “pew Christian” need to spend so much time researching what he does not believe? Is this a requirement in your church? How much education do you need for this kind of endeavor? How well do you know your own faith? Are you firm in your own faith and if so, the contradictions you find in Catholicism should make you happy rather than confused. They should make you happy or satisfied because you do not have the same problem in your religion.

“The same is true for teachings I've read on purgatory. It's confusing, at least to me, and I don't know where to turn to get "the real skinny." Everybody has an angle, it seems.”

Frankly, if you do not know where to find Catholic teachings on any of her articles of faith you obviously need a lot of help and you disqualify yourself from being able to comment on Catholic stuff. Earlier you gave the impression of being able to research Trent. Now you confess you don’t even know where authoritative Catholic teachings can be found.


“Some Catholics are not afraid to say that they may view things somewhat differently at certain points than official teachings would dictate.”

Thank you for speaking like a Protestant. The kind of Catholic that should win your commendation should be those Catholics who disagree with the Church, even openly.


“However, my impression is that Catholics think we Protestants should somehow know intuitively just who the best Catholic writers are and who we should stay away from both online and in books. Now I am not an academic (obviously).”

If you know anything about Catholicism, it should be its authority structure and what constitute authoritative teachings and where to find those. If you are not an academic, I suppose then that you are interested in the Catholic Church because you have found your current faith inadequate and want to convert. In that case, you should go talk to a local Catholic priest. That’s always a starting point for a genuine inquiry into the Catholic Church. If you are not interested in the Catholic Church – to convert, why waste your time?


“But I am a reader. How am I, as a Protestant, to know who is "good" to read and who is not? Frankly, it shouldn't be up to me to decide.”


But, as Protestant, it is up to you to decide. This is why you like to read in the first place. You what to decide for yourself who’s right and who’s wrong. You seem to have no other way of dealing with your problem. You do not believe in an infallible Magisterium, hence, everything is up for revision and your half-trained theologians are only happy to fill in the gap for a buck or two. You have no lasting tradition and therefore you read, and read, for the sake of discerning your faith. Protestantism in the end stands on one-legged stool – the book. You chase scholars around and their revision of long-believed doctrines.

“I cannot know intuitively who is "good" and who is not, nor do I have the time to research it fully and decide for myself. So I rely on others to make their cases for the best source materials.”

You are discussing the wrong religion here. Perhaps you should be interested in how believing Catholics approach their own faith. They do not chase authors around. While Catholicism has more of everything that Protestantism has, it does not for example, depend on the writings of theologians no matter how highly placed. The relevance of any theologian in the Catholic Church comes from the relevance accorded him/her by the Church. If the Church accepts your theologizing, then you are relevant, otherwise, you are not.


“Obviously, I get differing opinions from different groups. The traditionalists want me to read Gerry Matatics because he represents "true Catholicism." The e-pologists want me to read Steve Ray and Scott Hahn because Matatics is a heretic. I am not in a position to know whose advice to take, who is right. Each group claims the other is "not part of the true Catholic faith."

A sincere inquirer would be interested in knowing what the Church teaches about herself and what it means to be Catholic. Anyone with elementary knowledge of Catholicism should know that anyone who is not in union with the Bishop of Rome is not a Catholic. Again, if you do not know this, you need serious help with the ABCs of Catholicism and you are not ready to read any Catholic authors yet.


“I submit that there is enough confusion out there amongst the Catholic rank and file that Catholics should cut Protestants a little slack regarding the official teachings of the Catholic Church, and not just assume that Protestants only want to mischaracterise Catholic teaching. I think I can speak confidently for myself and for most of the other Protestants here that the last thing we want is to misrepresent Catholic doctrine in our dialogue. If I can get just one Catholic to understand that many Protestants have a legitimate complaint regarding our confusion about Catholic doctrine, then I think we have grounds to move forward in truly productive discussion.”

How consoling!!! A love for mediocrity seems at play here. I have resisted saying this, but I guess I have to: Find a copy of the Catholic Catechism; it contains the gem of Catholic teachings. If you want to criticize Catholic teachings, that’s where to start.


”Having said all this, as I prepared this comment on Wordpad before coming here to post it, I see that Pontificator has made some specific reading recommendations. Thank you, Pontificator, for those recommendations. Now how do I know you're steering me in the right direction?! ;)”

Are you then heading into the Catholic Church; that’s the only right direction? If not, I ask again, why the trouble?

Mateo said...

Just my two cents: as a Catholic, I found the original query completely sensible. Look, the e-apologists, pop-apologists, or whatever you want to call them repeat over and over AND OVER again how much certainty and assurance the INFALLIBLE Catholic Church can give us moderns, esp. when it is compared to the supposedly 40,000 Protestant denominations. First of all, there aren't 40,000 real "Protestant denominations". That's just ridiculous on its face.

The second thing is that all these guys, I think, will, if they succeed at converting others, make really bad converts. Being part of the Catholic Church doesn't stop someone from having to think on her own. Come on, people. Look at the scholastics. Look at the way they never stopped discussing, deepening, debating, exploring the infinite revelation that is Christ Himself. They didn't stop short and simply defer to authority without reflection, though of course they believed in the authority of the Bible, the Church, the wisdom of the ancients, etc. (in different ways of course!). No serious Catholic theologian would make these kinds of arguments against Protestantism today. This is why I get so frustrated by the theological blogosophere. We are having debates on how evil Luther is. Come on! Joseph Lortz ended that for Catholics decades ago.

Read Avery Dulles' Models of Revelation. He is no liberal, and he is sensitive to the weaknesses in these supposed airtight references to "infallible" teachings as if that completely ends discussion. The visible Church on earth is a historical "organism". It obviously changes. What Catholics believe is that, at bottom, we are preserving the essential Gospel of Christ, only because the Holy Spirit is guiding Her. This is why some of those people converted by the e-apologists become Sedecavantists. They are astouned when they walk into an actual Catholic Church with all the warts, with all the nominal Catholics, with all the "liturgical innovation", with all of the left-wing Jesuits. But anyone who really understands history knows that this has already been the case. There have always been disagreements, sin, conflict. As much as the Church is guided by the Holy Spirit in my view, this doesn't preclude the humanness and hence the sinfulness of Christ's body on this earth, as scandalous as that is!

So, in my judgment at least, Catholics need to stop using this debating strategy developed in the throes of the Counter Reformation and, instead, follow Cardinal Kaspar's advice when involved in inter-Christian dialogue. He tells us ALL to convert first to Christ, THE TRUTH; only then can we continue to strive for full visible unity for which Christ prayed, only then can we remove the scandal which the divisions among Christianity have and will continue to cause. This seems to be the last thing on the agenda of so much of the theological blogosphere, and that is sad.

And Protestants need to recognize the disjunction between the Catholic Church and her American pop-apologists. They may be doing some good work, I suppose. But while I appreciate James Swan's references to Lortz and Jared Wicks to refute people like Steve Ray on Luther, I wonder how much he has reflected on the fact that he uses Catholic scholars against Catholic apologists. What are the implications of this for how Protestants approach these issues? Can we PLEASE not assume that a point against Steve Ray is a point against Rome? Even more, can we PLEASE stop thinking in terms of scoring points, winning debates, etc., while the world laughs at us in its hopelessness?

Well, I apologize for how preachy this turned out to be. I have just been so grieved by some of these exchanges. Please accept this in the spirit with which it was intended.

Pilgrimsarbour said...

Dozie,

Sadly, your comments are all too familiar to me. It's difficult for me to convey why I am interested in the Catholic Church because my motives are considered suspect by many Catholics, almost to the point of paranoia. But I'll try again.

I have been asking questions of Catholics for some time because I was raised Catholic and left the church as a teen, probably without good theological reasons at that time.

I am now quite confirmed in my faith as a Reformed believer, but I also have a desire to know and understand Catholics better. As it is I have read the Catholic catechism and several other books as well. Why would I want to do this? I think the best way to answer that is to point you to a post I wrote on my own blog a few months back. You can read it here if you're interested. I hope it sheds some light on your inquiry, and I would suggest taking a little time to peruse my site and see what else I have written on this subject. I think this is the best way into my mind on these matters.

In addition, I don't expect that my Catholic friends are looking to convert just because they ask me questions about the Reformed faith. But it is also not my first reaction to suspect their motives in asking these questions. I take it that they are interested in dialogue and understanding each other better. I agree with radio talk show host Dennis Prager's dictum: "I prefer clarity over agreement."

I think if those of us, from whatever communion, would just spend more time answering sincere questions instead of impugning each other's motives, we would all do well.

Blessings,

Pilgrimsarbour

Pilgrimsarbour said...

Mateo,

Thank you for that very eloquent and cogent response to Dozie's questions. There's a lot to think about there.

I'm no stranger to criticism from both "sides" when I show interest in Catholic theology. On the one hand I'm accused of having ulterior motives, and on the other hand I'm "holding hands on the road to ecumenism." It rarely seems to occur to people that I may be interested in truth.

All God's Best,

Pilgrimsarbour

Marco said...

Timothy Athanasius -
Hmmmm. I suspect you are a bogus 'Catholic.' You sound an awful lot like a Reformed Protestant that has always been. In fact, you sound an awful lot like David King, trying to keep a lid on it. You don't sound one iota like a Catholic and do not have me convinced that you are legit. I think you are a Protty, in a Catholic's cassock's.

Carrie, regarding your problem with Catholic claims of Protestant sects being numbered at 25,000-30,000, I think the assessment issue is not at the hands of Catholics, but your very own WCOC - World Council Of Churches. If I recall correctly, that is their assessment.

I've not visited this blog in about 2-3 mos., but I see it is the same, exact stuff, over and over, with the same tone.

Just so you're clear. The original reformers were accursed/anathema under Trent, because of their breaking of the Church and knowingly coming up with novel, false doctrine. However, many Protestants since then knew not the Church proper, as they were mislead, so therefore it is difficult for them to fall under this same anathema - Romans 2:14. Many are ignorant of the Church, as Protestantism has so many different teachings of what a 'church' is, and thus these Protestants (and many Catholics) must be catechized properly as to the nature of Christ's Church, sacraments, the proper position of Sacred Scriptures, soteriology etc.

However, in your case, I'd guess that you are no longer ignorant, and that you are actually intentionally obstinate in your hatred and error regarding Christ's Church, the One (not yours), Holy (not yours), Catholic (certainly not yours) and apostolic (most certainly not yours) Church - the one you think of as Babylon, which you also teach that it's primary bishop - the bishop of Rome - as being the anti-Christ.

My guess is this anatehma from Trent would apply to you, peronally. However, it would probably not apply to many mainstream evangelicals.

It seems like I've never really gotten any other idea from my Church.

Pilgrimsarbour said...

Marco,

You said...

Carrie, regarding your problem with Catholic claims of Protestant sects being numbered at 25,000-30,000, I think the assessment issue is not at the hands of Catholics, but your very own WCOC - World Council Of Churches. If I recall correctly, that is their assessment.

Carrie created a new post of my previous comment, so your statement is actually directed to me. I only mention this to avoid the appearance of "stepping in" on Carrie's behalf. She is well able to speak for herself.

The problem is this: Catholic e-pologists such as Steve Ray, Tim Staples and others have claimed that the Protestant doctrine of sola Scriptura itself specifically has resulted in some "33,000 Protestant denominations" coming into existence since the Reformation. The source cited for this figure is the World Christian Encyclopedia (2001) published by Oxford University Press.

This is the book's statement that I copied and pasted from the online source. Please read it carefully.

Table 1-3 Organized Christianity: Global totals in 1995 AD

Note: Denomination is defined as an organization within a single country. This means that if the Roman Catholic church is in 234 countries, it would have a [sic] at least 234 denominations. Conversely, To say the Roman Catholic church has 239 denominations in 234 countries, is a conclusion that seriously misreads the data. On the other hand, the fact that there are 8848 denominations in the Protestant column, does not mean there are 8848 Protestant denominations as Catholics suggest. If you divide 8848 by the 237 countries, you come up with a figure of only actual 37 denominations in 237 countries.

(David A. Barrett, World Christian Encyclopedia, 2001, p 12)


I can't reproduce the chart here, but you can take a look at it and the other charts and materials here.

My point is to demonstrate that the 33,000 Protestant denominations figure that Catholic e-pologists (and other lay folk) repeat over and over is bogus for a couple of reasons. First, this figure, as defined by the WCE, includes Roman Catholics, Orthodox, Anglican, Marginal and Independent (sects and cults) groups. None of these believes in, adheres to nor practices the doctrine of sola Scriptura. To say that sola Scriptura is the cause of tens of thousands of non-Catholic groups is, at the very least misleading, and at worst dishonest in the face of the actual data. And yet, it continues to be repeated by misguided online bloggers.

In addition, to address your specific statement, the World Council of Churches represents "mainline" (liberal) denominations. They are an ecumenical, inter-faith organisation that does not speak for Reformed theology or conservative Christianity of any kind. They neither believe in nor practise sola Scriptura.

Now, if Catholic e-pologists and lay people want to make a case against the existence of Protestant denominations based on the Reformed doctrine of private interpretation, then we may have the basis for a productive discussion.

Blessings in Christ,

Pilgrimsarbour

Marco said...

Pilgrimsarbour -

Thanks for the breakdown. I still believe that with all of the fundamentalist splinter groups, mainline Lutheran, breakaway Lutheran, Baptists, Anglican and their splinters, Pentacostals and their splinter, the number goes well into the tens of thousands, not including separate countries as a factor at all.

Either way, the fragmentation of 'bible-based' groups is less unified than the mutli-headed hydra.

You said: "To say that sola Scriptura is the cause of tens of thousands of non-Catholic groups is, at the very least misleading, and at worst dishonest in the face of the actual data. And yet, it continues to be repeated by misguided online bloggers."

This is not dishonest, nor misleading in the slightest. Lets simply take about 1.6 billion adherents out of the equation by simply removing 2 versions of Christianity that do not adhere to 'sola scriptura' - Catholicism and orthodoxy - and you are still left with the tens of thousands of bickering Protestant sects. Nice attempt to try to whistle by the graveyard by trying to muddy the water by stating the numbers are false, becuase it includes Catholics and orthodox - 2 in number only.

An astonishing fact that I always find with Calvinists, is the assertiion, and sometimes outright claim - as you have made here, that other versions of Protestant Christianity are false, and yours is correct.

I ask: Who says? Other Protestant groups (not just liberal ones) cry 'sola scriptura' as passionately as do yourselves, and yet call you false. Many of these are not small, insignificant breakaway groups!

You said: "Now, if Catholic e-pologists and lay people want to make a case against the existence of Protestant denominations based on the Reformed doctrine of private interpretation, then we may have the basis for a productive discussion."

I reply: This discussion has been made, and drivn home thousands of times now, and the Protestant fails to come up with a sufficient answer to account for the thousands of denominations.

As I have stated many times: The only 2 true unifiers of Bible-only Protestantism is that they love Jesus, and hate his Church. Everything else is up for grabs, especially their personal versions of 'church', and thus have no unity, which creates the hydra with the exponent of 99 behind it.

This is due ONLY to Sola Scriptura!

L P Cruz said...

This is due ONLY to Sola Scriptura!


Not really, this is due to the fact that in the modern world heretics are no longer burned, there is no more a single mamoth institution that controls the state. This is rather the result of the ideas of liberty.

The world is now a market place of ideas, we just have to wake up that it is no longer the way it used to i.e. be back when the the kingdoms of this world pay homage to a pope.

The happy days are not there anymore. Sorry.


LPC

Pilgrimsarbour said...

Marco,

In spite of the fact that the information on the website categorises "Protestant denominations" by the figure 8,848, your response is telling. What I get from you is this:

"Okay, so maybe there aren't 33,000 Protestant denominations. But there are tens of thousands of Protestant denominations, and it's all because of sola Scriptura! I don't care what the data say, that's my story and I'm sticking to it!"

How 8,848 and at least 20,000 are the same mathematically is beyond me. If you think they are, please explain it to me. Show your work.

The point of my previous comment on the 33,000 denominations myth is to demonstrate that the source material the Catholic apologists use in their rant against sola Scriptura in no way supports their argument. Assuming that they are actually looking at the source material and not just repeating what Steve Ray or somebody else said, one draws the following conclusions. They are either not bright enough to understand the information presented there, or are willfully abusing the data to support their anti-Protestant agenda. I hate to impugn their intelligence, but there's no third alternative. This is the data we have to work with. If you want to cite another source, I'll be happy to look at it. And by cite, I mean a specific book, author, page, website, etc. None of this "I think I read something about this somewhere, sometime, maybe the World Council of Churches?"

Thank you for illustrating my point so precisely for me. In future, I hope you will do some research into what the Reformed doctrine of sola Scriptura actually is, as opposed to the talking points you've so assiduously absorbed. Your efforts have been nothing less than bulimic.

And hey, thanks for introducing me to your pet canard. It's a bit undomesticated, though. Sorry, but I won't be helping you to raise it.

Be well,

Pilgrimsarbour

Marco said...

LP Cruz: Your Protestant history attempted this in it's short history. We can use Geneva, or The Protestant persecution of Catholics, or Luther's peasant's revolt and witch burning's as well. Or perhaps the South African (heugenot) persecution of non-Christian, non-whites, the Klan et al. Sorry, but your sordid history did not fare so well either. The attempted Police state of Genevan Calvinism was not due to Catholicism.
A direct question for you and Pilgrim: You Protty's assert that millions were killed during the inquisition. How many exactly do you think were killed, and how many were sanctioned by a pope? Over how many years? Source?
BTW: When kings no longer pay homage to a moral authority, we then arrive where we are today, after Protestantism shattered Christendom. The rise of the state as our nanny, the rise of relativism, mass genocide and murder in the name of the state (about 100 million this past century alone). For the path that lead us there, we can thank Protestantism and all it's glory!

Now Pilgrim. Let's look at this again. I initially said 25K-30K. I still have no reason to doubt this is possible. Much less tens of thousands, or thousands for that matter. In any way, shape or form you try to slice it...
IT'S THOUSANDS!

I would also assert, that with all the little splinter fundie groups out there, even 8K+ would be very low.

You said: "I hate to impugn their intelligence, but there's no third alternative."

Ok, impugn our intelligence. Nothing new here, as that is what this entire blog is centered around. I cannot tell you how many times I've read evidence of this on this blog.

This blog is not to Christ; it is primarily against Catholicism.

Now, I'll hold your feet to the fire: The reason for thousands and thousands of Protestant sectarian groups, is due to Sola Scriptura.

Sorry dudes, it cannot be sidestepped. We know how you are trying to poison the well...'you idiot Catholics, it's not 33K denominations, it's 8.8K denominations...how could you be so stupid, see, this is unity, and this is the same as Catholicism, and Sola Scriptura has nothing to do with it...it's because, you Catholics, are like, dumb and stuff..."

Pilgrim, here's a good article which does a better job of breaking down your assessment of David Barret's analysis of how many Protty denom's there are, and I continue to assert the number is over at least 22,000. This is from all reformed folks' Catholic apologists:
http://www.bringyou.to/apologetics/a120.htm

Stay cool,
Marco

Marco said...

Pardon me, I mean you Reformed folks' favorite Catholic apoligists, heheh.

Mateo said...

Well, I hope no one will identify Marco's hostility and wrongheaded, irresponsible claims (such as Protestantism's carving out the road which leads to the murderous 20th century) with Catholicism tout court. No bishop, no pope, no professional Catholic theologian would even dream of saying most (or all) of these things today (or ever?).

Pilgrimsarbour said...

Mateo,

Thanks again for bringing some sanity to bear here.

I just don't understand where all this rancour comes from. I have never, in my life, either believed or taught that Catholics killed millions in the Inquisition, and I don't know of any reasonably intelligent Protestant who has or does.

I am fond of facts. And the best facts are that over a 300+ year period somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 people were executed. It's a sad thing, to be sure, but it's nothing like the millions killed in the various secular holocausts of the 20th century. It is nothing short of a damnable lie to say that Protestantism has caused the murders of millions.

I do not hold today's Catholics responsible for these things, and Catholics should not hold today's Protestants accountable for witch burnings and other persecutions of the past. Let's agree to move beyond this tit-for-tat nonsense, shall we?

Blessings,

Pilgrimsarbour

Marco said...

Pilgrim and Mateo. I like that now we play the sheep, but please re-read LP Cruz's statements. Pilgrim, my address was more to LP, not you, with regard to the path of Protestantism.

Now regarding respectible historians, I can give you a couple, however they are Catholic, and unless they are total dissenters from orthodox Catholic teaching, I am sure they will be discredited by you. Anyhow I suggest reading (I know you'll love the 1st title):
1) Triumph: The Power and the Glory of the Catholic Church. A 2,000-year history, by H.W. Crocker III. I think it was published in 2002.
2) The Great Heresies by Hilaire Belloc. Published in 1938.

Now did I say that the reformation caused the Holocost? No, I did not.

Did I state the reformation lead directly to the 20th century murders? No.

I did infer, and still do, that the eventual path of stripping the state from an accountable, moral authority does indeed lead to the horrors of the 20th century. Perhaps I should have indeed stated that is was an unintentional consequence of the shattering of Christendom. However, the rise of the state is directly due to the reformation. From there, all else is, as they say...history.

I stand by my assertions. Our current pope would as well. So would about a dozen bishops in the US. Many theologians would as well.

Where you err in assessing what I said is this: I did not infer it was an intended consequence. I do assert it was unintended.

How can these not be related. Think about it.

Stuff like this is asserted against Catholicism on Beggars all, all of the time, yet I never, ever, EVER, see you guys protest the protestant versions of it.

Interesting.

Not really.

Marco said...

Addendum: Fellas, lest you need any example, please read this extremely rude piece posted, just below this one, called 'Sufficient Atonement' By B.S.

A money quote: "Also, the Reformed churches rightfully opposed the Romish heresy in all their confessions. Now that modern Evangelicalism has degenerated so far in so many critical areas (e.g., soteriology, worship, eschatology, etc.). Protestants need to be even more diligent in defending justification against all attacks from antichrist and his lieutenants"

- Good stuff. Man, those mean, nasty Catholics are always starting this stuff...

'Romish' and 'anti-Christ.'
Wow. Oh well, the usual from this blog.

Does John not say that the anti-christ is an unbeliever?

Pathetic.