Thursday, February 19, 2009

Circles and more circles

Stacey was kind enough to actually interact with my recent post on the inconsistency of the RCC. That's much appreciated, b/c prior to her there wasn't much meaningful action.

Hi Stacey,

Sorry for the delay. I've been bogged down in engagements with Darwinians elsewhere.

Tertullian said:
1 Corinthians 8:2 When they raise the objection that the churches were rebuked, let them suppose that they were also corrected

Yes, and then the Corinthians were corrected, again, in 2 Corinthians.
The Thessalonians were corrected about the very same issues a 2nd time in 2 Thessalonians.
Plus, isn't it true that these epistles were sent AFTER Paul had spent varying amounts of time preaching and teaching in that church? Paul was in Rome a while. He was in Ephesus for 18 months! Yet they ended up getting it wrong after a while, and so he sent a corrective epistle. And Tertullian would have us believe that, after 18 months of preaching, a 6-chapter epistle would definitely be enough to fix it all up? How often does that happen in RCC, after people receive an infallible proclamation? Sure, some, even many, follow it faithfully...for a while. What about their kids and grandkids and great grandkids? How holy is the populace of Avignon these days? How about of Rome?
Further, isn't it RCC's contention that oral tradition is what is missing out of the Sola Scriptura position, that Sola Scriptura is a blueprint for anarchy without the guiding power of the RCC's oral tradition? And here Stacey quotes Tertullian to the effect that an epistolary correction should suffice to clean up these errant churches, eh? Very, very interesting.


Tertullian said:
which nevertheless even at this day, unite with those which were rebuked in the privileges of one and the same institution.

Well, most of them don't today. Is there an unbroken line of succession of bishops from the time of the apostles in the church in Ephesus? *IS* there a church in Ephesus today? Does anyone even live in Ephesus today? Philippi? Colossæ? Laodicæa?


Stacey said:
"the final authority is the Church" would be a vital part of living Tradition.

No, it's the governing authority of Tradition. That which defines what is and isn't Sacred Tradition® is not part of it at all; it sits in judgment OVER it. Let's not equivocate on terms here.

You ask about the Theodoret quote. Point is, he's an early church writer. He's part of little-t tradition, from the 5th century. He's teaching Particular Redemption/Limited Atonement, a Calvinist distinctive doctrine. It is not (unless I'm mistaken) a view that is possible to hold and be in good standing with RCC, today. So this quote doesn't make it into Sacred Tradition® b/c it conflicts with MODERN RCC teaching.


Stacey said:
I have also referred to the Catholic understanding of faith, and justification by faith alone is true if you mean faith that bears fruit in love

I'm sorry Stacey, but this is not the modern RC view (unless you want to count the touchy-feely liberal crowd who don't "judge" anyone). Justification by grace alone thru faith alone is not a view that is compatible with the doctrines of the treasury of merit, penance, and Purgatory, to say nothing of baptismal regeneration.

Even later in your comment, you said:
In fact, Scripture teaches "not by faith alone" in James 2:24.

So... which is it?


There is reason to believe that when James said "faith", he meant "belief" and when Paul said "faith" he meant "obedience to the will of God".

So when Paul said "faith", he meant "that which makes grace no longer grace" (cf Romans 11:6)? Interesting.
Let me help you decode - maybe you could tell us all why "faith" suddenly means "works" now.



Stacey said:
But when the living Church of Christ is your guide, it's not as big a deal if people disagreed about such a thing, particularly before the Church held council to resolve the dispute

This is precisely the point! You appeal to the RCC for EVERYthing, but the RCC can't back up its claims. Why is Athanasius' canon not part of Sacred Tradition®? B/c RCC at a more modern time said so. So it proves my point every time it does so.


We cannot ignore the arrow of time, and once the Church has resolved the issue, then there should be no dispute in Tradition.

Yes, simply by removing the parts that don't fit your view. This is eisegesis with history. We Reformed, OTOH, let the CFs be who they are. We don't cut anything out of what they said. We understand that they were non-inspired writers, whose views have their proper weight but no more. RCC appeals to them, leans on them for her authority that she exercises in modern times, and one way RCC exercises her authority is to cut out writings and pick and choose writings from these very CFs to whom they appeal to justify their authority. It's viciously circular.


I think the issue of which books are included in the Old Testament canon is relatively insignificant to issues like "Is Christ present in the Eucharist?" and "Is baptism necessary for salvation?"

No offense intended , Stacey, but who cares what you think about this issue's relative importance? You really don't think that being in the dark about what is God's revelation is a minor issue?


No, indeed the Church does not include every word written by these men as the written Tradition. There is no written Tradition.

1) No written Tradition? None? So why does RCC quote CFs when it appeals to them for her authority?
2) Isn't this exactly the same as the admission that RCC is the final judge of what is and isn't true teaching, regardless of whether early Christians believed it or not? How is that not viciously circular?


The Tradition that Catholics speak of is not the writings of the Church Fathers, it is that to which the writings testify.

This is a pious cloud of nothing, I am sorry. How else do we know that to which they testify if there is no written Tradition?
Oh wait, let me guess - The Church® told you so.


I saw this on your blog earlier.

Yep, I thought it was fine as it stood and so copied and pasted! :-) James S told me I could do that back when he hired me (though I suspect that, as he recently doubled my stipend, I should probably step it up and produce all-original work from now on).


A submissive spirit to those He has put in authority over us, or a desire to exert our own will and understanding over those same people who are in authority over us?

This simply begs the question of who is in proper authority. Heb 13:17 - my elders are in authority over me. I am a member of a church. But I do appreciate your concern.
Yet you are relying on the authority of an organisation that appeals to herself to pick and choose which writings out of its alleged early members accord well enough with its current teaching to admit into one of the foundations of the authority by which it binds that authority on your conscience. Where did Scripture go? It suffers the same fate at RCC's hands as do the writings of the CFs - picked over, gleaned, the rest left to rot in the sun.


20 comments:

Carrie said...

(though I suspect that, as he recently doubled my stipend,

What! I'm not getting a stipend.

kaycee said...

Could be worse. You could be paid in indulgences. :)

Rhology said...

I'm not getting a stipend.

Uh oh, they're on to me...

Carrie said...

Could be worse. You could be paid in indulgences.

Plenary or partial?

Rhology said...

Double plenary.

Lvka said...

He [Theodoret] is teaching Particular Redemption/Limited Atonement, a Calvinist distinctive doctrine.

No, he is not. (But I've already told You that). Yet You won't listen...

In fact, Scripture teaches "not by faith alone" in James 2:24.

So... which is it?


I think I'll side with Scripture on this one. (How about You?)

So when Paul said "faith", he meant "that which makes grace no longer grace" (cf Romans 11:6)? Interesting.

Romans 11:6 speaks about the works of the Law of Moses, and the people of Israel, and about the Pharisees, and was written after the Apostolic Synod described in Acts 15.

Christ tells us about people going to the altar to offer their gifts and sacrifices while still bearing grudges against their neighbour: fulfilling thus the letter of the Law, while killing its Spirit; or about the Priest and Levite from the Parable of the Good Samaritan: they obeyed the letter of the Law of Moses, by keeping away from dead bodies; yet they've neglected its life-giving Spirit: love thy neighbour as yourself. The Gospels are replete with such examples. Our job is to circumcise our hearts (and ears), ... not our penises: and that's in the Old Covenant as well (and also in Paul)

Let me help you decode - maybe you could tell us all why "faith" suddenly means "works" now.

I can't help not remembering that St. Paul spoke of faith which worketh through love: this is his definition of faith; if You have another one, stop using his writings, since You don't accept the meaning that he himself attributes to his own words and concepts employed there.

Why is Athanasius' canon not part of Sacred Tradition®?

But it is.

Where did Scripture go?

On the Altar, and in the strana, (where the cantors sit...and sing).

Agellius said...

Say, what's the idea closing comments on the Conversion Stories post?

kaycee said...

Charlie, says.

Love my good-n-plenary.

Charlie, says.

Really plenary good!

Carrie said...

Charlie, says.

Love my good-n-plenary.

Charlie, says.

Really plenary good!


Goofball!

Stacey said...

Rhology,

I'm not ignoring your post, I'm just waiting to give it attention when I have time :)

GeneMBridges said...

I think I'll side with Scripture on this one. (How about You?)

Scripture, and James does not attribute justification to "works." Of course, this has been explained to you before, and you, as usual, are still not making any attempt to exegete the text. Like "Orthodox" before you, you simply try to blunt the force of one text with another.

Since you can't seem to be bothered to understand basic exegetical fallacies, I suppose one of us will have to point this out for you:

You're guilty of the fallacy called semantic incest, where a disputant uses one Bible writer’s usage to interpret another Bible writer’s usage. For example, James’ use of “justification” is employed to reinterpret Paul’s usage—and thereby disprove sola fide.

So, why don't you do us a favor, Lvka and present an actual exegesis of the passage from James in question?

Romans 11:6 speaks about the works of the Law of Moses, and the people of Israel, and about the Pharisees, and was written after the Apostolic Synod described in Acts 15.

Christ tells us about people going to the altar to offer their gifts and sacrifices while still bearing grudges against their neighbour: fulfilling thus the letter of the Law, while killing its Spirit; or about the Priest and Levite from the Parable of the Good Samaritan: they obeyed the letter of the Law of Moses, by keeping away from dead bodies; yet they've neglected its life-giving Spirit: love thy neighbour as yourself. The Gospels are replete with such examples. Our job is to circumcise our hearts (and ears), ... not our penises: and that's in the Old Covenant as well (and also in Paul)


As usual, you don't seem able to interact with the substance of the issue. Protestants do not disagree that faith that justifies works itself out in sanctification. Rather, the issue between us and Romanists is over whether works are meritorious. In Catholic theology, grace is not only a necessary condition of justification, it is an insufficient condition, insofar as one is saved not by faith in Christ alone based on his alien righteousness alone, but by faith in Christ, the merit of the saints and the Church, and one's own congruent merit.

Try, in future, to follow the conversation.

On the Altar, and in the strana, (where the cantors sit...and sing). Yes, and judging from your responses it is chained there...and not in the hands of the people for whom it was written...

Matt said...

By the way, if anyone is interested, many, many sixteenth-century (post Tridentine) Catholic exegetes said that the "works of the law" in Romans 3 included the moral law, not just the ceremonial and judicial precepts. The idea that this is a Protestant vs. Catholic exegesis is historically naive, as James Swan likes to say.

Secondly, Mr. Bridges may be interested in the work of Professor Wawrykow:

http://theology.nd.edu/people/all/wawrykow-joseph/index.shtml

He may be able to present a richer theological account of how the Catholic tradition has employed the concept of "merit."

But, more specifically here, would you say that Augustine or the Council of Orange deny the sufficiency of God's grace? If so, how do you explain his extensive use of the concept of merit?

Protestants and Catholics may disagree about the meritoriousness of works in grace, but the implications which you draw from the Catholic teaching, I think, are not a fair representation of the historical use of the doctrine.

If you would like to engage more on the topic, I'd love to do so.

Pax!

Lvka said...

You're guilty of the fallacy called semantic incest

Cool.

where a disputant uses one Bible writer’s usage to interpret another Bible writer’s usage.

So, in other words, the author of Romans [4:16] is not the same as that of Galatians [5:6] ?

Here's one passage of my comment, which You didn't bother addressing (wonder why), and which answers You the question regarding me engaging in incests of any kind, or at least failing to exegete the Biblical text:

I can't help not remembering that St. Paul spoke of faith which worketh through love: this is his definition of faith; if You have another one, stop using his writings, since You don't accept the meaning that he himself attributes to his own words and concepts employed there.

Rhology said...

Stacey,

Oh man, I have so much on my blogging plate, if you responded now, it'd be at least a week before I could get back to you. No worries at all! We'll just keep this on a relaxed timetable.

Rhology said...

Gene,

Nice to see you back in action. I hope your long break has been refreshing.

GeneMBridges said...

So, in other words, the author of Romans [4:16] is not the same as that of Galatians [5:6] ?

Note for the record that Lvka's original frame of reference was James, not Galatians. So, where's the exegesis of the text of James he invoked?

Protestants and Catholics may disagree about the meritoriousness of works in grace, but the implications which you draw from the Catholic teaching, I think, are not a fair representation of the historical use of the doctrine.

The issue is whether or not (a) grace (and as a consequence "merit") is infused or imputed; (b) whether grace is necessary or both necessary and sufficient.

The issue isn't historical theology; it's exegetical theology, and we've been over Augustine several times on this blog, Matt. Consult its archives and those at Triablogue. I'm not going to reinvent the wheel.

Here's one passage of my comment, which You didn't bother addressing (wonder why), and which answers You the question regarding me engaging in incests of any kind, or at least failing to exegete the Biblical text

No, it doesn't, Lvka, since I was referring to your use of James to blunt the force of Paul. Now, you're just trading on the sense-reference fallacy, trying to use one singular definition as a blanket. The question is what does Paul mean in text (a) and text (b). One cannot assume, without benefit of argument, the same formal definition of a concept even for the same author. Words and concepts are two different things, and words themselves have something called a semantic range. Oh, and for the record, that fallacy isn't semantic incest. It's semantic inflation, where you map one usage over all other usage, regardless of the authorship.The disputant will equate the mere occurrence of a word with a whole doctrine associated with the word.

For example, a Catholic will compare and contrast Paul’s doctrine of justification with James’ doctrine of justification. But the mere fact that James uses the word “justification” doesn’t mean that he even has a doctrine of justification. That would depend, not on the occurrence of the word, in isolation, but on a larger argument. Words and concepts are two different things. In this case, instead of selecting two different authors, you're using the same author. The process is still fallacious. The reason I didn't comment is simply because I thought that you might be able to understand basis exegetical fallacies 101. I guess I was wrong.

Lvka said...

Lvka's original frame of reference was James, not Galatians.

No, Eugene, Lvka's original frame of reference was Paul. (You were the one to bring up James into the question).

I was referring to your use of James to blunt the force of Paul.

What use of James to blunt the "force" of Paul are You seeing anywhere in my comment?

[Were You refering to the quote I cited in my comment from *someone else's* comment?]

Oh, and for the record, that fallacy isn't semantic incest. It's semantic inflation, where you map one usage over all other usage, regardless of the authorship.

Interesting. So not only that two Apostles can't keep consistence between themselves, but neither can one of them keep consistence with himself (pity, since he's the particularly "forceful" one). [And not only that, but it seems my own opponent can't keep consistence with himself either in his own accusations directed towards me -- I do seem to have that strange AXE effect on people...]

So, Eugene, which is the strange and mysterious new meaning of the words faith and justification in Galatians, as opposed to Romans? Or did "the force of Paul" grew weaker with Galatians? [In which case You might better call it "the force of Romans", just so as to be on the safe-side...]

P.S.: word-verif. = "kings" :-)

Matt said...

It doesn't seem that you are interested in engaging here, Mr. Bridges, and that is fine. I agree that I highlighted in your comment was indirectly related to the flow of the conversation.

But I do want to take issue with your saying that this is an issue of exegesis, not historical theology. You talked about congruent merit, cooperation, grace as a necessary or sufficient condition... Then you went on to describe the differences between Protestant and Catholic soteriology. These are questions that cannot be understood, let alone settled, with only Biblical exegesis. And they are points where, I believe, you are misstating the Catholic position.

As Augustine shows, e.g., one can believe in the "infusion" of God's grace and the sufficiency of God's grace at the same time. Indeed, he shows that one can believe both of these things while still embracing a notion of merit.

Matt said...

And to your specific points:

1) Some Reformed theologians (Edwards, Mastricht, and others) thought of grace as infused. It was just that they generally did not believe that this infusion of grace was in any way the basis of justification. Of course, this two-sentence summary oversimplifies a great deal, but it is not necessary to resist the infusion of grace altogether and remain in the Reformed tradition, as far as I can tell. Once some sort of infusion is granted, then the conversation significantly changes in character.

2) I believe that grace is necessary and sufficient, though this terminology is somewhat confusing, given the historical use of the terms (as one sees in the following sentences!). I believe that God elects whom He chooses and infallibly and efficaciously brings His elect to everlasting life. Even our "response" to God's grace is an infallible *consequence*--indeed, effect!--of the working of that grace.

It is the Molinists who say that the movement of human free will "transforms" God's merely sufficient grace into efficient or effective grace. I believe, as a Thomist, that God's grace is intrinsically efficacious. Now, this efficacious grace does not do violence to our freedom as human beings and our responsibility, but saying so should not be a problem for you, as far as I can tell. Many Reformed theologians have said the same thing.

By the way, if you'd like evidence for these claims, just let me know. I didn't think it was necessary to do so because this is a blog, not an academic journal, and because I don't know if you are going to respond.

Stacey said...

Rhology,

I will not be posting on Beggars All anymore. Although it seems other people are responding well enough, if you'd like a response from me, let me know and I'll post something on my blog.