Thursday, July 15, 2010

Pope's Exegetical Blunder on Peter/Paul Conflict in Galatians 2

Here's one from CAI, the web page of Roman Catholic apologist Robert Sungenis.

Pope's Exegetical Blunder on Peter/Paul Conflict in Galatians 2 (pdf)

Choice excerpts:

"Although I admire Pope Benedict XVI, to be very honest, I believe he is quite incorrect in his analysis of the conflict between Peter and Paul in Galatians 2:11-16. I don’t know anyone in the history of the church who has taken his side on this passage. Previous exegesis has taken the thesis-antithesis approach wherein Paul presents a thesis, and Peter’s antithesis is not only wrong but it is akin to perverting the Gospel."

"I’m afraid to say that the pope’s understanding of this passage falls right in line with the liberal hermeneutic that we have seen so often in the last forty years. It is the theological version of the Hegelian synthesis. Not surprisingly, the pope’s interpretation of Galatians 2 is the precise way Protestant liberals,following Hegel, had interpreted the passage."

"Why is it, also, that Pope Benedict seems to have no qualms about scandalizing faithful Catholics by having an unconverted Jewish rabbi speak to the hundreds of bishops at the current Synod on Scripture, yet he allows for Peter to claim that the Jews would be scandalized by seeing Peter eat with Gentiles? I submit there is a double standard working here. It seems that the pope’s criterion in both cases is how the scene affects the Jews, not how it affects Gentiles."

"Unfortunately, here the pope makes another exegetical blunder, for he is mixing very different contexts, Romans 14 and Galatians 2."


Here's an interesting related comment from Thomas Aquinas. Note his description of Jerome's fourth argument, that Paul only pretended to rebuke Peter. This certainly is not an example of the "previous exegesis" that has "taken the thesis-antithesis approach"-

Thomas Aquinas commenting on the Disagreement between Augustine and Jerome with respect to Paul’s rebuke of Peter:

Thirdly, they disagree on the sin of Peter. For Jerome says that in the dissimulation previously mentioned, Peter did not sin, because he did this from charity and, as has been said, not from mundane fear. Augustine, on the other hand, says, that he did sin—venially, however—on account of the lack of discretion he had by adhering overmuch to one side, namely to the Jews, in order to avoid scandalizing them. But the stronger of Augustine’s arguments against Jerome is that Jerome adduces on his own behalf seven doctors, four of whom, namely, Laudicens, Alexander, Origen, and Didymus, Augustine rejects as known heretics. To the other three he opposes three of his own, who held with him and his opinion, namely, Ambrose, Cyprian, and Paul himself, who plainly teaches that Peter was deserving of rebuke. Therefore, if it is unlawful to say that anything false is contained in Sacred Scripture, it will not be lawful to say that Peter was not deserving of rebuke. For this reason the opinion and statement of Augustine is the truer, because it is more in accord with the words of the Apostle.

Fourthly, they disagree on Paul’s rebuke. For Jerome says that Paul did not really rebuke Peter but pretended to do so, just as Peter pretended to observe the legal justifications, i.e. just as Peter in his unwillingness to scandalize the Jews pretended to observe the justifications, so Paul, in order not to scandalize the Gentiles, feigned displeasure at Peter’s action and pretended to rebuke him. This was done, as it were, by mutual consent, so that each might exercise his care over the believers subject to them. Augustine, however, just as he says that Peter really did observe the justifications, says that Paul truly rebuked him without pretense. Furthermore, Peter really sinned by observing them, because his action was a source of scandal to the Gentiles from whom he separated himself. But Paul did not sin in rebuking him, because no scandal followed from his rebuke. St. Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians, trans. F. R. Larcher, O.P. (Albany: Magi Books, Inc.1966), Chapter 2, Lecture 3, pp. 51-52.

27 comments:

Matthew D. Schultz said...

I suppose this is just the natural outworking of a Magisterium that refuses to define the infallible, official interpretation of any more than a handful of Bible verses. Every Catholic is left to privately interpret the other 99.9% of the Bible, being free to ultimately dismiss even the Pope's opinions if they seem unjustified.

It's difficult to see why Catholic apologists maintain that they are in a substantially superior epistemic position than Protestants when it comes to interpreting the meaning of Scripture.

John Bugay said...

I believe this pope (Ratzinger/Benedict) to be essentially dishonest. I've analyzed his "exegetical method" here:

http://reformation500.wordpress.com/2010/04/06/not-called-to-communion-dishonest-about-“exegesis”/

Scott Clark pointed out his essential dishonesty here ...

http://heidelblog.wordpress.com/2008/12/02/the-pope-a-protestant/

... where in a recent speech, Benedict made the bold and tantalizing claim:

For this reason Luther’s phrase: “faith alone” is true…..” At this point, doubtless many readers will be tempted to stop reading and to rejoice that the Reformation is over. Noll and Nystrom seem to be vindicated. That would be a mistake. As I often tell my students: “keep reading.” He continues by saying, that Luther’s “faith alone” is true “if it is not opposed to faith in charity, in love” [emphasis added]. That conditional, that “if,” makes all the difference in the world.

That one little conditional is the difference between Rome and Wittenberg. Why? After all, Protestants affirm that faith alone is not opposed to charity (love) or sanctification. That’s certainly true, but the question here is whether Benedict means by “faith” what we mean by it and whether we’re talking about the same justification and the same role of faith? For us Protestants, charity is the fruit and evidence of justification. Is it so for Benedict? If so, he’s abandoned his own catechism and magisterial Roman dogma since 1547. That would be remarkable indeed!

Read in its broader context (Roman dogma since 1547) and in its immediate context it becomes clear that he has not capitulated to Luther. The little expression “faith in charity” is a shorthand way of expressing the Roman doctrine that it is “faith formed by love” that justifies, i.e. faith justifies because and to the degree that it sanctifies. The “supreme pontiff” (so much for the theologia crucis) knows what he’s doing. He’s a German theologian.


"Equivocation" is Benedict's method for coming up with an agreement. You have to carefully parse every word he says.

Matthew Bellisario said...

"I believe this pope (Ratzinger/Benedict) to be essentially dishonest"

This coming from a guy who cherry picks from his historical sources to make it seem as if his historical position on the Catholic Church is correct? Please, don't sit on here judging others as being dishonest John.

John Bugay said...

Please ... ????

Well, at least I appreciate your manners.

But as for "cherry-picking sources," you are the one who tried to suggest that 19th century Ultramontane historians somehow had a more accurate view of history than what I've provided from contemporary historians.

I provide a broad range of mainstream sources. If anyone can be accused of "cherry-picking," it's those Roman Catholics who want to hold to a "circle-the-wagons-the-Church-has-always-believed-'x'-despite-development-that-completely-changed-the-meaning-of-it" viewpoint.

As for "fundamental dishonesty," I've documented significant examples here and in other places, not just the incident of Ratzinger's "exegesis" in the link here, but also Scott Clark catching the pope trying to say, "Luther was correct about 'faith alone,' if...:

http://reformation500.wordpress.com/?s=mental+reservation

It's not just Ratzinger -- it's the whole mindset that provided the world with the concepts of casuistry and "mental reservation". It's the attitude of, "how far can we push it without really committing the sin of lying?"

That's just fundamentally dishonest.

Rhology said...

Bellisario is apparently a fan of the tu quoque style of fallacious argumentation.

James Swan said...

Matthew Bellisario, do you agree with Dr. Sungenis or with the Pope on Galatians 2?

Rhology said...

And don't say "both".

John Bugay said...

Matthew Bellisario, do you agree with Dr. Sungenis or with the Pope on Galatians 2?

My guess is he gets to (gots to) "receive with docility" what this pope is teaching (CCC. 87):

http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p1s1c2a2.htm#87

87 Mindful of Christ's words to his apostles: "He who hears you, hears me", the faithful receive with docility the teachings and directives that their pastors give them in different forms.

James Swan said...

My guess is he gets to (guts to) "receive with docility" what this pope is teaching (COCA. 87_

I've never seen Mathew do anything with docility, at least when he comments over here.

He can choose either the pope or Sungenis or neither. There probably isn't anything infallible as to who is right, so he can interpret it as he sees fit. For all the talk about having an infallible authority, Matthew can still read this text however he wants to, even coming up with something similar to Jerome's interpretation.

It may also be a real dilemma for Matthew. He adores the private interpretations of Dr. Sungenis, while at the same time granting the infallibility of the Pope. But then again, the Pope wasn't speaking infallibly, he was only giving his private interpretation. So Matthew has to... rely on his own understanding of who is right. In other words, he relies on his own private interpretation of which man is correct. That's a lot of private interpretation for a Romanist to handle in one sitting, while at the same time maintaining Protestants are in error for using private interpretation.

As David King points out in Holy Scripture Volume 1:

Let us be clear. In exercising private interpretation, Sungenis is not exempt from the charge of uncertainty to which he strongly objects. He leaves his reader with the mistaken impression that his own exegesis of Scripture is an accurate reflection of official Roman Catholic teaching on the passages he adduces. But where are these official interpretations? In reality, the communion of Rome condemns and thus precludes any certainty in the exercise of private exegesis. In contrast to Sungenis, Roman Catholic scholar, Raymond Brown, informs us that:

"Roman Catholics who appeal explicitly to Spirit-guided church teaching are often unaware that their church has seldom if ever definitively pronounced on the literal meaning of a passage of Scripture, i.e., what the author meant when he wrote it. Most often the church has commented on the on-going meaning of Scripture by resisting the claims of those who would reject established practices or beliefs as unbiblical."

John Bugay said...

But then again, the Pope wasn't speaking infallibly, he was only giving his private interpretation. So Matthew has to... rely on his own understanding of who is right.

I don't know. Even though it's not a pope in an "infallible" situation, CCC binds you to the teaching of someone in a pastoral capacity. I think he's stuck with the "living Magisterium."

James Swan said...

Even though it's not a pope in an "infallible" situation, CCC binds you to the teaching of someone in a pastoral capacity. I think he's stuck with the "living Magisterium."

That's just your interpretation. I'm sure Matthew and Dr. Sungenis have a a way of interpreting this type of problem so Sungenis is right in his interpretation, and also within his rights as a layman to disagree with the Pope's own fallible interpretation.

It get's complicated, but remember the Scriptures aren't clear without an infallible interpreter. Romanists need to wade through all this prolegomena before they can even get to an one verse of the Bible.

John Bugay said...

Around and around they go. As you say, it's a blueprint for anarchy.

James Swan said...

Just as I suspected... the Catholic Champion falls suddenly silent.

Turretinfan said...

If history is a cherry tree - pick cherries!

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"In contrast to Sungenis, Roman Catholic scholar, Raymond Brown, informs us that:

"Roman Catholics who appeal explicitly to Spirit-guided church teaching are often unaware that their church has seldom if ever definitively pronounced on the literal meaning of a passage of Scripture, i.e., what the author meant when he wrote it."


Wow. This is factually incontrovertible, yes?

Matthew D. Schultz said...

TUAD writes:

Wow. This is factually incontrovertible, yes?

It seems as much. However, in my experience, some Catholics will dismiss Brown as a moderate or liberal who doesn't properly represent Catholic doctrine and belief. It's hard to see why, though, given his impressive credentials (and I am thinking here specifically of those that demonstrate his relative proximity to the Magisterium).

Jae said...

Mr. Bugay said, "Around and around they go. As you say, it's a blueprint for anarchy."

So sorry to disagree but actually this more reflects protestantism...since no interpretative authority is higher than anybody else's....a relativist mentality erupted- hodgepodge soup it is.

Lets put this into action:

Martin Luther, “There are almost as many sects and beliefs as there are heads; this one will not admit Baptism; that one rejects the Sacrament of the altar; another places another world between the present one and the day of judgment; some teach that Jesus Christ is not God. There is not an individual, however clownish he may be, who does not claim to be inspired by the Holy Ghost, and who does not put forth as prophecies his ravings and dreams.”

The headline news today in the Christian world is very sad, “Last week, another once-big church succumbed to the relentless, media-savvy campaign of determined secular forces...leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America voted to lift the ban that prohibited sexually active gay and lesbian people from serving as ministers and the blessing of the same-sex couples. Lutherans and Episcopalians join other denominational giants, Unitarians and Presbyterians aside from many independent ..."

If some evangelical pastors say that there is no biblical prerogative against embryonic stem-cell or some pastors say that gay relationship and sex (not the people with homosexual tendencies) have anything against the teaching of the Book? In fact they say that the same Jesus accepted all people regardless of their actions. To them God is all tolerance and loving.

There is a reliable survey that the younger generation of evangelical christians are more prone to liberal interpretation of the Bible.... that in the near future maybe it's ok to have same-sex marriage and "cure" our old age illness' through the destruction of other humans by stem-cell....hopefully God will not allow that to happen.

Some pastors agree with this and some don't BUT ALL have claimed they got it right with the Holy Writ and guided by the Holy Spirit.

How about Artificial Contraception prior to 1930's? Did you know that ALL Christian Churches believed and agreed that it is intrinsically evil, unnatural and thus contrary to the Will of God? What happened to your truth since then? Catholic Teaching still stands today ( Humanae Vitae) that if any christian catholic committed acts of Arti-Contraception is quity of a grave sin.

cont.

Jae said...

Now let's see your founding fathers take on this issue:

Martin Luther on contraception (1483 to 1546):


"Onan must have been a malicious and incorrigible scoundrel. This is a most disgraceful sin. It is far more atrocious than incest or adultery. We call it unchastity, yes, a Sodomitic sin. For Onan goes into her; that is, he lies with her and copulates, and when it comes to the point of insemination, spills the semen, lest the woman conceive. Surely at such a time the order of nature established by God in procreation should be followed."

JOHN CALVIN on contraception (1509 to 1564):


"Deliberately avoiding the intercourse, so that the seed drops on the ground, is double horrible. For this means that one quenches the hope of his family, and kills the son, which could be expected, before he is born. This wickedness is now as severely as is possible condemned by the Spirit, through Moses, that Onan, as it were, through a violent and untimely birth, tore away the seed of his brother out the womb, and as cruel as shamefully has thrown on the earth. Moreover he thus has, as much as was in his power, tried to destroy a part of the human race."

John Wesley on contraception (1703 to 1791):


"Onan, though he consented to marry the widow, yet to the great abuse of his own body, of the wife he had married and the memory of his brother that was gone, refused to raise up seed unto the brother. Those sins that dishonour the body are very displeasing to God, and the evidence of vile affections. Observe, the thing which he did displeased the Lord - And it is to be feared, thousands, especially single persons, by this very thing, still displease the Lord, and destroy their own souls."

Examining sermons and commentaries, Charles Provan identified over a hundred Protestant leaders (Lutheran, Calvinist, Reformed, Methodist, Presbyterian, Anglican, Evangelical, Nonconformist, Baptist, Puritan, Pilgrim) living before the twentieth century condemning non-procreative sex. Did he find the opposing argument was also represented? Mr. Provan stated, "We will go one better, and state that we have found not one orthodox theologian to defend Birth Control before the 1900's. NOT ONE! On the other hand, we have found that many highly regarded Protestant theologians were enthusiastically opposed to it."

So what happened?

It's the old story of Christians attempting to conform the world to Christ and the world attempting to conform Christians to its ways. Protestants fought bravely, but in 1930 the first hole appeared in the contraception dike (in the Anglican Church) and lead to a flood that would engulf the other Protestant Churches, too. In the next thirty years all Protestant churches were swept away from their historic views on contraception. The most terrible point is that just a few years earlier, in 1908, the Anglican Church condemned the very contraception that they would later embrace.

These words were from your "fathers", so what is your take? So why should a christian believe in any words or interpretation from you? if you could err at all therefore it follows you could also err in any point! There is NO quarantee to any of your truth and YOU WILL BE LIABLE to God for leading others over the edge.

Rhology said...

Jae,

Sorry, was that supposed to be an answer to the question posed in this post?

John Bugay said...

Jae: Mr. Bugay said, "Around and around they go. As you say, it's a blueprint for anarchy."

So sorry to disagree but actually this more reflects protestantism...since no interpretative authority is higher than anybody else's....a relativist mentality erupted- hodgepodge soup it is....

So why should a christian believe in any words or interpretation from you? if you could err at all therefore it follows you could also err in any point! There is NO quarantee to any of your truth and YOU WILL BE LIABLE to God for leading others over the edge.


I'm not happy about where the ELCA has gone.

You seem to want to say that, "Protestants are falling apart, therefore, go back to Rome." The problem with that is that Rome became proud and gave up on the Gospel of Christ (the Gospel of Free Grace) and finally anathematized the Gospel at Trent. The Roman "Church" officially is apostate, and has been since the Reformation. (Now, insofar as individual Catholics are able to turn to Christ, I am certain that He is merciful).

It's not "contraception" that is the key to all the evils you think you want to describe. I don't at all grant that contraception is bad. Contraception is like every other good advancement that God has enabled man to make. It is good if used properly.

The genuine evil is in the human heart -- once created in the image of God and then fallen. It is the human heart that uses contraception for evil, just as it uses any other technology for evil.

Your contraception argument is just one more link in the chain of legalistic traditions that were supposed to tell men, "if only you do this, you'll be able to do the right things and be in God's favor." Christ railed against that treatment in his life on earth (see Mark 7, for example -- the rabbinical rules established to let people think they were conforming to God's law, the medieval/scholastic impulse to see how far we can go without sinning -- these are all the same thing.)

The point that I would make is that God does not allow himself to become captured in the rules and structures that men build. Rome, which very clearly abdicated from the Gospel, tried to capture him in St. Peter's square. It tried to capture him in the thousands of rules it issued: "do this, don't do that; eat this, don't eat that, at this particular time." God's word in the New Testament rails against such things.

I don't know what the story is in the ELCA, but they too have fallen.

"The church" follows the spirit -- "The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit."

The only answer is to remain humble before God's word, the Scriptures. The church is not the master of God's law. There are no warnings in Scripture about having "an interpretive authority." God spoke His Word; and he also gave man the proper kind of receptor to receive it. You will not stand or fall on anything that Rome has done. You will stand or fall, naked before God. What is it that will enable you to stand?

The church is created and sustained by God's word, the Scriptures. If it ceases to "live and move and have its being" in the Scriptures, it will cease to be "the church."

John Bugay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Turretinfan said...

Jae:

Unlike Romanism, Reformation theology does not require rigid adherence with the doctrines and traditions of men.

Thank you for attempting to demonstrate that for us.

-TurretinFan

James Swan said...

Martin Luther, “There are almost as many sects and beliefs as there are heads; this one will not admit Baptism; that one rejects the Sacrament of the altar; another places another world between the present one and the day of judgment; some teach that Jesus Christ is not God. There is not an individual, however clownish he may be, who does not claim to be inspired by the Holy Ghost, and who does not put forth as prophecies his ravings and dreams.”

There are almost as many sects and beliefs as there are heads

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Jae: "Catholic Teaching still stands today ( Humanae Vitae) that if any christian catholic committed acts of Arti-Contraception is quity of a grave sin."

Jae, lots of Catholics are guilty of grave sin. Read this article: How Many Catholics Follow the Vatican's Ban on Contraception?

Excerpts:

"A year after the Pope proclaimed the teaching on contraception unchanged and unchangeable in the Humanae Vitae encyclical on July 29, 1968, 44% of Catholic women of childbearing age who were regular churchgoers were using artificial contraception. Women already had an unequal role in the church, and many stopped listening to priests on issues of sexuality and morality. Although women are the most directly affected by the ban on artificial contraception, they are not the only ones who oppose it. By 1974, 83% of Catholics said that they disagreed with Humanae Vitae, and many prominent theologians and bishops dissented. By 1980, over 75% of Catholic women in the US had used artifical contraception, and only a third of US priests believed that it was immoral. With increasing acceptability of ignoring this teaching of the Church arose tremendous tension and questioning of the overall credibility of the Church. In 1963, 70% of Catholics believed that the Pope derived teaching authority from Christ through St. Peter, but in 1974, this group had dropped to 42%. By 1999, only 20% of Catholics thought that the Church held the final moral authority on divorce, abortion, and homosexuality, 23% for premarital sex, and 11% for birth control. Ironically, Pope John Paul II’s fear that the Church’s authority on other matters would be undermined if the teaching on contraception was changed came true because it was not changed.

The Center of Disease Control and Prevention 2002 National Survey of Family Growth revealed that 97% of American Catholic women over age 18 have used a banned form of contraception, which is the same percentage as the general population.

ThePalmHQ said...

Just for the record, since Sungenis has flip-flopped on his approach to this passage, it seems that his current views have more to do with his strange fixation on "the Jews" than on any sort of connection to the Catholic exegetical tradition on Gal 2. See my comments here:

http://sungenisandthejews.blogspot.com/2008/10/popes-blunder-or-sungenis-prejudice.html

James Swan said...

Thanks- It's hard to keep up will the private Roman Catholic interpretations.

ThePalmHQ said...

LOL!