Thursday, May 21, 2009

Attention Catholics: Ugly Churches Distort The Catholic Faith


I get updates from the Catholic publisher, Sophia Institute Press. The most recent one was very interesting:

"The problem with new-style churches isn't just that they're ugly -- they actually distort the Faith and lead Catholics away from Catholicism. So argues Michael S. Rose in the eye-opening pages Ugly as Sin, the book that banishes forever the notion that those of us who love traditional-style churches are motivated simply by nostalgia. In terms that non-architects can understand, Rose shows that far more is at stake: modern churches actually violate the three natural laws of church architecture and lead Catholics to worship, quite simply, a false god: Not content to limit himself to theory, Rose in Ugly as Sin takes you on a revealing tour through a traditional church and a modern church. He shows conclusively how the traditional church communicates the Faith . . . . . . while the barren modern one leaves you empty... and alone..."

Well, this is an approach I never considered in understanding Catholicism. There are many reasons why I believe Roman Catholics practice a false faith, but I never considered arguing they worshiped a false god based on architecture! In an old com box, DA referred to this publisher as a "reputable, respected publisher" that "specializes in Catholic classics." Well, this is a classic alright, but then again, Sophia Press at one time stated DA was a "lifelong Protestant Scripture scholar", so perhaps their categories and terms are defined somewhat differently. Well whatever, I would though avoid ugly churches if you're concerned about worshipping the correct god.

40 comments:

Turretinfan said...

Two comments:

1) There is an interesting way in which architecture follows, reinforces, and sometimes forms traditions. So, I can understand the frustration of those who see the late medieval architecture (and what it stands for) starting to die out.

2) It is interesting to note how little the New Testament speaks about the architecture of churches, as though our worship is to be in spirit and in truth, and the location of the assembly is largely an incident.

-TurretinFan

Matthew Bellisario said...

Great book! A must read for those interested in the true worship of God and the theology behind why churches were built they way they were for thousands of years. When Jesus is the focus, and when Chirst is truly believed to be present in the Eucharist, proper church architecture follows. That is why Protestant churches declined quickly after the Reformation.

bkaycee said...

What, no magesterium sanctioned blue prints? How do these false God promoting "churches" get built without an imprimatur from the local bishop? :)

James Swan said...

Matthew,

Do you believe architecture has lead "Catholics to worship, quite simply, a false god"? This is what Sophia Press claims. That's quite a charge.

Matthew Bellisario said...

James, please explain. I am not sure what you exactly. Are you talking about the modern architecture?

GeneMBridges said...

A must read for those interested in the true worship of God and the theology behind why churches were built they way they were for thousands of years.Exactly how many thousands of years? Where is the documentary evidence?
For that matter, where does the New Testament address the architecture of churches, Matthew?

Matthew Bellisario said...

Gene, why does the New Testament have to give you a blueprint for a church? The evidence is all around the world. Look at the oldest churches in existence. They all have a similar mold to them. That is they all assume that something very sacred was going to happen in them when they were built. Look at the oldest Christian church in existence, Dura Europos, which has many similar characteristics in it that would later be modeled in the larger churches when the church grew out from the persecutions. The liturgy that was celebrated in that house church was similar to the Divine Liturgies of the Catholic churches thoughtful history. The architecture and sacred images that were in the house dating from the mid 3rd century tell us so. We have many examples of church architecture throughout history that exemplifies Catholic theology. Where are yours?

Matthew Bellisario said...

Actually if we are going by the New Testament alone I would think that we could only meet in houses. Where in the Bible does it say that we should build giant buildings to worship in? To my knowledge they met in houses and private places of worship in the New Testament.

Turretinfan said...

It takes a real дура to think Dura Europos is typical of the early church.

-TurretinFan

Andrew said...

I am truly puzzled. A church built a certain way can lead Catholics to worship a false god, but Muslims adore the one merciful God along with Catholics. Someone please explain.

Andrew said...

TF, would you mind explaining your apparent quip for those of us who would lke to get it, but don't?

Matthew Bellisario said...

We know who the real imbecile is here, do we not Turretin? How many other examples do we have of early house churches? Your one line insults are however a perfect example of your Christian charity.

GeneMBridges said...

Gene, why does the New Testament have to give you a blueprint for a church? 1. Matthew, I didn't ask for a blueprint for a church. Rather, I asked for where the NT addresses the architecture of churches.

2. But, to answer, your question, that's not a question that I need to answer, for, simply put, your side of the aisle is making the claim that the architecture of churches is relevant to the worship of the true God, and you clearly have an idea of the theology behind that. So, you're the one that needs to consult the NT, not me.

Look at the oldest churches in existence. They all have a similar mold to them. That is they all assume that something very sacred was going to happen in them when they were built.And how is this relevant to the theology of churches. How do Protestant churches differ from these oldest churches? Why are your meeting houses superior to ours?

The liturgy that was celebrated in that house church was similar to the Divine Liturgies of the Catholic churches thoughtful history. The architecture and sacred images that were in the house dating from the mid 3rd century tell us so.Really, do you have a copy of the liturgy from Dura Europa? How do you get the content and beliefs about that content from the images that are there unless you can actually document your case? How do you know Dura Europa is typical for all other local churches in that time period? You've made no supporting argument.

Where are yours?Hmmm, I believe the post below the one in which you asked that question answers that for me. Many Protestants worship in house churches. Many of them include a baptistery. The Lord's Table is there. We have a place for the elders of the church to sit, etc. Does one need to divide a church into a cross to be a proper church? Does one need to have the elements for the Lord's Table under lock and key to be proper? Where does the NT instruct us on such things, Matthew? How can I be sure "your" churches are "correct" and "ours" are not if the NT itself doesn't give us the instructions? Tradition? Well, one can be true to tradition w/o tradition being true, so that's no help at all.

Remember, that you made the claim that "your" churches were built a particular way for "thousands of years." How many thousands of years, Matthew?

If "my" church is a house church or is more similar to a house church in the NT than "yours," then which actually is a better model of what we find in the NT? If particular architectural forms are so important, then however in the world did God's people muddle along in the first century?

Matthew Bellisario said...

Gene. How are you going to demonstrate what a house church was in the New Testament? Do you as a Protestant use anything other than a house church? If so how do you substantiate doing so when the New Testament doesn't tell us so? You r churches are not Biblical in nature. The New Testament doesn't have to tell us anything about church architecture. Scholars tell us that Dura Europos was a typical house church of the time. But I suppose you were there in the 3rd century and you can tell us all something different. The problem here is, unless all of your churches are in houses, you are not following the New Testament model of worship. Are you saying that unless the worship is modeled after that in the New Testament that it is not relevant? Answer the question.

And tell your pal Turretin Fan to make his insults in English rather than Russian. All it takes is a Google search to find the word. What a loser.

GeneMBridges said...

How are you going to demonstrate what a house church was in the New Testament?That's not something I need to do, since I'm not the one making claims about church architecture making "our" churches, defined here as meeting houses, superior as if that's a necessary part of true worship of God for an individual or corporate setting.

That would, in fact, be a problem for you, not me, for, if the NT model is a "house church" and it is, by your own admission, and somehow church architecture is relevant to whether churches fail or succeed, as you put it in your first post here, then how did the first century churches ever muddle through without proper church architecture?

Readers should know that Matthew has yet to respond to this question, and this is the second time I've asked it. Note this well given what he demands of me later in his post.

Do you as a Protestant use anything other than a house church?Irrelevant, since I've not made the claim you are making for your side of the aisle.

If so how do you substantiate doing so when the New Testament doesn't tell us so?From the Reformed tradition in general, the principles would be part of the Regulative Principle of worship. Before asking these elementary questions, why don't you do your homework? You know I'm Reformed, so the RPW would be the logical place to start, wouldn't it?

You r churches are not Biblical in nature.Apparently, you can't keep up with your own argument, Matthew.

Your right hand says that that Protestant churches are not biblical in nature and

Your left hand saysr that the NT doesn't inform us about church architecture.

But if the NT doesn't provide this information, how do you know that our meeting houses are "unbiblical?"

Scholars tell us that Dura Europos was a typical house church of the time. This is not a claim convertible with linking inscriptions to a liturgy then that liturgy to Roman Catholicism.

The problem here is, unless all of your churches are in houses, you are not following the New Testament model of worship.Can you document me making that claim? Please do so, chapter and verse, as it were. I have never, not one time anywhere at any time advocated the position that all churches must be house churches.

No, what did was respond to you on your own level. You, not me, are linking valid worship, et.al. to church architecture and such architecture to history and tradition. It's your view that this is necessary, not mine. So, the problem arises for you, not me, if the NT doesn't model follow what you find churches of a later period, for then it would be you, not me who is not practicing NT worship if there is a variance.
I'm taking your argument to it's own conclusion. If you find that absurd, then, it's not my fault, it's your fault, for that's where you argument would go.

Are you saying that unless the worship is modeled after that in the New Testament that it is not relevant?No, what I'm asking you to do is examine your own argument in light of the NT. How does your model line up against what we find in the NT?

As for answering questions, Matthew, before you start making demands of me, why don't you do what you ask me to do?...I asked you a series of questions in this thread, and you have yet to answer them. Don't sit at your keyboard and make demands of me when you won't do yourself what you ask of me.

And tell your pal Turretin Fan to make his insults in English rather than Russian. TF can speak for himself. We're all adults here, Matthew, even if you refuse to act like one. I don't have any control over TF and we don't need to pass notes in class like a bunch of teenagers.

EBW said...

Andrew,
If "a church built" and "works of art" can be understood together, then here's a quote.
Bishops should be careful to ensure that works of art which are repugnant to faith, morals, and Christian piety, and which offend true religious sense either by depraved forms or through lack of artistic merit or b/c of mediocrity or pretence, be kept well away from the house of God and from other sacred places.(Sacrosanctum Concilium)

Regarding Muslims/Catholics,
1.adoration is an act of religion
2.religion has God for its object as principle beginning and end of all things.
3.the kalam cosmological argument does a good job in showing that Muslims/Catholics adore God as the
cause of all things.
4.Hebrews 11:6

Matthew Bellisario said...

Responses to Gene B.

I said,
"How are you going to demonstrate what a house church was in the New Testament?"

Gene said, That's not something I need to do, since I'm not the one making claims about church architecture making "our" churches, defined here as meeting houses, superior as if that's a necessary part of true worship of God for an individual or corporate setting.

My response,
Yes it is something you need to do since you are the one that used Scripture to contest me. If you are not going to follow New Testament rules for worship then why do you question me for not doing so using the very Scripture that you are going against? Don't throw out an appeal to Scripture to someone if you are not going to follow it yourself.

I said,
"Do you as a Protestant use anything other than a house church?

Gene replied,
"Irrelevant, since I've not made the claim you are making for your side of the aisle."

My response,
It is relevant because once again you are the one using the New Testament as a standard to question liturgical architecture. I am not, nor have I ever appealed to Scripture to justify church architecture. But if we are gong to do so then we must conclude that house churches are the only forms that are used in the NT. You can't have it both ways. Either you are going to go by the NT only, or you are going to admit that were are not going by that standard alone, and then we can move on the real discussion at hand. Until you are going to conform to the NT yourself there is no need for me to do so.

Gene continued,
"But if the NT doesn't provide this information, how do you know that our meeting houses are "unbiblical?""

My response,
If you read my comments I did say the NT used house churches did I not? I said they did not give an exact blueprint if you read. So if you're meeting houses are anything other than what was used in the NT, you are using your own church design, which would be "un-Biblical."

I said,
"Are you saying that unless the worship is modeled after that in the New Testament that it is not relevant?"

Gen responded,
"No, what I'm asking you to do is examine your own argument in light of the NT. How does your model line up against what we find in the NT?

As for answering questions, Matthew, before you start making demands of me, why don't you do what you ask me to do?...I asked you a series of questions in this thread, and you have yet to answer them. Don't sit at your keyboard and make demands of me when you won't do yourself what you ask of me."

My response,
Gene you are the one who brought up the New Testament standard, not me so why is now my job to hold to a standard that you are not willing to hold to yourself? Sorry, once again you are not going to force into an argument that I never made. You pulled the New Testament card, not me. Anyone can go back and read that and see that this is the case. I never said that the churches that were built later in the 4th century were the same as in the NT. What I will say is that the churches that were in houses that we have archeological finds of have a liturgical character that is similar to the churches that soon followed. I have the evidence presented at Dura which you keep ignoring.

Gene ended with this gem,
"We're all adults here, Matthew, even if you refuse to act like one. I don't have any control over TF and we don't need to pass notes in class like a bunch of teenagers."

My response,
Really? Do adults use foreign language to insult people on blogs rather than engage in a real conversation?

Matthew Bellisario said...

Response continued,
So far you are the one to have brought out the New Testament to use as a standard. I never made that claim. You yourself have admitted that you are not going to hold to that position either, so it seems that if you want to engage in any meaningful discussion we will have to move past the limited information we have in the New Testament regarding church architecture. We only have limited information in the NT which references small communities in houses. Obviously Christianity outgrew that setting and moved on. Now the real question is who's theology do the churches that we have archaeological evidence of throughout the centuries best correspond to? Reformed churches or Catholic Churches?

If we take every shred of archaeological evidence we have of churches that are in existence or have been excavated, they all have similar features to them that the Catholic church has had through the centuries. Scholars tell us that the oldest house church in existence (Dura) resembles closely that of the basilica style churches that soon followed. This would be the standard in Catholicism until recent times. It was however shunned and neglected soon after the "Reformation".

All of the earliest liturgical manuscripts follow the same form as the Divine Liturgies of the Catholic Church. The churches in turn were built to serve that liturgy which has always professed the Eucharistic teaching of the Catholic Church. History and archaeology are not your friends.

Here is my summary so we do not have to go over this again.

It is my claim that churches throughout the world since the earliest evidence we have are similar in nature and have a construct that is fitting to the liturgy that went on within them. It is my claim that this consistent architecture was carried on by the church until the Reformation came along and then it soon after started to deteriorate into something that is not fitting. It is my claim that the New Testament doesn't give us enough information to come up with an architectural blueprint for a church. There is not enough information to determine such a fact.

Andrew said...

Matthew Belisario:
House churches were not the only ones described in the NT. The Jewish Christians were worshipping in the temple until they were kicked out. The point being made is that nowhere within the bounds of God-breathed revelation do we find a mandate for what a church must look like. Some people worshipped in the temple as I said. Many more over the proceeding years worshipped in house churches. Outside of that information we just aren't told anything, but since the somewhat ornate Jewish temple was acceptable along with simple house churches I think this author, and you, are missing the boat here.

GeneMBridges said...

Yes it is something you need to do since you are the one that used Scripture to contest me. If you are not going to follow New Testament rules for worship then why do you question me for not doing so using the very Scripture that you are going against? Don't throw out an appeal to Scripture to someone if you are not going to follow it yourselOnce again, Matthew, you can't follow your own argument. You alleged that Protestant churches are "unbiblical," so it's up to you to tell us what the NT says about church architecture. This discussion relates not to NT rules about worship in general, but to specific claims from your side of the aisle regarding church architecture as it relates to worship. Since we (allegedly) share Scripture as a common point of reference, I asked you what Scripture said. Where have I mentioned anything specific about what the NT says in this regard. To date, I haven't, ergo, Matthew, I haven't said anything that commits me to this burden of proof.

It is relevant because once again you are the one using the New Testament as a standard to question liturgical architecture.But I've not made any claims one way or the other. I answered you the way you chose to frame your response which was "Do you worship in anything other than a house church." Since I don't advocate the position that the NT requires us to worship only in house churches, this objection framed as a question doesn't relate to my position one bit.

I am not, nor have I ever appealed to Scripture to justify church architecture.1. Your rule of faith says, in part, that this should relate to what was done everywhere and by all. So why are you ruling out the apostolic era? Wny not discuss what Scripture says? What is your principled reason for doing so?

2. However, if you'd like to admit that you can't find your position in Scripture, I'm more than willing to let you go on the record in that regard. How does that help your case?

3. Actually, you have appealed to Scripture...when you said that Protestant churches are, I quote, "unbiblical."

GeneMBridges said...

But if we are gong to do so then we must conclude that house churches are the only forms that are used in the NT.Really? Are you sure? Was the Jerusalem church a house church or did they meet elsewhere? But, if ad arguendo, we stipulate that the NT form is only house churches, then how did they muddle through w/o all the forms that you say are essential? How does one reach the conclusion that the NT example is a NT command?

Either you are going to go by the NT only, or you are going to admit that were are not going by that standard alone, and then we can move on the real discussion at hand.The real discussion at hand relates to your first comment here. I'm asking you to justify it based on the NT. You have yet to do so.

What my church does is irrelevant to the burden of proof you have to discharge, since I have made no claims about whether or not we should look to the NT and it only in this matter.

Until you are going to conform to the NT yourself there is no need for me to do so. You're just pouting because I won't tell you what sort of church I attend. Do I attend a 5000 member mega church, a house church, is our meeting house in a business, a home, a set of rented hotel conference rooms? Further, you're the one using history to justify your position, well, if the NT doesn't conform to your historical example, then why should anything post-that example be followed over the NT? That's what I'm getting at.

If you read my comments I did say the NT used house churches did I not? I said they did not give an exact blueprint if you read. So if you're meeting houses are anything other than what was used in the NT, you are using your own church design, which would be "un-Biblical."If the NT doesn't give a blueprint, then the NT doesn't contain any architectural information. "House church" and a particular blueprint are not convertible. Try to folow your own argument.
If the NT doesn't contain architectural information, then you have no basis for saying that Protestant churches are unbiblical. At best, using your convoluted logic, you could only say that those that are not house churches are unbiblical. So, not all Protestant churches are unbiblical, which defeats your initial claim. Now, it just so happens that early Baptist churches in England were, in fact, house churches. So, they would meet the NT standard. If they met the NT standard, then they weren't unbiblical?

You see, Mathew, your argumentation against me is only effective if I hold the position that only house chruches are permissible. That's not my position.

I never said that the churches that were built later in the 4th century were the same as in the NT. I never said you did, Matthew. What I am doing is responding to your position in the first comment you made, and, like TF I am using the NT, in my case to ask you to compare the NT to what you said and see if it measures up. For example, you wrote: When Jesus is the focus, and when Chirst is truly believed to be present in the Eucharist, proper church architecture follows.

But then you went on to site a 4th century church as your model. Okay, fine. So, shall we conclude that Jesus was not the focus, et.al. during the Apostolic period? If they muddled through in mere house churches, why do we need all the pomp of a medieval church, to take just one example of the architecture in the Western tradition? Why won't a simple Presbyterian church or early Baptist meeting house do just as well? You're the one trying to connect architecture to worship, not us.

Really? Do adults use foreign language to insult people on blogs rather than engage in a real conversation? Do adults tell 3rd parties to tell another party what to do like children?

GeneMBridges said...

Now the real question is who's theology do the churches that we have archaeological evidence of throughout the centuries best correspond to? Reformed churches or Catholic Churches?Why? I don't believe that a particular architectural form is a requirement, ergo, I reject this mode of framing the issue. Rather, I refer to the RPW as enough. If you find the RPW unbiblical, you need to demonstrate that to be the case. So, before you start telling me what the real question is, you'll need to justify this mode of framing the issue.


If we take every shred of archaeological evidence we have of churches that are in existence or have been excavated, they all have similar features to them that the Catholic church has had through the centuries. Scholars tell us that the oldest house church in existence (Dura) resembles closely that of the basilica style churches that soon followed. This would be the standard in Catholicism until recent times. It was however shunned and neglected soon after the "Reformation"So what? That doesn't select for the truth of Romanism.

All of the earliest liturgical manuscripts follow the same form as the Divine Liturgies of the Catholic Church.I believe our Eastern Orthodox friends would have quite a bit to say about that. Liturgies grew more complex, so what? What liturgy was in use in the Apostolic period? How much complexity is required? Liturgies are not infallible documents, so they don't select for the truth of Romanism or the truth of your rule of faith. I see that in my absence over the past few months your knowledge of history and theology has not improved.

he churches in turn were built to serve that liturgy which has always professed the Eucharistic teaching of the Catholic Church.It is a fact of history that transubstantiation has not been believed that far back. It is a fact of theology that transubstantiation, Real Presence, and viewing the Lord's Supper as a means of grace are not convertible ideas.

Matthew Bellisario said...

Gene my point has been made.
I stated the following,

"If we take every shred of archaeological evidence we have of churches that are in existence or have been excavated, they all have similar features to them that the Catholic church has had through the centuries. Scholars tell us that the oldest house church in existence (Dura) resembles closely that of the basilica style churches that soon followed. This would be the standard in Catholicism until recent times. It was however shunned and neglected soon after the "Reformation"

Your reply was,
"So what? That doesn't select for the truth of Romanism."

My response,
My point is history itself demonstrates that the consistent construct of church design is in line with Catholicism, not Protestantism. I made no reference to the New Testament in reference to architecture. The reason I pointed out that Protestantism was not following what was in the NT is because there is not a lot of information on it. Point made, do not use Scripture as standard when you know that you are not able to use it yourself. There isn't enough information to base a model off of as I said before, but you ignored that statement. Beyond the Christian assembly of house churches we have no information and the obvious reasoning for that was small numbers not architectural reasons.

I said,
"All of the earliest liturgical manuscripts follow the same form as the Divine Liturgies of the Catholic Church."

You said,
"I believe our Eastern Orthodox friends would have quite a bit to say about that. Liturgies grew more complex, so what? What liturgy was in use in the Apostolic period? How much complexity is required? Liturgies are not infallible documents, so they don't select for the truth of Romanism or the truth of your rule of faith. I see that in my absence over the past few months your knowledge of history and theology has not improved."

My response,
I was Orthodox I know their liturgies very well. Do you? If you did you would not have made that statement because the Catholic Church has the same Liturgies that the Orthodox use. Liturgy is belief in action my friend. So point #2 is made by your own admission, liturgical archaeology is also on the side of the Catholic Church, not your own. Have you ever read any of the ancient liturgies that date back to the 3rd and 4th centuries? Do you not know that the main parts of them are based on Sacred Scripture and follow the same form throughout the centuries in the Catholic Church? You are not doing yourself or your church any favors by saying "so what" to historical record.

Finally you said,
"It is a fact of history that transubstantiation has not been believed that far back. It is a fact of theology that transubstantiation, Real Presence, and viewing the Lord's Supper as a means of grace are not convertible ideas."

My response,
Oh really? Prove it. Read John chapter 6 and argue with Jesus. It is apparent that He disagrees with you. Saint Paul and his liturgical language also disagrees with you and all of the ancient liturgies disagree with you. You see the difference between you and the Church is that the Church can prove its NT interpretation and practice from historical record as being an authentic and consistent. When you were confronted with historical fact your only response was, "So what?"

bkaycee said...

Acts 17:24
The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands;

1 Cor 3:16
Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

Heb 9:24
For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us;

I suspect those insisting that proper architecture is necessary or relevant to the church should read the rebuke given by Paul in Colossians.

Col 2:16
Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day-- 17 things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. 18 Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind, 19 and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God. 20 If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, 21 "Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!" 22(which all refer to things destined to perish with use)--in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? 23 These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.

Matthew Bellisario said...

I suspect those who go against insisting that proper architecture is necessary or relevant to the church should read the Old Testament and then tell God that he was wrong for insisting on very specific architecture and adornment. Quit taking Scripture passages out of context.

Ben Douglass said...

To return to the original topic of discussion: Church art and architecture bear a symbolic meaning, whether explicitly in the iconography or implicitly in the forms and spatial arrangements. If that meaning is false (e.g., egalitarian, man-centered, universalist) they will impart falsehood to those who view them. Hence bad art and architecture can lead Catholics into heresy. To say it can lead Catholics to worship a false God is a bit hyperbolic, as heretical worship still has the true God for its object (as does schismatic, Jewish, and Muslim worship).

Turretinfan said...

Andrew:

It was a play on words - suggesting (as Bellisario apparently was able to recognize) that only an imbecile would think that Dura Europos was typical of the early church.

I'd add more here, but I see that Mr. Bridges is already giving Mr. Bellisario a much-needed tutorial, although I've added a bit more over at my blog anyway (link).

-TurretinFan

GeneMBridges said...

Gene my point has been made.No, you just keep repeating yourself then declaring victory. You've not begun to make a point, since you continue to fail to provide supporting argumentation. For example: Since when does history select for a proper rule for determining the truth or falsity of a particular set of beliefs? The issue here is whether church architecture is necessary for true worship. "Archeology," even if we grant what you say for sake of argument, doesn't select for the truth of Romanism. You can be true to tradition and tradition be false.

My point is history itself demonstrates that the consistent construct of church design is in line with Catholicism, not Protestantism.You chose to neglect what the NT says about the connection between architeture and true worship. If a simple house church was sufficient for the NT believers, then why do we need the pomp of a Romanist church for true worship?

The reason I pointed out that Protestantism was not following what was in the NT is because there is not a lot of information on it.If there isn't a lot of information, then you are making an argument from silence; ergo you are in no position to argue that Protestant meeting houses do not conform to the NT pattern.

There isn't enough information to base a model off of as I said before, but you ignored that statement. Now, you're lying. I have acknowledged that many times.

Since you can't seem to grasp my point, I'll spell it out. God Himself has said virtually nothing about proper architecture for a meeting place for Christians in His Word. So, why should we use something like Dura Europa or, to cite another example, a Romanist church from the 14th century, as a model for proper corporate worship/ a proper worship space? Why does "history" trump Scripture? I've asked this before, I'll ask it again: If a simple meeting house was sufficient for the Apostolic Era, why is a simple meeting house inappropriate for a group like the Particular Baptists of the 17th century or a small church gathered in a schoolhouse or hotel conference room?

GeneMBridges said...

Beyond the Christian assembly of house churches we have no information and the obvious reasoning for that was small numbers not architectural reasons.The NT is remarkably silent about the membership numbers and attendance figures for most local assemblies. But the Jerusalem church was rather large.

Liturgy is belief in action my friend. Liturgy is a form. Since the Orthodox disagree with Rome on a number of issues, you're in no position to claim conformity.

So point #2 is made by your own admission, liturgical archaeology is also on the side of the Catholic Church, not your own. I've made no "admission" as I've simply let you run on and on at the mouth, as you do so well. Tradition doesn't automatically select for the truth of Romanism. Where is the supporting argument for framing the issue in those terms? You've not begun to formulate one. Before you start framing the issue in that manner, you'll need to provide a supporting argument for that move. This is another question I've put you that you've failed to answer...one of a long list, and you continue to fail to answer questions. Yet you're the one who insisted I answer you a few posts ago. Thou hypocrite.

You are not doing yourself or your church any favors by saying "so what" to historical record. You know, the NT does actually give us some basic information about what went on in the church in Acts. You're doing yourself no favors by excluding that information. The point here is that you are willing to put "tradition" and "archeology" over the NT and then claim that Protestants are not acting "biblically," but you haven't measured Protestants by the Bible. If the Bible doesn't speak to an issue, why should we model ourselves after liturgies from the 3rd century to the Reformation? Where is the supporting argument?

GeneMBridges said...

Read John chapter 6 and argue with JesusOver a Triablogue, if you'd care to look in our archives, you'll find that we've discussed that view of John 6 already. Try again. Been there, done that. Look it up, then contact Steve Hays about it. I, for one, would quite enjoy seeing you argue with Steve. Of course, since Rome has made no infallible pronoucements regarding John 6, all we have here is your personal opinion of what John 6 says. Try again, Matthew.

http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2006/04/back-to-bread-of-life.html
http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2008/06/eucharist-in-ignatius-and-other-fathers.html
http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2008/06/eucharist-in-ignatius-and-other-fathers.html


Saint Paul and his liturgical language also disagrees with you and all of the ancient liturgies disagree with you. 1. Paul is not commenting on John. Indeed, it’s unlikely that Paul ever read the Fourth Gospel.

So why assume that Paul and John are talking about the same thing?

2. Saying Paul disagrees and demonstrating it aren't convertible. You're long on assertion; short on argument - as usual.

3. Those same church historians that tell us about Dura Europa also tell us that transubstantiation as you know it comes from the Lateran Councils. They also tell us that the ECF's held to a variety of Eucharistic views. Jason has covered this here

http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2008/06/eucharist-in-ignatius-and-other-fathers.html

And your fellow Catholic blogger, Apolonio, as I recall, is very candid that transubstantiation is a development from belief in the Real Presence (ergo, they aren't one and the same). Which one of you is correct?

Some of the earliest patristic interpretations of John 6 refer to the passage as metaphorical. What we see among the church fathers is a variety of views of the eucharist and a variety of views of John 6, including views that contradict Roman Catholicism. How did you put it, Matthew, "history is not your friend." And, if you'd care to crack a theology textbook, you'd know that transubstantiation, "Real Presence" and viewing the Lord's Supper as a means of grace are not all the same thing. Try again.

GeneMBridges said...

I suspect those who go against insisting that proper architecture is necessary or relevant to the church should read the Old Testament and then tell God that he was wrong for insisting on very specific architecture and adornment. Quit taking Scripture passages out of context.Of course, the Old Covenant was about types and shadows. The New Covenant did away with that. That's the point of the imagery. The Temple is a type of Christ. It also points to the universe itself as God's creation, His Temple manifest in the physical realm. It points back to the Garden and the Tabernacle. With Christ, the need for a physical Temple was obviated, and the Temple, as the people of God is nonspatial. This is all covered in The Temple and the Church's Mission by GK Beale. If you disagree with Beale, I'll look forward to your comprehensive, detailed rebuttal.

Matthew Bellisario said...

Great job, Turretin. Insults are a great way to avoid real debate. I guess when you have lost as many debates as you have, you have to resort to diversion tactics.

Turretinfan said...

Bellisario:

As usual, you have no answer for the arguments presented. Instead, now you are pretending their are no arguments. It's the old "stick my fingers in my ears" approach.

-TurretinFan

Matthew Bellisario said...

Turretin I have addressed those pitiful arguments long ago. See my articles on sacred images. Images were not meeting any resistance in the early centuries of the Church. before you make a claim like that prove it! History says otherwise.

http://www.catholicchampion.com/page20/page20.html

http://www.catholicchampion.com/page9/page9.html

Turretinfan said...

I'll take a look at your articles and see if they add anything to the discussion beyond simply bare assertions. Nevertheless, I'm guessing that if they were written before my article, they may well not address the arguments I presented.

-TurretinFan

Paul Ackermann said...

The Catholic has a wholistic view toward spirituality. We worship with our beings - that means with our body postures, our music, our art, and even with our architecture. All of our senses our involved when we worship. Whatever we do, we do to the glory of God. True, what is in the heart is the most important, but the physical external is still important. This is more in lines with the OT Jewish concept that God has created all physical things and said they were good, so phyical things are impotant in the worship of God.

The Protestant view is more in lines with Gnosticism. Gnosticism drew a strong line between the spiritual and the physical. All that was important was the spiritual. The physical was either meaningless or evil. So to a Protestant, something as physical as the architecture of physical building is meaningless to God.

But to a Catholic, God is pleased with beauty. After all, He created everything, and called them good. Why do we spend so much money on creating for ourselves beautiful houses and be content that the house of God be a plain building? Does that not reflect that our priorities are more on ourselves than on God?

In John 4, when Jesus said we are to worship and truth, He was talking to a Samaritan woman about whether they had to go and worship in the Temple. Jesus is saying that true worship is not limited to just worshipping only in the Temple. But that does not mean He taught a Gnostic view of worship. Jesus still saw the value Temple worship, which is why He was angry when the money-changers changed His Father's house of prayer into a den of thieves. Why would He feel that way if He taught that the place of worship was totally umimportant?

Jesus was not a New-Ager. He was not against organized religion. He said we must put new wine in new wineskins. He did not say we no longer needed wineskins. True, the NT had no church buildings. But what do you expect? The NT church was just starting out. The NT church met in houses out of necessity. Not because of any command from God.

GeneMBridges said...

The NT church met in houses out of necessity. Not because of any command from God. Who is arguing that God has commanded us to worship in houses? Nobody.

The argument is this: If a simple house church was sufficient in the Apostolic Era, why doesn't a simple meeting house suffice in the present day? However did the Apostolic era Christians muddle along?

The physical was either meaningless or evil. So to a Protestant, something as physical as the architecture of physical building is meaningless to God.That's not the "Protestant" position at all. It would help Paul if you'd look as something like the Regulative Principle of Worship before making such observations.

EA said...

"It is my claim that churches throughout the world since the earliest evidence we have are similar in nature and have a construct that is fitting to the liturgy that went on within them. It is my claim that this consistent architecture was carried on by the church until the Reformation came along and then it soon after started to deteriorate into something that is not fitting."Does that include the Great Mosque of Cordoba or the Catacombs?

EA said...

"Church art and architecture bear a symbolic meaning, whether explicitly in the iconography or implicitly in the forms and spatial arrangements...bad art and architecture can lead Catholics into heresy."This raises a couple of questions: before the Counter-Reformation (and the printing press), the RCC had no approved iconography. Most of the laity (and clergy) were illiterate, what means of dissemination of approved architecture and art form was used to prevent heresy?

Also, shouldn't the average Catholic be more concerned about the symbolic and spatial content of their surroundings during the other 167 hours of the week when they aren't in Mass?

This sounds like Catholic feng shui.

EA said...

Paul Ackerman said: "We worship with our beings - that means with our body postures, our music, our art, and even with our architecture."Why then do some Catholics complain about holding hands during the Our Father? Which way is correct, if body posture is important?

If music is so important in Catholic worship, why is it that Catholic hymns are so bad or that Catholic congregational singing is practically nonexistent? How is it that the mawkish hymns published by the Oregon Catholic Press, and used in the majority of Catholic parishes, predominate? Most of these hymns were written in the last 20 years. What did Catholics do for music before Vatican II? Why is that not sufficient any more, if it was so worshipful?

As far as architecture goes, people typically build with the materials at hand. Churches were built of stone for several reasons:

1) Patrons paid large sums as donation to the church as part of a penance or in order to otherwise safeguard their salvation. Therefore money was available to pay for the extremely expensive construction costs.

2) Stone structures were far more fire safe than wood. In many cities and towns, the only stone structure was the church.

3) Stone is a more rigid and stable building material than wood.

To insist that new churches be built according to 12th century specifications seems rather arbitrary. We have no way of knowing that the builders of Europe's cathedrals wouldn't have made other architectural decisions given modern materials and techniques.

Further, when times demanded it, Christians resorted to worshiping in house Churches (viz. Acts & Romans), underground (i.e. the Catacombs in Rome) or in converted Mosques or Temples (ex. the Crusades).

The type of architectural proportion that the author of this book seems to be insisting upon became understood and fashionable in Renaissance Europe. Did pre-Renaissance worshipers run the risk of heresy because they didn't have as an attenuated appreciation for geometry as 13th century Venetians?