Sunday, August 10, 2008

Pop Apologetics

Jimmy Akin answered a question on his blog recently about answering Evangelicals on prayers for the dead. Considering Akin is a professional apologist with Catholic Answers, I would have expected him to be a bit better educated on canon history than his answer portrays.

"I therefore would question whether citing Maccabees is "not enough" as proof of prayer for the dead. It may not be enough for Protestants, because this book was removed from their Old Testament precisely in order to get rid of the passage dealing with prayer for the dead, but since this passage remains in the Catholic Bible, it should be enough for Catholics.

A Catholic thus might say to an Evangelical,'This passage is in my Bible. I accept it. So it is enough for me. It may not be enough for you because you do not find it in your Bible, but you should think about why that is: The reason is that your religious forebears took this passage out of the Protestant Old Testament precisely because they didn't like what it said.'" source


15 comments:

James Swan said...

If I recall, Akin said the same thing recently on CA Live about Protestants removing books, particularly Maccabees because of Purgatory.

James Swan said...

Also,

I covered Gary Michuta's similar assertions concerning Luther and Maccabees:

http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php?itemid=2467

http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php?itemid=2476

James Swan said...

...and by the way, Akin's entire entry is a classic example of how to use terms without defining them. It's the typical, "Tradition means what I want it to when I need it to."

David Ernst said...

The term "deuterocanonical" is in itself an admission that these writings were not part of the original Old Testament canon. Which, in turn, is the main reason why their status as divinely inspired books was called into question.

Carrie said...

...and by the way, Akin's entire entry is a classic example of how to use terms without defining them. It's the typical, "Tradition means what I want it to when I need it to."

Exactly.

I noticed Akin takes on a partim-partim position (at least in that post) which seems easier to assert when opposing sola scriptura. As I read that I was reminded of Bellisario's assertion in the debate with Turretinfan:

"Many seem to understand Tradition as being an addition to the Sacred Scriptures. This however is an incorrect, or incomplete way to view it."

and later

"Turretin said in his rebuttal, 'such that the papists do not derive their certainty about all revealed truths from the Scriptures alone but from Scriptures Plus.' Turretin has not given any reason for us to believe his statement." TF Debate Blog

Yet TF's accusation of "Scripture Plus" is exactly what Akin asserts (in post linked to):

"As Catholics, we draw information from and our theology is shaped by not only Scripture but also Tradition, the formulations of the Magisterium, philosophy, human nature (i.e., natural law) reasoning, etc.

...Just as we want to accept all of the Bible when we do theology, we also should accept everything that God has revealed to us for these purposes, and that goes beyond what is in the Bible."

I'm sure there would be some equivocation on terms here to try and mesh these 2 statements, but the partim-partim vs material sufficiency views are clearly in conflict. If Roman Catholicism cannot even define what exactly Tradition is, then where is the certainty and necessity of it in the first place?

Who is correct on the content of "Tradition", Bellisario or Akin? And how do I infallibly (with certainty) know who is correct?

Matthew Bellisario said...

Carrie says, "Who is correct on the content of "Tradition", Bellisario or Akin? And how do I infallibly (with certainty) know who is correct?"

Me..
First of all there is no contradiction in our statements. As I have explained, Sacred Scripture and Tradition are the same Gospel communicated in two different forms. So what he said is correct, and what I have explained is correct. An example would be the Holy Trinity in one God, though they are also 3 separate persons. We would not say they are alongside of each other as Divine Persons. They all subsist together mystically. For where one person of the Trinity is present, so are the other 2. One God, 3 persons, one Divine Nature. The same goes for the One Gospel, which exists in two forms, yet are one in nature. They are not separate entities alongside of each other or one plus the ohter, but one in substance existing in two forms.

Listen for a change instead of trying to confound what we are saying. But of course, no matter, if its Catholic it must be wrong in your mind right Carrie? So make up any contradiction you can and pit two Catholics against each other. Nice..

Carrie said...

Matthew,

TF said "such that the papists do not derive their certainty about all revealed truths from the Scriptures alone but from Scriptures Plus". You denied that. Yet Akin is saying that Catholic theology is derived from additional information outside of scripture.

The fact that your idea of "Sacred Tradition" is an amorphous group of revelation that includes Scripture doesn't negate what I said. Does Scripture contain all things necessary for man's salvation, faith and life or does it not?

bkaycee said...

Mark 7:13 "Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that."

Matthew Bellisario said...

"Does Scripture contain all things necessary for man's salvation, faith and life or does it not?"

Your definition would imply that the Scriptures are formally sufficient, which they are not. Depending on how far you want to take the definition, you can say that the Sacred Scriptures are materially sufficient in as far as they contain the basic elements necessary for salvation. This being the sacraments of baptism, the Holy Eucharist, confession, living a life in the state of grace and following the commandments of God so as to live a moral life, etc.

This however does not imply all 3 components that you listed, which include all tenants of the faith, and every moral teaching that we need to be aware of in living our lives etc. Your definition would also negate the interpretive aspect of the Gospel needed to correctly interpret the Sacred Scriptures, which is also contained in the form of Sacred Tradition.

When using terms like sufficiency we need to be very careful on how we use the term. Also not all orthodox Catholic theologians would agree with the use of the term material sufficiency. Not because they don't believe what I have referred to above, but because of the problematic definition of the words material and sufficient used in this context. To make this clear, we can see that a dogma of the Catholic faith is the Assumption of the Blessed Mother, which is no place found in Sacred Scripture.

If we are to take material sufficiency to the extent that all teachings of the Church are found in Sacred Scripture, then we could not define it as such. Material sufficiency can only be taken as far revealing the basic elements that are needed to be saved. In other words we all ordinarily need baptism, we need to confess our sins, receive the Holy Eucharist, we need to follow and obey the basic commandments of God, etc in order to be saved. This is found in Sacred Scripture. There are however moral issues that are not found in Sacred Scripture such as human cloning, etc that are relevant moral issues which could result in a person's loss of salvation since they are serious moral actions. These actions do fall under the 10 commandments in the Scriptures, but they are never defined in Sacred Scripture. Human cloning is not in Sacred Scripture, but if one were not confronted with this issue, Sacred Scripture would still contain the basic elements of salvation in it. Look at the Catechism to see how far the 10 commandments reach in definition and meaning that is not expounded upon in Sacred Scripture.

The definition of material here is how far one wants to take it. I prefer not to use the term "materially sufficient", since it can be misunderstood very easily. I don't want to expound any further since I am in a debate with Tf and do not want to take these arguments outside of the debate. I will expound on this subject later on my website after the debate is over and look closely at the terms and definitions made by Catholic theologians, including Pope Benedict XVI on this subject.

As far as I know the Catholic Church has not defined the terms on the sufficiency of Sacred Scripture in either a formal or material definition of the term in any document, so I think these definitions are is still up for discussion. In order to really define this a lengthly treatise would need to be done on the subject by the Church defining it, and explaining it fully. If anyone has anything written by the Church on sufficiency in an official capacity then please post it. Thanks.

Carrie said...

To make this clear, we can see that a dogma of the Catholic faith is the Assumption of the Blessed Mother, which is no place found in Sacred Scripture.

I am glad to see you admit this. Right there we can see that the Catholic view is "Scripture Plus" (to use TF's term) since the Assumption is de fide and must be believed by every RC.

If we are to take material sufficiency to the extent that all teachings of the Church are found in Sacred Scripture, then we could not define it as such.

Obviously all our your church's teachings are not found in scripture, which means that the scriptures are not sufficient for salvation for the RC. So I am still confused at why you disagreed with TF's assertion and seem to disprove of the partim-partim idea of Tradition.

As far as I know the Catholic Church has not defined the terms on the sufficiency of Sacred Scripture in either a formal or material definition of the term in any document, so I think these definitions are is still up for discussion.

Well, that was the point in the first place. Akin's comments jived more with a partim-partim view while you seem to favor the material/formal sufficieny view. Both are allowed in RCism, but they seem to contradict each other.

In order to really define this a lengthly treatise would need to be done on the subject by the Church defining it, and explaining it fully.

I doubt this will happen anytime soon as a decision either way would back RCism into a corner.

James wrote a good article at Aomin about the conflicting views on this topic, even by the Pope himself: Material Sufficiency and Joseph Ratzinger

GeneMBridges said...

When using terms like sufficiency we need to be very careful on how we use the term. Also not all orthodox Catholic theologians would agree with the use of the term material sufficiency. Not because they don't believe what I have referred to above, but because of the problematic definition of the words material and sufficient used in this context. To make this clear, we can see that a dogma of the Catholic faith is the Assumption of the Blessed Mother, which is no place found in Sacred Scripture

Well, if the dogma is NO PLACE FOUND IN SCRIPTURE, then you're getting it from another place - a place OUTSIDE of Scripture altogether. So, TF's statement is thereby proven true, not false.

I take it binary logic, among other things, isn't your forte.

Matthew Bellisario said...

Carrie and Gene Bridges, you refuse to learn anything because you keep referring to anything other than the Sacred Scriptures as a "addition" to the Gospel. Yet we see that the Gospel is presented to us in a written form and oral form yet one in substance, so no Tradition is not an addition to anything. This is the last time I will explain it since it is obvious you have no intention of learning anything. The proper way to view this is that you, the Protestant has to explain why you have done away with the oral form of the Gospel which has been referred to by Christians since the beginning. No we don't have a problem with adding to the Gospel, you have a problem with taking away from it. Until any of you can prove the the Gospel is written alone, then you have no leg to stand on. I have already used the analogy to the Holy Trinity to equate how Sacred Tradition and the Sacred Scriptures are one in substance, yet two forms, yet you just cannot grasp this. But of course, why try and learn what the Church really teaches when it is easier and more expedient for you to mock it instead?

Augustinian Successor said...

The Gospel is good news. It is content. The delivery of the Gospel is primarily by proclamation. Faith comes by hearing. The Gospel then is fundamentally oral in nature. The task of Tradition is to proclaim the Gospel. Hence, Tradition is not content but form, as you affirm. But content and form are not the same. There are not two contents or forms but one content and one form - divine content mediated through human form (based on the christological model of the Inspiration of Scripture (inerrancy and infallibility).

To place Tradition (form) on par with Scripture (content) is to confuse form with content. The two are not the same. So, Tradition is not an addition to Scripture, but its "extension". Tradition is not an addition to the Gospel, but its "extension". Tradition is to echo the Gospel as definitively contained in the Scripture. Scripture is divine revelation. Divine revelation is "circumscribed" by the 66 Books of Scripture. We know this because Jesus by the Spirit has warned the Church not to add nor take away from Scripture (Revelation 22).

Scripture alone is the divine revelation. Scripture alone claims to be divine revelation. Tradition is not neither does it claim to be so.

Matthew Bellisario said...

Blogger Augustinian Successor said...Tradition is not an addition to the Gospel, but its "extension".

Then I wonder why all of the ancient Churches refer to Scripture as residing within Tradition? Why because they are one in the same thats why. Ever heard of the term Scripture in Tradition? That is a term widely used by every ancient Church that has existed since the time of the apostles. Sacred Scripture and Tradition, the same living Gospel given to us in oral and written form, one in substance. That is authentic Christianity.

Augustinian Successor said...

"Then I wonder why all of the ancient Churches refer to Scripture as residing within Tradition?"

Scripture resides in Tradition. Scripture resides in the Church. The Church is living Tradition. But the Church is not divine revelation.