Monday, January 28, 2008

The Underwhelming Trent Vote, Part 4

Since there still seems to be some confusion over exactly what the 44% vote at the Coucil of Trent was on, I thought I would address the issue one last time (see part 1, 2, 3). I have been waiting to see if Gary would address some of the mistakes in his post on this subject, but since that hasn’t happen yet, I will go ahead and share what information I have.

Gary’s post entitled “The 44% Solution: Why Anti-Catholics Should Trust Their Instincts” seems to be relying heavily on a paper from Peter Duncker (The Canon of the OT at the Council of Trent, Catholic Biblical Quarterly, vol 15) which describes much of the discussion around the canon that occurred at Trent. After reading through this article again, I am not quite sure how Gary ended up at the conclusions that he did.

First, Duncker points to the better citation from the Concilium Tridentinum (CT) dealing with the discussions on February 15th (the date of the 44% vote):

“February 15th—Third General Congregation. Severoli again gives the more extensive account (footnote CT. I, 31-33)”

But instead of pulling Severoli’s account in volume 1 of the CT, Gary pulls from volume 5 (pg 10) which is a section that is confusing and contradictory according to Duncker (pg 290, CBQ). Now, instead of explaining why there may be some discrepancies in the above mentioned accounts, let me just quote what was stated by Jedin in History of the Council of Trent (pg 56, footnote) in regards to the vote:

“Severoli, C.T.,Vol. I, p. 32,1. 42, clearly shows that the result of the vote of 15 February relates to the addition of the anathema and not, as Massarelli endeavours to prove, ibid., p. 480, l. 42, to the acceptance without discussion of the Florentine canon; above all, and contrary to what the acts, Vol. V, p. 10, ll. 1-6, seem to hint at, not to a distinction of various degrees of authority.”

So Jedin, the great historian on Trent, says the vote was on the addition of the anathema (not on refutations, not on distinctions). Duncker seems to agree (pg 291). Now, whether Gary believes this or not I can not ascertain. I re-read Gary’s post and he seems to be unsure of his own opinion and he seems to have misread Duncker:

“The 44% vote had nothing to do with the contents of the canon, rather it appears that the vote concerned the inclusion of a anathema (the application of canonical penalties to those who deny what is stated). I should note that, according to Dunker, there is some slight disagreement among the sources and it is not completely clear whether this vote was on the inclusion of the anathema or whether it was on whether it would be illicit for the council to include a refutation of some of the attacks on the canon in its decree. Dunker makes a good case that the 44% vote was on the latter and not the former.”

First, Gary needs to read pgs 290-291 of Duncker again because Duncker makes a case for the anathema as the subject of the vote, not the discussion. Plus, the “discussion” that Duncker was referring to was actually around the distinction of degrees of authority (pg 290), not on a refutation to attacks as Gary states. I am not going to quote Duncker here because it’s just not that interesting, but if Gary reads pgs 289-292 carefully, I think he will see his errors.

Second, Gary’s post appears to be in conflict with his own book (Why Catholic Bibles Are Bigger) where he states:

“The Third General Congregation (February 15) offered two questions for final approval by the entire congregation. The first question asked if the Council of Trent should approve all the books which had been approved at Florence; each and every one of the fathers responded in the affirmative [L. placer]. The second question asked if an anathema should be added to the decree on the canon. The inclusion of an anathema was carried with 24 votes in favor, 15 votes against.” (pg 236)

Oddly enough, the answers that Gary was originally searching for can be found in his own book!!

He did not document the 16 abstentions, but everything else he needed is there (the vote, the date, the place), including a citation to Jedin’s account from pg 56 which I quoted above to clarify this whole matter. I would suggest Gary go back and read Duncker, Jedin, and his own book and consider revising his post on this subject. Perhaps he was a bit too hasty in attempting to respond to Dr. White because these mistakes just shouldn’t have occurred.

With that said, let me remind you of Jedin's analysis of the vote on the anathema:

“The result of the above-mentioned vote of the general congregation of 15 February committed the Council to the wider canon…”

Metzger's original quote may have appeared to be misleading, but I think his assessment of the effect of the vote was in-line with Jedin. The 44% majority vote to include the anathema committed the Council to the final canon we find in the decree of April 8, 1546.

My question from my prior post regarding this vote on the anathema remains:

“That’s right. The decision to adopt the Florentine canon as an article of faith was agreed to by only 44% of the council members.

I guess my questions is, why did 56% of the council members believe that the biblical canon that was supposedly taught throughout church history, accepted by Hippo/Carthage and later confirmed by the Council of Florence, perhaps shouldn’t be an article of faith? In other words, if the historical witness of the canon was so clear that Luther (and Protestants in general) could be accused of “throwing out 7 books of the Bible” (a common RC apologist claim), why were 56% of the council members not in favor of making the canon an article of faith?”


32 comments:

Kepha said...

Majority decision with papal approval?

James Swan said...

Carrie,

This was a very interesting read. Well done.

BJ said...

Carrie,

I've been reading this for a while, although I haven't commented. However, I think I must be missing something here.

According to your quote of Michuta's book, there were 2 votes. 1 to accept the Florentine Canon (including the Deuterocanonical Books), and the second to institute an anathema against those who reject the Florentine Canon. Michuta says the first was unanimous, but the second only had 44% approval.

With that in mind, I don't see how your concluding question applies. According to these quotes, the canon was voted unanimously, but the anathema wasn't. What am I missing here?

Carrie said...

Majority decision with papal approval?

Papal approval on the final decree.

Carrie said...

With that in mind, I don't see how your concluding question applies. According to these quotes, the canon was voted unanimously, but the anathema wasn't. What am I missing here?

Go back to "part 2" of this series and read the longer Jedin quote. He says the members agreed to accept the canon "within the limits" of the Florentine canon. What this means may become clear as I post some more on the distinction discussion.

As far as how to reconcile the first vote and the second vote, that is sorta my question. Why did only 44% of the members agree to the addition of the anathema, making the canon an article of faith (and an infallible decision?)?

Rhology said...

/me is in awe of Carrie.

BJ said...

Carrie,

I went back and read your previous post again. Here's where my problem lies.

According to Michuta, there were 2 votes. The first voted on unanimously ratified the canon. The second was about the anathema. If Michuta is right there, and you don't seem to dispute him on that, then Jedin's conclusion that the second vote ratified the canon is wrong. The canon had already been decided, now the issue was about the anathema.

What I don't understand is how it was the second vote that ratified the canon, when the first vote was solely about that issue.

Carrie said...

If Michuta is right there, and you don't seem to dispute him on that, then Jedin's conclusion that the second vote ratified the canon is wrong. The canon had already been decided, now the issue was about the anathema.

BJ,

First off, Michuta mentioned the 2 votes but later said something different, so why don't we leave his opinion out of the discussion since it is difficult to ascertain.

There isn't an easy answer here. The discussions that occurred in February of 1546 around the canon were not written down in as much detail as later sections b/c Massarelli wasn't appointed as secretary (officially) until April. To understand what sort of thoughts/trends were occurring in these discussions, you have to put together a few different puzzle pieces. Of what I have read, Jedin has done the most extensive research so I trust his analysis is taking as much of the data into consideration.

Note, Jedin mentions upfront the unanimity around accepting the Florentine canon "within the limits within which the decree of the Council of Florence". He then goes on to describe the discussions that occurred with HOW to accept that canon. The addition of an anathema made the canon decision "an article of faith" for all Catholics. 56% of the members at that vote did not agree (or were unsure) to the addition of making the canon an article of faith. However, since the majority voting did win, the addition of an anathema to the canon shut down any further discussions - it was now to be an article of faith. That makes sense to me in light of what Jedin said. That vote didn't ratify the canon (that didn't occur officially until the final decree on April 8th), but that vote "sealed the deal".

So, why did 56% not give their approval to the anathema addition to the canon? I am not sure. As I have more time to post on the discussions around this topic which (as I said before) are closely intertwined with the discussions on Tradition, I think you will get a feel for what some of the opposing ideas/concerns may be.

But as for why exactly 56% of the members did not want to make the canon an article of faith (by adding an anathema) when they had already agreed unanimously to accept the Floretine canon, well, that is interesting. My personal opinion is that the council did not want to commit itself to the level of an article of faith b/c of some of the open theological questions around the historical canon.


Jedin:

“The discussion of the canon of Scripture, which began in the general congregations of 12 and 15 February, showed that there was unanimous desire to take up the canon of Holy Scripture within the limits within which the decree of the Council of Florence of 4 February 1441 for the reunion of the Jacobites, had circumscribed it. Two questions were to be debated, namely, should this conciliar decision be simply taken over, without previous discussion of the subject, as the jurists Del Monte and Pacheco opined, or should the arguments recently advanced against the canonicity of certain books of the Sacred Scriptures be examined and refuted by the Council, as the other two legates, with Madruzzo and the Bishop of Fano, desired? The second question was closely linked with the first, namely should the Council meet the difficulties raised both in former times and more recently, by distinguishing different degrees of authority within the canon?

With regard to the first question the legates themselves were not of one mind. In the general congregation of 12 February, Del Monte, taking the standpoint of formal Canon Law, declared that the Florentine canon, since it was a decision of a General Council, must be accepted without discussion. On the other hand Cervini and Pole, supported by Madruzzo and a number of prelates familiar with the writings of the reformers and the humanists, urged the necessity of countering in advance the attacks that were to be expected from the Protestants by consolidating their own position, and of providing their own theologians with weapons for the defence of the decree as well as for the instruction of the faithful. However, their efforts were in vain; in fact Pacheco, who shared Del Monte's view, proposed in the general congregation of 15 February to prevent any future discussions whether this or that book was part of the canon by adding an anathema to the decree, that is, by declaring it article of faith. The discussion was so obstinate that there remained no other means to ascertain the opinion of the Council than to put the matter to the vote. The result was that twenty-four prelates were found to be on Del Monte's side, and fifteen (sixteen) on the other. The decision to accept the Florentine canon simpliciter, that is, without further discussion, and as an article of faith, already contained the answer to the second question.” (History of the Council of Trent, pg 55-56)

As Jedin states later on pg 57: “The result of the above-mentioned vote of the general congregation of 15 February committed the Council to the wider canon…”

BJ said...

Carrie,

Thanks for taking the time to give such a detailed response. I appreciate it. I'm going to continue to think on the matter.

Blessings in Christ!

------- Theo ------- said...

Carrie asks:
"In other words, if the historical witness of the canon was so clear that Luther (and Protestants in general) could be accused of “throwing out 7 books of the Bible” (a common RC apologist claim), why were 56% of the council members not in favor of making the canon an article of faith?"

Carrie, my sister in Our Lord Jesus and beloved of Christ:
I can answer your question; however, I must do so by pointing out that your question itself is flawed. I ask for your forbearance, assured that this response is not meant uncharitably.

To explain: your question incorrectly assumes that the debate over whether or not the canon should be made a dogmatic article of faith was based solely or mostly upon the arguments supporting their contents as members; however, the question, "Is the canon to be held as infallible dogma?" is not the same question as "What writings are fit to comprise the canon?” One could easily believe that every book has historically been held as canonical and should be so held without believing the canon itself should be stated dogmatically. A vote to not make the canon dogma would not by any means be a vote against any of its books.

Your question supposes that (if) delegates voted against dogmatic statement, they must have done so out of lack of confidence in the canon. You draw a conclusion without correlation.

From my perspective, it seems that the issue of recognizing a dogmatic canon came about in reaction to crises exacerbated by the Reformation. If so, obviously, what that canon must entail became an important matter that also had to be settled if the main issue was to be settled; however, the historical content of the canon seems highly unlikely to have been the prime impetus to state it dogmatically.

However, for the sake of discussion, let’s assume for a moment that your question is valid, and indeed these men had no historical witness of what should and should not be in the Bible. My questions to you become:


If God, through fallible men preserved the scripture without error throughout those 15 centuries (as He did), why was He so poor at preserving the canon; and to add its corollary, would God demand the Church obey scripture and only scripture for 1500 years but hide from the Church what is and is not scripture?


Given that God did not preserve the canon, but allowed the same body that preserved the scriptures themselves to promulgate false books along with the true, what makes you think the Protestant canon is correct; and to add its corollary, having an even less consistent historical witness than these men had and knowing that they perverted the canon over many centuries without correction, how do you now know your current canon is the correct one and all others are faulted?

Lastly, can anyone change the Protestant canon today?


Humbly, I submit these as one who remains by God’s grace a seeker of truth who is your humble servant and brother in Christ Jesus, our Lord,
--Theo

Carrie said...

Your question supposes that (if) delegates voted against dogmatic statement, they must have done so out of lack of confidence in the canon. You draw a conclusion without correlation.

No, the question supposes that the exact nature of the canon was a somewhat open-ended idea up and to that point. There were a large group of books that made up the limits of the canon, but within that group dispute on the exact character of the books was allowed.
Within those limits, Prots went one way and Cats another. So the continual Catolic pop-apologetic argument that Protestants "removed books from the Bible" is ridiculous and the confusion at Trent over the canon supports this.

However, for the sake of discussion, let’s assume for a moment that your question is valid, and indeed these men had no historical witness of what should and should not be in the Bible.

That wasn't what I was claiming so the rest of your comment is irrelevant.

------- Theo ------- said...

"That wasn't what I was claiming so the rest of your comment is irrelevant."


Carrie, my sister in Christ:

I'm sorry that my misunderstanding your phrase: "if the historical witness of the canon was so clear..." led me to incorrectly believe you were asserting that the historical witness of the canon was not clear.

Let's agree that I am mistaken.
Let us then please negate that premise and address the obvious questions that remain as we move on:

1)
Did God demand the Church obey scripture and only scripture for 1500 years but withold from the Church the knowledge of what is and is not scripture?


2)
If God, through fallible men provided and then preserved the scriptures without error throughout those 15 centuries (as He did), why did He wait until the 16th century to let men know what books are and are not scripture?

3)
Given that God did not authoritatively reveal what is and is not scripture, but even allowed the same body that preserved the scriptures themselves to promulgate false books along with the true for 15 centuries; and given as you say, "There were a large group of books that made up the limits of the canon, but within that group dispute on the exact character of the books was allowed. Within those limits, Prots went one way and Cats another," what makes you authoritatively know the Protestant canon is the correct one and all others are faulted?

4)
Can an anyone authoritatively change the Protestant canon today?

Humbly, I submit these as your servant in the name of Jesus, Our Lord,
--Theo

Carrie said...

I'm sorry that my misunderstanding your phrase: "if the historical witness of the canon was so clear..."

Theo,

"not so clear" (as I said) and "no historical witness" (as you said)are not the same ideas.

As to your questions, I am tempted to answer for the sake of others who may be reading, but all your questions have been answered many times over by much more knowledgeable people than me. I am not interested in a general canon debate which is used my most Catholic e-pologists to try and convince you that you can't have assurance of your canon unless you have an infallible, earthly organization (and guess what Rome can supposedly offer). If you want to turn a blind eye to the discussions that occurred at Trent, that is your choice.

I will tell you what I told CK in a previous post: If you cannot trust God to put together the canon without making men infallible, the issue is yours, not mine.

(people unfamiliar with false canon assertions of Catholics can find more info here

------- Theo ------- said...

"I will tell you what I told CK in a previous post: If you cannot trust God to put together the canon without making men infallible, the issue is yours, not mine."

Carrie, my sister in Christ:

I do not follow you. I have not said that one requires God to put together the canon by making men infallible, but I merely recognize that our infallible God did indeed put it together.

This is not some requirement of mine, but a necessary consequence of God’s decree, if it is indeed His (as you and I both believe). You already assert that God put together the canon. Do you assert that He made mistakes? Or do you assert He made no mistakes, but He did not authoritatively reveal to men the true canon? Or do you assert something else?

My other questions posed you remain both valid and for the time being, unanswered by you, as I am not aware of them being answered elsewhere in spite of your general reference that they have been.

I fully understand your desire to avoid getting bogged down the second and third questions. They are rather open-ended, and a thoughtful and reasonable reply might fill up a book. It would be unreasonable for me to expect more than a brief summary.

To recap:

1)
Did God demand the Church obey scripture and only scripture for 1500 years but withhold from the Church the knowledge of what is and is not scripture?

This is answered with a "Yes," or a "No." I cannot imagine why you avoid answering it. It requires much more effort for you to avoid it than answer it.


2)
If God, through fallible men provided and then preserved the scriptures without error throughout those 15 centuries (as He did), why did He wait until the 16th century to let men know what books are and are not scripture (assuming that God finally did reveal it to the Protestants)?

This of course cannot be answered with a “yes” or a “no.” A brief summary and some specific references to where it is answered would be helpful.

3)
Given that God did not authoritatively reveal what is and is not scripture, but even allowed the same body that preserved the scriptures themselves to promulgate false books along with the true for 15 centuries; and given as you say, "There were a large group of books that made up the limits of the canon, but within that group dispute on the exact character of the books was allowed. Within those limits, Prots went one way and Cats another," what makes you authoritatively know the Protestant canon is the correct one and all others are faulted?

Same as # 2 above: A brief summary and references would do well.

4)
Can anyone authoritatively change (or for that matter, can anyone even authoritatively state) the Protestant canon today?

Again this is a "yes" or "no" question" that ought not require much labor on your part. Surely you must know. Why not tell me?



With patience I await your clearing these up for truth's sake as I remain...
Your servant and brother,
--Theo

------- Theo ------- said...

"Theo,

"not so clear" (as I said) and "no historical witness" (as you said)are not the same ideas."

Yes, you are absolutely correct. I ought to have said, "not a clear historical witness," and not have simply stated the inference as to your meaning. I regret any confusion this caused you.

Fortunately this technical revision does not alter what I took to be the inference of your original comment (that the delegates did not have an historical witness to the canon) or the substance of the exchange as clarified--so let's be glad we dodged the bullet on this one.

With sincere prayers for your blessing in Christ,
--Theo

Carrie said...

Theo,

Some of the answers you are looking for can be found at the link I gave above. Have you checked that?

The rest of the answers can likely be found in the following two books which can both be read online at no cost to you:

A Disputation on Holy Scripture By William Whitaker

A Scholastic History of the Canon of Holy Scripture by John Cosin

If you really want the answers to your questions, I am afraid you will have to do your own legwork.

Fortunately this technical revision does not alter what I took to be the inference of your original comment (that the delegates did not have an historical witness to the canon) or the substance of the exchange as clarified

If true, then you seem to be incapable of following the argument here. The exact nature of the canon, specifically with regards to the deuterocanonical books, was disputed throughout history. The makeup of the Council of Trent represented this history.

To acquaint yourself with the admissions of your own Church’s scholars on the unclear witness to the exact nature of the biblical canon, I suggest you check the New & Old Catholic Encyclopedia’s sections on the biblical canon and Brown & FitzMyer’s Jerome Biblical Commentary (section on “Canonicity”). Relevant quotes from some of these sources can be found online, but I don’t have time to chase them down for you now.

------- Theo ------- said...

"If you really want the answers to your questions, I am afraid you will have to do your own legwork."

Dear Carrie, sister in Christ:

I would not ask these questions of you if I did not want to know your answers. On the other hand, if you actually wanted to answer them, I'd expect you would have by now.

I will look into the links you provided; however, please realize that without at least a summary from you, I'm left to derive whatever take I happen to get from those writings as I investigate. Therefore I humbly request that once I've gone to the trouble to research what is actually your answer, that you please show some patience in your nearly inevitable protest that what I conclude is after all, not actually your belief. The result will eventually be that if you are actually interested in conversation, you will have to answer the questions yourself, anyway. Still, I find your responses curious, as by now you might have actually answered the questions multiple times with less effort and verbiage than you've used this far in order to not answer them.

If it makes things less difficult for you, for now, let's dispense with the open-ended questions.

As I said before, the "yes or no" questions ought to be no problem for you. These are plainly silly for me to research when you can readily answer them in a single monosyllable, each.

For your ease of use, I provide a facilitating format:

Did God demand the Church obey scripture and only scripture for 1500 years but withhold from the Church the knowledge of what is and is not scripture?

Please select one answer:

A) YES B) NO

Can anyone authoritatively change (or for that matter, can anyone even authoritatively state) the Protestant canon today?

Again, please select one answer:

A) YES B) NO


With continued patience and renewed hope that your answers are enlightening and well worth the effort required to unearth them, I remain.
Your servant and brother,
--Theo

Rhology said...

The relevant comments around here are not numerous.

------- Theo ------- said...

"The relevant comments around here are not numerous."

Rhology, my brother, you confuse me.

The current topic appears to include the canon of scripture and the purpose of Trent in its meaning. The conversation above follows a direct thread from article, and specific claims made by Carrie in it regarding whether or not the canon was clear to the Church prior to the council of Trent and its implications.

I would be dishonest not to express my concern that you merely seek to have my questions deleted on a pretense, and thus help Carrie avoid facing the uncomfortable implications and questions that arise from her assertion. If that is indeed your intent, please know that I would much prefer an honest acknowledgment of her recalcitrance and simply leave the conversation at that.

With sincere prayers for your perpetual blessing in full union with Jesus Christ, our savior, I remain by grace,
Your servant and brother,
--Theo

Carrie said...

The relevant comments around here are not numerous.

Thanks, Rhology. I was thinking the exact same thing.

Theo: On the other hand, if you actually wanted to answer them, I'd expect you would have by now.

That’s right. I am not interested in this tangential conversation. If you have relevant facts related to the proceedings at the CoT, feel free to add them. Otherwise, I am not interested. What did or did not happen at Trent is not based on your need for certainty.

I will look into the links you provided; however, please realize that without at least a summary from you, I'm left to derive whatever take I happen to get from those writings as I investigate.

Great, formulate your own opinion. I’m not interested in spoon-feeding you.

The result will eventually be that if you are actually interested in conversation, you will have to answer the questions yourself, anyway.

I am not interested in the conversation. That should have been obvious by now.

Still, I find your responses curious, as by now you might have actually answered the questions multiple times with less effort and verbiage than you've used this far in order to not answer them.

Here we go.

As I said before, the "yes or no" questions ought to be no problem for you. These are plainly silly for me to research when you can readily answer them in a single monosyllable, each.

More…

For your ease of use, I provide a facilitating format:
Please select one answer:
A) YES B) NO


Building…

With continued patience and renewed hope that your answers are enlightening and well worth the effort required to unearth them,

Almost there…

and thus help Carrie avoid facing the uncomfortable implications and questions that arise from her assertion.

Ah, the truth comes out. I knew this was the game you were playing but I am glad you finally spelled it out for all our readers.

The problem with your questions, Theo, is that they cannot be answered with a simple yes or no b/c they are formulated imprecisely in an attempt to solidify the Catholic position that an infallible guide is necessary to establish the canon. You show a lack of understanding of the Protestant view on canon development, that is why I pointed you to more extensive resources.

Do you really think I cannot see what you are trying to do, especially as you continue to ask and hint that I must be incapable of answering since I am not responding? If you want to try and trick people into thinking you have stumped the poster with your unanswerable questions, you are going to have to work a lot harder on your delivery. The “humble servant” doesn’t quite pull it off - I saw this scam a mile away.

I do not believe you are interested in my answers, but you are interested in discrediting me. Sorry, I am not playing that game. If you are truly interested in the Protestant thoughts on these issues, I have directed you to two excellent, free resources. If you want more, there are others you can purchase. If you would just like to engage in a debate on this issue in defense of Holy Mother Church, please consider calling Dr. White’s Dividing Line Show – the next one should be tomorrow at 4pm MST (http://aomin.org/articles/webcast.html). I’m sure Dr. White would be happy to have you on.

------- Theo ------- said...

"I do not believe you are interested in my answers"

Dear Carrie, beloved of Our Lord and one for whom He who is perfect gave his life to save, you are wrong. I am most truly interested in your answers. They are not posed to discredit you, but to enlighten us all. I see no reason, that you should not answer them (aside from my supposition that that they make you uncomfortable with your assertion), given that you claim to know the answers.

I'm sorry you view these attempts to communicate and converse with you in a reasoned and honest fashion for the sake of discerning real truth a "scam." I’m also sorry that even the simplest of honest and forthright questions posed to you to defend your assertion in light of your theology and its implications must go unanswered.

It is with full and sincere prayer to our Lord Jesus (whose name I shall not and do not take in vain), that I pray for your blessing and full enlightenment in all truth of the Gospel and your eternal joy that is found only in Christ. I do not offer intercessions as a scam or deceit.

I remain by God's good grace, your humble servant and brother in Christ Jesus,
--Theo

Rhology said...

Have no fear, Theo, I'm sure the subject will come up again. But the subject of THIS post is the vote at Trent.

------- Theo ------- said...

Thank you Rhology.

My mistake. I thought that Carrie's final question and apparent point of her entire article, "...if the historical witness of the canon was so clear that Luther (and Protestants in general) could be accused of “throwing out 7 books of the Bible” (a common RC apologist claim), why were 56% of the council members not in favor of making the canon an article of faith?" had something to do with the topic and that replies to that comment were appropriate.

Although I expect that you can't imagine how anyone would think so radical a thought, I ask you to please forgive what you must view as my unaccountable misunderstanding in this instance.

In the meanwhile, may the same Holy God who demands our witness to Truth, bless us all at least according to our witness--or well beyond it, should that witness prove wanting.

By grace I reain your servant and brother in Christ,
--Theo

melanchton said...

This little video here may shed light on this weighty discussion. God's richest blessing to all readers.

Pilgrimsarbour said...

Brethren and Friends,

I have not had time to follow the discussion here until recently, but I would like to add one thought.

I would like to say that my friend Theo, whom I know in the "real world," is indeed a man of great character. He has stood up for me when my character has been under attack by Catholics, and so as a Reformed Protestant I stand up for him now. I know him to be a man of the utmost integrity. He is much more interested in discussion than debate, and to that end, approaches everything with a view to humility and charity. I can assure you that this is not an affectation for the blogosphere, but is a consistent reflection of his character. It would be incorrect to think that he is conducting some kind of scam in his carefully worded comments.

I regret the misunderstandings that have occurred in this combox and hope that future discussions with Theo can continue without anxiety in regards to his motives.

Having said this, I acknowledge that none of us is perfect, and I pray for myself as well as all of you that the Holy Spirit may guide us into truth as we conduct ourselves in love in the Name of our blessed Saviour and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Greatest blessings to all in Christ,

Pilgrimsarbour

Carrie said...

It would be incorrect to think that he is conducting some kind of scam in his carefully worded comments.

Thanks for the insight, PA.

If true (and I will take your word and Theo's) then I will say that Theo's approach to the discussion certainly felt like a game. In fact, in his final comment after I called him out, he continued with comments like "I see no reason, that you should not answer them (aside from my supposition that that they make you uncomfortable with your assertion), given that you claim to know the answers."

When I read that I see his implication as less than congenial, implying that I am uncomfortable with my views and/or lying about my ability to answer. These are opinions of my motives/abilities that Theo should just keep to himself if he would actually like to engage others in discussion. It would also be helpful to remember that I am not obligated to answer anyone's comments.

Mike Burgess said...

Carrie,
With all due respect, don't you open yourself up to such a responsibility to answer critics after you initiate content which can easily be viewed as inflammatory? Shouldn't others reading your posts be able to follow Ronald Reagan's advice and "trust, but verify"?

You still, in my opinion, have not addressed the shift in your position from the first of these four posts to the position you now seem to be advocating. You have not directly offered convincing evidence that my speculation (i.e., that the vote concerned the inclusion of discussion and/or refutation of Protestant/humanist positions on the canon along with or in the form of anathemae as opposed to the vote being about the content of the canon) is necessarily wrong.

As to the question you raised regarding my use of "de fide," I admit I was inexact. You are correct that Trent was the first time the canon (already approved by Hippo, Carthage 397 A.D. and 419 A.D., which were approved Popes Damasus, Siricius and Innocent I, and later by Florence) was effectually promulgated infallibly. There I concede the technical correctness of the use of de fide in the limited sense. However, as I mentioned, the content was propounded and accepted by the earlier authorities I listed, and Augustine apparently convinced Siricius to speak on the matter. Jerome's contemporary Exuperius had the Hippo and first Carthage canon confirmed for him by Innocent I. Florence was an ecumenical council. All these carry enough weight that the later Tridentine decree is a reiteration of the content of that part of the deposit of the faith. The specific language and qualifications bear repeating, by the way:

"Following, then, the examples of the orthodox Fathers, it receives and venerates with a feeling of piety and reverence all the books both of the Old and New Testaments, since one God is the author of both; also the traditions, whether they relate to faith or to morals, as having been dictated either orally by Christ or by the Holy Ghost, and preserved in the Catholic Church in unbroken succession.

It has thought it proper, moreover, to insert in this decree a list of the sacred books, lest a doubt might arise in the mind of someone as to which are the books received by this council.[4]

They are the following:

Of the Old Testament, the five books of Moses, namely, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; Josue, Judges, Ruth, the four books of Kings, two of Paralipomenon, the first and second of Esdras, the latter of which is called Nehemias, Tobias, Judith, Esther, Job, the Davidic Psalter of 150 Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, the Canticle of Canticles, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Isaias, Jeremias, with Baruch, Ezechiel, Daniel, the twelve minor Prophets, namely, Osee, Joel, Amos, Abdias, Jonas, Micheas, Nahum, Habacuc, Sophonias, Aggeus, Zacharias, Malachias; two books of Machabees, the first and second.

Of the New Testament, the four Gospels, according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John; the Acts of the Apostles written by Luke the Evangelist; fourteen Epistles of Paul the Apostle, to the Romans, two to the Corinthians, to the Galatians, to the Ephesians, to the Philippians, to the Colossians, two to the Thessalonians, two to Timothy, to Titus, to Philemon, to the Hebrews; two of Peter the Apostle, three of John the Apostle, one of James the Apostle, one of Jude the Apostle, and the Apocalypse of John the Apostle.

If anyone does not accept as sacred and canonical the aforesaid books in their entirety and with all their parts, as they have been accustomed to be read in the Catholic Church and as they are contained in the old Latin Vulgate Edition, and knowingly and deliberately rejects the aforesaid traditions, let him be anathema.

Let all understand, therefore, in what order and manner the council, after having laid the foundation of the confession of faith, will proceed, and who are the chief witnesses and supports to whom it will appeal in conforming dogmas and in restoring morals in the Church."

Context is always significant.

Thanks for bringing all this up. I hadn't ruminated on the canon and its settling in a long time. You brought some information to my attention which I hadn't seen, and I appreciate that. Thanks.

I wonder if you have any interest in investigating the questions of original language of composition of some of the deuterocanonicals, especially in light of contemporary Qumran scholarship, considering that there appears to be evidence that some if not all were originally composed in Hebrew or Aramaic and the objection of Protestants to pre-NT works of Greek composition?

------- Theo ------- said...

PA, my brother in Christ and ever good example:

Thank you for your kind and generous advocacy. As usual, yours is an imitation of Christ that is well worth imitation.


Carrie, my sister in Jesus who poured out his precious blood for your sake:
I expect you will not find this easy to recognize; however, please know that my responses have been greatly measured. They are intended to provoke thought, not people, except to provoke them to thought.

I ask you to please consider that this conversation is not tangential. The premise you build in your article has repercussions, and questioning those repercussions is utterly reasonable discourse.

You assert that especially my yes or no questions "cannot be answered with a simple yes or no b/c they are formulated imprecisely." This assertion deserves challenge. What is imprecise about these questions? Neither are they deceptive nor leading. Also they are not of the "Are you still beating your mother?" variety found in the polemic debater's toolkit. These are straightforward questions, directly consequential to your thesis and whose answers reveal the implications of the rule of Scripture over faith as you see it.

When I say that I see no reason for you to not answer them aside from discomfort with their implications, because they are precise indeed and they may be answered with equal precision. I am confident that you do know how you would answer these questions were you not so worried that my asking them is a "trap." The problem I expect you have seen by now is that whether you answer them or not directly in this thread, you and the readers here have asked themselves these questions and must now either wrestle with the answers in their heart or cast them aside as too difficult.

I merely report my honest perception. It is not a "game" and it is not a deceit. It is not "sophistry." It is a simple appeal to face one's thesis with reason--and this is an exercise that I expect you are equal to executing--to the point where my attempts to get you to do some took on an unseemly air of condescension I ought not to have indulged.

I have taken your criticism from a different thread regarding my status as a non-blogging critic of blogging as well worth testing. You may now find my own blog at this URL:
http://reluctantbloggerdiary.blogspot.com/
All are welcome.

Mike B. my fellow laborer for the Gospel and champion of The Master and The Bride:
You make excellent points again, as always. For me the trick is to try to respond to inflammatory remarks in a manner that has much more Christ than Theo in it. Sometimes I manage it to a degree. Other times, as we witness--not so much. I hope and pray that as people post (myself included) we do so as agents of Our Lord.

All of the above I submit as your fellow servant of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (Happy are we who are called to His table!),
--Theo

Carrie said...

With all due respect, don't you open yourself up to such a responsibility to answer critics after you initiate content which can easily be viewed as inflammatory?

Inflammatory is in the eye of the beholder. I do not post here b/c of a desire to be polemic or inflammatory, I post on what interests me and engage in conversations that interest me. I am not obligated to answer anyone.

You still, in my opinion, have not addressed the shift in your position from the first of these four posts to the position you now seem to be advocating.

I thought the shift was obvious. I think if you read my posts chronologically, you will see that my understanding of this topic developed as I became acquainted with more sources. I have added a note at the bottom of my first post so that people can follow the developments, I can not say the same for Gary. His posts still sit as is, not correcting his errors. He also doesn't allow comments at all, perhaps you can take that up with him since you seem upset that I allow comments, but may not answer them.

You have not directly offered convincing evidence that my speculation (i.e., that the vote concerned the inclusion of discussion and/or refutation of Protestant/humanist positions on the canon along with or in the form of anathemae as opposed to the vote being about the content of the canon) is necessarily wrong.

I'm not sure I am following exactly what you are saying, but read Jedin's footnote about the vote again. The vote was on the addition of the anathema to the decree on the canon. I think my answer makes more sense than yours.

I still have more to post and am trying to focus on that, which is why I will likely keep comments closed on my posts for a bit. Sorry, I don't have time for everything and posting the material I have is my first priority.

Carrie said...

Theo,

The majority of scripture was not in dispute throughout history. The NT was settled fairly early on and only the deuterocanon books (a minority of the OT) were in dispute until the Reformation. I am not sure what parts of Judith or Tobit you believe God has demanded you to obey, but I have no problems here.

As far as an authority for changing the Protestant canon, well, that would be God. This is also something that doesn't keep me up at night since I have no reason to expect God to change or add to the canon. If he does, I expect he would make his will known as he did in the past. I'll cross that bridge if it ever happens.

Now, I have answered your questions and I would appreciate you respecting my requests to move on from this discussion. Nothing you have brought up has caused any concern for me, these really are not new issues.

------- Theo ------- said...

Dear Carrie, sister for whom Our Precious Lord shed His blood:

I will indeed “move on;” however, again I would be dishonest not to note that it is not because I’m able to make sense of your answers. I do not say this to fault or insult you or attack your integrity in any way. I appreciate your attempt; however, your replies did not clearly address the questions at hand, and so at a minimum I must ask you if I interpret them correctly.

To explain: in the first case (“The majority of scripture was not in dispute throughout history.”), we had already established that a minority of scripture had been in dispute for 15 centuries. You simply restated one premise of the question in another manner. Please recall that my question was not whether the parts of the canon in dispute consisted of a majority. That is irrelevant. Did God require obedience to scripture and only scripture while withholding knowledge of what is and is not scripture? From your reply, I gather your answer is “Yes,” but this is by no means plainly so.

Your second answer is problematic in that it also merely restates a premise already established as axiomatic: that God has the authority to set and change His canon. It is clear that my question was not about whether God has the authority to establish or change the canon, but what people have it. I'm sorry if I was at all unclear in syntax or connotation.

I’m sure you aren’t claiming that only God may do so by personal appearance or that is how He did it in the past. Regardless, were I forced to derive an answer from your response as written, it would have to be, “Yes” with the caveat that God did it personally without human agency—and frankly, I don’t believe that is what you believe. If so, I already know that even if my interpretation of your syntax is technically correct, my understanding is wrong.

Please understand these are the best interpretations I can make of your responses. The implications are another matter. As you ask, we shall move one.

I am thankful that you have attempted real dialog on this matter. Although I fear we didn’t accomplish much in real communication on the issue at hand, the exchange has been instructive, nonetheless.

May God richly bless you in this Lenten season. May all you do for His kingdom be blessed and may He prosper the work of your hand for His glory. May every effort you make for His sake, whether in this venue or any other be blessed with fruitfulness, and may you be rewarded as God sees fit. May all joy that is Christ and His redemption be yours now and forever, I humbly pray as
Your servant and brother in Christ,
--Theo

Carrie said...

Did God require obedience to scripture and only scripture while withholding knowledge of what is and is not scripture? From your reply, I gather your answer is “Yes,” but this is by no means plainly so.

Theo, truly, I am very tired of this conversation. I will attempt to clarify and then I am shutting these comments down.

That question is not a yes or no question for me. First, I would never say "God demands obedience to the scripture" b/c I am not sure what that would mean. Scripture is our infallible rule of faith and God's revelation to his creation, I don't think of it as a written list of rules which I am demanded to follow. Hence, I could not answer yes or no.

Theo, is it best to murder a girl after you rape her? Just give me a simple yes or no, it is a simple question.

(sorry for the harshness of my question choice, but it seemed the best for getting my point across about demanding a simple answer to a poorly worded question)

It is clear that my question was not about whether God has the authority to establish or change the canon, but what people have it.

Again, I think your need for infallible men has obscured your ability to see a non-infallible method. Protestants have a fallible list of infallible books. This also does not keep me up at night. The Jews were able to recognize God's word w/out an infallible authority, and the early Christians were also able to do the same. However God accomplished this in the past, he can do again. Or does God need infallible men to accomplish his will?

Now, if you would read Whitaker's book that I recommended, you may understand how Protestants believe the canon is recognized by believers.

(Mike B. - sorry you don't have a chance to respond, but I need to focus)