Thursday, July 22, 2010

Matthew Bellisario Twisting and Denying Scripture in the Service of Mother Church

Matthew Bellisario: In fact, all St. Paul had was the Old Testament which was written in Greek, known as the Septuagint, and his interpretations were accepted by the illumination of the Holy Spirit, given to him by the authority passed down to him through the apostles. If you recall, even after Our Lord called him, he still went to have hands laid upon him to receive the apostolic authority and gifts of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 9:17-19) Only then was he “sent.” How was Saint Paul able to convert people without a Bible? The answer is simple, he did so by the authority of the apostles which were given authority to preach the Gospel from Christ Himself.

God calling and sending Paul prior to any laying on of hands, Acts 9:13-19: But Ananias answered, "Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name." But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name." So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit." And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; and taking food, he was strengthened.

Paul on his own calling: But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus. … And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing to me.

Darrel Bock, Commentary on Act 9:17-19: It is significant that here a non-apostle is the mediator of the Spirit. The church's ministry is expanding in ways that mean that non-apostles will do important work.

(In Acts 9, Ananias is "a certain disciple." In Acts 22, he is described as "a devout man, according to the law, well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there." In neither case does he have any authority at all.)


Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"Matthew Bellisario Twisting and Denying Scripture in the Service of Mother Church"

He shouldn't do that.

But then, he probably doesn't think he's doing that. And so he thinks it's a false charge.

C'est la vie.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Bugay,

Does this argument weaken if Ananias was in fact an Apostle ?
If Ananias had the authority of the Apostles given from Christ, then Mr. Bellisario is much closer to the truth. With, of course, the obvious exception that Paul "WENT"
to have hands laid upon him.

John Bugay said...

EBW -- No, because, as is clear from Paul's account in Acts 26, where Ananias is not mentioned, that Ananias is not the source of Paul's commissioning. Both Acts 9 and Acts 22 make it clear what his role was, and the disappearance in Acts 26 "makes it abundantly clear" that his role was not significant beyond what was written.

And Paul himself made that abundantly clear in writing to the Galatians.

Your desire to have Ananias have some kind of "episcopal" authority is merely wishful thinking.

If you do want to go beyond what is written, to Orthodox tradition, I'll simply ask you, by what sources do you believe Ananias was a bishop? And I'll remind you that there were loads and loads of fictitious materials circulating during the early centuries of the church, and it's telling that an impostor such as "Pseudo Dionysius" can have achieved the position he did, while being a fake.

Best not to go beyond what is written.

John Bugay said...

Just for anyone who is interested, the "Dictionary of the Apostolic Church" (produced in 1915) has this to say about Ananias (beyond what we see about him in Acts 9 and Acts 22:

Later tradition has much to say regarding Ananias. He is represented as one of the "Seventy," and it is possible he may have been a personal disciple of Jesus. He is also described as bishop of Damascus, [though what Luke writes about him, both in Acts 9 (probably 30's AD) and Acts 22 (probably 50's AD) say nothing about him being a bishop] and reported to have met a violent death, [either a] slain by the sword of Pol, the general of Aretas, according to one authority, or [b] according to another, stoned to death after undergoing torture at the hand of Lucian, prefect of Damascus. His name stands in the Roman and Armenian Martyrologies, and he is commemorated in the Abyssinian Calendar.

So maybe there were two different people with the same name, or the *later* sources for this information has been fictionalized (a la Pseudo-Dionysius). We don't know. Sources for these traditions are given here:

It would probably be possible to look up the source documents and verify their relative veracity.

On the other hand, we still have enough information from both the writings of Luke and Paul to know that Bellisario's story about Paul needing some source of apostolic authority is completely false.

John Bugay said...

By the way, my use of the words "abundantly clear" in quotes are from Witherington's commentary on Acts.

louis said...

Galatians 1-2 are enough to dismiss any idea that Paul needed apostolic commissioning.

Anonymous said...


what a refreshing read and comments below it!


I would humbly note something I rarely see interjected in this sort of "authority" debate and who is and who is not an "Apostolic" authority in the Church then and now.

Consider the "sort" of "authority" you and I should "now" be walking in as True Believers, born again, Elected, Called and Chosen to be a part of the Holy Christian Church:::>

Eph 4:12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,
Eph 4:13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,
Eph 4:14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.

I want to make special note of these words: " the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,...".

Whether or not hands were laid upon Paul by a bona fide Apostle, hands were laid upon him by the direction of Jesus Christ, through Ananias. This goes to show the work of the Holy Spirit is real and we should fully expect similar authority bestowed upon us as well?

Also I would note a couple more verses attributed to Paul:

Rom 15:14 I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.
Rom 15:15 But on some points I have written to you very boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God
Rom 15:16 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
Rom 15:17 In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to be proud of my work for God.
Rom 15:18 For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience--by word and deed,
Rom 15:19 by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God--so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ;
Rom 15:20 and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else's foundation,
Rom 15:21 but as it is written, "Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand."


Col 2:6 Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him,
Col 2:7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
Col 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.
Col 2:9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily,
Col 2:10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.

The question is on the table and still remains, for you and me, at least, are you now walking in the fullness of Christ filled in Him, Who is the head of all rule and authority?

John Bugay said...

Hi natamllc, thanks for your comments. We certainly can aim for the heights, even if we don't always reach that far. I am thankful that we have a high priest able to sympathize with our weaknesses, "one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."

Anonymous said...

Mr. Bugay,

"Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you...has sent me..."
Ananias was an apostle to Saul.
I have not gone beyond what was written.

John Bugay said...

1. You define "apostle" in a very loose way. It could be true that he was "sent" to Paul in that sense of being an "apostle," but then there are many others who can be called "apostles" too, who you would, in no way, be considered an "apostle" with authority.

2. Even so, is it the teaching of any official church organization that he was "an apostle"? Or is it merely your opinion?

3. Be careful what you say, because even if he was "sent" to Paul in some "official capacity," Luke doesn't see him as an apostle.

4. Paul clearly says that his call was directly from Christ, and that "no one added anything" to him.

5. You really have to stretch things to come anywhere near what you want to say, and you don't get there even with that.

You are, in fact, trying to suggest that, within two or three years of Pentecost, (and this is the time of Paul's conversion), that there was some form of episcopal office and precursor of episcopal ordination in place. But the whole authority structure of the New Testament and beyond flies in the face of that notion.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

John Bugay: "It could be true that he was "sent" to Paul in that sense of being an "apostle," but then there are many others who can be called "apostles" too, who you [EBW and other Catholics] would, in no way, be considered an "apostle" with authority."

Heh, heh. I love this reply. Just love it. Well done, John, well done.

Because there is one example that Catholics I know love to use that totally upholds what you are saying John. And it's in regards to the issue of women's ordination which Rome views as a very serious matter. Indeeed, women's ordination is a matter of excommunication.

Anyways, the biblical figure who upholds John's rebuke of EBW about loosely using the word "apostle" is none other than "Junias".

Although there is some dispute over whether Junias was a male or female, many Catholic theologians will stipulate that Junias was a female. Heck, for all I know, the Magisterium teaches that Junias was a female.

But one thing I do know for sure, the Magisterium does not teach that Junias was an apostle in the sense of the 12 apostles and Paul. No way. If they did, then the gig is up, and Rome would have to yield to the mob of liberal Catholics clamoring and banging the gates for women's ordination.

If Junias was not an apostle according to Rome, then neither was Ananias.

If you want to argue that Ananias was an apostle, then Junias was an apostle too. And Rome should have priestesses and bishopesses.

Good rebuttal, John!

John Bugay said...

Thanks Truth :-)

Anonymous said...

Mr. Bugay,

1) Who?
And when you find them,
compare the following:
Sent by Christ
Vision and hearing of the
Resurrected Christ
Preached to Saul
Miracle - loosed what Christ
The Holy Spirit willed to fill
Saul at the laying of hands
Baptized unto remission of sins
Commanding Saul to call of His

2) The Orthodox Church keeps the
Feast of the Apostle Ananias.
3) Be careful, the reader of Luke
must remember that LUKE wrote
of Ananias being sent by Christ.
4) Paul said that he, while at
Jerusalem, laid before them the
gospel preached among the
Gentiles, lest somehow he
should be running in vain.
You reconcile this with "no
one added anything"
5) I have stretched the limits of
what was written. Again, I have
picked the BEST way according
to your recommendation.

The Blogger Formerly Known As Lvka said...

Not sure what you're all arguing about..

Paul, after having the vision of the risen and glorified Christ, went to the Arabian desert for a few years, to meditate personally upon what has happened and what his future will be..

then he met with a few of the most important Holy Apostles: Peter, James, and the brethren of the Lord: he didn't just start preaching without previous significant soul-searching and confirmation from the Apostles, also his ordination, as it were, did not come from men, but was confirmed by them, and this cannot be denied.

Then he attends the Council of Jerusalem, who sends him and Barnabas with letters to the Gentiles, confirming their good work among them, making sure that he does not preach a different Gospel than tha other Apostles of the Lord. They also put their hands on them (ordination).

As far as Ananias is concerned, he is one of the 70 or 72 disciples (or apostles) of Christ, as the Luke-passage you quoted says. Luke is the only one to metion the Seventy(-Two) disciples or apostles, taken by Christ after the number of the Gentiles (Exodus 1:5; Acts 7:14; Letter of Aristeas; etc). Luke was connected to Paul, the Apostle of the Gentiles, and the genealogy in his Gospel goes back to Adam, counting no more and no less than 75 generations from Adam to Christ, the second Adam, 75 being the LXX and NT number of the Gentile nations. (Exodus 1:5 LXX and Acts 7:14).

The Blogger Formerly Known As Lvka said...

And Junia (why did you write Junias?) was the wife of the Apostle mentioned alongside her in the biblical passage (just like Aquila and Priscilla). They did apostolic work together, as Paul also says of Peter and the Lord's brothers, that they had sister-wives working along-side themselves in preaching the Gospel. But she's in no way part of the Seventy disciples, just like Peter's wife was not part of the Twelve disciples either.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Thanks Lvka.

I meant to write Junia, not Junias.

But please note that there are a number of folks who advocate that Junia was an apostle, and since she was an apostle, therefore Women's Ordination.

For your edification, I refer you to John Bugay's helpful statements:

"You define "apostle" in a very loose way. It could be true that he was "sent" to Paul in that sense of being an "apostle," but then there are many others who can be called "apostles" too, who you would, in no way, be considered an "apostle" with authority."

The Blogger Formerly Known As Lvka said...

I'm aware of those people and their views, it's just that their biblical illiteracy is staggering. We know that many of the Apostles were married and that their wives assisted them in their apostolic labor; but we're equally aware that we never see these women actually counted among the Apostles, be it the Twelve or the Seventy.

Christ did not possess an infinite or unlimited number of disciples; there were the 12, the 70 [Luke 10:1], some were hidden (like Joseph and Nicodemus), and then there were the pious myrrh-bearing women. Their total number amounted to about 120 [Acts 1:15]. Since Ananias was a "disciple" [Acts 9:10], and since he was neither of the 12, nor among the hidden, nor a woman, it follows that he was one of the 70 that Christ "sent" to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom in Luke 10:1. -- QED.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...


You'll enjoy reading John Bugay's latest post titled:

"Pseudo Dionysius and Other Orthodox Pseudo Saints"

The Blogger Formerly Known As Lvka said...

I did. I even left a comment there or two. I'm gonna post the second half of my previous comment there as well.

John Bugay said...

Lvka: -- QED.

Not so fast.

The Blogger Formerly Known As Lvka said...

Not so fast.

If "not so", then HOW should I fast? (Matthew 6:16-18)

:-) :D

John Bugay said...

Ha ha