Saturday, April 12, 2008

Catholic Quotes on the Bible


28 Q: Is the reading of the Bible necessary to all Christians?
A: The reading of the Bible is not necessary to all Christians since they are instructed by the Church; however its reading is very useful and recommended to all.

32 Q: What should a Christian do who has been given a Bible by a Protestant or by an agent of the Protestants?
A: A Christian to whom a Bible has been offered by a Protestant or an agent of the Protestants should reject it with disgust, because it is forbidden by the Church. If it was accepted by inadvertence, it must be burnt as soon as possible or handed in to the Parish Priest.

33 Q: Why does the Church forbid Protestant Bibles?
A: The Church forbids Protestant Bibles because, either they have been altered and contain errors, or not having her approbation and footnotes explaining the obscure meanings, they may be harmful to the Faith. It is for that same reason that the Church even forbids translations of the Holy Scriptures already approved by her which have been reprinted without the footnotes approved by her.

-Catechism of St. Pius

44 comments:

James Swan said...

This reminded me of the Watchtower.I'm sure many who will stop by and read this snippet from Carrie have attempted to give a book or tract to a Jehovah's Witness, and how difficult, if not downright impossible such an act is.

Granted, I don't think I've ever come across any Roman Catholic (either cyber warrior or one in my daily travels) that actually follows anything even close to this.

There are multiple avenues of dialog one could venture down in discussing such a restriction, and what it means and does not mean. For me, after listening to countless hours of Catholic Answers live, It has shown me that Catholics are generally very confused about the way in which to practice their faith, trying to work through canon law, papal encyclicals, councilliar decrees, or even what they hear in their own parishes. Karl Keating has commercial currently on the show noting that many Catholics will not be voting like Catholics in the upcoming election, and the implication is ignorance, and that the foot soldiers of Catholic answers need to indoctrinate them with the right information.

So, as to these snippets you've posted, they would fall under my Roman Catholic "blueprint for anarchy" category. Maybe some would practice something as severe as expressed, or maybe not. Maybe some could explain the thought behind such statements, maybe others could explain it differently. They have 2000 years of history that need to be synthesized into a coherent systematic theology. Any who study Rome know that this hasn't happened, and that anarchy prevails.

Turretinfan said...

Amazing! Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

Kevin Davis said...

This is not terribly surprising. You can find the exact same sort of stuff on the Protestant side. I'm not even sure what is so scandalous about this. Sure, neither side is into burning heretical material anymore, but why would a Protestant or Catholic want their child (or any other novice in the faith) to read material they deem in error and thus cause for confusion, hence you have the once-common pragmatic position (common to both Protestant and Catholic) that only certain educated adults should engage responsibly with heretical material. Of course, we're postmoderns now, so we abhore the idea that a set value system should be imposed on us, and thus we have a responsibility (from as young as possible) to construct our own identities -- such is the common view now, but this certainly was not for most people in the early 20th century and before.

They have 2000 years of history that need to be synthesized into a coherent systematic theology. Any who study Rome know that this hasn't happened, and that anarchy prevails.


Why would Roman Catholics need to synthesize "2000 years of history"? The Catholic Church makes no claim to equal dogmatic weight for all positions, statements, acts, etc. in her history. You can argue against the Catholic Church's self-understanding of what constitutes binding dogma, but it certainly makes no claim to perfect uniformity and adhesion in its development.

Anarchy? When looking at the dogmatic system of the Catholic Church, the last thing I think is "anarchy." What are the controverted points in contemporary Catholicism? Contraception? Sure. The extra-ecclesial salvific agency of God? Sure. And there are more, but this is nothing to what Protestantism has had to deal with for the last two hundred years, including the full deity of Christ, bodily resurrection, virginal conception, penal atonement, etc., and now the new heterodoxy of women's ordination and same-sex unions.

Anybody can form their own little perfect church of perfect doctrinal orthodoxy as they and other like-minded people conceive it -- 20th century Reformed Protestantism alone has given ample witness to this phenomenon. The fact that the Catholic Church has retained (and sustains) an amazing amount of doctrinal cohesion through successive generations over virtually all the nations of the world is something to be reckoned with. To nitpick and call it "anarchy" is pure polemics.

James Swan said...

I'm not even sure what is so scandalous about this.

What makes it scandalous: "The reading of the Bible is not necessary to all Christians since they are instructed by the Church." Here is overt sola ecclesia. The statement assumes the church is infallible, hence to be believed implicitly. Nowhere do we have any theopneustos declaration this is the case. The Roman church assumes it, and then downplays the only theopneustos authority that could correct her.

Sure, neither side is into burning heretical material anymore, but why would a Protestant or Catholic want their child (or any other novice in the faith) to read material they deem in error and thus cause for confusion, hence you have the once-common pragmatic position (common to both Protestant and Catholic) that only certain educated adults should engage responsibly with heretical material.

I don't disagree with this about secondary materials. Certain of my cyber-friends expressed a little shock and dismay when I mentioned I had recently ordered 3 books written by Patrick Madrid. I do so, not for edification, but to better understand the Catholic apologist mindset.

On the other hand, this is what is scandalous: "A Christian to whom a Bible has been offered by a Protestant or an agent of the Protestants should reject it with disgust." This reminds me of the Roman Catholic outcry by Luther's detractors over his translation, and then, probably one of the most outspoken of Luther's detractors published his own Bible, and plagiarized Luther's translation. But, if Rome can prove that the NAS or the NIV is deliberately mis-translated by Protestants, let them do so before they instruct their sheep to reject with disgust. Let Rome also stop calling us "separated brethren" if they plan on having disgust over the Bibles we use. How can they have disgust for our Bibles, but yet still consider us Christian? From taking a moment to view your website, you appear to be a very ecumenical Roman Catholic of some sort. i assume then, the type of rhetoric as put forth like, "A Christian to whom a Bible has been offered by a Protestant or an agent of the Protestants should reject it with disgust" should at least strike you enough to consider the historical development of the Romanist polemic.

Why would Roman Catholics need to synthesize "2000 years of history"? The Catholic Church makes no claim to equal dogmatic weight for all positions, statements, acts, etc. in her history. You can argue against the Catholic Church's self-understanding of what constitutes binding dogma, but it certainly makes no claim to perfect uniformity and adhesion in its development.

I can appreciate the honesty, because it, in effect, proves my point. Very little of Catholic Biblical exegesis is infallible, and even in dogmatic statements, these are open to multiple interpretations. Rome's position is a blueprint for anarchy far beyond any religious "Christian" system I can think of. What makes it humorous is Roman Catholics claim unity and certainty. Neither of these exist in actuality within the Roman system.

Anarchy? When looking at the dogmatic system of the Catholic Church, the last thing I think is "anarchy."

Then you aren't looking close enough. I get a chuckle out of the amount of times I hear one of the hosts on Catholic Answers state, "Rome hasn't decided on this." And again, even in those things Rome decides on, those statements are open to interpretation. All this, while claiming unity. Rome is a big facade of the word "truth" held up by twigs, waiting to be toppled over by any who looks closely.

The fact that the Catholic Church has retained (and sustains) an amazing amount of doctrinal cohesion through successive generations over virtually all the nations of the world is something to be reckoned with. To nitpick and call it "anarchy" is pure polemics.

No, this is pure polemic. When one begins to look closely at history and points out that the claimed cohesion isn't all that cohesive, "development of doctrine" has to be brought in to smooth things over for those specificaly Romanist doctrines. Based on your studies, you should be accutely aware of this.

Kevin Davis said...

James,

Thanks for the response. First, I should note that I'm not Roman Catholic but neither am I truly Protestant insofar as having a commitment to Reformation thought. I'm non-denominational by default. I grew-up Baptist but waved goodbye to that upon going to college and majoring in Religious Studies (now I'm a postgrad in Systematic Theology). I like good theology, whether it be Reformed, Lutheran, Catholic, or Orthodox. I'm not a syncretist, however, and I genuinely strive to determine the proper side on these debated issues.

What makes it scandalous: "The reading of the Bible is not necessary to all Christians since they are instructed by the Church." Here is overt sola ecclesia. The statement assumes the church is infallible, hence to be believed implicitly. Nowhere do we have any theopneustos declaration this is the case. The Roman church assumes it, and then downplays the only theopneustos authority that could correct her.

First, it should be noted that the Catholic Church believes herself to be under the authority of scripture in that doctrine must be regulated by its content, but not all doctrine must be explicitly derived therefrom. The Catholic Church believes herself, from scriptural attestations, to be the one properly-constituted Church of Christ in which the fullness of Christian truth will be retained until the Lord's return. This does not mean that she is inspired in all her pronouncements in the way scripture is; thus, she is not theopneustos in the way pseudo-Paul (2 Tim.) considered the Jewish scriptures. However, it seems perfectly reasonable to claim herself incapable of binding her faithful in error, while at the same time not subverting scriptural authority -- to do the latter would nullify the former. The problem is not the Catholic Church's unwillingness to submit to scripture; the issue is whether or not she indeed does, which just brings us to the standard points of difference between Catholics and non-Catholics.

But, if Rome can prove that the NAS or the NIV is deliberately mis-translated by Protestants, let them do so before they instruct their sheep to reject with disgust. Let Rome also stop calling us "separated brethren" if they plan on having disgust over the Bibles we use. How can they have disgust for our Bibles, but yet still consider us Christian?

The excerpts from Carrie are from the Catechism of St. Pius X from 1908. For English-speakers, the Protestant translation in view would be the King James Version. The KJV has a clear Protestant slant that Catholics at the time well-noted. Today, the Catholic Church has nothing in principle against Protestant translations as long as there are common standards of interpretation involved. This was achieved with the RSV first and, in the UK, with the REB. The Catechism of the Catholic Church uses the RSV and NRSV. So, I don't see any "disgust" at Protestant translations coming from Rome.

Very little of Catholic Biblical exegesis is infallible, and even in dogmatic statements, these are open to multiple interpretations.

The Catholic Church simply doesn't ascribe to herself the sort of authority you think she should have. The Catholic Church sees herself as continually (from the apostles onward) commissioned to bear the gospel faithfully, but aspects of the faith will need clarification as points are disputed and unity of the Church threatened. In what exegetical controversies does the Catholic Church need to be infallible? The full deity of Christ and his atonement? Well, see Nicaea, Chalcedon, and Trent. The ontology and function of the sacraments? See Lateran IV, Florence, and Trent. The salvation of non-Christians? See Vatican II. And so on. The christology, soteriology, ecclesiology, and sacramentology that arises from these dogmatic claims covers quite a bit of scripture. Yes, there is still questions asked and qualifications to be made, but limitations in human comprehension of divine revelation should make this no surprise.

Rome's position is a blueprint for anarchy far beyond any religious "Christian" system I can think of.

So, sola scriptura is less a "blueprint for anarchy" than Rome's supposed sola ecclesia? You're not going to convince too many with that one.

What makes it humorous is Roman Catholics claim unity and certainty. Neither of these exist in actuality within the Roman system.

Where is this great lack of unity? In what does it consist? If you are going to name heretics (like Hans Kung, who rejects Vatican I as a valid council), then this has no bearing on Rome's claims for herself. If you are going to cite statistics on those who ignore certain moral teachings, then you are just pointing to sinners, which Rome never denies to exist in her realm. Perhaps Rome should be more robust with her excommunicating powers, but for those who accept the dogmatic principles of the Roman Catholic Church, there is a great deal of unity and understanding of what must be taught.

I get a chuckle out of the amount of times I hear one of the hosts on Catholic Answers state, "Rome hasn't decided on this."

And what might these be? I don't deny that such exist, but I would like to know what divisive issues Rome has not decided upon.

GeneMBridges said...


First, it should be noted that the Catholic Church believes herself to be under the authority of scripture in that doctrine must be regulated by its content, but not all doctrine must be explicitly derived therefrom.


Which is quite the conundrum given that this would mean that she defines Scripture and then says she serves that which she defines. Those propositions pull in opposite directions.

The Catholic Church believes herself, from scriptural attestations, to be the one properly-constituted Church of Christ in which the fullness of Christian truth will be retained until the Lord's return.

No, the Catholic Church believes herself - from a combination of Tradition and interpretation- to be this visible entity. Yet, have these passages necessary to that intepretation been infallibly defined by her?

This does not mean that she is inspired in all her pronouncements in the way scripture is; thus, she is not theopneustos in the way pseudo-Paul (2 Tim.) considered the Jewish scriptures.

Leaving aside your view on the authorship of 2 Timothy, on the contrary, she claims the sole right of infallibility. That is putting her Magisterium's pronouncements on par with Scripture. The claim, in particular, she makes is that she is the guardian of a body of (oral) tradition that is "apostolic."

a. Where can we find this documented?
b. If documented,why isn't it Scripture? If it's truly apostolic, it should be canonized.

The excerpts from Carrie are from the Catechism of St. Pius X from 1908. For English-speakers, the Protestant translation in view would be the King James Version. The KJV has a clear Protestant slant that Catholics at the time well-noted. Today, the Catholic Church has nothing in principle against Protestant translations as long as there are common standards of interpretation involved. This was achieved with the RSV first and, in the UK, with the REB. The Catechism of the Catholic Church uses the RSV and NRSV. So, I don't see any "disgust" at Protestant translations coming from Rome.

So, the Church alters it's practices as it suits itself. Sola Ecclesia.

In what exegetical controversies does the Catholic Church need to be infallible?The full deity of Christ and his atonement? Well, see Nicaea, Chalcedon, and Trent.

This would be one of them actually. There was a long discussion after Chalcedon, lasting for many generations, regarding the meaning of the term "person" in the Chalcedonian Creed.

So, sola scriptura is less a "blueprint for anarchy" than Rome's supposed sola ecclesia? You're not going to convince too many with that one.

You've misconstrued the Protestant objection. We don't claim our position is *superior* we claim it is on an epistemic par, and when this cashes out, we see Evangelical Protestants in agreement on quite a bit.

Take the way we construe a credible profession of faith. The LBCF1, 2, WCF, 39 Articles, Savoy Declaration, Assemblies of God Confession, Formula of Concord, BFM, NHC,and many others all constitute a credible profession of faith for us. There is quite a bit of agreement within the credobaptistic strands and within the respective Lutheran and Reformed families. It's when you get to differences between the 4 major families (Lutheran, Reformed, Baptist, Anglican). Lutherans tend not to tolerate much variance. The other 3 do quite well at addressing kinds and types of errors and fundamental articles, with one exception: Arminians tend to err to defect.

Where is this great lack of unity? In what does it consist? If you are going to name heretics (like Hans Kung, who rejects Vatican I as a valid council), then this has no bearing on Rome's claims for herself.

We need not go that far at all. Try Sedevacantists. Molinists and Thomists exist side by side too. The point James is making is that Roman Catholics accentuate "unity" in their own ranks while decrying it in ours - and they use this as an argument in their favor. So, it's a double standard.

If you are going to cite statistics on those who ignore certain moral teachings, then you are just pointing to sinners, which Rome never denies to exist in her realm. Perhaps Rome should be more robust with her excommunicating powers, but for those who accept the dogmatic principles of the Roman Catholic Church, there is a great deal of unity and understanding of what must be taught.

So,the way to accentuate unity is to simply declare those out of step with whatever the flavor of the week is in Rome as "no true Christian." Riiiight, but when we do this, we're ruled out of order by the Roman Catholic apologetics corps.

TheDen said...

Carrie,

You guys realize that the majority of the world COULD NOT READ before WWII. So, the obvious answer is NO...IT'S NOT NECESSARY TO READ THE BIBLE. If you can't read, you can't read the Scripture. To say that you must would exclude the majority of the world for the first 1900 years of the Church's existence.

Look what it says after that:

"however its reading is very useful and recommended to all."

Yeah...I see no problem with question 28.

In regards to question #32, as a Catholic, we view the Protestant Bible as incomplete. While I don't agree that it should be burned, I don't really see a problem with this as well as any Bible not approved by the Catholic Church may be suspect in the eyes of the Church.

Honestly, if I were to give Carrie or James a Catholic Bible or a Rosary, you would probably destroy it. Right? If you wouldn't, there are probably Protestants who would and it wouldn't surprise me.

I don't really understand the problems with these questions and answers. From a Catholic perspective with the understanding that this was probably written 100 years ago, none of these answers appear to be outrageous.

James Swan said...

You guys realize that the majority of the world COULD NOT READ before WWII. So, the obvious answer is NO...IT'S NOT NECESSARY TO READ THE BIBLE.

On second thought, I better not respond to this.

Kevin Davis said...

Which is quite the conundrum given that this would mean that she defines Scripture and then says she serves that which she defines. Those propositions pull in opposite directions.


The Catholic Church "defines" scripture insofar as she recognizes valid scripture; she does not "define" insofar as she makes or produces it. The scriptures existed before the canon; the canonical issue being one of the many issues that had to be settled. In recognizing scripture, the Church recognizes that which is given by God and thus to be followed. A parallel example: the Catholic Church submits to the authority of Christ even though his full deity was not defined until the 4th century. So, "...she defines [Christ's full deity] and then says she serves that which she defines." Not a conundrum.

No, the Catholic Church believes herself - from a combination of Tradition and interpretation- to be this visible entity. Yet, have these passages necessary to that intepretation been infallibly defined by her?


This can't be seriously taken as an objection. Her very dogmatic structure is built on the defining of the Church as the episcopacy in union with Rome as the retention of Peter's primacy. So, if Matthew 16 is in view, then yes, the Catholic Church certainly has given a definitive interpretation.

...on the contrary, she claims the sole right of infallibility. That is putting her Magisterium's pronouncements on par with Scripture.

In one sense, yes, in that both scripture and church dogma must be submitted to. The difference is that church dogma is not an originating principle, i.e., it is not divine revelation. "Dogma" is simply the declaration that such-and-such was a part of God's self-revelation in the first century mission of the Son (which includes, of course, the OT witness).

The claim, in particular, she makes is that she is the guardian of a body of (oral) tradition that is "apostolic."
a. Where can we find this documented?
b. If documented,why isn't it Scripture? If it's truly apostolic, it should be canonized.


If it were documented it wouldn't be "oral." The point of claiming an "oral" tradition is that scripture need not be the plenary revelation of God if the Church, via apostolic succession, has a guarantee from Christ to be the bearer of the gospel and enabled to define what rightly constitutes this gospel. You want some empirical proof of, e.g., the Marian dogmas, which is understandable since you are a Protestant, but if you accept the claims of the Catholic Church concerning her divine constitution and mission, then such proof is not necessary and cannot rightly be brought forward as a charge against Rome. If you have "evidence" that a certain Catholic dogma is against scripture, then you have a legitimate protestation -- and I'm sure you have plenty of such evidence at hand.

So, the Church alters it's practices as it suits itself. Sola Ecclesia.

No, the Church expects certain standards of fair interpretation in translation, as do Protestants expect from themselves and others. Why are you resorting to polemic?

There was a long discussion after Chalcedon, lasting for many generations, regarding the meaning of the term "person" in the Chalcedonian Creed.

Yes, and trust me, it continues still. Chalcedon never supposed to close off all doors in her definition of "true God" and "true man," but she did close off certain doors, namely Arianism and Modalism. The use of "person" has its limits as all the fathers (and the Reformers and Protestant scholastics) recognized...how is this is any way an objection to Rome? It might as well be an objection against the perspicuity of scripture. Or maybe it's like I said -- the limits of human finitude when discerning divine revelation.

You've misconstrued the Protestant objection. We don't claim our position is *superior* we claim it is on an epistemic par, and when this cashes out, we see Evangelical Protestants in agreement on quite a bit.

Fair enough, in regard to "epistemic par"; but James was clearly saying that the confusions in Roman Catholic dogmatics results in more anarchy than the Protestant principle induces. I say this is ridiculous, and, while there is a great amount of unity among Evangelical Protestants, you can scarcely claim that there is less unity among faithful Catholic.

Try Sedevacantists. Molinists and Thomists exist side by side too.

Seriously...sedevacantists?! Is this the best you have. How many sedevacantists are there? I bet there's more people in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. And Molinists and Thomists existing side by side -- thank God. This is a tribute to the Catholic Church's ability to recognize legitimate points of disagreement, as it stems, once again, from the gap between our finitude and God's infinitude.

The point James is making is that Roman Catholics accentuate "unity" in their own ranks while decrying it in ours - and they use this as an argument in their favor. So, it's a double standard

The unity Catholics have is one of ecclesial and dogmatic harmony. Those who disagree with the latter (dogma) put themselves in schism. Protestants don't have ecclesial unity because they don't have the ecclesial authority required for it -- this is the Catholic objection (not simply the variety of interpretations).

kmerian said...

I realize that the comment that reading the Bible is not necessary looks horrible on the surface. Until you realize one thing. The Bible is read in its entirety over a three year cycle in every Catholic Church. So, attend Mass (at least the liturgy of the Word) everyday, and you can have the entire Bible read to you.

How many non-catholic churches can say that?

James Swan said...

First, it should be noted that the Catholic Church believes herself to be under the authority of scripture in that doctrine must be regulated by its content, but not all doctrine must be explicitly derived therefrom.

They can "believe" or even say things like this, but what is the reality of a such a statement? How does one regulate the Assumption or Papal infallibility with Scripture? This is a rhetorical question, it cannot be done, because the Scriptures would be regulating infallible extra-biblical content that claims to be on the same level as Scripture. These dogmas are not derived from the Scripture, but stand outside the Scripture.

The Catholic Church believes herself, from scriptural attestations, to be the one properly-constituted Church of Christ in which the fullness of Christian truth will be retained until the Lord's return.

There is not even remotely a Biblical passage that proves or infers Rome is the one true church, and that one true church is infallible in her pronouncements. Rome does not found these beliefs on "scriptural attestations." Rome has presuppositional beliefs assumed, and then attempts to delve into the Biblical record to show her faith-based presuppositions are "harmonious" with the Bible. Again, the statement in question assumes the church is infallible, hence to be believed implicitly. Nowhere do we have any theopneustos declaration this is the case. The Roman church assumes it, and then downplays the only theopneustos authority that could correct her.

This does not mean that she is inspired in all her pronouncements in the way scripture is; thus, she is not theopneustos in the way pseudo-Paul (2 Tim.) considered the Jewish scriptures.

I have never argued about " all her pronouncements" as being infallible, even Rome itself states this much clearly. However, Rome speaks of a binding source of divine revelation called "Tradition." Early Roman Catholics had no problem with a two-source understanding of revelation, many today do. Rome doesn't really seem to care, but leave the question in ambiguity as to where it is found.

However, it seems perfectly reasonable to claim herself incapable of binding her faithful in error, while at the same time not subverting scriptural authority -- to do the latter would nullify the former.

No, this is not reasonable, As Archibald Alexander noted long ago, "Some distinguished men among the Roman Catholics have asserted, that the Scriptures owe all their authority to the Church; so that if she did not give her attestation to the gospels, they would have no more authority that Aesop's Fables. But when asked how the Church can establish her authority, they must answer, that it is proved by the testimony of Scripture. This is a perfect example of a sophism called, 'a circle," for they prove the authority of the Scriptures by the Church, and the authority of the Church by the Scriptures."

The problem is not the Catholic Church's unwillingness to submit to scripture; the issue is whether or not she indeed does, which just brings us to the standard points of difference between Catholics and non-Catholics.

You are quite mistaken. Institutions "willing" to submit to Scripture are not those claiming to be that which, in effect, stand above the Scriptures. I realize Rome claims to be subservient to the Bible, but I will not even entertain such fallacious logic as that put forth in Dei Verbum: "But the task of authentically interpreting the word of God, whether written or handed on, has been entrusted exclusively to the living teaching office of the Church, whose authority is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ. This teaching office is not above the word of God, but serves it, teaching only what has been handed on, listening to it devoutly, guarding it scrupulously and explaining it faithfully in accord with a divine commission and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it draws from this one deposit of faith everything which it presents for belief as divinely revealed." Simply because an institution claim to be serving a higher authority, does not mean it actually does so. Someone has to stand up and say, "The Emperor's got no clothes on."

Today, the Catholic Church has nothing in principle against Protestant translations as long as there are common standards of interpretation involved

"Today, the Catholic Church".. yes, today the Catholic Church. Let's forget yesterday's church, like the one ruled by Pope Clement XI who condemned the reading of the Scripture by the laity, or Pius VI doing similarly. Rome's papacy has a habit of demonstrating what I've been saying all along, she herself, in effect, stands above the Scriptures.


This was achieved with the RSV first and, in the UK, with the REB. The Catechism of the Catholic Church uses the RSV and NRSV. So, I don't see any "disgust" at Protestant translations coming from Rome

Please re-read 33Q. Do these translations meet the requirements set forth by Pius? I think there is a very obvious answer. Was the supreme Pontiff speaking for himself, or for the Church? Is 33Q applicable today for Roman Catholics?

The Catholic Church simply doesn't ascribe to herself the sort of authority you think she should have. The Catholic Church sees herself as continually (from the apostles onward) commissioned to bear the gospel faithfully, but aspects of the faith will need clarification as points are disputed and unity of the Church threatened.

Perhaps you don't spend the time I do interacting with the latest materials put forth by the defenders of Rome. I can list and provide a number of statements from published works by Roman Catholics claiming Rome is the infallible interpreter of Scriptrue. What do you think "need clarification" means? My point, was that Rome claims to be able to provide unity in faith, but in actuality, when it comes right down to unity on the Biblical text, there is very little, because Rome has spoken very little on actual texts.

In what exegetical controversies does the Catholic Church need to be infallible?

I would start with predestination, which is directly and implicitly a question of soteriology and the atonement. How about, the literal vs. mythical interpretation of the creation account in Genesis, or the validity of the new mass? Rome can spend its energy defining Mary's bodily Assumption- a completely anti-Biblical dogma, but can't tell its followers what predestination means, or if creation account is literal? Further, as to your list of doctrines explained by Rome, you do realize the certainty Roman Catholics have is not in the text of Scripture, but in the doctrines infallibly declared by the Roman Catholic Church. The Roman Catholic Church says that a doctrine can be defined, but the scriptural proofs used to support it utilized by the Church’s theologians might not actually support it. In other words, one can have certainty for a doctrine, but not have certainty in the scriptural proof texts for that doctrine. The infallibleness is in the decree, not in the reasoning to that decree. Once again, the point always comes back to authority. Rome sets herself up as the infallible authority which stands above Scripture.

So, sola scriptura is less a "blueprint for anarchy" than Rome's supposed sola ecclesia? You're not going to convince too many with that one.

Yes it is. The more deeply one analyzes the Roman system, the more ridiculous it becomes. Because Rome does not stick with one infallible source of divine revelation (despite her claim she does), Rome will always be a blueprint for anarchy. The Biblical record will always be simply a place to mine out what is needed to support whichever way the wind blows.

Where is this great lack of unity? In what does it consist?

Rome has only explicitly defined a handful of passages, and allows their theologians to speculate and use their private judgment on the majority of Scripture. What this means to Catholic laymen, is that in actuality, they can’t really know what the Scriptures do mean in most cases, and prove their disunity continually.

Even with "defined" statements, Rome lacks uinty on basic issues. Dei Verbum states:

107. The inspired books teach the truth. "Since therefore ALL that the inspired authors or sacred writers affirm should be regarded as affirmed by the Holy Spirit, we must acknowledge that the books of Scripture firmly, faithfully, and without error teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the Sacred Scriptures." [Vatican II DV 11]

This statement itself is prone to multiple interpretations with the Roman community. Conservative Roman Catholic apologists see this as a clear statement that the entirety of Scripture is without error. Some Roman Catholic scholars though (like R.A.F. MacKenzie and Raymond Brown) see the phrase “for the sake of our salvation” as limiting inerrency to only those sections of Scripture that teach about salvation. The actual teachings of the Roman Catholic Church are prone to interpretation. The Catholic apologist must use his own private interpretation to determine what the meaning of Roman Catholic teaching is. The conservative and liberal Roman Catholic can read the same document and come to two differing opinions.So on a fundamental issue- what are, or are not, the very Words of God, Catholics are not unified.

James Swan said...

We need not go that far at all. Try Sedevacantists. Molinists and Thomists exist side by side too. The point James is making is that Roman Catholics accentuate "unity" in their own ranks while decrying it in ours - and they use this as an argument in their favor. So, it's a double standard.

Yes, let's not forget this. We can quibble over all sorts of issues, but when it comes right down to it, Romanists refute their own arguments when the same standards are applied to their own position.

Thanks Gene for your comments- I'm not sure how much more time I can put into the blog this month, I have a lot of work. As typical I'm doing 20 things at the same time, and none of them get finished.

Carrie said...

So, attend Mass (at least the liturgy of the Word) everyday, and you can have the entire Bible read to you.

How many non-catholic churches can say that?


The key there being everyday. How many people attend mass everyday?

According to this site entire may not be quite accurate - "Any day of the year a person can walk into a Catholic parish church anywhere in the world and hear the same readings proclaimed. If someone were to attend Mass every day for three years, they would hear approximately 98% of the New Testament and more than 85% of the Old Testament proclaimed from the pulpit." I looked that up b/c after all my years growing up and attending Sunday mass, I very rarely remember hearing OT readings.

Reading from your own Bible on your own timeline seems much more do-able than attending mass everday for 3 years (and you'll get 100%) and would be more profitable (context, cross-reference, study notes, etc).

Matt said...

This is so silly. This is from the beginning of the 20th century in the midst of the modernist controversies. The hierarchy's attitude towards Bible reading has changed significantly since then, insofar as Vatican II was a re-recovery and reemphasis of the Church's Biblical and patristic foundations. The popes frequently have said at least since the 1960s that Catholics should be involved in regular reading of the Bible.

If you guys want to debate a 100-year-old statement that has been clearly qualified since then, go ahead. You just have to be aware of how silly it looks.

Carrie said...

You guys realize that the majority of the world COULD NOT READ before WWII.

Honestly, I am not up on literacy statistics, but that fact does seem odd considering how terrified Rome was of Reformation PRINTED material.

Carrie said...

James & Gene,

Thanks for tackling Kevin's comments! I have been short on time also.

Kevin Davis said...

There is not even remotely a Biblical passage that proves or infers Rome is the one true church, and that one true church is infallible in her pronouncements. ...The Roman church assumes it, and then downplays the only theopneustos authority that could correct her.

You can disagree with the principle of apostolic succession and the primacy of Peter in one particular bishopric as necessary for unity, but scripture certainly is utilized to give support. But, of course, it is not enough if the sufficiency and perspicuity of scripture is assumed as that alone upon which a church and her confession is constructed. In both cases, the Roman and Protestant, there is an assumption being brought to the text, and, thus, in both cases there is a circularity. The question is whether the Roman claims or the Protestant claims (or Orthodox claims) make better sense of the witness we have before us in the New Testament and the theo-logic derived therefrom. Many Christians find the argument quite persuasive that there is a necessity for the continuation of the apostles' authority with successors who preserve the unity of the Church. Both Catholics and Orthodox Christians affirm this as fundamental to the Church. This is a quite reasonable position, and the fact that it cannot be "proved" from scripture is not an argument against it, unless you first posit the principle of sola scriptura. But why would someone accept this Protestant principle over the Catholic principle? Not because it is inherently better supported; rather, because the person sees the Catholic claims to be contrary to scripture and thus negating her own claim to be in accord with scripture. The issue comes down to whether Rome's soteriology, christology, ecclesiology, moral theology, mariology, et cetera is in formal contradiction with scripture or its own internal theo-logic. In other words, it is not an argument to say that Rome "downplays the only theopneustos authority that could correct her." This statement assumes that Rome is wrong; it does not prove it. If scripture could teach contrary to Catholic dogma, then the Protestants are correct, but this assumes the Protestant principle. This is the point I've been trying to make. I have no problem with you guys saying that the Assumption of Mary is a gnostic heresy; this may very well be the case and there's evidence for it. This is a valid argument against Rome. Saying "Rome does not respect scripture's authority over herself" is just question begging.

My point, was that Rome claims to be able to provide unity in faith, but in actuality, when it comes right down to unity on the Biblical text, there is very little, because Rome has spoken very little on actual texts.

This is just incomprehensible to me. The Catholic Church has a fairly extensive understanding of what constitutes orthodox christology, soteriology, sacramentology, and so on, covering a wide range of biblical material -- certainly all that is necessary for Christian faith and ecclesial unity.

As for predestination, what is lacking in Catholic soteriological self-understanding that you think a specification on predestination would help? Rome outright rejects irresistible grace and limited atonement, so, whatever Rome allows for understanding in predestination, it certainly does not allow that. In other words, monergism is off the table, so why does Rome need to offer a dogma that will serve no real end? Rome basically says: for those who want to issue speculations on divine eternality and predestination, that's fine, as long as your conclusions do not contradict established soteriological dogma. This is a perfectly sound and legitimate position.

As for the creation narratives, Rome has allowed for the mythical interpretations, but, yes, there is no official dogma. Virtually all Catholics accept a non-literal reading and it hasn't threatened the unity of the Church, so I don't see why Rome would care to make a definitive statement one way or the other. It may very well be the case that Rome cannot make such a statement because it is not indicated in Genesis what is to be taken literally, and, since defining dogma is not in-itself divine revelation (i.e., it is not an act of inspiration), then the Church can make no claims here. The Catholic Church only considers herself an infallible interpreter of scripture for that which has been revealed, and we have no indication of whether the Genesis authors were revealed that the creation narratives are to be taken literally. I'm only speculating here since I'm not a Roman Catholic dogmatician, but perhaps this is how they could go about it.

As for Dei Verbum, yes, it is certainly not the clearest statement. The same document does go on to say that the covenant with Israel and the gospels are historically true, but it does seem to leave open other historical (esp. chronological) error. I'm fine with this since I have more moderate views on scriptural infallibility, but indeed there is disunity here in the Catholic camp. I don't see it as that big a deal, but, then again, I'm with Brown and Fitzmyer. But even with this disunity and others, I still see a great deal of unity, including all that which is the necessary content of Christian faith and the Church's mission. The unity is certainly greater than found among Evangelical Protestants who accept the same Reformation principle that is brought to the text. The vast range in Protestant understandings of the sacraments is one major example of a disunity that is greater than the disunity among Catholics bound to Catholic dogma.

Carrie said...

Many Christians find the argument quite persuasive that there is a necessity for the continuation of the apostles' authority with successors who preserve the unity of the Church.

Persuasuve philosophical arguments can lead to all kinds of trouble. The correct question is, what has God revealed.

continuation of the apostles' authority with successors who preserve the unity of the Church. Both Catholics and Orthodox Christians affirm this as fundamental to the Church.

Right. And Both RCs and EOs claim to be "the one true Church established by Christ", but one does not equal two so one or both are incorrect. Therefore, I don't find that argument very persuasive.

This is a quite reasonable position, and the fact that it cannot be "proved" from scripture is not an argument against it, unless you first posit the principle of sola scriptura.

It is not a reasonable position that there are two "one true churches". As James said, scripture is theopneustos which makes it authoritative. Any secondary authority must be mined directly from it unless you can prove some other level of authority that can compete with theopneustos.

Logically, I just do not find the RC or EO claims to authority convincing, but the more I engage in the discussions the more I understand that the true witness to the true authority is the Holy Spirit. From that perspective, I don't expect to convince anyone through these type of discussions.

TheDen said...

Carrie,

"Honestly, I am not up on literacy statistics, but that fact does seem odd considering how terrified Rome was of Reformation PRINTED material."

It doesn't really matter what the literacy rates are. If ONE person cannot read then the question becomes "Can they be saved?" The answer is YES. Thus, it's not "necessary" to read Scripture yet highly recommended.

The Church was not terrified of printed material from the Reformation. The Church was terrified of bad theology by people writing things that conflict with the Oral Tradition handed down from the Apostles.

If person A reads a passage and believes one thing while person B reads the same passage and interprets it differently, and they both print documents. One is right and one is wrong. Printing heresy is terrifying because it ends up leading people away from God.

Kevin Davis said...

Both RCs and EOs claim to be "the one true Church established by Christ", but one does not equal two so one or both are incorrect. Therefore, I don't find that argument very persuasive.


Yes, one is correct, and both are correct. Both are correct in affirming the necessity of magisterial apostolic succession; one is correct in affirming or denying the claims for the See of Rome. The fact that both, with the orthodox early fathers of East and West, affirm the former is a fairly massive historical argument. No, once again, it is not "proof," but neither can a Protestant prove his principle of scripture alone. Theopneustos in 2 Timothy is in reference to the authority of the Hebrew scriptures, but this hardly rules out the possibility of Christ establishing a Church along the Catholic-Orthodox understanding. I really don't understand why Protestants think that "only scripture is Theopneustos" is a real argument. Putting myself in Catholic shoes (as I've been doing for these comments), it seems terribly circular and question begging. You've got real arguments against Rome...this ain't one of them.

Carrie said...

I really don't understand why Protestants think that "only scripture is Theopneustos" is a real argument. Putting myself in Catholic shoes (as I've been doing for these comments), it seems terribly circular and question begging.

No more circular than Rome's authority coming from the scriptures it must validate to be believed in the first place. Again, Rome claims epistemic superiority.

But I see the theopneustos argument as the best argument and the only one that makes sense. Again, though, I claim the testimony of the Spirit as the real truth detector.

Since I was just reading this, I thought I would share some words from Turretin on this topic:

"Scripture shows itself to be divine, in an authoritative manner and by means of an artless argument or testimony, when it calls itself "God-breathed." This testimony can be used with profit in disputes among Christians, who themselves profess to accept [Scripture], but not against others who reject it. But Scripture [also shows itself to be divine] rationally (ratiocinative) by means of arguments constructed by reason, based on marks (notae) which God has impressed on Scripture, which carry before them the unquestionable proofs (argumenta) of divinity. For just as the works of God proclaim the incomparable excellence of their creator, seen in certain qualities perceived by the eyes, and as the sun becomes known by its own light, even so [God] wills that various rays of divinity, by which he may be recognized, should flow out from Scripture, which is the effluence of the Father of lights and the sun of righteousness."

And Turretin on the circular argument:

"Although, in the language of the philosophers, the "circle" is a sophistic argument, by which something is proved by itself, [an argument] which is developed in a closed series using the same kind of cause recurring within itself, we cannot be accused of such circular reasoning when we prove the Scripture by the Spirit and then prove the Spirit by the Scripture. For there are two different questions, and two different middle terms or kinds of causes: we prove the Scripture by the Spirit, as efficient cause by which we believe, but we prove the Spirit from the Scripture as from the object and argument on account of which we believe. In the first case the question answered is "why, or in virtue of what, do you believe that the Scripture is of divine quality?" In the second, the question is "how, or on account of what, do you believe that the Spirit within you is the Holy Spirit?" The answer is, on account of the marks of the Holy Spirit that are in Scripture. But the Roman Catholics, who accuse us of circular reasoning, obviously fall into it in this matter, when they prove Scripture by the church and the church by Scripture; this is indeed done by the same middle term and the same kind of cause. If we ask them why, or on account of what, they believe the Scripture to have divine quality, they answer, that the church says so. If we ask further why they believe the church, they answer that the Scripture attributes infallibility to it, when it calls it the pillar and bulwark of truth. If we continue, asking why they believe the witness of Scripture to be trustworthy, they reply that the church has made them sure of it. Thus the argument is brought back to where it started, and can go around and around forever, and cannot be fixed in any first believable point. And these are not different kinds of questions; each deals with the ground and argument on account of which Ibelieve, not with the faculty or principle through which I believe." Turretin

Kevin Davis said...

Carrie,

Yes, I agree. It's what I had said in a previous comment:

In both cases, the Roman and Protestant, there is an assumption being brought to the text, and, thus, in both cases there is a circularity. The question is whether the Roman claims or the Protestant claims (or Orthodox claims) make better sense of the witness we have before us in the New Testament and the theo-logic derived therefrom.

Any sort of "epistemic superiority" on the Catholic side would be because each Protestant has to determine what is scripture by the attestation of the Holy Spirit. There is no formal principle by which a Protestant can, e.g., believe that Jude is scripture until they have read Jude and determined it to be canonical. If a Protestant just trusts their church's canon, then they violate their own principle and vindicate the Catholics.

kmerian said...

Carrie, yours is indicative of the "selective memory" those that leave the church seem to possess.

You claim that in all your years in the church, you "rarely remember the OT being read". Of course it is read at every mass. And when I ask my mother (who is 64) she never remembers the OT NOT being read.

but, my point still stands, If I were to attend every service at a Protestant church for 3 years, I doubt I would hear anything close to 85% of the OT and 98% of the NT.

I will admit that reading the Bible for oneself is far preferable to attending Mass everyday. But, the Pope's comments are right. It is not necessary, but it is recommended.

Carrie said...

Carrie, yours is indicative of the "selective memory" those that leave the church seem to possess.

kmerian,

I wasn't saying I was correct, which is why I looked it up. I will grant that I was not paying close attention in my teenage years to the readings.

But that really wasn't the point of my comment.

Carrie said...

There is no formal principle by which a Protestant can, e.g., believe that Jude is scripture until they have read Jude and determined it to be canonical. If a Protestant just trusts their church's canon, then they violate their own principle and vindicate the Catholics.

Kevin,

You really haven't accurately represented the Protestant viewpoint. Protestants don't negate the testimony of the church universal or tradition, we just don't take the church's testimony in isolation.

From William Whitaker:

"We will now briefly explain our own opinion upon this matter. It does not appear to be a great controversy, and yet it is the greatest. In the first place, we do not deny that it appertains to the church to approve, acknowledge, receive, promulge, commend the scriptures to all its members; and we say that this testimony is true, and should be received by all. We do not, therefore, as the papists falsely say of us, refuse the testimony of the church, but embrace it. But we deny that we believe the scriptures solely on account of this commendation of them by the church...Now by the church we understand not, as they do,
the pastors, bishops, councils, pope; but the whole multitude of the faithful. For this whole multitude hath learned from the Holy Spirit that this scripture is sacred, that these books are divine. This persuasion the Holy Spirit hath sealed in the minds of all the faithful. The state of the controversy, therefore, is this: whether we should believe that these scriptures which we now have are sacred and canonical merely on account of the church's testimony, or rather on account of the internal persuasion of the Holy Spirit which, as it makes the scripture canonical and authentic in itself, makes it also to appear such to us, and without which the testimony of the church is dumb and inefficacious."

Carrie said...

If ONE person cannot read then the question becomes "Can they be saved?" The answer is YES. Thus, it's not "necessary" to read Scripture yet highly recommended.

Sorry, I should have caught this with your first comment.

Where does the catechism say anything about those who are illiterate? It doesn't, so you are reading that explanation into the text.

Considering that the context states that "reading is very useful and recommended to all" it does not seem that illiteracy was the focus as why tell people who cannot read that reading the bible would be useful?

GeneMBridges said...

Yes, and trust me, it continues still. Chalcedon never supposed to close off all doors in her definition of "true God" and "true man," but she did close off certain doors, namely Arianism and Modalism. The use of "person" has its limits as all the fathers (and the Reformers and Protestant scholastics) recognized...how is this is any way an objection to Rome? It might as well be an objection against the perspicuity of scripture. Or maybe it's like I said -- the limits of human finitude when discerning divine revelation.

Chalcedon was intended to place limits not on Arianism and Modalism, but on Nestorianism and Monophysitism.

The Catholic doctrine of Transubstantiation runs into the latter.

And you're glossing right over Boethius and others. Before making such obviously false statements, you may want to tour Muller's Post Reformation Reformed Dogmatics where he summarizes discussions on "person" before the Reformation as well as after.

Any argument, then, that you make against the perspicuity of Scripture will apply equally to this creed - and that's the point. So claim of Catholicism does nothing help here. How does the creed supply any more clarity than Scripture, if there were centuries of disputes after it?

There is no formal principle by which a Protestant can, e.g., believe that Jude is scripture until they have read Jude and determined it to be canonical. If a Protestant just trusts their church's canon, then they violate their own principle and vindicate the Catholics.

Wrong. Sola Scriptura merely ascribes infallibility to Scripture alone. We accept the role of tradition as an informer. So, it is entirely possible for us to determine canonicity apart from a papal decree.

Indeed, we would ask how Rome ever muddled through the centuries if it's canon was not officially determine?

And where can we find these oral traditions documented? The position of Rome is that it is the guardian of this repository of knowledge, but if you can document it, it's written. If it is truly apostolic, it should be Scripture, so we have Sola Scriptura by default.

The Orthodox position differs, yet our reply to them is much the same.

This is just incomprehensible to me. The Catholic Church has a fairly extensive understanding of what constitutes orthodox christology, soteriology, sacramentology, and so on, covering a wide range of biblical material -- certainly all that is necessary for Christian faith and ecclesial unity.

On the one hand, we're told that the Church says a doctrine must be at least deducible from Scripture and yet the Church is the infallible interpreter of Scripture. So, what underwrites these dogmas? What we have in effect is "Believe it because we say so."

Do councils not have to be exegeted?

Do the Fathers not have to be exegeted?

How do we distinguish between true and false tradition? One can be true to tradition without tradition being true, right?

As for predestination, what is lacking in Catholic soteriological self-understanding that you think a specification on predestination would help? Rome outright rejects irresistible grace and limited atonement, so, whatever Rome allows for understanding in predestination, it certainly does not allow that. In other words, monergism is off the table, so why does Rome need to offer a dogma that will serve no real end? Rome basically says: for those who want to issue speculations on divine eternality and predestination, that's fine, as long as your conclusions do not contradict established soteriological dogma. This is a perfectly sound and legitimate position

The Reformed answer this thusly:

a. In Scripture and our confessions, the doctrine of justification is a species of the doctrine of grace. E.g. Sola Fide is a species of Sola Gratia. Monergism leads directly to Sola Fide. Your soteriology conflates justificaition and sanctification. It includes a treasury of merit, which is found nowhere in Scripture.

b. So, there is great danger when separating them and allowing "speculation."

c. Establishing dogma and then saying "No speculation that does not go outside of this dogma" is aprioristic. It begins with a dogma and a series of aprioristic objections to rule out anything contradictory. But how does this guarantee truth. Once again you can be true to tradition w/o tradition being true.


You can disagree with the principle of apostolic succession and the primacy of Peter in one particular bishopric as necessary for unity, but scripture certainly is utilized to give support.


Yet, we're told that this "support" must be infallible. So, where has Rome infallibly exegeted these texts? That's the point. They can claim "support" all they want, but we're asking them to make good on their actual claim, that this support must be infallible to be believed and trusted.

The vast range in Protestant understandings of the sacraments is one major example of a disunity that is greater than the disunity among Catholics bound to Catholic dogma.

Of course - because for most of us, soteriology is not inextricably bound to the sacraments, so you'd expect Catholics to want to maintain unity here. So the magnitude of the "disunity" is mitigated by the place we give to it. How, exactly, does a Zwinglian view of the sacraments vs. a Calvinist view harm one's salvation according to Protestants? How would paedobaptism vs. credobaptism be harmful to the soul?

Seriously...sedevacantists?! Is this the best you have. How many sedevacantists are there? I bet there's more people in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. And Molinists and Thomists existing side by side -- thank God. This is a tribute to the Catholic Church's ability to recognize legitimate points of disagreement, as it stems, once again, from the gap between our finitude and God's infinitude.


1. I could list more:Traditionalists, Moderates, Charismatic Catholics, and Conservative Catholics,

2. But you're missing the point, which you have kindly deflected. Romanists look at all the Protestant denominations and claim "disunity!" Yet, when we point to the differences in their own ranks, they call it, as you do "Matters of legitimate difference."

3. Your first objection was that we could only cite "heretics," but now that we've cited others, look at your response. I'll take that as a tacit admission that your first one was a failure.

If it were documented it wouldn't be "oral."

Then upon what basis should we accept the claim they make? We're simply asking them to make good on it.

And your answer is "if you accept their claims" - but this begs the question. Why should we? We're left with Sola Ecclesia, truth by stipulation from Rome and fideism from her followers.

L P Cruz said...

If a Protestant just trusts their church's canon, then they violate their own principle and vindicate the Catholics

This is true if Protestants believe in solo scriptura. But the situation is not as you thought it might have been.

Protestants, atleast the Confessing ones, believe in sola scriptura meaning it is the supreme authority for faith, there are lesser authorities such as the creeds etc.

Classic Protestants do not believe in solo scriptura, they believe in sola scriptura, the two are miles apart.

LPC

Mike Burgess said...

Gene again insists an "ought" in his mind necessitates an "is" in real life. ["If it is truly apostolic, it should be Scripture, so we have Sola Scriptura by default."]

Why do you presume that everything Apostolic must needs become Scripture? What purpose did God have in inspiring Scripture and what purpose did He have in exhibiting miracles and what purpose did He have in Apostolic preaching and teaching? Were these purposes one and the same? Were all of them recorded (or, as you say, "documented")? No.


"How does the creed supply any more clarity than Scripture, if there were centuries of disputes after it?"

The creeds, the Scriptures, and the living magisterium supplied more clarity as exhibited in the ecclesial, visible unity of the Church until the great schism at the turn of the millenium and then one creedal phrase and one non-creedal governmental issue became crucial. Later, the rejection of the living magisterium to greater or lesser degrees led to dismissal of creeds and portions of Scripture. That's how the clarity is apparent.

"Why should we? We're left with Sola Ecclesia, truth by stipulation from Rome and fideism from her followers."

Not fideism, but faith, nonetheless. It has long struck me as odd that Protestants -- Reformed, Lutheran, whatever stripe -- see nothing strange about belonging to a religion which started with the oral testimony of Jewish men and women to a hugely disproportionate number of pagan foreigners who were not steeped in the Scriptures and traditions of Israel and find no problem at all taking the word of those earliest Jewish laborers, tax collectors, and Greeks of every walk of life (even -gasp- philosophers) as unvarnished truth but want to dismiss at a whim protions of their testimonies, up to and including the extent of the testimonies. "Well, yes, it's perfectly reasonable to accept such-and-such as inspired Scripture based upon the testimony of so-and-so and the 'nternal witness,' but we certainly can't trust him about this item here because it's not in the Scripture we just told you he told us was inspired."

"...because for most of us, soteriology is not inextricably bound to the sacraments..."

What if the sizeable minority who believe that soteriology is bound up intrinsically with the sacraments are right? How do you know they're wrong? How can you arbitrate between the two of you?

As to Carrie's original point, the reading of Scripture is not necessary even by Protestant lights. You just need to believe in Jesus and invite Him into your heart. Or you just need to believe in Jesus and nevermind the bit about inviting Him into your heart, because that's already been taken care of in the eternal decree. Or you just need to believe in Jesus and be baptized, as the Church-of-Christers say. Or you just need to believe, repent, be baptized (running water, adults only) etc. etc. etc.

Kevin Davis said...

All,

Okay, let's grant that I do know a little something about Protestant thought (I've been taught theology by mostly Protestants for 5 years now). I am certainly aware that Protestants do not reject tradition or the necessity of a visible church. The point I'm making is one of formal logic. Protestants cannot say that any text of the Bible is scripture unless they can verify its Theopneustos authority. This cannot be located in the church on Protestant principles but, rather, only in individual member attestations, yet Protestants will accept on pragmatic grounds the vast witness of those who came before, including the fundamental act of the early church's recognition of a new witness (the NT) with the same authority as the OT. Yet even this acceptance is not absolute in that there is no principle by which Protestants can rule out that the church was wrong on a certain text.

It should also be noted (and it's something that I've assumed as obvious but apparently not), the very recognition of a New Testament is not something the NT itself can self-authenticate. You cannot blithely quote 2 Tim on Theopneustos and think you have an argument for why anyone should consider 2 Timothy itself as Theopneustos, or Jude, Hebrews, Titus, Matthew, Acts, and so on. The very fact of a "New Testament" (as canonical) is a decision and act of the Church -- plain and simple. Either this Church is invested with the authority to do so (the dogmatic principle) or it is not. Protestants say it is not because the Church is not Theopneustos (as James, Carrie, and Gene have repeatedly affirmed), and thus the Church has no ground for receiving the assent of faith. So, where is that much-lauded Protestant certainty now, when they can't even look at the Bible before them and have the certainty of faith that the collection before them is Theopneustos in all parts? You can give pragmatic deference to the vast witness of Christians who have been persuaded as you are about the canon, but the "internal persuasion of the Holy Spirit" (Whitaker) is the only grounds for accepting any text as scripture on Protestant grounds.

Carrie said...

This cannot be located in the church on Protestant principles but, rather, only in individual member attestations,

Not exactly. The church is the body of believers and as such, can function as a collective for determining what is or isn't scripture. Each new believer doesn't have to essentially "reinvent the wheel" with regards to scripture, the canon was established relatively early in church history by the body of believers under the guidance of the HS.

Yet even this acceptance is not absolute in that there is no principle by which Protestants can rule out that the church was wrong on a certain text.

Speaking just personally, I have a very high level of confidence that God was able to guide his people to establish the canon without nitpicking through the details.

The very fact of a "New Testament" (as canonical) is a decision and act of the Church -- plain and simple. Either this Church is invested with the authority to do so (the dogmatic principle) or it is not.

Or, God was able to guide his people to recognize the NT scriptures as he did the OT scriptures w/out imparting the charism of infallibility to the select few.

So, where is that much-lauded Protestant certainty now, when they can't even look at the Bible before them and have the certainty of faith that the collection before them is Theopneustos in all parts?

You must have missed the many epistemic discussions here with RCs. The RCs are the one who laud certainty, but in reality they have only pushed the argument back a step. They claim to have an infallible authority to authoritatively recognize their canon with 100% certainty, but their own belief that the magesterium is infallible is based on a fallible knowledge.

You can give pragmatic deference to the vast witness of Christians who have been persuaded as you are about the canon, but the "internal persuasion of the Holy Spirit" (Whitaker) is the only grounds for accepting any text as scripture on Protestant grounds.

I think you are still not understanding the collective work of the HS in believers making up the church. This doesn't impart infallibility to the hierarchy, but the results have a very high level of certainty.

Rhology said...

Kevin,

Given that the RCC can't tell us the full Canon of Scr, nor can it tell us the Canon of its own infallible teachings, why should anyone think RCC has anythg better to offer?

Carrie said...

Related - Saint & Sinner has recently posted on the issues with the infallibility argument:

The Infallible Knowledge Argument

GeneMBridges said...

Protestants cannot say that any text of the Bible is scripture unless they can verify its "theopneustos.

What this objection does is read Catholic assumptions into the Protestant rule of faith and then castigates it for not measuring up, as if infallible authority is necessary to be known before we can know the canon. Where's the supporting argument?

That said, one line of internal evidence is the internal claims of Scripture itself. Should we not look to the claims of authorship of Paul's letters to determine authorship?

One point of commonality that we share with others is the belief that what is apostolic should be canonized as Scripture. So, the criterion for canonicity here isn't "theopneustos" as an abstract quality per se, but authorship.

"Theopneustos" is an ontological quality not an epistemological quality. To say that one needs to know this before one can say something is canonical or apostolic is an implicit category error. We determine canonicity via epistemology, for example, apostolic authorship.

The next question arising over authorship would be how do we know what is pseudonymous and what isn't. That's largely a question for external attestation.

This objection is no different than arguing like a HyperCalvinist against a Calvinist over the warrant to believe. The Hyper says the only way a Calvinist can know if he is elect is to peer into the decrees of God, which are hidden. We answered this long ago. We know we are elect if we have faith in Christ alone and no other. Thus we proclaim the Gospel to everybody indiscriminately. The warrant to believe is not found in peering into the decree but the command to repent and believe itself. Sin and the command to be converted supply their own warrants.

This cannot be located in the church on Protestant principles but, rather, only in individual member attestations,

Individuals taken not in isolation but in aggregate. We sift through them, and, yes, we do look at the churches in aggregate. There is more than one argument for canonicity on my blog. Look in its archives.

yet Protestants will accept on pragmatic grounds the vast witness of those who came before, including the fundamental act of the early church's recognition of a new witness (the NT) with the same authority as the OT. Yet even this acceptance is not absolute in that there is no principle by which Protestants can rule out that the church was wrong on a certain text.

And this portion of the objection only moves the question back one step. Why should we accept the Roman Catholic claim that it-and only it- has the authority to declare that which is canonical and that which is not. There is no principle by which Roman Catholics can rule out the church was wrong either that doesn't beg the question.You're left with a fideistic, circular claim, one that is viciously,not virtuously circular.

What if the sizeable minority who believe that soteriology is bound up intrinsically with the sacraments are right? How do you know they're wrong? How can you arbitrate between the two of you?

1. The exegesis of Scripture, and if they fail to index justification to faith alone. We may differ over the nature of regeneration, but not justification and still say that we both can offer the other a credible profession of faith.

2. That "minority" is actually composed of two parties:

a. The Lutheran Tradition, and Lutherans and Baptists believe substantially the same thing about baptism and faith. Both affirm believer's baptism. The difference we have is over regeneration and infant baptism, yet The Formula of Concord provides the basis of a credible profession of faith. So, what's the problem?

b. Groups like Campbellites, who are excluded when they mix merit and faith into justification. We exclude them for similar reasons we exclude Romanists.

So this isn't that big a problem to adjudicate. We don't require absolute agreement on all articles of faith to say the other can provide a credible profession of faith. This is just a pseudoproblem from you.

Not fideism, but faith, nonetheless. It has long struck me as odd that Protestants -- Reformed, Lutheran, whatever stripe -- see nothing strange about belonging to a religion which started with the oral testimony of Jewish men and women to a hugely disproportionate number of pagan foreigners who were not steeped in the Scriptures and traditions of Israel and find no problem at all taking the word of those earliest Jewish laborers, tax collectors, and Greeks of every walk of life (even -gasp- philosophers) as unvarnished truth but want to dismiss at a whim protions of their testimonies, up to and including the extent of the testimonies. "Well, yes, it's perfectly reasonable to accept such-and-such as inspired Scripture based upon the testimony of so-and-so and the 'nternal witness,' but we certainly can't trust him about this item here because it's not in the Scripture we just told you he told us was inspired."

1. It's fideism, because you can't substantiate the claim that Rome is the one true holy apostolic church from Scripture without: (a) failing to provide an infallibly exegeted Scripture text (b) begging the question in a vicious circle.

2. You're now mistaking a rule of faith with a mode of transmission. Protestants have never denied the orality of transmission in the era of inscripturation. But what passed away was a mode of transmission, not a rule of faith.

Steve answered this recently on our own blog:

i) The modality of oral transmission was never the “rule of faith.” What was “discarded” was not the rule of faith, but a process—a mode of transmission.

ii) There’s an obvious difference between St. Paul telling me something, and a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend of somebody who said he heard St. Paul say something.

iii) There’s a reason why the Apostolic kerygma was committed to writing. There’s a reason we have a NT.

The creeds, the Scriptures, and the living magisterium supplied more clarity as exhibited in the ecclesial, visible unity of the Church until the great schism at the turn of the millenium and then one creedal phrase and one non-creedal governmental issue became crucial. Later, the rejection of the living magisterium to greater or lesser degrees led to dismissal of creeds and portions of Scripture. That's how the clarity is apparent.

This doesn't answer the question. Do the Fathers not have to be exegeted? Do creeds not have to be exegeted?

And how do layers of tradition get us closer to the truth?

Further, if true, this line of argument is an admission that the Roman rule of faith and the Orthodox rule of faith are a massive failure, for they only worked for a millenium.

But that's not the Romanist argument here. You're trying to argue that it's superior and gives clarity TODAY.

This is a good place to make a larger point.

On the one hand, Romanists say that we should look back into the past to get closer to the truth, as if the closer we get to the First Century the better off we are, the closer we are to the truth. I'd add that Baptists often romanticize the first century the same way. But the first century was just as full of false teachers as today. What do you think occasioned the letters of John, or Peter, or Paul?

On the other hand, we're told that doctrine develops over time, so we need to listen to the Church TODAY. Doctrine doesn't develop by attrition.

But if we apply the first criterion to the second, then the Church today is far from the truth. Indeed, every creed that gets further from the First Century is further from the truth than the one before.

How schizophrenic is that!

And I'll remind you that Rome did not define the canon until Trent, so you can't say that "portions of Scripture" were being "rejected" when the canon was not yet defined, by your own admission. How can they "reject" something not yet clearly defined? To say what you're saying would mean that they could know the canon without a decree from Holy Mother Church or Holy Mother Church knew all along but kept her mouth shut.

Why do you presume that everything Apostolic must needs become Scripture? What purpose did God have in inspiring Scripture and what purpose did He have in exhibiting miracles and what purpose did He have in Apostolic preaching and teaching? ere these purposes one and the same? Were all of them recorded (or, as you say, "documented")? No.

I see, when you can't answer a question, punt back to the Protestant.

For starters miracles verify the message/messenger.

You're also making a category error. Miracles confined to a particular time, place,and audience are not convertible with teaching that has allegedly been preserved for centuries or written teaching that has certainly been preserved for centuries.

That said:

Pray tell, how do you know that there were definitely miracles performed but not documented if not from some written source saying this is so? Can you document that assertion? If you can document it, it's written. So, it's not necessary to document every individual act - only the fact that there were miracles that occurred that were not individually recorded. Eventually, you will have to run into the primacy of written sources.

For example, Scripture itself states that there were many things Jesus said and did that were not recorded - so we know this fact not from oral tradition that is in our possession, but from written documentation. We don't know what these things were, but we do know that they happened - because John says so in written form.

Scripture itself was inspired for "teaching,reproof,training,correction in righteousness." It's a testimony of your low view of Scripture that you even ask that question, but then I've come to expect little more from you.

We have in Scripture what God has deemed necessary for us to possess.

The claim of Rome is that it is the guardian of "apostolic" tradition - in addition to Scripture. We're simply asking that you all make good on the claim.

If you're the guardians you should know what it is, right?

What sorts of traditions do you have in mind when making this claim? We've been asking for centuries and nobody seems up to answering. Care to try?

Marian dogmas? Why hasn't Rome told us what Peter, Paul, and John said?

Papal authority? Where is Peter's teaching on this authority? Paul's? John's? Surely it would be useful to produce it given the arguments against it.

Purgatory? Where can we find the apostolic teaching on it?

We could go on and on.

And if you say "the Liturgy" as some of my Orthodox opponents have tried - which one. Where is the argument for its apostolicity? Why isn't, for example, the Liturgy of St. James canonized if it actually came from St. James?

And if it's apostolic and documentable, then why isn't it canonized as Scripture? Apostolic authorship is one of the criterion for canonicity under *any* rule of faith, including your own. So, it's up to you to supply the reason why it's not canonized if it can be documented, and if it isn't able to be documented, then why should we accept the claim that it even exists?

Here's the dilemma, in case you can't figure it out: If it's documented, it's written. If it's truly apostolic and written, it's Scripture,not only according to my rule of faith, but your own. So, we have Sola Scriptura by default.

Any *literary* reference to oral tradition involves a written source. Apart from this *textual* witness to oral tradition, we have no other source of information. So we ultimately depend on the primacy of textuality over orality—even to attest the existence of oral tradition.

If you can't document it, then we have no reason to believe your claim that such a body of oral tradition even exists.

Kevin Davis said...

Carrie and Gene,

Thanks for your considered responses. The qualifications you make are well-founded.

However, I must say emphatically that I am not arguing for the Catholic alternative, and I am certainly not arguing for its greater epistemic warrant, as I've repeatedly said in this very thread. I'm fully aware that the Catholic position is just pushing the problem into another register. My point, however, has been to demonstrate that Protestants do not have an alternative (sola scriptura) that has any greater fundamental logic behind it than the Catholic claims. In other words, there is a lot of haughtiness on the Protestant side (and, Lord knows, on the Catholic side) that needs to be abated.

Rhology said...

Kevin,

Genembridges has made this point before in this thread; we are not arguing that Sola Script has a better epistemic position than RCC. They are the same. But Roman epologists bring this kind of "conundrum" up all the time, so we respond.

We attempt to engage them on exegesis of the Scripture; they attack our ability to know what Scripture means and what Scripture is. These are responses to those deviations from what is most important - finding out hath God really said?

Kevin Davis said...

But Roman epologists bring this kind of "conundrum" up all the time, so we respond.

Fair enough, and I equally get annoyed by the tactics of many RC epologists. However, the reason Catholics resort to the "Church makes scripture" apologetic is because Protestants are saying that Catholics have no legitimate (authoritative) ground for believing in, e.g., Mary's immaculate conception since it is not in scripture. Catholics are pointing out that they believe scripture is authoritative on the same ground as they believe Mary was sinless -- Christ's Church. Protestants respond, "You can't say Mary was sinless because only scripture is authoritative." My point is that this is a silly way of going about it. Protestants can't seriously make that response, yet they do it all the time. You can't tell a Catholic that Mary was not sinless because scripture does not say she was. You can only say why you think Mary was not sinless, from scripture, or you need to argue why only scripture is authoritative and not the Church of Rome. We can save ourselves a lot of headache if we stop the whole "scripture doesn't say [fill in the blank]" argument. This is just as bad as a Catholic telling a Protestant, "The Church doesn't say [fill in the blank]."

In other words, we need to be arguing at two levels:

Either
1. Argue the fundamental question of sola scriptura vs. scriptura+ecclesia.

Or
2. Argue from scripture, since both sides agree that scripture is authoritative and cannot be controverted.

For example: When it comes to Mary's sinlessness, you can't do anything substantial at level 2, so you can only argue the separate issue of level 1. When it comes to mortal sin (perseverence of the saints), however, you can do a lot at level 2 with all the soteriological material in Paul, Hebrews, and James.

Rhology said...

Kevin,

Well, it's good to know that we're not alone in being annoyed at those tactics.
The reason RCs resort to that blockhead tactic is b/c they're being intellectually dishonest, at the base. Hopefully we can agree on that as well. Resorting to bad argumentation to serve as a smokescreen is the very definition thereof.

Protestants are saying that Catholics have no legitimate (authoritative) ground for believing in, e.g., Mary's immaculate conception since it is not in scripture.

I think you mistake what we're doing around here, though I'm sure that Prots slip occasionally/often into that kind of language.
But fundamentally the big problem is that Rome teaches that this is a dogma of the Church, bound upon the consciences of Christians, with the churchly power of anathema behind it. If it were just an optional thing, what could the problem be (besides the contribution to idolatrous practices, I mean)? It's MUCH less of a big deal in that case.
Rome is basically making it part of the Gospel.

Protestants respond, "You can't say Mary was sinless because only scripture is authoritative."

Not quite.
We respond: You can't say Mary was definitely sinless b/c Scr teaches that ALL people have sinned. To overcome what Scr says, yes, you'd need sthg higher than God's own authority.
Rome responds that she has God's authority to overthrow the teaching of Scr and insert exceptions like this.

you need to argue why only scripture is authoritative and not the Church of Rome.

Surely you wouldn't argue that such an exercise would be meaningless and a waste of time...?

we stop the whole "scripture doesn't say [fill in the blank]" argument. This is just as bad as a Catholic telling a Protestant, "The Church doesn't say [fill in the blank]."

No, you need to get your head in gear to whose presuppositions are in play where.
Both the Reformed and RCs are supposed to believe that Scr is God speaking, OK? But only Rome believes that RCC is God speaking... so it IS fair to argue from Scr. This is not the same as arguing with atheists here, though Roman epologists sometimes take the same tack as atheists, which is also bad argumentation, smokescreening, intellectually dishonest.

Hope that helps.

Peace,
Rhology

Kevin Davis said...

rhology,

Yes, it is fair to argue from scripture, just not when scripture does not directly controvert the Catholic teaching. Though, you are right about the "all have sinned" as being a valid scripture argument against the Immaculate Conception. I should have used a different example :)

But, to be fair to Catholics, you could say that the "all" is not literal or something like that (or, usually, it is said that Mary did need to be saved from sin and that's what the IC is about) -- but that is a pretty weak defense. As with all thing Marian in the RCC, you got to accept the authority of the Church before you would accept the claims for Mary. That's why Mary is usually the last hurdle to jump for RC converts.

Rhology said...

Well good deal - looks like you've just agreed with us calling RCC partakers of Sola Ecclesia.

Nice talking to you, Kevin. It's a pleasure, your tone is very courteous and you seem thoughtful. It's appreciated.

Mike Burgess said...

Me: What if the sizeable minority who believe that soteriology is bound up intrinsically with the sacraments are right? How do you know they're wrong? How can you arbitrate between the two of you?

Gene: 1. The exegesis of Scripture, and if they fail to index justification to faith alone. We may differ over the nature of regeneration, but not justification and still say that we both can offer the other a credible profession of faith.

I respond: Whose exegesis suffices? Ah, yes. Those whose exegesis conforms with your preconceptions. Define “faith alone.” Also, what definitions of regeneration put one outside the Pale?

2. That "minority" is actually composed of two parties:

a. The Lutheran Tradition, and Lutherans and Baptists believe substantially the same thing about baptism and faith. Both affirm believer's baptism. The difference we have is over regeneration and infant baptism, yet The Formula of Concord provides the basis of a credible profession of faith. So, what's the problem?

b. Groups like Campbellites, who are excluded when they mix merit and faith into justification. We exclude them for similar reasons we exclude Romanists.

I respond: So, Anglicans, Moravians, many Methodists (even Welsh Calvinists), Mercersburgers, various and sundry Presbyterians, and so on are reckoned how?


So this isn't that big a problem to adjudicate. We don't require absolute agreement on all articles of faith to say the other can provide a credible profession of faith. This is just a pseudoproblem from you.

I respond: I didn’t say you did require absolute agreement on all articles of faith. Hodge said we offer a credible profession of faith. I know what you say about that. What do you say about those others? That was the point. You determine what credible means based upon your exegesis which is supposedly the standard. Yet your exegesis counters the first millennium and a half of the Church’s. I’m not saying that all the ECFs make 21st century developed statements fully in accord with the CCC or whatever, I’m saying you can’t exegete support for your exegesis without doing horrific violence to the Scriptures and the interpretations thereof until the Reformation. So your adjudicating factors leave a huge amount to be desired.


Me: Not fideism, but faith, nonetheless. It has long struck me as odd that Protestants -- Reformed, Lutheran, whatever stripe -- see nothing strange about belonging to a religion which started with the oral testimony of Jewish men and women to a hugely disproportionate number of pagan foreigners who were not steeped in the Scriptures and traditions of Israel and find no problem at all taking the word of those earliest Jewish laborers, tax collectors, and Greeks of every walk of life (even -gasp- philosophers) as unvarnished truth but want to dismiss at a whim protions of their testimonies, up to and including the extent of the testimonies. "Well, yes, it's perfectly reasonable to accept such-and-such as inspired Scripture based upon the testimony of so-and-so and the 'nternal witness,' but we certainly can't trust him about this item here because it's not in the Scripture we just told you he told us was inspired."

Gene: 1. It's fideism, because you can't substantiate the claim that Rome is the one true holy apostolic church from Scripture without: (a) failing to provide an infallibly exegeted Scripture text (b) begging the question in a vicious circle.

I respond: I presume you mean that I can’t substantiate the claim that Rome is the O,T,H,C, and A Church from Scripture without providing an infallibly exegeted text, not without failing to provide one. I may be being dense; anyway, the substantiation question is, so the argument goes, spiral. There was a man who claimed to be God. He had followers. They (all of them) taught things and some of them wrote some things down from their teachings. We can verify, through recourse to historical means, textual criticism, comparison with secular renditions, even hostile accounts, that these things they said He said and did were real, and we can depend upon the record they left through massive manuscript evidence, more and earlier of which is being verified even now than was available a century ago, etc. Also, recourse must also be had to extra-exegetical means because of the nature of the claims in question and the nature of the authority in question. Miraculous events and claims of infallibility and subsequent claims of adherence to and/or continuance of that infallible authority, all demand other than the circularity which mere Scriptural exegesis would yield. I am reminded of an adage of glass houses and stones. Be that as it may, I shall be happy to recount for you a perfectly valid and extremely lengthy account demonstrating that your criteria are not valid in the way you need them to be for your accusation to work, and which demonstrates in a valid way the truth of the claims. It would require more time and space than this forum provides. Email me.

2. You're now mistaking a rule of faith with a mode of transmission. Protestants have never denied the orality of transmission in the era of inscripturation. But what passed away was a mode of transmission, not a rule of faith.

I respond: I haven’t mistaken anything. I didn’t say you denied the oral nature of transmission, I explicitly affirmed that you hold to it. I said you’re inconsistent because your canon of Scripture, which you admit depends on certain traditional witnesses, comes from traditional witnesses who adhere explicitly to doctrinal positions you deny based supposedly upon Scriptural exegesis from Scriptural sources witnessed to by those advocating the positions you deny. It’s as though you sit on the lap of the one through whom God provided you the milk you were nourished with and slapped her and tell her she’s a whore unfaithful to the milk she’s giving you. And that you know better what the milk is and what it does not contain than she does.

Steve answered this recently on our own blog:

i) The modality of oral transmission was never the “rule of faith.” What was “discarded” was not the rule of faith, but a process—a mode of transmission.

I respond: Irrelevant, for now. The rule of faith is the tradition.

ii) There’s an obvious difference between St. Paul telling me something, and a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend of somebody who said he heard St. Paul say something.

I respond: I didn’t know you’d been there way back then. What did he look like? I’ve often wondered that. What was his “thorn,” did it have something to do with his eyesight? You must be really old. And wise. I shall attempt to treat you with more respect, although I don’t think I’ve been disrespectful so far.

iii) There’s a reason why the Apostolic kerygma was committed to writing. There’s a reason we have a NT.

I respond: And the reason is? And what is the extent of the Apostolic Kerygma? Turretinfan seems to think that even though the Scriptures are perspicuous that the content of the perspicuous Scriptures might not be and need not be, that the content of the Apostolic Kerygma, i.e., everything necessary for salvation, is not clear. You apparently differ.

The creeds, the Scriptures, and the living magisterium supplied more clarity as exhibited in the ecclesial, visible unity of the Church until the great schism at the turn of the millenium and then one creedal phrase and one non-creedal governmental issue became crucial. Later, the rejection of the living magisterium to greater or lesser degrees led to dismissal of creeds and portions of Scripture. That's how the clarity is apparent.

This doesn't answer the question. Do the Fathers not have to be exegeted? Do creeds not have to be exegeted?

And how do layers of tradition get us closer to the truth?

I respond: by explicating disputed parts. Of course exegesis is necessary. Tradition in Christ’s organic Church needs to speak to the contemporary generation which is apprehending it. Try talking to some of the good folks at Wycliffe and find out about the necessity of rendering Scripture according to cultural standards and metaphors, for one tiny example.

Further, if true, this line of argument is an admission that the Roman rule of faith and the Orthodox rule of faith are a massive failure, for they only worked for a millenium.

I respond: Um, what? Since when does clarity rule out the possibility of denial by those wrong-headed? The rule of faith still works for the billion or so in communion. I’ll let God deal with the question of how big His remnant is in that number.

But that's not the Romanist argument here. You're trying to argue that it's superior and gives clarity TODAY.

This is a good place to make a larger point.

On the one hand, Romanists say that we should look back into the past to get closer to the truth, as if the closer we get to the First Century the better off we are, the closer we are to the truth. I'd add that Baptists often romanticize the first century the same way. But the first century was just as full of false teachers as today. What do you think occasioned the letters of John, or Peter, or Paul?



On the other hand, we're told that doctrine develops over time, so we need to listen to the Church TODAY. Doctrine doesn't develop by attrition.

But if we apply the first criterion to the second, then the Church today is far from the truth. Indeed, every creed that gets further from the First Century is further from the truth than the one before.

How schizophrenic is that!

I respond: You’re mixing up a couple of important distinctions. We live as humans in an organic Church which is in communion with those who gave us the creeds, and who yielded up writings to which we must and should look. We also live many centuries from them in historical circumstances God has placed us in which necessitate that we come further into the fullness of the truth, into a better understanding of it, into a greater realization of the significance of the whole of the matter. The Church today is not any farther from the truth than the nascent truth, and yet we know things they did not. We explain things in ways they did not. We talk of the Trinity in ways they did not, and we understand critical little distinctions like “omicron iota” vs. “omicron” in one Greek word have huge implications. And on and on and on. None of this makes for schizophrenia, any more than it does for you Protestants who cry “ad fonts!” Your understanding of the Gospel didn’t stop with the close of the canon of the NT. (For which, by the way, you’re welcome.)

And I'll remind you that Rome did not define the canon until Trent, so you can't say that "portions of Scripture" were being "rejected" when the canon was not yet defined, by your own admission. How can they "reject" something not yet clearly defined? To say what you're saying would mean that they could know the canon without a decree from Holy Mother Church or Holy Mother Church knew all along but kept her mouth shut.

I respond: I will not belabor the point by elaborating on the earlier pronouncements concerning Scripture which Trent confirmed and all off which the Reformers rejected. This is silly, Gene. Are you seriously suggesting that the Reformers got a canon handed to them as a dues ex machina and that they didn’t consciously reject materials for doctrinal reasons?

Why do you presume that everything Apostolic must needs become Scripture? What purpose did God have in inspiring Scripture and what purpose did He have in exhibiting miracles and what purpose did He have in Apostolic preaching and teaching? ere these purposes one and the same? Were all of them recorded (or, as you say, "documented")? No.

I see, when you can't answer a question, punt back to the Protestant.

For starters miracles verify the message/messenger.

You're also making a category error. Miracles confined to a particular time, place,and audience are not convertible with teaching that has allegedly been preserved for centuries or written teaching that has certainly been preserved for centuries.

I respond: I wasn’t asked a question. I pulled an inference (unwarranted) on your part and criticized it. You said Scripture says all Apostolic Kerygma got inscripturated: all Apostolic tradition “should” be Scripture, therefore it is, therefore sola scriptura by default. I didn’t “punt” anything. You want to try proving your assertion first? Then you can talk about punting.

That said:

Pray tell, how do you know that there were definitely miracles performed but not documented if not from some written source saying this is so? Can you document that assertion? If you can document it, it's written. So, it's not necessary to document every individual act - only the fact that there were miracles that occurred that were not individually recorded. Eventually, you will have to run into the primacy of written sources.

I respond: We were talking about Scripture, but if you want to redefine sola scriptura to include unscriptural historical writings which demonstrate these things, that’s your business, although I don’t expect you’ll get many takers at the next Christian publishers convention.

For example, Scripture itself states that there were many things Jesus said and did that were not recorded - so we know this fact not from oral tradition that is in our possession, but from written documentation. We don't know what these things were, but we do know that they happened - because John says so in written form.

Scripture itself was inspired for "teaching,reproof,training,correction in righteousness." It's a testimony of your low view of Scripture that you even ask that question, but then I've come to expect little more from you.


I know why it was written. I also know that that doesn’t mean it is sufficient as the sole infallible rule of faith, but that it is useful for the things you listed so that the man of God might be complete unto every good work, which, thanks to you Protestants, we know have nothing to do with justification or salvation. Now, how you translate my multi-form question which implicitly points out distinct purposes of God for different methods into a low view of Sacred Scripture is beyond me, but then I don’t know what you’ve come to expect of me anyway. Or why. Or why you would say such a mean-spirited thing. I’m far from innocent in that regard, but the difference is I regret it on my part.

We have in Scripture what God has deemed necessary for us to possess.

I respond: Where does Scripture say that?

The claim of Rome is that it is the guardian of "apostolic" tradition - in addition to Scripture. We're simply asking that you all make good on the claim.

If you're the guardians you should know what it is, right?

What sorts of traditions do you have in mind when making this claim? We've been asking for centuries and nobody seems up to answering. Care to try?

Marian dogmas? Why hasn't Rome told us what Peter, Paul, and John said?

Papal authority? Where is Peter's teaching on this authority? Paul's? John's? Surely it would be useful to produce it given the arguments against it.

Purgatory? Where can we find the apostolic teaching on it?

We could go on and on.

And if you say "the Liturgy" as some of my Orthodox opponents have tried - which one. Where is the argument for its apostolicity? Why isn't, for example, the Liturgy of St. James canonized if it actually came from St. James?

And if it's apostolic and documentable, then why isn't it canonized as Scripture? Apostolic authorship is one of the criterion for canonicity under *any* rule of faith, including your own. So, it's up to you to supply the reason why it's not canonized if it can be documented, and if it isn't able to be documented, then why should we accept the claim that it even exists?

Here's the dilemma, in case you can't figure it out: If it's documented, it's written. If it's truly apostolic and written, it's Scripture,not only according to my rule of faith, but your own. So, we have Sola Scriptura by default.

Any *literary* reference to oral tradition involves a written source. Apart from this *textual* witness to oral tradition, we have no other source of information. So we ultimately depend on the primacy of textuality over orality—even to attest the existence of oral tradition.

If you can't document it, then we have no reason to believe your claim that such a body of oral tradition even exists.

I’ve said “Liturgy” before, and I was right. The Liturgies are “canonized” by their usage in the Churches. I will, God willing, delve into the rest of your rhetorical questions later tonight.

GeneMBridges said...

I respond: Whose exegesis suffices? Ah, yes. Those whose exegesis conforms with your preconceptions. Define “faith alone.” Also, what definitions of regeneration put one outside the Pale?

Grammatical-historical exegesis does not select for any particular interpretation.

This is just a pseudoproblem generated by your sacramentalism.

Nice try. It's just a diversionary tactic. Consult a systematic theology text. Do some homework. You may learn something.

Tell us, how many texts of the Bible have been infallibly exegeted by Rome?

I respond: So, Anglicans, Moravians, many Methodists (even Welsh Calvinists), Mercersburgers, various and sundry Presbyterians, and so on are reckoned how?

Steve Hays and I have both discussed the difference between a credible profession of faith and a saving profession more than once.

I've specifically stated that all that's really required is a basic, orthodox Trinitarianism, Christology, Pneumatology (since these all go together) and the affirmation of justification by faith alone.

In Reformed theology, we draw a distinction between a credible profession of faith and a saving profession of faith. For purposes of church membership, cooperation with other denominational entities, etc., since we cannot know of a certainty who is or isn't saved, we only require a credible profession of faith. A saving profession of faith lies solely between an individual and God.

For example, a Catholic that affirms the current dogmas of Rome cannot offer a credible profession of faith to a consistent Protestant. But whether a Catholic can offer a saving profession of faith is a different question. The answer varies on a case-by-case basis. It is easier to say who isn't saved than to say who is.

To be a Christian is to be, among other things, a Christian believer. One must believe certain things, and not believe certain other, contrary things. On the one hand, some dogmas are damnable dogmas. On the other hand, the Bible lays out certain saving articles of faith. This is God's criterion, not ours. We did not invent it. By the same token, how God applies that criterion in any individual case is up to God, not to us. We are not the judge, God is the Judge. To take a concrete example, Scripture teaches Sola Fide (faith alone) (Romans; Galatians). An individual is saved by faith in Christ and saved by the sole and sufficient merit of Christ.

However, in Catholic dogma, one is saved by the merit of Christ plus the merit of the saints plus one's own congruent merit. And this results in a divided faith. That is why a Catholic cannot give a consistent Protestant a credible profession of faith. In fairness, Protestants are more prone to give a Catholic church member a pass on the credible profession of faith than they do a Catholic bishop or the Pope or some of their lay apologists, because they very clearly have bought into the full range of Catholic dogmas.

Any of the following creeds/confessions could supply the basis for a credible profession of faith:

1. The Thirty-Nine Articles of the Christian Religion

2. The Formula of Concord

3. The Baptist Faith & Message (any version)(http://www.sbc.net/bfm/bfm2000.asp)

4. The C&MA statement of faith
(http://www.cmalliance.org/whoweare/doctrine.jsp)

5. The JFJ statement of faith (http://www.jewsforjesus.org/about/statementoffaith)

6. The EFCA statement of faith (http://www.efca.org/about/doctrine/)

7. The Campus Crusade statement of faith (http://www.ccci.org/statement_of_faith.html)

8. The AG statement of faith (http://www.ag.org/top/beliefs/truths.cfm)

These are all broadly evangelical affirmations of faith. Notice, not all are Reformed. Some are Lutheran; some are Arminian. Since I live in one of the home states of Moravians - in their home city in this state no less, if you want to argue that I should think Moravians can't do this, you're more than welcome to try.

I didn’t say you did require absolute agreement on all articles of faith.

Then you are largely out of step with Rome. Catholics and Lutherans are notorious for erring to excess (Turretin) on fundamental articles. Cf. Muller, PRRD, Vol. 1.

Hodge said we offer a credible profession of faith

This is a common, popular error.

1. Hodge lived in a different time. James Boyce, his most famous Baptist student denied this.

2. He also spoke to the credibility of Catholic baptism, not Catholic soteriological beliefs or the salvific status of each Roman Catholic.

3. Hodge is not my rule of faith or yours, so this is irrelevant to the truth or falsity of Evangelicalism over Catholicism.

Yet your exegesis counters the first millennium and a half of the Church’s. I’m not saying that all the ECFs make 21st century developed statements fully in accord with the CCC or whatever, I’m saying you can’t exegete support for your exegesis without doing horrific violence to the Scriptures and the interpretations thereof until the Reformation. So your adjudicating factors leave a huge amount to be desired.

Only if you engage in your question-begging analysis. And we cut the Fathers some slack for the same reason we cut six year old children some slack with respect to mathematics. We don't expect first graders to comprehend Algebra 1 and we don't expect 7th grade students to comprehend Calculus.

This statement has nothing to do with where the truth lies. It’s just a debater’s ploy, a way of trying to put psychological pressure on me. It’s irrelevant to the truth of falsity of Evangelicalism as over against Catholicism.

Something can be objectively evident without being subjectively evident. To some extent we are products of our social conditioning. For example, Anselm didn’t know Greek and Hebrew. He was dependent on the Vulgate.

It’s ultimately up to God to apportion blame. He knows the mitigating and aggravating circumstances in each particular case.

I may be being dense;

I agree.

anyway, the substantiation question is, so the argument goes, spiral. There was a man who claimed to be God. He had followers. They (all of them) taught things and some of them wrote some things down from their teachings. We can verify, through recourse to historical means, textual criticism, comparison with secular renditions, even hostile accounts, that these things they said He said and did were real, and we can depend upon the record they left through massive manuscript evidence, more and earlier of which is being verified even now than was available a century ago, etc. Also, recourse must also be had to extra-exegetical means because of the nature of the claims in question and the nature of the authority in question.

This has nothing to do with Rome being the one true holy apostolic mother church.

Why not just admit that you can't deduce the primacy of Rome from the Bible?

Miraculous events and claims of infallibility and subsequent claims of adherence to and/or continuance of that infallible authority, all demand other than the circularity which mere Scriptural exegesis would yield.

True, they require the vicious circularity that your fideism would yield. Thanks for proving my point for me.

I said you’re inconsistent because your canon of Scripture, which you admit depends on certain traditional witnesses, comes from traditional witnesses who adhere explicitly to doctrinal positions you deny based supposedly upon Scriptural exegesis from Scriptural sources witnessed to by those advocating the positions you deny.

There is no inconsistency here since I sift the evidence. It's only inconsistent on your presuppositions.

a. That's begging the question in your favor.

b. I see you like to use the All or Nothing Fallacy - you can only use a source if it agrees with everything else you affirm.

It’s as though you sit on the lap of the one through whom God provided you the milk you were nourished with and slapped her and tell her she’s a whore unfaithful to the milk she’s giving you

This assumes that the one true holy apostolic church has always been Roman Catholic.

It also neglects the Protestant argument. We don't argue that Rome has always been apostate. The apostasy took many centuries.

The rule of faith is the tradition.

I surmise you mean something quite different. If it is in addition to Scripture you need to document it.

I shall attempt to treat you with more respect, although I don’t think I’ve been disrespectful so far.

What's stopped you in the past?

by explicating disputed parts.

You can be true to tradition without tradition being true. So, how do we adjudicate tradition? You're only moving the question, not answering it.

Try talking to some of the good folks at Wycliffe and find out about the necessity of rendering Scripture according to cultural standards and metaphors, for one tiny example.

Translation and exegesis are not convertible.

Since when does clarity rule out the possibility of denial by those wrong-headed?

Now you're backing down from your claim and/or adding distinctions not in your original. Your origianl statement was:

The creeds, the Scriptures, and the living magisterium supplied more clarity as exhibited in the ecclesial, visible unity of the Church until the great schism at the turn of the millenium and then one creedal phrase and one non-creedal governmental issue became crucial. Later, the rejection of the living magisterium to greater or lesser degrees led to dismissal of creeds and portions of Scripture. That's how the clarity is apparent.


The rule of faith still works for the billion or so in communion.

Truth by defintion.

It's also a consequentialist argument. Do you know the hazards?

You’re mixing up a couple of important distinctions. We live as humans in an organic Church which is in communion with those who gave us the creeds, and who yielded up writings to which we must and should look. We also live many centuries from them in historical circumstances God has placed us in which necessitate that we come further into the fullness of the truth, into a better understanding of it, into a greater realization of the significance of the whole of the matter. The Church today is not any farther from the truth than the nascent truth, and yet we know things they did not. We explain things in ways they did not. We talk of the Trinity in ways they did not, and we understand critical little distinctions like “omicron iota” vs. “omicron” in one Greek word have huge implications. And on and on and on..

This doesn't answer the objection. I said, if we apply the first criterion (history) to the second, then the further we get from the First Century, the further from the Truth we get. I've not missed any "distinctions" at all. I've merely answered you all on your own level. If I've missed any "distinctions" it's due to your own incoherence.

I will not belabor the point by elaborating on the earlier pronouncements concerning Scripture which Trent confirmed and all off which the Reformers rejected.

Now you're using Trent to confirm other (regional) councils. Nice try, but it won't work. We've addressed this argument more than once.

This is silly, Gene. Are you seriously suggesting that the Reformers got a canon handed to them as a dues ex machina and that they didn’t consciously reject materials for doctrinal reasons?

This is silly, Mike, are you seriously suggesting that Trent got a canon handed to them infallibly from other councils and that they didn't consciously accept materials for doctrinal reasons?

I wasn’t asked a question. I pulled an inference (unwarranted) on your part and criticized it.

The question is implicit in the argument.

Saying it is unwarranted and demonstrating it are not convertible.

And I'm merely using common criterion for canonicity. I shouldn't have to argue for that criterion since it is common to us both.

You said Scripture says all Apostolic Kerygma got inscripturated:

Really, where did I say all the teaching of the Apostles was inscripturated?

all Apostolic tradition “should” be Scripture, therefore it is, therefore sola scriptura by default. I didn’t “punt” anything. You want to try proving your assertion first? Then you can talk about punting.

You're such a dishonest opponent.

The way for you to answer the argument is to document the claim of this extraScriptural tradtion. We've been over this before with you. As always, you punt the argument back to the Protestant.
Your inability to answer is a tacit admission you can't.

We were talking about Scripture, but if you want to redefine sola scriptura to include unscriptural historical writings which demonstrate these things, that’s your business, although I don’t expect you’ll get many takers at the next Christian publishers convention.

It was not at all clear, due to your incoherent and often illogical writing style that you were referring only to miracles in Scripture itself. But if so the same reply stands: The only way you would know this is by the primacy of the written text or by, pace John, or consequent inference from the text, again, pace John,to take one example, Hebrews for another.

Where does Scripture say that?

That's the argument for the Protestant rule of faith.

I’ve said “Liturgy” before, and I was right. Which liturgy?

The Liturgies are “canonized” by their usage in the Churches

Oh, so the liturgies are on a par with Scripture and are truly apostolic in nature? I'd love to see that argument. I'm sure it would be quite entertaining.

If they are "canonized" eg. "canonical" why aren't they part of the canon of Scripture?

GeneMBridges said...

Here's your argument for the canonicity of the liturgy when asked which one(s):


All the of the liturgies which have been established (and all of which are sacrificial) reflect the glories of the heavenly Liturgy of which Christ is the Host and Victim.

This doesn't answer the question; it begs the question.

Document the claim you're making.

Therefore, all of the various recognized liturgies are valid, of course.

Viciously circular consequent the first statement and an assertion, not an argument.

This does not bode well for you.

The diversity is unity because One Lord authored and sustains them.

A bare claim that I can make about any number of Protestant liturgies too.

The diachronic unity which we possess is not to the exclusion of the synchronic unity we possess. I simply do not have time to give you detailed presentation concerning the bona fides for the liturgies which have been handed down. There is plenty of material which will be useful for your edification in this regard, I suggest you familiarixe yourself with it.

No, you bit off more than you can chew.

It is worth noting that they have heritages and historical witness earlier than some key Christological explications which you hold are authoritative and necessary.

1. The Epistle of Barnabas is old. The Didache is old. 1 Clement is old. Polycarp's work is old too, but your communion has not canonized them for a reason. At best, a liturgy, Mike, is on par with these other works, and there's a reason for that - it's not Scripture.

2. For the record I deny Nicene Subordinationism in favor of Calvin's view of the Trinity. So I do not consider many things from that time "necessary." Rather I consider Scripture "necessary" and these other "explications" helpful, secondary, and useful.

And by even trying to document the claim, you've just proven the primacy of written material over oral material for me. Thanks for making my point for me nearly six months ago.

If it's documented, it is written, not unwritten - and why isn't it canonized as Scripture if it's written?

If it's not canonized how do you know it is infallible?

Or is it fallible?

Are these particular liturgies necessary for the faith and practice of the church?

If so, where does Scripture say so?

And why do other Catholics offer other traditions when asked this question? Where is this list of traditions?

The easiest way for you to disprove that all the extant "apostolic tradition" we have is not in Scripture and is located in a place other than Scripture, is to prove that there is apostolic tradition apart from Scripture that exists by documenting the claim. To date, you have not done so, and many a Catholic better than you has tried.

dtking said...

Caesarius, bishop of Arles (470-543): Similarly, one who refuses to read the sacred writings which have been transmitted from the eternal country should fear that he perhaps will not receive eternal rewards and even not escape endless punishment. So dangerous is it not to read the divine precepts that the Prophet mournfully exclaims: ‘Therefore is my people led away captive, because they had not knowledge.’ ‘If anyone ignores this, he shall be ignored.’ Doubtless, if a man fails to seek God in this world through the sacred lessons, God will refuse to recognize him in eternal bliss. . . . A man should first be willing to listen to God, if he wants to be heard by Him. Indeed, with what boldness does he want God to hear him when he despises God so much that he refuses to read His precepts? FC, Vol. 31, Saint Caesarius of Arles, Sermons (1-80), Sermon 1.3 (New York: Fathers of the Church, Inc., 1956), pp. 47-48.

DTK