Thursday, June 24, 2010

Whitaker's Disputations: Stapleton Objects to the Internal Witness of the Holy Spirit

Do Disagreements between Christians Refute an Appeal to the Holy Spirit as Testimony to the Canon?

In Part 3 of this series we looked at Whitaker's discussion of external and internal testimony to the canon. For Whitaker, all external testimony, as useful as it is, cannot bring about much of any true belief without the internal work of the Holy Spirit. On this point, Stapleton issues the following objection:

If it be by the testimony of the Spirit that we know the scriptures, how comes it that churches, which have this Spirit, agree not amongst themselves? For (so he argues) the Lutherans disagree with you Calvinists, because you receive some books which they reject: therefore, either you or they are without the Spirit. This is an objection urged also by Campian and by others.

Stapleton presents quite the dilemma: either we are forced to say the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit is unreliable since it produces contrary beliefs among true Christians (thus abandoning the internal testimony for the canon), or we are forced to say that Christian groups that disagree with ours on smaller points of belief really do not have the Holy Spirit at all.

This is also an objection more generally applied to Sola Scriptura and doctrinal division today, so Whitaker's responses will be useful to analyze.

Whitaker thinks the dilemma is unreasonable, for three reasons, the first of which is as follows:

I answer: In the first place, it does not follow either that they who reject those books, or we who receive them, are without the Holy Spirit. For no saving truth can be known without the Holy Spirit; as for example, that Christ died for us, or any other. This the papists will themselves allow. Yet it does not follow that all who have learned this truth from the Holy Spirit must agree in all other points of faith. Nor does it immediately follow, that all who are in error are without the Holy Spirit, because all errors are not capital. Now the reason why all who have the Holy Spirit do not think exactly alike of all things, is because there is not precisely the same equal measure of the Holy Spirit in all; otherwise there would be full agreement in all points.1

1. I'm not specifically sure what Whitaker means by "the same equal measure of the Holy Spirit." I assume it is with respect to how much the Holy Spirit is being followed and obeyed, but perhaps he has some other concept in mind, such as some sort of pouring out of the Spirit in different quantities (if that term may be used in this situation) which leads to a greater alignment with God on matters of truth. Either way, the point is useful, for however the spiritual mechanism occurs, it seems reasonable to say that various followers of God will obey the Holy Spirit to greater or lesser degrees.

2. A example of this response is the disagreement between Peter and Paul over the Judiazers. Peter was endowed with the Holy Spirit by direct promise from Jesus in what was a great amount2, at it seems equally reasonable (although ultimately irrelevant to the argument) to say that Paul enjoyed a similar endowment. Yet we would not say their disagreement forces us to choose one or the other as having the Holy Spirit. Paul doesn't treat Peter as a non-Christian in his confrontation with him, even if he had fallen into serious error. So Stapleton would have us follow a line of argument that Paul did not believe.

3. I'd also observe that Stapleton's argument wouldn't succeed today. Can you imagine a Catholic bishop arguing that the Eastern Orthodox do not have the Holy Spirit because their canon differs from what was determined at Trent? That would not fit with the ecumenical spirit now present in the post-Vatican II era.

Whitaker's second point is as follows:

Secondly, both we who receive some books not received by the Lutherans, have the precedent of some ancient churches, and the Lutherans also, who reject them. For there were some churches who received these books (that is, the epistle of Jude, the second epistle of Peter, and the second and third of John), and also some who rejected them, and yet all meanwhile were churches of God.3

The appeal to the "ancient churches" is useful here because it plays on the Roman Catholic denomination's claims to being a continuation of the tradition of the early fathers. If disagreement over the canon (or any doctrinal issue) means the Holy Spirit is not present in one (or more) disagreeing parties, then we should also be willing to say that the Holy Spirit was not present in one or more disagreeing early church communities and church fathers. But the theological and historical commitments of Rome in using and approving of the church fathers make this impossible for a Roman Catholic to accept.

Finally, Whitaker argues:

Thirdly, it does not presently follow that all have the Holy Spirit who say they have it. Although many of the Lutherans (as they call them) reject these books, yet it is not to be concluded that such is the common opinion of that whole church. The papists, indeed, understand and denote by the name of the church only the bishops and doctors; but the sentiments are not to be judged of by merely a few of its members.4

How many times do objectors to Sola Scriptura uncritically lump all professing Protestants together and assume that we believe the Holy Spirit is leading all of them? Any criticism of this line of argument for the canon must take into account this qualification--that not all who profess the Holy Spirit have it.

_____________________________

1. William Whitaker,
Disputations on Holy Scripture (Cambridge: Parker Society, 1894; reprint, Orlando: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 2005), 295-296.

2. Cf. John 16, esp. v. 13. The Apostles were to be led by the Spirit "into all truth" (NIV).

3. William Whitaker,
Disputations, 296.

4. Ibid.

44 comments:

Lvka said...

The internal witness of the Holy Spirit is morals, not dogma. You can't "guess" the Trinity or the Incarnation of the Canon from your conscience... that's absurd.

(word-verif.="later")

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Lvka,

I don't see a supporting argument from you, that either the Holy Spirit is guidance on "morals, not dogma" or that Protestants believe issues of dogma are a "guess" from the "conscience." You need to make those supporting arguments before you get to label Whitaker's position "absurd."

Andrew Suttles said...

The internal witness of the Holy Spirit is morals, not dogma.

John 16:13 - "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth..."

John 14:26 - "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things..."

Ben M said...

Andrew,

You appeal to the following:

John 16:13 - "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth..."

John 14:26 - "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things..."

Clearly then, since it has the divine guarantee, there MUST be, among all the countless claimants, ONE TRUE CHURCH that does indeed have "ALL TRUTH"!

So the question is, where might one find this one true Church?

Peace.

Lvka said...

If the Holy Spirit will guide me into ALL TRUTH, why wasn't I able to re-discover the Big Bang, the expansion of space itself, etc.? Why did I think the Gospel of Thomas was inspired? Why did I read Alexandria as if it were 100% historically and scientifically accurate?

Lvka said...

On the other hand, I had quite a nose for smelling sin and evil 100 miles away... except for suicide, which I was shocked to find out it was sinful... and lesbianism, which is so sublime, I can't even begin to describe... so, you see, not even THAT (my internal moral compass) is 100% infallible...

Lvka said...

Andrew dearest,


CONTEXT, CONTEXT, CONTEXT !!!

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Lvka writes:

If the Holy Spirit will guide me into ALL TRUTH, why wasn't I able to re-discover the Big Bang, the expansion of space itself, etc.? Why did I think the Gospel of Thomas was inspired? Why did I read Alexandria as if it were 100% historically and scientifically accurate?

1. Telling us that the Holy Spirit won't give us information about certain historical events does not defend your asserted distinction between morals and dogma. The Holy Spirit could refuse to give us information about the creation of the universe and still give us information about dogma.

2. It also assumes a definition of "ALL TRUTH" that no one in this debate holds to. Which Protestants believe that the Holy Spirit will tell us about each and every item of information in the world (as you seem to imply)?

If you mean just to say that there is an ability to fall into error and fail to follow the Holy Spirit, then what of it? That was addressed by Whitaker in the material I quoted.

3. The Holy Spirit is what brings a person to see and understand Jesus as Lord and Savior. It seems reasonable (if not impossible to say otherwise) that this would entail a whole range of doctrinal beliefs.

4. Please present an argument supporting your assertion that the "internal witness of the Holy Spirit is morals, not dogma." As it stands, the kind of hit-and-run behavior you're exhibiting here, which you exhibit a bit too often in these threads, will not be tolerated for long.

Lvka said...

The Holy Spirit didn't "lead me into all [dogmatic] truth": my grandmother did. No man on the face of the world ever deduced the Trinity or the Incarnation or the canon of Scripture: he was taught. That's why it's a revealed religion, not pagan philosophy.

Matthew D. Schultz said...

That's not an argument, Lvka. You also ignored what I wrote.

Lvka said...

Mat,


unless you're by any chance living in the alternative reality of a parallel universe, there's nothing here to argue about. I send you greetings from Earth.

Andrew Suttles said...

> 'Clearly then, since it has the divine guarantee, there MUST be, among all the countless claimants, ONE TRUE CHURCH that does indeed have "ALL TRUTH"!'

Yes, and according to the CONTEXT (annoying caps for Lvka) of John 14, it is made up of the ones that believe on Christ for salvation (vs 1), the ones that come to Christ alone for salvation (vs 6), the ones in whom the Spirit of Truth abides (vs 17), the ones Christ will come for (vs 18), the ones that keep His commandments (vs 21), the ones whom the Spirit teaches about Christ (vs 26), etc.

Andrew Suttles said...

> 'If the Holy Spirit will guide me into ALL TRUTH, why wasn't I able to re-discover the Big Bang, the expansion of space itself, etc.? Why did I think the Gospel of Thomas was inspired? Why did I read Alexandria as if it were 100% historically and scientifically accurate? .. and lesbianism, which is so sublime, I can't even begin to describe...'

First of all, according to John 3, 1 Cor 2:14, etc., you cannot understand any Spiritual truth if you are not regenerate. A person who finds lesbianism as sublime is a reprobate as Romans 1 teaches us.

Secondly, I don't understand your point about regarding the Holy Spirit. No one is arguing that a person using his own intelligence to understand God. These things are revealed to us by His revelation, but we cannot understand them without His Spirit.

Lvka said...

I never understood erotical or sexual attraction towards males. I'm glad that women like us, I just can't for the life of me understand how and why. Actually, it's an absurdity, as far as I'm concerned. Attraction towards women, on the other hand, I do understand.

Not to mention that I had a complete fascination with suicide eversince I can remember.

I'm not gonna lie: it was the information in the Bible and other Orthodox religious books, as well as the education I received at home, that were responsible for telling me right from wrong: I surely didn't just `guess` them.

Andrew Suttles said...

> 'Not to mention that I had a complete fascination with suicide ever since I can remember.'

Lvka - I for one am glad that you have not chosen that option. God has given us all life that we can use to glorify Him. The whole purpose of life is to glorify Him (I Cor 10:31) and when we pursue other goals (our own pleasure, for instance), it leaves us hollow and empty. I'm glad that the Spirit has used God's Word and wise teachers to persuade you. If you are a believer, these are instruments God is using to shape you into the image of Christ.

Phil 2:13 - For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

Lvka said...

The whole purpose of life is to glorify Him


Yes, and the same holds true for our death. I wanted to kill myself as a testimony against the cowardness and materialism that ruled Romania at that time (1980s).

Hence my shock to find out it was a sin. But I tend to believe God even when what He tells me makes no sense at all at first...

Ben M said...

"The African Synod of Hippo, in 393, approved the New Testament, AS IT STANDS TODAY, together with the Septuagint books, a decision that was repeated by Councils of Carthage in 397 and 419. These councils were under the authority of St. Augustine, who regarded the canon as already closed."[22]

Wikipedia, Biblical Canon - Latin Fathers

"For even now miracles are wrought in the name of Christ, whether by His sacraments or by the prayers or relics of His saints; but they are not so brilliant and conspicuous as to cause them to be published with such glory as accompanied the former miracles. For the canon of the sacred writings, which BEHOOVED TO BE CLOSED, causes those to be everywhere recited, and to sink into the memory of all the congregations."

St. Augustine, The City of God (Book XXII), 8.

Andrew Suttles said...

Ben -

If you think the Septuagint is the inspired Old Testament text, in place of the Hebrew original, that is a separate topic from what is being argued here.

Ben M said...

Andrew,

If you think the Septuagint is the inspired Old Testament text, in place of the Hebrew original, that is a separate topic from what is being argued here.

Well of course, what I think is not at issue; what is at issue is what the Church teaches.

But it's just incredible that any individual would have the temerity to set himself against so great an authority as the Church councils and synods, and do so by this transparently dishonest appeal to an “internal witness” - a thing utterly foreign to the way the Holy Spirit guided has the Church from the beginning!

And where might one find an example of this kind of "internal witness" stuff being appealed to in Scripture?

Remember the words of the apostle:

"What do you have that you did not receive?"? 1 Cor. 4:7

Peace.

Andrew Suttles said...

Ben -

If the Cannon were closed by infallible decree in 393, why were there so many other cannon lists produced throughout the Middle Ages, and why did the Council of Trent find it necessary to enumerate a list?

Augustine, who could not read Hebrew (I think), thought the Septuagint was inspired. I doubt many Roman Catholic Bible scholars believe that today.

> '...so great an authority as the Church councils and synods...'

Why should an assembly of men hold authority over my soul? Often these councils contradict one another.

> '..."internal witness” - a thing utterly foreign to the way the Holy Spirit guided has the Church from the beginning!'

I'm not sure how to respond to this. I could dump truckloads of quotes from the New Testament promising that the Holy Spirit will come and lead us, and how that He will seal and indwel all the Saints, etc., but I have a feeling that the testimony of God's Word holds less authority for you than the testimony of men. Such is the difference between us.

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Ben M writes:

But it's just incredible that any individual would have the temerity to set himself against so great an authority as the Church councils and synods, and do so by this transparently dishonest appeal to an “internal witness” - a thing utterly foreign to the way the Holy Spirit guided has the Church from the beginning!

This is a fine way of begging the question at every turn. How is it "dishonest"? Why should we accept your definition and scope of "Church" such that we are bound to believe that the set of councils you have privately and fallibly chosen truly represent the beliefs of the Christian Church, whereas other councils don't? What evidence is there that the internal witness of the Spirit is "utterly foreign" to how the Spirit has operated since the "beginning" of church history?

You don't issue any supporting arguments here, let alone interact with the material from Whitaker, so there's not really much to say in reply.

Ben M said...

Andrew,

This is a fine way of begging the question at every turn. How is it "dishonest"?

You tell me. In principle, does any individual have the “right” to oppose himself to legitimate Church councils?

Why should we accept your definition and scope of "Church" such that we are bound to believe that the set of councils you have privately and fallibly chosen truly represent the beliefs of the Christian Church, whereas other councils don't?

1. I’m not “privately and fallibly” choosing defining anything; I’m merely stating some historical facts about what the early Christian Church (as is universally acknowledged) believed.

2. Why do you apparently accept the private interpretations of non-entities like Whitaker?

3. What “other councils” are you referring to?

What evidence is there that the internal witness of the Spirit is "utterly foreign" to how the Spirit has operated since the "beginning" of church history?

1. Bro, the “evidence” is, well, evident! I mean, there’s not even a trace of this “internal witness” stuff anywhere in the Father’s writings or in the pronouncements of early Church's council’s. It just couldn't be more unhistorical!

2. Even more significantly for our discussion however, is that there’s not a trace of it in Scripture either! It is utterly unscriptural as well!

And what more powerful “supporting arguments” could one possibly provide than the absolute silence of Scripture on this matter?

Ben M said...

Sorry! I typed the wrong name; the above comment was meant for Matthew.

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Ben M writes:

You tell me. In principle, does any individual have the “right” to oppose himself to legitimate Church councils?

The question at hand is whether they are legitimate and how you would establish such a thing.

As for individuals opposing collections of professing followers of God, the Old Testament has a variety of examples of prophets being the lone voice of God over and against large groups of false prophets. And the New Testament has the Apostles, part of a tiny, rebellious and radical sect, standing up to the established religious authorities. So being an "individual" really has little to do with the equation, although it can (and, perhaps, should) initially give us some pause.

I also still don't know how this defends the assertion that such an approach is dishonest.

1. I’m not “privately and fallibly” choosing defining anything; I’m merely stating some historical facts about what the early Christian Church (as is universally acknowledged) believed.

Then what infallible document, issued by the Roman Catholic denomination, are you drawing your list from?

3. What “other councils” are you referring to?

I'm referring to the fact that you've somehow concluded that certain councils (and synods) in church history truly represent the beliefs of the Church universal. Since you seem familiar with church history, you should be aware of the fact that more councils convened than what have become to be accepted as "universal" (and by this I read binding) by your denomination, let alone other denominations. So how do you decide which councils are truly representative? As it stands, you seem to simply select those that agree with your private interpretations of Scripture and history, and then claim that these councils represent the universal Church. But claims are not arguments.

Bro, the “evidence” is, well, evident! I mean, there’s not even a trace of this “internal witness” stuff anywhere in the Father’s writings or in the pronouncements of early Church's council’s. It just couldn't be more unhistorical!

You made a positive assertion, that the Church has operated in some manner with respect to the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Now you've reduced your position to merely saying the Protestant position is not present in church history. Those are quite different. If you feel no need to provide positive proof for your position, then I will feel free to do the same.

There's no evidence for either Mary's immaculate conception or her assumption into heaven for the first few centuries of church history, but that doesn't ever seem to stop Roman Catholics from asserting that it's dogmatically true.

I'm not saying a case couldn't be made from the church fathers. But I'm not really under any obligation to do so when Rome feels free to force its members to believe doctrines that only begin to appear centuries into church history.

Even more significantly for our discussion however, is that there’s not a trace of it in Scripture either! It is utterly unscriptural as well!

If you think so, then feel free to respond to some of the treatments of this concept by Protestant scholars and apologists. I don't have the time this weekend (or interest) to lay out a Scriptural case given the scope of Whitaker and Stapleton's discussion.

Ben M said...
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Ben M said...

Matthew,

The question at hand is whether they are legitimate and how you would establish such a thing.

Do believe there are any legitimate councils?

… the Old Testament has a variety of examples of prophets being the lone voice of God over and against large groups of false prophets. And the New Testament has the Apostles, part of a tiny, rebellious and radical sect, standing up to the established religious authorities.

I don’t think I’d characterize the apostles as a “rebellious and radical sect, standing up to the established religious authorities.” But what does this have to do with our discussion?

I also still don't know how this defends the assertion that such an approach is dishonest.

Because any scoundrel can claim a so-called “internal witness.” But scoundrel or not, it’s just an excuse to assert one’s own private opinion over the teaching and authority of the Church. It’s just crooked.

Then what infallible document, issued by the Roman Catholic denomination, are you drawing your list from?

The Roman Church is not a denomination. Further, as I said, I’m only giving historical facts, not my private opinion.

I'm referring to the fact that you've somehow concluded that certain councils (and synods) in church history truly represent the beliefs of the Church universal.

Let’s look at the Wikipedia quote again:

"The African Synod of Hippo, in 393, approved the New Testament, AS IT STANDS TODAY, together with the Septuagint books, a decision that was repeated by Councils of Carthage in 397 and 419. These councils were under the authority of St. Augustine, who regarded the canon as already closed.”

If you disagree with this, fine. But surely you must know that you have not a shred of authority to interfere with any of these decisions.

Ben M said...
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Ben M said...

Continued:

You made a positive assertion, that the Church has operated in some manner with respect to the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

And I stand by it. The Holy Spirit guides the CHURCH into all truth, not each individual believer.

There's no evidence for either Mary's immaculate conception or her assumption into heaven for the first few centuries of church history, but that doesn't ever seem to stop Roman Catholics from asserting that it's dogmatically true.

I don’t think we should go off on that tangent. But let me say this.

1. A major reason so little documentation exists about the beliefs and practices of the early Church is due to persecution – for the first three centuries the Church was persecuted and often forced underground. Indeed, it’s been said that, even as the Christ was buried for three days, so too his body the Church for three centuries! But once the persecution ended and the Church allowed into the open (a kind of resurrection), documentation of all kinds increases dramatically.

2. Thus one reason it took centuries for the canon to be settled. Providence arranged it that way. Providence further arranged that other aspects of the faith be more fully revealed and developed over periods of time – sometimes very long periods! There is a saying: “The Church thinks in centuries.” Heretics on the other hand, dream up their various notions in, as it were, the “twinkling of an eye.” Thus Luther, thus Calvin et al.

I'm not saying a case couldn't be made from the church fathers. But I'm not really under any obligation to do so when Rome feels free to force its members to believe doctrines that only begin to appear centuries into church history.

Force? Come on Matthew, no one’s being 'forced' here, anymore than the members of your church are forced to believer whatever it is they are told they MUST believe to remain members in good standing. Or does your church allow folks to believe just any ol’ thing they please, to question teachings as their "internal witness" directs their conscience?

As for “doctrines that only begin to appear centuries into church history,” shall I mention the five “solas” and the “internal witness” business?

Ben M said...
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Ben M said...
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Ben M said...

Andrew,

If the Cannon were closed by infallible decree in 393, why were there so many other cannon lists produced throughout the Middle Ages, and why did the Council of Trent find it necessary to enumerate a list?

The canon wasn’t infallible defined until Trent. Until then, speculation about the inspiration certain books was permitted. As has often happen in the Churches long history, heretics forced the Church to make a formal and unambiguous declaration in a matter of the faith.

This was foretold. The TRUE CHURCH would have to suffer these heretics so that "THOSE WHO ARE APPROVED MAY BE MANIFEST."

1 Cor. 11:19

Augustine, who could not read Hebrew (I think), thought the Septuagint was inspired. I doubt many Roman Catholic Bible scholars believe that today.

Doesn’t matter. The Church has formally defined the canon. To borrow a phrase, "The debate is over." But regarding the LXX, here’s what Pope Benedict XVI had to say at the Regensburg Address of September 12, 2006:

“Today we know that the Greek translation of the Old Testament produced at Alexandria - the Septuagint - is more than a simple (and in that sense really less than satisfactory) translation of the Hebrew text: it is an independent textual witness and a distinct and important step in the history of revelation, one which brought about this encounter in a way that was decisive for the birth and spread of Christianity.”

Text.

Ben M said...
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Ben M said...

Continued.

Why should an assembly of men hold authority over my soul? Often these councils contradict one another.

Because God has ordained it! He has appointed authority over us, both secular and ecclesial. And he expects us to obey.

I could dump truckloads of quotes from the New Testament promising that the Holy Spirit will come and lead us ...

No, the NT doesn’t promise to guide each individual, and you cannot bring forth a single example to prove your point. It is the CHURCH which is guided, and often in such a way as to make an entire lifetime insufficient to decide matters of faith and morals! Thus the Holy Spirit silences the mouths of the countless heretics which have sprung up from the beginning!

but I have a feeling that the testimony of God's Word holds less authority for you than the testimony of men. Such is the difference between us.

No, the difference is that I accept testimony of the Apostles and of Christ’s teaching, particularly where we are told to “hear the Church” (not hear the "internal witness").

Now why do you reject Christ's explicit command?

Andrew Suttles said...

> Ben said ... The canon wasn’t infallible defined until Trent.

So you agree that Augustine was not authoritative for the church? What was the relevance of bringing him into the conversation?

Andrew Suttles said...

> Ben said... 'He has appointed authority over us, both secular and ecclesial. And he expects us to obey.'

This is true. These are called elders (also called Bishops) who rule over each church. You can read about them and their qualifications in the epistles of 1 Timothy and Titus.

Andrew Suttles said...

> Ben said - 'the NT doesn’t promise [the Holy Spirit] to guide each individual, and you cannot bring forth a single example to prove your point. It is the CHURCH which is guided...'

John 14:16-20 -

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.'

1 Cor 2:10-14

But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

All of Romans 8!

1 John 2:20-27

'But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth. ...But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.'

Etc...

Andrew Suttles said...

> Ben said - 'the NT doesn’t promise [the Holy Spirit] to guide each individual, and you cannot bring forth a single example to prove your point. It is the CHURCH which is guided...'

John 14:16-20 -

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.'

1 Cor 2:10-14

But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

Andrew Suttles said...

> Ben said - 'the NT doesn’t promise [the Holy Spirit] to guide each individual, and you cannot bring forth a single example to prove your point. It is the CHURCH which is guided...'


Read all of Romans 8!

1 John 2:20-27

'But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth. ...But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.'

Etc...

Andrew Suttles said...

> Ben said... 'No, the difference is that I accept testimony of the Apostles and of Christ’s teaching, particularly where we are told to “hear the Church” (not hear the "internal witness").

Now why do you reject Christ's explicit command?'


Ye do err not knowing the Scripture!

Matthew 18 teaches how to handle conflicts amongst believers. According to Christ (Matt 18:15-20) we are to: 1) handle the issue privately between the two of you, 2) if he won't hear you, take a couple brothers with you to confirm what you say, 3) take it to the local church, and if won't hear the church, he is to be put out of it.

Matt 18:20 - "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."

Ben M said...

Andrew,

Nothing in the passages you provided - John 14:16-20, 1 Cor 2:10-14, all of Romans 8 etc – refutes my point.

For there are simply no instances in Scripture of Christians teaching themselves doctrine, or having doctrine communicated to them privately through some sort of Gnostic “internal witness.”

Rather, what we find are Christians being carefully instructed by the apostles - orally. And why not, when even the apostles themselves had to be most carefully instructed in the faith by Christ himself?

So now if the early Christians ("bible Christians" had to be properly catechized in the basics of the faith, certainly we must be also. Or are we better than they?

So you agree that Augustine was not authoritative for the church?

On the contrary, as a Catholic Bishop, Augustine had great and legitimate authority indeed! Nevertheless, he recognized that his was not by any means the final authority in matters of faith and morals. For Augustine, it was always and only the Church which held the full and final authority to settle all such matters.

What was the relevance of bringing him into the conversation?

Just to point out that the Fathers did not rely on anything as subjective as an “internal witness” to determine the canon, anymore than they relied on it to determine other doctrinal matters. (In passing, I note that Augustine’s canon proves the Church did not “add” books to the Bible; the deuteros were already in long use).

This is true. These are called elders (also called Bishops) who rule over each church. You can read about them and their qualifications in the epistles of 1 Timothy and Titus.

Yes, I know something about the requirements for Bishops. And who, if I may ask, is the Bishop of your church?

Matthew 18 teaches how to handle conflicts amongst believers. According to Christ (Matt 18:15-20) we are to: 1) handle the issue privately between the two of you, 2) if he won't hear you, take a couple brothers with you to confirm what you say, 3) take it to the local church, and if won't hear the church, he is to be put out of it.

Well for starters, Matt 18 doesn’t say anything about a “local church;” it simply says to hear “the Church” (Ekklesia).

But supposing what is meant here is only a local church, this would only beg the question, viz, which “local church”? For in Protestantism, there are countless “local churches,” all of which teach different doctrines. In Catholicism on the other hand, no such problem exists, for the “local church” is never an autonomous church, is never out of communion with “all the churches of Christ,” with the See of Rome, with two thousand years of living Tradition. Thus in every one of them you will find exactly the same doctrine.

Andrew Suttles said...

> Ben said... 'For there are simply no instances in Scripture of Christians teaching themselves doctrine, or having doctrine communicated to them privately through some sort of Gnostic “internal witness.”'

You are being deceptive here. You are confusing the necessary working of the Holy Spirit with the secondary means He uses.

The 'Gnostic' charge is cheap and you know it.

> Ben said... '...when even the apostles themselves had to be most carefully instructed in the faith by Christ himself?'

Christ instructed them in the faith, but they did not understand until the Spirit came who brought what He taught to their remembrance and opened their eyes to the true understanding.

Andrew Suttles said...

> Ben asked... 'And who, if I may ask, is the Bishop of your church?'

Ultimately, Christ is the Bishop and head of the whole church. He has an established vicor, as Christ is presently seated at the right hand of God, and this is the Holy Spirit.

Each local church is to be ruled by elders/Bishops and my church is, in obedience to the Apostle Paul -

Titus 1:5-9
For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.

Andrew Suttles said...

> Ben says ... 'Well for starters, Matt 18 doesn’t say anything about a “local church;” it simply says to hear “the Church” (Ekklesia).'

The word ekklesia simply means assembly or congregation in Greek. Do you think Jesus ordered that every time a brother has a qualm against a brother the entire world-wide church is to be assembled? Clearly it is a local assembly.

> Ben said ... '..which “local church”? For in Protestantism, there are countless “local churches,”'

I don't think our numbers are countless. Does Rome not have any local churches? Presumably, the brothers would go to the local church they attend.


> Ben says... 'Thus in every one of them [Roman Local Churches] you will find exactly the same doctrine.'

Hardly. What binds RCs together is submission to the Pope, not necessarily doctrine. In Protestantism, we have disagreements over the Bible. In RCism, there are so many councils, bulls, circulars, cannons, etc., that there is an endless supply of materials to argue over. I would bet there is much more cohesion amongst historic Protestant churches than there is within Rom.

Ben M said...

Andrew,

You are being deceptive here. You are confusing the necessary working of the Holy Spirit with the secondary means He uses.

Is not the Church (with all that word implies) the “necessary working of the Holy Spirit”? Is not the very mission of the visible Church to “teach, govern, and sanctify men.”

Now with regard to Church governance, the apostle writes:

“And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues.” 1 Cor. 12:28. NAS

Or as the KJV has it:

“And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.”

Note particularly here the word governments. It is from the Greek Kubernesis . It means to guide or steer. It is the root of our words govern and gubernatorial.

Thus “God has appointed in the church” a distinct government or ruling authority over the members. We are not expected to rule or pastor ourselves, or decide which teachings we will or will not accept.

The 'Gnostic' charge is cheap and you know it.

Not true, Andrew! The case has already been made as to Gnostic elements in Protestantism. And these elements it would seem are part and parcel of of a system which perpetually opposes itself to the authority of the Church and severs itself from 2000 years of living Tradition.

But don’t take my word, read the following (real eye-openers!):

Against the Protestant Gnostics, 1987, By Philip J. Lee. Brief description here.

The pursuit of the millennium , 1970, by Norman Cohn (first edition appeared in 1957).

More later.

Peace.