Tuesday, May 04, 2010

The Pillar and Support of the Truth

One of the ongoing contentions that I will make going forward, Lord willing, is that the Roman Catholic Church is not what it says it is. (Just as a housekeeping note, I prefer to say “Roman Catholic Church” because that is the term favored by Fr. Richard John Neuhaus in his work “The Catholic Moment”. As a shorthand, I will also abbreviate “Roman Catholic Church” simply with the word “Rome” or “Roman”.)

Rome is not what it says it is. I’ve spoofed this notion here, but it’s going to be important to deconstruct each of the various things it claims for itself in order to support my initial contention.


Catholic writers often cite 1 Tim 3:15 in support of indefectibility or infallibility of the church. Of course, the Roman Catholic Church itself has made this interpretation an article of faith, most recently in Lumen Gentium 8:

This is the one Church of Christ which in the Creed is professed as one, holy, catholic and apostolic, which our Saviour, after His Resurrection, commissioned Peter to shepherd, and him and the other apostles to extend and direct with authority, which He erected for all ages as "the pillar and mainstay of the truth". This Church constituted and organized in the world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him…


My contention in this posting is that Rome’s official usage of this verse is wrong at best. But what’s worse is that in popular apologetics, Roman apologists are going far beyond what even Rome says in this verse.

One popular Catholic writer said this:
“As Saint Paul taught, the church is ‘the pillar and ground of the truth’ – she does not err. (1 Tim 3:15)”

But is that what Paul tried to say? Is that what he actually said?

It seems to me that for Catholics to try to force their meaning on this phrase is a fundamentally dishonest use of this language.

Daniel Wallace, a professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, has written many textbooks on the Greek language. Here’s what he said:

“Before we can know what a particular text means we must know what it says.”

(From his essay, “Laying a Foundation: New Testament Textual Criticism in the work “Interpreting the New Testament Text: Introduction to the Art and Science of Exegesis”.)


Let's look at the verse in a bit of context (ESV translation):

I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth.

The NASB translation for this phrase is “the pillar and support of the truth.”

It’s important to note the word that gets translated by various translators as “mainstay” (the Vatican website translation), “buttress,” “support”. I’ve also seen “bulwark.”


It’s true that the phrase has the leadership of the church in mind (see Galatians 2). But they are called to “support” “the truth” not in terms of a “teaching authority,” but by their behavior (a notion that should, and does, lead directly into qualifications for elders)

Philip H. Towner, in his (2006) New International Commentary on the New Testament, says that “church of the living God” is not the key phrase, but “household” is. “The church” in Paul’s conception here is “a clarification,” a relative clause” for the truth that the universal church, all members of the church, really comprise “the household of the Living God.”

“Pillar” frequently describes the cloud of God’s presence (Exod 13:21-22; 14;24; 33:9; etc.), and stands metaphorically for leaders (Gal 2:9). In this case, where it combines with “foundation” and functions in respect to “the truth” (i.e. “the gospel”; see 2:3), the sense will be that of visible “support” such as the “pillar” lends to a building. The term translated “foundation” also signifies firmness and steadfastness. Together (perhaps in the sense “supporting foundation”) the two terms depict the church in the combative setting of heresy, as existing to provide a powerful and steadfast support for “the truth.”


LT Johnson, a Catholic commentator, works through the various phrases of this selection. First, of the “church of the Living God” here, the “ekklesia,” he notes that “household of God” is the prime metaphor, “not least because Paul’s instructions in 1 Timothy are directed to matters of public concern to the ekklesia, not to matters of domestic economy. That this assembly is one gathered by “the living God” is of first importance thematically (4:10, 5:6) and theologically, for it means that the church does not contain or control God, but is only in service to the one who moves always ahead of humans in surprising yet faithful ways.” Note also that the Catholic definition of "church" is not in view at all in that phrase. (Anchor Yale Bible Commentary, "The First and Second Letters to Timothy: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary", Luke Timothy Johnson, p. 231).

The phrase he gives as “a pillar and support for the truth” are the Greek words “stylos kai hedraioma,” which he says are “architectural terms for ‘supports, stays, or pillars.”

The issue for the translator is not the meaning of the terms, but their referent. Are “pillar and support” to be read as in apposition to “church of the living God” or in delayed apposition to “how it is necessary to behave”? Such a delayed appositional phrase [already] appears elsewhere in the letter (1:7). It also makes better sense of the metaphorical point: the community is the oikos, and the members should behave so as to be supports and pillars for it. Such an understanding fits Paul’s other use of stylos for leaders of the Jerusalem community in Gal 2:9. Note also Paul’s use of the adjective hedraios in a plea to his unstable readers in Corinth: “Become steady people (hedraioi ginesthe), not capable of being moved, abounding in the work of the Lord at all times, knowing that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Cor 15:58). See also the use of stylos with reference to an individual person in Rev 3:12, which functions within the Temple symbolism of that writing.” (231-232)



In his New International Greek Testament Commentary, a commentary series which examines the Greek text, George Knight says it’s not doctrine that’s in view at all, it’s conduct. “So even though building terminology is utilized, since the conduct (of the individuals) in view relates to the interaction of the members of God’s family, modern translations have opted for “household” … The standards of conduct given “are no mere rules of etiquette, they are standards for the house/household that is none other than God’s. They provide directions for conduct in his temple, where he dwells by his Spirit, and they provide directions for relationships among his people.” (180). He says further that “Timothy and the church will conduct their lives appropriately if they remember that they are the home built and owned by God and indwelt by him as the living one, and also remember that they are called on to undergird and hold aloft God’s truth in word and deed.” (182)


Individual members of the household of God “support the truth” by bearing witness to it with their behavior. This is precisely Paul’s exhortation to the church in Romans 12:1-3:

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.


Paul's illustration of the "church" is first that of a "household." The Vatican usage is wrong. As for the apologist’s comment to which I referred, to suggest that this verse in any way supports the contention that "the church cannot err" is simply misusing this verse, either in total ignorance, or else to the point of dishonesty.

What the verse says is, God’s truth exists; it is the task of the entire church, by its behavior, to lift up the truth of God, to put it on display for the world to see, by their very behavior. The notion that this verse implies some form of “teaching authority” which cannot err is just plain dishonest.

For you Catholics, who are interested in claiming that Christ somehow supernaturally prevents the "teaching office" of the church from erring, stop and think about what that means for a moment. This verse doesn’t even say what you say it says, much less that it means what you say it means.

80 comments:

John said...

A lot of commentaries quoted here that claim the church or the people in it are "called" to support the truth, but the fact is, for anyone who cares about exegesis, this is not actually what the text says. The text says we are to behave ourselves in the church because it IS the pillar of the truth. Not that it ought to be a pillar of the truth, or that we are called to be a pillar of the truth, but rather we are to behave because it *IS* the pillar of the truth. Until Protestants can find it within themselves to address the verse without actually butchering the text like this, it will remain a joke.

John Bugay said...

John, how can you say, "the fact is, for anyone who cares about exegesis, this is not what the text says," when I've provided three leading commentators on these works? You have, yourself, just denied probably the best exegesis of this text over the period of the last 20 years.

What source of information do you have that supports your contention?

So it is "John" vs. LT Johnson, Philip Towner, and George Knight. The fact that "the Church" has always "interpreted" this in another way?

It would seem, rather, that "the Church" has misunderstood what Paul was saying. It appears rather, that your "interpretation" is what's lacking.

John said...

So after all the ink has been expended accusing Catholics of not doing exegesis but appealing to authorities, what do we have here? No exegesis, but more appeals to authorities.

The text is plain enough. It says the Church IS the pillar and ground of the truth. It simply does not say that it ought to be, or that we are to make it so. It simply says that it is. The exhortation of Paul is how you behave yourself IN the Church, which IS the ground of the truth. These little prepositions may be convenient for protestants to ignore, but they do actually have meanings, as small and as short as they are. Deal with it. Stop appealing to authorities.

John Bugay said...

Who's appealing to authorities? I've provided analysis of the original Greek text, in context. It's not just "prepositions." It's the whole thought, in context. And one of the key commentators I've provided, L.T. Johnson, is a Catholic.

louis said...

Paul tells Timothy that his whole point is so Timothy will know how one "OUGHT" to behave. So yes, the church (those in the household of God) is the pillar and buttress of the truth, and therefore we are exhorted to live up to this calling. But I see no guarantee here that any particular church or bishop will infallibly live up to this.

Indeed, Paul is writing to Timothy in Ephesus. Later on we hear that this church has "abandoned the love" they had at first, and is warned to "repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent." (Rev. 2:4-5).

John Bugay said...

Thanks Louis, that's a good point.

John said...

Your analysis has no relation to the text. You say "they are called to support the truth". But nowhere does the text say that. That claim is completely fabricated.

Yes, LT Johnson is a Catholic, but nothing he says in fact contradicts the central catholic claim that the church is in fact the pillar of the truth. You do a bait and switch quoting him on some other point, leaving the centralities untouched.

Knight says that it is "conduct" that is in view. That's very true when Paul refers to how we should behave in the Church of God. But "the truth" is clearly doctrine, is it not? There are two thoughts in the passage, firstly how we are to behave, and secondly the relationship between the truth and the Church. To confound the two is not going to fool any Catholics.

None of your authorities actually say much to support your contention anyway. And all your analysis of the Greek text is to define a few of the terms. Not a single analysis of the grammar has been mentioned. That is not exegesis. You haven't even asked the simple questions of what is the pillar of the truth, and whether Paul uses subjunctive of indicative case. In fact it is indicative. He doesn't express a hope, he states a fact.

Randy said...

You miss the point completely. The church here is said to do something an invisible church cannot do. It does not prove the Catholic position by itself. It supports it and fits nicly with it but one would have to argue some history and logic beofre you could say this verse implies the church referred to is the Catholic church.

The real strength of this verse is that is dismantles the protestant position. You don't deal with that at all. It says there is one church. It says that church must hold up or support the truth in a foundational way.

It does not say the scriptures are the pillar and bulwark of the truth. So that idea dies. It does not say disconnected groups of like minded believers. It says the church. It does not fit with protestant ecclesiology at all.

John Bugay said...

Um, John, you are missing some very important things:

The issue for the translator is not the meaning of the terms, but their referent. Are “pillar and support” to be read as in apposition to “church of the living God” or in delayed apposition to “how it is necessary to behave”? Such a delayed appositional phrase [already] appears elsewhere in the letter (1:7). It also makes better sense of the metaphorical point: the community is the oikos, and the members should behave so as to be supports and pillars for it. Such an understanding fits Paul’s other use of stylos for leaders of the Jerusalem community in Gal 2:9.

And Knight: “Timothy and the church will conduct their lives appropriately if they remember that they are the home built and owned by God and indwelt by him as the living one, and also remember that they are called on to undergird and hold aloft God’s truth in word and deed.”

My "contention" just really sort of re-states what these individuals just said.

All you've really done, in your three comments here, is just to say "Nuh-uh" in three different ways.

John Bugay said...

Randy, how easy is it for you to say "you miss the point completely" when I've got three leading commentators saying the same thing.

The church here is said to do something an invisible church cannot do.

Who said anything about an invisible church?

It does not prove the Catholic position by itself. It supports it and fits nicly with it but one would have to argue some history and logic beofre you could say this verse implies the church referred to is the Catholic church.

What are you talking about? Rome itself applies this verse to itself.

The real strength of this verse is that is dismantles the protestant position.

Aside from anything that any Protestant has ever said or done, this verse undercuts what Rome says about itself. How about interacting with that notion?

It does not say the scriptures are the pillar and bulwark of the truth.

Irenaeus's line was that the Scriptures are the pillar and foundation of the faith. The Scriptures themselves are "truth". "Thy word is truth". You seem very confused.

It does not fit with protestant ecclesiology at all.

My point was not to establish any particular ecclesiology. But aside from anything that any Protestant has ever said or done, Rome is using this verse to attribute to itself something that is just not there. How about interacting with that notion?

John said...

1:7 has further verbs and participles which supply the necessary grammar to introduce new clauses in apposition to the original subject.

In 3:15 there is no such grammar. You can't conduct yourself pillar. You can conduct yourself as a pillar, or like a pillar, but you don't conduct yourself pillar. Pillar is not an adverb. The grammar does not support this contention.

Randy said...

Randy, how easy is it for you to say "you miss the point completely" when I've got three leading commentators saying the same thing.

But they all have a vested interest in avoiding the plain meaning of the text. In fact, they don't deal with it in any serious way. They just try and fit it into their protestant mindset and ignore the problems. Like how the truth that is supposed to be upheld get defined.

Who said anything about an invisible church?

That is the point. It is the protestant notion of what scripture is talking about when it refers to "the church". But here we have a finction of "the church" that cannot be done by an invisible church. So they problem is dealt woth by saying nothing about it.

What are you talking about? Rome itself applies this verse to itself.

Rome quotes the verse and does beleive Paul is talking about the same thing Lumen Gentum is talking about. But it is not a proof text. It does not, by itself, prove the claims of Catholicism. It does prove Sola Scriptura false but it does not prove Catholicism true.

Aside from anything that any Protestant has ever said or done, this verse undercuts what Rome says about itself. How about interacting with that notion?

OK, that notion is horse pucky. Next.

Irenaeus's line was that the Scriptures are the pillar and foundation of the faith. The Scriptures themselves are "truth". "Thy word is truth". You seem very confused.

So now we are using Irenaeus to trump the bible. Interesting. The scriptures are true. But can they actively uphold the truth? If they could then you would not have so many bible churches disagreeing on doctrine. Do they uphold the faith. If they are read with the rule of faith that Irenaeus talks about.

My point was not to establish any particular ecclesiology. But aside from anything that any Protestant has ever said or done, Rome is using this verse to attribute to itself something that is just not there. How about interacting with that notion?

The something is there. It is not explicit enough in this verse to make it inescapable but it is there. I fail to see the problem. Maybe an over zealous Catholic apologist. Maybe not. But this verse is typically seen as one of the many that confound protestants. That proves protestant Christianity is not biblical Christianity. It is not typically a part of a positive proof about Catholicism.

louis said...

"In fact it is indicative. He doesn't express a hope, he states a fact."

Yes, indicatives and imperatives often go together in Paul's letters, which is exactly what we see here. The church (understood correctly) IS the pillar and bulwark of truth, therefore this is how Timothy OUGHT to behave.

Just like other indicative-imperative constructions, however, there is no guarantee that any particular individual who conforms outwardly to the indicative, so to speak, will live up to the imperative. There is a more universal referent at issue here.

"this verse... dismantles the protestant position... It says there is one church."

This is more to the point, but I think you are begging the question by presuming your definition of church.

Lvka said...

The Church is the pillar and ground of truth, as Paul says, and this applies to dogma as well as morals (since the two are not disjoined).

See also Matthew 18:15-17 or Acts 15.

Edward Reiss said...

Lvka,

"The Church is the pillar and ground of truth, as Paul says, and this applies to dogma as well as morals (since the two are not disjoined)."

Dogma is from the Apostles, not the Church. The Church does not create dogma, but repeats what it has received from Christ and the Apostles. Actually, Fr. Behr, an EO priest, says as much. This is an important distinction because it means the church being the pillar and ground of truth does not give it authority over truth, it upholds the truth. (More later)

Also, no one made a claim that dogma and morals are disjoined. They are distinct, though--if they were not you wouldn't have used two words for them. For example, it is permitted to eat meat sacrificed to idols unless it offends a weaker brother's conscience. But it is always true that Jesus is God incarnate. Thus we have a distinction between dogma and morals.

But let us try an internal critique of the arguments advanced by the RCs here. Let us suppose that the Church is the pillar and ground of truth. This means the church upholds the truth, not that it is the source of truth. So, if a church no longer upholds the truth (e.g. the RCC), it is no longer the pillar and ground of truth.

Lvka said...

Ed,

I agree. (And the Apostles were part of the Church last time I checked).

Rhology said...

The apostles are dead, last time *I* checked.

Lvka said...

Rho,

?

Pilgrimsarbour said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
John said...

"The Church does not create dogma, but repeats what it has received from Christ and the Apostles. "

Straw man alert. No Catholic or EO would claim anything else.

"This is an important distinction because it means the church being the pillar and ground of truth does not give it authority over truth, it upholds the truth."

One more straw man.

" So, if a church no longer upholds the truth (e.g. the RCC), it is no longer the pillar and ground of truth. "

This is where you leave the text behind. It doesn't say IF a church upholds the truth, then it is a pillar. In fact that would be a tautology. Rather the text says that the Church is the pillar.

Edward Reiss said...

John,

Not a straw man, but a valid interpretation of Lvka's post, which he cleared up so that there is some agreement between us. It is not our of bounds to interpret the Church as being the pillar and ground of truth as th Church creating truth--i.e. if the Church says it it is dogma. The EOs take a different tack from the RCs, because the RCs would never say they are just repeating what the Apostles taught. In fact, the RCC has created dogmas, such as the Immaculate Conception which is absent from the Apostles. (That doesn't make it untrue, just not an Apostolic teaching and therefore not a dogma). So I do not agree that I erected a straw man.

"This is where you leave the text behind. It doesn't say IF a church upholds the truth, then it is a pillar. In fact that would be a tautology. Rather the text says that the Church is the pillar."

And if this pillar teaches false doctrine, it is no longer a pillar. It means the truth judges the Church, not the other way around, which your reply basically states. It seems that you believe that once one decides where the Church is, every teaching of the Church is by definition true. So, it seems I have not erected a straw man at all, the Church determines truth.

Edward Reiss said...

Rhology,

The Apostles are alive. For an analogy, Jesus rebuked the Sadducees by stating that God is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob--the God of the living and not the dead.

This does not entail accepting prayer to/through departed saints, but they are alive.

Rhology said...

Yes, alive TO GOD. Not alive to us. There is a difference.

Ben M said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John said...

Edward Reiss: "the RCs would never say they are just repeating what the Apostles taught. "

Really? Citation please.

"And if this pillar teaches false doctrine, it is no longer a pillar."

If Y does X, then Y is not Y. This is self contradictory.

"It means the truth judges the Church, not the other way around"

???

If one asked "what is the truth", and I replied "see this table here, it holds the truth", then the table is the thing that tells me where to find the truth. Not the other way around. The truth might be the truth apart from the table, but I can't recognise it without the description of it being the one on the table.

" So, it seems I have not erected a straw man at all, the Church determines truth. "

Yes, but you're equivocating on "determined" which has active and passive meanings.

Edward Reiss said...

John,

I stated that RCs would never say they just repeat what the Apostles say. You responded:

"Citation please"

My response is: Cardinal Newman, the development of doctrine. Explicit in Newman's teaching of the development of doctrine is that there are new dogmas based upon old dogmas. Since the new dogmas are by definition new, they are also by definition not Apostolic.

I stated that the truth judges the Church, not the other way around.

Basically this is Newman's point. One of Newman's arguments against "Protestantism" is that the "Protestant" determines truth to find the Church, where the RC determine sthe Church to find the truth. If, then you believe the truth determines the Church, according to Newman you are basically a "Protestant" who just happens to hold some teachings of the RCC.

If, however, you believe we must first find the Church to determine the truth, there is no practical difference between this and simply claiming the Church determines truth, even if rhetorically one could say it does not actually do so. Basically, if the Church determines truth, what authority can one use to correct it?

Edward Reiss said...

Rhology,

"Yes, alive TO GOD. Not alive to us. There is a difference."

Jesus didn't make this distinction in the passage to which I alluded. You are alive, even though I cannot directly communicate with you.

Rhology said...

"...the woman then died..."

Obviously there's a change when someone dies. Please, Edward, don't be disingenuous like the RC and EOx commenters and act like there's no difference. The very fact that you can't just pick up the phone and call the apostles, but you CAN pick up the phone and call your friend, is part of the difference.

John said...

Newman argued that the Catholic development of doctrine was analogous to doctrines like the Trinity that Protestants accept. Whether he was right or wrong in this assessment, I don't see him claiming that Catholic dogma is any more "new" than the trinity. If you disagree, let's hear the citation.

"there is no practical difference between this and simply claiming the Church determines truth, even if rhetorically one could say it does not actually do so."

As long as you are content for me to claim that there is no practical difference between sola scriptura and Edward Reiss "determining" the truth. After all, at least in the world of Edward Reiss, he determines what scripture is, and he determines what it means. Somehow though, I don't think you'll be happy to have the same equivocation applied to yourself.

"Basically, if the Church determines truth, what authority can one use to correct it?"

I smell more equivocation about "determined".

Let's see then. Let's entertain the possibility that your church is under a misapprehension about the correct canon of scripture. Where could we go to correct this misapprehension?

John Bugay said...

John: In 3:15 there is no such grammar. You can't conduct yourself pillar. You can conduct yourself as a pillar, or like a pillar, but you don't conduct yourself pillar. Pillar is not an adverb. The grammar does not support this contention.

The phrase "which is the church of the living God" is a relative clause, which modifies and expands the phrase "household of God." What follows is all modifier. These descriptions are for clarification, afterthougths to Paul's main point in writing.

You would have a complete sentence with this: "I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God." This is what all three authors said. Behavior is in view. What Paul means here is not individual particular behaviors, but as Towner relates, "the manner of living." "Paul uses the term similarly (1 Cor 1:12, Eph 2:3) referring to a prescribed manner of living (i.e., Christian living) in which "conduct" is to assume a specific shape because of theological realities." Both conduct and "theological realities" are further described, both in the first portion of the letter (2:1-3:13), as well as what follows. And Paul specifically says that he is "writing these instructions" to serve in place of any instructions he might give in case he is "delayed."

The phrase "which is the church of the living God," does further modify "the household of God." But he concurs with Johnson that the phrase "a pillar and buttress of the truth" is, as Johnson said, "in delayed apposition to the statement of purpose," how it is necessary to behave." Towner says "this makes 'pillar and support for the truth" a metaphorical description of the community's behavior." This, he says, is "syntactically more viable."

"This makes "pillar and support for the truth" a metaphorical description of the community's behavior." (274)

John Bugay said...

Pilgrimsarbour: According to the grammatical analysis of Johnson and Towner that I've provided here, your point #1 (that Paul calls the Church "a pillar and buttress of truth") is not quite what Paul had in mind.

Hoehner, in his Commentary on Ephesians, goes into quite a bit of detail about the word for "foundation," themelio, which is different from what Paul is saying in this letter. The themelio really is a "foundation," (the solid bedrock, which supports the entire building). The words in 1 Tim here are "pillars" and "stays" -- they help to support the structure, but they are not the bedrock on which it is built.

"The Church" is not "the foundation."

I agree with you that we ought to be careful with analogies. The point I am trying to making in this post is that Rome, in so many ways, just assumes that it, itself, is "the Foundation," and that those who look to Rome for their salvation ought really to re-think the dependence on an organization that is willing to take such liberties.

John said...

John B. If it was a modifier for the behavior, and not for the Church, then we should be able to cut out the Church from the sentence and it would still be syntactically correct. But then we get:

"I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself the pillar and support of the truth."

But that is simply bad grammar. If Paul wanted to say that we are to conduct ourselves like a pillar or as a pillar or so that we are a pillar, he could have quite easily put in some particle like ὡς. I don't see how anyone can seriously make this claim other than for the reason they have a preconceived attachment to theology that is demolished by letting the text speak for itself.

John Bugay said...

John, you are not considering the Greek syntax. But you are not even making good sense with the English syntax. I'm wondering if you know what is meant by "delayed apposition."

Lvka said...

The Pillar can't fall. Per Christ's words, that the Gates of Hell itself shall not triumph against the Church.

John said...

"John, you are not considering the Greek syntax."

I read the Greek syntax. What makes you think I am not considering it?

"But you are not even making good sense with the English syntax."

How so? No English translation supports the contention.

"I'm wondering if you know what is meant by "delayed apposition.""

Are you really.

John Bugay said...

Well John, you've got me. All I have to go on is the analysis of three leading Greek Scholars of the Pastoral Epistles.

Your firm word certainly trumps everything they have to say, with room to spare.

John Bugay said...

Lvka -- you are mixing your metaphors.

Lvka said...

Am I, John?

John Bugay said...

JB: I've got three leading commentators saying the same thing.

Randy: "But they all have a vested interest in avoiding the plain meaning of the text. In fact, they don't deal with it in any serious way."


You have got to be kidding. Three huge volumes, hundreds of pages each, and you say "they have a vested interest in avoiding the plain interest of the text." "They don't deal with it in any serious way."

If you want to be taken seriously here, I'm sure you'll want to avoid making senseless statements like this.

JB: Who said anything about an invisible church?

Randy: That is the point. It is the protestant notion of what scripture is talking about when it refers to "the church". But here we have a finction of "the church" that cannot be done by an invisible church. So they problem is dealt woth by saying nothing about it.


The first issue that I provide from Towner is the issue of what the church is, is dealt with, as in, "the church is the household of God."

There is a very good definition of "church" in the Westminster Confession of Faith, which describes in detail the visible and invisible aspects and functions of the church. You should check it out prior to making off-the-wall statements about what you THINK a Protestant church is.

http://www.puritanboard.com/confessions/wcf.htm#chap25

JB: Aside from anything that any Protestant has ever said or done, this verse undercuts what Rome says about itself. How about interacting with that notion?

OK, that notion is horse pucky. Next.


Just how is it "horse pucky"? Why don't you say precisely how? At least John is trying to take a look at the grammar. His argument is unpersuasive, but your raw dismissal here says to me that you just simply don't have the ability to look at an argument and say precisely what's wrong with it.

continued.

John Bugay said...

JB: Irenaeus's line was that the Scriptures are the pillar and foundation of the faith. The Scriptures themselves are "truth". "Thy word is truth". You seem very confused.

Randy: So now we are using Irenaeus to trump the bible. Interesting. The scriptures are true. But can they actively uphold the truth?


I'm not using Irenaeus to "trump" the Bible. His comments help to explain it. But it is clear that he did not hold your view. Something else was the "pillar and ground" of the faith.

If they could then you would not have so many bible churches disagreeing on doctrine. Do they uphold the faith.

This is not a post about what Protestant churches agree or disagree on. As I mentioned, the Roman church was boastful and heretical long before the first Protestant church ever appeared. The real issue is, "are Rome's claims valid, or are they false?" Decide on that.

If they are read with the rule of faith that Irenaeus talks about.

The "rule of faith" that Irenaeus talks about is actually the Scriptures. See this posting:

http://reformation500.wordpress.com/2010/03/05/irenaeus-on-development-of-doctrine/

But this verse is typically seen as one of the many that confound protestants.

No one is confounded. Calvin, while coming to a different conclusion than what the modern authors say, still thoroughly rejects Roman claims, and is not confounded by this in any way. Here's a bit of that:

With what impudent trifling do Papists argue from the words of Paul that all their absurdities ought to be held as oracles of God, because they are “the pillar of truth,” and therefore cannot err! ... First, by applying this eulogium to themselves, they act wickedly; because they deck themselves with borrowed feathers. For, granting that the Church were elevated above the third heaven, I maintain that it has nothing to do with them in any manner. Nay, I even turn the whole passage against them; for, if the Church “is the pillar of truth,” it follows that the Church is not with them, when the truth not only lies buried, but is shockingly torn, and thrown down, and trampled under foot. Is this either a riddle or a quibble? Paul does not wish that any society, in which the truth of God does not hold a lofty and conspicuous place, shall be acknowledged to be a Church; now there is nothing of all this in Popery, but only ruin and desolation; and, therefore, the true mark of a Church is not found in it. But the mistake arises from this, that they do not consider, what was of the greatest importance, that the truth of God is maintained by the pure preaching of the gospel; and that the support of it does not depend on the faculties or understandings of men, but rests on what is far higher, that is, if it does not depart from the simple word of God.

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/calcom43.iii.v.iii.html

Edward Reiss said...

John,

"Newman argued that the Catholic development of doctrine was analogous to doctrines like the Trinity that Protestants accept. Whether he was right or wrong in this assessment, I don't see him claiming that Catholic dogma is any more "new" than the trinity. If you disagree, let's hear the citation."

Newman claimed more than that. He claimed that there are "seed" doctrines which later grow into other doctrines. By way of contrast, the Trinitarian doctrines are considered to be merely restatements of Apsotolic doctrine with different language. The "development" of the Trinity and e.g. the Immaculate Conception are thus two different things. The Immaculate Conception is simply absent from the Apostolic deposit of faith, while the basics of the Trinity are there already, and the later Trinitarian and Christological controversies were resolved by more precise language based upon the Apsotolic deposit of faith to refute a new heresy. By way of contrast, the Immaculate Conception arose from scholastic theology in the Middle Ages based upon developments of developments of Augustine's doctrine of original sin. Any good explanation of IC will bring this out. You will look in vain in the Apostles or even the early Fathers for examples of Mary being born without original sin by a special grace of God.

If you can find the Immaculate Conception in the writings of the Apostles, I will recant. Otherwise, it is a new dogma which the RCC has created--and it does so because it sees itself as the "Pillar and Ground' of truth in such a way that it is the source of truth.

"As long as you are content for me to claim that there is no practical difference between sola scriptura and Edward Reiss "determining" the truth. After all, at least in the world of Edward Reiss, he determines what scripture is, and he determines what it means. Somehow though, I don't think you'll be happy to have the same equivocation applied to yourself."

Your analogy fails simply because I subscribe to a confession not of my own making. "My" interpretation is not really mine.

"Let's entertain the possibility that your church is under a misapprehension about the correct canon of scripture. Where could we go to correct this misapprehension?"

My church does not have an official list of books in the Bible, so there can be no misapprehension.

John Bugay said...

JB: Lvka -- you are mixing your metaphors.

Lvka: Am I, John?


Here's what you said: The Pillar can't fall. Per Christ's words, that the Gates of Hell itself shall not triumph against the Church.

So yes, it is strongly thought that Matt 16, in discussing "the gates of Hell," pictures a fixed structure. So an immovable Pillar and the fixed gates of hell, just standing there in opposition. Ha ha. (It is more likely Jesus had in mind a missionary church, going out like a military force to invade and overtake the gates of hell.)

Lvka said...

The Ottoman Gate (or Porte) wasn't static. You do realise that, don't you, John?

(You WERE right in what you SAID, but you were wrong in what you DIDN'T say but think).

John Bugay said...

Now you have introduced an anachronism into the conversation.

Lvka said...

And which would that be?

John Bugay said...

Jesus spoke of the "gates of hell" in approximately 30 ad. Your non-static "Ottoman Gate (or Porte)" only existed centuries later.

John said...

"All I have to go on is the analysis of three leading Greek Scholars of the Pastoral Epistles."

Err, no you don't. You've got one "Catholic" scholar who believes in homosexual marriages and women's ordination who desperately wants a way to deny that the Church is the pillar of the truth, and a couple of other scholars who say zippo about the syntax, but say vague things about the passage being about conduct. Big whoop.

John Bugay said...

I've said plenty about "syntax" in this thread; there's a lot more discussion in these works that I haven't reproduced. Meanwhile, Johnson's personal beliefs haven't prevented the Roman church from tossing him out, and besides that, it has nothing to do with his knowlege as an exegete. Your charge about "desperately want[ing] a way to deny that the Church is the pillar of the truth" is totally baseless, and you still have provided nothing of substance to this discussion.

Lvka said...

Well, unfortunately the meaning is the same. (Jesus and His Apostles wore the same kind of clothes that many Middle-Easterners wear today)

John said...

Edward, you may believe the immaculate conception is a new teaching, but that is not what Rome claims. The issue is what Rome claims, not what you think about those claims.

Newman referred to "oneness, with primitive Apostolic teaching, of the body of doctrine known at this day by the name of Catholic", in his essay about development of doctirne.


In regards to the silence of antiquity about things like the immaculate conception, Newman said:

"Omissions, thus absolute and singular, when they occur in the evidence of facts or doctrines, are of course difficulties; on the other hand, not unfrequently they admit of explanation. Silence may arise from the very notoriety of the facts in question, as in the case of the seasons, the weather, or other natural phenomena; or from their sacredness, as the Athenians would not mention the mythological Furies; or from external constraint, as the omission of the statues of Brutus and Cassius in the procession. Or it may proceed from fear or disgust, as on the arrival of unwelcome news; or from indignation, or hatred, or contempt, or perplexity, as Josephus is silent about Christianity, and Eusebius passes over the death of Crispus in his life of Constantine; or from other strong feeling, as {117} implied in the poet's sentiment, "Give sorrow words;" or from policy or other prudential motive, or propriety, as Queen's Speeches do not mention individuals, however influential in the political world, and newspapers after a time were silent about the cholera. Or, again, from the natural and gradual course which the fact took, as in the instance of inventions and discoveries, the history of which is on this account often obscure; or from loss of documents or other direct testimonies, as we should not look for theological information in a treatise on geology."

Or in other words, he posits that omissions in the historical record are just accidents or omissions in history. I don't see him saying anything about the Church creating new dogmas. But again, I await a citation.

"Your analogy fails simply because I subscribe to a confession not of my own making. "My" interpretation is not really mine."

Who do you ascribe it to? If you say the Church then you're in the same boat. If you say the bible, then you don't say anything different to when we assign it to Tradition, and you're also in the same epistemological boat.

"My church does not have an official list of books in the Bible, so there can be no misapprehension."

So the only misapprehensions of doctrine you could countenance are ones your church lists as "official"? Could you supply me with the exhaustive list of your official dogmas. I'm interested in their exact contents.

John said...

"There's a lot more discussion in these works that I haven't reproduced. "

Oh, so somewhere "out there", there is an actual discussion of the syntax which might actually support what is currently a completely unsupported assertion about the text?

Well color me impressed.

Edward Reiss said...

John,

"Or in other words, he posits that omissions in the historical record are just accidents or omissions in history. I don't see him saying anything about the Church creating new dogmas. But again, I await a citation."

First, one cannot simply assume "omissions" in the historical record when it suits you. (In fact, that is what the Baptists do, and I bet you would object...) There is no IC in the Apostolic writings. You don't get to claim continuity with thew Apostles by what amounts to an argument from silence. The absence of the teaching of the IC in the early church means it wasn't taught.

Second, given the above, it is quite reasonable to cite this lack of evidence for the IC as proof that the RCC created the doctrine, no matter what it "claims" about itself.

As to Newman's teaching, herre is what said:

"For Newman, the theory of development dovetails with the antecedent probability that there will be growth and development in divine truth communicated to this world. He contends that it is the best theory, being the "simplest, the most natural, the most persuasive." It is clear that he is not attempting to explain the process of doctrinal development. His aim was to solve a problem, that posed by the apparent discontinuity between the Church of the apostles and contemporary Roman Catholicism."

Basically, the "omissions", which RC opponents were using as arguments against the RCC, were "filled in" by doctrinal development. The entire system depends on there being no apparent continuity between the ancient Church and modern RCism.

"Invoking the principle of doctrinal development, especially with an appeal to a philosopher theologian of the stature of John Henry Newman, in order to substantiate challenges to the Church’s common understanding of itself, is limited to the very precision of the illative sense espoused by Newman and his conceptual framework for the nature of development."

So, as per your comments here, the RCC is the true church because the RCC is the true Church. One may not use history to contradict what the RCC says about its teachings or its own history. Any"holes" are merely development. as you yourself cited.

http://www.ad2000.com.au/articles/1998/aug1998p10_553.html

John said...

Edward, I'm commenting on what I believe is your misapprehension that Rome claims to create dogma apart from the apostolic deposit of faith. I'm not here to defend the IC, or whether you think the claims are reasonable.

If your assertion about what Rome claims is incorrect, then the epistemological objection fails. You then are left to fall back on arguments about the facts of individual doctrines. Which is fine and all, as long invalid arguments are abandoned.

A quote by someone expressing his opinion about one cardinal who himself is expressing an opinion, is not exactly very persuasive, if indeed it supported your thesis, which is questionable, since I've already cited the opinion that Newman's conception of "development", is in his mind the same as the development of the trinity. And again, whether he is right or not is not the issue, rather the issue is that Rome doesn't claim to be creating new dogma out of whole cloth.

If we can agree that Rome doesn't claim to create dogma, but rather to define an existing body of faith, then everyone can move onto more fruitful arguments.

Edward Reiss said...

John,

"Who do you ascribe it to? If you say the Church then you're in the same boat. If you say the bible, then you don't say anything different to when we assign it to Tradition, and you're also in the same epistemological boat."

This argument by you seems to me to be a symptom of your not thinking outside the RC box. There are a lot more choices than wholly independent theologies and complete submission to everything an authority says. The real world is messier than these tidy categoties.

My church is defined by confessions, I subscribe to them I therefore do not fit into the original paradigm of your question, which assumes one exteeem pole of the dichotomy I outlined above.

"So the only misapprehensions of doctrine you could countenance are ones your church lists as "official"? Could you supply me with the exhaustive list of your official dogmas. I'm interested in their exact contents."

No, we don't have an official list of books in the Bible. But that does not mean that only what we list as "official" (what ever that means) is dogmatic authority. I fyou are really interested, you can go to http://bookofconcord.org. Unfortunately, it is not in the form of a list. It is, like the other church documents, a product of refuting heresy within the Church. So, as above, your question does not apply to me.

Randy said...

You have got to be kidding. Three huge volumes, hundreds of pages each, and you say "they have a vested interest in avoiding the plain interest of the text." "They don't deal with it in any serious way."

If you want to be taken seriously here, I'm sure you'll want to avoid making senseless statements like this.

It is called tradition. Scholars come to the text with a Sola Scriptura mindset. Yes that means they make assumptions and do not seriously question them. So when the text plainly contradicts those assumptions they assume the plain meaning must not be what is intended. Now such assumptions can be widespread. That does not make them right.
The first issue that I provide from Towner is the issue of what the church is, is dealt with, as in, "the church is the household of God."
He does say that. So what? Catholics accept the church as the household of God, the family of God, the body of Christ. What does it tell us about the nature of church authority? The point is he does not deal with how the church functions as the pillar and foundation of truth. How does it relate to the discussion of church offices in this chapter?

There is a very good definition of "church" in the Westminster Confession of Faith, which describes in detail the visible and invisible aspects and functions of the church. You should check it out prior to making off-the-wall statements about what you THINK a Protestant church is.
This is precisely the sort of idea that this passage proves wrong. Read it. Read this chapter. Then throw out the WCF.

His argument is unpersuasive, but your raw dismissal here says to me that you just simply don't have the ability to look at an argument and say precisely what's wrong with it.
OK, sorry if I offended you. What is wrong with the arguments is they don’t deal with the text. The behavior in question is in regards to elders and deacons. The behavior is not pillaring and foundationing. There is a parallel of things. The household of God. The church of the living God. The pillar and foundation of the truth. Three things with no behaviors. The more I think about it the more surprised I am that you or anybody else takes this seriously. The household of God is a red herring. It is just a synonym for the church. But it does move the pillar and foundation further away from their desired referent. That makes their exegesis more tortured. I guess they can say anything. People want to believe something they will believe it.

Randy said...

I'm not using Irenaeus to "trump" the Bible. His comments help to explain it. But it is clear that he did not hold your view. Something else was the "pillar and ground" of the faith.
That is not clear at all. He used the same metaphor as Paul to communicate a different truth. That does not mean they disagree with each other.

This is not a post about what Protestant churches agree or disagree on. As I mentioned, the Roman church was boastful and heretical long before the first Protestant church ever appeared. The real issue is, "are Rome's claims valid, or are they false?" Decide on that.
Really? So for a long time the only church in existence was boastful and heretical? Good thing the gates of hell never prevailed over the church of Jesus. Are you admitting that protestant churches cannot act as the pillar and foundation of the truth?

No one is confounded. Calvin, while coming to a different conclusion than what the modern authors say, still thoroughly rejects Roman claims, and is not confounded by this in any way. Here's a bit of that:…
Calvin rejects Roman claims. There is a surprise. But what does he base it on? His own judgment of what the truth is. So John Calvin becomes the pillar and foundation of the truth. He is right that we need a church and it must teach the truth. He is wrong on how to find it. So what error would Calvin’s idea prevent? Why couldn’t a Baptist or a Pentecostal make the same argument he does and say Calvin’s church must be false because it lacks truth. His pillar and foundation supports every truth and therefore it supports none.

John said...

Edward: It's a bit of a problem if you're going to go around complaining about Churches being irreformable according to doctrine when you can't exactly identify the bounds of doctrine of your own church. As soon as you raise a claim about the necessity for a mechanism of reforming doctrine you have to have a correspondingly clear mechanism for identifying your doctrine.

I'm kind of surprised that your best shot at identifying your doctrine is not a specific set of scriptures, but rather the book of concord. Now seriously, does your church have a mechanism for updating the Book of Concord when errors are found? To claim to be reformable you'll have to have a mechanism in place for reforming your false traditions, right?

The number of cases of Protestant churches reforming their doctrines has got to be near zero. I've never heard of a Baptist church embracing infant baptism, or a Presbyterian church suddenly eschewing it. Individuals move between churches for doctrinal reasons, and new churches are started for doctrinal reasons, and doctrine drifts through popular culture, but I've never heard of a case of a Church sitting down and saying something like, "oh right, those other guys were right all along, so our church is changing our position on baptism, or church government, or sacramentalism, or paedo-communion or Calvinism or whatever.

The idea that Protestant churches are all geared up to be reformed by the word of God is a nonsense. You guys are just as mired in your own history as anyone else. The difference is, you don't make the claim your church is uniquely led by the Spirit so that history can have any meaning.

Edward Reiss said...

John,

No, it is not a problem. You keep trying to change the subject to my church. This is a common tactic used by RC apologists when they cannot argue the facts. Even if I am a Moonie it doesn't make your position any stronger. The topic of the thread is how the RCC interprets the text at hand. I hold that it interprets it in such a way that the RCC is the source of new doctrines. So far all you want to do is change the subject and deny that Newman's doctrine is more than mere development in a similar way to the Trinity. The IC did not develop in a similar way to the Trinity, and that should not be controversial.

Also, I will point out that you asked for documentation of what my church teaches. When I pointed you to our confessional documents you just change the subject again to how I answer certain questions. Added to this is the implicit assumption of how we approach Sola Scripture. We just don't fit into your mold. It would help if you didn't try to argue against "protestantism", which is not a confessional grouping.

It is clear you are just trying to get away from the topic at hand. This is also shown by your desire to discuss "protestantism" instead of the simple fact that the RCC invented the IC based on its scholastic thheology.

"I'm kind of surprised that your best shot at identifying your doctrine is not a specific set of scriptures, but rather the book of concord. "

This is because, as I pointed out earlier, you keep trying to fit "protestants" into a pre-conceived mold--and then claim they don't fit into a mold at all because they don;t agree--a rather self-refuting way for you to argue. All this in liu of addressing the issues I have brought up.

Now, Show me where the Immaculate Conception is written down by the Apostles and I will recant. Either that, or admit that Newmanian "development of doctrine" allows for the Church to invent new dogmas.

John said...

" I hold that it interprets it in such a way that the RCC is the source of new doctrines."

Edward, there's a difference between claiming that the RCC is the source of new doctrines and claiming that the RCC interprets 1 Tim 3:15 to say that it has the right to be the source of new doctrines. You continue to claim the latter while only making arguments for the former.

When I pointed this out, you pointed out certain things about the history of the IC doctrine, which is a claim about the former, not the latter. You appealed to Newman, but I pointed out that he doesn't see the IC as any different in principle to the trinity.

If you can't prove the latter, then you are in the same epistemological boat. You can make probabilistic arguments about this doctrine or that doctrine, but you can't present an overarching argument that the RCC claims to create dogma in a way you don't. So you can make probabilistic arguments about say the IC, and match that up with probabilistic arguments about things in your own tradition, like the originality of 2 Peter, but that's a different kind of argument.



If you want to be take seriously, you'll have to stop equivocating on different concepts, and actually defend the argument you make, and not a slightly different one.

Yes, you pointed out confessional documents, but then you said that is not everything but you can't identify everything. How is this off topic to point out you can't even identify everything which is the subject of this corrective process that is supposedly a necessary thing?

Edward Reiss said...

John,

I don't care if you take me seriously or not. The guy who simply abandons his own arguments when they are shown to be weak and then tries to change the subject as implicitly admitted he has lost the argument.

You keep trying to change the subject to me and my church. Unfortunately, the Lutheran Church is not the topic of this thread.

Here is where things stand:

I showed you are wrong abut Newman, and I showed that your own arguments, as well as Newman's work out to the RCC being the source of truth and not something which upholds it.

So far you have not shown that the IC developed in a similar manner to the Trinity. This basically refutes your defense of Newman. The Trinitarian doctrines are real developments of th edeposit of faith, the IC is an assertion without Apostolic warrant. This makes the IC a new dogma. I can show Christ's divinity, his co-equality with the Father and the Spirit and the distinctions between the persons. There is no such matrix for the IC.

As far as epistemological boats, you are too unaware of what I believe to, well, take such a critique seriously. I have shown this, too.

John said...

Edward: It would be helpful if you concede the things you actually got wrong.

Even if we accept the proposition that the RCC's position amounts to being a "source of truth" in your categorisations, it doesn't mean that the RCC interprets 1Tim 3:15 to mean that. If the RCC has a dogma about the IC that isn't actually apostolic, that would mean the RCC made a mistake about what is apostolic on the same level as if you made a mistake about 2 Peter being apostolic. It doesn't mean the RCC interprets 1 Tim 3:15 to mean it can create dogmas that are not apostolic. And that is the claim you made, which you ought to withdraw.

Until you stop equivocating categories, you won't be able to present a coherent argument.

Again, arguing about probabilities about the paper trail supporting the IC going back to the apostles is equivalent to arguing about the paper trail of 2 Peter going back to the apostles. It's not an indication that one accepts the proposition that the Church can create non-apostolic dogmas. Rather it is a difference of opinion about history. Do you suggest that all churches accepting 2 Peter as dogmatically part of scripture be relegated to the category of irreformable?

Edward Reiss said...

John,

"It would be helpful if you concede the things you actually got wrong."

I deny I got anything wrong. So far you have avoided each and every argument. First by trying to change the subject and now by bald assertions I got something "wrong".

In any case, whether or not the RCC officially claims the passage in qyuestion means the RCC is the source of truth or not, it is de facto how they "do" doctrine. As I pointed out above, your own arguments support my position that the RCC is not just a pillar, but the source of doctrine.

"Again, arguing about probabilities about the paper trail supporting the IC going back to the apostles is equivalent to arguing about the paper trail of 2 Peter going back to the apostles."

No, it is not equivalent. It is not even similar. As before, you don't supply any evidence for the IC from the Apostles--zip, nada, zilch. There is no "paper trail", which is why it had to "develop". This is a completely different kind of development than we see in e,g, the development of the doctrine of the Trinity. (Indeed, the "development" of Arius' heresy is similar to the "development" of the IC--the product of speculative, academic theology as opposed ot the Apsotolic deposit of faith...)

If you cannot show the Apostles or at least the Apostolic Fathers teaching the IC then it is not Apsotolic doctrine.

Regarding different books of the Bible, there is a paper trail for every book of the Bible. Some are better than others, but they are there--which is not true of the IC. So your analogy does not apply.

The IC is a good example of the "pillar" making up a dogma. I have also shown how, despite your protestations, you approach leads to the Church creating dogmas. How, indeed, could you ever deny something dogmatically proclaimed by the Magisterium? You can't, because the "pillar" is by definition always right. The justifications--"paper trail"--can come later because since Newman there are a lot of "seed" doctrines which then "develop" within the "pillar and ground of truth".

John said...

Edward, you've completely ignored everything I said, and then have the temerity to claim I'm avoiding arguments.

Now you seem to be saying that the RCC doesn't claim to be the source of truth, but "de facto" that is how it does doctrine. That in itself is a backflip that you ought to be up front about.

You say that the IC developed differently to the trinity. Even if we accept that, it contradicts Newman. And since you appeal to Newman as your source of Rome's claims, all you've done is prove you disagree with Newman, you have failed to show that your view of Rome's teaching is accurate.

Do you actually understand the difference between disagreeing with Rome's teachings and misrepresenting Rome's teachings? Can't you do the former without doing the latter?

You say that if one can't show something from either the bible or the apostolic fathers, then it isn't apostolic. That's a rather arbitrary cutoff, and doesn't deal with what Newman said. And again, the issue is not whether you agree with Newman or his view of history, the issue is you misrepresented Rome's understanding of the relationship between dogma and history. Just because Rome's cutoff is not in the same year that your cutoff is, doesn't mean Rome's view of dogma being apostolic is different. It just means Rome picked a different cutoff than your arbitrary date.

You say there is a paper trail for every book of the bible, but that is not true of the IC. Perhaps you could provide us a photocopy of the paper trail for Genesis as a starting point. But obviously the paper trail for IC starts in some year or other. The paper trail for 2 Peter starts around 200 AD with some very shaky attestation, about 150 years after it would have had to have been written. Just because you are happy with a 150 year paper trail, and are not happy with a say, 200 year paper trail says more about your arbitrariness than the positions involved. And in any case, Rome sees in the writings of people like Hippolytus things like " His tabernacle was exempt from putridity and corruption." and Origen "immaculate of the immaculate" as a paper trail for the doctrine, chronologically at least as good as the paper trail for 2 Peter.

You ask how one could ever deny something by the Magisterium and offer this as proof that Rome is not acting as a pillar. But by your own definition, pillars uphold the truth. If the Magisterium is a pillar, and it holds something up, then it is the truth. This is according to your own understanding of the metaphor. What I want to know from you is how can you claim your church as a pillar and then simultaneously claim that it can hold up errors so that we have to keep checking and cross checking if its the truth. It sounds like your church is not a pillar, but a boat tossed in the waves. Hopefully it holds up the truth, but other times it doesn't.

Edward Reiss said...

John,

There is simply no comparison between the "paper trail" of IC and the "paper trail" for the Bible. The Jesus and the Apostles vouch for Genesis, but not for the IC. This is a simple brute fact.

Furthermore, the EOC knows nothing of the IC. Are they unaware of history, too? It is more likely that they don'e believe because IC arose from Medieval scholastic theology, to which the EOC didn't subscribe. That is why it had to "develop" (in the sense of somee new dogma) in the West. You simply have no evidence for the IC being Apostolic other than the authority of your church, which makes the RCC the source of truth and not an upholder of truth. Indeed, if there was such evidence, I have no doubt you would supply it. You don't because there isn't any.

You also keep trying to make my church the issue. But my church is not the issue. I could be a Moonie and you would still be wrong.

John said...

Edward, the issue is not the quality of the paper trail, the issue is you misrepresenting Rome's position. If you want to admit that Rome claims its teachings are Apostolic, and then go onto argue why you don't believe that to be so, then you could be arguing from a position of respect to the other position. As it is, you are still claiming you've done nothing wrong.

Edward Reiss said...

John,

"If you want to admit that Rome claims its teachings are Apostolic, and then go onto argue why you don't believe that to be so, then you could be arguing from a position of respect to the other position. As it is, you are still claiming you've done nothing wrong."

That's right, I have done nothing wrong. Embedded right in this comment of yours is your admission that I am right. You see, since Rome is Apostolic (the pillar, if you will), then what it says is true is true.

Thus, the pillar determines what is true, since by definition the pillar upholds the truth. The IC is a good example of this. You have advanced no evidence for its antiquity except alluding to Rome's claim of being Apostolic.

So, once again, thanks for proving my point.

John said...

Yes Edward, by definition the pillar upholds the truth. The verse at the centre of this discussion says so. Therefore what the pillar holds up is by definition the truth, since the bible says so. Your effort is better expended in arguing your case about where the church is, than arguing against Paul, or assigning theology to Rome that it does not hold.

Edward Reiss said...

John,

"Therefore what the pillar holds up is by definition the truth, since the bible says so."

Then why did you bother arguing about paper trails and tradition etc.? It doesn't matter if there is any paper trail or tradition, if the Church says it it is true even if no one said it ever before. Indeed, after Newman, all one needs is th emost tenuous statement for something completely new to "develop".

"Your effort is better expended in arguing your case about where the church is, than arguing against Paul, or assigning theology to Rome that it does not hold."

You keep re-affirming what I claim is Rome's theology. You also keep re-affirming my point that truth does not judge the Church, rather the other way around for RCs. That is not St. Paul's teaching, not in the slightest. And creating a new dogma (IC) and claiming it is not new is no argument at all, it is just a bald assertion.

BTW, the EOC, at least most of them, do not claim e.g. the Trinitarian dogmas are new, they are just statements to refute heresies which arise. In other words, the doctrines in question are Apostolic. You have utterly failed to show the IC has a similar pedigree, despite your attempt to equivocate the two.

John said...

Edward, I played along with your paper trail discussion to show that its not as clear as you make out that your definition of what is Apostolic is the only reasonable one, and that your definition is rather arbitrary in its evidence requirements. And as Newman pointed out, not having extant documents about something is not the same as proving it was never mentioned before.

Now, you're perfectly entitled to form the opinion that you can't accept these things are apostolic, just like it used to be trendy for scholars to say that John was probably written in the late 2nd century, but that doesn't actually say anything about your position vs Rome's other than that your criteria is a bit different than Rome's. And you can argue why your criteria is better or whatever, but it doesn't show that Rome believes it is in the business of creating non-apostolic dogma. You tried to make Newman say that, but failed.

And at least to some extent, what is only "tenuous" in the historical record is in the eye of the beholder. Many would say that substitutionary atonement and penal substitution have at best a tenuous relationship to the bible and historical Christianity. Yet many protestants cling to it as if it was the beginning and end of the faith.

Yes, if one "creates a new dogma" and claims it is not new *without evidence*, then it would be a bald assertion. But this is exactly my point. You have to debate the evidence on each individual dogma to make your point. You can't simply start with the bald assertion that Rome claims the ability to promulgate non-apostolic dogma, therefore we can reject anything it says from the get-go. No, that's not true, so you'll have to argue from the actual facts.

You talk about whether the truth judges the church, or vice versa, and claim that Paul's teaching is that the truth judges the church.

You know, the truth is only a set of facts. It doesn't judge anything. That's why when the government makes legislation they also need courts to apply it. Inanimate objects don't judge anything. By your logic, because supreme court judges are in a position to judge the law, therefore they themselves are not subject to the law. Of course that assumption would be wrong. It seems like you want to set up a false dichotomy where either the church is over the scriptures, or vice versa. I see no reason to go down that path.

Trinity again: neither does Newman say the trinity is new! If you are not happy with the pedigree of IC versus some other dogma, great you can argue about that issue on its merits. But you can't start from the position that Rome doesn't even claim it to be apostolic, therefore you can just reject it before you start. And that's what you were attempting to do.

Edward Reiss said...

John,

"Trinity again: neither does Newman say the trinity is new! If you are not happy with the pedigree of IC versus some other dogma, great you can argue about that issue on its merits. But you can't start from the position that Rome doesn't even claim it to be apostolic, therefore you can just reject it before you start. And that's what you were attempting to do."

Once again, you prove my point.

I agree the Trinity is not new. In fact, that was my point. My point is the difference between the Trinity and the IC. We can see the Trinity in the Scriptures and in the ECFs. The IC does not appear in the Scriptures or the ECFs. That means it is new.

That is a conclusion drawn from "actual facts".

You speak of facts and evidence in a general way, but you have not supplied any facts or evidence for IC being Apostolic doctrine. None. This is because there isn't any. Which once again leaves us with the conclusion it is new.

You can attempt to portray my arguments as arbitrary, but it would be better if you actually had an argument in favor of your opinion instead of using the various rhetorical tricks you have used here:

1) Changing the subject to my church
2) Threatening to stop the discussion if I don't behave the way you would like
3) Pretending you want to follow evidence when you supply none for your own case
4) Ignoring the repeated arguments by me that the development of IC and th development og the Trinity are not the same thing at all

Empty rhetoric in place of argument doesn't prove anything except perhaps that even you know you don't have much of a case at all. As that old lawyer saw says, if the facts go against you, change the subject.

John said...

Edward, being as I am Eastern Orthodox, I have little incentive to run down the rabbit hole of this change of subject you have attempted about the IC. I just don't like to see people misrepresent any side of the discussion whether it is my side or not. My point has continually been the problem with your argument, and not allowing you to change the entire argument to be about the IC.

If you want my opinion, the IC does fail the history test, but you have to argue it on its own merits, and not by a-priori saying that Rome doesn't claim its teachings are apostolic and avoiding the discussion. You attempted that at the beginning, you appealed to Newman and failed, and you still are pushing onwards with the misrepresentation.

Mentioning your church is very pertinent if it demonstrates your position is hypocritical.

I have no knowledge of "threatening to stop the discussion". That sounds like your imagination to me.

I have supplied all necessary evidence to prove my position, which is that you misrepresented Rome. I know that, because I challenged you to document your claim, all you threw up was Newman, and that was shown to be misrepresenting Newman.

And again, the point is not whether the Trinity and the IC are equivalent, the point is that Rome thinks they are. That's why you have to refute the IC on its own merits and not just claim a-priori that it fails because Rome doesn't even claim it to be apostolic. Rome does claim it to be apostolic, and its time you admitted this, so you can if you wish, argue against it on its on merits and not on the basis of a straw man.

I'll point out one more time: This is not about the IC, which I have no necessity to defend. This is about my challenging you on a misrepresentation of Rome, and you refusing to admit it, pushing on and pretending as if you weren't caught out.

Edward Reiss said...

John,

You need more evidence and fewer assertions. If you agree the IC fails the history test you could have said that several posts ago. You chose not to do so for what ever reason.

From that if follows that the IC is new. It doesn't matter if the RCC says the IC is apostolic, for that is the very thing under discussion.

That is how I see it.

John said...

Edward: You seem irritated that I didn't follow you down the IC rabbit warren as a distraction to you documenting or retracting your claim. Here's a reminder of your claim:

"the RCs would never say they are just repeating what the Apostles taught."

When asked to document this, you quoted Newman, and waffled about the IC. But Newman argued that the IC was no different to the trinity. Thus your claim that RCs would never say they are repeating what the apostles taught is bogus. RCs see this no different from you do. Being wrong about what the apostles taught is a different claim than not thinking your teachings are what the apostles taught. When are you going to be a man and just withdraw the claim? There are no debate victories for misrepresenting your opponents.

Edward Reiss said...

John,

Spare me the cheap psychoanalysis. You don't know me at all. I wonder why you are so fond of these ridiculous tricks. You keep trying different ones, and each one seems lamer than the last. Try a new tack, for your own sake.

And you should read the overall context before making sweeping comments.

You quoted me thus:

"the RCs would never say they are just repeating what the Apostles taught"

This was sin the context of my reply to Lvka. And in overall context, it is true. Newman's doctrine of development means the RCC is not just repeating what the Apostles say. This is so blindingly obvious that there is really not much left to say about it. If that is what they are doing, there would be no need for "development". Did the virgin birth "develope"?

I cited a RC priest thus:

"His aim was to solve a problem, that posed by the apparent discontinuity between the Church of the apostles and contemporary Roman Catholicism"

Apparent discontinuity seems to imply something new, i.e. something has to develop. Something is now a dogma which was not before.

Where is the apparent discontinuity between the doctrine of the Trinity and the Apostles? There is none, because the doctrine of the Trinity is not new, while the IC is new. The RCC claims that e.g. the IC is not new don't stand up to scrutiny--which you yourself allowed. In fact it seems it is you, not I, who misunderstand Newman. Newman believed in "seed" doctrines. So for Newman strict historical continuity is of a secondary importance to faith. And due to his peculiar definition of faith, he means absolute authority.

"...The simple account of their remaining as they are, is, that they lack one thing,--they have not faith; it is a state of mind, it is a virtue, which they do not recognise to be praiseworthy, which they do not aim at possessing..."

http://www.newmanreader.org/works/discourses/discourse10.html

Faith is submitting to an authority, not belief in e.g. the Trinity. And so it follows that to be faithful is to believe without question what the authority says. So, there is nothing wrong, for Newman, with the Church taking the vaguest hints and saying that such and such is a dogma, when it never was before. It was there, according to Newman, in "seed form" which we could not perceive. That is what I called "new", BTW.

John said...

"Newman's doctrine of development means the RCC is not just repeating what the Apostles say. This is so blindingly obvious that there is really not much left to say about it. If that is what they are doing, there would be no need for "development". Did the virgin birth "develope"?"

Yeah, and if you want to go down that route, it makes everything you said to be nonsense. Did the apostles state that God is a Τριάδος, as three ὑπόστᾰσις in one Οὐσία? No they didn't. So you condemn your own theology by playing weasel words, all in the name of salvaging your error.

"Newman believed in "seed" doctrines."

But he didn't consider the trinity "seed" to be different in kind to the IC seed. And the question is not whether he is right, the question is what RCs think, since your claim was about what RCs would say, NOT what RC theology implies.

The question remains outstanding. Is this statement true:?

"the RCs would never say they are just repeating what the Apostles taught"

Its only true if we interpret it such that it also applies to your own position. You've now gone on to define it in terms of "repeating what the apostles say", and the dogmatic statements of your own tradition do not fit that criteria.

John Bugay said...

John, there is no comparison between the Trinity and the Immaculate Conception of Mary.

The Trinity was known -- and someone who calls himself an Eastern Orthodox person, you should know that the Trinity was known from the beginning. There was no "development". See Perry Robinson's statement here and following, to the effect that "the church taught the doctrine of the Trinity prior to any formal definition."

http://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2010/04/29/determining-the-doctrine-of-the-church/#comment-74189

Reformed writers are clear that the three persons of the trinity are clearly attested in the New Testament. Note these statements:

Matthew 28: Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.

2 Corinthians 13:14 -- The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

Here, the functionality of all the persons are clearly attested in one passage:

Ephesians 1:3-14 -- Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.


Further, the Spirit is directly attested as God in Romans 8, and Jesus is attested as YHWH by Paul in Phil 2 (see Is. 45:22-25). There are others that could be mentioned.

The Trinity is clearly taught in Scripture.

On the other hand, the Immaculate Conception of Mary is an inference derived from an inference, and all of that is despite clear evidence that Mary was a sinful person in the New Testament. (Romans 3:23 -- there is no exception made for her then, when it would have been natural to do so, if the Apostle had thought that was the case -- and Mary was among his family saying of Jesus, "he is out of his mind" (Mark 3:20, 21, 31). The origins of the Immaculate Conception are attested in spurious legend.

You have been banging your head here for two weeks, and I don't really care how you are spending your time, and I'm glad you are adding up the page views here, but your argument has no basis in reality.

John said...

John B. After all the words expended, why can't you listen? The issue is not what you think of the trinity vs the IC, the issue is what RCs claim. I disputed Edward's representation of what Catholics CLAIM. Go ahead and disagree with RCs, but don't misrepresent them.

John Bugay said...

John, it's not a question of "not listening." You have long ago lost my sympathy for your positions.

I haven't read all of the sniping back and forth. But if you are interested in resolving questions about "what RCs claim," it's not hard to check the original document:

http://www.ewtn.com/faith/teachings/marye1.htm

And indeed, illustrious documents of venerable antiquity, of both the Eastern and the Western Church, very forcibly testify that this doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the most Blessed Virgin, which was daily more and more splendidly explained, stated and confirmed by the highest authority, teaching, zeal, knowledge, and wisdom of the Church, and which was disseminated among all peoples and nations of the Catholic world in a marvelous manner--this doctrine always existed in the Church as a doctrine that has been received from our ancestors, and that has been stamped with the character of revealed doctrine. [And given the rejection of the "partim-partim" language, this means it is revealed in Scripture. Except that, in real life, outside of the imaginations of Roman Catholics, and their philosophical machinations, it is not.] For the Church of Christ, watchful guardian that she is, and defender of the dogmas deposited with her, never changes anything, never diminishes anything, never adds anything to them; but with all diligence she treats the ancient documents faithfully and wisely; if they really are of ancient origin and if the faith of the Fathers has transmitted them, she strives to investigate and explain them in such a way that the ancient dogmas of heavenly doctrine will be made evident and clear, but will retain their full, integral, and proper nature, and will grown only within their own genus--that is, within the same dogma, in the same sense and the same meaning.

So now, the explanation for how this doctrine was "always there" is dependent on some theory of "development," some philosophical theory that allows it to have been "revealed in Scripture."

And so, miracle of miracles, this "seed form" was nevertheless "never changed, never diminished, never added-to, but always treated faithfully and wisely, always having its full, integral, and proper nature," "known in the same sense" and "having the same meaning."

If this definition does not say that the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is not "apostolic," then how would you characterize it?

Edward is correct to suggest that this is a bunch of malarkey.

John said...

"If this definition does not say that the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is not "apostolic," then how would you characterize it?"

not apostolic??

If it says this doctrine "always existed in the church", then how would it be claiming it is not apostolic?

[shakes head]

MiKayla Searles said...

I would like to start by saying the Catholic Church does not take this verse out of context and does not change it in any way or is dishonest. personally I would have to say you are the one taking this verse so much farther then needed. so far to the point of making it sound ridiculous. the verse 1 Timothy 3:15 ' but if I should be delayed, you should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth.' can easily be broke down to mean this... ' but if I were to be delayed' we all know what delayed means, so we can easily figure out what its saying. 'if I am late or am not able to come in time.' next we have ' you should know how to behave in the household of God' this is simply saying we should know how to act reverently. 'in the household of God' could be taken to mean different things but it is told to us what it means in the following sentence. ' which IS the church of the living God.' so household we find means church which most people would think any way. the problem whence we get to this part is many people like to think their own church is the church to which this verse referrers too. to find out which church is the pillar and foundation of faith it doesn't take more the looking into the catechism or even the bible. in the Baltimore catechism you can find a whole chapter proving the Catholic church is the one true church. the one true church is the Catholic Church established by Christ (152) it follows with: (a) many churches which claim to be christen have broken away from the one true church established by Christ. these churches were founded by men who had no authority from God to found a church. (b) Christ intended that there should be only one true Christen church, for he always spoke of His own church as one. (scripture) " and other sheep I have that are not of this fold. Them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one fold and the shepherd" (John 10:16). (153) we know that the Catholic church is the one true Church established by Christ because it alone has the marks of the true church. (154) by the marks of the church we mean certain clear signs by which all men can recognize it as the true church founded by Jesus Christ. (a) Christ willed that the true church should have these marks which would distinguish it from all false religions. (155) the chief marks of the church are four: it is one, holy, catholic or universal, and apostolic. (a) sacred scripture reaches that the one true church of Christ must have these marks. (b) the marks of the church are themselves an indication that God guides the church. (156) the Catholic church is one because all its members, according to the will of Christ, profess the same faith, have the same sacrifice and sacraments, and are united under one and the same visible head, the pope. by the infallibility of the Catholic church is meant that the church, by the special assistance of the Holy Ghost, cannot err when it teaches or believes a doctrine of faith or morals. (a) infallibility, especially papal infallibility, is a doctrine often misunderstood and derided by those outside the church. the term " infallibility" is often distorted to mean impeccability, that is, freedom from all sin. the church has never held that the Pope cannot sin. there is much more but i will only put this so as to not write more then needed.