Monday, February 11, 2008

The Semi-Authoritative Catholic Canon


A popular argument by online Roman Catholic (RC) apologists centers around the certainty of the biblical canon. The RC apologist will ask the Protestant, “how can you be sure you have the right books without the infallible authority of the Roman Catholic Church (RCC)”? Likewise, the RC apologist will claim that the biblical canon taught since Hippo/Carthage and throughout history is the RC canon (with the Protestant canon “missing” books) despite acknowledging Church fathers and theologians who expressed doubts about the deuterocanonical books.

In previous posts we have seen that the vote to make the RC canon an article of faith by the addition of an anathema was not overwhelming supported by the council members at Trent. If the exact contents of the biblical canon was crystal clear throughout history as the RC apologists maintain, and clearly defined by past councils, one would have expected solid support for making the canon an article of faith. Yet that was not the case, why?

If we look at some of the canon discussions that occurred at the Council of Trent both before and after the February 15th vote in 1546 (which according to Catholic historian Hubert Jedin “committed the Council to the wider canon”), we will get a glimpse into some of the uncertainty around the canon. What we will see is what Chadwick described as quoted in a previous post, “In the cold light of finality, the formulas look rigid against Protestants. Seen as the end of a long debate with differing opinions, the formulas have more nuance, more flexibility, than any Protestant hitherto supposed.”

Following on a previous post, after describing the vote on Feb 15th, Jedin goes back to summarize the discussions that occurred in prior meetings leading up to the vote and the final implication:
“This question was not only a matter of controversy between Catholics and Protestants: it was also the subject of a lively discussion even between Catholic theologians. St Jerome, that great authority in all scriptural questions, had accepted the Jewish canon of the Old Testament. Thc books of Judith, Esther, Tobias, Machabees, Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus, which the majority of the Fathers, on the authority of the Septuagint, treated as canonical, Jerome described as apocryphal, that is, as not included in the canon though suitable for the edification of the faithful…The general of the Franciscans Observant, Calvus, dealt thoroughly with the problems raised by Cajetan in a tract drawn up for the purposes of the Counci1. He defended the wider canon, and in particular the canonicity of the book of Baruch, the story of Susanna, that of Bel and the dragon, and the canticle of the three children (Benedicite). On the other hand, he refused to accept the oft-quoted Apostolic Canons as authoritative for the canonicity of the third book of Machabees. The general of the Augustinians, Seripando, on the contrary, was in sympathy with Erasmus and Cajetan and sought to harmonise their views with the Florentine decree on the ground that the protocanonical books of the Old Testament, as "canonical and authentic", belong the the canon fidei, while the deuterocanonical ones, as "canonical and ecclesiastical books", belong to the canon morum. Seripando, accordingly, follows the tendency which had made itself felt elsewhere also in pre-Tridentine Catholic theology, which was not to withhold the epithet "canonical" from the deuterocanonical books, yet to use it with certain restrictions.

The tracts of the two generals of Orders show that opinions diverged widely even within the Council. The prestige of the Augustinian general and that of the Bishop of Fano who sided with him, may have prompted Cervini to discuss the whole complex question in his class. It became evident that no one supported the subtle distinction between a canon fidei and a canon morum, though it met with a somewhat more favourable reception in the general congregation of 12 February when several of the Fathers deemed it useful, though not necessary. The majority agreed with the opinion of the general of the Servites, that controverted theological questions, which had already been the subject of discussion between Augustine and Jerome, should not be decided by the Council but should be allowed to remain open questions. The result of the above-mentioned vote of the general congregation of 15 February committed the Council to the wider canon, but inasmuch as it abstained from a theological discussion, the question of differences between books within the canon was left as it had been.” History of the Council of Trent, pgs 56-57

Additional details around the discussion in the general congregation of Feb 12th are provided by Duncker:
“Cardinal Cervini, reporting the previous day's discussion in his Classis, brought up the two points still to be settled : First, whether a distinction is to be made between Sacred Books from which the foundations of our teaching are drawn and those which, though truly canonical, are not so in the same sense as the former (Acts: "not of the same authority") but are received by the Church so that from them the multitude may be instructed, such as the books of Proverbs, Wisdom and so on. This distinction would seem to be pertinent (…Acts:…does not seem off the point), because this question is still much disputed and not yet determined by the Church, though Augustine and Jerome and other ancient writers often spoke of it.

After having mentioned incidentally that Cardinal Pacheco was against this distinction, Severoli (and the Acts) only say that "Although many esteemed it useful and even not less necessary (Acts: 'yet less necessary'), nevertheless the view of several (Acts: Of the majority') prevailed, that this question be left intact to posterity (Acts: 'be omitted and left*) as it was left to us by our Fathers." The General of the Servites, Bonucci, insisted, in his turn, ". . . that this question must surely be left intact (Acts omit this part of his statement) as, in points on which Jerome and Augustine disagree, the Church has not been accustomed to pass judgment (Acts: 'the Synod should not pass judgment, as the Church has not been accustomed to do so').”

…The question was not yet settled, for that same night the Cardinal legates reported to Rome that the point about the degrees of the books of the Old Testament, which had come up during the debate, had still to lie examined, as many of the ancient holy Doctors had said that some were canonical and suited to settle dogmas and that others did not have so much authority but were only "agiographi" (sacred writings).” Catholic Biblical Quarterly, vol 15, pgs 285-286

The implication of the Tridentine decision on the Catholic canon is outlined by F. J. Crehan, S.J.:

“After sharp discussion the Council came to the decision that it received and held in honour pari pietatis affectu ac reverentia, with equal devotion and veneration, the books of Scripture and the divine and apostolic traditions (that is, those coming from Christ or the apostles) which concerned faith or morals. It did not mean that each book of Scripture was inspired in exactly the same way, as some modern theologians have claimed, for the Council was not comparing book with book but the body of Scripture with the body of apostolic tradition. …The further question, whether in the decree of Trent anything should be said about the status of books within the canon (that is, of the deuterocanonical books), was left to one side. Writing on 16 February 1546, the day after the debate, the legates report to Rome that there was general agreement not to enter into that question (Acta, x, 382) and the notice in the official account of the proceedings (Acts, V, 10), recording that there was a majority in favour of putting the books all on an equal footing but that nothing was put into the decree about it, seems to agree with this. The fact that the words pari pietatis affectu recipit do not appear in the decree, but another place, where they establish an equality between Scripture as a whole and Tradition, has led some theologians into a short-sighted attempt to twist the story of the Council. The legates cannot have been mistaken when they wrote that there was agreement not to enter into that difficult matter.” The Cambridge History of the Bible, pgs 199-202

So what does this all mean? First, it shows that the Catholic canon is imprecise in that it potentially contains books that are less authoritative and not adequate for proving dogma. A two-fold Catholic canon is still an open question according to the Council of Trent. Second, this imprecision translates into uncertainty for the faithful as the authority of any one book in the canon has intentionally been left undecided by the Catholic magisterium. Add to this the fact that a few books in the Vulgate were passed over in silence at the Council of Trent (3 & 4 Esdras, 3 Maccabees, Prayer of Manasseh), meaning that these books may or may not be inspired and deserving of a place in the canon, and we are left with an open Catholic canon containing books of potentially variable authority in matters of faith.

Likewise, the Catholic arguments against the Protestant canon as “missing books” or “inconsistent with church history” are also invalid in light of these facts. Where the Catholic Church has left the theological difficulties regarding the canon open, the Protestant canon could be a functional option from a Catholic point of view. As the Thomist, Scotist and Molinist schools of thought are all allowed to coexist in in areas of RC theology that are not precisely defined, a possible position to be held by a Roman Catholic is that the apocryphal books do not establish doctrine, which is quite close to the Protestant position in regard to these books. Jerome’s opinion of the biblical canon has not been rejected by the RCC, and Protestants have simply sided with Jerome as well as others throughout church history.

As such, the certainty that the standard RC apologist claims regarding their biblical canon is far from valid in my mind. The Council of Trent specifically chose not to provide clear answers to historical questions around the canon, leaving Catholics with uncertainty around the level of authority for individual books. The Protestant canon seems to provide far more certainty for understanding doctrine, as we have included in our canon all inspired books of God (none passed over in silence), all of which can be equally consulted in matters of faith (no degrees of authority). So while the "charisma of infallibility" possessed by the Catholic Church has been able to firmly establish the bodily assumption of Mary as dogma, they have been unable to adequately define the authoritative status of the components of Scripture in matters of doctrine. Once again, the facts of history do not align with the lofty claims of RC apologetics.


25 comments:

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

Dear Carrie:

I will enjoy investigating your interesting article as time permits. As an old dog, I find the prospect of new tricks exciting, no matter what particular adages claim to the contrary.

In the meanwhile, for discussion’s sake let us assume that you have won the point. You are correct, and no Catholic Church council authoritatively set the canon. The Catholic canon is no more authoritative than is a 1958 New York City phone book.

You are still left with your own (apparently) dogmatic belief in what the canon is and the practical effect of sola scriptura requiring not only you yourself, but all others to be bound by it, because it defines what is our sole infallible rule of faith.

I fail to see what defining argument proves the authority of the Protestant canonizers (whomever they were--nobody seems to know). What argument can you make in favor of your own authority to set canon that cannot be made by the Church?

Regarding your own question of Catholics' corporate confidence in our canon, please allow me to reciprocate: by what foundation, by what grounds may Protestants claim their confidence? What prevents any one Protestant or any group of them from embracing a rival canon (as some have)?

A self-described Baptist congregation located within 2 miles of the place I’m sitting used to teach that only the four Gospels are Scripture. Given your position, can you demonstrate their canon invalid? Given your position, why shouldn't the Catholic canon be valid anyway? You might have proven the council’s did not have the authority, but who said that means they were wrong?--or the Mormon, and so on? Please do understand that I do not pose these as traps or deception, but to provoke you to ask these questions yourself because they demand answers in light of your premise.

May God bless you in your coming and going, in season and out; and may you be ever strengthened for His service through Christ Our lord, amen.

This I humbly submit as your servant and brother in Christ Our Lord,
--Theo

EA said...

Theo said: "What argument can you make in favor of your own authority to set canon that cannot be made by the Church?"

Steve Hays over at
Triablogue
has a quite a few good entries on how Scripture can be discerned outside of Magesterial Pronouncement. Take a look sometime.

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

Thanks for the reference EA. I will take a look; however, I'm much more interested in Carrie's own understanding not of what makes cannon outside of the Magesterium's authority thoretically possible, but what makes Carrie herself sure that her canon (whatever one it is) is the correct one and all others are flawed to the point she can have confidence it correctly defines her sole rule of faith, in short, Who told Carrie (not EA, not Steve Hays--with no offense to either man) what is and is not Scripture, how was she told, and why does she believe him / her / it?


Your bro,
--Theo

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

EA I checked out the website but I did not find an index or reference to the articles you talk about. Can you be morespecific please?

Thanks

Your bro,
--Theo

EA said...

Theo,

Check these links out to start with.

http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2004/04/canon-of-scripture-1.html

http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2004/04/canon-of-scripture-2.html

Howard Fisher said...

"what makes Carrie herself sure that her canon (whatever one it is) is the correct one and all others are flawed to the point she can have confidence it correctly defines her sole rule of faith, in short, Who told Carrie"

This apologetic is repeated so often, I am often left wondering why we talk past each other. If it is admitted that Trent may have passed over Canonical books in silence, then the "what if" issues are still problematic.

We also have the problem of Athanasius among others. Who told him? Was he just a private theologian? Is Carrie just a private theologian when she disagrees, but could be a part of the magesterium when correct? Did Carrie outright deny the church's authority?

The argument by RCs assumes that church = Rome. So when Protestants such a William Whittacker argued for the church's authority to define the Canon of Scripture in the sense she is the only one to properly be able to discern such things, that isn't good enough. RCs seem to need a self-authenticating, infallible source outside of God's Revelation to tell us what God's revelation is. (Although this is just as problematic and begs the question. Do we have an infallible list of infallible churches?)

I have come to believe RC laymen miss the best of Protestant historical theology since much of Evangelicalism is completely unaware that Christian history started prior to Billy Graham.

The fact that people like Carrie exist shows that there are Protestants willing to engage in the arena of history and sound theology. The problem for the RC in this debate seems to persist though. They just can't hear what is being said by the best the other side has to offer.

Keep up the good work Carrie.

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

Carrie, sister in Christ and beloved of God:

I believe you have confused two different issues: "canonicity" with "didactic purpose." The council of Trent did indeed debate both issues, but ruled in entirety on only the one. What you see as open-ended is not the debate over canonicity. That is indeed settled, and was mad dogmatic at Trent.

Didactic purpose is another matter. That debate at Trent and elsewhere has covered more than the deutero-canonicals, and it continues today, for many books and passages.

Except among absolute strict literal fundamentalists those debates continue even in most Protestant circles today. They appear often simplified: e.g.: Am I literally to pluck out my eye if it offends me? Are all Christians bound to sell all they have and follow Jesus or is His instruction to the rich young ruler intended as didaction: literal for that man but an object lesson for us? Are the accounts of the garden or of the great flood inspired myth that bring us divine truth or actual line-by-line history? What do the examples of the Judges teach us about our behavior? What do they teach us about history? Is the book of Job good for dogmatically teaching the physical layout of heaven as an earthly room where Satan must drop by if God wants to talk with him? Are the books of Daniel and Revelations literal in all senses? Are they history, prophesy, allegory, all, none? These questions, and countless others like them continue among theologians of all stripes, including Protestant.

I invite you to realize that the distinctions these scholars make are often open for debate, as they were at Trent and as they remain today.

As for the canon, it was indeed fixed and closed dogmatically at Trent. All are "sacred text," or literally, "Holy Scripture."

In the name of He who shall come to judge the living and the dead, I remain by His grace your humble servant and brother,
--Theo

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

"mad dogmatic"

LOL! OK. That was a funny type-o.

Carrie said...

I invite you to realize that the distinctions these scholars make are often open for debate, as they were at Trent and as they remain today.

As for the canon, it was indeed fixed and closed dogmatically at Trent. All are "sacred text," or literally, "Holy Scripture."


Theo,

Read the quotes again. The distinctions within the canon (degrees of authority) is still an open question. That pertains to canonicity.

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

"Read the quotes again. The distinctions within the canon (degrees of authority) is still an open question. That pertains to canonicity."

Respectfully dear sister, please understand that according to the council, the texts it canonized are all "sacred texts" or "Holy Scripture," and now part of the Sacred Canon regardless of whatever degrees (whether settled or not) by which they may teach direct dogma (or directly teach dogma). All are Holy Scripture. There is certainty. It is clear. It is definite.

Also please keep in mind that it is the ecclesiastical statement of the council as approved by the Holy See, and not mundane correspondence that comprise the ruling of the council. Moreover, neither your interpretation of that ecclesiastical statement nor mine stands against that of the Holy See.

I appreciate the work you have put into this; however, to me at least it appears that you have not made a case that will be acceptable to any but those already desirous to impugn the council.

Nevertheless, I applaud the effort you expend in executing your sincere desire to champion the cause of the Kingdom of God and to incite His people to employ their God-given gift of reason to matters that far too often are relegated to polemics of dubious integrity.


I also thank you for providing this exercise which has enhanced my personal understanding of God's goodness in provision and has also provoked me to love.

May our precious Lord continue to bless all of us who labor in His vineyard. May the Holy Spirit He promised lead us all in truth. For now we all see dimly, as through a glass; but we shall soon see Him ace to face. On that wonderful and terrible day of trembling, may we look to our advocate with hope and thanksgiving.

I remain by grace, your brother and servant,
--Theo

Carrie said...

Also please keep in mind that it is the ecclesiastical statement of the council as approved by the Holy See, and not mundane correspondence that comprise the ruling of the council. Moreover, neither your interpretation of that ecclesiastical statement nor mine stands against that of the Holy See.

Sorry Theo, you seem to be missing the point on this one. The Council left open questions about degrees of authority open as it had been throughout history. Jerome's opinion's on the two-fold canon are still a viable position.

And this is not my interpretation of the Council, I have provided the assessment of three separate Roman Catholics.

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

Theo said: "What argument can you make in favor of your own authority to set canon that cannot be made by the Church?"

EA said: Check these links out to start with. http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2004/04/canon-of-scripture-1.html..."

EA. I've only gotten to the first one. The article is well written; however, unfortunately it does not make arguments (internal reference and external reference) that cannot also be made by the Church in favor of the Sacred Canon (or for that matter, could be made for "The Assumption of Moses," and a few other non-canonicals). Keep in mind that this misses the point anyway. I was asking about an argument for the authority of Protestants to set canon, not the reasoning behind individual passages’ determination.


Your servant and brother,
--Theo

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

Dear Carrie, Sister in Jesus who died that we might live:

A "two-fold canon" concept is still as much about the Sacred Canon as is that of a "unified canon" concept. It isn't a question of what comprises the canon, but of the nature of the canon. These are different things. The ability to debate the "two-fold canon" concept simply does not mean or imply what you think it does.

We seem to be going in circles. Besides, your argument now seems to be with The Holy See. It might be time for me to leave it as is, allowing you the opportunity for the final word as hostess.

May God richly bless you in all you do for His Kingdom.
--Theo

Carrie said...

Theo,

I think sometimes you don’t follow my arguments b/c you perhaps don’t buy into pop RC apologetics arguments. Much of what I write is an attempt to dismantle those types of arguments b/c they are built on a faulty foundation.

That said, I doubt you were actually aware that the two-fold canon was still in play. I haven’t found any RC articles/blogs online that admit this fact, so these facts do change the game a bit. Based on the decisions at Trent, you could theoretically hold the belief that the deuterocanonical books are simply ecclesiastical and not suitable for proving dogma – this is not what most people think about when they use the word “canonical”.

The ability to debate the "two-fold canon" concept simply does not mean or imply what you think it does.

Sure it does. As I said above, the belief that the deuterocanonical books are simply ecclesiastical (or, good for teaching history, edifying to read), a position an RC could hold today, is not that much different that the Protestant viewpoint. It also means that using a book like 2 Macc as scriptural support for purgatory is greatly weakened and Luther’s opposition to its use was quite justified from an RC perspective.

It also shows that the term “canonical” is not the same in RC and Protestant vocabulary. Protestants use “canonical” in a stricter sense – inspired books of God, all infallible for establishing faith and morals. We don’t need a supplement to God’s Word like tradition b/c we have properly defined our infallible source in the first place. I don’t have an issue with tradition, I just don’t believe it is infallible.

Lastly, the decision of Trent to leave the two-fold canon question open shows that the questions were open throughout history with the Church’s approval. Some RC apologists act as if the larger canon of the RC was the historical canon and the doubters of the deuterocanon were outliers. The discussions at Trent show us that there were “doubters” even amongst the council members and that the majority of the council acknowledge the historical “doubting” throughout history and chose to leave that option open b/c it had been open throughout history.

So when the Protestants chose to go with one option within the historical opinion on the canon (that the deuterocanon was not canonical as the rest were canonical), they were not coming up with a novel position. The Protestants chose to go with the canon of Jerome and others while the RCs at Trent chose to remain with a loosely defined canon. A canon of books with equal authority (Prot) sounds much more “certain” than a canon of books with potentially variable authority (Cat). RC e-pologists love to argue the RC position as “certain”, this does not fit for the canon.

As far as “open”, that is due to the books which were passed over in silence at Trent. There are 4-5 books which could be canonical, but Trent chose not to decide. Therefore, the current canon may be missing books and since the question of the canonicity of those books was left undecided, Rome could at anytime choose to add those books to the canon. That is an open canon in my mind.

Lastly, I will briefly answer this questions although I know it won’t be detailed enough for you:

I was asking about an argument for the authority of Protestants to set canon, not the reasoning behind individual passages’ determination.

The “authority” of the Protestants to set the canon comes from their identity as the people of God. The Protestants use church tradition to understand the canon in a similar way to RCs, we just don’t need the church to be an infallible organ as you do. The people of God recognize the Word of God. The Hebrews did it without an infallible earthly authority, so can we.

Dozie said...

"The Protestants chose to go with the canon of Jerome and others while the RCs at Trent chose to remain with a loosely defined canon."

At what historical point in time (year) did they make this choice? At what setting was the choice made? Who were the people who made the choice? I am asking genuine question only to see if Protestants have ever had the chance to think and wrestle through the canon question.

Paul Hoffer said...

Hi Carrie,

One of the problems that I have in reading your articles is the fact that none of them ever define what the word "canon" means. There are several different meanings which seem cloud the issues that you are discussing. First, the word "canon" could mean books that may be read during the liturgy at Mass. Second, it could mean the books that should and do make up the Bible. When one reads the ECF's and what they discuss, it can be confusing. For example when Athanasius talks about the canon in his festal letter that Prots like to quote, he is distinguishing between books of the Bible that should be read during the liturgy, the books of the Bible that can be used for teaching and certain books that should not be included at all. Hence, this would explain why he quotes deuterocanonical books in his writings as Scripture.

Likewise, quoting Jerome is not a good idea because while he had his opinion on what should be included in the "canon", you gloss over the fact that ultimately he recognized the authority of the Church to determine the books of the "canon" and yielded to the Church's authority, which explains why he, too, quotes deuterocanonical books as Scripture.

Further, you still have not addressed Theo's question as to how a Protestant can determine authoritatively what the "canon" should be other than to accept someone else's word for it or they are too lazy or poor to print up their own bible. Also, taking the doctrine of private judgment to its logical conclusion, I must ask what right does any Protestant have in telling another Protestant what should be included in the Bible? Why not publish all of the books and let the reader make up his own mind guided by the Holy Spirit to determine the truth in his own mind? Because 99.9% of all Protestants have never read a deuterocanonical book let alone an apocryphal one, how can one legitimately claim that they have discerned what books should be in the canon so that they truly know which books are "spirit-breathed" and which ones aren't.

In short, what your argument truly reduces to is a Protestant determines what books are in the Bible because Protestant Bibles only contain those books which some nonauthoritative person who is no smarter or Spirit-filled than you says belongs there.

For a Catholic, there is no "semi" authoritative canon. We accept what the Church defines it to be. While you cite a number of Church leaders at Trent who held to a different opinion than what was ultimately decided prior to the final decrees at Trent, how many of them still held those opinions after the final vote?

God bless your efforts here. If anything, your arguments here have certainly proven why the Church should have the final and binding authority to determine dogma.

Carrie said...

In short, what your argument truly reduces to is a Protestant determines what books are in the Bible because Protestant Bibles only contain those books which some nonauthoritative person who is no smarter or Spirit-filled than you says belongs there.

No, it doesn't reduce to that. But this post isn't really about that so I will leave it at that.

While you cite a number of Church leaders at Trent who held to a different opinion than what was ultimately decided prior to the final decrees at Trent, how many of them still held those opinions after the final vote?

The main point here is that the Council left the two-fold canon question open. That is essentially part of the final decree. And books in the Vulgate were left undecided.

You guys keep lobbing up peripherals, it doesn't change the facts.

For a Catholic, there is no "semi" authoritative canon.

An open canon with books of questionable authority as a rule of faith is "semi-authoritative" in my mind. I can consult any book in my canon in matters of doctrine, you cannot.

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

"An open canon with books of questionable authority as a rule of faith is "semi-authoritative" in my mind. I can consult any book in my canon in matters of doctrine, you cannot"

Carrie, dear sister in Christ:

I suspect you did not follow Paul's commentary and as well as you might. I invite you to revisit his words with a view toward what we actually teach, believe and practice. It simply is not what you claim.


As I've mentioned elsewhere, please also consider the problem of the Protestant canon and the subjective claim of the internal witness of the Holy Sprit claimed to be in opposition to the “mere” testimony of the Church. It renders what you call "your" canon no more or less an authority on doctrine than any other, including any random canon any random Christian might declare--and therefore of no authority at all.

We who recognize Jesus' explicit endowment of His authority upon the Church look to the Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and the teaching authority of the Church to form doctrine. To me it seems that it is you who cannot call upon your canon to derive doctrine, as your canon may be whatever anyone wants it to be: all one needs is to convince oneself that it is the internal witness of the Holy Spirit, not one's own human heart that speaks.

These are two very different models of doctrinal formation. As such it seems to someone of my perspective that your assertion of "authority" is relativistic and therefore attests to the great need for an actual standard of authority that does not boil down to "God told me so" for each individual (as does the “internal witness of the Holy Spirit” argument you allude to elsewhere).

This actual standard, I am happy to say, Jesus personally and explicitly provided us--and by great provision we even have this fact recorded in the very same Holy Scriptures you and I both agree are inspired by God Himself.


May God bless you and all you do for His kingdom's sake. May your every effort be made fruitful in the realm that we see now only through a veil, but we shall soon see unhindered.

I remain your servant and brother in Christ,
--Theo

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

Paul Hoffert asked:
"Why not publish all of the books and let the reader make up his own mind guided by the Holy Spirit to determine the truth in his own mind?"

Excellent question, Paul. Does anyone know whether this has been tried by any group?

Carrie said...

Theo,

Seriously, you still have not grasped the Protestant view on the formation of the canon. Neither has Paul. And an answer of "so what, you are no better" isn't really dealing with the facts.

Forget about Prots for a minute and comprehend that the canon established by your infallible church is open and quite loose in it's definition. That fact does not jive with the typical Catholic assertion of certainty.

The Catholic apologist argument is usually one of authoritative superiority to other positions. Most of us online simply show that at best Catholics have epistemic parity, not superiority.

Now, read the Whitaker quote again, and maybe follow the link and read the larger section of how Protestants understand their canon. Here's a hint - the canon developed by the internal witness of the HS in the body of believers.

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

Carrie, dear sister:

I have read Whitaker and many other Protestant theologians / preachers (including Edwards) on the canon. Although I'm confident that I grasp their arguments in terms of syntax and denotation, I'm sure you are correct: I do not grasp the Protestant view on the formation of the canon--at least not in a manner that allows assent.

Similarly, "so what, you are no better" is not even close to what we are saying. (Frankly, I'm amazed you draw this conclusion to the point that I wonder if we've encountered some sort of aphasic phenomenon.) Rather, that the witness you claim for the Protestant canon whether it is impotent (as I deem) or strong (as you deem) in and of itself also applies to the Catholic canon--and more so.


Please understand that as far as I can tell, ours has the greater witness in terms of "the internal witness of the HS in the body of believers" if you will, and in addition we have Apostolic authority to back it up and the direct mandate of Christ Himself. We can point to the councils and the fathers and specific rulings through history based on the consensus of the Church and the opinions of apostolic successors. We point to the dogmatic statement of Trent and back to the Council of Hippo, over one thousand years prior. And all of these point back to Christ Himself who ordained the Church (not scripture) and her role as the pillar of truth, the binder and loser of things earthly and heavenly, acting in his name.

To my flawed and limited ability to understand it seems that you point to Whitaker who points to what I cannot differentiate from "God told me" based only on his testimony, as his testimony actually contradicts "the internal witness of the Holy Spirit for the majority of the body of believers" during of his time, during our time and over all time of this Christian era.

I believe we will have to leave it here as a failure to communicate--for now. This is sad; however, let us both take joy in knowing that this shall not always be, and we shall see with the great clarity the time and means of our judgment shall afford (May God have mercy on us.).

And so I pray in submission to the Sacred Name of Jesus that God may richly bless you in finishing the work he has begun in you, transforming you unto perfection in His image.

Your servant and brother,
--Theo

lojahw said...

I've just found this blog on the semi-authoritative Catholic Canon. Very interesting! Where did you find the info on Trent not voting on 3 & 4 Esdras, etc?

Blessings,

lojahw said...

It seems that the major issue is recognizing distinctions between the protocanonical & deuterocanonical books. Since Trent did not decide it, why do RCs fight so vociferously to defend a position not dogmatically defined?

Blessings,
Lover of Jesus and His Word

Carrie said...

Hey lojahw,

All the references are at the bottom of the block quotes in italics.

John said...

So now Carrie is making the same stupid accusation against Catholics that Rhology has been foisting on the Orthodox.

Just because books can be on different levels of importance does not indicate they are not all Holy Scripture. Just because some books' authority on particular matters is more significant than others, does not mean that they are not all useful for demonstrating dogma.

Luther was of the same opinion, calling James an epistle of straw, and making various comments about Hebrews, and Revelation. When Rhology figures this out he can quit misrepresenting Kallistos Ware.