Friday, October 30, 2009

Kook, First Class Biblical Exegete, or Both? The Sungenis Legacy


Catholic apologist Robert Sungenis isn't as popular among his peers as he once was (just ask Mark Shea who referred to him as an "ultra-fringe kook"). Well, at least Sungenis has one fan. Catholic apologist Art Sippo says he's a "first class biblical exegete" and "Catholic Apologist Dr. Robert Sungenis has published a landmark book which in my opinion should be read by anyone who is serious about Catholic Apologetics."

I think it's time for the magisterium to step in and appoint apologists. It would make it much easier if I knew who really to trust as an official source of apologetics.

33 comments:

Kepha said...

I honestly think it is unfortunate that the local bishops are not overseeing their local apologists. They would have a very different look if they were.

The diocese already have various departments, so an apologetics department would not be without support. The bishop could be the one to approve or disapprove the local apologist. Certainly this would force Roman Catholic apologists to put their money where their mouth is when it comes to obedience.

Alex said...

This isn't a serious argument, right? Just checking.

Turretinfan said...

Kepha:

I wonder how that would work - would a bishop need to review the apologists' arguments for orthodoxy? or just have a complaints department for the apologists' questionable claims? or ...

-TurretinFan

Tim MD said...

Hi James,

I think that is an excellent idea. Possibly the Pope could pick one “Approved” Catholic Apologist, and then the Protestant “magisterium” could pick one. Each “representative” would be authorized to argue “their side” on all of the major issues, Salvation, the Eucharist, the Authority of the Church, the role of Scripture and the manner in which it is to be interpreted, etc.

Shoot, there could even be a Debate, broadcast live across the world.

Anyway, I’m sure you appreciate my extrapolation of your idea to its “logical” endpoint.

Tim

beowulf2k8 said...

The Catholic apologist would end up saying things like that "when Israel was a child I loved him and called him out of Egypt" is a prophecy of Jesus!! Lol! Oh...wait...the Protestant apologist would too because although such a statement clearly isn't true, its in Matthew, part of the CATHOLIC canon which Protestants accept because the POPE told them too. Hmmmmmm. Well...uh...hmmmm. Marcion anyone? Let's ditch the Catholicized Paul and get back to the real thing: Paul's letters with no OT quotations, and hence no ridiculous stupid arguments (like Romans 9) built on misuses of the OT! Shouldn't an apostle speak authoritatively anyway and not make dumb arguments by twisting the OT like a Jewish scribe? Or a sophist?

Tim MD said...

Hi beo,

I am not at all sure where you are coming from, and as such, have no idea what you are driving at. I am a Catholic. Could you please return the favor and tell me what you are? It could help me put your comments into context and determine how to respond.

Tim

Matthew Bellisario said...

He looks like someone who agrees with the heresy known as Marcionism. You can read about it here. If I am wrong, you still gain some knowledge about the subject. If I am correct you can refute his heresy.

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09645c.htm

James Swan said...

Tim,

That you posted a comment on the actual topic is step in the rght direction.

Tim MD said...

Hi James,

That you fail to acknowledge the point made is for you, not a step in any direction.

Assuming that you missed it, my point was that people living in fragmented glass houses shouldn’t come even close to suggesting a stone throwing contest.

More bluntly put, it is a joke for you to suggest that the Catholic Church “approve” Catholic Apologists. NONE of the uncountable number of Protestant denominations, each presuming the “authority” to determine “correct” Christian teachings, has EVER thought of doing such a thing for themselves.

Your comment is simply another in a long line of ridiculous criticisms, the vast majority of which apply MUCH better to Protestantism as a whole than they do to the Church.

The fact is that Protestantism, which encompasses only about 35% of the world’s Christians is NOT CAPABLE of “approving” ANYTHING. At least the Catholic Church, COULD, if it cared to, “Approve” a Catholic Apologist to represent it officially.

So......possibly you would care to suggest a single person, or even a small group (meaning specific names) who would be capable of representing the beliefs of that 35%. \

Yes or no? If so, then how would you go about getting them “approved” by the whole of that 35%?

James Swan said...

Tim,

The Roman Catholic Church is supposed to be the official spokesman for God on planet Earth. If your magisterium is actually legitimate, wouldn't it be appropriate for it to set the standard to follow, and not those who disagree with her? Older generations of Romanists had a different way of seeing this, Like Alexander IV's Sextus Decretalium, go look it up for yourself.

Roman Catholics continually claim Protestants are dis-unified, yet when I venture over to the blogs of Roman apologists, they disagree with each other. The true double standard is for those who claim Holy Spirit driven unity to be dis-unified on a great number of issues.

Which Roman Catholic apologist is correct? How could I know if I simply have private interpretation to rely on? How do I "know" if Sungenis is a kook or not, or if Mr. Shea is in heresy? Without an official proclamation from Rome, Roman Catholic apologists are really no better than those they criticize for relying on private interpretation, because all we get from them is their private interpretation of the Roman Catholic Church (note as well, Mr. Sungenis' statements about Art Sippo and his method of doing apologetics). What value is their in doing Roman Catholic apologetics if ultimately it's just the private interpretations of each so called apologist?

I think if Rome actually did come up with certified approved apologists, your tune would change quickly.

Alex said...

James I'm always surprised that you guys find this a valid argument as if there is a comparison between the two (disunity among how Catholics adhere to Catholic doctrine-whether due to a faulty understanding, which lessens culpability, or due to a disobedient spirit-as opposed to the widely variant Protestant doctrines as professed in each Protestant denomination, not to mention the subsequent further problem of how those doctrines are adhered to). You will never be able to convince a Catholic, or any serious thinker, that this is a valid argument because in reality it does more damage to your own position than it does to ours.

James Swan said...

You will never be able to convince a Catholic, or any serious thinker, that this is a valid argument because in reality it does more damage to your own position than it does to ours.

No, I probably won't convince anyone already committed of Roman Catholicism, but any "serious thinker" (whatever that means) evaluating the unity and truth claims of popular Roman Catholic apologetics (Staples, Madrid, Keating, etc.), will be able to see that the claims of unity and certainty are neither consistent (for the former) nor unable to escape being defeating by their own arguments (for the later).

Remember, for an argument to work, it shouldn't be able to also defeat that to which you adhere.

Alex said...

Well I could care less what any of those apologists might say or think on the matter. The fact is that your argument against the notion of Catholic "unity" fails because it is addressing something very much different then how the Church puts it. In other words, if these apologists do indeed argue in the manner to which you have ascribed to them, then your argument is against them, and not the Church. Read above.

Turretinfan said...

Alex:

Your comment suggests that you are able to identify what "the Church" says about it.

-TurretinFan

Alex said...

Turretinfan, Paul Hoffer had taken notice that you cited the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I suggest that you also purchase the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

http://www.amazon.com/Catechism-Catholic-Church-Accordance-Promulgated/dp/0879739762/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1257110816&sr=8-2

Or you could visit the Vatican website and find it here:

http://www.vatican.va/archive/catechism/ccc_toc.htm



815 ...But the unity of the pilgrim Church is also assured by visible bonds of communion:

- profession of one faith received from the Apostles;

-common celebration of divine worship, especially of the sacraments;

- apostolic succession through the sacrament of Holy Orders, maintaining the fraternal concord of God's family.


The various Protestant denominations neither agree with the Catholic Church on any of those points, nor do they agree with each other when inspecting their various confessions, catechisms, etc. Then they have the additional problem concerning how each individual person understands their particular confession, etc. As Catholics we profess one faith which has been promulgated by the Magisterium of the Church. Outside of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church we find the Protestant cults each promulgating their own confessions and pseudo-liturgies all distinct from one another, while at the same time making claims of “unity” in holding to the unbiblical notion of “central and core doctrines” which in reality amount to nothing more than a façade.

Rhology said...

Tim MD is apparently ignorant of what an internal critique looks like.

Tim MD said...

Hi Rho,

I don't think we have been formally introduced. We apparently have a difference of opinion, which to you justifies your claim that I am ignorant.

My guess is that you are a Protestant.

Turretinfan said...

Alex:

You should share that helpful advice with the folks from your side of the Tiber who, according to you, are failing to understand your church "due to a faulty understanding, which lessens culpability, or due to a disobedient spirit" ....

Of course, I've quoted from the CCC at least dozens of times, probably hundreds of times. I'm plenty familiar with it.

-TurretinFan

Edward Reiss said...

On a more practical note regarding the unity of the RCC.

It would be easier to take RC critiques of protestant disunity seriously if the RCs inquestion were not in full fellowship with e.g. Nancy Pelosi, who advocates an intrinsic moral evil--the murder of human beings in the womb. I.e. it would be better if the alleged unity put forth was more than a rhetorical tool.

There are many dissidents who, for all practical purposes, are full members of the RCC while in flagrant, public opposition to its moral and doctrinal teachings. The pro abortion crowd is only the most egregious example. Prominent RCs who have received multiple annulments are another example.

Rhology said...

Tim MD,

What I am and whether I'm one of the contributors to this blog makes no difference. The fact is simple - you have shown ignorance of what an internal critique is. Not b/c you're a Romanist, not b/c you're brittle and condescending, but b/c you have not yet realised that the post is an internal critique of the Roman position.

CathApol said...

Regarding whether or not Catholic apologists are subject to their local bishops is a valid point. I, myself, have no problem inviting my bishop to oversee my apologetics works. I am quite sure he is aware of me - but just to make certain, I will personally invite him to "check me out" and if he finds ANYTHING amiss, I would humbly and quickly amend and/or remove any such article I wrote.

One thing our Protestant critics seem to overlook here is that there IS a standard by which EVERY Catholic can be and SHOULD be held accountable to! If there is ANY defined dogma which ANY of us have denied or otherwise confounded, then we should be corrected, if not by our peers then by our local ordinary (bishop).

Some may ask us for a source for a list of dogmas - for starters, I suggest Dr. Ludwig Ott's Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma and not so much in his commentaries (which are not infallible nor part of the defined dogmas) but in any definition which is identified as "de fide" - then EVERY Catholic must submit to said definitions.

As for what Turretinfan said, you are free to contact any bishop and/or chancellor's office of any Catholic apologist. If you have a valid complaint, I am certain it would be looked into. If it appears you're just stirring up trouble without a valid point, you may find your request dismissed.

In JMJ,
Scott<<<
ACTS Website

Rhology said...

I will personally invite him to "check me out"

Given the oft-repeated argument from Roman apologists that one's individual interpretation is not to be trusted, why haven't you and all other Roman apologists put such a failsafe in place from the very beginning of your apologetic activities?

Or perhaps you think that argument is stupid, in which case I'd like to know that as well. Thanks!

Peace,
Rhology

CathApol said...

Rho,
Your suggestion is not "stupid." The fact is there is already in existence a body of dogmas you can hold each of us accountable to. We are not permitted to deny or otherwise reject any such dogma. Or, are you requesting something more or less specific? Perhaps you can clarify what it is you're after.

In JMJ,
Scott<<<
http://www.catholicresponse.org

Rhology said...

A very,very frequently heard argument from Romanists around here is: "You're just a private individual. How can you presume to interpret the Bible w/o being subject to the Roman church?"

And here we discover that Roman apologists don't submit their activities to the Magisterium. So your activities (well, your non-activities) go a ways toward knocking that objection down. That's all I meant.

CathApol said...

Hello again Rho,
Your use of "Romanist" in a truly bigoted fashion (related to another thread going on here and on my blog too as well as White's) is noted.

As for your request, I respectfully answered you and did not deserve what was dished out - but I've come to expect that.

The point is, there IS a list of things you can hold us accountable to. If it's not defined dogma, then even we can speculate on differences and even hold opposing views. When it comes to something clearly defined as dogma - you will find us in complete agreement for NO Catholic can deny even a single defined dogma.

It is also not unreasonable for each of us to be subject to our local bishops, which is why I have written to mine with this specific topic in mind. I have not scoffed at your suggestions and/or what others have suggested when it is valid - and I happen to agree that this IS valid. Why then do you turn and not only write "...from Romanists..." but even make sure we take note by using bold text?

In JMJ,
Scott<<<
CathApol Blog

Rhology said...

Scott,

I use "Romanist" as a matter of course, b/c it's descriptive. Sorry if it offends you to be counted as part of a church whose headquarters is in Rome. That's probably sthg else you could talk to your priest about, especially if he has training in counseling.

And don't be so sensitive, sheesh. I don't know what disrespect you refer to, and what I'm interested in is the question before us.
It sounds like you're going ahead with the affirmation of the non-impossibility and non-illegitimacy of private interpretation. That's a big point in your favor, since other Romanists' use of that argument is ridiculous.
I put "from Romanists" in bold b/c I was trying to help you understand what I'd said. It appeared you hadn't followed that I was noting an inconsistency between what you'd said and what *other* ppl have said many times in the past. Please forgive my attempt at helping. Finally, there's no "we" here. I'm talking to YOU, specifically. I hope your "guns blazing" approach will soon become as apparent to you as it is to me. Please, calm down a bit.

Peace,
Rhology

CathApol said...

Rho,
Did I say I was "offended?" No, I didn't. I just pointed out to you that the use of the term "Romanists" is a bit bigoted. Frankly, I'm not real concerned if you accept the criticism or not - how you respond to it and your insistence upon using such terminology speaks volumes. For example, if I were using a term like "Prottie" here - and someone expressed to ME that it was a bit of a bigoted term - I would respect them and refrain from further use - I would not go on and not only use it, but bold face it as well! There's no "guns ablazing" from my end, and again, if you go back and READ what I said, I only said your use of that term was "noted."

Now, enough about that here in this thread (I hope).

On to the substance of what you said:
> It sounds like you're going
> ahead with the affirmation of
> the non-impossibility and
> non-illegitimacy of private
> interpretation. That's a big
> point in your favor, since other
> Romanists' use of that argument
> is ridiculous.
I am not familiar with what you're talking about here, perhaps a recap of such an argument - or direct me to the entry wherein that was discussed? With so many double-negatives in there I would like you to be clear before commenting much further. Are you saying I am affirming the possibility and legitimacy of private interpretation? (double negatives removed).

This discussion might be better followed on a webboard, might I suggest the Locutus Webboard?
I'm not opposed to continuing here, it just may be easier in webboard format instead of blog comments format.

In closing, I assure you that I am very calmly responding to you. I apologize if it seems I am not calm.


In JMJ,
Scott<<<
Locutus Webboard

Rhology said...

Hmm, "Prottie" isn't quite on the same level. Not very fair, Mr. Windsor.
And again (see how boldface imparts emphasis?), I bolded "Romanist" to try to be helpful and direct attention to my meaning. Once again, no good deed goes unpunished. Lesson learned.


Are you saying I am affirming the possibility and legitimacy of private interpretation?

Yes, your actions clearly show that to be the case.
Thus you are showing that you care not for the argument that *OTHER PEOPLE* have often made *IN THE PAST* here on this blog, that private, individual interpretation is useless. That is the extent of my point here.


This discussion might be better followed on a webboard

I've had my fill of webboards, from my time on Steve Ray's. Thank you, though.


I assure you that I am very calmly responding to you

Cool. I simply note that is far more apparent in this comment than your last one.


Peace,
Rhology

Turretinfan said...

"If you have a valid complaint, I am certain it would be looked into. "

Like the sexual abuse complaints, or like the Obama speaking at Notre Dame complaints? Your glasses must be quite rose-colored if you think your magisterium is good at responding to legitimate complaints.

-TurretinFan

CathApol said...

>> sw: Are you saying I am
>> affirming the possibility and
>> legitimacy of private
>> interpretation?
>
> Rho: Yes, your actions clearly
> show that to be the case.
> Thus you are showing that you
> care not for the argument that
> *OTHER PEOPLE* have often made
> *IN THE PAST* here on this blog,
> that private, individual
> interpretation is useless. That
> is the extent of my point here.

OK, understood and thanks for the clarification. I, for one, would never say that private, individual interpretation is useless - we all do it all the time! I can't speak for "*OTHER PEOPLE*" - but as for me, the only times I would have to be concerned about "private interpretation" is if I am interpreting something contrary to an already defined teaching (be it scripturally defined or magisterially defined) or if an interpretation were scandalous to present in public.

This particular thread of comments is under a heading questioning "The Sungenis Legacy." My personal take on Bob is that he's a great biblical exegete. I don't happen to agree with him on his non-dogmatic "science" position of geocentricism, but when it comes to biblical studies and apologetics works on the Catholic Faith - well, I still recommend his books!

In JMJ,
Scott<<<
Catholic Debate Forum on Yahoogroups!

Rhology said...

I would have to be concerned about "private interpretation" is if I am interpreting something contrary to an already defined teaching

This leads me to two questions, if you would be so kind.
1) When I cite Eph 2:8-10 as evidence that Roman soteriology is contrary to biblical teaching, do you consider "That's just your private interpretation" a valid argument against my contention?
2) When we cite ECF or papal statements that teach contrary to modern Roman dogma on certain topics, do you consider "He was only speaking as a private theologian on that point" a valid argument against the Reformed contention?

These are both related to this issue of personal interpretation.

Peace,
Rhology

CathApol said...

Alan, since the post you refer to has several different formatting functions which are not conducive to the "comments" section here, I have taken the liberty of responding on my blog where I can maintain the integrity of your formatting, plus use a little of my own too. I hope you don't mind. Feel free to respond back to me on Beggars All, or as a comment to my blog entry. I only ask, if you respond over here, add a comment to my blog which links it back over here.

In JMJ,
Scott<<<

My Response - http://cathapol.blogspot.com/2009/11/works-and-grace.html

Alex said...

Alex:

You should share that helpful advice with the folks from your side of the Tiber who, according to you, are failing to understand your church "due to a faulty understanding, which lessens culpability, or due to a disobedient spirit" ....

Of course, I've quoted from the CCC at least dozens of times, probably hundreds of times. I'm plenty familiar with it.

-TurretinFan

Apparently not.