Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Quotable Sippo #4


I have an occasional feature called, "The Quotable Sippo." It's very simple, I just let Catholic apologist Art Sippo speak for himself. Recently, Dr. Sippo provided some of his insights, and well... let's just let the good doctor speak for himself:

"Pseudopodeo and his anti-Catholic cronies are always lying about the Catholic Church."

"As a Catholic Apologist my goal is to extirpate heresy from the face of the Earth. That means that all Protestantism must go. Period."

"Make no mistake about it. Protestantism is false religion. IMHO it is little better than Mormonism in that regard."

"But the legitimacy of all Protestant religions is threatened by the continued existence of Catholicism. That is why so many Protestants are anti-Catholic bigots including the pro-Nazi Mr. Swan."

"Protestantism is an abomination. It has no right to exist. No one in its clutches can command parity with the humblest practicing Catholic. You have no valid ministers, few if any valid sacraments, false teachings on all subjects especially morals, and yet you have the effrontery to demand parity with the faithful of God own Church.Your people left cursing us and calling us foul names: R o m a n i s t s, Papists, Whore of Babylon, idolaters, Anti-Christs, and worse. Now you want us to pretend that it just doesn't matter and that in some way they were justified in doing so.I would be unfaithful to the Gospel I received if I did not rebuke you. Your leaders are outside the Church of God and your people followed them. We Catholics have kept the faith and followed Christ in his Church as he told us to do. We didn't go anywhere. We didn't change anything. You have no right to expect us to repent because of your errors."

34 comments:

kevin82 said...

That was fun reading. Thanks, James. It's interesting that in mainstream Catholic thought, even conservative, Catholics have done some of the best constructive evaluations of the Reformation and its heritage for the whole church to be appropriated. I'm thinking of Louis Bouyer, Hans Urs von Balthasar, and Joseph Ratzinger, for some examples. Yet, you have Sippo, who presumably would find the above theologians most amenable, relegating Protestantism to Mormonism, questioning the efficacy of a Protestant baptism, and even arguing that Catholics have nothing to be sorry for (vis-a-vis the Reformation). Utterly ridiculous.

Kevin D.

EA said...

One has to admire the comical value of Dr. Sippo's hyper-Tridentine fire-breathing. He is a quasi-Sedavacantist and I suspect that he considers himself more Catholic than the Pope.

Bring back the auto-da-fé!!

Jugulum said...

There are a few doozies in there, but this caught my eye:

"I would be unfaithful to the Gospel I received if I did not rebuke you."

That is a respectable sentiment, regardless of how poorly he might be carrying it out. One should rebuke & call to repentance those who are outside the Gospel. If he believes that the Roman Catholic Church is the true catholic Church, he should rebuke us.

I believe he's wrong about what the Gospel is, but he's entirely correct about the need to defend the Gospel.

But he also said this:
"Now you want us to pretend that it just doesn't matter and that in some way they were justified in doing so."

That's just odd. I for one do not want Catholics as Catholics to say that the Reformation was justified. I want them to see that the Reformation was right, and to become Protestants.

Kepha said...

James,

FYI, I just used these quotes for my blog entry on Reformed Catholicism.

Turretinfan said...

I hope that this post not only shocks the minds of the readers, but jolts them into prayer for lost folks who are currently followers of Roman tradition, as well as for any Christians that still stuck in the darkness of that tradition.

-Turretinfan

Matt said...

Turretinfan,

You can't possibly be confusing Sippo's insane remarks with the Catholic Church in itself. As Kevin D and ea already remarked, these views are not in keeping with those of the Catholic Church, especially after Vatican II. Or do you have evidence to the contrary?

You can condemn the RCC as a "dark" tradition all you want--that's cool--but please do so on the basis of what Catholic following the Catechism actually believe. Isn't that just simple fairness?

phatcatholic said...

James.........do you have any links or citations for these quotes, so we can look them up for ourselves? When you quote someone, it's usually good to provide your sources.

Pilgrimsarbour said...

I find it interesting that the most strident anti-Protestant apologists also happen to show the least evidence of the fruits of the Spirit. This, in my view, utterly destroys the credibility of the antagonist, and represents a "gospel" of which I want no part.

And James, I didn't know you were a Nazi! I'm afraid I will have to discontinue reading and commenting here because of your obvious failings in this regard.

Carrie said...

James.........do you have any links or citations for these quotes, so we can look them up for ourselves?

Any links will likely be dead in a few weeks.

I had a great Sippo quote linked from my blog that eventually disappeared. I think even Envoy realizes what a kook he is.

L P Cruz said...

I know he sounds funny, but is he not carrying out to the logical conclusion of some teachings he received from the RCC?

LPC

Matt said...

No, LP Cruz.

That is, unless Vatican II's position on Protestants is completely incoherent. You may want to argue that, but I'll go with the assembly of Catholic bishops over Art Sippo anyday...

And for what premises are Sippo's statements "logical conclusions" anyway?

L P Cruz said...

Matt,

I suspect that Sippo is pre-Vatican II catechized and he can indeed read the RC position that way.

Vatican II has a way of dancing on nails.

The Magisterium does not disavow previous statements, it just continues to add, so though Vatican II may be soft on Prots, Vatican I and Trent were not. Hence, at least you can be an evidence of this, for you as an RC (I assume but please correct me) disagrees with another RC - namely Sippo.

LPC

James Swan said...

phatcatholic said...
James.........do you have any links or citations for these quotes, so we can look them up for ourselves? When you quote someone, it's usually good to provide your sources.


The quotes are from recent Envoy posts. Anyone familiar with Dr. Sippo knows that Envoy is his hang out. As Carrie pointed out, Sippo's comments will vanish, so I didn't even think it was worth it to link over to Envoy. You'll notice in my other Sippo entries, I did.

In context, Sippo argued he actually does think some Protestants are Christians, but then went and said things like what I've quoted above.

Frankly, to link over to someone who called me "pro-Nazi Mr. Swan," as if this is going to show I've taken Sippo out of context, well, Nick, you have your work cut out for you. If you can do apologetic work to make Mr. Sippo less offensive, go for it.

Jeff Tan said...

For the record, this Catholic thinks that the quoted rant and its ranter has fallen off the edge. I don't think it is a logical conclusion of Catholic dogma either, whether pre- or post-Vatican II. On the other hand, it may well be a logical conclusion of his catechism, i.e., how he was taught and how he came to understand the Catholic faith. I have not made apologetics a profession, but I can already spot problems with his position and arguments. He contradicts himself when he says that some Protestant sacraments are valid (by this I assume, for example, baptism) then says that all Protestant teachings are false. Granted, he may have been referring to moral teachings only, but nevertheless, he can't have it both ways. That, folks, was a rant, not apologetics. Not to stir up bitter history, but that rant makes Exsurge Domine sound tame in comparison. I'm not saying that there are no issues of differences between Protestants and Catholics: there are. But that rant has no place in the dialogue.

Dozie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dozie said...

"this Catholic thinks that the quoted rant and its ranter has fallen off the edge."

Well, not to start a Catholic debate here which Protestants would love to see, this Catholic thinks that Art Sippo is right on the mark, Protestant baptism not withstanding. Protestantism is by its very nature, its make up, and its purpose a false religion. It is false because it publicly repudiates and doubts the promise of Christ - the gates of hell will not prevail against you. There of course would not be Protestantism if Protestantism believed in that promise. Now, they will turn to “exegesis” not only to nullify Scripture but the faith of the Church for 2000 years.

With regard to Protestant baptism, one can see that it is accepted in the Catholic Church for pastoral reasons and the idea is not anything new. Long before there was Protestantism, there were other heretics whose baptism was also accepted by the Church. Accepting the baptism of an Arian does not make an Arian right and neither is saying that a serial murderer is human and deserving of respect the same as accepting the murderer’s crime. Protestantism is not only false, it is evil.

Matt said...

Let us consider Vatican II's Decree on Ecumenism. It will be left to the reader to determine the "Catholicity" of Sippo's comments and those of Dozie. The section on the Catholic Church's attitude towards "separated brethren" in the West will be quoted. I understand Dozie's analogy to the Arians, but it is certainly not in keeping with the assembled bishops at the Second Vatican Council. At the very least, this should make us rather skeptical...:

II. Separated Churches and Ecclesial Communities in the West

19. In the great upheaval which began in the West toward the end of the Middle Ages, and in later times too, Churches and ecclesial Communities came to be separated from the Apostolic See of Rome. Yet they have retained a particularly close affinity with the Catholic Church as a result of the long centuries in which all Christendom lived together in ecclesiastical communion.

However, since these Churches and ecclesial Communities, on account of their different origins, and different teachings in matters of doctrine on the spiritual life, vary considerably not only with us, but also among themselves, the task of describing them at all adequately is extremely difficult; and we have no intention of making such an attempt here.

Although the ecumenical movement and the desire for peace with the Catholic Church have not yet taken hold everywhere, it is our hope that ecumenical feeling and mutual esteem may gradually increase among all men.

It must however be admitted that in these Churches and ecclesial Communities there exist important differences from the Catholic Church, not only of an historical, sociological, psychological and cultural character, but especially in the interpretation of revealed truth. To make easier the ecumenical dialogue in spite of these differences, we wish to set down some considerations which can, and indeed should, serve as a basis and encouragement for such dialogue.

20. Our thoughts turn first to those Christians who make open confession of Jesus Christ as God and Lord and as the sole Mediator between God and men, to the glory of the one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We are aware indeed that there exist considerable divergences from the doctrine of the Catholic Church concerning Christ Himself, the Word of God made flesh, the work of redemption, and consequently, concerning the mystery and ministry of the Church, and the role of Mary in the plan of salvation. But we rejoice to see that our separated brethren look to Christ as the source and center of Church unity. Their longing for union with Christ inspires them to seek an ever closer unity, and also to bear witness to their faith among the peoples of the earth.

21. A love and reverence of Sacred Scripture which might be described as devotion, leads our brethren to a constant meditative study of the sacred text. For the Gospel "is the power of God for salvation to every one who has faith, to the Jew first and then to the Greek".(39)

While invoking the Holy Spirit, they seek in these very Scriptures God as it were speaking to them in Christ, Whom the prophets foretold, Who is the Word of God made flesh for us. They contemplate in the Scriptures the life of Christ and what the Divine Master taught and did for our salvation, especially the mysteries of His death and resurrection.

But while the Christians who are separated from us hold the divine authority of the Sacred Books, they differ from ours-some in one way, some in another-regarding the relationship between Scripture and the Church. For, according to Catholic belief, the authentic teaching authority of the Church has a special place in the interpretation and preaching of the written word of God.

But Sacred Scriptures provide for the work of dialogue an instrument of the highest value in the mighty hand of God for the attainment of that unity which the Saviour holds out to all.

22. Whenever the Sacrament of Baptism is duly administered as Our Lord instituted it, and is received with the right dispositions, a person is truly incorporated into the crucified and glorified Christ, and reborn to a sharing of the divine life, as the Apostle says: "You were buried together with Him in Baptism, and in Him also rose again-through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead".(40)

Baptism therefore establishes a sacramental bond of unity which links all who have been reborn by it. But of itself Baptism is only a beginning, an inauguration wholly directed toward the fullness of life in Christ. Baptism, therefore, envisages a complete profession of faith, complete incorporation in the system of salvation such as Christ willed it to be, and finally complete ingrafting in eucharistic communion.

Though the ecclesial Communities which are separated from us lack the fullness of unity with us flowing from Baptism, and though we believe they have not retained the proper reality of the eucharistic mystery in its fullness, especially because of the absence of the sacrament of Orders, nevertheless when they commemorate His death and resurrection in the Lord's Supper, they profess that it signifies life in communion with Christ and look forward to His coming in glory. Therefore the teaching concerning the Lord's Supper, the other sacraments, worship, the ministry of the Church, must be the subject of the dialogue.

23. The daily Christian life of these brethren is nourished by their faith in Christ and strengthened by the grace of Baptism and by hearing the word of God. This shows itself in their private prayer, their meditation on the Bible, in their Christian family life, and in the worship of a community gathered together to praise God. Moreover, their form of worship sometimes displays notable features of the liturgy which they shared with us of old.

Their faith in Christ bears fruit in praise and thanksgiving for the blessings received from the hands of God. Among them, too, is a strong sense of justice and a true charity toward their neighbor. This active faith has been responsible for many organizations for the relief of spiritual and material distress, the furtherance of the education of youth, the improvement of the social conditions of life, and the promotion of peace throughout the world.

While it is true that many Christians understand the moral teaching of the Gospel differently from Catholics, and do not accept the same solutions to the more difficult problems of modern society, nevertheless they share our desire to stand by the words of Christ as the source of Christian virtue, and to obey the command of the Apostle: "And whatever you do, in word or in work, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God the Father through Him".(41) For that reason an ecumenical dialogue might start with discussion of the application of the Gospel to moral conduct.

24. Now that we have briefly set out the conditions for ecumenical action and the principles by which it is to be directed, we look with confidence to the future. This Sacred Council exhorts the faithful to refrain from superficiality and imprudent zeal, which can hinder real progress toward unity. Their ecumenical action must be fully and sincerely Catholic, that is to say, faithful to the truth which we have received from the apostles and Fathers of the Church, in harmony with the faith which the Catholic Church has always professed, and at the same time directed toward that fullness to which Our Lord wills His Body to grow in the course of time.

It is the urgent wish of this Holy Council that the measures undertaken by the sons of the Catholic Church should develop in conjunction with those of our separated brethren so that no obstacle be put in the ways of divine Providence and no preconceived judgments impair the future inspirations of the Holy Spirit. The Council moreover professes its awareness that human powers and capacities cannot achieve this holy objective-the reconciling of all Christians in the unity of the one and only Church of Christ. It is because of this that the Council rests all its hope on the prayer of Christ for the Church, on our Father's love for us, and on the power of the Holy Spirit. "And hope does not disappoint, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us".(42)

Each and all these matters which are set forth in this Decree have been favorably voted on by the Fathers of the Council. And We, by the apostolic authority given Us by Christ and in union with the Fathers, approve, decree and establish them in the Holy Spirit and command that they be promulgated for the glory of God.

Given in Rome at St. Peter's, November 21, 1964

http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_decree_19641121_unitatis-redintegratio_en.html

MATT: The Decree had ample opportunity to distinguish Protestants from the East and call them heretics or a false religion or something like that. It certainly did not do that. Also, it clearly enumerated more "marks of unity" than baptism...

Carrie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carrie said...

but it is certainly not in keeping with the assembled bishops at the Second Vatican Council.

Yes, but what about the assembled bishops of Florence:

"It firmly believes, professes and preaches that all those who are outside the catholic church, not only pagans but also Jews or heretics and schismatics, cannot share in eternal life and will go into the everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels, unless they are joined to the catholic church before the end of their lives; that the unity of the ecclesiastical body is of such importance that only for those who abide in it do the church's sacraments contribute to salvation and do fasts, almsgiving and other works of piety and practices of the Christian militia produce eternal rewards; and that nobody can be saved, no matter how much he has given away in alms and even if he has shed his blood in the name of Christ, unless he has persevered in the bosom and the unity of the catholic church."

He contradicts himself when he says that some Protestant sacraments are valid (by this I assume, for example, baptism) then says that all Protestant teachings are false.

Art is likely trying to straddle the contradictions of Vatican II and previous councils. As so, he has no choice but to sound contradictory.

Frankly I have more respect for the traditional/sedevacantist viewpoints. They are more historically consistent and make more sense with their own framework. If you really are the one true church with a corner on the true sacraments, why wouldn't you warn Protestants about their potential doom? Shouldn't the one true church (ark of salvation) and ecumenism be in opposition to one another?

Dozie said...

"Shouldn't the one true church (ark of salvation) and ecumenism be in opposition to one another?"

Not necessarily, so long as the purpose of ecumenism is to invite separated people back home.

Dozie said...

"The Decree had ample opportunity to distinguish Protestants from the East and call them heretics or a false religion or something like that".

Of course the Church clearly makes a distinction between churches of the Reformation (Protestants) and the Churches of the East. It is no secret, for example, that the Churh's ecumenical efforts are primarily and essentially directed towards the Orthodox Churches. Up till, I have yet to read of any mention of Protestantism in Pope Benedict's speeches. This is not true with regard to the Orthodox - kind of tells you where the emphasis is.

Whatever other point you are trying to make from the long post, I have no idea.

Matt said...

Dozie, if you really didn't get the point of the post, I'm just not sure what to say. The point was obviously to show how the Church today thinks about the separated brethren, who are rooted in the Reformation (the title was "The Churches and communions of the West" or something like that). While I would agree with you that there is a different approach to the East than to the communions of the Reformation, the Council did not call Protestants heretics or evil or any of the other absurd things YOU said. While it noted disagreements and differences, the Council praised Protestantism for its love of Scripture, its attention to grace and faith, its moral seriousness, etc. Did you do that in YOUR post? I recommend that you get in line with the assembled bishops. You are free to reject them, but then I'm not sure what the word "Catholic" means for you as a self-description. That's the point.

And as for your point that B16 doesn't care about Protestants: well, again, you are just wrong. Here is one example:

I also extend warm greetings to our friends of the various traditions stemming from the Reformation. Here too many memories arise in my heart: memories of friends in the Jäger-Stählin circle, who have already passed away, and these memories are mixed with gratitude for our present meetings. Obviously, I think in particular of the demanding efforts to reach a consensus on justification. I recall all the stages of that process up, to the memorable meeting with the late Bishop Hanselmann here in Regensburg – a meeting that contributed decisively to the achievement of the conclusion. I am pleased to see that in the meantime the World Methodist Council has adhered to the Declaration. The agreement on justification remains an important task, which – in my view – is not yet fully accomplished: in theology justification is an essential theme, but in the life of the faithful today – it seems to me – it is only dimly present. Because of the dramatic events of our time, the theme of mutual forgiveness is felt with increased urgency, yet there is little perception of our fundamental need of God’s forgiveness, of our justification by him. Our modern consciousness – and in some way all of us are “modern” - is generally no longer aware of the fact that we stand as debtors before God and that sin is a reality which can be overcome only by God’s initiative. Behind this weakening of the theme of justification and of the forgiveness of sins is ultimately a weakening of our relation with God. In this sense, our first task will perhaps be to rediscover in a new way the living God present in our lives, in our time and in our society.

AND THERE'S MORE

http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/homilies/2006/documents/hf_ben-xvi_hom_20060912_vespri-regensburg_en.html

As for Carrie loving on the Traditionalists, I just don't know what to say. I'm not sure if you find something in common with them because of their fundamentalistic tendencies or because they legitimate your condemnation of Catholicism as an illegitimate form of Christianity (as you've said) or something like that. What I mean is that they would perceive you in a similar way as you perceive Catholics. However, Catholics in line with the Magisterium would (or should) not. But these are just guesses. I really have no idea why you take these people seriously.

As for the Council of Florence, I'm not sure what grounds you have for forcing me to choose a 600-year-old statement of a problem that PRE-DATED the Protestant schism over a statement of the problem from 50 years ago. I could invoke Development or something like that, but it would probably go nowhere. If you'd like to have a serious discussion about how I reconcile the statement of Florence (and Boniface VIII) with my submission to the clear teaching of my Church today (I'm certainly not a "liberal" or anything like that in my views!), then I'd be glad to do that. I have actually thought about it. But I'm not sure you really want to have that conversation.

phatcatholic said...

James,

"The quotes are from recent Envoy posts. Anyone familiar with Dr. Sippo knows that Envoy is his hang out. As Carrie pointed out, Sippo's comments will vanish, so I didn't even think it was worth it to link over to Envoy. You'll notice in my other Sippo entries, I did."

Maybe try screen shots next time?

"Frankly, to link over to someone who called me "pro-Nazi Mr. Swan," as if this is going to show I've taken Sippo out of context, well, Nick, you have your work cut out for you. If you can do apologetic work to make Mr. Sippo less offensive, go for it."

That wasn't necessarily my intent. The context would be helpful though, just for greater understanding of what he is trying to say and why. Also, if you don't provide a source or some type of proof for a quotation, then you're just asking everyone to take your word for it and the person who supposedly said it could just say that you made it all up.

I'm not saying you're lying about all of this. You don't seem like the type of person who would do that. I was just suprised to find a list of quotations without any documentation.

If the quotations are still over at Envoy, could you please provide links and/or screenshots?

Thanks,
phatcatholic

L P Cruz said...

Jeff,

On the other hand, it may well be a logical conclusion of his catechism, i.e., how he was taught and how he came to understand the Catholic faith

That is what I thought too. Since Mother Church is on the move, it is now quite hard to pin down where the pieces are.

I for one as you know was catechized in the hard edges of Baltimore catechism. Since I was taught that Mother Church is never wrong, what is the point of checking down the tracts of what you were taught? That would be implicit for a institution that has always been the same, right? In effect, what you got 13th century is still what you get today, so one may simplistically assume. (???)
Or maybe one should not assume anymore.

LPC

Carrie said...

Not necessarily, so long as the purpose of ecumenism is to invite separated people back home.

Well, that wouldn't be my definition of ecumenism, but I do understand that is Rome's definition. Seems a bit deceptive, though.

Dozie said...

“Seems a bit deceptive, though.”

No, although some find it convenient to ignore, the Catholic Church has been clear on the purpose of ecumenism. She has insisted that “the union of Christians can only be promoted by promoting the return to the one true Church of Christ of those who are separated from it, for in the past they have unhappily left it.” See the document from where the above was taken here. http://www.newadvent.org/library/docs_pi11ma.htm. It may be profitable to read the entire document otherwise paragraphs 10-12will do.

See also this document: http://www.ewtn.com/library/CURIA/CDFECUM.HTM. The current Holy Father cannot be unaware of these documents and their teachings and while he is judged by no one (Carrie, White, Swan, Dozie, etc included), he is, as the guarantor of Catholic Tradition, judged by his faithfulness to the same Tradition.

Jugulum said...

Dozie,

As a Protestant, I would just like to clarify something for you: I do not believe for one second that the Church that Christ established has ever fallen, or will ever fall.

Jeff Tan said...

Dozie said Protestantism .. publicly doubts and repudiates the promise of Christ - the gates of hell will not prevail against you.

They don't repudiate that. They instead believe that they are the Church, not the Catholic Church in communion with the bishop of Rome. This is what I gather, whether from some baptists who believe in their trail of blood from AD 241, or other Reformed folks who believe that the Reformation was God's hand, preserving the Church which now subsists in their Reformed tradition. Of course, we can point out doctrinal development and Church history, and we may still not get anywhere. Not that we should stop pointing them out, of course.

Carrie referred to the bishops of Florence and its condemnations of non-Catholics. I think it matters to look at a very different scenario back then compared to now. At that time, West and East (Latin and Greek) had come to an accord of reunion. When the council writes about the Catholic Church, therefore, they are talking about the one and only Church that Christ established -- this was pre-Reformation, and the Greek Orthodox were one with them. It is thus that the Council spoke of a singular path as we might also speak of Christ being the way, the truth and the life, and his one and only body on earth being the corporal presence of that one Christ on earth.

Succeeding clarifications, particularly post-Vatican II, must clarify things since the East is not again on with the West (that 15th century union did not persist, alas), and the West had its Reformation splits. But the succeeding clarifications speak of the Church on earth in communion with Rome, whereas the Council of Florence had only one Church to speak of, with West and East in one accord, and no Reformation as yet.

That is just one example of apparent contradiction that is not as simple as it seems. Doctrines do develop, however, and the developments can seem extreme (if not contradictory) when you look at the two poles without context.

Dozie said...

"Catholic Church, therefore, they are talking about the one and only Church that Christ established -- this was pre-Reformation, and the Greek Orthodox were one with them."

One could get the impression from the statement above that the nature of "Church" has changed and that following the Reformation, Christ established other churches.

If this is what you imply, then nothing can be further from the truth. I quote to you the official position of the Catholic Church (from an encyclical of Pius XI - Mortalium Animos). Pay attention to the last sentence.

“We believe that those who call themselves Christians can do no other than believe that a Church, and that Church one, was established by Christ; but if it is further inquired of what nature according to the will of its Author it must be, then all do not agree. A good number of [Protestants], for example, deny that the Church of Christ must be visible and apparent, at least to such a degree that it appears as one body of faithful, agreeing in one and the same doctrine under one teaching authority and government; but, on the contrary, they understand a visible Church as nothing else than a Federation, composed of various communities of Christians, even though they adhere to different doctrines, which may even be incompatible one with another. Instead, Christ our Lord instituted His Church as a perfect society, external of its nature and perceptible to the senses, which should carry on in the future the work of the salvation of the human race, under the leadership of one head, with an authority teaching by word of mouth, and by the ministry of the sacraments, the founts of heavenly grace; for which reason He attested by comparison the similarity of the Church to a kingdom, to a house, to a sheepfold, and to a flock. This Church, after being so wonderfully instituted, could not, on the removal by death of its Founder and of the Apostles who were the pioneers in propagating it, be entirely extinguished and cease to be, for to it was given the commandment to lead all men, without distinction of time or place, to eternal salvation: "Going therefore, teach ye all nations." In the continual carrying out of this task, will any element of strength and efficiency be wanting to the Church, when Christ Himself is perpetually present to it, according to His solemn promise: "Behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world?" It follows then that the Church of Christ not only exists to-day and always, but is also exactly the same as it was in the time of the Apostles, unless we were to say, which God forbid, either that Christ our Lord could not effect His purpose, or that He erred when He asserted that the gates of hell should never prevail against it.

Jugulum said...

Jeff Tan said,
"They instead believe that they are the Church, not the Catholic Church in communion with the bishop of Rome."

Speaking for myself: Not quite. I do not believe that Protestantism is The Church as opposed to the Roman Catholic Church. Rather, I believe putting it in those terms is a category error. You assume that Christ's Church is a particular institution.

I believe I am part of Christ's Church, which he founded. Or, in another sense, I'm part of the Church which was built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ himself as the chief cornerstone. Regardless of what sort of denomination in which you may be a member, if you know the Gospel and are in Christ, then you are part of his Church. If you are under the umbrella of authentic apostolic teaching--which we are, through the sure written source in which they passed on said teaching--then you are part of his Church. If that teaching does not fall, by the working of the Holy Spirit, in spite of the wolves and false teachers that grow up amidst the flock, then Christ's promise is fulfilled. God's word has not proceeded forth without accomplishing that for which he intended it.

Jeff Tan said...

Dozie said: One could get the impression from the statement above that the nature of "Church" has changed and that following the Reformation, Christ established other churches.

No, that was not what I meant at all. The recent clarifications by Pope Benedict XVI provide better clarification. Christ only established one Church, and that Church sojourned as a single institution (instituted by Christ) for a long time, united by communion with and in Christ. But then we had schisms, and the schismatic groups became separated from the Church. But they are separated in varying degrees, and in flux.

When I said what I did earlier, explaining the context of the Council of Florence, I was simply stating the background for that seemingly straightforward pronouncement. The situation was different in the sense that today's non-Catholic Christians are not deliberate schismatics: they are not former Catholics who understood what the Catholic faith was and chose to desert it. Today's Protestants are mostly Protestants from the cradle. Those among them who were Catholics for a time will have demonstrated only a rudimentary understanding of the Catholic faith. They are not in the same boat as, say, Luther or Calvin, whose departure from the Catholic faith was more deliberate. Which is not to say that they do not need Christ who is in the Catholic Church, i.e., in the fullness of truth. For example, they do have valid baptism, but for the sake of their sanctification, they are missing out, for example, on the Eucharist, especially those who think that the Eucharist is merely symbolic, rather than both symbolic and real/sacramental.

Jugulum said: I do not believe that Protestantism is The Church as opposed to the Roman Catholic Church. Rather, I believe putting it in those terms is a category error. You assume that Christ's Church is a particular institution.

I invite you to go back to the Bible and re-examine the evidence. Re-examine how Yahweh treated Israel, how St. Paul considered the Church as a body (corporeal), a household, how St. John describes the Church as the bride. Contrary to western societal influences, God's salvific designs encompasses his people as a family, which is a particular kind of institution, one that has sacred kinship bonds, not simply formal ones. One cannot discount the contradictions between denominational lines, because they can't all be right if they contradict one another. Christ's Truth cannot be subjective to individual preferences or interpretation. Their relevance may be subjective, but the objective truth within cannot be obscured as a result. Jesus asks "who do you say that I am?" Does he require baptism? Does he really become present in the Eucharist? Did he make marriage a sacrament? Did he institute a Church? Re-examine the evidence prayerfully and you might be surprised. He called it his Church, which he built. He renamed Simon Kepha, gave him a particular authority with keys to an office, as in the keys of the Davidic kingdom given to Eliakim in Isaiah 22, who is to shut and open with authority, a father to Jerusalem and the house of Judah. Just as the Davidic kingdom is an institution, so is the Church that the new and everlasting Davidic king establishes. And in this new kingdom, the people of God are not merely individuals: they are brothers and sisters, bound together in justification through adoption by the merits of the firstborn, Christ our Lord.

If that teaching does not fall, by the working of the Holy Spirit, in spite of the wolves and false teachers that grow up amidst the flock, then Christ's promise is fulfilled.

That is an interesting criterion, but what is the precise basis of whether or not a teaching has fallen? Is it based on how long a teaching has endured? Is it based on how old the teaching is?

BTW this is a very interesting discussion, and I'm learning here. So.. thanks for the charitable disagreements. :-)

Jugulum said...

Jeff,

I hope that I will continue to examine the Biblical evidence all my life; where I hear a Biblical argument, I will strive to truly and prayerfully listen to the witness of Scripture. I pray that God will always be opening my eyes, heart, and mind to see Christ more clearly, to know the Gospel more deeply, to accept his commands more truly, and to walk in the principles & regulations for the life of believers & the Church more consistently.

As my life & study continue, if the Roman Catholic arguments I see are similar to those you put forth, I think it very unlikely I will join you. I see great chasms between the Biblical data you put forward and the inferences & extensions & applications you attempt to make, and I see unfortunate misconceptions of Protestant viewpoints. You refer to the Church's status as a corporeal, familial body--as though I think the body in which I live and worship and minister is non-corporeal, with mere "formal" bonds. As though such truths could only point to Roman Catholic distinctives of church structure--sacerdotal priesthood, succession of apostolic authority, infallible Magisterium, councils with the authority to define as dogma notions entirely absent from the handed-down testimony of the apostolic fathers. You say unhelpful obviousnesses like "they can't all be right". You say that the people of God are not merely individuals; I just got done explaining the same thing to someone earlier today. You refer to the keys: Keys which Christ did not give to Peter in Matt. 16:19, but which he promised. Compare 16:19 with 18:18; compare the authority he promised in 16:19 with what he gave in 18:18; see that the authority was given to all the apostles. And see the absence of any idea in the epistles that such authority would be passed on to successor bishops. (For that matter, see that "bishops/overseers" and "elders/presbyters" are the same office.) You say, "He called it his Church, which he built," as though I hadn't talked in my last comment about Christ's church which he founded--if you thought I meant that he "founded" it but did not "build it", then you misunderstood--and as though that tells you anything about what he built, and what it looks like.

I hope that, as you continue to learn more about what Protestants actually do believe and teach, you yourself will honestly and carefully re-examine the evidence, with an open, discerning mind--and with a sincere effort to step back from the preconceptions & assumptions of your background, and to avoid anachronistically reading back into the text modern RCC definitions of things like "tradition", "body", "church", "real presence", and "keys". Read the early church fathers anew; read them in their own context; do not assume & import back your own definitions; put some effort into reading serious Protestant discussion of what they did and did not teach.


You asked:
"That is an interesting criterion, but what is the precise basis of whether or not a teaching has fallen? Is it based on how long a teaching has endured? Is it based on how old the teaching is?"

Er, sorry. That wasn't exactly intended as a criterion. It was intended as a partial definition of what Christ's promise guarantees. The Holy Spirit has never, at any point in history, seen fit to bring about total unanimity of doctrine; there has always existed disagreement, at every stage. (And often, that very disagreement has forced believers to delve deeper into God's word, to learn and to grow.) He has seen fit to preserve of the core of the gospel & of Christian orthodoxy, as taught with clarity by the infallible Scripture, as witnessed & evidenced by the testimony of the apostolic fathers and those who followed, as fought for throughout history.

Jeff Tan said...

Jugulum: Please pardon any offense that I might have given. I did not intend to. As I said, I am still learning, and whatever I said comes from what I have learned thus far from my own discussions with Evangelicals, Calvinists and Lutherans, among whom I count some friends (mostly Evangelical and one Lutheran).

the authority was given to all the apostles

Correct, the same authority was given to all apostles, but something was different about Simon. First, he was renamed Kepha (rock). Second, Jesus declares "on this rock" will he build his Church. Third, other passages reveal unique commissions given to Peter. He is called to strengthen his brothers. He is called to feed the Lord's flock. Last, he really does take on leadership roles which can be seen among the Apostles in the synoptic gospels. He also initiates the succession of the vacant bishopric of Judas the betrayer.

the absence of any idea in the epistles that such authority would be passed on to successor bishops

But what of Titus and Timothy? And instructions for them to likewise carry on the succession -- and admonishing them to authority over the household?

as though that tells you anything about what he built, and what it looks like

Not in that singular scene at Caesarea Phillipi, no, but taking everything in the NT from the epistles and accounts of what the Lord said in the gospels. For example, how did the Lord envision the arbitration of disputes? The final authority is the Church. How did the Lord envision the role of Church leaders? That they serve, rather than demand service. How were his disciples to make their decisions binding? Because he gives them the authority, because they who hear the Apostles hear Him, and those who reject the Apostles reject Him. How did St. Paul envision the discipline of erring members? Authoritatively, taking it for granted that the erring member must bend to his (St. Paul's) authority. How must the Church react to schisms and divisions? By shunning them and striving instead to be one in mind and practice. Now I do not claim that the practice of the Catholic Church now, nor in the 16th century, nor in the 10th century, were exactly as we read in the Bible. Doctrine develops, after all. To deny such development is to be unable to explain why we believe in the Trinity, the hypostatic union of the two natures of Christ, and the canonicity of the NT books and epistles that we use today.

you yourself will honestly and carefully re-examine the evidence, with an open, discerning mind--and with a sincere effort to step back from the preconceptions & assumptions of your background

I try, but I confess that I fall into error from time to time. I am ready to be corrected in those cases.

The Holy Spirit has never, at any point in history, seen fit to bring about total unanimity of doctrine; there has always existed disagreement, at every stage.

I assume you qualify somewhat? I mean that, despite the disagreements that were reported in Scripture, unanimity was nevertheless the ideal that the Apostles maintained, and were successful in for the most part. Otherwise, the inspired writings of St. Paul calling admonishing the churches he wrote to would not make sense when he tells them to be one, to shun divisions, etc.

It also pays to qualify that statement somewhat because, just as there are many gifts from the same Spirit, there can be differences in practice, discipline and liturgy. What the Spirit will not cause is contradiction in belief.

disagreement has forced believers to delve deeper into God's word, to learn and to grow.

You hit the nail on the head: this is what causes the development of doctrine.

Jugulum said...

Jeff,

I just got in to work, so no time for a response at the moment. I just wanted to reassure you on this point:

You said,
"Please pardon any offense that I might have given. I did not intend to. As I said, I am still learning, and whatever I said comes from what I have learned thus far from my own discussions with Evangelicals, Calvinists and Lutherans, among whom I count some friends (mostly Evangelical and one Lutheran)."

Whoops! That's part of the problem with written communication--we lose tone of voice. Don't worry, I took no offense at all. I suppose "learn more about what Protestants actually do believe and teach" came across more hostile or cantankerous than I actually felt. I didn't think that you were twisting anything--I was just offering clarification of my own view, and expressing my hope that you will prayerfully seek the truth with an open, discerning mind. As we all should.