Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Alleged Magisterial Perspicuity

I thought the following comment exchange on the previous post was worth highlighting. Not that the general discussion points haven’t been covered here and elsewhere many times over, but I thought Jugulum provided a nice clarity to the issue in his comments:

Jugulum: And if I can read Catholic sources to find out what sound doctrine is--if I can understand them and gain assurance that my beliefs accord with them--why is it impossible to get the same assurance by reading only Scripture? (Is it that the full magisterial teachings are clear while Scripture isn't, by itself?)

Alexander Greco: Absolutely! Tell me, in practice why is there such a diversity in understanding some of the main tenants of the faith and their application? What arrogance one could have in believing that they can read and understand the Scriptures without someone to teach them (Acts 8:30). If you claim that the Holy Spirit is guiding you, yet the same Holy Spirit is guiding your fellow Protestants, but you contradict one another. Then the Holy Spirit is guiding you only some of the time, but not all of the time. How are you certain which times you are being guided? Where is the framework to guide you in your assurance of being guided? Scripture? Well, we end up going back to square one.

Jugulum: If I convert today, what do I need to read to gain that assurance of sound doctrine?

Alexander Greco: Go to the Magisterial teachings of the Church.

Jugulum: If you affirm that it is possible to understand written Catholic teaching, then you can't say that it is inherently impossible to understand written Scripture. If you allow that it is not arrogant to think that I can read and understand the Catechism & the canons of councils & the proclamations of Popes, you can't say that it is inherently arrogant to think that I can understand Scripture. You can still argue that those things are impossible or arrogant, but you need an explanation of why you think that God has given written Catholic teaching a self-sufficient clarity which he withheld from Scripture--and why it is arrogant in one case but not the other.

… Now, I could accept in theory that all things from the Magisterium are not alike plain in themselves, but only those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation. But part of the reason I brought up that subject is that before Vatican II, if I had read the Council of Florence, I would have thought it abundantly clear what the Catholic Church teaches about "Jews or heretics or schismatics" and their destiny of hellfire "unless before the end of life they are joined to the church". But you will tell me that my assurance of sound doctrine would have been misplaced--that I misunderstood them. So, again, who do I get to tell me if I'm making that kind of error? Who interprets the interpreter?


Well said, Jugulum! The Catholic position argues that Magisterial writings are clearer than Scripture. We can only gather that Roman Catholics believe that God can speak clearly through the Magisterium, but could not (or chose not) through his prophets and apostles who penned the Scriptures. Reiterating Jugulum's question, where is the supporting argument for the Scriptures to be obscure, but the Magisterial writings to be plain?

I would also add to Jugulum’s last paragraph above that discordant beliefs do exist between Traditionalist and Modern Roman Catholics with regards to interpreting Florence. Using AG’s argument against sola scriptura, we could say “You claim that the Magisterium is guiding you, yet the same Magisterium is guiding your fellow Roman Catholics, but you contradict one another. Then the Magisterium is guiding you only some of the time, but not all of the time. How are you certain which times you are being guided? Where is the framework to guide you in your assurance of being guided? The Magisterium? Well, we end up going back to square one.”


40 comments:

GeneMBridges said...

Alexander Greco: Absolutely! Tell me, in practice why is there such a diversity in understanding some of the main tenants of the faith and their application? What arrogance one could have in believing that they can read and understand the Scriptures without someone to teach them (Acts 8:30). If you claim that the Holy Spirit is guiding you, yet the same Holy Spirit is guiding your fellow Protestants, but you contradict one another. Then the Holy Spirit is guiding you only some of the time, but not all of the time. How are you certain which times you are being guided? Where is the framework to guide you in your assurance of being guided? Scripture? Well, we end up going back to square one.

This is the sort of thinking that you get when you begin with an idea of what the church should look like without first consulting Scripture.

1. Take a look at the New Testament. Were all the churches harmonious? No, for the disharmony between them and problems within them occasioned more than one letter to them.

2. Which of us here says that teachers are unnecessary or superfluous. Here's the WCF on that:

a. All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all:[15] yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation are so clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them.

b. It belongs to synods and councils, ministerially to determine controversies of faith, and cases of conscience; to set down rules and directions for the better ordering of the public worship of God, and government of his Church; to receive complaints in cases of maladministration, and authoritatively to determine the same; which decrees and determinations, if consonant to the Word of God, are to be received with reverence and submission; not only for their agreement with the Word, but also for teh power whereby they are made, as being an ordinance of God appointed thereunto in His Word.[4]

IV. All synods or councils, since the apostles' times, whether general or particular, may err; and many have erred. Therefore they are not to be made the rule of faith, or practice; but to be used as a help in both.[5]

IV. Synods and councils are to handle, or conclude nothing, but that which is ecclesiastical: and are not to intermeddle with civil affairs which concern the commonwealth, unless by way of humble petition in cases extraordinary; or, by way of advice, for satisfaction of conscience, if they be thereunto required by the civil magistrate.

Protestants, in short, have a long history of affirming the necessity of teachers, elders, etc. with respect to the teaching of Scripture, the government of the churches, etc.

It speaks to the weakness of the Romanist argument that they continue to trade in this fallacious line of argumentation.

3. Appealing to Acts 8 is fallacious and disanalogous to the normative state of the church. At that time, there was no NT to interpret the OT. The Eunuch lacked understanding of Isaiah in light of the New Testament, which had not yet been written. Philip had that understanding. He's an Apostle. Why is that important? Could any other Christian who understood the text and it's fulfilment have explained it? Yes. But not just any Christian could stand as a witness to the other Apostles that the 3rd phase of the expansion "to the uttermost parts of the Earth" had begun. The story of the Eunuch is the first movement to the third part of Jesus statement. Philip's presence is required as a witness to this work, just as Peter's was required as witness to the conversion of the Gentile, Cornelius, so why an Apostle? Their "authority" is required not to interpret the Scriptures, but as a binding witness to the others of what God was doing, just as Acts 15 later shows us was the case with respect to the inclusion of the Gentiles. Further, was Philip explaining anything that the Bible as a whole, when the NT was completed did not include? If that's what a Roman Catholic thinks, let him or her document the claim.

How would one know if one is being guided by the Holy Spirit? By some claim to that fact? No. I find it humorous that Greco is castigating us for the mere claim that we're guided by the Spirit, but what does Rome's claim amount to - a mere claim to be guided by the Spirit. How can we verify that we are guided by the Spirit?

Greco can't appeal to Scripture, for in Romanism, the authority of Scripture depends on the authority of the Church. Does MB interpret this verse independently of the Roman church, or is he dependent on the Rome for his interpretation? If the former, then he doesn’t need Rome to interpret the Bible for himself. But if the latter, then it would be fallacious for him to rely on the traditional Roman Catholic reading of texts like Acts 8 or 2 Thes 2:15—only to turn right around and cite them to warrant Roman Catholic tradition. That invites a vicious regress.

We, by way of contrast, can go to the exegesis of Scripture. Contrary to what Greco may think, there is often a great deal of agreement about the exegesis of Scripture between Protestants. The mark of controversy is often not their exegesis, but (a) a priori philosophical commitments, for example Arminians are committed to LFW, or (b) the level of authority a person allows that exegesis to have, for example. James Barr is a liberal, but he exegetes the text of Genesis very like a conservative, but he denies its authority, whereas the conservative does not.

Further, the idea that disagreements disprove the perspicuity of Scripture or disprove our rule of faith is just a pseudoproblem generated by Greco's rule of faith, not ours.

Finally, the Bible doesn't always speak negatively of conflicts in the churches. Unlike Greco, we have a high view of God's providence and we actually consult the Bible for our idea of what the church should look like. We affirm that disagreements are a means by which God purifies the churches, and by which the truth is made manifest. That's fully in accord with Scripture, you know the actual NT model for doing church, that we find in 1 Corinthians 11.

It's funny to me that Roman Catholics have this idea that there are to be no divisions at all. The sort of divisions that Paul condemns are partisian divisions that undermine the health of the church as in 1 Corinthians 1.

But the same Paul who wrote chapter 1 also wrote chapter 11:

For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that divisions exist among you; and in part I believe it.

19For there must also be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you.

Matthew Bellisario said...

You seem to forget that the Church is the entity that gave us the Sacred Scriptures. They reside within that entity, not your self proclaimed entity that exists only in the figment of your imaginations. Pay attention to the Sola Scriputra debate between myself and Turretin fan and see how it is not a Christian Doctrine at all. It is so clear it is not even worth arguing about any longer on here. You've heard the Gospel proclaimed and have had the opportunity to repent and accept Christ and His Gospel. Whether you choose to reject Him who has been sent is your choice. Heaven or hell awaits your decision. I have no more time on here to cast pearl before the swine on this subject any longer. Sola Scriptura is not even a Biblical option.

http://www.catholicchampion.com/page36/page36.html

GeneMBridges said...

You seem to forget that the Church is the entity that gave us the Sacred Scriptures.

1. Really? Who wrote Genesis, Isaiah, the Psalms, etc.?

2. "The Church" did not give us the Scriptures. God gave us the Scriptures. Where does the Bible teach that "the Church" gave us the Scriptures. How did "the Church" muddle along for so long without a canon of Scripture if it requires an infallible Magisterium to determine it?

3. You can only argue that point by equivocating on the meaning of "the Church." You constantly oscillate between "the Church, the Magisterium, the Apostles, the authors of Scripture," etc.

They reside within that entity, not your self proclaimed entity that exists only in the figment of your imaginations.

The Scriptures reside in the urtext inspired by God, not "the Church." It's merely an assertion without argument that we require an infallible Magisterium to determine the Scriptures meaning and content for us. And once it's made, it invites the question about how you can know what is valid apostolic tradition and what isn't. Evangelicals don’t deny that apostolic tradition is authoritative. But we don’t have any oral apostolic tradition. Paul was writing in the 1C. All we have at this stage of the game is written apostolic tradition. If you believe there is another body of AT, then by all means document the claim.There can be no evidence for oral tradition qua oral. At best, there can only be evidence for oral tradition committed to writing. Otherwise, oral tradition wouldn’t survive intact over the centuries. So the onus is on the Catholic to literally document the existence of oral tradition. But if it’s documentary, it’s not oral.

Pay attention to the Sola Scriputra debate between myself and Turretin fan and see how it is not a Christian Doctrine at all.

Oh, you can know I am. I'm keeping a log of how many question-begging assertions and logically fallacious arguments you make. So far, the list is quite long.

Let's take your reference to contraception. On the one hand you want to assert that we need an authority to determine that contraception is sinful.

But you never mount a biblical argument to that effect. Rather, you beg the question that its sinful because "the Church" says so.

Hmmm, let's put that to the test, shall we:

1. Catholicism doesn’t condemn contraception. Rather, it draws an ethically arbitrary disjunction between “natural” and “artificial” contraception. You, on the other hand, don't draw that distinction in your little essay.

2. How is this relevant to the authority of Scripture? It hardly reflects a high view of Scripture to call something sinful that Scripture does not address. Apparently, it's not important enough for God to say plainly, but it's enough for the Magisterium to speak about.

And what is the Magisterium but a subset of individuals, namely the papacy and the episcopate - just a group of private theologians. Sure, you can talk all about their alleged authority (also question begging), but if they determined the canon or this matter, who or what determined them the judges? Certainly not Scripture, for they cannot both serve Scripture and sit as judge over it if they deny that Scripture has authority apart from their determination of its content. You can't run to what Scripture may say, because in that event you're falling into the vicious regress of relying on the Roman Catholic interpretation of Scriptures related to its alleged authority to validate Roman Catholic authority.

So, in reality, your "argument" doesn't demonstrate Rome's high view of the Bible or anything related to the topic itself. I merely demonstrates your extrascriptural piety - pious nonsense, the worst sort of nonsense there is.

So, I want to thank you, publicly, sir, for demonstrating that you are an ecclesioater and that logical argumentation isn't your forte.

It is so clear it is not even worth arguing about any longer on here.

I'll keep this filed away for future reference.

Whether you choose to reject Him who has been sent is your choice.

According to Rome, I'm a separated brother. According to MB, I've rejected the gospel. Who should I believe, MB or the Magisterium?

Sola Scriptura is not even a Biblical option.

Problem is, you're in a vicious regress. According to your own argument in your debate, the authority of Scripture depends on the authority of the Church. Yet you are making statements about texts that Rome has not made any de fide pronouncements. You're only exercising your private opinion. Does MB interpret the Bible independently of the Roman church, or are you dependent on the Rome for your interpretation? If the former, then, contrary to your own argument, you don’t need Rome to interpret the Bible for you. But if the latter, then it would be fallacious to rely on the traditional Roman Catholic reading of texts like Acts 8 or 2 Thes 2:15—only to turn right around and cite them to warrant Roman Catholic tradition as you do in your argumentation. QED

Mike Burgess said...

God gave us the Scriptures through the Church, and Mr. Bridges knows it. He accepts it. He won't deny it. This is a Tradition he won't explicitly acknowledge but can't reject.

For example, he most likely won't answer "Why accept Esther as canonical?"

He asked rhetorically who wrote Genesis, Isaiah, the Psalms, etc. But he knows the answer is men God inspired who were in His Church and who apoke and wrote to His Church. Moses, Isaiah, and David (and Asaph, et alia) were representing the Church as an authority, (and Bridges doesn't deny that these men could exercise God's authority orally and graphically), so his question is moot. As usual.

But let's see him surprise us and tell us why Esther, e.g., is canonical. (Shall we all hold our objections until after he does so? Thanks.)

The Scriptures were given to the Church, and that is what Mr. Bellisario was getting at, Mr. Bridges. Doubtless you know this, too. The Scriptures were given to function in the "urcontext," the sitz im leben, of the faith community, and the Scriptures tell us "pastor and teacher" is one office and that we are to submit to those over us and that the Spirit (see Ephesians 3:10) makes the Church the means of our salvific knowledge. (Where, by the way, is the previous writing Paul mentioned in the beginning of Ephesians 3? Must not have been inspired, huh? But then how could it be authoritative or Apostolic? All Apostolic teaching got inscripturated, right?)

GeneMBridges said...

God gave us the Scriptures through the Church, and Mr. Bridges knows it. He accepts it.

No, God gave us the Scriptures through the authors of Scripture, not "the Church." Like MB, you're equivocating on the definition of "the Church."

The issue isn't about the authorship itself, but over whether the authority of Scripture is immediate or mediate.

Did a Roman Catholic author Isaiah? No

Did a Roman Catholic author Esther? No

"The Church" as defined by MB never wrote the OT. It never determined the canonicity of Isaiah or Psalms or the Pentateuch. Those questions were answered by the Jews. Indeed, Rome never authored those books at all. There was no RCC when they were canonized by the Jews.

For example, he most likely won't answer "Why accept Esther as canonical?"


Actually, we've discussed this on our blog.

http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2008/04/orthodpods.html
http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2004/04/canon-of-scripture-1.html

Mike's argument is either simplistic or tendentious:

i) True, the Bible lacks a formal index. But the Bible has an informal index in the form of intertextuality. The Bible is a highly cross-referential work.

ii) The Bible also falls into various units, as a concentric subset of larger units, viz.

Genesis>Pentateuch>Genesis-Kings

Luke>Luke-Acts

1 Corinthians>1-2 Corinthians>Pauline Epistles

iii) In addition, there are the individual claims of individual books. One doesn’t need a collective claim to establish a collection if one can establish the collection distributively, one book at a time.

iv) To say that we cannot identify the Bible, or individual books thereof, as divine revelation apart from tradition is simply question-begging.

v) It also invites an infinite regress. How do we identify authentic tradition?

vi) It is not inconsistent for me to affirm Esther's canonicity based on tradition. Tradition can mean a historical witness, or it can mean sacred tradition, in the dogmatic sense.

A Protestant can affirm the former, but deny the latter. So, given what Scripture says about the Jews being entrusted with the oracles of God (dogmatic tradition) and the historical witness (historical tradition),thereof, I can affirm the canonicity of Esther without an infallibilist constraint on knowledge.

So, the idea that we require an infallible determiner to *know* something is simply yet another pseudoproblem generated by your rule of faith, not mine. You're mirror-reading by assuming your rule of faith and then castigating me for not measuring up.

But if you want to provide an argument for an infallibilist contraint on knowledge, by all means go ahead and try.

He asked rhetorically who wrote Genesis, Isaiah, the Psalms, etc. But he knows the answer is men God inspired who were in His Church and who apoke and wrote to His Church.

1. For starters, they sometimes wrote to the whole, but in other cases they wrote TO local churches or individuals, and FOR the wider Church. For example, when Paul speaks of the church as the pillar and foundation of the truth, he's talking to Timothy, an individual, with reference to a LOCAL church, not the universal church.

But the Roman Catholic argument is that the authority of the text depends upon the declaration of "the Church," which is allegedly "universal" and then (by equivocation) defined as the Magisterium,that they are canonical. It's the Roman Catholic argument that the canon was unsettled for centuries after these books were written. How, oh how, did the Jews muddle through?

Moses, Isaiah, and David (and Asaph, et alia) were representing the Church as an authority, No, they were representing God as the authority. What church called and ordained Moses? What church called and ordained Isaiah? David was a king, not a priest. The authority of the text is not derived from the authority of these men as representatives of "the Church," but upon God's inspiration of these men Himself. Mr. Burgess is demonstrating his ecclesioatry.

(and Bridges doesn't deny that these men could exercise God's authority orally and graphically), so his question is moot. As usual.

1. I do not deny their authority. I deny that their authority is derivative of "the Church" or that they represented "the Church." The Bible says no such thing.

2. No, it's not moot. The Jews canonized these texts, not Rome. Did it require their "Magisterium" to be infallible? No. Is that your position, that the Jewish teaching authority was "infallible?" Where's the supporting argument?

Did they determine the canon or did they recognize the canon by God's providence?

Where was the Roman Catholic Church at that time? Where was its Magisterium? Remember, it's Rome's argument that the canon must be determined and that by an infallible Magisterial authority.

The Scriptures were given to the Church, and that is what Mr. Bellisario was getting at, Mr. Bridges.

Wrong. That's not his argument. His argument is that "The Church" determines the canon and thereby its authority is derivative of the Church. Here's his argument in summary and directly quoted:

The universal Church guided by the Holy Spirit has determined the Canon as well as the full Revelation of God. This authority is given by Jesus through His apostles as I have already proven from Scripture itself.

He then quotes the WCF to criticize it. The portion that he takes issue with is the portion dealing with the authority of Scripture.

Mr. Burgess, you might want to actually read what MB wrote in the debate before making such obviously erroneous statements.

The Scriptures were given to function in the "urcontext,...

1. I mentioned the "urtext" not the "urcontext." I take it that elementary reading comprehension escapes you.
2. Nobody denies that the Scriptures function within the covenant community.
3. Nobody denies the role of elders. You need a supporting argument to say that its the function of elders to determine the content of Scripture, eg. the canon.
4. And if you run to Scripture that Rome has not pronouced upon infallibly, then you don't need Rome to interpret it for you.
5. Or you can assume Rome's position, but in doing that, you run into the fact of using Scripture as defined and interpreted by Rome to valid Roman Catholic authority.

All Apostolic teaching got inscripturated, right?

1. f you think that there is a body of oral teaching that is extant that stands apart from Scripture and differs in content, it's up to you to document the claim.

2. In context, the writing to which Paul refers is the mystery concerning the the union of Gentile and Jews into one body, without ethnic distinctions. Is that something that is not discussed in Scripture? No.

So, you've done nothing to disprove my argument that we have all extant Apostolic Tradition qua AT in Scripture.

3. If found, yes, it should be added to the canon.

Mike Burgess said...

Note what Mr. Bridges did not do.

I note with interest that Mr. Bridges makes the point "But the Bible has an informal index in the form of intertextuality."
We should be expecting him to begin referring to the deuterocanonical works that the New Testament authors "intertextually" cite repeatedly any minure now.

He then says "A Protestant can affirm the former, but deny the latter."

Not if he wishes to remain consistent, he can't. Here's why: the same tradition Mr. Bridges' Protestant can affirm also simultaneously contains the very extrascriptural (as he would style them) doctrines he denigrates as man-made, and he has no way of non-circularly defending the acceptance of other bits.

"David was a king, not a priest."

Why was he in the tabernacle in an ephod? Why was he not punished for offering sacrifice? Why was he able to identify (in a prefiguring way) with Melchizedech? Because he was both priest and king, even though he was not a Levite.

"But if you want to provide an argument for an infallibilist contraint on knowledge, by all means go ahead and try."

I remember somewhere something about infallibilist constraints on spiritual understanding stemming from some epistle to Corinthians, about assurance in Johannine literature, something along these lines... I;m having flashbacks to Protestant arguments.

" How, oh how, did the Jews muddle through?"

By way of reliance on the authorities of the Old Covenant whom they recognized and had at least incipient understanding were prefigures of the far greater authorities of the New Covenant. Their doctrine developed then as God gave new revelation, say in Jeremiah where the New Covenant is announced in some measure. Our doctrine now develops in light of the New and Everlasting Covenant as it is realized until the end of the age (even while no new general revelation is forthcoming).

" No, they were representing God as the authority. What church called and ordained Moses? What church called and ordained Isaiah? David was a king, not a priest. The authority of the text is not derived from the authority of these men as representatives of "the Church," but upon God's inspiration of these men Himself. Mr. Burgess is demonstrating his ecclesioatry."

God acts authoritatively in a mediate fashion. He gives it and expects it to be actuated and He expects it to be obeyed. "He who hears you hears Me, and He who rejects you rejects the One Who sent Me."

" I mentioned the "urtext" not the "urcontext." I take it that elementary reading comprehension escapes you."

I take it that a rhetorical device employed for effect escapes you. I'm well aware that you said urtext meaning the whole of revelation in heaven or something very similar. I'm not retarded. If you talk down to people, try to avoid Turretinfan's mistake of doing so when you're incorrect. It makes you look remarkably stupid. You are the one who missed that I made a play on your word "urtext" by making it "urcontext" for the sake of my argument.

"Nobody denies the role of elders. You need a supporting argument to say that its the function of elders to determine the content of Scripture, eg. the canon."

St. Paul makes mention of the office of teacher and pastor as one office and he makes mention of Timothy's duty as one such officeholder to guard the deposit. If you are insinuating that the canon is not part of the deposit, please make your case. It will be novel, I'm sure.

"[I]f you think that there is a body of oral teaching that is extant that stands apart from Scripture and differs in content, it's up to you to document the claim."

You already did,implicitly. I pointed this out.

"In context, the writing to which Paul refers is the mystery concerning the the union of Gentile and Jews into one body, without ethnic distinctions. Is that something that is not discussed in Scripture? No."

There's a lot to say in response to this, but I think I'd rather do it piecemeal in my series.

"If found, yes, it should be added to the canon."

How will we know now?

Matthew Bellisario said...

What Mr Bridges also doesn't seem to recognize is that the Jews never held to a Scripture Alone mentality either. They also did not define the OT Canon in the same manner as the Church did until the late 1st century, where they ended up rejecting the Greek Septuagint, which the whole early Christian Church subscribed to. Read Bruce Metzger, the Protestant Biblical scholar for info on that. Regards....

Matthew Bellisario said...

Genembrideges says, "According to Rome, I'm a separated brother. According to MB, I've rejected the gospel. Who should I believe, MB or the Magisterium?"

What about being separated don't you understand Gene? You like to emphasize the brother part, but reject the separated part don't you? The term separated in case you don't know the meaning, is defined as "detached: no longer connected or joined;" And by the way, the Magisterium says it is only a possibility that those such as yourself may be saved, because of your ignorance, and with the possibility of you co-operating with God's grace. It seems however someone as yourself has decided freely to reject the truth my separated brother.... Where that leaves you, well, we will just have to see if you fail to repent. I hope that isn't the case.

Again we see a Protestant who quotes from the Church, yet hasn't a clue as to what it means. Gene assumes that the term separated brother means that he is as good as in when it comes to heaven according to the Church. The devil jumps for joy at such nonsense.

Alexander Greco said...

Right now I do not have time to comment on much of anything, but I would like to make a brief comment on something that caught my eye.

genembridges: "Catholicism doesn’t condemn contraception. Rather, it draws an ethically arbitrary disjunction between “natural” and “artificial” contraception."

Me: This comment of genembridges is telling of his manner of rationalization. The complete failure of distinguishing between two completely distinct acts. It is apparent that he either a) has absolutely no clue as to what he is talking about, or b) knows, yet decides to obfuscate.

Allow me to clarify. Within Catholic morality there is no such thing as "natural contraception." Maybe by "natural contraception" he means the use of some type of organic contraceptive. If this is the case then I would like him to tell me where he had read this, and what is the suggested herb. This is the only way one could rationally discuss a "natural contraception." If he is referring to NFP (as taught by the Church), well...I hope I'm not embarrassing him when I say that it is rationally impossible to refer to NFP as contraception. By definition, contraception is what one does in order to prevent conception as it relates to the sexual act itself. Abstaining from sex is not contraception because the sexual act is not engaged.

I'm sure that the objection will be raised that the intention to avoid having children is a contraceptive mentality even though no actual contraceptive device, drug, or surgical procedure is used, and therefore can be considered as de facto contraception. However, in saying this one simply does away with proper terminology, and makes a mockery of their intelligence. The proper way of describing such a couple who continuously abstain during ovulation periods would be to say that they are preventing the achievement of the primary good of marriage, which is the procreation and education of offspring. Contraception can only be linked to the sexual act itself. When the term "artificial" is used, it is defining the act of violently separating the unitive end of the sexual act from the procreative. I purposefully used the term violence here because when engaged one is destroying the act. When the procreative end is not of natural actual potential (because the women is not experiencing ovulation), it is entirely inappropriate to refer to the act as a contraceptive act...nothing is done within this sexual act to prevent conception. The actual potential for conception is not present.

Alexander Greco said...

By the way, brethern only refers to the fact that there is one baptism...and by virtue of that baptism you are a brother...yet your heresy has separated you from the fold.

Paul Hoffer said...

This post is premised on a false assumption. Jugulum wrote: "If I convert today, what do I need to read to gain that assurance of sound doctrine?" One doesn't wake up one morning and say, "I am going to be a Catholic today." Conversion is an interior experience, a spiritual matter. It is a journey as opposed to an event.

When a person converts to any religion, they do not question their faith in such a manner. If you are looking to "test" your faith from the get-go then you do not really have faith to start with. As I said in the earlier post, faith is an acceptance, an obedience. It is a willingness to humble one's self and submit to a higher authority. The assurance you are looking for comes from within yourself, not from a book.

Now mind you, I am not talking about private judgment in the sense that it is used on this website. I am suggesting that once you accept the teacher, you do not question the teaching. You don't test it by seeking outside assurances. The Bereans did not search the Scriptures to test Paul's teachings. They searched the Scriptures to decide whether to accept Paul as their teacher. Once they did accept him, they accepted his teaching. See also at the beginning of Acts where thousands converted on the sermon of St. Peter. It was instantaneous. They did not seek out other sources to verify Peter's teaching, because they accepted Peter (and for that matter Jesus) as their teacher.

As a practical matter, those who do decide that they are interested in converting, participate in RCIA where that person becomes a catechumen and is instructed in matters of the Catholic faith. This is a practice that goes back to the very beginning of the Church. Questions are asked before one converts, and hopefully are answered.

Jugulum, if you are sincere in your desire to consider becoming Catholic you may contact me at prhoffer@sssnet.com and I will be happy to help you in your journey if I can. There are also two excellent websites I am aware of that might help answer your questions about the process: http://www.ecatholic2000.com/rcia/rcia1.shtml or http://www.chnetwork.org/.

However, if you are insistent on reading a single book, one tht comes to my mind is "This is the Faith" by Canon Francis Ripley. It is not hard to read and gives a very good overview of what the Catholic Church teaches. The Third edition has been updated to take into account Vatican II. It is a good idea to understand what the Church teaches before one goes and researches a particular issue. Another book that I found to be useful is St. Francis de Sales' "The Catholic Controvery." It can be found on-line.

Giod bless!

Ben Douglass said...

in Romanism, the authority of Scripture depends on the authority of the Church.

Care to document that claim? Scripture has authority in itself, because of its Author. We are dependent on the Church for our knowledge of which books are Scripture.

The sort of divisions that Paul condemns are partisian divisions that undermine the health of the church as in 1 Corinthians 1.

But the same Paul who wrote chapter 1 also wrote chapter 11:

For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that divisions exist among you; and in part I believe it.

19For there must also be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you.


That's an odd interpretation. My understanding is that St. Paul is not saying that these factions are licit per se, but merely that they are necessary for fulfilling God's providential purposes (like Satan, Arianism, etc.)

Howard Fisher said...

Great example Carrie. This has been pointed out many times whenever RCs say Prots contradict one another. They simply refuse to be consistent in applying the SAME standards for their own communion.

If 2 RCs contradict one another, that is just one misunderstanding RC teaching. It is not the result of millions of pages of canons and ect.

Yet when 2 Prots disagree, God is automatically blamed for not being sufficiently clear in His Word. And we are called arrogant?

God Bless

dtking said...

Quote: "You seem to forget that the Church is the entity that gave us the Sacred Scriptures. They reside within that entity, not your self proclaimed entity that exists only in the figment of your imaginations."

Unlike Romanists, we do not remember what was never true. The Roman communion did not will or bring the Scriptures into existence. This claim is stated as though it were true beyond dispute when it really amounts to a petitio principii fallacy.

In fact, Augustine, for example, argued the very opposite of this in his writings...

Augustine (354-430): But the Jews survive still, and for a special purpose: so that they may carry our books, to their own confusion. When we want to prove to the pagans that Christ’s coming was prophesied, we produce these scriptures. But possibly pagans obstinately opposed to the faith might have alleged that we Christians had composed them, fabricating prophecies to buttress the gospel we preach. They might have thought that we were trying to pass off our message by pretending that it had been foreshadowed in prophecy. But we can convince them of their error by pointing out that all those scriptures which long ago spoke of Christ are the property of the Jews. Yes, the Jews recognize these very writings. We take books from our enemies to confute other enemies! In what sort of disgrace do the Jews find themselves? A Jew carries the book which is the foundation of faith for a Christian. Jews act as book-bearers for us, like the slaves who are accustomed to walk behind their masters carrying their books, so that while the slaves sink under the weight, the masters make great strides through reading. John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., The Works of Saint Augustine, Part 3, Vol. 17, trans. Maria Boulding, O.S.B., Expositions of the Psalms, Psalms 51-72, Psalm 56.9 (Hyde Park: New City Press, 2001), p. 110.

Augustine (354-430): Let us listen now, brothers and sisters, let us listen, and sing, and long for the city of which we are citizens. What joys are unfolded before us in song? Can love of our own city be revived in us, if through being abroad so long we have forgotten it? Yes, it can, for our Father has sent us letters. God has provided the Scriptures for us, so that by these letters from him our longing to return home may be aroused. John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., The Works of Saint Augustine, Part 3, Vol. 17, trans. Maria Boulding, O.S.B., Expositions of the Psalms, Psalms 51-72, Psalm 64.2 (Hyde Park: New City Press, 2001), p. 267.

Augustine (354-430): What does “homoousios” mean, I ask, but The Father and I are one (Jn. 10:30)? I should not, however, introduce the Council of Nicea to prejudice the case in my favor, nor should you introduce the Council of Ariminum that way. I am not bound by the authority of Ariminum, and you are not bound by that of Nicea. By the authority of the scriptures that are not the property of anyone, but the common witness for both of us, let position do battle with position, case with case, reason with reason. John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., The Works of Saint Augustine, Arianism and Other Heresies, Answer to Maximinus the Arian, Book II:XIV.3, Part 1, Vol. 18, trans. Roland J. Teske, S.J. (Hyde Park: New City Press, 1995), p. 282.
Latin text: Quid est enim Homousion, nisi unius ejusdemque substantiae? Quid est, inquam, Homousion, nisi, Ego et Pater unum sumus? Sed nunc nec ego Nicaenum, nec tu debes Ariminense tanquam praejudicaturus proferre concilium. Nec ego hujus auctoritate, nec tu illius detineris: Scripturarum auctoritatibus, non quorumque propriis, sed utrisque communibus testibus, res cum re, causa cum causa, ratio cum ratione concertet. Contra Maximinum, Liber Secundus,Caput XIV.3, PL 42:772.

Gregory the Great (Gregory I c. 540-603): But who was the writer, it is very superfluous to enquire; since at any rate the Holy Spirit is confidently believed to have been the author. He then Himself wrote them, Who dictated the things that should be written. He did Himself write them Who both was present as the Inspirer in that Saint’s work, and by the mouth of the writer has consigned to us his acts as patterns for our imitation. Morals on the Book of Job by S. Gregory the Great: A Library of Fathers of the Holy Catholic Church, Vol. 1, Parts 1 & 2 (Oxford: John Henry Parker, 1844), Preface, §2, p. 15.
Latin text: Sed quis haec scripserit, valde supervacue quaeritur, cum tamen auctor libri Spiritus sanctus fideliter credatur. Ipse igitur haec scripsit, qui scribenda dictavit. Ipse scripsit, qui et in illius opere inspirator exstitit, et per scribentis vocem imitanda ad nos ejus facta transmisit. Moralium Libri, Sive Expositio In Librum B. Job, Liber Decimus Septimus, Caput Primum, §2, PL 75:517.

According to this ancient bishop of Rome, Mr. Bellisario's point is a "very superfluous" one to make "since at any rate the Holy Spirit is confidently believed to have been the author."

Besides, the ancient catholic church is not, contrary to the claims of Roman apologists, to be identified with the Roman communion, as the facts of history make abundantly clear to the serious and honest students thereof.

Even the devil himself was not as fastidious as Romanists are today in the use of Holy Scripture, when for example the Lord Jesus refuted his temptations with Holy Scripture. But such is the methodology of modern day Romanists, and is a tactic that makes their position all the more odious to Protestants.

DTK

Matthew Bellisario said...

DTking "In fact, Augustine, for example, argued the very opposite of this in his writings..."

A case of selective emphasis indeed King. Why don't you quote Augustine where he speaks of the Church and her authority? Also why does Augustine insist on the Deuterocanonicals as being Scripture while you go against the Church in this? You quote Saint Augustine out of context as Protestants usually do, no surprise here. We can exchange quotes all day long. The fat of the matter was, Augustine did not believe what you believe, in fact he held to the Catholic faith.

"I would not believe in the Gospel myself if the authority of the Catholic Church did not influence me to do so."
Against the letter of Mani, 5,6, 397 A.D.

"We must hold to the Christian religion and to communication in her Church which is Catholic, and which is called Catholic not only by her members but even by all her enemies. For when heretics or the adherents of schisms talk about her, not among themselves but with strangers, willy-nilly they call her nothing else but Catholic. For they would not be understood unless they distinguish her by this name which the whole world employs in her regard."
The True Religion, 7,12, 397 A.D.

"This Church is Holy, the One Church, the True Church, the Catholic Church, fighting as she does against all heresies. She can fight, but she cannot be beaten. All heresies are expelled from her, like the useless loppings pruned from a vine. She remains fixed in her root, in her vine, in her love. The gates of hell shall not conquer her."
Sermon to Catechumens, on the Creed, 6,14, 395 A.D.

"But in regard to those observances which we carefully attend and which the whole world keeps, and which derive not from Scripture but from tradition, we are given to understand that they are recommended and ordained to be kept either by the Apostles themselves or by plenary Councils, the authority of which is quite vital to the Church."
Letter to Januarius 54,1,1, 400 A.D.

"I believe that this practice comes from apostolic tradition, just as so many other practices not found in their writings nor in the councils of their successors, but which, because they are kept by the whole Church everywhere, are believed to have been commended and handed down by the Apostles themselves."
Baptism 1,12,20, 400 A.D.

"Tell us straight out that you do not believe in the Gospel of Christ; for you believe what you want in the Gospel and disbelieve what you want. You believe in yourself rather than in the Gospel."
Against Faustus, 17, 3, 400 A.D.

dtking said...

One comment on one quote...

""I would not believe in the Gospel myself if the authority of the Catholic Church did not influence me to do so."
Against the letter of Mani, 5,6, 397 A.D."

Once again a Romanist claims selective citing of an ancient father, and once again, as noted above, the argument is petitio principii, in nature. I will respond to this one, perhaps most often cited patristic text by Romanists, because it's all for which I have time at the present.

1. Even if this quote meant what the claimant wished it did, it begs the question that the ancient catholic church is to be equated with the present day Roman communion.

2. The claimant doesn't even respond in any meaningful way to the patristic evidence cited against his petitio principii claim, so apparently he accepts the force of that particular citation against his erroneous claim.

3. As for this one citation from Augustine, which all Romanists cite as though it exalts the Roman communion, and makes it the ground for belief in the gospel of the Scriptures, I respond in the following manner.

As Protestants, we acknowledge with Augustine that the Church is most often the initial and outward means by which men are called to faith in Christ. With respect to the above passage from Augustine, Heiko Oberman explains that he never exalted the authority of the Church over the Scriptures...

While repeatedly asserting the primacy of Scripture, Augustine himself does not contrast this at all with the authority of the Catholic Church : ‘…I would not believe the Gospel unless the authority of the Catholic Church moved me.’ The Church has a practical priority; her authority as expressed in the direction–giving meaning of commovere, to move, is an instrumental authority, the door which leads to the fulness of the Word itself. See Heiko Oberman, “Quo Vadis? Tradition from Irenaeus to Humani Generis” in the Scottish Journal of Theology, Vol. 16, 1963, pp. 234–235. Commenting on Augustine’s view, Louis Berkhof wrote: ‘It is true that he also attached great value to the testimony of the Church as a motivum credibilitatis, but he did not regard this as the last and deepest ground of faith.’ See Introduction to Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Baker, reprinted 1979), p. 183.

Holy Scripture itself furnishes us with a clear illustration of this in the fourth chapter of John’s gospel. After being confronted by Christ, the woman of Samaria returns to her city, bearing witness to him:

John 4:39–42: And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, ‘He told me all that I ever did.’ So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. And many more believed because of His own word. Then they said to the woman, ‘Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world’

One will correctly observe that though it was the woman’s witness which intially induced belief in Christ, nonetheless, confirmation of their faith rested finally in the testimony of Christ’s own word. While the woman’s witness was true and sufficiently credible to move the inhabitants of the city, it does not follow that she became the infallible bulwark of their subsequent faith. They came to trust, not in her word, but Christ’s. Answering the argument proposed by the Roman apologist Stapleton, William Whitaker replied, ‘The church does indeed deliver that rule [i.e., the Scriptures], not as its author, but as a witness, and an admonisher, and a minister.’ This is what Scripture means when it speaks of the Church as ‘the pillar and support of the truth’ (1 Tim. 3:15). The Church’s role is to be a support to the truth by faithfully holding forth the message and authority of the written Scriptures. It is not independent of, or above Scripture, but beneath it.

Moreover, in the same work of Augustine that Claimant cites above, I would suggest it is he who is being selective, for Augustine goes on in the same work to state the very reality and position that we as Protestants hold...

Augustine (354-430): You can find nothing better than to praise your own faith and ridicule mine. So, after having in my turn praised my belief and ridiculed yours, what result do you think we shall arrive at as regards our judgment and our conduct, but to part company with those who promise the knowledge of indubitable things, and then demand from us faith in doubtful things? while we shall follow those who invite us to begin with believing what we cannot yet fully perceive, that, strengthened by this very faith, we may come into a position to know what we believe by the inward illumination and confirmation of our minds, due no longer to men, but to God Himself. See NPNF1: Vol. IV, Against the Epistle of Manichaeus Called Fundamental, Chapter 14. Latin text: Nihil aliud elegisti, nisi laudare quod credis, et irridere quod credo. Cum igitur etiam ego vicissim laudavero quod credo, et quod credis irrisero; quid putas nobis esse judicandum, quidve faciendum, nisi ut eos relinquamus, qui nos invitant certa cognoscere, et postea imperant ut incerta credamus; et eos sequamur, qui nos invitant prius credere, quod nondum valemus intueri, ut ipsa fide valentiores facti, quod credimus intelligere mereamur, non jam hominibus, sed ipso Deo intrinsecus mentem nostram illuminante atque firmante? Contra Epistolam Manichaei Quam vocant Fundamenti Liber Unus, Caput XIV, 42:183.

Thus the claimant's use of this so oft cited quote from Augustine cannot be made to serve the purposes of Roman disputants.

DTK

Alexander Greco said...

I do not have time to do much of a response here, but I did want to quickly comment on this:

dtking: "Even if this quote meant what the claimant wished it did, it begs the question that the ancient catholic church is to be equated with the present day Roman communion."

Me: And why can't it? On what basis do you claim it isn't? Where does the "modern" Church contradict its prior dogmatic teachings?

Let me put this in a more physical context. When I was five I was x' tall, and weighed x amount. Now that I am in my late twenties, I am y' tall, and weigh y amount. Am I not the same person? My present condition does not contradict my former because I have developed according to my nature. There is a logical congruency between my former state and my present state. Therefore no contradiction exists. The burden of proof is upon you to display that contradiction. Historically, the Protestant (Reformers) removed themselves from the Church, yet claimed that we did. So far, there is no convincing evidence to support such a claim.

Matthew Bellisario said...

DT KIng, the citation of John 4 proves the Catholic Church's point, not yours. What fantasy are you living in? You are blind indeed. Keep slinging Church Father quotes and Scripture quotes if that makes you feel better as an agent of unbelief. Keep on hailing yourself yourself as the authority. I will choose Christ and the means in which the Sacred Scriptures, and the ancient Church testify to Him, not your way. I just love watching Protestants squirm when they are presented with Church Fathers who bury their arguments outright. The only option is to hi-jack the Scriptures and distort history in order justify the act of proclaiming a false Gospel.

Turretinfan said...

Fun with superimposition.

Compare Ben's comment:

" 'in Romanism, the authority of Scripture depends on the authority of the Church.' Care to document that claim? Scripture has authority in itself, because of its Author. We are dependent on the Church for our knowledge of which books are Scripture."

With MB's use of Augustine:

"A case of selective emphasis indeed King. Why don't you quote Augustine where he speaks of the Church and her authority? ... 'I would not believe in the Gospel myself if the authority of the Catholic Church did not influence me to do so.'"

Another fun juxtaposition is MB's claims: "... You quote Saint Augustine out of context as Protestants usually do, no surprise here." (not followed by any conxtextualization) and "The fa[c]t of the matter was, Augustine did not believe what you believe, in fact he held to the Catholic faith."

imposed against DTK's contextualization of the "I would not believe in the Gospel myself if the authority of the Catholic Church did not influence me to do so," fragment from Augustine (link).

-TurretinFan

Mary's Son said...

"1. Even if this quote meant what the claimant wished it did, it begs the question that the ancient catholic church is to be equated with the present day Roman communion."

You can say Roman all you want to try to confuse the term Catholic; but go out on any street in the world and ask for directions to the nearest Catholic church: you're not going to end up in a Presbyterian church or any other church but in the only Catholic church there is; that which is in communion with the bishop of Rome.

In Christ,

Richard

dtking said...

Quote: "DT KIng, the citation of John 4 proves the Catholic Church's point, not yours. What fantasy are you living in? You are blind indeed. Keep slinging Church Father quotes and Scripture quotes if that makes you feel better as an agent of unbelief. Keep on hailing yourself yourself as the authority. I will choose Christ and the means in which the Sacred Scriptures, and the ancient Church testify to Him, not your way. I just love watching Protestants squirm when they are presented with Church Fathers who bury their arguments outright. The only option is to hi-jack the Scriptures and distort history in order justify the act of proclaiming a false Gospel."

Thanks for sharing all your petitio principii claims!

DTK

dtking said...

quote: "Me: And why can't it? On what basis do you claim it isn't? Where does the "modern" Church contradict its prior dogmatic teachings?"

1. There is no patristic evidence that the Roman communion was co-extensive with the ancient catholic church. In fact, the evidence of the early church militates against such a claim. To make that claim without an argument is, in the first instance, petitio principii in nature.

2. For example, the African Church in Augustine's day defended its autonomy against pope Zosimus when he attempted to make juridicial claims over them when he insisted that they restore those two Pelagian heretics to full communion. The African Church, in essence, told Zosimus to take a hike. This is standard church history.

Klaus Schatz, S.J.: The African Church was even more determined to defend its jurisdictional autonomy. Councils at Carthage in 419 and 424 forbade any appeals to Rome. The background of these actions was the case of a priest named Apiarius, who had been excommunicated by his own bishop and then received a favorable judgment at Rome (probably because the authorities there were ignorant of the situation). The North Africans reacted by providing a court of appeal even for their own bishop’s verdict to the North African council at Carthage. That appeared to satisfy the requirements of justice. In turn they took a firm stand against Roman intervention, where people acting at a distance were almost certain to make wrong decisions, if only because it was impossible to bring the witnesses necessary for such a judicial proceeding from North Africa to Rome. Moreover, it was unthinkable that God would give the spirit of right judgment to a single individual, the Roman bishop, and withhold it from an entire council of bishops. Therefore the North African bishops forbade any “ultramarine” [across the sea - my note] appeals....This case was brought up repeatedly in future as an example of resistance by the episcopate of a national Church against Roman centralism. Klaus Schatz, S.J., Papal Primacy: From Its Origins to the Present, trans. John A. Otto and Linda M. Maloney (Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1996), pp. 35-36.

Klaus Schatz, S.J.: The further question whether there was any notion of an enduring office beyond Peter’s lifetime, if posed in purely historical terms, should probably be answered in the negative. That is, if we ask whether the historical Jesus, in commissioning Peter, expected him to have successors, or whether the author of the Gospel of Matthew, writing after Peter’s death, was aware that Peter and his commission survived in the leaders of the Roman community who succeeded him, the answer in both cases is probably “no.” Klaus Schatz, S.J., Papal Primacy: From Its Origins to the Present, trans. John A. Otto and Linda M. Maloney (Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1996), pp. 1-2.

3. The Eastern Church never capitulated to Roman primacy (such as modern day Rome claims), and that too is standard church history 101.

4. I do not believe you can name, for example, a single church father at the council of Nicea that embraced the modern day views of the Roman communion, such as papal primacy, let alone any of the other dogmas peculiar to the Roman communion. In fact, the first four ecumenical councils of the Church were all eastern councils. The Roman communion had no authority over those. And if papal primacy was a dogma of the ancient catholic church, it would have rendered all of the first four ecumenical councils unnecessary when all they had to do was consult Rome. To imagine that the ancient church adhered to Roman papal primacy is a stroll down fantasy lane. But granted, the sky is the limit for the imagination of Roman disputants on this issue.

So, if you want to "name it/claim it," you are welcome to your petitio principii claim. But no serious and honest student of history chooses to live in that "never-never" land.

DTK

Ben Douglass said...

Dear Francis,

I don't see any contrast between my statement and MB's use of St. Augustine. My point is that the priority of the Church to Scripture is an epistemological priority, not a priority of authority. We recognize the superordinate authority (Scripture) by means of the subordinate authority (the Church).

Dear Mr. King,

I think there is much more in St. Augustine's dictum than the simple affirmation that "the Church is most often the initial and outward means by which men are called to faith in Christ," analogous to the Samaritan woman of John 4. Note that St. Augustine says, if the Manichees succeed in refuting the authority of the Catholic Church, he will no longer be able to believe the Gospel at all. This implies that the Church is the means sine qua non by which men are called to faith in Christ. According to your epistemology, on the other hand, shouldn't St. Augustine be able to go on believing the Gospel, even after the authority of the Catholic Church is refuted, by virtue of the interior witness of the Holy Spirit?

dtking said...

Mr. Douglass,

You are welcome to your thoughts, just as I am welcome to mine. For me, Augustine makes it abundantly clear later in that same work, as I indicated, that your claim was not his position. Augustine indicated clearly that his authoritative and epistemological priority did not rest in the church when he stated, "...while we shall follow those who invite us to begin with believing what we cannot yet fully perceive, that, strengthened by this very faith, we may come into a position to know what we believe by the inward illumination and confirmation of our minds, due no longer to men, but to God Himself. See NPNF1: Vol. IV, Against the Epistle of Manichaeus Called Fundamental, Chapter 14.

DTK

Turretinfan said...

Dear Ben,

As to the issue of whether the church has authority that is subordinate to Scripture (as opposed both to superordinate or coordinate), it would seem that you here follow Aquinas, but may not be joined by everyone on your side of the Tiber.

As a matter of practice, permitting the traditions of your church to evade Scriptural review grants them superordinate (or, at a minimum, coordinate) authority over Scripture.

-TurretinFan

Turretinfan said...

Richard,
I responded to your comment via my own blog (link).
-TurretinFan

Matthew Bellisario said...

If we read Saint Augustine in context , per his written intentions, we can see a clear understanding of Church authority. For example when he was battling Pelagianism, what did he say?? He had to deal with heresies back then just as we are doing now in this forum. Here is his clear response.

"What remains, then, but that Pelagius should condemn and renounce this error of his; or else be sorry that he has quoted Ambrose in the way he has? Inasmuch, however, as the blessed Ambrose, catholic bishop as he is, has expressed himself in the above-quoted passages in accordance with the catholic faith, it follows that Pelagius, along with his disciple Coelestius, was justly condemned by the authority of the catholic Church for having turned aside from the true way of faith, since he repented not for having bestowed commendation on Ambrose, and for having at the same time entertained opinions in opposition to him.
(Augustine, On the Grace of Christ, and on Original Sin, Book II. Chapter 48.)

dtking said...

quote: "If we read Saint Augustine in context..."

In the context I don't see anything remotely equating the Roman communion with "the authority of the Catholic Faith." Once again, we are confronted with another example that follows the form of a petitio principii claim. Again, this is a typical Roman apologistic approach of assuming the very point in question without warrant.

In fact, it was on the basis of "the authority of the Catholic Faith" established from the Scriptures that Augustine (See his works against the Pelagians) and the African Church resisted pope Zosimus' accusation the Africans had unfairly judged Pelagius and Caelestius.

DTK

Jugulum said...

Paul,
When a person converts to any religion, they do not question their faith in such a manner.

I actually wasn't talking about questioning Catholicism. I was talking about something closer to catechizing.

Alexander had said that Catholics can be assured that their beliefs are not at variance with sound doctrine. So, if I did convert--if I accepted Catholic authority--how would I go about learning Catholic doctrine well enough to gain that assurance? Even if the Magisterium were infallible, my understanding would still be fallible. Always.

Now, in spite of my fallibility, I can see that it's possible to become very confident in my understanding of an infallible source. That's what Protestants have been saying about Scripture. (Not that every question is perfectly clear--but not everything is perfectly clear in the Catholic viewpoint, either.)

So, I reject as silly the idea that we inherently require an infallible interpreter, or that having one gets us further than perspicuous Scripture would. That's a big part of my interaction with Alexander.

Going on from there, God still could have given us something like the Magisterium as an aid, of course. And I can see how an authoritative tutor could be helpful. But I am not even remotely impressed by Catholic arguments that God did--I don't see the Biblical or historical foundation.

You also said:
Jugulum, if you are sincere in your desire to consider becoming Catholic you may contact me at prhoffer@sssnet.com and I will be happy to help you in your journey if I can.

Hmm.

I hope that I am very sincere in my love of truth over my current doctrinal understanding. I consciously desire to test and approve the beliefs in which I was raised. If my devotion to the authority of Scripture is genuine, I must always be seeking to test my preconceived ideas. It is meaningless to say that I am an evangelical Protestant unless I am one by informed conviction--and the process of acquiring that conviction requires genuinely considering the possibility that I didn't happen to grow up in the right tradition. The same goes for paedo- & credo-baptism, charismatic & cessationist views, Calvinism & Arminianism & open theism, the New Perspective on Paul, the regulative principle, various understandings of sanctification, roles of men & women, and a world of other issues. (And my views have changed in some ways, due to study & examination. I pray that I'm not too set in my ways.)

That said. I am responsible for how I use my time, and I have to prayerfully spend it where I see the most benefit. (I'm still working on profitable use of my time, mind you.) I can't give significant time to everything. On that basis, frankly, I don't place a high priority on embarking on a journey of exploration of Catholicism. Catholic argumentation has not compelled me.

I would be willing to take a recommendation and add a Catholic book to my stack of reading material, but it's not a high priority, unless my evaluation changes.

Jugulum said...

BTW, TQuid, thanks for the front-page reference. I appreciated the addition of your last paragraph--I didn't make that point nearly as clearly in my comments.

Paul Hoffer said...

Hi Jugulum, I appreciate your thoughts on this. One thing that struck me out of all that you said, "Even if the Magisterium were infallible, my understanding would still be fallible. Always."

This is one of the points that I trying to make in my comments over the last couple of threads. No matter what, each person's understanding of Scripture will still be fallible. The teaching is not fallible, the teacher is not fallible, only the understanding is fallible.

The purpose of the Church is to serve as the guardian and interpreter of the Deposit of Faith (Scripture and Apostolic Tradition) and to serve as the final judge here on earth of all controversies relating to them. Catholics receive and admit for their rule of faith and practice, the Scriptures and Apostolic Tradition as guarded, interpreted and defined by the Church. Things I do not understand, I accept them because my Church teaches it to be so. How is one assured that what the Church is teaching is correct? Because we accept that Christ established the Church and that Holy Spirit is guiding it as Christ promised.

You indicated that you don't
need an infallible interpreter. Perhaps in your case, the Holy Spirit has given you that charism. However, Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior says at Matthew 7:21: "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven." St. John in first epistle states, "It is by keeping God's commands that we can be sure we know Him." (1 John 2:3) Likewise, "whoever is obedient to His word, in him the love of God is truly made perfect. (1 John 2:5)

BTW, check out Deut. 17:12 and see if that suggests anything to you about the notion pertaining to the notion of the existence of a magisterium.

God bless!

Augustinian Successor said...

Exodus 17:12 says ...

"And the man that will do presumptuously, and will not hearken unto the priest that standeth to minister there before the LORD thy God, or unto the judge, even that man shall die: and thou shalt put away the evil from Israel."

It talks about a kind of a "Magisterium" in the nation of Israel???

Let's take a close look at the preceding verses:

"If there arise a matter too hard for thee in judgment, between blood and blood, between plea and plea, and between stroke and stroke, being matters of controversy within thy gates: then shalt thou arise, and get thee up into the place which the LORD thy God shall choose; And thou shalt come unto the priests the Levites, and unto the judge that shall be in those days, and enquire; and they shall shew thee the sentence of judgment: And thou shalt do according to the sentence, which they of that place which the LORD shall choose shall shew thee; and thou shalt observe to do according to all that they inform thee: According to the sentence of the law which they shall teach thee, and according to the judgment which they shall tell thee, thou shalt do: thou shalt not decline from the sentence which they shall shew thee, to the right hand, nor to the left."

And now let's pick two key words form the verses: sentence and law. What do these words tell us? Legal matters. Not doctrinal matters. Futhermore, Israel was a theocracy where both civil, judicial, theological matters intersect. The Roman Catholic Church despite its claim to the two swords of spiritual and temporal authority is not a theocratic state.

Augustinian Successor said...

"What Mr Bridges also doesn't seem to recognize is that the Jews never held to a Scripture Alone mentality either. They also did not define the OT Canon in the same manner as the Church did until the late 1st century, where they ended up rejecting the Greek Septuagint, which the whole early Christian Church subscribed to. Read Bruce Metzger, the Protestant Biblical scholar for info on that. Regards ..."

Pre-2nd Temple Jews held to sola Scriptura. And despite the tendency to treat the Talmudic interpretation of the Tanakh as on par with the Tanakh itself, the Hebraica Biblia never contained the Apocrypha within its "ranks".

And it's funny that the late Bruce Metzger should be cited. May I remind you that it is this blog, All Beggars Reformation which cited him to demonstrate conclusively that the Jews never came to regard the deuterocanon as on par with the three-fold division of the Tanakh and that the view of St. Jerome was the leading view in the Western Catholic Church up to Trent.

Augustinian Successor said...

"So, if you want to "name it/claim it," you are welcome to your petitio principii claim. But no serious and honest student of history chooses to live in that "never-never" land."

How very true ...

Matthew Bellisario said...

Yes, and its also Metzger who says that almost all of the early Church Fathers held the Deuterocanonicals as being Sacred Scripture as well, something that James White and yourselves constantly deny. Who lives in never, never land? Not I.

From the RSV notes...
"During the early Christian centuries most Greek and Latin Church Fathers, such as Irenaeus, Tertulian, Clement of Alexandria, Clement of Alexandria, and Cyprian (none of whom knew any Hebrew), quoted passages from the Apocrypha as "Scripture," "divine Scripture," "inspired," and the like.

Yet I have seen James White say the exact opposite many times. You all contradict yourselves time and time again, yet you falsely accuse the Catholic Church of doing so. Please, who is making the false assertions here?

Carrie said...

Yes, and its also Metzger who says that almost all of the early Church Fathers held the Deuterocanonicals as being Sacred Scripture as well,

I somehow doubt a fuller context of Metzger's quote (and what is the exact source?) would quite agree with your assertion.

From Metzger's "An Introduction to the Apocrypha":

“In the first place, the number of Apocryphal books is not identical in all copies of the Septuagint. This circumstance suggests that there was no fixed canon at Alexandria which included all of these peripheral books. In the second place, the manuscripts of the Septuagint which contain these disputed books were all copied by Christian scribes, and therefore cannot be used as indisputable proof that the *Jewish* canon included all the books in question. In the third place, though Philo, the greatest of the Jewish Hellenists in Alexandria, knew of the existence of the Apocrypha, he never once quoted from them, much less used them for the proof of doctrine, as he habitually uses most of the books of the Hebrew canon. It is extremely difficult, therefore, to believe that the Alexandrian Jews received these books as authoritative in the same sense as they received the Law and the Prophets,” pg 176-77.

“From the Greek Septuagint translation of the Old Testament an Old Latin Version was made, which of course also contained the Apocryphal books among the canonical books. It is not strange, therefore, that Greek and Latin Church Fathers of the second and third centuries, such as Irenaeus, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, and Cyprian (none of whom knew any Hebrew), quote the Apocrypha with the same formulas of citation as they use when referring to the books of the Old Testament. The small number of Fathers, however, who either had some personal knowledge of Hebrew (e.g. Origen and Jerome) or had made an effort to learn what the limits of the Jewish canon were (e.g. Melito of Sardis) were usually careful not to attribute canonicity to the Apocrypha books, though recognizing that they contain edifying material suitable for Christians to read,” pg 178.

Augustinian Successor said...

Matthew,

I see that you have yet to answer DT's massive demonstration of arguments and quotes from Augustine, as well as other Protestants here.

Alexander Greco said...

AS stated: "I see that you have yet to answer DT's massive demonstration of arguments and quotes from Augustine, as well as other Protestants here."

Me: And neither has genembridges answered my correction of his argument over the Catholic Church and contraception, nor has any other Protestant here. Also James White has never addressed Matt's video responses to some of his claims (which can be found over at Matt's website). So don't be so quick at jumping onto Matt, I doubt there are very many here who answer every post directed to them.

Paul Hoffer said...

A.S. You wrote:

"And now let's pick two key words form the verses: sentence and law. What do these words tell us? Legal matters. Not doctrinal matters. Futhermore, Israel was a theocracy where both civil, judicial, theological matters intersect."

So what is your point? I have provided to you a passage which clearly demonstrates the existence of the OT equivalent of a magisterium and to escape the import of it, you engage in eisegesis! Let's put those two words back into their historical and Scriptural context rather than apply modern-day notions to them.

Rather than pick out two words to support your claim, let's look at some other texts of the OT and see how your analysis of Deut. 17:8-12holds up.

At Ex. 18:13-27, we find Moses establishing a court system to interpret the Law because he got overwhelmed with people coming to him to settle their disputes AND MAKING THEM "KNOW GOD'S STATUTES AND HIS DECISIONS." Ex. 18:15 explicitly says that people were coming to Moses to "INQUIRE OF GOD."

When Moses set up this system of judges, he retained authority at the pinnacle, so he could “teach them the statutes and the decisions, and show the Israelites the way in which they must walk and what they must do.” [BTW, the word halachah which is the name given to the precepts of the Oral Torah comes from the word “to walk”] (Ex. 18:20) Moreover, Moses chose able men from all the people, who feared God, who were trustworthy, and who hated bribes and then placed such men over the people as their rulers. These rulers were to judge the people at all times; every great matter they were to bring to him, but any small matter they were to decide themselves. (Ex. 18:21-22) Scripture records that Moses did choose his judges from the people and “they judged the people at all times; hard cases they brought to Moses, but any small matter they decided themselves.” (Ex. 18:25-26) Note, that the Scriptures here does not differentiate between religious matters and civil or criminal matters, only matters of great and small. Since all of the statutes were from God, the Israelites considered them all to be religious matters.

At Numbers 11: 14-17, we find God telling Moses to gather seventy men from the elders of Israel and bring them to Him. Once gathered, God would take some of the spirit which was upon Moses and confer it upon the men so that they would be able to judge the people and the people would know that God gave the elders the right to judge them.

Note the two examples given where God Himself intervened. At Num 15:34-35, a man broke the Sabbath gathering sticks. Since the Law was not plain as to the punishment, the matter was brought to Moses who was then told by God to stone the man. Now is this an example of a doctrinal matter as opposed to a legal matter? Perhaps, in light of the preceding passage which demonstrates the difference between venial sins and mortal sins (Num. 15:27-31), I guess one could construe as such.

However, at Numbers 27:1-11, we see a matter of inheritance being brought before Moses. One would think that a probate matter would be a legal matter, right? God Himself made a statute and ordinance that the daughters of Zelophehad could inherit.

The OT doesn't distinguish between the two.

In the first chapter of Deuteronomy we find Moses having a conversation with the sons of Israel who he asked to “choose wise, understanding, and experienced men, according to your tribes, and I will appoint them as your heads.” The sons of Israel complied. He then charged the men chosen to judge to hear the cases both small and great alike between brethren and judge righteously for the judgment is God’s. Only cases that were too hard to decide were to be brought to Moses. (Deut. 1:13-18). Again, nothing here distinguishing between legal matters and theological matters;

Now let's look again at Deuteronomy 17:8-12. If this was purely a legal matter as you suggest, why does verses 9 and 12
reference the Levitical priests as well as the judges? And Note how both the priest and the judge's authority had equal weight. Furthermore, look at the similarity of language here "thou shalt observe to do according to all that they inform thee" and what Jesus says about the Pharisees at Matt. 23:3 "to practice and observe whatever they tell you." The Moses seat at Matt. 23 was the seat of authority given to the judges in the OT.

We see this repeated in Scriptures elsewhere. At 2 Chronicles 19:4-11 that King Jehoshaphat went out among the people, from Beer-sheba to the hill country of Ephraim, to bring them back to God. To insure that they did not relapse, he appointed judges in the land in all the cities of Judah. At verses 6-7, he repeats what Moses said when he appointed judges, "Consider what you do, for you judge not for man but for the LORD; he is with you in giving judgment. Now then, let the fear of the LORD be upon you; take heed what you do, for there is no perversion of justice with the LORD our God, or partiality, or taking bribes." At verse 8 Jehoshaphat then appointed certain Levites and priests and heads of families of Israel, “to give judgment for the LORD and to decide disputed cases.” Their seat was at Jerusalem. He then sets forth their duties which included rendering judgment in disputes concerning bloodshed, law, commandments, statutes, and ordinances. (Verses 9-10). Again, judges were given authority to decide religious matters.

In the book of Ezra 7:25-26, Ezra was to appoint judges and magistrates and "whoever who will not obey the Law of your God and the law of the king, let judgment be strictly executed." Was the "Law of your God" here civil law or divine law that was being enforced?

Perhaps you would like to take another tack here? I have used Scripture alone here to demonstrate the existence of a kind of OT magisterium. We have not even discussed what is contained in the Oral Torah or archaelogical findings yet. Now of course, you can argue about whether this OT magisterium was infallible or bears the same characteristics of the magisterium that exists in the Catholic Church, but you can not argue that 1) it did not exist, nor 2) that was not authoritative, nor 3) that its decisions, both civil and ecclesiastical, were binding on the people.

God bless!

Jugulum said...

Paul,

>You indicated that you don't
need an infallible interpreter. Perhaps in your case, the Holy Spirit has given you that charism.


I'm not clear what you mean by "that charism". I do believe the Holy Spirit illuminates Scripture in the hearts & minds of all those who are in Christ--but not such that we are guaranteed to be right. I don't think I've received anything special.

Like you, I do believe that we have an infallible teacher. In my view, that teacher is Scripture itself; in yours, it is the Roman Catholic Magisterium.

But we likely differ on what "teacher" means. So let's address that next.

>The teaching is not fallible, the teacher is not fallible, only the understanding is fallible.

If by "teacher" you mean the written sources of the Magisterium, then your teacher is the same kind of thing as Scripture--infallible written teaching. You have something like an expanded canon. You're not fundamentally any better off--at best, you have access to more explanations of doctrine. (Sure, more infallible explanations are good, assuming Catholic sources are clear--but it's not fundamentally different from learning from Scripture. If you can call that an infallible teacher, I can call Scripture an infallible teacher.)

If by "teacher" you mean any kind of living source, then even you don't believe that you personally have an infallible teacher. Your teachers are all fallible priests, theologians, bishops, etc. You do not have an infallible teacher unless you have access to the Pope to ask him questions as you study and obtain ex cathedra answers--or have access to an infallible council for the same. Which is obviously silly. (Correct me if I'm wrong, but what you have is an allegedly infallible judge for the whole Church on points of controversy. That would be useful, and there is teaching involved, but it's quite different from having access to an infallible teacher. Yes, the Magisterium is the teaching office--but you don't have any infallible teaching except written sources or new infallible councils and papal pronouncements. In the normal course of affairs you operate only with infallible written sources, not infallible living teachers.)

So, if you tell me I can have an infallible teacher, that strikes me as a rather hollow claim. RC claims of infallible teaching are only even possibly meaningful at the level of church councils and papal decrees.

>How is one assured that what the Church is teaching is correct? Because we accept that Christ established the Church and that Holy Spirit is guiding it as Christ promised.

And I agree that Christ established his Church and that the Holy Spirit is guiding it as Christ promised. The question is whether those phrases translate into the Roman Catholic magisterial authority preserved from ever teaching error. If you are biblically persuaded that such is the case, then you are right to submit until you become persuaded otherwise. I find the Catholic case neither biblically nor historically credible, so I do not. That is where the question is decided.

Re: Your citation of passages.
First, I'm curious. Do you have an infallible teacher who has told you that these verses have the application for which you are using them? Or would you agree that your use is that of a private individual, attempting to understand the text? (I'm fine with that, of course.)

Second. Your NT citations are somewhat bizarre. They concern the role of obedience to God's Law--that there are false disciples, and that the existence of the fruit of obedience is an important evidence of genuinely knowing God & being known by Christ. They lack any mention of how we come to know God's law, or what role is played by teachers, or what role is played by tradition, or any other question of interpretation. They say nothing about interpretation or church authority. (Suppose that God did decide to guide his Church with Scripture as the only infallible source. What do you think--that your references would have to disappear from the Bible? Does sola scriptura imply that obedience to God's commands is meaningless?)

As for Deut. 17:12 and your exposition to AS, no, they suggest nothing to me about the existence of a magisterium--not in the function that we have been discussing. If the Catholic magisterium limited its decisions to issues "between one kind of homicide and another, one kind of legal right and another, or one kind of assault and another, any case within your towns that is too difficult for you", then yes. Sure, the administration of & application of & instruction in God's law was religious in nature; you call them "religious matters".

Matt 18 and 1 Cor. 5 contain good discussions of the continued role of the church in judging matters of discipline, up to excommunication. (They discuss things in terms of local churches acting, mind you; higher ecclesiastical structures are absent.) That is quite parallel to your OT references. (Thank you for pointing the OT passages out! The parallel is quite interesting.) What is absent from both are the additional powers claimed by Rome--to be an infallible interpreter of doctrine or possessor of infallible tradition.