Saturday, February 02, 2008

On The Legend of the Apostolic Origin of the Creed


In preparing some lecture material, I came across the folowing tidbit from Philip Schaff about how helpful the Early Church Fathers and infallible Tradition can be in preserving truth:


Note on the Legend of the Apostolic Origin of the Creed.


Till the middle of the seventeenth century it was the current belief of Roman Catholic and Protestant Christendom that the Apostles' Creed was 'membratim articulatimque' composed by the apostles in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, or before their separation, to secure unity of teaching, each contributing an article (hence the somewhat arbitrary division into twelve articles).

Peter, under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, commenced: 'I believe in God the Father Almighty;' Andrew (according to others, John) continued: 'And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord;' James the elder went on: 'Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost;' then followed John (or Andrew): 'Suffered under Pontius Pilate;' Philip: 'Descended into Hades;' Thomas: 'The third day he rose again from the dead;' and so on till Matthias completed the work with the words 'life everlasting. Amen.'

The first trace of this legend, though without the distribution alluded to, we find at the close of the fourth century, in the Expositio Symboli of Rufinus of Aquileja. He mentions an ancient tradition concerning the apostolic composition of the Creed ('tradunt majores nostri'), and falsely derives from this supposed joint authorship the name symbolon (from συμβάλλειν, in the sense to contribute); confounding σύμβολον, sign, with συμβολή, contribution ('Symbolum Græce et indicium dici potest et collatio, hoc est, quod plures in unum conferunt').

The same view is expressed, with various modifications, by Ambrosius of Milan (d. 397), in his Explanatio Symboli ad initiandos, where he says: 'Apostoli sancti convenientes fecerunt symbolum breviter;' by John Cassianus (about 424), De incarnat. Dom. VI. 3; Leo M., Ep. 27 ad Pulcheriam; Venantius Fortunatus, Expos. brevis Symboli Ap.; Isidorus of Seville (d. 636).

The distribution of the twelve articles among the apostles is of later date, and there is no unanimity in this respect. See this legendary form in the pseudo-Augustinian 23 Sermones de Symbolo, in Hahn, l.c. p. 24, and another from a Sacramentarium Gallicanum of the seventh century, in Heurtley, p. 67.

The Roman Catechism gives ecclesiastical sanction, as far as the Roman Church is concerned, to the fiction of a direct apostolic authorship.** Meyers, l.c., advocates it at length, and Abbé Martigny, in his 'Dictionnaire des antiquitées Chrétiennes,' Paris, 1865 (art. Symbole des apôtres, p. 623), boldly asserts, without a shadow of proof: 'Fidèlement attaché à la tradition de l’Église catholique, nous tenons, non-seulement qu’il est l’œuvre des apôtres, mais encore qu’il fut composé par eux, alors que réunis à Jérusalem, ils allaient se disperser dans l’univers entier; et qu’ils volurent, avant de séparer, fixer une règle de foi vraiment uniforme et catholique, destinée à être livrée, partout la même, aux catéchumènes.'

Even among Protestants the old tradition has occasionally found advocates, such as Lessing (1778), Delbrück (1826), Rudelbach (1844), and especially Grundtvig (d. 1872). The last named, a very able but eccentric high-church Lutheran bishop of Denmark, traces the Creed, like the Lord's Prayer, to Christ himself, in the period between the Ascension and Pentecost. The poet Longfellow (a Unitarian) makes poetic use of the legend in his Divine Tragedy (1871).
On the other hand, the apostolic origin (after having first been called in question by Laurentius Valla, Erasmus, Calvin) has been so clearly disproved long since by Vossius, Rivetus, Voëtius, Usher, Bingham, Pearson, King, Walch, and other scholars, that it ought never to be seriously asserted again.

The arguments against the apostolic authorship are quite conclusive:

1. The intrinsic improbability of such a mechanical composition.

It has no analogy in the history of symbols; even when composed by committees or synods, they are mainly the production of one mind. The Apostles' Creed is no piece of mosaic, but an organic unit, an instinctive work of art in the same sense as the Gloria in Excelsis, the Te Deum, and the classical prayers and hymns of the Church.

2. The silence of the Scriptures.

Some advocates, indeed, pretend to find allusions to the Creed in Paul's 'analogy' or 'proportion of faith,' Rom. xii. 7; 'the good deposit,' 2 Tim. i. 14; 'the first principles of the oracles of God,' Heb. v. 12; 'the faith once delivered to the saints,' Jude, ver. 3; and 'the doctrine,' 2 John, ver. 10; but these passages can be easily explained without such assumption.
3. The silence of the apostolic fathers and all the ante-Nicene and Nicene fathers and synods.

Even the œcumenical Council of Nicæa knows nothing of a symbol of strictly apostolic composition, and would not have dared to supersede it by another.

4. The variety in form of the various rules of faith in the ante-Nicene churches, and of the Apostolic Symbol itself down to the eighth century.

This fact is attested even by Rufinus, who mentions the points in which the Creed of Aquileja differed from that of Rome. 'Such variations in the form of the Creed forbid the supposition of any fixed system of words, recognized and received as the composition of the apostles; for no one, surely, would have felt at liberty to alter any such normal scheme of faith.'

5. The fact that the Apostles' Creed never had any general currency in the East, where the Nicene Creed occupies its place, with an almost equal claim to apostolicity as far as the substance is concerned.
** Pars prima, cap. 1, qu. 2 (Libri Symbolici Eccl. Cath., ed. Streitwolf and Klener, Tom. I. p. 111): 'Quæ igitur primum Christiani homines tenere debent, illa sunt, quæ fidei duces, doctoresque sancti Apostoli, divino Spiritu afflati, duodecim Symboli articulis distinxerunt. Nam, cum mandatum a Domino accepissent, ut pro ipso legatione fungentes, in universum mundum proficiscerentur, atque omni creaturæ Evangelium prædicarent: Christianæ fidei formulam componendam censuerunt, ut scilicet id omnes sentirent ac dicerent, neque ulla essent inter eos schismata,' etc. Ibid. qu. 3: 'Hanc autem Christianæ fidei et spei professionem a se compositam Apostoli Symbolum appellarunt; sive quia ex variis sententiis, quas singuli in commune contulerunt, conflata est; sive quia ea veluti nota, et tessera quandam uterentur, qua desertores et subintroductos falsos fratres, qui Evangelium adulterabant, ab iis, qui veræ Christi militiæ sacramento se obligarent, facile possent internoscere.'

20 comments:

Paul Hoffer said...

Hi James, I was taught in high school (I went to a Catholic one) that the story that the apostles wrote the apostles creed was merely a pius legend as opposed to an official teaching of the Catholic Church.

With all legends, there is a grain of truth in it, in that I was taught that the apostles and the ECF's believed in or taught each of the articles of faith contained in the creed. A creed was nothing less than an early form of catechism, a summary of what the church taught was true doctrine.

I was also taught that the Athanasian Creed was not written by Athanasius. It did not appear until the late 4th or early 5th century.

As you probably read in your lecture prep, early on creeds were adopted by each Christian community as a method of insuring that the community believed in the proper faith. Thus, Antioch, Edessa, Neo-Caesarea,Alexandria, Rome, etc. each had their own creed. The Apostles' Creed happens to be the Creed that the early Church of Rome taught. That probably explains its prominence as it was the one that was taught in the See of St. Peter.

The Nicene Creed, or course. was written in response to combat specific heresies that had arisen at the point. I am also aware that St. Gregory Thamaturgus wrote a creed after he saw a vision of the BV Mary and St. John the Evangelist, who dictated it to him at the Mary's command long before Ephesus and its teachings on the role of Mary.

It might be helpful to your readers to provide the section number of the Roman Catechism that you are referring to as I was not able to find the specific reference to your citation in any of the catechisms that I own. [Catechism of the Catholic Church for the United States of America. Dubuque, IA: Brown-ROA (1994); St. Joseph New American Catechism. NY: Catholic Book Publishing Co. (1977); The Twentieth Century Encyclopedia of Catholicism, NY: Hawthorn Books (1959), Henri Daniel-Rops, ed.; or God's Truth: The Answer to Laicism, a translation of a serial catechism that appeared in L'Ami du Clerge. Norwood, MA: Plimpton Press (1933).] The closest I come to your citation was a brief statement made in my 1833 copy of the English translation of Luther's Small Catechism, paragraph102, which states. "It is called the Apostles' Creed because it is a brief statement of the teachings, or doctrines of the Apostles as found in the Bible."

God bless!

Kepha said...

Mr. Hoffer, did you check these references:

"Meyers, l.c., advocates it at length, and Abbé Martigny, in his 'Dictionnaire des antiquitées Chrétiennes,' Paris, 1865 (art. Symbole des apôtres, p. 623), boldly asserts, without a shadow of proof: 'Fidèlement attaché à la tradition de l’Église catholique, nous tenons, non-seulement qu’il est l’œuvre des apôtres, mais encore qu’il fut composé par eux, alors que réunis à Jérusalem, ils allaient se disperser dans l’univers entier; et qu’ils volurent, avant de séparer, fixer une règle de foi vraiment uniforme et catholique, destinée à être livrée, partout la même, aux catéchumènes.'"

Also, I think that James was pointing out how constituitive perspectives/voices of Infallible Tradition did in fact accept and testify to this issue concerning the Apostle' Creed. Here are the references that I read from James:

"The first trace of this legend, though without the distribution alluded to, we find at the close of the fourth century, in the Expositio Symboli of Rufinus of Aquileja. He mentions an ancient tradition concerning the apostolic composition of the Creed ('tradunt majores nostri'), and falsely derives from this supposed joint authorship the name symbolon (from συμβάλλειν, in the sense to contribute); confounding σύμβολον, sign, with συμβολή, contribution ('Symbolum Græce et indicium dici potest et collatio, hoc est, quod plures in unum conferunt').


The same view is expressed, with various modifications, by Ambrosius of Milan (d. 397), in his Explanatio Symboli ad initiandos, where he says: 'Apostoli sancti convenientes fecerunt symbolum breviter;' by John Cassianus (about 424), De incarnat. Dom. VI. 3; Leo M., Ep. 27 ad Pulcheriam; Venantius Fortunatus, Expos. brevis Symboli Ap.; Isidorus of Seville (d. 636).

The distribution of the twelve articles among the apostles is of later date, and there is no unanimity in this respect. See this legendary form in the pseudo-Augustinian 23 Sermones de Symbolo, in Hahn, l.c. p. 24, and another from a Sacramentarium Gallicanum of the seventh century, in Heurtley, p. 67."

Paul Hoffer said...

Kepha, I did read what Mr. Swan wrote. I also shared with him what I was taught.

If the point of the article is to establish that the tenets taught in the Apostles' Creed are false because its "true" authorship does not correspond with what some French priest wrote about it in the 19th century or what some of the ECFs said about it, I would respectfully disagree due to the fact that each of the tenets can be found in Scripture. I didn't think that was the thrust of the article because it would be a case of cutting one's nose off to spite their face since Protestants and Catholics both profess the Apostles' Creed.

If the point of the article is that somehow, the Catholic doctrine of Tradition is somehow flawed because ECFs may have been mistaken as to how the Apostles' Creed was promulgated, then neither Mr. Schaff, a man whose writings demonstrate a deep bias in favor of Reformed teachings, nor Mr. Swan with all due respect, have an accurate understanding of what Tradition actually means as opposed to Protestants wish it meant so they can more easily disprove it. However, I did not assume that of Mr. Swan based on the last comment that there was no unaminity among the ECFs. I took that comment to mean that he has a grasp on what the Catholic doctrine of Tradition means more so than most Protestants. The legend of the Apostolic Origin of the Creed could never be considered to be a Tradition (with a capital T) but only a tradition (with a small t) or pius story which does not have the binding authority of dogma. Is there a Scripture passage, a Council or papal pronouncement that says otherwise?

with that being said, I do believe that the tenets of the Apostles' Creed are binding on all Catholics and must be believed. I have no doubt that the tenets contained in the Creed were taught by the apostles, regardless of whether they all sat down together and wrote it or not. Here: (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01629a.htm) is an article from the Catholic Encyclopedia (1907)which discusses some of the theories behind the origin of the Apostles' Creed. Nowhere does that article suggest that the story behind the origin of the Creed rises to the level of authoritative Tradition. What is helpful about the writings of the ECFs in this regard is the fact that the truths contained in the Apostles' Creed are truths that all Christians must believe in regardless of its origins. That is where the unaminity lies.

Kepha said...

"I do believe that the tenets of the Apostles' Creed are binding on all Catholics and must be believed."

I doubt that James believes otherwise. I was just trying to point out that your presuppositions cause you to miss a major point of the article, namely, how Tradition can be corrupted and transmitted in this way, and how unanimity is not a workable hermeneutic for understanding Tradition.

You may have the last word on this, because James is fully capable of defending his own intentions. I just thought I would throw my two cents in as a Catholic.

Dozie said...

"I just thought I would throw my two cents in as a Catholic."

I am yet to see you take a Catholic position on any subject. Peharps you can point us to the last time you took a recognizable Catholic position on any topic. The fact, from your posts, is that not only are you not close to being Catholic, you resent Catholicism and you should know your own feelings. Trying to hide your anti-Catholicism is like trying to hide a 9 month old pregnancy - it shows all over. There is a way of being Catholic and Catholicism is not Protestantism. Now, this should be enough but if you want a more explicit language, I would be glad to help.

Paul Hoffer said...

Hi Kepha, I read your sur-reply. I do not ascribe to it for the simple reason that I do not think that Mr. Swan would argue on one hand that the legend of the origins of the Apostles' Creed is a Tradition and in the same argument cite to the reason why no Catholic would be required to believe that such is part of the Apostolic Tradition of the Catholic Church~because there is no substantial unaminity among the ECFs nor is the origin reflected in scripture. If anything, Mr. Swan does a very good job in this example showing why some legends or traditions do not make the cut and would never be pronounced as a part of the Apostolic deposit of faith which you and I, as Catholics, call Tradition.

As Catholics, we have an obligation to be charitable and read peoples' comments in the best light possible as opposed to automatically assuming that everything a Protestant says is anti-Catholic. Carrie's comments to an earlier posting of mine here reminded me of that obligation. If Mr. Swan's post was designed to disprove Catholic Tradition, it failed because the argument contains its own rebuttal. On the other hand, if Mr. Swan was trying to highlight the difficulties that the Catholic Church faces in deciding whether something is Tradition or merely tradition, the article is successful because the article correctly identifies the criteria the Church uses to identify such things as a part of the Apostolic Tradition--whether it is based on Scripture or can be discerned from a substantial acceptance of the ECFs.

I chose to give the article a positive slant as opposed to a negative one which gave me that opportunity to share something I believed I had to add to the discussion. If I am wrong on Mr. Swan's intentions, then who besides yourself will fault me for treating the matter in a Christian and charitable manner? Further, if I am wrong, did I not get the opportunity to state correctly what Catholics believe about Tradition and why this would not be an example of such, thereby putting a competing idea in play for the reader to consider?

James Swan said...

Thank You Kepha for your comments. I recite the Apostles Creed every week at my church. It is a completely Biblical confession.

I've been teaching a Church History class at my church, and I came across this info about the creed while doing some prep work.

Carrie said...

Dozie,

Your comment is very enlightening.

What I see in Kepha is a desire to be objective with regard to facts and an attempt to understand divine truths, regardless of which "church" those truths seem to align with. Unfortunately for you, those qualities do not always line up with Rome.

What you are preaching is what we call "sola ecclesia". Every Catholic must walk lock-step with the Church and have faith that the Church will save them. Hence sola ecclesia takes the place not only of sola scriptura (as our authority), but sola fide as well (as our means of salvation).

I am sorry to say it, but you are deceived. Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Believers are members of the church because we have been saved by grace, we are not saved by being members of the Church.

Dozie said...

"Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Believers are members of the church because we have been saved by grace, we are not saved by being members of the Church."

The fundamental problem with Protestantism (individual members since there is really nothing called Protestantism) is that it wants the monopoly of defining its relationship with Christ but does not want, nor does it have the capacity, to listen to what Christ himself says about that same relationship. So you have all kinds of seemingly intelligent gobbledygook that pass for Christian theology. While they brandish the bible and pat themselves on the back for believing Sola Scriptura, the bible seems to them, in reality, to have no content – to have said nothing. The bible means and says nothing to them. You ask simple questions about baptism, communion, Church worship, sacraments, Church government, female ministers, meaning of Church, etc, etc; they cannot open the bible and make sense of it – give a consensus response. What does the bible say? What does it mean? All of a sudden the bible becomes of little help and they start invoking Luther and Calvin and Hodge, and etc. When they use the bible, it is to pick out what is easy and comfortable. As a Catholic, I confess that without the Church, I would know nothing of Christ and his gospels. If that is Church Alone, so be it.

Carrie said...

As a Catholic, I confess that without the Church, I would know nothing of Christ and his gospels.

Really?

You are telling me that you could read the NT and walk away knowing nothing about Christ?

Paul Hoffer said...

Carrie,

Without the Church, there would have been no one to preach the Gospel or preserve the New Testament for you to read. The Church is the mechanism by which God uses to insure that the Gospel continues to be preached still. It is the vehicle by which His sacraments, the means by God distributes His grace, are provided to His people. The Church gives voice to the Word of God so all who has ears can hear God's Word and know its truth.

Protestants have a problem with the concept of church being the pillar and bulwark of truth because the men who created Protestantism denied both the truth and value of Church relegating it to a spinster aunt status. In effect, with each of you being your own pope, each having your own opinion on what is truth and what is important in Scripture, the cacophonies of voices invariably leads to the Gospel being drowned out. Look how your founders handled four simple words, "Hoc est corpus meum" and you understand why reducing the Gospel down to the advertising slogans you call the solas can only sell an inferior product.

You claim that Dozie and I have to walk lockstep with what the Church teaches. The Church teaches the Gospel. You bet we walk lockstep according to its teachings. Jesus said, "Enter by the narrow gate, for the gate is wide and way is easy, that leads to destruction and those who enter it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few." (Mt. 7:13-14). When one wanders according to their own dictates, they tend to take the easy way as opposed to the way that the Catholic Church teaches the right path to follow, it is far easier to find that narrow gate.

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

"We are not saved by being members of the Church."

I agree absolutely, that is, if your church is not the body of Christ. Christians are saved by Christ - all of Christ. Protestants, at least of the Pentecostal stripe, would often chant of being saved by the blood of Christ. That's well and dandy, but Catholics would go further. We are saved not just by his blood:
We are saved by the water that flowed from his side;
We are saved by the life of Christ (Rom 5:10);
We are saved by his cross;
We are saved by his stripes (Isa. 53:5);
We are saved by his name;
We are saved by his sufferings;
We are saved by his birth;
We are saved by his death and burial;
We are saved by his resurrection; and
We are saved by his ascension into heaven.
Everything that Christ did or commanded was for our salvation. If we are at all saved by the blood of Christ, why are we not saved by his body? And if the Church be the body of Christ, do you see how your theology is shy of the truth? The Church saves, because Christ saves. The Church saves and that’s the only reason it exists (to save souls) and that’s the only reason it matters where one belongs. Somehow, Anti-Catholics perceive this; they are sorely terrified and therefore they fight extraneously against their worst fears – the Catholic Church. They wish it ain’t so.

Many Protestants often speak of having personal relationship with Christ as the only thing that matters. One does not have to belong to a Church, they assure us. Some will tell you that Sunday worship is not necessary or that Baptism is not essential and only symbolic. Others will tell you to despise the Tradition of our fathers, and there are not a few who will insult you for doing charitable works. Many of them will concoct cock and bull stories about what is or is not essential about salvation. Some of them are even on radio and television; others hide behind the keyboard. They hug the Scriptures and despise the messenger who brought it to them. In any case, very often the nature of this imaginary relationship that exits between the Protestant and the Almighty God is defined by the Protestant. She does what she feels her conscience leads her to do. She is the doctor of her own faith. What are we to make of this relationship then? What does this relationship consist of? Is this relationship about going to the movies with God? Do you play card games with God? No, since God is pure spirit. Is it waking up in the morning and thinking of nothing but blogging the entire day? Is it going to your “church” on Sunday and listening to a seminar? Is it about praying? I submit to you that very many people do not know who they pray to when they pray. God is a spirit and I suggest that relationship with Him must take some unusual characteristics.

I wonder also in this supposed relationship with God, if God ever is a contributing partner? Does he get to participate in defining the shape of this relationship? Can the Carrie’s and the Kepha’s and the Swan’s and the Kevin Johnson’s of this world structure or define a relationship that the Almighty must adhere to? Is it even up to each person to determine the nature and structure of this relationship? Unless the answer is yes, the next obvious question is: who gets to define the nature of this relationship? Thinking through this question, one can see that the only relationship that a Christian can ever have with God is not one constructed by man, no matter how weird or lofty his imagination may be. The only relationship that one can have with God can only be sacramental and staying in the bosom of the Church, as weird as it seems. God is not Joe Blo and to imagine of having a relationship with God after the foolishness of our own imagination is pure insanity. Relationship with God begins with a sure acceptance that God has spoken and that man has heard and understood what was said to him; it is to understand that the Word of God takes a particular shape – concrete and identifiable, and not the cacophony of ideas we have in Protestantism.

Carrie said...

Without the Church, there would have been no one to preach the Gospel or preserve the New Testament for you to read. The Church is the mechanism by which God uses to insure that the Gospel continues to be preached still.

Paul, we have different definitions of "church". That solves most of your comment.

When one wanders according to their own dictates, they tend to take the easy way as opposed to the way that the Catholic Church teaches the right path to follow, it is far easier to find that narrow gate.

I think you are missing some words here. Are you saying that Protesants (outside of the Catholic Church) are on the broad path?

I am guessing you would not say that, so then their must be other ways to get through the narrow gate than through the Catholic Church. This is where the sesvacantists make more sense with themselves since to acknowledge that Protestants will also make it to heaven means the Catholic Church is effectively another denomination (from your viewpoint). If you really want to pull off the "one true Church" thing, it really should be exclusive to make sense.


Dozie,

That was alot of stuff - not sure where to start.

I wonder also in this supposed relationship with God, if God ever is a contributing partner?

I don't think you will find many here who talk about "the personal relationship with Christ". THta isn't exactly a favorite phrase of mine, although it isn't completely inaccurate.


who gets to define the nature of this relationship? Thinking through this question, one can see that the only relationship that a Christian can ever have with God is not one constructed by man, no matter how weird or lofty his imagination may be. The only relationship that one can have with God can only be sacramental and staying in the bosom of the Church, as weird as it seems.

God, of course, gets to define the relationship, and he does that through his Word. Our relationship with God is through the one mediator b/w man and God, Christ Jesus. When we are In Christ, we become part of the church universal. This does not mean a unified, visible structure as you assert, but an invisible unity with all who are In Christ.

Not only does God get to define the relationship, but he gets to choose which of us are in a relationship with him. Despite the supposed "cacophony of ideas we have in Protestantism", it is God's choice who are his sheep, and we hear his voice and follow him. Jesus has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, he is not confined to the walls of Catholicism.

Carrie said...

(please excuse my typos)

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

Hi Carrie, I appreciate you filling in some of my missing words. I would not ever say that a Protestant could not get to heaven. Such a viewpoint is unbiblical as we see at Mk. 9:38-41. While I have been told to my face that I am not a Christian because I am Catholic, I do not ascribe to the notion that a Protestant is not a Christian because of the plain teaching of the Jesus as set forth above. So Carrie, I do consider you a sister in Christ.

As far as the denominational issue goes, I do not believe that a comm box is a great place to discuss it nor do I feel adequately prepared to address it. I will just say here that it is my personal opinion that the surest and safest path to getting to heaven is through the Catholic Church and the truths it teaches, and the further that one gets away from the Catholic faith, the less likely it is that one can find their way to the "narrow gate". That being said, since most of the core truths that the Catholic Church teachs can be found in Protestantism as well, then it is certainly possible that a Protestant could find their way to the "narrow gate". It is just that Protestants make it harder than it needs to be by refusing to accept all of the means of assistance that God has chosen to provide us to help him or her stay on the path. So it is my view that we are both part of that exclusive "one true church thing" at least according to Jesus based on what he said at Mk. 9:38-41. Now if you were a Mormon or JW or one of those groups that do not believe in the Trinity, that would be another story altogether.

Dozie said...

"God, of course, gets to define the relationship, and he does that through his Word."

Nice try but I will attempt to draw out from you a concrete example of what you are talking about without clouding us with an abstract formulation that only sounds intelligent. Can you give an example of an aspect of this relationship that a Protestant supposedly has with Christ Jesus? How is it lived out? Give me an example from the Word of what would constitute a relationship with God. Is this relationship which you say is defined in the Word, defined on individual basis or is it a corporate relationship? Is this relationship reserved only for the literate or can I have it even if I am unable to read? Help me out here!

“Our relationship with God is through the one mediator b/w man and God, Christ Jesus."

Again, nice try but how do you have relationship with Christ Jesus? What does a Christian who is in a relationship with Jesus do in the relationship?

“it is God's choice who are his sheep, and we hear his voice and follow him.”

Again, this is a surface level response. Even if we grant that you actually hear the voice of God when what you are doing is read the word of God, you seem to suggest that all who hear his voice will follow him. If this is not the case, are those who are chosen by God to follow him marked with “ash” on their forehead so we know who they are? If not, how does one in Protestantism convince himself that he is actually following? How do members of the 30,000 or so denominations convince themselves that they have in fact been called and that they are following? If it is not clear to you, I am contesting the assertion you seem to be making; that in the matter of salvation, it is the individual and the written text alone (Sola Scriptura).

But you raise an important topic – “we hear his voice and follow him”. How do Protestants actually hear the voice of God? Protestants often refer to their homilies as the Word of God and to their pastors as Preachers of the Word. Their preachers too, often command their congregation to pay attention to what they say because it is the Word of God. Well, is it true that when the preacher mounts the pulpit and delivers a sermon, that what he says can be called the Word of God, especially when Protestants also corporately deny infallibility? What we have then is a situation where a man can actually claim to be preaching the Word of God when, in reality, his best efforts end up producing bad and untrue and uncharitable theology. Can the Word of God ever be fallible? Who can speak the Word of God except God himself? It has already been established that many and divergent interpretations of biblical texts on fundamental Christian doctrines exist in Protestantism – baptism, Communion, Worship, etc, etc. If the individual, prone as he is to unlimited errors, and the minister while he wants to feel important by arrogating to himself the lofty responsibility and prestige of preaching the Word of God, but at the same time runs away from infallibility, then how do Protestants hear the unmistakable and non-erring “voice” of God? Can a Protestant say, without any possibility of being wrong, that he or she has ever heard the voice of God? In which manner was this voice likely heard? I will be interested to hear what your answer on this will be.

Carrie said...

Dozie,

You have alot of questions, I will try to answer as many as I can.

Can you give an example of an aspect of this relationship that a Protestant supposedly has with Christ Jesus? How is it lived out?

The relationship with Christ starts when a person repents of their sins and trusts the finished work of Christ on the cross for their salvation (through faith). This is a saving relationship with Christ as their Lord and Savior, they are justified before God because of Christ sacrifice and perfect righteousness. After justification is sanctification which is becoming more Christ-like. This is "lived out" through obedience to Christ, aversion to sin, etc.

Give me an example from the Word of what would constitute a relationship with God.

John 15:5
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

Is this relationship which you say is defined in the Word, defined on individual basis or is it a corporate relationship?

Both.

Is this relationship reserved only for the literate or can I have it even if I am unable to read?

No, yes.

Again, nice try but how do you have relationship with Christ Jesus? What does a Christian who is in a relationship with Jesus do in the relationship?

See answer above.

If it is not clear to you, I am contesting the assertion you seem to be making; that in the matter of salvation, it is the individual and the written text alone (Sola Scriptura).

That isn’t quite my assertion. Justification comes about, from our point of view, when the spirit is at work in a person to allow them to respond to the gospel message through faith. The message (repent and believe) could come through reading or hearing.

Okay, I am not sure I follow your last paragraph, but I’ll do my best to answer.

If the individual, prone as he is to unlimited errors, and the minister while he wants to feel important by arrogating to himself the lofty responsibility and prestige of preaching the Word of God, but at the same time runs away from infallibility, then how do Protestants hear the unmistakable and non-erring “voice” of God?

1. The justified have the gift of the Spirit to lead them in truth. This doesn’t make them infallible, but there is guidance.
2. Ministers are appointed by God so not arrogation.
3. I think you are confused by the “voice”. I would say the “hearing the voice and following” is a reference to saving faith in response to God’s calling. Not an ongoing voice that we audibly hear and follow.

Can a Protestant say, without any possibility of being wrong, that he or she has ever heard the voice of God? In which manner was this voice likely heard?

Not an audible voice, as I said above. I’m sorry that biblical reference confused you. I was defining the relationship from our entrance into a saving relationship with Christ while you are covering both justification and sanctification (if I am following you correctly).

Now, if you have further questions, I won’t be able to answer for a few days, but I will check back in later.

Dozie said...

Carrie:

I do not think you understand the questions I am asking you but thanks for trying to respond. I will cite just one example.

Me: Can you give an example of an aspect of this relationship that a Protestant supposedly has with Christ Jesus? How is it lived out?

You: After justification is sanctification which is becoming more Christ-like. This is "lived out" through obedience to Christ, aversion to sin, etc.

You clearly have not given me an example of your relationship with Christ. Relationship by definition is at least bi-directional. How do you hear from Christ and be sure you’ve heard him. What you have provided is another loaded terminology – obedience – and I have to ask you to explain what obedience consists of. How do you know when you are obeying Christ? If you say it is the Scriptures; but if you read the Scriptures and come to an erroneous conclusion, have you heard from Christ? You and I agree that you are not sure about your own infallibility. Consequently, two genuinely sincere persons can come to different conclusions about a particular item – one thinks it is sinful and the other thinks otherwise and therefore each takes a different attitude or action about the situation. Take contraception or masturbation as examples (more could be given). When you make decisions on these things, how do you know you are relating to Christ? It does not seem to me that “obedience” cuts it since you are the one who decides what’s in the obedience box. What I am asking you to do is open the box and tell us what’s in it.

Me: Can a Protestant say, without any possibility of being wrong, that he or she has ever heard the voice of God? In which manner was this voice likely heard?

You: Not an audible voice, as I said above. I’m sorry that biblical reference confused you. I was defining the relationship from our entrance into a saving relationship with Christ while you are covering both justification and sanctification

Well, there is no confusion with any biblical reference. I am rather asserting that a Protestant has no way of distinguishing between his anguished imaginations from what he thinks is the voice of God. Sorry you misunderstood my whole point.