Friday, July 30, 2010

Catholic Nick, Meet Cardinal Newman

Nick said something funny in the comments down below, and I thought it would be useful for some of you who weren't reading all the comments.

Nick quoted JB: To try to suggest that there was doctrinal and administrative unity is a far, far stretch.

Then Nick said: This, to me, is where the real issue rests. It's more about our starting assumptions than anything. To you, there is no such thing as "doctrinal and administrative unity" beyond the doors of each local congregation - to you it's a fiction of the Catholic mind. Given that, of course you're not going to even entertain the possibility of it when you read the Fathers or other historic documents.

From the Catholic end, your outlook is a form of deism, and I can see why Matthew said some of the things he did about you not really having faith.


If Nick is correct, then Cardinal Newman was guilty of deism:

[Section 11]

Again, the six great Bishops and Saints of the Ante-nicene Church were St. Irenaeus, St. Hippolytus, St. Cyprian, St. Gregory Thaumaturgus, St. Dionysius of Alexandria, and St. Methodius. Of these, St. Dionysius is accused by St. Basil of having sown the first seeds of Arianism and St. Gregory is allowed by the same learned Father to have used language concerning our Lord, which he only defends on the plea of an economical object in the writer. St. Hippolytus speaks as if he were ignorant of our Lord's Eternal Sonship; St. Methodius speaks incorrectly at least upon the Incarnation; and St. Cyprian does not treat of theology at all. Such is the incompleteness of the extant teaching of these true saints, and, in their day, faithful witnesses of the Eternal Son.

Again, Athenagoras, St. Clement, Tertullian, and the two SS. Dionysii would appear to be the only writers whose language is at any time exact and systematic enough to remind us of the Athanasian Creed. If we limit our view of the teaching of the Fathers by what they expressly state, St. Ignatius may be considered as a Patripassian, St. Justin arianizes, and St. Hippolytus is a Photinian.

Again, there are three great theological authors of the Ante-nicene centuries, Tertullian, Origen, and, we may add, Eusebius, though he lived some way into the fourth. Tertullian is heterodox on the doctrine of our Lord's divinity, and, indeed, ultimately fell altogether into heresy or schism; Origen is, at the very least, suspected, and must be defended and explained rather than cited as a witness of orthodoxy; and Eusebius was a Semi-Arian.

12.

Moreover, It may be questioned whether any Ante-nicene father distinctly affirms either the numerical Unity or the Coequality of the Three Persons; except perhaps the heterodox Tertullian, and that chiefly in a work written after he had become a Montanist: yet to satisfy the Anti-roman use of Quod semper, &c., surely we ought not to be left for these great articles of doctrine to the testimony of a later age.


Of course, as a 19th century writer, Newman goes on at some length like this. These are the "difficulties" that he felt he needed to overcome, in order to justify his assumption that the government of the church then, which Christ and the apostles somehow instituted, is the same as the government that exists in the Roman Catholic church now.

These "heterodox" teachings are the "seeds" that developed into the great and perfect faith of the Roman Catholic Church.

Continuing on with Nick's charge of "deism" -- here are a couple of definitions, along with a couple of responses from a historical Protestant confession:

Deism: the form of theological rationalism that believes in God on the basis of reason without reference to revelation

The WCF: Chapter 1.6: The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men.

Or:

Deism: the belief in a god or gods who set the universe in motion, then ceased to interact with it...

The WCF: Chapter 3.1: Of God’s Eternal Decree: God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.

27 comments:

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"Catholic Nick, Meet Cardinal Newman"

If Catholics were asked to privately judge/interpret between the two, I'm sure that the majority would pick Cardinal John Henry Newman.

#1, isn't Newman being considered for beatification?

#2, on college and university campuses across the country there are Newman centers for Catholic students.

-------------

I guess there isn't doctrinal unity between Catholic Nick and Cardinal Newman.

John Bugay said...

I should also have tagged this post, "Blueprint for Anarchy."

John Bugay said...

One might add that, in precisely the doctrinal errors and disagreements that Newman is describing, the early church was "protestant-like."

So even though the doctrines they disagreed about in those days are different from the issues we disagree on now, the net effect was that there was not much doctrinal or administrative unity.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Speaking of doctrinal unity (or the lack of) I've just been recently made aware of novelist Anne Rice's latest comments (Anne Rice is/was a Catholic).

"For those who care, and I understand if you don’t: Today I quit being a Christian. I’m out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being “Christian” or to being part of Christianity. It’s simply impossible for me to “belong” to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten years, I’ve tried. I’ve failed. I’m an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else."

Why would she say, as a Catholic, that the Catholic Church is "quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group" when Catholic Nick says it has doctrinal and administrative unity ?

natamllc said...

Wow: These "heterodox" teachings are the "seeds" that developed into the great and perfect faith of the Roman Catholic Church.

Amen.

Jesus disposed of it Himself in direct communication with those of "that faith" that now we know is this great and perfect faith of the Roman Catholic Church.

I recently was in Olympia, Washington for a young man's wedding. His father is my friend. I watched this boy grow up over the last twenty five years. I also was a teacher to him in some of our School classes he attended over the years. At this function, this wedding, many friends in ministry from the last 35 plus years, gathered.

We do these sorts of things from time to time, attend weddings together as our sons and daughters marry, at funerals or sometimes we just plain gather to visit one another for a large family camp, and there is always a "buzz" word or phrase at these events that seems to be the front and center buzz word or phrase of the day. This time the phrase went something like this, same spirits, different bodies, same spirits, different time and places..

Those words above, the initial citation in italics after the word "wow" really captures the reality we are faced with today as we even still, now, wrestle with the same principalities and powers, manifesting to them the manifold wisdom of God and His Words of Grace. To these rulers and authorities in high places, see Eph. 3:8-12, who daily are trying desperately to distract us from the daily fellowship and communion with God Our Heavenly Father, the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, Who is working within us in communion with one another, the Holy Christian Church, we stand against in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Their rebellion manifests through unwitting souls at times and then, as we understand these days now, through a structured organization as this, the RCC.

It has been recorded by others, historically, of this organ, the RCC, that she is indeed of the "Anti-Christ" powers and principalities at work in the world today!

Nick's words and your response clearly, historically, again, underscores my beliefs of them, that they indeed participate against Christ, the Holy Spirit and the Holy Christian Church, who, actively and presently are alive in the world today.

It's wartime!

John Bugay said...

I don't know that I'd necessarily call it "wartime" -- (except in the sense that you provided, against the powers and principalities).

But I definitely think that the whole church -- and I include those individual Roman Catholics who have genuinely trusted in Christ and are part of the "one true church" -- needs to revisit the "church history" department and rethink a lot of things.

And I think that, with the 500th anniversary of the Reformation coming up, there will be lots of opportunities to provide Christians from all over the place with a lot of good reminders.

I think that if more Christians truly understood what the Reformation was about, more people would start to wonder what the pointy hats were all about, and why they never got rid of them.

natamllc said...

John

to take a personal privilege now, you wrote in response:

I don't know that I'd necessarily call it "wartime" -- (except in the sense that you provided, against the powers and principalities).

I am faced with two kinds of prayer these days. The one is as the Scripture teaches, here:

1Ti 2:1 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people,
1Ti 2:2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.
1Ti 2:3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior,
1Ti 2:4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
1Ti 2:5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,
1Ti 2:6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.


That is warfare that mature Scripturally based Christians war daily in Christ Jesus.

Then there is this, my firstborn son is in the Army, a 101 first Airborne Crew Chief flying missions aboard a Black Hawk helicopter out of Kandahar, Afghanistan, presently.

My prayers for him and my encouragements to him when we talk via cell phones often, sometimes daily, is Scripturally founded in Words such as these prayed to God for him:

Psa 46:8 Come, behold the works of the LORD, how he has brought desolations on the earth.
Psa 46:9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire.
Psa 46:10 "Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!"


and these:

Psa 72:1 Of Solomon. Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to the royal son!
Psa 72:2 May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice!
Psa 72:3 Let the mountains bear prosperity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness!
Psa 72:4 May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the children of the needy, and crush the oppressor!
Psa 72:5 May they fear you while the sun endures, and as long as the moon, throughout all generations!
Psa 72:6 May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass, like showers that water the earth!
Psa 72:7 In his days may the righteous flourish, and peace abound, till the moon be no more!
Psa 72:8 May he have dominion from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth!
Psa 72:9 May desert tribes bow down before him, and his enemies lick the dust!

John Bugay said...

I remember you having mentioned that your son was in the military, but I was not aware that he was doing what he's doing. I will definitely keep him in my prayers. I know what it's like to have someone very close to you in an active war zone.

Would you mind to email me personally? johnbugay [at] gmail.

Lvka said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
natamllc said...

John,

what is the email again? What you posted doesn't work in my system?

Maybe I got it wrong?

herbyv said...

Hello "Truth unites..."

About Anne Rice... I've read and enjoyed her most recent works. However, her leaving "christianity" isn't exactly a knock against the Catholic Church.

She didn't leave b.c of the Papacy. She didn't leave b.c of Marian dogma. She didn't leave b.c she came to believe in Protestantism. She left for other reasons. 3 things she cited as reasons that she could not, in good faith, remain catholic are:
1. the Church's views concerning homosexuality
2. the Church's views concerning feminism
3. the Church's views concerning contraception:

Further, she didn't just leave catholicism. She left christianity altogether, though she still claims to love, follow, and believe in Christ... (though I can't exactly figure that out).

What she came to realize is that a person can't call herself catholic while denying de fide teachings of the Catholic faith.

She did the honest thing and placed herself outside of the authority of the Catholic Church. I don't see how such an act indicts either the Magisterium or those Catholics who remain faithful to the Church's teachings.

peace to you.
herb vanderlugt

Nick said...

Hopefully this combox will not go off on various tangents, since JohnB was focusing on a specific issue.

My response to your post is quite simple: it's based upon a fallacious comparison.

Newman wasn't out to point out doctrinal confusion in the sense of doctrinal relativism, but rather the difficulty and various methods of how these saints struggled to explain the Trinity, especially Christ's Divinity. They all believed and sought to defend this *doctrine*, but Newman's point is that they struggled to explain the *doctrine*, and that hindsight is only 20/20 since we've had centuries and Councils to look to in how to best/better understand such *doctrine*.

Note what Newman says: Such is the incompleteness of the extant teaching of these true saints, and, in their day, faithful witnesses of the Eternal Son.

Notice: "True saints, and faithful witnesses of the Eternal Son." They believed in the *same doctrine*.

Newman's point is that this is precisely why an authoritative Church is necessary, since it can step in and authoritatively clarify.

This is a far cry from what you and other Protestants are proposing, in which every Christian was essentially autonomous in terms of administration and that each believed whatever doctrines they felt like believing.


Next, I said your position was "a form of" deism. There are various forms. Now, here is one standard definition you gave:
"Deism: the belief in a god or gods who set the universe in motion, then ceased to interact with it"

In the case we are discussing, you believe God set the Church in motion at the time of Christ, but then ceased to guide and interact with the Church after the Apostles died.

This is the subject of a major post Bryan Cross made:
http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2009/07/ecclesial-deism/

Dozie said...

"Why would she say, as a Catholic, that the Catholic Church is "quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group" when Catholic Nick says it has doctrinal and administrative unity?"

Simply unbelievable! Truth, which this gentleman has made part of his name, demands that what Anne Rice wrote be represented correctly. Obviously the lady had the choice to use Catholic in the section quoted; she did not. How can we trust "Truth" and his cohort with the bible (assuming sola scriptura) if he can do this much damage to a piece written in his native language only days ago?

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

herbyv: "Further, she didn't just leave catholicism. She left christianity altogether, though she still claims to love, follow, and believe in Christ... (though I can't exactly figure that out)."

I shall thank you for the tacit admission that Christianity is larger than Catholicism.

"What she came to realize is that a person can't call herself catholic while denying de fide teachings of the Catholic faith."

I have conservative Catholic friends, and when my conservative Catholic friends echo statements like yours, they are also aware of their irritation and disgust with the MANY liberal Catholics like Nancy Pelosi who do call themselves Catholic while denying that they deny the de fide teachings of the Catholic faith.

"She did the honest thing and placed herself outside of the authority of the Catholic Church."

I agree. And the conservative Catholics I know would say something like: "Would all those LibCats do what Anne Rice did."

"I don't see how such an act indicts either the Magisterium or those Catholics who remain faithful to the Church's teachings."

It's not her act of placing "herself outside of the authority of the Catholic Church," as you put it, that I'm noting. It's what she said about the group that she formerly and formally belonged to:

"It’s simply impossible for me to “belong” to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group."

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Dozie,

Please.

Anne Rice is/was Catholic. Noting it for the sake of accuracy and specificity is fine and good.

When folks read a story in the news about a "Christian", they often will ask what kind of Christian or what church does this Christian go to. Is he/she a Methodist? A Presbyterian? A Greek Orthodox? A Baptist? An Episcopalian? A Catholic?

Do you understand this, Dozie?

Dozie said...

"When folks read a story in the news about a "Christian", they often will ask what kind of Christian or what church does this Christian go to. Is he/she a Methodist? A Presbyterian? A Greek Orthodox? A Baptist? An Episcopalian? A Catholic?"

Silly rationalization! The lady deserves to be quoted correctly. When Ann Rice wrote: "It’s simply impossible for me to “belong” to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group", she may very well be referring to the situation within so called Christianity as a whole. Do you get that or are you free to interpret her statement anyway you want?

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Here's a post that just came out today about Anne Rice's recent announcements. It's titled "Weekend Extra: Our Enemies Can Be Reconciled."

The whole post is a worthy read. Here's some excerpts:

"This is her list of moral objections -- and as such they are accusations against Christianity, specifically Catholicism (a conflation I'll get to in a minute)...."

that's subsequently followed by:

"What Mrs. Rice first needs is to be disabused of Catholicism to recover her faith in the church and in God's authority over her moral and intellectual life."

Dozie said...

"Anne Rice is/was Catholic. Noting it for the sake of accuracy and specificity is fine and good."

What you did was to distort her statement. There was no need for Protestant exegesis of her statement; your readers are able to read and understand English. If you want to be logical in your analysis of Anne Rice’s use of “Christianity” in her statement, you must also affirm that Christianity is Catholicism or that Catholicism is the sum of Christianity.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"Catholic Nick, Meet Cardinal Newman".

Catholic Dozie, Meet Catholic Herb Vanderlugt.

Dozie: "If you want to be logical in your analysis of Anne Rice’s use of “Christianity” in her statement, you must also affirm that Christianity is Catholicism or that Catholicism is the sum of Christianity."

herbyv: "Further, she didn't just leave catholicism. She left christianity altogether, though she still claims to love, follow, and believe in Christ... (though I can't exactly figure that out)."

Me: "I shall thank you [herbyv] for the tacit admission that Christianity is larger than Catholicism."

Frank Turk, cited in previous comment about "Weekend Extra":

"This is her list of moral objections -- and as such they are accusations against Christianity, specifically Catholicism (a conflation I'll get to in a minute)...."

"What Mrs. Rice first needs is to be disabused of Catholicism to recover her faith in the church and in God's authority over her moral and intellectual life."

Dozie said...

"I shall thank you [herbyv] for the tacit admission that Christianity is larger than Catholicism."

You seem to lack the ability to understand English language.

David Waltz said...

Hello John,

Though this thread appears to have to be heading down a different path, I did want to share a few of my thoughts concerning the following that you wrote:

>>But I definitely think that the whole church -- and I include those individual Roman Catholics who have genuinely trusted in Christ and are part of the "one true church" -- needs to revisit the "church history" department and rethink a lot of things.>>

Me: Agreed. Your selections from Newman are an excellent starting point, for Newman realized before most that the view of the early Church, concerning the doctrine of the Trinity and Christology, held by so many through the centuries up to his day, was seriously flawed. One modern patristic scholar summarizes the pre-Nicene CFs with flawless accuracy and clarity:

“Indeed, until Athanasius began writing, every single theologian, East and West, had postulated some form of Subordinationism. It could, about the year 300, have been described as a fixed part of catholic theology.” (R.P.C Hanson, “The Achievement of Orthodoxy in the Fourth Century AD” in Rowan Williams, ed., The Making of Orthodoxy, New York, NY: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1989, p. 153.)

I have provided a considerable amount of documentation for Dr. Hansen’s assessment in a number of threads under the labels: Subordindationism, and Development of Doctrine.

With such knowledge in place, I think the next question that needs to be asked is: if the Scriptures are “clear” on “the essentials”, why did it take so long (300+ years) to achieve “orthodoxy”?


Grace and peace,

David

John Bugay said...

Hi David -- I've just picked up the Kostenberger/Kruger work,"The Heresy of Orthodoxy," and I think they are absolutely going in the right direction. I'm very glad to see that NT scholars like Kostenberger are taking on this time period. While the work is set in the context of analyzing what they call the "Bauer/Ehrman" thesis, they also provide an excellent analysis of the early church. My hope is to write a bit more about this once I get through the work.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Anne Rice: "It’s simply impossible for me to “belong” to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group."

Anne Rice in a comment over at First Things:

"Let me say this as gently as I can: It is possible for a well informed, well educated and well intentioned Catholic, after considerable reflection. to walk away from the church."

Ergo,

"this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group" = Roman Catholic Church

herbyv said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
herbyv said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
herbyv said...

I am with Nick. This Anne Rice discussion should take place elsewhere. Truth Unites, I have a few thoughts I'd like to share with you about this topic. If you're interested, send me an email at herbyv(at)hotmail.com.
thanks!

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Hi Herb,

Anne Rice's rejection of the Catholic Church is disseminated throughout the internet and blogosphere.