Thursday, July 17, 2008

Venerating Bones

This recent story on exhuming Cardinal John Henry Newman for veneration is best answered by Calvin below.

"Catholic officials have applied for permission to exhume the body of a 19th-century cardinal whose cause for sainthood is expected to soon progress to beatification.

They want to transfer the remains of Cardinal John Henry Newman from a grave in a small cemetery in the suburbs of Birmingham, England, to a marble sarcophagus in a church in the city where they can be venerated by pilgrims.

..."We hope that Cardinal Newman's new resting place in the Oratory church in Birmingham will enable more people to come and pay their respects to him, and perhaps light a candle there," he said." -Catholic News

Calvin responds:
"I admit that people do not arrive at once at open idolatry, but they gradually advance from one abuse to another until they fall into this extremity, and, indeed, those who call themselves Christians have, in this respect, idolatrised as much as Pagans ever did. They have prostrated themselves, and knelt before relics, just as if they were worshipping God; they have burnt candles before them in sign of homage; they have placed their confidence in them, and have prayed to them, as if the virtue and the grace of God had entered into them. Now, if idolatry be nothing else than the transfer elsewhere of the honour which is due to God, can it be denied that this is idolatry? This cannot be excused by pretending that it was only the improper zeal of some idiots or foolish women, for it was a general custom approved by those who had the government of the church, and who had even placed the bones of the dead and other relics on the high altar, in the greatest and most prominent places, in order that they should be worshipped with more certainty." -John Calvin, A Treatise on Relics

131 comments:

Teresita said...

I was raised Catholic, but I never went in much for this stuff. Still, veneration of some people's bones has a biblical basis, so the Catholic practice can't truly be called idolatry:

Exodus 13:

[18] But God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red sea: and the children of Israel went up harnessed out of the land of Egypt.

[19] And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him: for he had straitly sworn the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you; and ye shall carry up my bones away hence with you.

BillyHW said...

improper zeal of some idiots or foolish women

Come to my parish for a weekday evening mass, Carrie, and you will see the faith of these stupid foolish old women, and it will make your bones shiver.

Augustinian Successor said...

Please, Teresita, the bones of Joseph were to be reverently treated, but nowhere were his bones venerated.

Matthew Bellisario said...

What a joke. Calvin was an iconoclast. He was also an idolater guilty of worshiping himself instead of God. His arrogance still stinks to high heaven. I love the holy relics and giving them honor so that almighty God will be recognized for the work he does in sinful human beings. A far cry from idolatry. The veneration of the Holy relics is also a practice of the early Church. We can see it already in full practice during processions in the 300s. So much for a medieval invention.

Teresita said...

Augustinian Successor: Please, Teresita, the bones of Joseph were to be reverently treated, but nowhere were his bones venerated.

The bones of certain Old Testament saints had the power to bring the dead to life:

4 Kings 13:20-21 "And Eliseus died, and they buried him. And the rovers from Moab came into the land the same year. And some that were burying a man, saw the rovers, and cast the body into the sepulchre of Eliseus. And when it had touched the bones of Eliseus, the man came to life and stood upon his feet."

In the New Testament, certain relics that had been touched by St. Paul had the power to heal the sick:

Acts 19:11-12 "And God wrought by the hand of Paul more than common miracles. So that even there were brought from his body to the sick, handkerchiefs and aprons: and the diseases departed from them: and the wicked spirits went out of them."

BillyHW said...

2 Kings 13:20-21

20 Then Elisha died, and they buried him. And the raiding bands from Moab invaded the land in the spring of the year. 21 So it was, as they were burying a man, that suddenly they spied a band of raiders; and they put the man in the tomb of Elisha; and when the man was let down and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived and stood on his feet.

Do Protestants read the Bible, or do they just start thumping one whenever there's a Catholic around?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cave_of_the_Patriarchs

Paul Hoffer said...

Rather than waste time and effort, I will let the saints do the talking for me:

I. We see the disciples of St. Polycarp, last of the apostolic fathers and one of the disciples of St. John the Evangelist, the apostle of the Lord, write:

"The centurion then, seeing the strife excited by the Jews, placed the body in the midst of the fire, and consumed it. Accordingly, we afterwards took up his bones, as being more precious than the most exquisite jewels, and more purified than gold, and deposited them in a fitting place, whither, being gathered together, as opportunity is allowed us, with joy and rejoicing, the Lord shall grant us to celebrate the anniversary of his martyrdom, both in memory of those who have already finished their course, and for the exercising and preparation of those yet to walk in their steps." (Chapter 18 from the Martyrdom of St. Polycarp 150-170 AD)

II. Then there is St. Jerome writing in 406 AD:

"Among other blasphemies, he (Vigilantius/Calvin) may be heard to say, What need is there for you not only to pay such honour, not to say adoration, to the thing, whatever it may be, which you carry about in a little vessel and worship? And again, in the same book, Why do you kiss and adore a bit of powder wrapped up in a cloth? And again, in the same book, Under the cloak of religion we see what is all but a heathen ceremony introduced into the churches: while the sun is still shining, heaps of tapers are lighted, and everywhere a paltry bit of powder, wrapped up in a costly cloth, is kissed and worshipped. Great honour do men of this sort pay to the blessed martyrs, who, they think, are to be made glorious by trumpery tapers, when the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne, with all the brightness of His majesty, gives them light?

Madman (Vigilantius/Calvin), who in the world ever adored the martyrs? who ever thought man was God? Did not Acts 14:11 Paul and Barnabas, when the people of Lycaonia thought them to be Jupiter and Mercury, and would have offered sacrifices to them, rend their clothes and declare they were men? Not that they were not better than Jupiter and Mercury, who were but men long ago dead, but because, under the mistaken ideas of the Gentiles, the honour due to God was being paid to them. And we read the same respecting Peter, who, when Cornelius wished to adore him, raised him by the hand, and said, Acts 10:26 Stand up, for I also am a man. ... Tell us more clearly (that there may be no restraint on your blasphemy) what you mean by the phrase a bit of powder wrapped up in a costly cloth in a tiny vessel. It is nothing less than the relics of the martyrs which he is vexed to see covered with a costly veil, and not bound up with rags or hair-cloth, or thrown on the midden, so that Vigilantius(/Calvin) alone in his drunken slumber may be worshipped. Are we, therefore guilty of sacrilege when we enter the basilicas of the Apostles? Was the Emperor Constantius I. guilty of sacrilege when he transferred the sacred relics of Andrew, Luke, and Timothy to Constantinople? In their presence the demons cry out, and the devils who dwell in Vigilantius confess that they feel the influence of the saints. And at the present day is the Emperor Arcadius guilty of sacrilege, who after so long a time has conveyed the bones of the blessed Samuel from Judea to Thrace? Are all the bishops to be considered not only sacrilegious, but silly into the bargain, because they carried that most worthless thing, dust and ashes, wrapped in silk in golden vessel? Are the people of all the Churches fools, because they went to meet the sacred relics, and welcomed them with as much joy as if they beheld a living prophet in the midst of them, so that there was one great swarm of people from Palestine to Chalcedon with one voice re-echoing the praises of Christ? They were forsooth, adoring Samuel and not Christ, whose Levite and prophet Samuel was. You (Vigilantius/Calvin)show mistrust because you think only of the dead body, and therefore blaspheme. Read the Gospel— Matthew 22:32 The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob: He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. If then they are alive, they are not, to use your expression, kept in honourable confinement.

For you (Vigilantius/Calvin) say that the souls of Apostles and martyrs have their abode either in the bosom of Abraham, or in the place of refreshment, or under the altar of God, and that they cannot leave their own tombs, and be present where they will. They are, it seems, of senatorial rank, and are not subjected to the worst kind of prison and the society of murderers, but are kept apart in liberal and honourable custody in the isles of the blessed and the Elysian fields. Will you (Vigilantius/Calvin) lay down the law for God? Will you (Vigilantius/Calvin) put the Apostles into chains? So that to the day of judgment they are to be kept in confinement, and are not with their Lord, although it is written concerning them, Revelation 14:4 They follow the Lamb, whithersoever he goes. If the Lamb is present everywhere, the same must be believed respecting those who are with the Lamb. And while the devil and the demons wander through the whole world, and with only too great speed present themselves everywhere; are martyrs, after the shedding of their blood, to be kept out of sight shut up in a coffin, from whence they cannot escape? You (Vigilantius/Calvin)say, in your pamphlet (Institutes), that so long as we are alive we can pray for one another; but once we die, the prayer of no person for another can be heard, and all the more because the martyrs, though they Revelation 6:10 cry for the avenging of their blood, have never been able to obtain their request. If Apostles and martyrs while still in the body can pray for others, when they ought still to be anxious for themselves, how much more must they do so when once they have won their crowns, overcome, and triumphed? A single man, Moses, oft wins pardon from God for six hundred thousand armed men; and Acts 7:59-60 Stephen, the follower of his Lord and the first Christian martyr, entreats pardon for his persecutors; and when once they have entered on their life with Christ, shall they have less power than before? The Apostle Paul Acts 27:37 says that two hundred and seventy-six souls were given to him in the ship; and when, after his dissolution, he has begun to be with Christ, must he shut his mouth, and be unable to say a word for those who throughout the whole world have believed in his Gospel? Shall Vigilantius (/Calvin) the live dog be better than Paul the dead lion? I should be right in saying so after Ecclesiastes, if I admitted that Paul is dead in spirit. The truth is that the saints are not called dead, but are said to be asleep. Wherefore John 11:11 Lazarus, who was about to rise again, is said to have slept. And the Apostle 1 Thessalonians 4:13 forbids the Thessalonians to be sorry for those who were asleep. As for you, when wide awake you are asleep, and asleep when you write, and you bring before me an apocryphal book which, under the name of Esdras (Institutes), is read by you and those of your feather, and in this book it is written that after death no one dares pray for others. I have never read the book: for what need is there to take up what the Church does not receive? It can hardly be your intention to confront me with Balsamus, and Barbelus, and the Thesaurus of Manichæus, and the ludicrous name of Leusiboras; though possibly because you live at the foot of the Pyrenees, and border on Iberia, you follow the incredible marvels of the ancient heretic Basilides and his so-called knowledge, which is mere ignorance, and set forth what is condemned by the authority of the whole world. I say this because in your short treatise you quote Solomon as if he were on your side, though Solomon never wrote the words in question at all; so that, as you have a second Esdras you may have a second Solomon. And, if you like, you may read the imaginary revelations of all the patriarchs and prophets, and, when you have learned them, you may sing them among the women in their weaving-shops, or rather order them to be read in your taverns, the more easily by these melancholy ditties to stimulate the ignorant mob to replenish their cups.

As to the question of tapers, however, we do not, as you in vain misrepresent us, light them in the daytime, but by their solace we would cheer the darkness of the night, and watch for the dawn, lest we should be blind like you and sleep in darkness. And if some persons, being ignorant and simple minded laymen, or, at all events, religious women— of whom we can truly say, Romans 10:2 I allow that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge— adopt the practice in honour of the martyrs, what harm is thereby done to you? Once upon a time even the Apostles pleaded that the ointment was wasted, but they were rebuked by the voice of the Lord. Christ did not need the ointment, nor do martyrs need the light of tapers; and yet that woman poured out the ointment in honour of Christ, and her heart's devotion was accepted. All those who light these tapers have their reward according to their faith, as the Apostle says: Let every one abound in his own meaning. Do you call men of this sort idolaters? I do not deny, that all of us who believe in Christ have passed from the error of idolatry. For we are not born Christians, but become Christians by being born again. And because we formerly worshipped idols, does it follow that we ought not now to worship God lest we seem to pay like honour to Him and to idols? In the one case respect was paid to idols, and therefore the ceremony is to be abhorred; in the other the martyrs are venerated, and the same ceremony is therefore to be allowed. Throughout the whole Eastern Church, even when there are no relics of the martyrs, whenever the Gospel is to be read the candles are lighted, although the dawn may be reddening the sky, not of course to scatter the darkness, but by way of evidencing our joy. Matthew 25:1 And accordingly the virgins in the Gospel always have their lamps lighted. And the Apostles are Luke 12:35 told to have their loins girded, and their lamps burning in their hands. And of John Baptist we read, John 5:35 He was the lamp that burns and shines; so that, under the figure of corporeal light, that light is represented of which we read in the Psalter, Your word is a lamp unto my feet, O Lord, and a light unto my paths.

Does the bishop of Rome do wrong when he offers sacrifices to the Lord over the venerable bones of the dead men Peter and Paul, as we should say, but according to you, over a worthless bit of dust, and judges their tombs worthy to be Christ's altars? And not only is the bishop of one city in error, but the bishops of the whole world, who, despite the tavern-keeper Vigilantius (/Calvin), enter the basilicas of the dead, in which a worthless bit of dust and ashes lies wrapped up in a cloth, defiled and defiling all else. Thus, according to you (/Calvin), the sacred buildings are like the sepulchres of the Pharisees, whitened without, while within they have filthy remains, and are full of foul smells and uncleanliness. And then he dares to expectorate his filth upon the subject and to say: Is it the case that the souls of the martyrs love their ashes, and hover round them, and are always present, lest haply if any one come to pray and they were absent, they could not hear? Oh, monster, who ought to be banished to the ends of the earth! do you laugh at the relics of the martyrs, and in company with Eunomius, the father of this heresy, slander the Churches of Christ? Are you not afraid of being in such company, and of speaking against us the same things which he utters against the Church? For all his followers refuse to enter the basilicas of Apostles and martyrs, so that, forsooth, they may worship the dead Eunomius, whose books they consider are of more authority than the Gospels; and they believe that the light of truth was in him just as other heretics maintain that the Paraclete came into Montanus, and say that Manichæus himself was the Paraclete. You (Vigilantius/Calvin) cannot find an occasion of boasting even in supposing that you are the inventor of a new kind of wickedness, for your heresy long ago broke out against the Church. It found, however, an opponent in Tertullian, a very learned man, who wrote a famous treatise which he called most correctly Scorpiacum, because, as the scorpion bends itself like a bow to inflict its wound, so what was formerly called the heresy of Cain pours poison into the body of the Church; it has slept or rather been buried for a long time, but has been now awakened by Dormitantius. I am surprised you do not tell us that there must upon no account be martyrdoms, inasmuch as God, who does not ask for the blood of goats and bulls, much less requires the blood of men. This is what you say, or rather, even if you do not say it, you are taken as meaning to assert it. For in maintaining that the relics of the martyrs are to be trodden under foot, you forbid the shedding of their blood as being worthy of no honour.

Against Vigilantius (aka pseudo-Calvin) Chapters 5-8.

Praise God for his saints and holy ones!

Augustinian Successor said...

Matthew, of course Calvin was iconoclast. The Puritans more so than Calvin. But you saying that Calvin worshipped himself is perhaps the joke of the year.

Augustinian Successor said...

Teresita,

Yet, the biblical exmaples you cite no where demonstrates veneration of relics. The relics are not to be venerated especially when God no longer commission prophets and apostles. They were the foundation of the Church as their ministry was definitively linked to divine revelation as the basis of Scripture. The bishops and martyrs are do not enjoy the same status as the prophets and apostles.

Augustinian Successor said...

Billy,

Protestants only recognised 66 books of the Bible. The Apocrypha (and by extension, the Pseudepigrapha) are not normative, i.e. not for establishing doctrine but can be read for moral edification.

Augustinian Successor said...

Paul, you're the madman and raving heretic for thinking that the words of the church fathers possess equal weight with or at least decisive in interpreting Scripture. St. Paul was an apostle and one of the signs of the apostle is being endowed with the faculty of performnig miracles/miraculous powers. But the office of apostleship was non-transferable, not to anyone, including the so-called Successor of St. Peter. Why do you think that papal infallibility was only defined in 1870? 1879 represents nearly 2000 years after Pentecost!

Paul Hoffer said...

Hi A.S.,

So I am the madman? Let's see...there is an old saying that trial attorneys often refer to: "When the law is against you, argue the facts. When the facts are against you, argue the law. When neither are in your favor, attack the character of your opponent."

Here, John Calvin, the lawyer, merely put this old saw into practice in this example.

On one hand we have Jerome who cites facts and lots of Scripture in support of the practice vs. Calvin who cites no evidence, no Scripture, and insteads attacks the character of the Church by only bringing to the table for one's consideration the bald assertion of superstition and to top it off, he can only muster in support of his assertion an argument identical to that used by Manichees 1100 years earlier which was soundly refuted by Jerome.

Which argument is more persuasive? Jerome who argues from both the law (Scripture) and the facts (the practices of the early Church) or Calvin who merely attacks the character of the Catholic Church since he can not bring any other arguments to bear. Answer: The one true organic authentic Catholic Church that you claim to belong to as an Anglican dealt with the same lawyer-like tactics 1600 years ago and rejected them.

Perhaps there are better arguments that Protestants can make against the practice of venerating relics, but Carrie said that Calvin's attack here on the practice was the "best" answer to it. I was merely showing that Protestantism's "best" answer is really no answer at all.

You engage in another lawyer-like tactic. Since you can not defend Calvin's argument, you merely raise another one to take its place: infallibility. I realize that out of all the Protestant denominations, that issue is the one that pains Anglicans the most since it is the one argument that truly separates those who practice the "forms" of Catholicism from those who actually practice it. But, that is an argument for another day and I am not prepared to re-wage the battle between Bl. John Henry Cardinal Newman and Rev. Pusey today.

God bless!

Turretinfan said...

PH wrote: "We see the disciples of St. Polycarp, last of the apostolic fathers and one of the disciples of St. John the Evangelist, the apostle of the Lord, write:

"The centurion then, seeing the strife excited by the Jews, placed the body in the midst of the fire, and consumed it. Accordingly, we afterwards took up his bones, as being more precious than the most exquisite jewels, and more purified than gold, and deposited them in a fitting place, whither, being gathered together, as opportunity is allowed us, with joy and rejoicing, the Lord shall grant us to celebrate the anniversary of his martyrdom, both in memory of those who have already finished their course, and for the exercising and preparation of those yet to walk in their steps." (Chapter 18 from the Martyrdom of St. Polycarp 150-170 AD)
"

One thing is absolutely certain. Polycarp did not write that. The work from which it is taken does not even claim to be written by Polycarp. It claims to be from "The Church of God which sojourns at Smyrna, to the Church of God sojourning in Philomelium...."

As historians have noted, while it is believed that the basic account of Polycarp being martyred is historical, there have been numerous embellishments (i.e. interpolations) of the account.

-TurretinFan

Matthew Bellisario said...

I wonder who the heretics are. The ones who make themselves the head of the Church, or the ones who follow Christ and His Church? The ones who worship God their own way, or the ones who worship God his way? Protestantism is the worship of self above God and His Church. No Church before the Reformation followed any of their worship practices, or their heretical beliefs. Whether the ancient churches be from Syria, Egypt, Rome, Africa etc, etc none of them believed any of this Protestant nonsense. This is a fact, this is history. They lived in the full Revelation of God following Christ, not making themselves out as dictators of Sacred Scripture.

As far as Calvin and iconclasm goes
The entire Church in unity condemned iconoclasm, that would include the later Calvin. Calvin chose to put himself on the opposing side of the united Church which condemned his views on the Holy Images. He is therefore a heretic. Not much really difficult to understand here, not much to argue over. Calvin made himself a God, much like the ancient Roman Emperors did. I find it amusing that those who accuse the Catholic Church of being idolaters when the actions fit the likes of Calvin and the so-called reformers..

Ken Temple said...

In the Exodus account, they never bowed down to Joseph's bones or prayed to him or talked to his bones in some kind of ornate box, etc. as the RCC does.

Polycarp also - they honored the memory of Polycarp as a great Christian and martyr; but even text says nothing about bowing down nor praying or talking to the bones; nor lighting candles, etc.

As for the bones of Elijah giving off power; the only possible explanation is that God chooses to do miracles when He wants to -- to rebuke the evil raiders of the Moabites - to show them the God of Elijah is over their false gods and idols.

The shadows and hankerchiefs in Acts 5 and 19 are from the apostles - special miracles, as someone else posted.

Nowhere in those texts does it say to imitate those things; and they were not initiated by the apostles themselves. God just chose to do a miracle because of His grace and because of the faith of the people. Same for the woman who grabbed Jesus' cloak and power went out from Him. There is no other explanation.

These are historical narratives and they should be interpreted as historical narratives (Genesis, 2 Kings, Acts)-- they are not meant to teach us to imitate those occurrences.

Paul Hoffer said...

Hi Rev. Temple: You said, "Nowhere in those texts does it say to imitate those things. ... These are historical narratives and they should be interpreted as historical narratives (Genesis, 2 Kings, Acts)-- they are not meant to teach us to imitate those occurrences."

Please show us in these texts where it says that we are not to imitate those occurrences. Nowhere. This is forcing the text to fit your opinion rather than letting the text guide your interpretation. You are not practicing sola scriptura, you are practicing some sort of pre-suppositional historical-critical exegesis.

Saint Jerome, Saint Augustine and dozens of other early Church fathers all said that veneration of relics is an acceptable practice in the Church. As we have seen from Jerome, only those who oppose the Church (the Manichees and other heretics) claimed otherwise until Father Luther and Attorney Calvin came along. They couldn't come up with original arguments, just tired old ones that were soundly routed already.

You say the relevant Scriptures means one thing, Jerome and the Catholic Church says the relevant Scriptures mean something different. It boils down to who has the final say. Private judgment vs. the judgment of Church guided by the Holy Spirit. I am not proud enough, I am not selfish enough, I am not wise enough, and I am not holy enough to think that my private, personal judgment trumps that of the Church of Christ.

God bless!

GeneMBridges said...

4 Kings 13:20-21 "And Eliseus died, and they buried him. And the rovers from Moab came into the land the same year. And some that were burying a man, saw the rovers, and cast the body into the sepulchre of Eliseus. And when it had touched the bones of Eliseus, the man came to life and stood upon his feet."

Notice the reference to the Moabites. God did a miracle with the bones of the dead, showing His power via a vehicle that the pagans would recognize, for the worship and veneration of the dead was a practice of theirs. Further, it was a testimony to the validity of the prophecy that Joash would triumph over the Syrians, for it testified God is the God of the living not the dead.

Acts 19:11-12 "And God wrought by the hand of Paul more than common miracles. So that even there were brought from his body to the sick, handkerchiefs and aprons: and the diseases departed from them: and the wicked spirits went out of them."

Done in a city of great pagan worship. God brings about special miracles via a means that answers the pagans on their own grounds.

Do Protestants read the Bible, or do they just start thumping one whenever there's a Catholic around?

Oh, yes, we read it, and, unlike you, we also exegete it.

You use the Bible, it seems, like Peter Popoff. If you were Protestant, you'd be buying packaged water and holy handkerchiefs held by Benny Hinn.

GeneMBridges said...

Please show us in these texts where it says that we are not to imitate those occurrences.

You've just committed an exegetical fallacy, confusing an example with a command. The Bible was written for us, not to us.

The Bible's history is selective. It is punctuated by long periods of relative silence from God, and that includes the miraculous. Yet you would make it mean that these things continue always in every generation. Where's the supporting argument?

Augustinian Successor said...

Paul, you've proved my point. You do not cite Scriptural proof, but merely opinions, theologoumena from the church fathers who do not enjoy dogmatic status, not in the creedal sense of ecumenical anyway. What has been a popular folk piety in certain locales, i.e. common errors of the Catholic Church became a sanctioned practice in the apostate Roman Church.

GeneMBridges said...

You say the relevant Scriptures means one thing, Jerome and the Catholic Church says the relevant Scriptures mean something different. It boils down to who has the final say. Private judgment vs. the judgment of Church guided by the Holy Spirit.

Another fallacious argument.

Jerome is just a private theologian.

Ever notice how Catholics will quote somebody in their favor and call it (x) and the Church guided by the Holy Spirit, yet when we quote such a person that contradicts them (x) becomes a private theologian?

It begs the question to say Jerome and "the Church guided by the Holy Spirit." How do you know that to be so?

Every appeal to the mind of the Church is an appeal to the minds of the Church - a set of private theologians.

Augustinian Successor said...

"Every appeal to the mind of the Church is an appeal to the minds of the Church - a set of private theologians."

Indeed, Brother. We Protestants who hold to sola Scriptura call the constant virtual appeal to the voice of the Ecumenical Church *standing between* the Word of God and the contemporary Church as *massive SUBJECTIVISM*. The papacy is as subjective as it come, like the Enthusiasts (Montanists, Pentecostals, Charismatics, etc.)

Augustinian Successor said...

"Private judgment vs. the judgment of Church guided by the Holy Spirit. I am not proud enough, I am not selfish enough, I am not wise enough, and I am not holy enough to think that my private, personal judgment trumps that of the Church of Christ."

Private judgment stems from the claim that only Scripture is normative. Private judgment is precisely going beyond paying mere lip-service to that claim but actually practicing it in the life and witness of the Church. No Church as institution, pope, priest, etc. can stand between the Word of God as the Interpreter and the Church as the assembled people of God. It is not the Church, etc. etc. which interprets Scripture but Scripture which interprets the Church. This what Doctor Luther discovered. So, private judgment need be in conflict with ecclesial judgment if the Word of God is authoritative or normative in *practice*, i.e. when the Word of God is allowed to assume its role as the Interpreter - the Subject, the Exegete, etc. The Church therefore can only be a mouthpiece, spokesperson, voice, proclaimer of Scripture. The Church is to echo Scripture, and not sit in judgment over Scripture. When that happens, the continuity between Scripture and Tradition is inevitably broken.

Paul Hoffer said...

Mr. Bridges, for all the posturing that you and Mr. Loh have made here, you still haven't answered the question as to why the Church should be required to accept Atty. Calvin's hackneyed re-packaging of a tired old Manicheistic claim of idolatry which was claimed on this blog to be the "best" argument Protestantism has to offer on this point vs. St. Jerome's response which appeals to both Scripture and the Tradition of the Church.

You claim that Jerome was merely a private theologian. Sorry, Jerome was ordained as a priest and was further appointed to be the secretary of Pope St. Damasus. Thus, he had the authority to teach, a fact that is further attested to by his status as a Doctor of the Church.

And as to whether Jerome was guided by the Holy Spirit, my first clue was the fact that he remained a member of the Church that Christ estatablished. The fact that John Calvin had left the Church would suggest to me that he was merely a private theologian and was mis-inspired by the other side.

Let me ask you a question in return, why does it seem that most of the arguments that Protestants make against the Catholic Church are repeat of arguments which have already been made by heretics in history and rejected?

A.S., you said, "No Church as institution, pope, priest, etc. can stand between the Word of God as the Interpreter and the Church as the assembled people of God. It is not the Church, etc. etc. which interprets Scripture but Scripture which interprets the Church. This what Doctor Luther discovered."

Thank you for the honesty you have shown here. Most Protestants, claim that that the notions of sola scriptura and private judgment was something that the early Church had always taught. I agree with you that the notion that you have expressed is something that Father Luther discovered.

Of course, your idea of Church is a bit different than mine. Church is not merely an assemblage of people, but the mystical Body of Christ itself. Scripture is not the interpreter of the Church for it is given voice only when the Body of Christ speaks. Thus, it is the Church which interprets Scripture. The written Word of God can not be the interpreter of the Church as it requires someone to open the book to read it or someone to preach it in order to hear it.

God bless!

Carrie said...

which was claimed on this blog to be the "best" argument Protestantism has to offer on this point

This is not what was said, Paul.

When I said "best answered" I meant better answered by Calvin than by me who is writing the post. Nowhere did I say that Calvin's argument was the best Protestantism has to offer.

Carrie said...

Thanks to all my Protestant brethern for tackling the RC comments on the last two posts.
I've been too busy this week to juggle the comment sections.

L P Cruz said...

Teresita

What warrant do you have that what happened to the bones of Elija will cause the same effect for the bones of Newman?

These are all wishful thinking and man made speculations and show of spirituality that does not really produce spiritual life. It produces false hope of superstition.

A.S. is correct, there are no more prophets because the Prophet that was to come has come - Jesus, see Heb 1. And today God chooses to speak to us through His Son attested in the Scriptures.

Lito

GeneMBridges said...

You claim that Jerome was merely a private theologian. Sorry, Jerome was ordained as a priest and was further appointed to be the secretary of Pope St. Damasus.

So was many an immoral apostate priest within your collection of churches, even by your own standards. So, ordination and service do not select for being correct.

Thus, he had the authority to teach, a fact that is further attested to by his status as a Doctor of the Church.

On your own grounds this criterion doesn't help you.

But let's test this claim. When we quote Jerome to you on the question of the canon, you all call him a private theologian. When we quote Gregory the Great stating 1 Maccabees was not canonical, you all call him a private theologian. When we quote Cardial Ximenes against you, you all call him a private theologian.

So, even by the standards of Roman Catholic apologists today, being ordained a priest and being the secretary of a a Pope, or being a Cardinal, or being a Pope does not select for accuracy.

Mr. Bridges, for all the posturing that you and Mr. Loh have made here, you still haven't answered the question as to why the Church should be required to accept Atty. Calvin's hackneyed re-packaging of a tired old Manicheistic claim of idolatry which was claimed on this blog to be the "best" argument Protestantism has to offer on this point vs. St. Jerome's response which appeals to both Scripture and the Tradition of the Church.

1. Because it begs the question.
2. Because the Scriptures you all have thus far cited don't work for you.
3. Because the fact that we should accept what Jerome says because he said so is an assertion not an argument.
4. Because the criterion that you selected above doesn't work, given the standards of Roman Catholic apologists. You appeal to Jerome and others when it suits you and relegate them to private theologian status when it suits you. So, you're just begging the question for Romanism.

Try again.

and if Calvin's claim is "Manichean" you need a supporting argument, not the mere assertion.

And as to whether Jerome was guided by the Holy Spirit, my first clue was the fact that he remained a member of the Church that Christ estatablished.

That's not your original claim. Here is your original claim:

You say the relevant Scriptures means one thing, Jerome and the Catholic Church says the relevant Scriptures mean something different. It boils down to who has the final say. Private judgment vs. the judgment of Church guided by the Holy Spirit.

Your original claim was not that Jerome was guided by the Holy Spirit, but that the Church is guided by the Holy Spirit. Jerome is one among theologians and Jerome "the Church" (eg. the RCC) are not convertible terms. Try again.

The fact that John Calvin had left the Church would suggest to me that he was merely a private theologian and was mis-inspired by the other side.

This simply begs the question for Catholicism. Is there something about being Roman Catholic that selects for articulating bad arguments? If Athanasius and the other Trinitarians had left the Eastern Church voluntarily would that make them "private theologians and mis-inspired?"

Let me ask you a question in return, why does it seem that most of the arguments that Protestants make against the Catholic Church are repeat of arguments which have already been made by heretics in history and rejected?

1. Which arguments do you have in mind?
2. One's man's heresy is another man's orthodoxy. You can be true to tradition without tradition being true, so now you're engaging in truth by stipulation.
3. It's your communion that promotes the veneration of images. It's your communion that likes to trot out Vincent's rule.

So, let's take a look at where that gets you with the veneration of images:

http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2008/07/weighing-church-fathers.html

Like Lvka in that thread, your arguments are nothing but a bundle of logical fallacies. But, if you'd like to argue your case to Steve, Jason, and me over on our blog, by all means visit us and let us take a look at what you say. Since these two discussion seem to parallel each other, I don't think that would be a problem.

GeneMBridges said...

Scripture is not the interpreter of the Church for it is given voice only when the Body of Christ speaks.

No, Scripture speaks on and from the page itself.

Thus, it is the Church which interprets Scripture.

1. There is a sense in which Scripture interprets itself. When we interpret Scripture, we use the analogy of faith and the GHM.

2. As your own theologians have argued, everybody interprets Scripture. The question isn't over the necessity of individual interpretation but:

a. The right of interpretation within the community, eg. which community.
b. The claim to infallibility.
You can't make infallibility jump off the page or from a pulpit.

The written Word of God can not be the interpreter of the Church as it requires someone to open the book to read it or someone to preach it in order to hear it

1. Sola Ecclesia! Thank you for admitting you are an ecclesialater.

2. No, the Word of God interprets the Church because it corrects the Church. It is illogical to say that you serve that which you also interpret.

3. Let's test what you wrote by the way you framed it. Scripture is read. So, it's heard.

Now, interpret it.

Every person is an interpreter of what is read and heard and preached, no matter who reads it and exegetes it. Every time you hear it or read it, you, yourself, interpret what you hear or read. This is true of any form of communication.

So, let's improve your argument. I gather you are arguing that the Church's interpretation cannot err?

If so, then how can we verify the accuracy of the interpretation? "Tradition?" Okay, so which Scriptures have been infallibly interpreted? How can I verify the accuracy of "tradition?"

You, sir, are either trapped in an infinite regress or your position is on epistemic par with ours.

Paul Hoffer said...

Hi Mr. Bridges:

If believing in the "Body of Christ" as described in 1 Cor. 12:12-31 make me sola ecclesia, so be it. I accept the label.

However, I do not accept the premise of your argument. Catholics do not face the same difficulties ultimately as you do in interpreting Scripture because we have something you do not-we have a binding authority to resolve disputes as to what Scripture says. While we Catholics often make the argument about how we have as much freedom to exegete as Protestants claim to have, that is in fact not quite true. We have more freedom. Let me show you.

Let's say you and I disagree over whether Scripture supports the doctrine of baptsimal regeneration. We are both sincere men, and we each can muster releveant Scripture passages to support our position. If we were not Catholics, we can not appeal to Scripture, because Scripture is ambiguous. (You deny that it is but I say that it is) How do we break our deadlock? Appealing to Scripture is not the answer. Can it rule on our appeals and answer, "Mr. Bridges and Mr. Hoffer, it is my judgment that ...." No, because we both believe that the canon of Scripture is closed. There is no more new Scripture to write. Unlike other normative documents like the U.S. Constitution, there is no provision in Scripture to amend it.

On the other hand, if we were both Catholics, we can ultimately appeal to the Church for a decision. The authority of the Church conferred on Christ to "bind and loose" gives it the ability to have the final say and if we are in error, the Church can define, correct, and discipline us.

We see this in Matt. 18. At Matt. 18:6 we see that to "cause" one to sin is used in a broader sense than causing a person to lie, commit adultery, etc. as the Greek here actually says to cause one to stumble. At Matt. 18:15-20, we are tell another our faults, if we do not listen, take others as witnesses to confront them as to their error. After that, if we do not listen, then we are to tell the Church and then the Church decides. It has the authority to bind and loose.

We see this principle being carried out at the Council of Jerusalem. Acts 15.

If I err in my interpretation of Scripture, I have the assurance that my Church will correct it and if the error is serious enough call a council, refute it, and compel its members to accept its interpretation.

That is a protection that your religion does not have. You do not have that assurance with private judgment. Each Protestant has to work out his interpretations of Scripture, Strong's lexicon (or other substitute that Reformed Baptists use) in hand and make their best guess based on the extent of their knowledge of Scripture.

Augustinian Successor said...

Paul, you appealed to Scripture and yet the idea of papal infallibility let alone papacy is non-existent in Scripture. In fact, it is contradicted in Scripture. All the Scriptural passages you appeal to says nothing about the "Vicar of Christ on earth". Matthew 16:18 does not refer to Peter: it either refers to Jesus or Peter's confession. Likewise, Tradition is clear that the Bishop of Rome is pre-eminent in honour only (not by de jure divino but as an accident of history) and not jurisdiction.

You have to understand that the fact that the Church has the power to bind and loose (collectively and thus exercised by priests or ministers by delegation, i.e. indirectly on behalf of the congregation) says nothing about its infallible status of interpretation. The two are separate issues. The Church is indefectible. Christ has promised that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church. But there is no promise of infalliblity. As such the Church can err, and has erred. Jesus in John 17 never prayed concerning infallibility but the indefectibility of the Church. To pray that the faith of the Church never fails ultimately and finally is to pray for indefectibility. Jesus was being consistent.

Peter erred when he compromised with the Judaisers. He had to be rebuked by Paul. It is not the Pope who leads the Church into all truth but the Spirit Himself. Scripture is clear.

The possession of the Spirit in terms of the teaching office is not the sole prerogative of the Pope (and the Magisterium) who then confers, delegates, bestows the right within the hierarchy but of the ministerial priesthood selected form amongst the priesthood of the baptised. When Christ gave the Great Commission with the promise that He will always be with "you", He was referring to all the apostles and by extension the Church, not Peter and by extension, His successors. All authority and power is committed to the Church as a whole.

Augustinian Successor said...

What happens when appeal to Scripture by both groups claiming to be Christians leads to an impasse? Protestants do not appeal beyond Scripture. Massive subjectivism is hardly assuring ... besides it is self-contradictory - the Romanist does not appeal to Scripture as the source and norm of divine revelation finally but to the form of Tradition embodied by the Pope and Magisterium. But if Tradition is form, then its role is PROCLAMATION, not interpretation. Tradition is to echo the Gospel in Word and Sacraments, not interpret the Gospel. Tradition is to preach the Word of God. The only way to legitimise Tradition as the Interpreter of Scripture is to posit that Tradition too is a source of divine revelation. But there's the nub. Tradition itself, e.g. the church fathers do not claim infallibility or inspiration like Scripture does. Either school of thought, the Roman Church fails in its claim.

Final appeal will *continue* to be made to the EXTERNAL clarity of Scripture itself consistent with its own self-witness that it is the Word of God and therefore its own Interpreter (Sacra Scriptura sui ipses interpres). In other words we must allow Scripture to speak for itself. BUT this final appeal is not without form or continuity. There's Apostolic Succession which the succession of the Spirit leading the Church into all truth via the doctrinal inheritance either co-terminous with the ministerial pedigree stretching all the way back to the Apostles' commission or co-terminous with the regula fidei itself as embodied in a certain unbroken and preserved Tradition. So, when Protestants defend predestination, they do this not without good precedent. Likewise, justification by faith alone and the distinction between Law and Gospel.

In sum, Apostolic Succession is not sucession of the liturgy as that in itself is no guarantee of orthodoxy in the true traditional sense of the term since Scripture is not regulative of the liturgical life of the Church but constitutive of the Gospel proclamation of the Church. Hence, Apostolic Succession is the true succession of the Gospel proclamation (and ministry). The question is therefore what is the Gospel? And Rome has erred grievously on the Gospel. It is enough to agree on the Gospel for the Gospel alone (Scripture alone) is the highest authority there is, not the pope.

Matthew Bellisario said...

So, we are now to believe that Christ, who is the head of the Church, and gave us the Holy Spirit to guide the Church is not infallible? Jesus Christ is not going to give us a heretical Church that he himself is the head of. Sacred Scripture says in 1 Tim 3:15 that the Church is the pillar and foundation of truth. Ephesians 24-27 says the Church will be pure. Thus Christ is infallible, He is the head of the Church, which Sacred Scripture says has no spot or blemish on it. Notice how the Church is the bulwark of truth, not Scripture alone.

Augustinian Successor said...

Paul, please stop calling Luther "Father". He is Doctor Luther. You're confusing Romanising Lutherans with the position of Luther and confessional Lutheranism. On St. Jerome, he never recognised the Apocrypha as an integral portion of the wider Canon of Scripture. He was commissioned to translate the Masoretic text and the Western-type text into the Vulgate which is regarded as the official Bible of the Roman Church, as per Trent. And yet this same Trent elevated the Apocrypha as Scripture (although the precise relation between the protocanon and the deuterocanon remains open). A case of cherry-picking? So much for Jerome being an authority in the Church!

Augustinian Successor said...

The Church is the pillar and ground of the Truth. It is the form which possesses the Truth and proclaims it. What is the Truth? The Church? The verse doesn't say that? The Truth is the Word of God. The Church is the PILLAR (structure) and ground (superstructure) of the Truth (Word of God). If the Church and Tradition are the form of the Truth, both do not sit in judgment over Scripture but expresses, echos, propagates the material sum of the Truth which is contained in Scripture.

Augustinian Successor said...

You have admitted that you hold to sola ecclesia. I have news for you: Protestants hold to sola crucis (the Cross alone). Our battle-cry today in an age of ecumenism is the Cross alone or the Gospel alone (sola evangeli).

Augustinian Successor said...

Matthew, the Church is not infallible per se, but its infallibility is derived from from Scripture to the degree that it is faithful.

Augustinian Successor said...

"These are all wishful thinking and man made speculations and show of spirituality that does not really produce spiritual life. It produces false hope of superstition."

Big Brother Lito, superstition and pagan mentality remains in the Roman Church despite Vatican 2. Funny how the ecumenists are blind to this!

Mary's Son said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Augustinian Successor said...

"Thank you for the honesty you have shown here. Most Protestants, claim that that the notions of sola scriptura and private judgment was something that the early Church had always taught. I agree with you that the notion that you have expressed is something that Father Luther discovered.

Of course, your idea of Church is a bit different than mine. Church is not merely an assemblage of people, but the mystical Body of Christ itself. Scripture is not the interpreter of the Church for it is given voice only when the Body of Christ speaks. Thus, it is the Church which interprets Scripture. The written Word of God can not be the interpreter of the Church as it requires someone to open the book to read it or someone to preach it in order to hear it."

I did not mean to imply that Doctor Luther's discovery was something "novel". Far from it. But that his discovery contrasted with the erroneous views of the Church of the day, which continues to this day. Private judgment was not absent from the early church. In fact, private judgment in the collective sense is embodied in the consensus patri. But the consensus patri is not equal to the creeds and councils but subordinate to these.

Only the Creeds, decisions of the councils of dogmatic concerns, etc. are beyond private judgment. They explicate *with infallible authority derived from Scripture itself* the doctrinal contents of Scripture. The Creeds are a either the result of church councils or enjoy ecclesial recognition and reception as definitive.

The consensus patri is just that, the consensus of individual theologians in the early church.

Augustinian Successor said...

"The fact that John Calvin had left the Church would suggest to me that he was merely a private theologian and was mis-inspired by the other side."

This is really funny. Calvin, Luther never left the Catholic Church. It is the papacy which left the Catholic Church. The Reformation Churches, all in varying degrees are the Catholic Church. The Roman Church is no Catholic Church at all.

Augustinian Successor said...

"Thanks to all my Protestant brethren for tackling the RC comments on the last two posts."

Dominus vobiscum, Carrie (The Lord be with you).

Matthew Bellisario said...

Blogger Augustinian Successor said...

"Matthew, the Church is not infallible per se, but its infallibility is derived from from Scripture to the degree that it is faithful."

I beg to differ. If you accuse Christ's Church as being the promulgator of error, then you accuse Christ Himself. In an age where everyone makes himself out to be an authority over Scripture and God, we follow Christ and the Holy Spirit which keeps the Church free from error. Once again find me one ancient Church that agree with you. You keep dodging the question because your teachings are a modern invention and have nothing to do with Christ or his Church. It is that simple.

Every ancient Church before the "Reformers" came along disagree with you. We don't follow your Protestant individualism. We follow Christ himself who gave us the Church, as Sacred Scripture tells us. Sola Scriptura is quite simply, from the Devil if I must speak bluntly here. The proof is in the pudding.

As far as Calvin leaving the Church it is quite apparent for those who read history. As I stated before we can see the entire Church in the 7th Council flatly rejecting one of Calvin's iconoclastic battle cries with an anathema to anyone who would attack the Sacred Images. Another amazing fact that the "Reformers" will not acknowledge is that fact that their is not one ancient Council that teaches anything close to their Sola Scriptura position. In fact we see none of their nonsense being taught by any ancient Church Council. We see the ancient Church Councils teaching what the Catholic Church teaches. Yet it is always the heretic that attacks the Church and the faithful who defend it. We all know who the accuser is. His MO fits the likes of Calvin, Luther and those like him.

Paul Hoffer said...

A.S., therein lies the flaw with your argument. There are individuals which make up the Body of Christ. Christ speaks with one voice only. If I were to accept your claim of private judgment, each person has the right to deny the consensus and speack with his own voice. The Body of Christ-His Church-is one organism, not a colony of sponges or coral with each doing its own thing.

You keep harping on the papacy. With all due respect, I do not believe that each niggling detail has to be spelled in Scripture like some sort of Napoleanic Code. The Papacy is a bishopric, a clearly defined office in the NT. Just as Peter was the spokesman for the other apostles (all bishops), so to the bishops of today must have a spokesman. The position that Peter occupied was given certain authority to bind and loose. Whether that position is given the title "Vicar of Christ," Pontiff, Pope, Patriarch, or Chief Cook and Bottlewasher is irrelevant to the conversation. The fact that authority is conferred and responsibility imposed is what is unassailable.

You have mentioned that bishops aren't apostles. True they are not. But the office of bishop is one that the Apostles created themselves to continue their teachings. The Apostles did not give that position to each and every believer. They did not intend for each and every follower of Christ to exercise private judgment. Show me that in the New Testament.

One last point, you folks still haven't dealt with the arguments that Jerome made as to propriety of venerating relics. Noone has explained why Calvin's repeat of Vigilantius' snipe at relics "best answers" Jerome's response.

For that matter, I still haven't gotten one quote from that final authority which you claim will provide an definitive and indefatigable refutation what this Doctor of the one, holy, apostolic, and Catholic Church says about this practice. None of you folks who are against the veneration of relics can even corroborate Professor White's claim that the practice only started in medieval times. Can anyone show me the difference between what the Church does now compared to what it did do in 406 AD or even 150 AD in regards to the veneration of relics?

Matthew Bellisario said...

Another piece of glaring evidence is a an ivory carving of a Byzantine procession in the 400s which I posted about on my blog last week. It is a carving from the 5th century showing the Christians in Constantinople in procession venerating the relics in a reliquary. It shows a relic shrine accompanied by two priests sitting in an ornate four-wheeled wagon drawn by mules. In front are men carrying candles, who are being received by the Empress, who holds a wooden cross. Behind her stands a church where the relic will be enshrined, which was not quite finished in time: workers are still laying tiles on the roof. In the background, men look out of windows while singing hymns and swinging censers.

We can also see the Church making a universal statement about relics in an Ecumenical Council. Isn't it odd how the Catholic can pull so much evidence from ancient history and the ancient Church while the "Reformer" has nothing but himself to convince? The 7th Ecumenical Council gave us a pronouncement on images and the relics, since they are very intimately intertwined in the honor and worship we give to God, and the veneration of relics in whom we see God's work in.

Canon VII.

That to churches consecrated without any deposit of the reliques of the Saints, the defect should be made good.

Paul the divine Apostle says: “The sins of some are open beforehand, and some they follow after.” These are their primary sins, and other sins follow these. Accordingly upon the heels of the heresy of the traducers of the Christians, there followed close other ungodliness. For as they took out of the churches the presence of the venerable images, so likewise they cast aside other customs which we must now revive and maintain in accordance with the written and unwritten law. We decree therefore that relics shall be placed with the accustomed service in as many of the sacred temples as have been consecrated without the relics of the Martyrs. And if any bishop from this time forward is found consecrating a temple without holy relics, he shall be deposed, as a transgressor of the ecclesiastical traditions.



Once again it is the "Reformer" who has the explaining to do on why he interprets Sacred Scripture different from the Universal Church did for almost 1500 years. He must also explain why it is only his private interpretation of Scripture that he considers to be of any worth as Divine Revelation, while the Church has always held to Divine Revelation as being the Church guided by the Holy Spirit, promulgating Scripture within Tradition.

Alexander Greco said...

The historical evidence is in clear favor of the Catholic. While there has been certain development in regards to Catholic doctrine, one thing is crystal clear, the so-called "Reformers" do not entertain even minimal support for their theological errors among any ancient church...much less on the issue of relics. Could it be that the nasty Catholics destroyed the evidence of the existence of these imaginary "reformed" councils in the early church...most likely they never existed, but hey, we are also told that Jesus didn't drink wine, and call no man "father."

Augustinian Successor said...

Matthew, we all know that the early Church disagrees with papacy. Romish errors such as papal infallibility, the elevation of the deuterocanon, purgatory, indulgences, etc. etc. were unknown to the early Church. Predestination, justification by faith alone, the distinction between Law and Gospel, etc. these which used to be the dominant tradition within the broader tradition of the Western Catholic Church is all but ignored, or anathemised.

Why do you think Newman had to come up with his theory of doctrinal development, which theory parallels that of evolution???

Whereas Scripture speaks of doctrinal development as an acorn becoming an oak tree, not a frog transmogrifying into a human being ...

Augustinian Successor said...

Paul, the papacy is not just a bishopric. The Servus Servorum Dei is not really as such, but the Vicar of Christ on earth, etc. etc. He possesses both temporal and spiritual authority. The pope stands by himself. The papacy is contradicted by Scripture and the early Church. The papacy is the Antichrist, usurping the office and role of Christ as Head of the Body.

Augustinian Successor said...

"They did not intend for each and every follower of Christ to exercise private judgment. Show me that in the New Testament."

You don't actually know your Bible, do you? Check up on the Bereans in Acts. Look up in 1 Corinthians 12 on the order of worship, including exposition of Scripture.

Augustinian Successor said...

Paul, on the veneration of relics ... it's later outgrowth. No such practices were evident during the apostles' time. It is so clear.

Augustinian Successor said...

Private judgment is commended in Scripture in addition to the Bereans and the example of Paul's injunction on worship in 1 Cor. 12. In 1 Cor. 2, the Church is exhorted to compare spiritual things with spiritual things.

"The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man's judgment: 'For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?' But we have the mind of Christ."

PRIVATE JUDGMENT!

Augustinian Successor said...

Veneration of relics may have started earlier than medival times, so was the practice of praying for the departed faithful and so on. But these were practices which "outran" theological justification. The doctrinal approval came later. A case of the common errors of the Catholic Church. Scripture is not to be interpreted in light of later practices, but vice-versa. To do the former is to ADD to Scripture.

Augustinian Successor said...

"Once again it is the "Reformer" who has the explaining to do on why he interprets Sacred Scripture different from the Universal Church did for almost 1500 years. He must also explain why it is only his private interpretation of Scripture that he considers to be of any worth as Divine Revelation, while the Church has always held to Divine Revelation as being the Church guided by the Holy Spirit, promulgating Scripture within Tradition."

Actually, it is the Romanist who must explain why his appeal to the practice of the early Church differs from the teachings and records of Holy Scripture? The early Church was not infallible. It proves too much, as this would undermine the claims of the papacy since the Byzantine whom you appeal to has gone into "schism", refusing to recognise the primacy of the Bishop of Rome. A case of cherry-picking, eh?

At the end of the day, it's massive subjectivism. We Protestants hold to the normative claim of Scripture as the Word of God alone. We do not need to appeal to the judgment of men or human institutions, but directly to the Word of God (in hypostatic union with the Holy Spirit). The role of men is simply to proclaim, echo Scripture, not make Scripture conform to the common errors of the Catholic Church.

Augustinian Successor said...

Alex, you're confusing classical Protestantism aka Reformation Tradition with the successors of the Anabaptists like the Methodists and the contemporary evangelicals. No, Jesus drank wine but Jesus DID prohibit that we are not to call anyone on earth as "Father". This is an absolute prohibition which utterly destroys *HUMAN* tradition, including pertinently in His day, Jewish custom especially Second Temple (and concomittantly, Synagogue)Judaism.

It is interesting that the term forefather, father, is always used when it is used in its rare occasion in Scripture in an indirect third person sense, never direct address. It is not a term of endearment or affection, therefore an "exclusive" term which designate not a personal but social relationship - hence, Father Abraham. But Our Lord is clear that only two persons are worthy of the personal address: Heavenly Father and (in fulfilment of the 4th/5th Commandment) earthly father.

St. Paul was never addressed as Father nor was St. Peter. But it is proper to designate them in third person as Church Fathers. It is also interesting that when he chose to call Timothy his "son", he used that with precision since to indicate a pastoral relationship. There are many which Paul did not baptise as he clearly said in other epistles. That he said that indicates or hints at strongly that he never begotten these in the faith, and by extension, these are not his sons in the sense that Timothy is his son. The principle is that the term father must be used sparingly or rather precisely and restrictively not *promiscuously*.

The Roman Church has violated this rule both in reference to the pope and the priest.

Augustinian Successor said...

Besides, the term, "father" for priests has its roots in the religious clergy of Irish monasticism - the father confessors. Historically, the Church of England and Anglicanism restricted the term father to bishops only and that also in an indirect third person official address and to be used in conjunction with "Reverend" as the "prefix" and "in God" as the "suffix".

Augustinian Successor said...

"The 7th Ecumenical Council gave us a pronouncement on images and the relics, since they are very intimately intertwined in the honor and worship we give to God, and the veneration of relics in whom we see God's work in."

The 7th Ecumenical Council is not regarded as ecumenical by the Reformation Churches. Furthermore, the Synod of Frankfurt (794), the Libri Carolini (notwithstanding the inaccuracies contained therein), etc. proved that there was nothing ecumenical about the decrees and canons of that Council in respect of the veneration of images, not to mention within the history of Byzantinism itself.

And most important of all, Scripture is completely silent on the issue. So, what's so catholic, ecumenical, dogmatic about the veneration of images? At best, it is a local/cultural expression of the essentials of the faith, nothing more.

Augustinian Successor said...

"Every ancient Church before the "Reformers" came along disagree with you. We don't follow your Protestant individualism. We follow Christ himself who gave us the Church, as Sacred Scripture tells us. Sola Scriptura is quite simply, from the Devil if I must speak bluntly here. The proof is in the pudding."

Sola Scriptura is from Scripture itself. It arises, emerges, grounded in, etc. Scripture as the Word of God itself. Sola ecclesia, papal infallibility, etc. that's from the devil who masquerades as the Angel of Light.

Sinners do not interpret the Word of God. It is the Word of God which passes judgment on sinners, interprets them as sinners condemned by the Law and re-claims by the Gospel. It is not sinners who grasp the Gospel, but grace which re-claims the sinners, the Gospel which incorporates the sinner into its Narrative or Story. In the Gospel, Jesus Himself speaks to declare, pronounce and effect the word of forgiveness and give Himself to sinners.

Converted sinners then, justified by faith alone, is to proclaim the self-same Gospel to others by being its spokesperson. That is the pattern.

Who is the pope that he should presume to sit over in judgment over Scripture???

Matthew Bellisario said...

Blogger Augustinian Successor said..
"Who is the pope that he should presume to sit over in judgment over Scripture???"

I ask, who are you to preside over it?

Matthew Bellisario said...

Blogger Augustinian Successor said...

"Veneration of relics may have started earlier than medival times, so was the practice of praying for the departed faithful and so on. But these were practices which "outran" theological justification. The doctrinal approval came later. A case of the common errors of the Catholic Church."


No, once again there is no may about it. It is a practice of the early universal Church, which history tells us. You bury your head in the sand in regards to history.

No the Byzantine Church was not in schism as you claim. Prove it. They were part of the universal faith of the time. In fact we can see the same practices going on in Egypt as well. Nice try, but your argument is flawed on all sides.

Matthew Bellisario said...

Augustinian Successor said.. "The 7th Ecumenical Council is not regarded as ecumenical by the Reformation Churches."

Once again every Church in existence at the time with the exception of the Oriental Churches accept the 7th ecumenical Council. The Protestant Church didn't even exist then so how can they determine anything about it? The Protestants have no authority from God or anyone else to determine what Council was Ecumenical and what wasn't. Also the Oriental Churches also practice the veneration of relics, even though they weren't part of the Council. Once again the evidence of the early Christian faith is firmly opposed to you and your new doctrines.

Alexander Greco said...

AS: Alex, you're confusing classical Protestantism aka Reformation Tradition with the successors of the Anabaptists like the Methodists and the contemporary evangelicals.

Me: I am not confusing anything. I am lumping all of the heretical man-made traditions into one group. This is equivalent to saying "Jew or Gentile," you are either one or the other. So I am not impressed by your correction.

AS: No, Jesus drank wine but Jesus DID prohibit that we are not to call anyone on earth as "Father".

Me: He also condemned calling someone Rabbi and Master, but I guess that this doesn't fit your agenda because I'm sure you have used those terms. You could do yourself a great favor by researching this topic over at Catholic Answers. I could put up a link, but I'm not sure how restrictive Mr. Swan is in censorship. I know those people over at Patrick Madrid's forums engage in heavy censorship. I've seen the complaints. The rest of your comments are so outrageous, that they are not worth my time to respond...I have better things to do. Besides, I believe that Catholic Answers does an adequate job of defending this.

Augustinian Successor said...

"Me: I am not confusing anything. I am lumping all of the heretical man-made traditions into one group. This is equivalent to saying "Jew or Gentile," you are either one or the other. So I am not impressed by your correction."

The fact remains classical Protestants have wine at the Lord's Supper, drink beer without scruples, smoke cigars, cigarettes without being ex-communicated (although not advised by the church on health grounds), play cards etc. What we do not enjoin is clubbing, and other activities which promote appearance of evil and in fact grounds of evil. So, we are neither legalists nor antinomians. But the Roman Church like many modern-day evangelical churches are both.

And yes, classical Protestants and even the modern-day Anabaptists like the Baptists are Catholics and the Roman Church is not. It is Romish (read: pagan).

Augustinian Successor said...

The Protestant faith existed within the magisterial Western Catholic Church at the time. It existed in St. Clement of Corinth, St. Cyprian of Carthage, St. Ambrose of Milan, St. Ambrosiater, St. Hilary of Poitiers, St. Jerome, St. Augustine of Hippo, St. Prosper of Aquitaine, St. Caesaerius of Arles, St. Fulgentius of Ruspe, St. Isidore of Seville, St. Ratramnus of Corbie, St. Lupus of Ferrières, St. Prudentius of Troyes and St. Florus of Lyons, St. Gottschalk of Orbais, St. Thomas Bradwardine of Canterbury, St. Peter Lombard, St. Gregory of Rimini, John Major, etc. etc.

Augustinian Successor said...

Matthew, you're the one who is in denial syndrome mode. The Byzantine tradition is now severed from the Roman Church. So much for appealing to Byzantinism when they NEVER recognised the primacy of jurisdiction of the Roman Bishop. You would have known that the Great Schism of 1054 had earlier precedents in e.g., the 9th century Photian Schism over the filioque, speaking of which why is so important an issue like the filioque cannot be agreed by the two so-called lungs of the Church, East and West?

Augustinian Successor said...

"Once again the evidence of the early Christian faith is firmly opposed to you and your new doctrines."

Scripture is silent on veneration of relics, and cannot be used to support the practice. Therefore, veneration of relics lack Scriptural warrant, and thus cannot claim apostolic precendent or catholicity.

Augustinian Successor said...

"In fact we can see the same practices going on in Egypt as well."

Sure, it was an outgrowth of the sub-apostolic era when the Gentile churches had begun to outnumber the Jewish congregations at the time of intense persecution by the Roman Empire. Egypt was where the practice of monastic seclusion began to take root (St. Antony the Hermit). All these practices are purely rooted not in apostolic command or precedent but historical circumstances.

To justify a practice as apostolic and catholic purely on the basis of history is hardly authoritative. Because when you appeal to the approval of the Church and by extension, the pope, at the end of the day, these institutions would still have to appeal to Scripture for a warrant. But the Scriptural basis isn't there at all ...

Augustinian Successor said...

"I ask, who are you to preside over it?"

Precisely, Protestants do not preside over Scripture. Scripture presides over the Church.

Again, who is the pope that he should presume to judge Scripture???

Augustinian Successor said...

The Protestant Faith is the true successor of the Apostolic Succesion within the Western Catholic Church. Only the Protestant Faith has preserved the integrity and contents of the apostolic and catholic deposit intact.

Augustinian Successor said...

Predestination which Thomas Aquinas adhered to is no longer in vogue in the Roman Church. Jansenism has been declared as a heresy, thanks to the Jesuits. Dominicanism is now reduced to a an academic school of thought. So, Rome has changed. Rome has changed from nulla salus extra ecclesiam to Jews and Moslems worship the same God and invicible ignorance. So much for continuity ...

Paul Hoffer said...

A.S., You are now so much all over the place, it is impossible to respond to all of your errors without me writing a 25-30 page paper.

You said that St. Jerome never recognised the Apocrypha as an integral portion of the wider Canon of Scripture. Please tell me, did he or did he not submit to authority and included the apocrypha as a part of his translation?

You whine about me calling Luther, "Father." Considering the fact that Father Luther was an ordained Catholic priest, I will continue to show him the respect for his office, even if he didn't himself.

You claim that papal infallibility, the elevation of the deuterocanon, purgatory, indulgences, etc. etc. were unknown to the early Church.

You claim, that the veneration of relics is a later outgrowth. That is not the issue. Show us how Calvin's repeat of Vigilantius' argument against the veneration of relics is so much better than Jerome's response to same. Then you can try to show show us that the Apostles specifically taught that the practice of venerating relics by lighting tapers is idolatry. Where in Scripture does it say, "THOU SHALL NOT VENERATE THE RELICS OF THE SAINTS AND MARTYRS OF THE LORD ALMIGHTY?"

You and your paltering doctrine of Private Judgment~if the notion of sola scriptura meant actually meant anything other than an advertising slogan like you people use it, if you truly believed that the Word of God is inspired, you would not leave its final interpretation to every person, but you would have taken steps to give it surety and trustworthiness that can be found only when there is a conclusive definitive authority to decide what Scripture means. We have that. You don't.

What is a fact to us is merely a fable for you because we rely on the Holy Spirit to give our final authority the ability to decide. It is far easier to believe that the Holy Spirit works through the spokesman of Christ's Church (one man) than through each and every Protestant using their private judgment. If one were to believe you, then either the Holy Spirit doesn't speak clearly or you weren't listening because there is no other way that you could explain the many denominations of Protestantism

You minimize the trust we place in God's Word. We, too, believe that Scripture is the normative primary rule of faith. It is clear on many things, but there are things that is not clear on because the NT was never meant to be the rule book for Christians. If it were, Christ would have sat down and wrote it. He would have told his apostles to sit down and write an authoritative account. Where is Luke and Mark's commission to write their Gospels? They weren't apostles. Scripture does not show the apostles hiring them or directing them to write their accounts. Unless you believe that Paul wrote Hebrews, which many Protestants don't, where is that author's commission to write an inspired book of the Bible? If the Bible ALONE is your SOLE rule, where is the divine table of contents and index and concordance? No sir, the only reason that anyone can actually believe rationally that the Books of the Bible are inspired is because the Holy Spirit acting through the Church said so.

Also, since we only have copies of the Scriptures and dozens of manuscripts which contain thousands of variations on the text, how do you know that you are reading the right one? For that matter (I am assuming that Hebrew, Aramaic and koine Greek are not your first languages,) how do you know that your translation is even accurate? And assuming that it is accurate, how do you know 100% for certain the meaning of the words since not only could their meaning have changed over the centuries, but without an accurate understanding of the cultures, the idiomatic expressions of the people of the time, or their religious beliefs of the time.

Example: you brought up the doctrine of Purgatory. Were you aware that the normative Pharasaic teachings at the time all agreed upon the doctrine of Purgatory and used passages from Zechariah to support their belief in said doctrine? Furthermore, since Paul was a Pharisee and the son Pharisees, in all likelihood, he would have been aware of such teachings? Why then is he quoting OT Scripture used as a Pharasaic proof text for Purgatory at 1 Cor. 3 unless he is talking about Purgatory there? Of course you would deny that, but there it is. If Paul did not want to give a false impression or wanted make himself clear here, why didn't he write, "FOOLISH CORINTHIANS, THERE IS NO SUCH PLACE AS PURGATORY."

You brought up the issue of the Deuterocanonical writings of the OT. Contrary to popular Protestant mythology, the NT quotes and refers to dozens of passages from the Deuterocanonical books. I will give only one example here for right now:

"For the invisible things of Him, from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made; His eternal power also, and divinity: so that they are inexcusable." Rom. 1:20

"But all men are vain, in whom there is not the knowledge of God: and who by these good things that are seen, could not understand Him that is, neither by attending to the works have acknowledged who was the Workman." Wisdom 13:1

Example: You brought up the Bereans. What came first, the Bereans searching the OT for proofs that Jesus was the Messiah, or Paul preaching that Jesus was the Messiah and the Bereans then going to their OT's to see if Paul was right? The preaching that Jesus was the Messiah was not part of the Scriptures yet as the NT had not been written when Paul preached to them. The Bereans were "fair-minded" because they were receptive to Paul's oral teaching outside of Scripture, not because they were "sola scripturists." Aside from 2 Esdras (4 Esdras for you folks), which you reject as Scriptures, the name Jesus is not mentioned in the OT.

We Catholics love 1 Cor. 2 also. Unfortunately, it does not help your case at all, because it does not talk about private judgment at all in the context of sola scriptura for Paul was preaching to them something outside of the Scriptures that they knew. They received the Word of God not based on what they read in the OT, but because the Holy Spirit caused them to believe.

I could go on but at this point, I have been giving the reason for my hope and so far, you still haven't answered my question, why is Calvin's repeat of the argument of Vigilantius more potent than the one Jerome makes? All you have been doing is reciting talking points and pitching slogans rather than deal with my arguments.

Augustinian Successor said...

The only thing Rome hasn't changed is on moral issues. This is something which Protestants can learn or take a cue. Divorce and remarriage, birth control, etc. etc.

But at the end of the day, ethics is not the way to salvation, not if you follow Scripture rather than Aristotle. The way is not from vice to virtue, but virtue to grace.

The beatific vision is not a movement towards heaven, but a down-to-earth eschatological invasion of the Kingdom of God in this day and age. It is not the mimetic movement of the Church in the participation of the being of the triune God but concretely the act of God in time and space of justifying sinners resulting in the death of the old being and the resurrection of the new being.

Augustinian Successor said...

"You said that St. Jerome never recognised the Apocrypha as an integral portion of the wider Canon of Scripture. Please tell me, did he or did he not submit to authority and included the apocrypha as a part of his translation?"

Does that mean he recognised the Apocrypha as such? Did Cardinal Ximenes also who followed Jerome on this? And Cardinal Cajetan who confronted Luther? Did not Rufinus who was exposed to the writings of Origen also refused to accord the Apocrypha an inspired status?

Augustinian Successor said...

"You whine about me calling Luther, "Father." Considering the fact that Father Luther was an ordained Catholic priest, I will continue to show him the respect for his office, even if he didn't himself."

But you conveniently forgot that Luther repudiated his Roman priesthood precisely because it was against the Gospel. So, please do not address him as Father. It is anachronistic anyway. He was addressed as Doctor Luther throughout his career.

Augustinian Successor said...

On the issue of veneration of relics, where does Scripture say that thou shalt venerate relics???

So, how can the decrees and canons of the 7th Ecumenical Council be authoritative??? How can the anathemas apply when Scripture itself never enjoin such a practice??? Go figure.

Augustinian Successor said...

The only conclusive final authority is Scripture itself. An institution like the papacy can only be imposing itself on Scripture. Scripture is the one which interprets the papacy, not the way round. And Scripture has judged the papacy as the Antichrist.

And the weight of Scripture is for private judgment, not against. So, you prefer to submit in blind faith, override your reason, etc. in favour of the Magisterium when Scripture is clear on private judgment. This is not Catholicism, this paganism.

Augustinian Successor said...

Paul, support for purgatory is not taken from Zechariah. You do not know your Scripture. It's taken from Maccabees which Protestants do not recognise. The Maccabees was written AFTER Zechariah which regarded as the last prophet before the 400 years of the inter-testamental period during which God was "silent". Maccabees was written during the post-Exilic period when the Jews were struggling to recover their identity and sense of hope as the chosen people of God and of course specifically during the struggle against the Seleucids. Interestingly, this is the only passage where allusion to purgatory of some sort could be found throughout the Apocrypha. The Maccabees represented the other pole in Second Temple Jewish thinking, the "secular" rather than "apocalypse" where nationalist sentiments prevailed coupled with a theology which emphasised human merit, something St. Paul was to rail against centuries later. Whereas the Qumran sects represented the apocalyptikers who acknowledged the predestination of God.

But nowhere in Scripture can we find support for purgatory.

Augustinian Successor said...

"For the invisible things of Him, from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made; His eternal power also, and divinity: so that they are inexcusable." Rom. 1:20

"But all men are vain, in whom there is not the knowledge of God: and who by these good things that are seen, could not understand Him that is, neither by attending to the works have acknowledged who was the Workman." Wisdom 13:1

Romans 1:20 would have been directly quoted from the OT, minus the Apocrypha. You're not suggesting that Wisdom is the only place to have the quotation, are you?

Augustinian Successor said...

On the Bereans, it is clear they were sola Scripturalists. Under the Roman scheme, they would not have the right to question/test the received faith, anyway IN LIGHT OF SCRIPTURE ALONE which was what the Bereans did (in respect of the OT). No other recourse is found, just "plain" Scripture.

Augustinian Successor said...

"We Catholics love 1 Cor. 2 also. Unfortunately, it does not help your case at all, because it does not talk about private judgment at all in the context of sola scriptura for Paul was preaching to them something outside of the Scriptures that they knew. They received the Word of God not based on what they read in the OT, but because the Holy Spirit caused them to believe."

Romanists may love 1 Cor. 2, but they don't practice it. It's just lip service. Of course, that passage speaks of private judgment. It's so clear. It doesn't speak of papal infallibility, appeal to the Magisterium, etc. but solely appeal to the sensus of fidelium which individually is the exercise of private judgment. And the Holy Spirit causing one to believe simply means that Scripture which is the double-edged sword of the Spirit is the one which kills and make alive which is to say interprets the sinner.

So, you've proved my point. Sola Scriptura is the tenet of Scripture itself and its co-relate sola fide.

Who is the pope that he should usurp the role of the Holy Spirit??? Who is this Pope Benedict XVI that he should presume to judge Scripture? Why listen to a man standing between you and the Word of God when the Word of God speaks directly to you, as you acknowledged???

Augustinian Successor said...

"You minimize the trust we place in God's Word. We, too, believe that Scripture is the normative primary rule of faith. It is clear on many things, but there are things that is not clear on because the NT was never meant to be the rule book for Christians."

The why make it de fide, or insist that it is catholic, anathemised those who refuse to subscribe???

Augustinian Successor said...

"I could go on but at this point, I have been giving the reason for my hope and so far, you still haven't answered my question, why is Calvin's repeat of the argument of Vigilantius more potent than the one Jerome makes? All you have been doing is reciting talking points and pitching slogans rather than deal with my arguments."

Because Calvin was sticking to the Word of God, that's why, which is silent on the veneration of relics. So, who is the Roman Church (or the Eastern Church) to impose such views on Scripture???

Why follow an opinion which finds no warrant in Scripture rather than the view which is based directly on Scripture?

Augustinian Successor said...

Paul, Matthew, in fact none of you has dealt with the fact that your Church has ignored, jettisoned, sidelined, trampled the Augustinian doctrine of predestination ante praevisa fidei. Even though it was never de fide, nevertheless, it was the dominant tradition (by way of propositio proxima fidei) like belief in the perpetual virginity of Mary although suffered a temporary blip at the Council of Mainz (848), and subsejquent the decline in the early medieval period only to be revived by Aquinas and suffered a blow at the Reformation which provided the convenient bogeyman to condemn Baius, and then Jansenus. The de Auxiliis controversy effectively ended all official debates between the Dominicans and the theological outlook of the Jesuits in time came to dominate the Roman Church.

Augustinian Successor said...

Even if Romans 1:20 does not have an OT parallel, the idea is there. For example, the fool has said in his heart that there is no God, Psalm 14:1. It doesn't mean that Wisdom is inspired anymore than the Greek philosophers were, whom Paul directly cites also like "For in Him we live, and move, and have our being".

One more thing virtually 99 percent of the so-called parallels between the NT and Apocrypha are not parallels but the same words being used devoid of an identifical meaning or intent. In other words, not by a long shot.

Matthew Bellisario said...

Blogger Augustinian Successor said...

The Protestant faith existed within the magisterial Western Catholic Church at the time. It existed in St. Clement of Corinth, St. Cyprian of Carthage, St. Ambrose of Milan, St. Ambrosiater, St. Hilary of Poitiers, St. Jerome, St. Augustine of Hippo, St. Prosper of Aquitaine, St. Caesaerius of Arles, St. Fulgentius of Ruspe, St. Isidore of Seville, St. Ratramnus of Corbie, St. Lupus of Ferrières, St. Prudentius of Troyes and St. Florus of Lyons, St. Gottschalk of Orbais, St. Thomas Bradwardine of Canterbury, St. Peter Lombard, St. Gregory of Rimini, John Major, etc. etc.


Wow, your really in a state of denial. Your religion did not exist my friend until the 16th century. It is you who cannot reason that you are the one following a man made religion built on many of the heresies of the past. Someone like you cannot reason, cannot be talked to because you will not think like a rational person. Enjoy the sand that you have your head in today. Good day..

Matthew Bellisario said...

Blogger Augustinian Successor said...

Matthew, you're the one who is in denial syndrome mode. The Byzantine tradition is now severed from the Roman Church. So much for appealing to Byzantinism when they NEVER recognised the primacy of jurisdiction of the Roman Bishop. You would have known that the Great Schism of 1054 had earlier precedents in e.g., the 9th century Photian Schism over the filioque, speaking of which why is so important an issue like the filioque cannot be agreed by the two so-called lungs of the Church, East and West?


Have you even read about the Eastern Schism? Obviously not, because the West did not separate form the East in 1054. Where did you get that Wickipedia? Read some material on the subject before you shoot your mouth off. By the way the Byzantine Church was venerating relics way before 1054 as I pointed out, and not they were not in schism. You have no clue as to what you are talking about when it comes to history. As for never recognizing the papacy, once again read your history, not wickipedia.

Finally I don't care if Scripture is silent about relics. Divine Revelation is not Sacred Scripture alone, as Scripture itself attests. It is quite apparent you have never read anything beyond the internet on the Eastern Church and at this point I am not sure that you are not a 12 year old kid sitting at his dads computer drinking chocolate milk and eating Cheetos. Sorry, but this is beginning to become absurd to try and even converse with you.

Paul Hoffer said...

A.S. I call my dad, father. Remember, Christ, said "call no man father." What do you call your father? Besides, I believe at 1 Cor. 4:15, Paul calls himself "Father" for he became the Father of the Corinthians in Jesus Christ through the Gospel.

As far as 1 Cor. 2:12, Scripture doesn't commend the Bereans for private judgment. It commends them for not using sola scriptura.
Yes, we are to compare spiritual things with spiritual things, but it doesn't say there that we use our own personal judgment to decide what is spiritual. That is something that is given to us from the outside. It is the Holy Spirit that is teaching us to understand the spiritual things. That is why we boast only in the Lord, not boast of our own personal prowess in deciding what is spiritual and what is not. It is not our judgment, but the gift of grace that allows us to discern. If I do not believe in Jesus because of something that Scripture tells me, but because I believe in Jesus, I may receive the gift of better understanding. Consider what Paul says against "private judgment":

"And he gave some apostles, and some prophets, and other some evangelists, and other some pastors and doctors, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Until we all meet into the unity of faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the age of the fulness of Christ; That henceforth we be no more children tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine by the wickedness of men, by cunning craftiness, by which they lie in wait to deceive. But doing the truth in charity, we may in all things grow up in him who is the head, even Christ." Ephesians 4: 11-15.

As far as predestination goes, hmmm...sorry, we do believe in it. We just don't believe that God intentionally damns people like Calvin did?

"If anyone shall say that it is not in the power of man to make his ways evil, but that God produces the evil as well as the good works, not only by permission, but also properly and of Himself, so that the betrayal of Judas is no less His own proper work than the vocation of Paul: let him be anathema." Council of Trent, Canons on Justification #6

St. Thomas Aquinas wrote:

"The causality of reprobation is unlike that of predestination. For predestination is the cause both of what is awaited in the future, namely glory, and of what is received in the present, namely grace. Whereas reprobation is not the cause of present fault, but of future result, namely, of being abandoned by God. Fault is born of the freewill of the person who deserts grace." Summa Theologica Vol I.23.4 Toss out your Loraine Boettner junk that pretends to tell you what Catholicism is and go to the source materials or as Mr. Swan here likes to say, "ad fontes." We did reject Jansenism because it was teaching Calvin's double predestination contrary to the Canons of the Council of Trent.

One last point on the topic of relics and then I am moving on to other things. In the Anglican Communion, you have parishes names like St. Edmund, St. Timothy, St. Augustine, St. Bede, St, Francis. St. George, etc. Where is stated in Scripture that you are to name your churches after saints? Does not the practice of naming churches after saints constitute veneration of the saints as well? How is it any different conceptually to honor a saint's name by naming a building after him and the practice of honoring their relics? Or are you going to engage in special pleading and tell us that one practice of venerating saints is ok but others are not?

Of course, as a Catholic, I do not believe that there is anything wrong with the practice of venerating saints, but as a Protestant, how do you pull it off? For us, it is a rational deduction from our belief in venerating saints; for you, it is superstition or perhaps even idolatry because you have no mandate from Scripture to do this.

God bless!

Mary's Son said...

I've deleted the post on the blog that I've linked to above. It didn't add anything to the discussion and I apologize. I especially apologize to James Swan and the rest of the posters here for the wording of the tags that I used. Please forgive me.

In Christ,

Richard Froggatt

BJ Buracker said...

Interesting, lively thread to say the least!

Here's something I'd like to hear both/all sides on. How does the Ark of the Covenant relate to the veneration of relics, if at all? I have specifics that I'm thinking of, but I'll just leave it at that for now.

Blessings,

BJ
Stupid Scholar
Daily Bible Reflections

Paul Hoffer said...

I forgot to address your claim that I do not know my Scripture about 2 Maccabees.

You raise the myth that Catholics rely solely on 2 Maccabees 12:40-46to manufacture the doctrine of purgatory. Let’s dispel the myth. Here is what the Jews who used the Septuagint read in addition to 2 Maccabees:

“But the souls of the just are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them. They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead; and their passing away was thought to be an affliction and their going forth from us, utter destruction. But they are in peace. For if before men, indeed, they be punished, yet is their hope full of immortality; Chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed, because God tried them and found them worthy of himself. As gold in the furnace, he proved them, and as sacrificial offerings he took them to himself. In the time of their visitation they shall shine, and shall dart about as sparks through stubble.” Wisdom of Solomon 3:1-7 (which is a deuterocanonical book Jesus states by name in the Gospels [Matt. 12:42] and despite this fact, Protestants still reject it)

Here, as in 1 Cor. 3:10-15, fire is used to test and punish or more accurately, chastise, in order to receive one’s heavenly reward. Note also the parallel comparisons between gold and stubble. In similar fashion, Is. 66:15-16 and Mal. 3:2-3 were likewise interpreted in the rabbinic literature leading up to the 1st century AD as referring to a purgatorial fire so that one might be cleansed before entering into the Holiness of God's Presence. See also, Is. 6: 6-7 where one of the seraphim uses an ember from the altar to touch Isaiah’s lips in order to purge him of his sins so that he could be holy enough to stand before God.

“Be generous to all the living and withhold not your kindness from the dead.” Sirach 7:33

As with 2 Macc. 12:38-46, this passage was understood to mean that we are to pray for the dead and that it is an act of kindness to do so.

In the Soncino Babylonian version of the Talmud at Tractate Shabbath Folio 33b, one will find:

"The judgment of the wicked in Gehenna (purgatory) is twelve months."

In the Babylonian Talmud, translated by Michael L. Rodkinson (1918), one reads at Tractate Rosh Hashana Chapter 1, pp. 26-27:

“We have learned in a Boraitha: The school of Shammai said: There are three divisions of mankind at the Resurrection: the wholly righteous, the utterly wicked, and the average class. The wholly righteous are at once inscribed, and life is decreed for them; the utterly wicked are at once inscribed, and destined for Gehenna, as we read [Dan. 12:2]: "And many of them that sleep in the dust shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt." The third class, the men between the former two, descend to Gehenna, but they weep and come up again, in accordance with the passage [Zech. 13: 9]: "And I will bring the third part through the fire, and I will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried; and they shall call on My name, and I will answer them." Concerning this last class of men Hannah says [I Sam. 2: 6]: "The Lord causeth to die and maketh alive, He bringeth down to the grave and bringeth up again." The school of Hillel says: The Merciful One inclines (the scale of justice) to the side of mercy, and of this third class of men David says [Psalms, 114:1]: "It is lovely to me that the Lord heareth my voice"; in fact, David applies to them the Psalm mentioned down to the words, "Thou hast delivered my soul from death" Ibid. 8.

Likewise, we find in the Tosefta Sanhedrin, 13;3, a rabbinic supplement to the Talmud, the following:

“In the House of Shammai it was said: There are three groups: One is destined to eternal life, and another is consigned to ignominy and eternal abhorrence- they are the thoroughly wicked, the average among them will go down to hell, and dive and come up and arise thence and be healed... In the House of Hillel it was said: "[God is] rich in kindness (Exodus 34;6)"- would incline the balance to the side of mercy."”

Hillel and Shammai both lived prior to Jesus. Their schools were the two largest in the time of Christ. All of the pharasaic disputes recorded in the NT are disputes between Jesus and one of these two schools or occasions where Jesus was asked by both schools to resolve a dispute between them. Gamaliel, St. Paul’s teacher referenced in Acts and his own epistles, was a pharisaic rabban and would have certainly taught Paul the doctrine of purgatory and the scripture passages cited to support same.

I stand by my comment that the Pharisees, St. Paul included, interpreted Zechariah 3:9 as a proof text supporting the doctrine of purgatory.

On the other hand, how can you purport to exercise private judgment about what bible passages mean if you don't make the effort to understand the historical milieu in which Jesus lived? Your private judgment can not hope to help you here because you don't know enough history to make an informed judgment on the relevant texts.

Paul Hoffer said...

Darn, left off the rest of the comment.

Here we see that at least a significant portion of the Jews prior to Jesus' birth believed in the doctrine of Purgatory. The reader may also want to refer to the apocryphal books of Enoch and the Apocolypse of Abraham.

Regardless of what you may think about the Catholic Church's teaching on the issue of Purgatory, the fact of the matter is that it was something that was historically believed and held to be true long before the Catholic Church confirmed it to be true.

Tim Enloe said...

Not to defend Catholic excesses, but for those who have read Jerome's Against Vigilantius, which Mr. Hoffer partially cited from, it's interesting that in Chs. 5 and 6 Jerome connects relic veneration to the orthodox Christian doctrines of the incarnation and the resurrection of the dead. "God is not the God of the dead, but of the living," Jerome says by way of argument against Vigilantius' supposition that the relics were mere dust and ashes.

Whatever later abuses came to be attached to it (which Luther and Calvin rightly exposed), in terms of its original intent the idea of relic veneration wasn't rooted in paganism as Vigilantius was apparently saying. In fact, the pagan world of that time despised the material and elevated the moralistic-spiritual. Remember Paul got in trouble for advocating the resurrection of the flesh, and most of the Greek philosophical sects of the New Testament and patristic eras continued that trend. The Christians were considered outrageously irrational and scandalous for being so attached to material things. A good bit different than the widespread "spiritual" focus in Protestant polemics today.

Bishops in Augustine's day were already aware of potential problems with relic veneration, and a little known 11th century cleric named Guibert of Nogent wrote a tract called "On the Saints and Their Relics" which sounds remarkably like Calvins' "Inventory of Relics" though preceding it by over 400 years. Another interesting look at the subject is the short book by renowned classical scholar Peter Brown, The Cult of the Saints. Also illuminating as to the connection in Medieval Christian minds between the saint's body on earth and his soul reposing with God in heaven is Patrick Geary's Furta Sacra: Theft of Relics in the Central Middle Ages.

Contemporary Catholics surely do abuse the historic ideas of saint cults and relic veneration, but one can't deal responsibly with the issues raised by the patristic and early Medieval practices by simply quoting Calvin. "Abusus non tollit usus" - "abuse does not destroy use." Calvin was writing from the trenches. Not the best place to soberly evaluate controversial topics.

Augustinian Successor said...

Matthew, you're the cheestos, boy. You've got your facts wrong, and you now you want to engage in ad hominem attacks. You have run out of arguments. Sorry, boy, the Ratzinger doesn't know. He couldn't care two hoots about you.

Augustinian Successor said...

"A.S. I call my dad, father. Remember, Christ, said "call no man father." What do you call your father? Besides, I believe at 1 Cor. 4:15, Paul calls himself "Father" for he became the Father of the Corinthians in Jesus Christ through the Gospel."

Not to everyone, he wasn't. Paul was very clear that only those he had nurtured in the faith can be considered as his son(s) in the faith. The pope and Roman priest have clearly violated the rule of Christ and Scripture.

Call NO man on EARTH father. That means only the earthly father deserve to be called father, no one else.

Augustinian Successor said...

Paul, you are a classic example of the ostrich burying its head in the sand. The Bereans were precisely a classic example of sola Scripturalists. They did simply presume that what they were taught was necessarily correct or authoritative. Get the point?

Augustinian Successor said...

Paul, you miss my point. You may claim to believe in predestination, but the vast majority of your fellow Romanists don't. It's not even the dominant tradition in the Harlot Church anymore. So, there. Rome changed and changed for the worse.

Augustinian Successor said...

So, only the Protestant Churches are the true successor of Augustinianism, not the Roman Church despite paying lip-service to St. Augustine as the Great Doctor of the Church.

Augustinian Successor said...

Listen carefully, Paul. Scripture never COMMANDS the veneration of relics. Period. To insist otherwise and or to anathemise those who refuse to do so in going against Scripture, the Word of God. It's that simple, you know.

Augustinian Successor said...

Paul, yes, you're being superstitious to the point of making a fool of yourself. The relics are no relics because what makes a relic is not what people like you and the folk piety think so, but the Word of God. And gone are the miracle-workers as embodied in the prophets and apostles.

That's logic for you.

Augustinian Successor said...

Look here, the wisdom of Solomon doesn't refer to a book. It refers precisely to the *wisdom* of Solomon. A case of Scripture-twisting, eh?

Augustinian Successor said...

“Be generous to all the living and withhold not your kindness from the dead.” Sirach 7:33

What has this to do with purgatory? The Byzantine can quote this and yet repudiate purgatory. The early Church can pray for the faithful departed and yet be ignorant of purgatory.

Deuterocanonical twisting, if there ever was ...

Augustinian Successor said...

You mentioned St. Bede, St. Bede was a predestinarian. And the Roman Church is no longer so. Never mind it's not de fide, it's not even the dominant tradition anymore.

Augustinian Successor said...

Here what St. Fulgentius of Ruspe says on the salvific will of God (this is perhaps the defining issue which distinguishes Augustinian predestinarians from other schools of thought):

‘Truly, by these ‘all persons’ whom God ‘wills to be saved’ are signified not the entire human race completely, but the entirety of all who are to be saved. And, likewise, they are called ‘all’ because divine goodness saves all those from humanity, that is, from every nation, condition, and age, from every language and from every province.’ (Epistle 17:61)



‘And so that we might know more fully who those ‘all’ are, let us listen to the words of the same blessed Peter who, speaking by the Holy Spirit, concluded that Joel’s prediction was fulfilled in the exhortation, where he says: ‘Repent and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you, and for your children, and for as many as the Lord our God will call.’ (Acts 2:38-9). And so he says ‘all,’ but also ‘as many as the Lord will call.’ Also, blessed Paul refers to them as ‘those called according to his purpose’ (Romans 8:28).’ (Epistle 17:63)



‘All of the predestined are those whom God ‘wills to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth.’’ (Epistle 15:15)



‘Therefore they are called ‘all’ because they are gathered from all kinds of persons, from all nations, from all conditions, from all masters, from all servants, from all kings, from all soldiers, from all provinces, from all languages, from all ages and from all classes. Thus ‘all’ are saved who God ‘wills to be saved.’’ (De Veritate 3:15)

Augustinian Successor said...

And why do you quote the Talmud on purgatory? You don't even know your history. The Talmud is a later development (Rabbinic Judaism). You don't get purgatory from the Old Testament. By the way, there are different degrees of authoritative interpretation in the Talmund (the Oral Torah being the most revered corresponding to the status of the Written Torah) and the corpus itself is not monolithic. Points to consider.

Augustinian Successor said...

"Hillel and Shammai both lived prior to Jesus. Their schools were the two largest in the time of Christ. All of the pharasaic disputes recorded in the NT are disputes between Jesus and one of these two schools or occasions where Jesus was asked by both schools to resolve a dispute between them. Gamaliel, St. Paul’s teacher referenced in Acts and his own epistles, was a pharisaic rabban and would have certainly taught Paul the doctrine of purgatory and the scripture passages cited to support same."

It's not conclusive. Even if Paul was taught purgatory, he repudiated it when became converted. We know so as there is no reference of purgatory in any of his extant writings, but justification per sola fide.

Augustinian Successor said...

"Whatever later abuses came to be attached to it (which Luther and Calvin rightly exposed), in terms of its original intent the idea of relic veneration wasn't rooted in paganism as Vigilantius was apparently saying. In fact, the pagan world of that time despised the material and elevated the moralistic-spiritual. Remember Paul got in trouble for advocating the resurrection of the flesh, and most of the Greek philosophical sects of the New Testament and patristic eras continued that trend. The Christians were considered outrageously irrational and scandalous for being so attached to material things. A good bit different than the widespread "spiritual" focus in Protestant polemics today."

Tim Enloe, that's rather superficial analysis. The pagan world did not despise the material. Certain philosophies such as Stoicism would have been "indifferent" to material experiences and things, but Cyrenaicism, Epicureanism, etc. were materialistic and so were the pagan RELIGIONS of the day. Temple prostitution offers tangible proof, if there's any.

The idea of relics being grounded in the Incarnation is far-fetched. And Jerome speaking in terms of theologoumenon was certainly mistaken. For when Jesus refuted the Saducees, it was precisely because they didn't believe in the RESURRECTION (which is grounded in INCARNATION) by reference to God being the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who are living in heaven, not on earth. Otherwise, the discourse on resurrection would not make sense.

Relics are superstition. What can relics DO? If they are there as a remembrance, sure. But venerating relics is not an act of piety. Far from it; it's an act of idolatry. For the living is in heaven. not on earth. And as the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus makes clear, there is a gulf between those in heaven/hell and those on earth.

Augustinian Successor said...

Hence, veneration of relics is not properly speaking a Catholic custom but represent one of the common folk errors of the Catholic Church.

Augustinian Successor said...

Heck, Paul, your name sake, St. Paul warns against heeding Jewish fables.

Augustinian Successor said...

Matthew, before you shoot your mouth off, you should have known that there WAS the "Great Schism" in 1054. And now, you have shot yourself in the groin when I said that the East never recognised the primacy of Rome in terms of jurisdiction. Why do you think they dared to separate in the first place? Why do you think the East (i.e. by the Churches as whole including the lay faithful - no reception) defied the papacy on the filioque despite repeated attempts at reconciliation by the latter, e.g. 2nd Council of Lyons and the Council of Florence???

Augustinian Successor said...

And what makes you, Paul, think that I own Boettner. I have read his works on Roman Catholicism. But I don't own the venerable Presbyterian theologian's book except on Predestination (maybe I do on Roman Catholicism too). At any rate, this/these books are not with me but boxed up in the UK alongside books on the sacramental theology, liturgiology, creeds, etc. They've yet to be shipped.

Augustinian Successor said...

Infuriating Factoid:

Catholic translations prior to Luther spoke of faith alone at Romans 3:28. Hence, the Nuremberg Bible of 1483 had "allein durch den glauben," while the Italian Bibles of Geneva in 1476 and even 1538 had "per sola fede."

Augustinian Successor said...

"If anyone shall say that it is not in the power of man to make his ways evil, but that God produces the evil as well as the good works, not only by permission, but also properly and of Himself, so that the betrayal of Judas is no less His own proper work than the vocation of Paul: let him be anathema." Council of Trent, Canons on Justification #6"

So, Trent has anathemised itself by virtue of its defiance of Scripture. It should not have pronounce the anathema in the first place. Dangerous game, you know.

Romans 9 says Jacob have I loved, Esau have I hated - and

"For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction ..."

Augustinian Successor said...

The Roman Church is no Catholic Church, but the No. 1 Enemy of the Catholic Faith. Pope Benedict XVI is the present Antichrist.

What is Trent that it should it anathemised justification by faith alone? Who is the pope that he should sit in judgment over Scripture, the Word of God?

Augustinian Successor said...

Roman Catholics are not Catholics but pseudo-Catholics. It is you who need our approval as to whether you're really Catholic, not vice-versa.

Augustinian Successor said...

Even predestination as believed today in the Roman Church has been subjected to much qualification and sophistry that it hardly recognisable anymore, in most cases anyway. What Ludwig Ott, William Most, Garrigou-Lagrange, etc. have taught are not really subscribed to at any rate but re-interpreted in Molinist/Jesuitical terms.

Jansen was condemned precisely at the instigation of the Jesuits who hated Augustine and the Augustinian Succession both in the Roman and Protestant Churches. Not because he was heretical, as his five propositions make clear, tese were all derived from Augustine's works/writings.

It is present Roman Church which has modified the teachings of St. Augustine on the salvific will of God and the operative grace (as gratia efficax adjutorium quo).

Augustinian Successor said...

"Toss out your Loraine Boettner junk that pretends to tell you what Catholicism is and go to the source materials or as Mr. Swan here likes to say, "ad fontes."

No, toss out your Protestant theology 101 materials and go to source, ad fontes, as St. Jerome himself likes to say back to the Urtext (which excludes the Apocrypha) and the writings of the St. Augustine. You'll be surprised to learn how heretical your mother church is.

Augustinian Successor said...

"What Ludwig Ott, William Most, Garrigou-Lagrange, etc. have taught are not really subscribed to at any rate but re-interpreted in Molinist/Jesuitical terms."

Yes, within the boundaries set by the Magisterium post-"Cum Occasione", 1653 and ratified by subsequent documents such as "Ad sacram beati Petri Sedem"). In other words, what has been qualified by modern theologians (including Thomists/Dominicans post-de Auxiliis) have been subjected to even greater qualifications today!

Augustinian Successor said...

"Finally I don't care if Scripture is silent about relics. Divine Revelation is not Sacred Scripture alone, as Scripture itself attests."

So, you're deep in the denial syndrome mode, aren't you? Get out of the bunker, and smell the fresh air. Rev. 22 warns against ADDING or TAKING AWAY from the Word of God. Lest you think that that applies only to the Book of Revelation, a couple of points to consider:

1. This command in the NT is only found at the end of Revelation.

2. Revelation is an integral portion of the entire Bible. The command applies simultaneously to the entire Bible also since all the 66 Books of the Bible is the Word of God.

3. Adding to Revelation is the same as adding to the rest of the Bible.

Hence, the Papists err in making Tradition into a plus sign.

The right concept of Tradition is paradosis - transmission, i.e. proclamation and continuation, not material source and formal interpretation.

Augustinian Successor said...

"Wow, your really in a state of denial. Your religion did not exist my friend until the 16th century. It is you who cannot reason that you are the one following a man made religion built on many of the heresies of the past. Someone like you cannot reason, cannot be talked to because you will not think like a rational person. Enjoy the sand that you have your head in today. Good day.."

Hahaha, you'so ignorant of your history. These were the Catholics in the magisterial or mainstream Church before Luther, Calvin came along. That is to say, they were Protestants (conciliarists) aka Augustinians before the Reformation(!)

Thanks for the chuckle!

Matthew Bellisario said...

Blogger Augustinian Successor said...

"Matthew, before you shoot your mouth off, you should have known that there WAS the "Great Schism" in 1054. And now, you have shot yourself in the groin when I said that the East never recognised the primacy of Rome in terms of jurisdiction. Why do you think they dared to separate in the first place?"

Anyone who says the schism was final in 1054 is a 10 dollar scholar not worth talking to. It is very clear that you haven't a clue about the Eastern Schism. You haven't read one single book on it by an serious historian. All historians secular and religious alike including Orthodox and Catholic agree that the Church was not in schism in 1054. Read before you once again shoot your mouth off and make a fool out of yourself. Wickipedia is not a source for history.

Paul Hoffer said...

Mr. Enloe, Thank you for the references. I always enjoy your insights.

A.S., as for some of your comments: the Catholic Church does not teach that the veneration of relics is a practice that one is required to do in order to be saved. It is a devotional act that is supposed to increase one's piety and lead the faithful to participate deeper in the sacramental life of the Church. They are not magic charms. Furthermore, any miracles that occur in connection with relics or any sacramental is not due to any power contained in them, but are from God Himself who uses what He will to serve as conduits for His grace.

You said, "[T]o anathematize (sic) those who refuse to [venerate relics] in going against Scripture, the Word of God." Please mind you, I have not anathematized you in any way for not honoring the relics of any saint. It is you who have branded me foolish, superstitious, idolatrous, and pagan solely because I happen to disagree with you. I have brought for the reader’s consideration evidence supporting the practice in the form of St. Jerome’s epistle against Vigilantius, the scripture passages contained therein that justify the practice, and excerpts from the Martyrdom of Polycarp which show the veneration of a saint’s relics by the second generation of Christians after the apostles.

Out of courtesy to you and not to embarrass you, I did not quote from the extensive writings of St. Augustine or St. John Chrysostom, both of whom approved of the practice as strongly as St. Jerome. I instead tried to limit the issue to Calvin's complaint about candles being lit in the presence of relics which Jerome specifically dealt with in his letter against Vigilantius. I did point out to the incongruity of your argument by pointing out to you that you belong to a Christian sect that venerates the Church's saints by naming churches after them, a practice that is also not found explicitly in Scripture. Since your denomination does permit the veneration of the saints, you apparently have a problem with the way we Catholics do it, not with the fact that we do it.

You criticize me when I corrected you about the fact that the Catholic Church does teach predestination as a matter of dogmatic truth. In fact, I have defended this dogma of the Church quoting the same texts from Augustine that you have. I am also aware of Bede's views of predestination. The Catholic Church does not teach the excesses added to the doctrine by Attorney Calvin, excesses which we happen to believe would lead to a person to hold that God is the Author of evil as such doctrine has been authoritatively rejected and anathematized at the Council of Trent. St. Fulgence’s views on the matter are very helpful to assisting one to understand the Catholic view of predestination You can try to argue against teachings of the Catholic Church if you wish, but do not insult me by claiming that the Church no longer teaches the doctrine which is a matter de fide. The Catholic Church has rejected both Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagianism.

Scripture clearly teaches that there is freedom of the will but also insists on the necessity of grace as a foundation of one's justification and sanctification. How does one get around this seemingly paradoxical enigma that states that man has both free will and that God has predestined his elect~by actually believing that God is truly omnipotent and omniscient and rules man's will by His omnipotence and omniscience. He knew for all time the will of each human being and who would freely accept His grace and who would reject it. While man has free will to accept God's grace or not; it is because God is outside of time, God already knows who will freely accept His gift of grace. To say otherwise inexorably leads one to claim that God's Himself willed damnation on some of his creation. If one goes to hell, it is due solely to that person' fault, not anything that God did.

As far as the Talmud goes, I do understand what it is. Read Pirke Avot, Article One. The reasons that I cited to the Talmud was to demonstrate your error. Purgatory was a temporary state of being that first century Jews both believed in and taught. Likewise, the Catholic Church believes and hold that it was believed and taught in the early Church as well. It is not a practice began by some Pope in the late 6th century or other similar nonsensical non-historical notion.

While the Talmud is not in anyway binding on our faith, it does demonstrate how Jewish teachers prior to the time of Jesus and Paul taught it and what Scripture they relied upon to prove the doctrine. While the Talmud was written after Jesus’ death and resurrection and Paul’s ministry, it is the written account of the oral teachings of the Mishna (Oral Torah) and the commentaries of the teachers of the Jewish faith that were taught prior to Jesus’ time on earth. I suggest that in light of the fact that the doctrine was taught in the time of Jesus, that the study of what the Pharisees believed on the matter would assist one in understanding some of the things that Jesus and Paul said. I gave you one example where St. Paul uses the same allusion to fire purifying gold, etc. that is used in Zechariah 3:9 and the Wisdom of Solomon 3:1-7 which the Pharisees (of which Paul remained one even after he was a Christian-perhaps you might want to read Acts 23:6) used to explain their understanding of Purgatory, which the Catholic Church also uses as proof texts for the doctrine as well.

I have criticized your belief in the notion of private judgment. I am sorry that this makes you angry. By having the power to judge something give one control over it. Faith is a matter of assent and submission, not of judging. You criticize me for claiming that the Church that Christ founded retains the final authority to interpret Scripture when you hypocritically claim that same authority for yourself. Your system of belief has no adequate mechanism for resolving disputes involving interpretation. While Mr. Bridges and his group like to point out how few times that actually has been done (which attests more to the straw man arguments that people make up about the role that the Catholic Church plays in being the final appeal) the fact is that Mr. Bridges' point actually demonstrates the success and viabilty of the Catholic method used for interpretation.

As an attorney, I am aware that there are hundreds of thousands of disputes between people every day over issues of law. Usually, many of those matters are resolved without necessity of going to court. Of the law suits that are filed, very few of those ever go to trial and even many fewer of the cases that are decided by trial ever go up on appeal. And of those cases that do go up on appeal, only a handful are ever reviewed by a supreme court or other court of review after that. Even fewer of those cases are actually decided by a supreme court or court of review. The same holds true in the area of interpretation of Scripture. By the time that a dispute gets all the way through the system, it is usually worked out to the satisfaction of all concerned. It is extremely rare for the Catholic Church having to authoritatively interpret Scripture because its mechanism for resolving disputes works. It is there when needed and does not actively interfere, just like a court of appeals does not step in until the matter is decided in a lower court.

In my system of belief, I am confident that false interpretations of the Scriptures can be refuted or corrected by a "court of final reivew" far better than a system such as private judgment which still relies upon “trial by combat” as the only final method for resolving disputes.

God bless!

Alexander Greco said...

The so-called Augustinian Successor wrote: "Call NO man on EARTH father. That means only the earthly father deserve to be called father, no one else."

Uh...what?!?

What about Rabbi (teacher, in a religious context), and Master? Why did you avoid these as well? I'm curious, didn't you already admit that St. Paul had a fatherly relationship?

Oh, yes...right here: "Paul was very clear that only those he had nurtured in the faith can be considered as his son(s) in the faith."

You seem to be a very confused individual...I am truly sorry about that. I will ask the Saints to pray for you.

GeneMBridges said...

What about Rabbi (teacher, in a religious context), and Master?

That's a Jewish tradition.

1. Do we deny that elders teach? No. Do we deny the status of teachers? No

2. Is Jewish tradition determinative of Roman Catholic tradition? Is that what Rome teaches? No.

Why did you avoid these as well? I'm curious, didn't you already admit that St. Paul had a fatherly relationship?

Oh, yes...right here: "Paul was very clear that only those he had nurtured in the faith can be considered as his son(s) in the faith."


Because the Catholic conception of the "fatherhood" of priests is admittedly based on the OT model not Paul calling people "sons." Paul was not a priest conferring sacraments, etc. He was an Apostle, teacher, and preacher...or do you affirm that the millenia old tradition of calling other Christians "brothers" and "sisters" is a reference to holy orders of monks and nuns?

GeneMBridges said...


On the other hand, if we were both Catholics, we can ultimately appeal to the Church for a decision.


So what? How does this make your rule of faith superior. It only makes it on epistemic par. See below.

The authority of the Church conferred on Christ to "bind and loose"

Where does Scripture give this to the Roman Catholic Church? It doesn't.

it gives it the ability to have the final say

The Church has the final say? Notice the question-begging nature of the claim. Rather than exegeting Scripture, you simply assume this is what it means.
and if we are in error, the Church can define, correct, and discipline us.

Problem 1: If "we" are in error, then how do you know that our interpretation of what the Church says is not in error? That's the vicious regress, for you must appeal again to the Church.

a. Another appeal means the first one was not final.

b. You wind up with a vicious regress of appeals.

Good job!

P2) If "we" are in error, then either one of us is in error or both of us are in error. So, if two Roman Catholics can err, why can't even more be in error?

You can be true to tradition and tradition not be true.

Problem 3: You are assuming, without benefit of argument, that "the Church" however defined cannot err. How can I verify that claim? It should be simple. The churches often erred in the Apostolic Age itself, for such errors occasioned more than one letter in the NT. Your model doesn't fit the NT example, and previously you and others here were arguing that the Bible provided our proper model to follow, so you are contradicting your own argument.

P5: And you can't make infallibility jump from the page or the speaker to the reader. Every reader is an interpreter. (By the way, that's not my own argument alone, its an argument that Roman Catholics themselves have pointed out). How do you know that your interpretation is the correct one?

We're left with your fideistic commitment to "the Church." But that won't help you, for it merely begs the question for Romanism.

Do you read your own arguments, or are your finger autonomous with respect to your higher reasoning functions?

Is that the model the early church followed?

GeneMBridges said...

You criticize me for claiming that the Church that Christ founded retains the final authority to interpret Scripture when you hypocritically claim that same authority for yourself. Your system of belief has no adequate mechanism for resolving disputes involving interpretation. While Mr. Bridges and his group like to point out how few times that actually has been done (which attests more to the straw man arguments that people make up about the role that the Catholic Church plays in being the final appeal) the fact is that Mr. Bridges' point actually demonstrates the success and viabilty of the Catholic method used for interpretation.

No, it doesn't "work." That's a consequentialist argument. The fact that it "works" is irrelevant. We Protestants don't concern ourselves with such a thing, we are concerned with which rule of faith is *true.* The fact that a rule of faith "works" is not proof it is "true."

Let's look to the Bible. The fact of disputes among the denominational groups don't disprove Sola Scriptura. doesn’t invalidate sola Scriptura. If Israel was in breach of covenant, does that mean the Mosaic covenant was not a rule of faith which God imposed on his people? No.

Sola Scriptura serves the purpose that God assigned it. Indeed, the word of God has more than one purpose.

For example, God commanded the preexilic prophets to forewarn Israel of the impending Exile. Yet the mission of the prophets was doomed to “fail” since the Exile was inevitable. Was that practical given your criteria for what "works?"

You, by way of contrast, judge truthfulness by the utilitarian function of the rule.

a) God has the right to govern his church according to his appointed rule of faith (i.e. sola Scriptura).

b) No church officer (or church body) can invoke ecclesiastical authority as a shortcut for responsible exegesis.

c) Dogmas can be articulated by that means. Or they can be the result of partisan disputes, written by the winners, and lack the political connections.

Let's take Nicea 1. Did that really settle the dispute? Hmmm, Arianism ascended for quite a while afterwards. It took the 2nd Council and lots of politicking to settle that dispute, didn't it. But what happened during the interim? St. Athanasius was deposed and exiled more than once. While in exile, he did the exegesis including the first major exegetical work on the Holy Spirit, and this formed the foundation of Nicea II.

Finally, this is a pseudoproblem generated by your rule of faith, but it's not our rule of faith. Why should we assume that what "works" is what is "true?" You're just begging the question, as usual.

Augustinian Successor said...

Matthew, I never said the schism was final. Fact remains, a huge portion of the Eastern Church (sans the Byzantine Catholics) refuse to submit to the papacy. In your eyes, the Eastern Churches are schismatics.

Augustinian Successor said...

"What about Rabbi (teacher, in a religious context), and Master? Why did you avoid these as well? I'm curious, didn't you already admit that St. Paul had a fatherly relationship?"

This is getting confusing for you, right? Actually, if you follow the Protestant method of exegeting Scripture, there is no such problem. The term, Father per se is an abuse because it denotes and connotes that the "title-holder" is superior by virtue of his office. Yet, Our Lord was against such "lording" over the flock. It is not open to abuse, it IS abuse.

If you insist on the title fine, then be consistent and use it to everyone else. St. Stephen addressed the Sanhedrin as brothers (interesting this came first) and fathers, i.e. COLLECTIVELY. St. Paul instructed Timothy to rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father. So, why not call the elder lay leader a Father too? The Romanist position either proves too much or has no basis at all in Scripture.

No such problems arise in the context of the Protestant priesthood of all the baptised.

Augustinian Successor said...

"You criticize me when I corrected you about the fact that the Catholic Church does teach predestination as a matter of dogmatic truth".

Paul, again you confused doctrine with dogma. Predestination is not dogma, i.e. de fide. It was the dominant tradition in the Roman Church but not anymore. Just like the perpetual virginity of Mary, you are ignorant on the actual status of predestination in the Roman Church.

And on the excesses you mentioned, these are actually derived from the teachings of St. Augustine himself. You too exhibit ignorance on this. Augustine taught that the salvific will of God was limited to "all KINDS only" whereas the predestination that is now being taught in the Roman favours a universal application. You may wish to consult William Most on this. His book is available online from the Catholic Library.

Augustinian Successor said...

"In my system of belief, I am confident that false interpretations of the Scriptures can be refuted or corrected by a "court of final reivew" far better than a system such as private judgment which still relies upon “trial by combat” as the only final method for resolving disputes."

This final court of review which you so confidently tout is nothing but MASSIVE SUBJECTIVISM. Truth is not determined by an appeal to an empirical institution. Truth is REVEALED in Scripture. Scripture is the Word of God. And the Word of God interprets itself.

"My sheep hear my voice"

The Church is to LISTEN to the Word, not sit in judgment over it.

"For faith cometh by hearing, and hearing the Word of God"

Augustinian Successor said...

"I have criticized your belief in the notion of private judgment. I am sorry that this makes you angry. By having the power to judge something give one control over it. Faith is a matter of assent and submission, not of judging. You criticize me for claiming that the Church that Christ founded retains the final authority to interpret Scripture when you hypocritically claim that same authority for yourself. Your system of belief has no adequate mechanism for resolving disputes involving interpretation. While Mr. Bridges and his group like to point out how few times that actually has been done (which attests more to the straw man arguments that people make up about the role that the Catholic Church plays in being the final appeal) the fact is that Mr. Bridges' point actually demonstrates the success and viabilty of the Catholic method used for interpretation."

I have no idea by what you mean that criticising private judgment makes me angry. I abhor the Roman Church all the same. Your pontifications changes nothing, Paul.

You err, Paul, on what consitutes the highest authority. Let me spell this out for you:

The highest authority which the CHURCH possesses is the Gospel. For example, the binding and loosing authority is not a separate charism but an integral part of the Gospel proclamation. The pronouncement of absolution to the (openly or secretly) impenitent sinner serves only to kill, i.e. harden his heart in unbelief, on the premise that that unbelief leads to FINAL impenitence and or apostasy. The highest authority therefore has nothing to do with papacy BINDING Romanists to beliefs like the Immaculate Conception (de fide).

But the highest authority has to do with FREEDOM, setting bound sinners free, delivering from bondage ... in other words, the highest authority in the Church is the Gospel, not the Law, in whatever form or shape.

As for private judgment, it is a RIGHT and a NECESSITY because all Christians belong to the priesthood of all believers. There are no separate orders, although WITHIN the order there is the ministerial priesthood.

Private judgment therefore assumes the "shape" of the Gospel. It is essentially a Gospel principle. It is grounded in the proclamation of the Gospel. It means just as the Law as heteronomos no longer stand between the sinner and God, the justified sinner now has direct access to God through Jesus Christ. He alone now stand between the Christian and God, not as Law because it ended in Him but Mediator.

To appeal to the sacramental imagery of the "caput et membra" (totus Christus), the Church does not stand between the Christian and the Head, the Christian is part of the Church which is the Body of Christ. The Christian therefore has the right just as anybody else within the Body to interpret Scripture because ultimately, it is Scripture which interprets him, i.e. speak to him. And in Scripture itself, there is no conceptual distinction between God and Scripture. Read Romans 9, for example.

Denial of private judgment therefore is a denial of the Gospel.

Augustinian Successor said...

And veneration of relics ... it's no doubt a common error of the Catholic Church. It is in itself abuse, an excess.

Scripture is clear ... FAITH cometh by HEARING the WORD ...

For even if one should rise from the dead, they will NOT believe. They have Moses and the Prophets ...

It is WRITTEN ...

Augustinian Successor said...

"It is written that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every WORD out of the mouth of God."

THIS is the true CATHOLIC position.

May the Lord open your eyes to see the TRUTH.

Paul Hoffer said...

Mr. Bridges and A.S.,

Is it presumptuous of me to take your arguments to their obvious conclusion and believe that neither of you wish to submit to any authority but yourselves. You want to decide on what Scripture means to you. You want to decide on what docrine is right or wrong based on your view of Scripture. You want to even to place yourselves above the Church and claim that you are not subject to it. The bottom line is that there is a danger that the Gospel ends up being what you desire it to be instead of what it actually is.

Mr. Bridges, You claim that I am being suppositional in assuming that what works must be true. No, the Catholic system works because it is true. That is not an opinion, but a fact. If I truly believe and trust in Christ, if I truly believe and trust in what Jesus says is true, then I must also believe and trust in His Church and what it teaches to be true.

You are right though in assuming I accept this truth on faith, that is, if faith truly is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen. Faith, rather than rationalism, is the only way to break the circular argument that you attempt to present. Contrary to the assertions of A.S., this is not massive subjectivism (whatever that actually means). To trust in Christ, is to also trust in the body of Christ-His Church. It is that simple.

My problem with your view is that I see it as being full of distrust. You don't trust in the Church which is just another way of saying you don't trust in the Body of Christ; you don't trust in the interpretations of Scriptures by others; and by acknowledging that all can err, you can't even trust in yourself. In order to have actual faith, you have to start trusting!

One could argue that every person is an interpreter of sorts by virtue of their reasoning abilities. However, our ability to reason is not equal, it is not unbridled. Obviously, you gentlemen are far more intelligent than me, but perhaps there are others in the world who are smarter than you. Did God base one's salvation ultimately on how smart that person is? No, that smacks of Pelagianism again~that somehow we merit salvation based on how well we individually decipher what is in the Bible.

I would suggest an alternative. As one of my friends who e-mailed me said, faith requires a submission, an assent, a willingness to obey. At some point, one has to consent to "something" more than himself. The "something" that Christ gave us was His Church. If I do not truly have faith, then your way-private judgment-trusting in oneself to be lucky or smart enough to get it right-is the only way to go by default and where is the hope in that?

A.S. you said that Jesus said, "The sheep hear My voice." St. Paul said that the Church is the body of Christ. Thus Christ's voice is spoken by His Church. 1 Tim 3:15 says that the Church is the pillar and foundation of truth. Not "a" pillar and foundation of truth, but "the" pillar and foundation of truth. Jesus tells us that we are to take our disputes with our brothers ultimately to the Church for resolution. Mt. 18:15-20. The authority "to bind and loose" is in part the authority to interpret and to decide. Whether that authority was given to Peter first (Catholic view) or to the Church itself (if you are denying Peter's primacy~Protestant view), the fact is that authority rests with the Church, not with every single believer. In fact, St. Paul warns Timothy about the error of private judgment: "For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curosity, will accumulate teachers, and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths." 2 Tim. 4:3-4. This sounds like the mission statement for Protestantism because that is ultimately what private judgment is: the following of your own "desires and insatiable curosity."

Isn't this where Israel of the OT failed? The people followed their own desires and insatiable curosity rather than submitting to the OT equivalent of the church which spoke through the prophets and the Law.

And the example that Mr. Bridges gives of the Arian controversy proves what I am saying. Athanasius did not go it alone, contrary to the popular saying. The Bishop of Rome-i.e. the Pope, supported him as well as others who followed Rome and ultimately the Catholic view prevailed. It ultimately did require two councils to fix things. That is how the Holy Spirit works in an age where there are no more prophets and apostles.

However, imagine how that dispute would have been resolved if the notion of private judgment was being used. Tell me, how could the problem of Arianism have been fixed using your way. Arius interpreted Scripture to mean that Christ is not God. Athanasius disagreed. How does private judgment resolve the dispute? Arius starts his own church and goes one way and Athanasius another?

You talk about the letters being written in the NT to correct errors. Well, again St. Paul was appointed by the other apostles with the task of setting up the churches in the gentile communities. There obviously was a hierarchy. Those churches were subject to Paul's authority, which was given to him by the highest leaders of the Church. He wrote those epistles because he was a leader in the Church and that is something that leaders do. These churches did not have the authority or right to disagree with him saying, "WE EXERCISED OUR OWN PRIVATE JUDGMENT AND WE DISAGREE WITH YOUR INTERPRETATION."

Also, Scripture does not record an example of a lay person (if either of you gentlemen are ministers or deacons, I apologize), such as Mr. Bridges, Mr. Loh or Mr. Hoffer, writing to the Corinthians and saying, "Hey guys, you got this Scripture passage wrong. Please fix that." Why? Because the Corinthians were not obligated to accept correction from one lacking in authority to do so.

Also, when Paul and Barnabas disputed with the Judasizers, to whom did they appeal, their own private judgment? No, they took it to a higher authority in the Church. Hence the Council of Jerusalem. Thus, the examples you give do fit my model.

The Word of God is not merely a bunch of words. There is an order to it-sentences, paragraphs, books. So to is there an order in the Church-believers, deacons, priests, bishops, etc...

A.S. said, "As for private judgment, it is a RIGHT and a NECESSITY because all Christians belong to the priesthood of all believers. There are no separate orders, although WITHIN the order there is the ministerial priesthood."

Unfortunately, this is a Pharisaic notion that St. Paul rejects. Note what Pauls tells Timothy and Titus about the criteria to use in selecting priests (presbyters) and deacons. Those criteria are not just to find ministers to perform the sacraments, but to also evangelize, to preach, to teach. Furthermore, as shown in 1 Tim. 5-6, these men were to be subject to bishop's authority. See also Titus 1:1-13.

A.S. said, "But the highest authority has to do with FREEDOM, setting bound sinners free, delivering from bondage ... in other words, the highest authority in the Church is the Gospel, not the Law, in whatever form or shape." We are truly free only when we are slaves in Christ. Jesus told us to accept His yoke. He told us to take up His cross. And as my friend reminded me in that same e-mail, true faith means to surrender one's self and assent to the authority of something greater and to obey that authority.

You talk about "faith comes by hearing." As Christians, we all have the obligation to proclaim the Gospel so it can be heard. The Church has the obligation of making sure we proclaim it correctly. We have the responsibility to listen to the Church so we know that we are proclaiming it correctly.

As far as Father Most goes, you claim that he opposes the doctrine of predestination. In the article he wrote on "ST. AUGUSTINE ON GRACE AND PREDESTINATION" he discusses some inconsistencies he perceives with St. Augustine's notion of predestined damnation and attempts to reconcile them as well as the gap between Molinists and Thomists. Obviously, while Father Most's views are educational, helpful, and deserving of consideration, they are not the dogmatic expression of the Catholic Church.

This is what is what all Catholics must believe:

1) Free will~ God allows people to choose him, and allows them to reject them. Election is an act of persuasion and not of compulsion.

2) Co-operation~ It is necessary that a man cooperate with God's grace to be saved. Man must continuously allow God's grace to work in him (as pointed out by St. Fulgence). If at any point a man prevents this, he falls from grace.

3) Jesus died for all men, and His sacrifice can save all, that sacrifice did not automatically save anyone, only those who choose to accept Him.

4) Man is born in a state of sin, and must be called by God in order to accept Him and thus receive the merits of Christ's sacrifice.

5) God predestines no one to Hell.

As I understand it, how God uses grace to call man in point 4 is where the Thomists and the Molinists have their dispute. The Catholic Church holds that either view is acceptable.

BTW: Here are the two views for Protestants who do not know what A.S. is talking about:

"The Thomists, the Augustinians, the majority of the Scotists and also individual older Molinists (Suarez, St. Bellarmine) teach an absolute Predestination (ad gloriam tantum), therefore ante praevisa merita. According to them, God freely resolves from all Eternity, without consideration of the merits of man's grace, to call certain men to beatification and therefore to bestow on them graces which will infallibly secure the execution of the Divine Decree (ordo intentionis). In time God first gives to the predestined effective graces and then eternal bliss as a reward for the merits which flow from their free cooperation with grace (ordo executionis). The ordo intentionis and the ordo executionis are in inverse relation to each other (glory-grace; grace-glory).

Most of the Molinists, and also St. Francis de Sales (+1622), teach a conditioned Predestination (ad gloriam tantum), that is, postand propter praevisa merita. According to them, God by His scientia media, sees beforehand how men would freely react to various orders of grace. In the light of this knowledge He chooses, according to His free pleasure a fixed and definite order of grace. Now by His scientia visionis, He knows infallibly in advance what use the individual man will make of the grace bestowed on him. He elects for eternal bliss those who by virtue of their foreseen merits perseveringly cooperate with grace, while He determines for eternal punishment of hell, those who, on account of their foreseen demerits, deny their cooperation. The ordo intentionis and the ordo executionis coincide (grace-glory; grace-glory)."

http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2006/11/catholic-predestination-ludwig-ott.html

Between you and me, how God calls his elect is a mystery and I do not believe that man's limited reason is capable of understanding it. Whether God calls one by engraved invitation or uses a floodlight is not really important is it? I do not presume to question God's sovereignity. Why should you? That fact is that only those who God calls are saved. You and I are in agreement on this point so why are you attempting to create a dispute where there is none?

What I do know is that whether God gives me great gifts or limited ones, I know that if I do not multiply them, I will be cast out. Matt. 25:14-30.

A.S. Thank you for your intercessory prayer for me. I hope and pray that God will open your eyes as well and keep them open always so you will not stray from the path of glory God has set before you. God bless!