Saturday, August 07, 2010

A Clear Picture of Christian House Church Worship in the First Two Centuries

In response to the charge that there was no single, monarchical bishop in Rome for the first hundred or more years of the church in that city, one commenter asked, "Can you then name the organizers, leaders, or members of the house churches and what decades they existed? Can you give an account of when exactly these house churches started and who were the principal organizers? Can you also let us know what happened to these house Churches?"

Consider Romans 16. The letters of Paul not only provide his theology, his “Gospel,” in the clearest possible terms. But his letters are thick with the details of his life, details that enable us to paint an extremely accurate portrait of his life and travels.

In Romans 16, Paul sends greetings to 26 named individuals, and two other individuals. Peter Lampe, a Lutheran New Testament scholar whose name I've mentioned, has done a complete analysis of Romans 16, in his 1987 (trans 2003) work “From Paul to Valentinus: Christians at Rome in the First Two Centuries,” MINNEAPOLIS: Fortress Press -- including a text critical and source critical study. Douglas Moo, in his commentary on Romans, relies on Lampe's work, as does Thomas Schreiner.

By sending greetings to all of these individuals (where the letter will be read in all of the churches in Rome), Paul seeks to remind those Christians in Rome who don’t know him, that he already knows a number of people from that city. These greetings "would encourage them to think favorably of him and remind the church as a whole of the number of 'supporters' that he already has" (Moo 918).

Moo also suggests that this list "makes clear is the pattern of church organization in Rome, for Paul identifies at least three, and perhaps five, separate house churches. Early Christians did not have large public facilities for meeting, so they used their own houses. And since even the largest house of the wealthiest Christian would hold no more than seventy or eighty for worship, growth beyond that point required that the Christians split up into house churches."

I've noted, too, that it was most likely that, in Rome, the Christians likely met near synagogues. Lampe has traced the locations of those synagogues (through archaeological and other means) and has even provided maps in his work.)

Lampe mentions the households of Aquila and Pricilla, and identifies four other “households” from the names in Romans 16. Then he continues:
Thus, in the capital city of Rome, we count five different Christian islands. If we assume that the other fourteen people of Romans 16 do not belong to any of these five crystallization points and that they hardly could all have belonged to only one other additional circle, then this results in at least seven separate islands of Christianity.

At least an eighth may be added to this when Paul sojourned in Rome and gathered Christians in his rented accommodation (Acts 28:30 ff). There is nowhere any indication of a central location for the different groups scattered over the city. Each circle of Christians may have conducted worship services by itself in a house or apartment, so that it can be referred to as a house community (see pgs 359-360).
Fast forward a couple of hundred years. What was the structure of the Christian community like in say the fifth century?
We encounter the same phenomenon of local fragmentation [scattered congregations] if we proceed chronologically from the opposite direction and ask concerning the origins of the Roman titular churches (tituli).

The Roman tituli of late antiquity are relatively independent parishes within the city (“quasi diocesis”), with their own place of assembly, their own clergy, cult, baptistery, and burial place. We know the number and the names of the tituli from the signature lists of the Roman synods. Some 25 titular parishes can be gleaned from the lists (pg 360, emphasis added).
So here are words that modern day Roman Catholics will recognize: parishes, dioceses, baptistery, etc. Lampe actually lists these 23 titular churches, and then he continues his analysis to trace the “house churches” into the future, and the titular churches just listed, back into the past.
The 15 to 20 pre-Constantinian titular house churches (most likely from the third century; cf. Cornelius in the middle of the third century [see Eusebius ”History” 6.43.11]) are indebted to private individuals who put space at the disposal of house communities…

The Christian fractionation stands against the background of a Jewish community in the city of Rome that was broken up into a number of independent synagogue communities [see detail provided here] [emphasis in original]. The parallelism is amazing, whether one wishes to consider the Jewish structure as a direct model for Christians or not.

Justin’s [community] met in a rented lodging “above the bath of Myrtinus”. In the same work, Justin attests that there are other house churches in Rome besides his. To the question, “Where do you assemble?” he answers, “There, where each one will and can.” “Or do you mean that we all are accustomed to assemble in the same place?" "It is by no means so.” Justin claims that he does not even know the other assembly places (Lampe pgs 364-65, citing Justin from “The Acts of Justin” see pg 276-277 in Lampe).

Lampe even goes into some detail about the structure of homes that Christians met in:
In view of the concurrence of archaeological and literary evidence, we may conclude that, in the first two centuries, there were no “house churches” in the sense of specific rooms permanently set aside for worship in secular houses. Positively speaking, the Christians of the first and second centuries celebrated their liturgy in rooms that were used in everyday life. This means that the rooms used for Sunday worship had no special immoveable cultic equipment. [This means, by the way, no altars, no tabernacles, no genuflecting, no “sacrifice of the mass.”] This explains the absence of any archaeological evidence of Christian assembly rooms in the city of Rome for the first two centuries. Christian circles met someplace in the basilica private of a wealthy Christian or on the third floor of an insula (cf. Acts 20:7ff.), in a rented lodging (over the bath of Myrtinus,” Justin, Acta 3), or in a suburban villa on the Via Latina (chap. 27). Justin witnesses that the gatherings of Christians in Rome took place where one preferred it or where it was possible. One was not limited to special cultic rooms.

Still at the beginning of the third century, Minucius Felix lets the pagan Caecilius Natalis complain on the beach at Ostia at Christians: “Why do they take pains to hide the object of their worship….Why have they no altars, no known sanctuaries? Why do they never speak publicly, never meet openly?
Lampe, 368-369).
As he notes, the Christians have “no delubra et aras”; they are “a social gathering shunning the light, silent in public, loquacious in a corner.”

I believe that every Christian who cares about the historical nature of his faith ought to be extremely grateful for the detailed picture of early Christian worship in the city of Rome, through a network of house churches, [secretive to evade persecution], without the leadership of single leader or publicly known bishop, naming only Christ as their Shepherd.

182 comments:

john said...

John let me just say that you are "nailing it" with these posts. I am an ex-Catholic thanks to my own personal research into this subject along with careful Biblical studies comparing what the Scriptures teach with Rome's man-made dogmas which have no Biblical basis and are in fact contrary to Scripture IE especially on "Justification", but not to go off on that rabbit trail, your conclusions are exactly the same as miner. Lampe in some ways isn't saying anything that hasn't said before. He just confirms and adds to what other Historians, both what HONEST Catholic and Protestant have been saying all along. The Catholic sources are Garry Wills, KLaus Schatz, Von Dollinger, Kung, Raymond Brown and what a host of other honest Catholic Historians say who are more interested in facts and truth rather than propping up Rome's false claims.

Eamon Duffy, a prominent and honest Catholic Historian has said that any research and claims on and about the Papacy must begin now with Dr. Peter Lampe's research.

If the Papacy is a false man-made system along with Papal Dogmas then the Roman Church's claims are false and Roman Catholicism collapses. I think the reason so many Catholic apologists defend the Roman Church and Papacy is because of fear of the truth, if Rome collapses then they would be psychologically insecure and forced to embrace the true Gospel as taught by the Apostles and re-emphasised by the Protestant Reformation. If Rome is false then their whole world collapses.

Matthew Bellisario said...

"The Catholic sources are Garry Wills, KLaus Schatz, Von Dollinger, Kung, Raymond Brown and what a host of other honest Catholic Historians say who are more interested in facts and truth rather than propping up Rome's false claims."

That list hardly contains honest names of honest Catholic theologians. Hans Kung and Wills are well known liberal hacks. If all you guys can do is quote historical revisionists who are well known for denying core teachings of Christianity, then so be it. But do not attempt to call it honest scholarship. The names of Kung, Wills, Brown, etc are well known in their liberal theologies that were ultimately rejected. The sad fact is, if you could get away with it, you would quote Satan himself under a pseudonym to try and put forth your blasphemies against Christ and His Church.

Andrew said...

Matthew, these are your scholars. Don't blame us. Blame your infallible magisterium for not doing enough to make it clear to all of us that they are not acceptable sources of information. Also, St. Middle man, it should be pointed out that a man can be liberal and correct about historical facts. Just like a man (maybe a middle man) can be conservative and not able to deal honestly with any facts that seem to contradict his position.

The Memoirs of Torquemada said...
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The Memoirs of Torquemada said...

Matthew, these are your scholars"

Uhh, no they are yours. You are the ones quoting them, not I. I see you enjoy name calling Andrew. Perhaps you should practice what you preach for once, or do not complain when someone comes on who disagrees with you and sends a few insults your way. I seem to recall you complaining about this numerous times before, yet you seem to have no problems doing it. Another example of two faced double standards over here.

Matthew Bellisario said...

Where did I ever quote any of these guys?

Matthew Bellisario said...

So I wonder is John agrees with Garry Wills' assessment of St. Paul and his historical revisionism of his writings? Or are you going to look for only those couple of quotes that you think agree with you ,which supposedly refutes some Catholic doctrine. Wills does not even think that St. Paul was a Christian.

Andrew said...

My point is that hey are Roman Catholics. That should have been clear. I don't mind someone saying something that is a little harsh as long as there is a point being made. I don't recall complaining about name calling. Maybe you can correct me and show me where I have done so? Anyway, I call Mr. Bellisario "St. Middle Man" for a reason. I think it's appropriate as I am goading him for his utter ridiculousness.

Bad Catholic said...

So what? We can assume that all of these house churches were governed by somebody?

When I was a Baptist, my Baptist Church was sure governed by the Pastor and the Deacons. There is absolutely no doubt that the three orders of Bishop or overseer, Presbyter and Deacon were present in the early church.

The fact that the institution of the Papacy developed over time does not prove that it was not instituted by God. After all, all of the Protestant denominations developed over time. The Southern Baptists of today ain't the Southern Baptists of 100 years ago.

Besides, we all have bigger fish to fry resisting the pagan heathen culture. We can argue over the primacy of the Pope when we're sharing a cell at the concentration camp for refusing to recognize gay marriage.

John Bugay said...

I'd just like to note that the original post is from the work of the Lutheran Peter Lampe (who, along with the conservative LCMS, signed the petition in 1999 asking the Lutheran church NOT to sign the "Joint Agreement")

It's wrong to lump Duffy, Wills, Schatz, Von Dollinger, Kung, and Raymond Brown into the same basket. There's a great deal of difference among these -- some of them are motivated by the kinds of things that motivated Wills and Kung. Others, like Duffy, Schatz, Von Dollinger, and Brown, are (or were) motivated by a desire to be honest scholars.

Not long ago, I had a chance to talk with a biblical scholar who knew Raymond Brown personally. His contention was that Brown was the finest and most honest biblical scholar he knew. And the reason was that Brown was serving two masters -- attempting to be as honest as possible with the evidence, while at the same time, not going beyond the bounds of "Catholic teaching."

A word to "john" (with the small "j") -- Welcome to Beggars All -- I appreciate your comment and also your affirmation.

Matthew Bellisario said...

If you know anything about Raymond Brown John, you would know that he was not the same scholar at the end of his career that he was at the beginning. If you think he was such a great scholar, are willing to accept everything he had to say regarding Scripture, or only those assessments he made that supposedly support your position? Because I am willing to bet that there are many things in his works that you would never agree with. So I am wondering what your criteria is for accepting what he had to say.

John Bugay said...

Bad Catholic said: The fact that the institution of the Papacy developed over time does not prove that it was not instituted by God.

One reason for my posting the material from Adrian Fortescue is because until about 50 years ago, you'd have been laughed out of the RCC for making this kind of statement. Fortescue was as mainstream a Catholic theologian as you could find during the years between Vatican I and Vatican II -- Fortescue never would have admitted that "the institution of the Papacy developed over time."

Of course, that is the standard line now. And it's clear evidence that Rome itself has been taken by surprise by this historical research.

John Bugay said...

If you know anything about Raymond Brown John, you would know that he was not the same scholar at the end of his career that he was at the beginning. If you think he was such a great scholar, are willing to accept everything he had to say regarding Scripture, or only those assessments he made that supposedly support your position?

I've read some, certainly not all of what he wrote. There are a lot of things that I would not agree with him on. But one thing I do appreciate, and it's his basic honesty.

And my biblical scholar friend (a 3FU Reformed believer) felt that Brown's commentary on John was one of the best commentaries, on any book, ever written.

Matthew, so much of what we talk about here depends on "who you trust." You certainly ought to appreciate the detail of the work that Lampe did on the early church, even if you disagree with it.

natamllc said...

Just a couple of things, now.

"...who are well known for denying core teachings of Christianity,..."

should read:

"...who are well known for denying core teachings of the Roman Catholic evolutionary dogma out of the First Century...".

And, it would be interesting if any of these present Catholic commentors commenting in here regarding this thread ever read any of these guys, the ones being represented as Historical Catholic scholars, such as: Garry Wills, KLaus Schatz, Von Dollinger, Kung, Raymond Brown and the writings of any other honest Catholic Historians as like minded as them?

It just might be that they have and they are not honest enough to admit to the realities these scholars bring to the table within the RCC?

It really boils down to the core values within the person, doesn't it?

What I find interesting is the fact that just as they did in the time of Jesus to challenge His authority so they do today challenging His authority as well:::>

Luk 20:1 One day, as Jesus was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes with the elders came up
Luk 20:2 and said to him, "Tell us by what authority you do these things, or who it is that gave you this authority."

Matthew Bellisario said...

So John, you are basically saying that you are only going to trust Brown as far as he agrees with your positions against Catholicism. As far as you are concerned, if they agree with what you believe when it benefits you, then they are "honest." Nice convenient system for you to follow. Unfortunately your little system that you set up for determining what is true and what is not is in itself dishonest.

Matthew Bellisario said...
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Matthew Bellisario said...

Hey natamllc, so you agree with Wills and his Biblical scholarship? Yes or no will do. If you think that some these "scholars" like Wills are so honest, you are not even worthy of calling yourself a Christian, because most of the guys on this list have denied core teachings regarding the validity of Sacred Scripture. It is good to know who you side with. It makes it really easy to see who the real heretics are. I am glad to know that you keep good company with likes of Wills.

John Bugay said...

So John, you are basically saying that you are only going to trust Brown as far as he agrees with your positions against Catholicism.

I do like that he challenges established Roman Catholic positions, especially where folks like you just salute smartly and fall in line. Not enough Protestants know enough about Catholicism to do that. But Brown did.

But at the end of the day, he remained a loyal Catholic, and I disagree with him in a number of his conclusions that I've read. And I'm planning on posting an example of that.

natamllc said...

Poor Matthew,

you are not even worthy of calling yourself a Christian,,

Yes, you are right, Mat.

I am not worthy of being a Christian let alone being called one!

My Christianity is not based in any works of righteousness, or law keeping or religious practice that I have done or ever will do.

I am solely a Christian based on Christ alone, through Grace alone by Faith alone as taught in Scripture alone to the Glory of God.

I fail miserably, daily!

I have no confidence in my own self effort.

I am as Peter wrote:

1Pe 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
1Pe 1:4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,
1Pe 1:5 who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.


Whether or not I measure up to your standard or not is not the issue for me and shouldn't be the issue for you, my standard of your salvation, that is?

Here is the standard:

Mat 7:21 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
Mat 7:22 On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?'
Mat 7:23 And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'


Well and good that you charge me as a heretic, Matthew. Take that up with God, not man and go in Peace and be filled, then!

John Bugay said...

Hey natamllc, so you agree with Wills and his Biblical scholarship? Yes or no will do. If you think that some these "scholars" like Wills are so honest, you are not even worthy of calling yourself a Christian, because most of the guys on this list have denied core teachings regarding the validity of Sacred Scripture. It is good to know who you side with. It makes it really easy to see who the real heretics are. I am glad to know that you keep good company with likes of Wills.

You really miss the importance of what he's saying.

There are very many things that we would not agree on with someone like Wills. But in some of his assessments of Catholicism, he's dead-on accurate.

John Bugay said...

By the way Matthew, did you know that Raymond Brown was from the Order of the Sulpicians, whose mission is to teach in Catholic Seminaries?

So even though you don't like him, someone else, very high up, did.

(Not to mention his appointments to the Pontifical Biblical Commission).

Dozie said...
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Dozie said...

"Fast forward a couple of hundred years."

Not so fast!! You give some account of the phenomenon of house Churches, a development already noticeable in the book of Act, and pretend you've discovered some secret pearl. Then you want to jump a couple of hundred years to say what?

Unless you want to claim that the development of house churches was unsupervised, springing up like weeds and undirected, then you have a point. You have not given account of how the seemingly unconnected churches got and maintained their theologies. Was Jesus Christ ever understood and believed? Who is to say? Was it possible for a particular house church to believe and teach that Jesus was the spirit brother of Lucifer and still be numbered among “Christian house Churches”? Christian message has certain contents and until the advent of Protestantism (an even that has forever damaged world civilization), no one dared to be the author of his own beliefs. Christianity was handed down and the process has never, until now, been random and individualized.

“The Roman tituli of late antiquity are relatively independent parishes within the city (“quasi diocesis”), with their own place of assembly, their own clergy, cult, baptistery, and burial place.”

I am rather amazed that you would find the Catholic Church described in the material you cite and still have the temerity to explain it away. I assume that you suggest that the house churches turned into parishes and dioceses. Was this process also random or was it coordinated? Who decided which parishes belonged to which dioceses, etc, etc?

“If Rome collapses then they would be psychologically insecure and forced to embrace the true Gospel as taught by the Apostles and re-emphasized by the Protestant Reformation. If Rome is false then their whole world collapses.”

If Catholicism is false, then Protestantism and the Protestant Reformation was a hopeless effort, as it still is. If Catholicism is false, then the Reformation, supposedly of the Christian Church, might as well have been the reformation of Buddhism. But as providence would have it, Luther was a Catholic monk who, it has been suggested, wanted to reform the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church; not Buddhism.

Protestantism derives its attachment to Christianity solely from Catholicism just as a child derives his humanity from his parents. Protestantism is "Church" only by attachment for no other Church can be founded except that which has, by the will of the Father, been founded in the Catholic Church. The heretics can kick and scream, as they do on this blog and elsewhere and they can torture history, all to no avail. But, they do not always recognize what they do because the Protestant mind is still a horrible scandal.

Dozie said...

"Fast forward a couple of hundred years."

Not so fast!! You give some account of the phenomenon of house Churches, a development already noticeable in the book of Act, and pretend you've discovered some secret pearl. Then you want to jump a couple of hundred years to say what?

Unless you want to claim that the development of house churches was unsupervised, springing up like weeds and undirected, then you have a point. You have not given account of how the seemingly unconnected churches got and maintained their theologies. Was Jesus Christ ever understood and believed? Who is to say? Was it possible for a particular house church to believe and teach that Jesus was the spirit brother of Lucifer and still be numbered among “Christian house Churches”? Christian message has certain contents and until the advent of Protestantism (an even that has forever damaged world civilization), no one dared to be the author of his own beliefs. Christianity was handed down and the process has never, until now, been random and individualized.

“The Roman tituli of late antiquity are relatively independent parishes within the city (“quasi diocesis”), with their own place of assembly, their own clergy, cult, baptistery, and burial place.”

I am rather amazed that you would find the Catholic Church described in the material you cite and still have the temerity to explain it away. I assume that you suggest that the house churches turned into parishes and dioceses. Was this process also random or was it coordinated? Who decided which parishes belonged to which dioceses, etc, etc?

“If Rome collapses then they would be psychologically insecure and forced to embrace the true Gospel as taught by the Apostles and re-emphasized by the Protestant Reformation. If Rome is false then their whole world collapses.”

If Catholicism is false, then Protestantism and the Protestant Reformation was a hopeless effort, as it still is. If Catholicism is false, then the Reformation, supposedly of the Christian Church, might as well have been the reformation of Buddhism. But as providence would have it, Luther was a Catholic monk who, it has been suggested, wanted to reform the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church; not Buddhism.

Protestantism derives its attachment to Christianity solely from Catholicism just as a child derives his humanity from his parents. Protestantism is "Church" only by attachment for no other Church can be founded except that which has, by the will of the Father, been founded in the Catholic Church. The heretics can kick and scream, as they do on this blog and elsewhere and they can torture history, all to no avail. But, they do not always recognize what they do because the Protestant mind is still a horrible scandal.

Dozie said...
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Dozie said...
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Dozie said...
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Matthew Bellisario said...

John writes, "There are very many things that we would not agree on with someone like Wills. But in some of his assessments of Catholicism, he's dead-on accurate."

That proves my point. Everything Wills says that is negative about Catholicism is somehow dead on "scholarship" to you. Yet when he uses the same principles to arrive at the denial of main tenets of anyone who calls themselves a Christian, you disagree with him. You don't have the common sense to see that his historical views are skewed based on his principles, and that is sad indeed. We can see that you are not an honest person John, and you have proven this tonight by your own words.

john said...

Dozie wrote:

"Protestantism derives its attachment to Christianity solely from Catholicism just as a child derives his humanity from his parents. Protestantism is "Church" only by attachment for no other Church can be founded except that which has, by the will of the Father, been founded in the Catholic Church."



The RCC IE "Romanism" is not the Church Christ founded. God sent the Protestant Reformers to reform and bring the Church back to its first love: Jesus Christ and the authentic Gospel taught by Jesus and His Apostles. Rome refused to listen to the authentic Gospel and sealed its fate as an apostate pseudo-Christian body when it refused to Reform and actually condemned the Gospel at the Council of Trent. I regard anyone who truly holds to all Roman Dogmas as a non-Christian.They need to be regenerated by the Holy Spirit and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be converted and have their Heart of stone replaced by a Heart of Flesh by the Holy Spirit and LEAVE the Romanist system.

John Lollard said...

"We can argue over the primacy of the Pope when we're sharing a cell at the concentration camp for refusing to recognize gay marriage."

Can I just say that this comment was brilliant?

Lvka said...

All well and fair, but what does tanda have to do with manda?

John said...

I fail to see how any of these claims, even if we accept them as-is, have any bearing on the catholic-protestant divide. That there were many house churches doesn't prove there was or wasn't a single overseer (bishop) of them all. The letters of Ignatius suggest that early church ecclesiology probably had such a position. Neither does lack of specialised church buildings in which to house "specialised cultic equipment" prove that common furniture was not used for the exact same purpose as catholics use it for. What on earth was the point of this posting? Did any ignorant protestants here actually think that catholics believe the Sistine chapel popped fully formed out of a Petrene building program?

Lvka said...

It's even more pathetic especially since the exact same things happen even today, in the Diaspora; and have happened during relatively-recent times of war or persecution.

Matthew D. Schultz said...

John writes:

I fail to see how any of these claims, even if we accept them as-is, have any bearing on the catholic-protestant divide.

Then it seems you either didn't read the post or didn't understand it when you did. For example, Green Baggins has linked to the post and it seems the Protestants there understand the implications of Bugay's post.

What on earth was the point of this posting?

Instead of jumping straight to the "wow, this was pointless" attitude, you could try inquiring (even nicely) of what John Bugay has in mind.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"Besides, we all have bigger fish to fry resisting the pagan heathen culture. We can argue over the primacy of the Pope when we're sharing a cell at the concentration camp for refusing to recognize gay marriage."

We can fry bigger fish at the same time as frying smaller fish. There are multiple burners on the stove top.

A joyful signer and supporter of the Manhattan Declaration.

Matthew Bellisario said...

"A joyful signer and supporter of the Manhattan Declaration."

James White thinks that anyone who signed that is an idiot.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

James White is not the Pope.

But be that as it may, Matthew Bellisario you're not able to refute the substance of this post.

Dozie said...
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Dozie said...
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Pilgrimsarbour said...

Once again we see this bizarre attitude that says that if we don't accept all of the conclusions of some scholar "lock, stock and barrel," then we're all hypocrites or something. Matthew Bellisario and Dozie have led the charge in this regard, having previously assailed us for having the unmitigated temerity to disagree on some points with (specifically) Luther and Calvin, as well as others. They are our leaders, MB and Dozie tell us, so how can we possibly disagree with them on anything?

This is the natural result of looking to one man and submitting themselves unreservedly to his authority, right or wrong, without exercising any intellectual discernment. They must, so in their world, we must also.

If I were a premillennarian, I would say they are prime candidates to be completely taken in by a one-world Antichrist leader. As it is, they cannot even conceive of questioning the authority or decisions of the one to which they have voluntarily submitted themselves. One is left only to double facepalm at their responses here and elsewhere.

natamllc said...

Pilgrims,

you wrote: "This is the natural result of looking to one man and submitting themselves unreservedly to his authority, right or wrong, without exercising any intellectual discernment. They must, so in their world, we must also."

Keep in mind the Truth we hold too!

There is none righteous, no not one.

Salvation is a work of God not of man so I suppose, deep down inside of these two and others of their ilk, that Truth still holds true!

Jae said...

Maybe we should quote William Miller (founder of Millerites to Seventh Day) as the "scholar" for the Baptist tradition because he was a Baptist preacher during his time or maybe Charles Russell (founder of Jehovah's) for a "true" calvinist apologist because he was "loyal" Presbytrian? Or maybe the Rev. Tim Lahaye would qualify?

This is the problem with quoting some "scholars" of the day to prove their own point of view about the supposed inconsistency of other's faith.. It's such a poor, poor taste quoting people who were not even faithful to their own faith traditions as a "dead on" accurate. (viz. liberal hacks etc).

The heart of the matter is, for protestants the issue of disunity is due to each individual's determing what is doctrine and what's not because of its inability to make a binding doctrine to all protestants. A protestant can't say to another protestant to beleieve in "X" 'cause it entails authority which they hated the Catholic Church for exercizing. In Catholicism it's due to disobedience to a binding doctrine.(viz. contraception, gay-marriage, etc). A huge difference.

Peace.

John Bugay said...

Jae -- perhaps you can support your assertions here by showing us precisely what is wrong with Lampe's work.

John Bugay said...

"John" said: I fail to see how any of these claims, even if we accept them as-is, have any bearing on the catholic-protestant divide.

Much of this information about the early church is foundational if we are to effectively talk about the Reformation.

That is, one of the key Lutheran conclusions of the Reformation is stated in the Smalcald artiles:

That the Pope is not, according to divine law or according to the Word of God the head of all Christendom (for this [name] belongs to One only, whose name is Jesus Christ), but is only the bishop and pastor of the Church at Rome, and of those who voluntarily or through a human creature (that is, a political magistrate) have attached themselves to him, to be Christians, not under him as a lord, but with him as brethren [colleagues] and comrades, as the ancient councils and the age of St. Cyprian show.

http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/wittenberg/concord/web/smc-02d.html

In Luther's time, (as in our time), the key claim of the papacy was that it was "divinely given." If we can establish, as best as we possibly can, the character of the "bishop of Rome" from the earliest centuries, then we can more easily put that into perspective.

Paul Hoffer said...

I am in the process of reading a book entitled "From Apostles to Bishops: The Development of the Episcopacy in the Early Church" written by Francis Sullivan where Fr. Brown's conclusions are fleshed out on this issue. I do not know if I happen to agree with everything presented but the book pretty much establishes that if you follow Fr. Brown's thoughts (liberal though he is), it is an inescapable conclusion that the episcopate is an element of divinely will structure of the Church and that the doctrine pertaining to the authority of the bishops developed in response to heretical notions and persecution to maintain unity and right belief that arose during the first century of post-NT times. The development of the canon of the Scriptures was a consequence of the way the bishops exercised that authority. Throw out the bishops, you throw out the canon-they go hand in hand at least according to Brown and Sullivan. So you might want to scratch Brown off that list of "honest" historians since he does verify that the episcopal system of the Catholic Church was divinely given.

Additionally, before you idolize the notion of House Church worship, were such churches subject to the authority of presbyterial leadership and did they not hold to the notion of paradosis, that is succession of teachers? if so, then there is no problem holding to the Catholic doctrine pertaining to bishops as the list of the early "popes" that Eusebius and Iraneaus cite show that there were certain individuals (popes) that were entrusted with that succession.

From the little bit that I have read that you have presented on the subject, you have failed to present the Catholic position objectively at all. Rather it seems that you are portraying the Catholic position as if we teach that Linus and Clement were running around Rome wearing triple tiaras. Straw man argumentation at its best is no argument at all.

BTW, if the notion of the episcopacy is such a foreign idea BTW, why was it so easily accepted as normative by the faithful by the second century AD.

Constantine said...

Once again we see this bizarre attitude that says that if we don't accept all of the conclusions of some scholar "lock, stock and barrel," then we're all hypocrites or something. Matthew Bellisario and Dozie have led the charge in this regard,…

Hey PA, that is a great observation. But there is a good reason for this “bizarre attitude”.

You see, Bellisario and his ilk are ultra-conservative Romanists. Those are the types that love the history of the “Index of Forbidden Books” which was in use in Rome for over 400 years! The effects that that had on Romanist scholarship were 1., to seclude it from any possible outside dissenting influence and, 2. to ensure that anything published by a Romanist scholar was in complete conformity with Rome, prior to its publication.. So, particularly in the post-Vatican I era, Romanist writings are bland because of their uniformity and unassailable because of the nihil obstat and impimaturs administered by Rome. (After 1966, the local ordinary could administer these.)

That is why Bellisario recoils at the name of an honest Catholic scholar who would happen to notice a discrepancy between historical fact and Romanist history. So when Garry Wills (one of whose two Master’s Degrees is from a Jesuit university and who has a Ph.D. from Yale) observes that Pope Leo XIII did lasting damage to Catholic biblical scholarship by insisting that Catholic seminarians be taught – and, in turn, teach their congregations – that Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible – even though these books describe events that took place after Moses’s death! – Bellisario has no schema from which to process this information. Presented with it, he retreats to the triumphalism of the post-Vatican I church, declares Wills an “idiot” and is content to have Moses write the Torah after his death. And why? Because Rome can never err.

What’s really interesting is that now, instead of an Index of Forbidden Books, Bellisario has created an “Index of Forbidden Authors”! How history repeats itself!

If one were predisposed to believe in reincarnation, the case could be made that Leo XIII was alive and well, and blogging as the “Catholic Champ.”

Peace.

Matthew Bellisario said...

"That is why Bellisario recoils at the name of an honest Catholic scholar who would happen to notice a discrepancy between historical fact and Romanist history. So when Garry Wills (one of whose two Master’s Degrees is from a Jesuit university and who has a Ph.D. from Yale)"

Again this proves my point. With all of his education he still thinks that St. Paul did not write some of his letters and that he did not believe he was a Christian, etc, etc. The same principles he uses to come to these conclusions are the same deranged principles he uses to come to his other conclusions which you are so quick to call "honest", "dead on" scholarship. You should be ashamed of yourselves.

Constantine said...

Welcome back to Paul Hoffer!

Paul writes,

I do not know if I happen to agree with everything presented but the book pretty much establishes that if you follow Fr. Brown's thoughts (liberal though he is), it is an inescapable conclusion that the episcopate is an element of divinely will[ed] (sic) structure of the Church and that the doctrine pertaining to the authority of the bishops developed in response to heretical notions and persecution to maintain unity and right belief that arose during the first century of post-NT times.

I have just picked up the book entitled, “A History of the Christian Church” (by Walker with subsequent updating by Norris, Lotz and Handy) which confirms Paul’s observation on this point with the one caveat: that the episcopacy developed throught the whole “catholic” church (ala Ignatius’s meaning of “universal”) and not just at Rome. Apaprently there was awareness among the early Christians that they were “a chosen race…” etc. The authors note that this is evidenced by something heretofore unknown in religious history – the sharing of concerns with one another via letters or epistles. So a monarchical episcopate over the entire church was not in existence. And, if I understand it correctly, that was Vatican I’s claim.

Apparently heretics availed themselves of the general travel patterns of the time and gravitated toward Rome. So the bishops of Rome’s concerns seem to have been focused on the impact to their local churches. As Walker nicely puts it, “As it turned out, then, whatever went on anywhere in the church tended to be a matter of domestic concern to the church at Rome. If Rome seemed to have a finger in everyone’s pie, that was because it had a piece of everyone’s pie on its own table.” (p. 76)
It seems not that whatever Rome initiated, was to become the rule for all the churches – at least at this stage.

Peace.

Constantine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Jae: "A protestant can't say to another protestant to beleieve in "X" 'cause it entails authority which they hated the Catholic Church for exercizing."

Yes, they can. Or at least in some areas they can.

For example, some liberal Protestants think same-sex behavior is not a sin. Conservative Protestants say to Liberal Protestants to believe God's Divinely Inspired, Inerrant, Authoritative Word called the Bible.

The LibProts reject God's Authoritative Word.

The Locus of Ultimate Authority for Protestants is God's Word.

Analogously, there are liberal Catholics who believe that same-sex behavior is not a sin.

Conservative Catholics say to Liberal Catholics to believe God's Divinely Inspired and Infallible Magisterium which declares that same-sex behavior is a sin.

The LibCats exercise private interpretation when they reject Magisterial Teaching.

The Locus of Ultimate Authority for Catholics is the Magisterium.

Constantine said...

Matthew writes,

Again this proves my point. With all of his education he still thinks that St. Paul did not write some of his letters and that he did not believe he was a Christian, etc, etc.

I think, rather, that you have made my point Matthew. The search for monolithic interpretations of religious material can only be found in two places, to the best of my knowledge: post-Vatican I Romanism and Islam.

Secondly, why is it so hard for you to believe that any scholar can be right on some issues and wrong on others? It seems that that is the whole purpose of the exchange of information. True intellectual impeccability resides in only one Man.

Lastly, if we were to rely on information from Rome without careful scrutiny, wouldn’t we be bound to believe the earth is flat and that the sun revolves around it?

I understand your dislike for Wills, etc, Matthew. I just don’t think you can dismiss him so cavalierly. And if you did, wouldn’t you be indicting the very Catholic seminaries and universities where he got his learning?

Peace.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Dozie in a comment he subsequently removed: "There is no revelation in the post that could be remotely damaging to the Catholic Church and her claims."

Dozie, I don't know if you stand by this comment any more or not since you deleted it, but let me ask you:

What do you think has been damaging to the Catholic Church, if anything?

Paul Hoffer said...

Hello Constantine, having had the misfortune of reading some of Wills' books, I must respectfully disagree. The fact of Wills' education does not make him a "honest" historian any more than it makes Joe Biden a "honest" politician who happened to receive a similar education.

Unlike Fr. Brown, who pushed the envelope when it came to doctrine, Wills busted through it and is off somewhere in orbit. Fr. Brown at least tried to reconcile his doctrinal conclusions with the teachings of the Church. Wills does not. Brown gave obedience in faith to the Church he served regardless of how one views his liberality. Wills mocks it which is why I do not believe that it is appropriate to cite him as an expert. In the law, expert testimony is not admissible unless a person is generally accepted as an authority. The Catholic hierarchy, like it or not, recognized Brown's scholarly endeavors; they do not recognize Wills in any way shape or form, which is why it is not proper to use him as an authority. That is the point that Matthew is making pertaining to Wills which I happen to agree with.

That said while I am not an admirer of many of Brown's theological reflections, I do recognize that he attempted to stay faithful to the Church he loved.

Earlier, a gentleman also referenced Klaus Schatz, a Jesuit, who wrote on the matter of papal primacy. What is not mentioned is the fact that Schatz opined there that based even on the historical record, the definition of papal primacy is historically maintainable and justifiable (pg. 177). The other folks mentioned were excommunicated or censured which is suggestive that the Church either found them to be dishonest, heretical, or that their views are not recognized as vaid expressions of Catholic doctrine. Thus, to cite to an excommunicated, heretical, or censured Catholic would be foolish. It would be like me citing to a legal authority that had been overruled by a higher court and no longer had any legitimacy.

Thus, while I may not like it, it is fair for foes of the Church to cite to Brown or Schatz in support of their contentions ao long as they do not cherry-pick the parts they happen to like. However, with Wills, it is not fair to do so as he is a dissenter pure and simple. You would never find me citing to anything written by him even if he agreed with anything that I did. I have far more respect for the people here to do that.

Hello Truth Unites & Divides, in response to JAE, you suggest that when liberal Protestants reject the conservative view that other Protestants have that they reject the Word of God. However, when those liberals are basing their views on that very same Word of God, who decides who is right among you when you both rely upon the same authority? Obviously, both are not right? How can an appeal to the Word of God arbitrate the matter?

The actual Catholic view is not that the Magisterium is the ultimate authority, our Rule of Faith is the Word of God as authoritatively interpreted and taught by the Church under the inspiration of the holy Spirit which Christ entrusted to do so. There are times that the various members of trhe Magisterium speak or teach that is not so recognized and does not require our theological assent.

God bless!

John Bugay said...

Paul Hoffer -- The individual who recommended that Sullivan book to me was a Roman Catholic when he read it; he later left the RCC.

If you think I am misrepresenting the papacy, have you read this thread?

http://beggarsallreformation.blogspot.com/2010/07/what-they-knew-and-when-they-knew-it.html

In it, I basically consolidated what Adrian Fortescue said about the early papacy. And if you've seen "Linus and Clement ... running around Rome wearing triple tiaras," then you've seen it purely as a figment of your imagination.

The reason I am citing Fortescue is because he was a mainstream writer on the papacy in the years between Vatican I and Vatican II. Today, there is quite a different "mainstream" story being told about the papacy, and I believe it has much to do with historical research. (From the documents that I've read, it seems evident to me that the Vatican conducted its own historical study of the first 1000 years; shortly thereafter, John Paul II issued "Ut Unum Sint."


If you are reading Sullivan, then you will be interested in his conclusion:

"While most Catholic scholars agree that the episcopate is the fruit of a post-New Testament development, they maintain that this development was so evidently guided by the Holy Spirit that it must be recognized as coresponding to God's plan for the structure of his Church." (230)

This is quite a different think from those Super Catholic Apologists who say an episcopacy was in place from the very beginning. (I am thinking of the Called to Communion gang).

But if it was a "development" (and it was), then it was not "divinely instituted" or "instituted by Christ," and to explain that to the world how that came about is a definite service to those Presbyterians, for example, who look to the New Testament model for "church authority" and say, "ours is the Biblical model."

On top of that discussion, I would add that the papacy was even a later development. By that time, the "Nestorian" schism had occurred. So it is clear that there was not any time at all in the church when the pope was, to use Fortescue's words, "the chief bishop, primate, and leader of the whole Church of Christ on earth."


From your post to Constantine:

Fr. Brown at least tried to reconcile his doctrinal conclusions with the teachings of the Church.

This is the precise thing I mentioned up above. You had best be careful saying these kinds of things; our resident Catholic Champion will be grouping you with the heretics.

John Bugay said...

Paul Hoffer: The actual Catholic view is not that the Magisterium is the ultimate authority, our Rule of Faith is the Word of God as authoritatively interpreted and taught by the Church under the inspiration of the holy Spirit which Christ entrusted to do so. There are times that the various members of trhe Magisterium speak or teach that is not so recognized and does not require our theological assent.

That's what I hear. But precisely where this line is, is open to question, and this is why someone like Wills can write what he does and still believe he is being a faithful Catholic. (Tell me again why they haven't disowned him?)

john said...

There can be no doubt, based on honest historical scholarship that not only is the Papacy a gradual development but the whole idea of Bishops as we know that office today as well. I have read that the office of Monarchial Bishop came about for administrative, organisational, and later doctrinal unity against heresy. The office of Bishop as we know it today was NOT by divine mandate.


Even IF a good case can be made for the office of Bishop as we know it that still does not "prove" anything. Many Church Fathers wrote about Churches IE local congregations being started by just regular Christians who then elected their own Elders and Deacons from amongst themselves and the local Congregation ordained them, not some "Bishop" hundreds of miles away.

Many early Church Fathers clearly stated that in and of itself a Bishop was not automatically a guarantee of anything UNLESS that Bishop taught what the Apostles taught. How does a Bishop living long after the original Apostles were gone know what they taught? By studying and teaching what those Apostles wrote in the New Testament Canon. Mnay Church Fathers taught and stated clearly that if a Bishop, or even a Council of Bishops taught ANYTHING not clearly taught in the New Testament or is contrary to the New Testament then the Faithful Christians were under no obligation to believe, follow or obey what those Bishop or Bishops in Council taught.

By that standard I would have still been a faithful Catholic while denying the false Dogmas of Purgatory, all the Marian Dogmas, Papal Supremacy and Papal Infallibility and repudiating the Council of Trent and accepting the Biblical view of Justification as taught by the Protestant Reformers, which IS the Biblical teaching on Justification, and denying that it is necessary to "do Penance" and confess my sins to a Man-in-a-box in order to gain pardon and forgiveness.

Turretinfan said...

"James White thinks that anyone who signed that is an idiot."

Add that to the list of Bellisario's falsehoods.

Turretinfan said...

"Hey natamllc, so you agree with Wills and his Biblical scholarship? Yes or no will do."

Since when do people accept scholarship on a binary basis? Even the best scholars are human beings.

-TurretinFan

Constantine said...

Hello Paul Hoffer,

You are certainly correct that one’s education does not make one honest. But just like in the law, the burden is on the accuser and not the accused. Perhaps at some point you can tell us exactly where Dr. Wills lied. As I mentioned to Matthew earlier, you may well indict Catholic higher education and indeed Catholic seminary training in the process.

I will certainly defer to you on the issue of Fr. Brown not having had the time to study him. But I am not aware of any evidence that the Catholic hierarchy does “not recognize Wills in any way shape or form.” Has he been excommunicated? Has his bishop disciplined him? Other than the to-be-expected harangue from the Catholic League, I am not aware of any such censure. Admittedly, I may be wrong and will be glad to have that information if it is available. I am just not aware of any “magisterial” rebuke against him.

It seems to me that Wills is just doing what Augustine did in regards to Pope Zosimus. Respectfully, but pointedly, pursuing the truth.

Paul Hoffer writes:

What is not mentioned is the fact that Schatz opined there that based even on the historical record, the definition of papal primacy is historically maintainable and justifiable (pg. 177)

Well, that certainly conflicts with this quote from Schatz:


“A judicial superiority of one church over another, or certainly anything like papal primacy of jurisdiction, was completely foreign to Ignatius or Irenaeus [in the second century], or even Augustine [in the fourth]…In particular, all kinds of thinking in categories of hierarchical subordination or superiority will lead us astray”.

Fr. Klaus Schatz, S.J. Papal Primacy. Tr. James Sievert. Liturgical Press, 1996).


Why do you think Fr. Schatz would, in one instance, say any “thinking in categories of hierarchical subordination…will lead us astray” and then say the opposite in your citation? That seems very curious to me.

Peace.

Pilgrimsarbour said...

MB said: With all of his education he still thinks that St. Paul did not write some of his letters and that he did not believe he was a Christian, etc, etc. The same principles he uses to come to these conclusions are the same deranged principles he uses to come to his other conclusions which you are so quick to call "honest", "dead on" scholarship.

PA said: Once again we see this bizarre attitude that says that if we don't accept all of the conclusions of some scholar "lock, stock and barrel," then we're all hypocrites or something.

Constantine said: Secondly, why is it so hard for you to believe that any scholar can be right on some issues and wrong on others?

TF said: Since when do people accept scholarship on a binary basis? Even the best scholars are human beings.

PA says: My points exactly, and MB continues to require scholars to be perfect. In MB world we don't have the right or ability to question their conclusions and reject that which we find untenable while retaining that which they got right. If there is something with which MB doesn't agree, the entire work must be thrown out without any critical interaction with it. One can't do apologetics that way, much less Roman Catholic apologetics.

Constantine said...

Investigation into this whole topic of dissent in the Catholic church has resulted in some very interesting findings.

Here is one worth sharing:

“Perhaps the best and clearest explanation of the meaning of and criteria for dissent, or nonreception, is Richard A. McCormick’s “The Church and Dissent: How Vatican II Ushered in a New Way of Thinking.”
Therein he lists twelve factors tht have encouraged a new critical awareness in the Church and have helped to explain the emergence of dissent…in the post-Vatican II Church. Each factor…is positively affirmed in Vatican II’s Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World…: (1) changing times…(2) newness of problems…(3) variety of competence in the Church…(4) openness to the sciences…(5) freedom of theological inquiry and speech…; (6) the Church’s modesty about it own competence (7) the independence of the sciences…(8) the fact of doctrinal development (the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation…)…(9) adaptation to practices (Decree on Eastern Catholic Churches…)…(10) acknowledgment of legitimate pluralism…(11) conciliar admission of errors and deficiencies (Decree on Ecumenism…)…and (12) the new task of theology, moving…”from a mere repetition of past formulas to a search for fresh and more appropriate ones, to much more innovation that was envisaged in the past.””

I think Wills’ work would fall under at least numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6…oh what the heck. He’s got them all covered.

Here’s the money quote….

“He concludes his detailed examination of dissent in the Church with a quotation from Pope John Paul II’s book The Acting Person, written prior to his election as pope in 1978: ”The structure of a human community is correct only if it admits not just presence of a justified opposition, but also that effectiveness of opposition which is required by the common good and the right of participation.”

(Richard McBrien. “The Church: The Evolution of Catholicism.” New York: Harper Collins, 2008.) pp. 325-326.

JPII seems to be on Wills’ side. Very interesting.

Peace.

Matthew Bellisario said...

"My points exactly, and MB continues to require scholars to be perfect. In MB world we don't have the right or ability to question their conclusions and reject that which we find untenable while retaining that which they got right"

So you are saying that you examined Mr. Wills' points on what you agree with and scrutinized his findings, using the sources and principles he applies to come to his conclusions? You all have done this and concluded that everything that he agrees with that dismantles Rome's claims to the papacy are "honest" and "dead-on" scholarship, while you have examined the conclusions he has made on Sacred Scripture, using the same principles, ect, and you have found them to be incorrect? Give me a break. You have not done any serious research concerning any of this. You simply look for any "scholar" who claims to be "Catholic" who went to a "Catholic" school that agrees, or seems to agree with you on some premise that debunks a claim of the Catholic Church. It is a joke, and no Catholic takes any of these erroneous conclusions that you guys come up with seriously. If you want to know why only get one or two liners from many Catholics who come on here, it is because you are all a joke, that is why.

John Bugay said...

Matthew, you want to hear a good joke? Your buddy Pope Benedict XVI, then Cardinal Ratzinger, in his "Called to Communion," quotes from the New Testament Scholar Joachim Jeremias. (Pg 22, for example, but I have seen others.)

That means Benedict/Ratzinger endorses everything that Jeremias says, right?

Constantine said...

You have not done any serious research concerning any of this.

How would you know? Were you there? (I think that’s the hermeneutic you use.)

You simply look for any "scholar" who claims to be "Catholic" who went to a "Catholic" school that agrees, or seems to agree with you on some premise that debunks a claim of the Catholic Church.

No. The scholars quoted ARE Catholic and DID go to Catholic schools. Their work has never been censured by the Church nor have they been disciplined by their local bishops so their work, by definition, must be congruent with the claims of the Catholic church. Unless, of course, you claim that Rome is not capable of policing its flock.

It is a joke, and no Catholic takes any of these erroneous conclusions that you guys come up with seriously.

The Catholics that are quoted take it quite seriously, I assure you. And, applying your hermeneutic to this situation, “Have you talked to ALL Catholics to be sure that none of them agrees?”

Peace.

John Bugay said...

Constantine -- good point there.

Matthew -- have you sent your one-liner to Ratzinger for having agreed 100% with Jeremias (by citing him)?

Matthew Bellisario said...

"Their work has never been censured by the Church nor have they been disciplined by their local bishops so their work, by definition, must be congruent with the claims of the Catholic church."

Constantine, you are out of your mind if you think such a thing. Just because there is no written study conducted on every Tom, Dick and Harry that went to a Catholic college does not mean they are all automatically endorsed by the Church in any official capacity. You are a fool if you think such a thing, and we can all see that rational reasoning is not your are of expertise. Such an argument would never hold in any serious court as sound evidence. Going by that standard then anyone who has gone to a Catholic college and has published a book on Catholicism is automatically endorsed by the Vatican. Again, you see why no one pays attention to you people. Hey

Bugay, show me where you investigated all of Wills' scholarship on the subjects in which you have backed him in. My guess you haven't a clue as to what research he has done on these subjects. You just looked for a few quotes of people that may agree with your position and you cite them as if you have some sort of iron clad case against the claims of the Catholic Church. Its a wonder as to why people like you leave the Church.

John Bugay said...

I left the Roman Church because its teachings are not biblical, and it's rationale for saying it has the "authority" to "develop" things is just beyond credibility.

Pilgrimsarbour said...

Matthew,

My comments deal with general principles only regarding the reading of scholarly works, not Mr. Wills in particular. I have not done any research of any kind on Mr. Wills, nor did I claim such familiarity. I am merely pointing out, as a general rule, that we should not automatically throw out everything a scholar says merely because we disagree with some of the things he says. A scholar's methodologies can be inconsistent, either to his benefit or to his detriment as well, so that is also not a good argument. He is, after all, only human.

You'll notice that I at no time in my comments referred to Mr. Wills specifically in any way. If you wish to discuss Mr. Wills specifically, then John Bugay or perhaps Constantine can better assist you.

Blessings in Christ,

Pilgrimsarbour

Matthew Bellisario said...

"I left the Roman Church because its teachings are not biblical,"

That is your erroneous opinion, nothing more. Without the Catholic Church you have no Bible.

Constantine said...

Constantine, you are out of your mind if you think such a thing.

Ok, if that’s true please show me.

Just because there is no written study conducted on every Tom, Dick and Harry that went to a Catholic college does not mean they are all automatically endorsed by the Church in any official capacity.

Slow down, Champ. My point was the exact opposite of the one you “think” I was making. I make no claim that the Catholic church “endorsed” Dr. Wills, in this example. My point – read this slowly – is I don’t know of any instance where he has been officially censored. Not endorsed….c e n s o r e d. See the difference?

You are a fool if you think such a thing, and we can all see that rational reasoning is not your are of expertise.

I’m always grateful to be the recipient of Catholic charity, especially from an official source like you. I would never accuse you of rational reasoning!

Such an argument would never hold in any serious court as sound evidence.

Well, since you got the argument backwards, why should we trust your understanding about a court, serious or otherwise?

Going by that standard then anyone who has gone to a Catholic college and has published a book on Catholicism is automatically endorsed by the Vatican.

Not e n d o r s e m e n t. You got it backwards, again pmahC!

Again, you see why no one pays attention to you people.

Well, given the constant attention you pay us here, may we take this as a self assessment and that you are a “no one”?

Read slower Matthew. Subtle concepts elude you.

Peace.

Constantine said...

Without the Catholic Church you have no Bible.

Doggone it, John. I thought we have been over this.

Moses didn't have a bible,Joshua didn't have a bible, Ezekiel didn't have a bible, Isaiah didn't have a bible. Neither did Daniel, David, Solomon, Jonah, Micah and those other OT guys.

I know, I know. Jesus quoted them...but that's because He had a special dispensation from Rome.

I hope we can be done with this foolishness once and for all.

Just ask Bellisario.

Matthew Bellisario said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matthew Bellisario said...

"Not endorsed….c e n s o r e d. See the difference?"

So what? As I said, just because he is not censored, does not mean that their theology is "dead on" like you guys claim. In other words, let me make this clear so you can understand. Just because they are not C E N S O R E D, does not mean they are E N D O R S E D. See the connection here? One does not equal the other. No one cares if they are censored or not. As I said before the bishops do not have time to examine every clown who has gone to a Catholic college and has written a book. Understand? See the difference? Learn to put together coherent arguments or quit posting.

Matthew Bellisario said...

"I hope we can be done with this foolishness once and for all."

Only if you quit posting. The Catholic Church is not the one who rejected the early Christian canon of Scripture, you are.

Constantine said...

No. You are!

(I just wanted to see what it was like to argue like a Catholic!)

Constantine said...

No. You quit posting!


(Hey, I'm getting pretty good at this Catholic argument thing!)

Matthew Bellisario said...

And just so everyone can see what a liar you are, let us look at what you wrote and how you wrote it Constantine.

"No. The scholars quoted ARE Catholic and DID go to Catholic schools. Their work has never been censured by the Church nor have they been disciplined by their local bishops so their work, by definition, must be congruent with the claims of the Catholic church."

So your plain argument here is that since they are not C E N S U R E D, they must be congruent (That means agree with) with the claims of the Catholic Church. Again this is absurd and only a fool would ever come up with an argument like this. I guess everyone who is Catholic and went to a Catholic college and wrote a book, in Constantine's mind they can be assumed to be teaching the Catholic faith in total agreement with the Church. If you are that stupid then it is no wonder that you reject the truth.

Paul Hoffer said...

Hi Constantine, not having Fr. Schatz's book in front of me, I did find this link that shows that Wills did misquote Schatz:

http://catholicanalysis.blogspot.com/2003/01/editors-note-below-is-reprint-of.html


His American history work is just as bad: come up with a view and cherry-pick stuff to support it.

Many Blessings!

Constantine said...

"Not endorsed….c e n s o r e d. See the difference?"

So what? As I said, just because he is not censored, does not mean that their theology is "dead on" like you guys claim.

But if he’s not censored you can’t claim he isn’t “dead on”. Unless you retreat to that ubiquitous Roman “private interpretation” your so good at.

And, absent any official criticism – from a bishop, the USCCB, the Curia, etc. – why should we believe your criticism?

Matthew Bellisario said...

I want to see how Constantine's idea works in a court of law. If a guy who has a law degree from a state sponsored school and has never had the state courts censure the guy's work, then whatever he writes has to hold up in a court of law, correct? I mean it is just like Wills. He has a Catholic degree, he has never been censured. Try that one out the next time you get a ticket. Find some idiot that wrote a book, who is a scholar and has a degree from a prestigious law school who says that the court should not be able to fine you for speeding, and see how that flies. You can just tell the court, "Hey, the State court never censured this guy's work, so we must assume that it is congruent with state law." What a joke. After all he has a degree form a real law school, and he has never been censured by the courts, so we should all just assume that his work is congruent with the law of the land. We will all be laughing while you pay the ticket.

Paul Hoffer said...

Mr. Bugay, in regards to Mr. Wills, the history of the Church shows that responding to heretical garbage is part of the Magisterial process. We would not have had the Nicea without Arius or St. Augustine's beautiful works on grace without Pelagius and Arius and Pelagius both thought they were being orthodox in expressing their views. It is their reaction to the decisions of the Church and rejecting them that makes those guys heretics.

As far as the first century church goes, I certainly believe that the Scriptures demonstrate that there was a hierarchical Church from the get go. Moreover, the Scriptures show that the same Church retained the pastoral, prophetic and priestly offices that Christ endowed it which are embodied in the fullest sense in the episcopacy. After that I do acknowledge that it does get a little fuzzy if for no other reason because the historical record is incomplete. Does this shake my faith? Not at all! What it does do is cause me to work harder.

God bless!

Matthew Bellisario said...

"But if he’s not censored you can’t claim he isn’t “dead on”. Unless you retreat to that ubiquitous Roman “private interpretation” your so good at."

No, we have the clear teaching of the Church to tell us that is not "dead on." Again, you seem to not understand anything about how the Church teaches doctrine, and I find it amusing that you think that anyone who has not been censured by a bishop, who has a Catholic degree and has written a book, is to be assumed to be 100% a OK in their faithfulness to Catholic doctrine. I just cannot believe that your buddies are going along with this foolish reasoning. Again, we see either the dishonesty, or lack of sound reasoning of the entire band of Prot posters here.

Constantine said...

So your plain argument here is that since they are not C E N S U R E D, they must be congruent (That means agree with) with the claims of the Catholic Church.

That is Catholic history, Champ. Let me help you with some research.

The partial works of Dante, Descartes, Voltaire, Rousseau, Victor Hugo and Dumas have been censured. The complete works of Diderot, Balzac, Emile Zola, Anatole France and Jean-Paul Sartre among others. Hans Kueng was officially censured.

Do you have ANY information like that on Wills or any others that have been quoted here?

I didn’t think so.

Tacit approval is still approval, Champ.

Constantine said...

If a guy who has a law degree from a state sponsored school and has never had the state courts censure the guy's work, then whatever he writes has to hold up in a court of law, correct?

If by “hold up” you mean “can be presented in”, then yes. If the court finds any serious errors with the attorney’s work, he will be censured. Further, the rebuke by the court will be a public record accessible by all.

Has the Catholic “court” ever done that with Wills?

Your example backfired, Champ. Which is typical.

Constantine said...

No, we have the clear teaching of the Church to tell us that is not "dead on."

Please tell me where this “clear teaching” conflicts with Wills.

Yea…I didn’t think so…..

Matthew Bellisario said...

In case you do not know, the courts do not check every law graduates book that has been written to see if it is legit. The Catholic Church also does not go and examine every Catholic graduates work for errors either. As far as I know, Wills has never submitted his works to the Vatican to be put forth and printed as doctrine, or for this comparison, law. Are really this dense or are you just pretending?

John Bugay said...

Paul Hoffer As far as the first century church goes, I certainly believe that the Scriptures demonstrate that there was a hierarchical Church from the get go.

Would love to see you dismantle Sullivan's work, then, point by point.

Constantine said...

I find it amusing that you think that anyone who has not been censured by a bishop, who has a Catholic degree and has written a book, is to be assumed to be 100% a OK in their faithfulness to Catholic doctrine.

You haven’t been censured (I am willing to give you the benefit of the doubt), you have a blog so we shouldn’t assume that you are “a OK” right champ? Did I get YOUR standard right?

Matthew Bellisario said...

"You haven’t been censured (I am willing to give you the benefit of the doubt)"

Really, then why in the hell are you arguing with me then? Are you off of your rocker?

natamllc said...

Thanks MB for the endorsements!

You wrote in response, this:

No one cares if they are censored or not.

Seeing I was trapped in the RCC for a youth full period of time, I would take the time to find out why somebody was censored by the RCC Magisterium! Most likely the reason they would be censored would be the same reason I would be?

Maybe not??

John Bugay said...

Where have all those nuns gone who used to like to crack our knuckles with their rulers?

natamllc said...

You had those Nuns too?

Were you at St. Bernard's on Harrison St.? :)

John Bugay said...

Precisely!

Constantine said...

"You haven’t been censured (I am willing to give you the benefit of the doubt)"

Really, then why in the hell are you arguing with me then? Are you off of your rocker?


Well, let’s see. Wills hasn’t been censored so why the H*&^ do you argue about him?

Are you off your rocker?

Matthew Bellisario said...

"Well, let’s see. Wills hasn’t been censored so why the H*&^ do you argue about him?"

Because I don't hold to such idiotic position where I think that anyone with a Catholic degree is to be assumed to be teaching the Catholic faith, that is why. You are the one making such boneheaded claims.

Constantine said...

Because I don't hold to such idiotic position where I think that anyone with a Catholic degree is to be assumed to be teaching the Catholic faith, that is why. You are the one making such boneheaded claims.

Well, I agree with you Champ and certainly wouldn’t give credence to anyone with a “Catholic” degree either – given that it’s built on such a shaky foundation.

In fact, I’ll be the first to admit that Wills makes mistakes. And, in an effort to extend an olive branch, I’ll share one with you. This quote is from page 64 of his book entitled, “Why I am a Catholic” (Houghton Mifflin, 2002).

“Protestants who would later say that only the Bible should be trusted, not the church, forgot how the Bible was created by the church during this time of sifting, to reach apostolic consensus. The Bible was what the church (the six apostolic communities) said it was.”

So, see? Wills is capable of glaring mistakes like this one! But that doesn’t discredit him completely. And it doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be used as a source especially in those cases where he is correct.

Lvka said...

THIS should silence your Protestant anti-clerical calumnies once and for all !...

Constantine said...

Hey Lvka,

I don't know if your movie silenced us....because it wouldn't play.

Don't you wish God would quit messing around like that!

Peace.

Matthew Bellisario said...

Constanine says, "Well, I agree with you Champ and certainly wouldn’t give credence to anyone with a “Catholic” degree either – given that it’s built on such a shaky foundation."

So, you are now going against what you wrote earlier when you said,

"No. The scholars quoted ARE Catholic and DID go to Catholic schools. Their work has never been censured by the Church nor have they been disciplined by their local bishops so their work, by definition, must be congruent with the claims of the Catholic church."

Are you now admitting that you were making an erroneous claim when you said that just because a guys like Wills who went to a Catholic school and had not been formally censured meant that he must be congruent with the claims of the Catholic Church?

Turretinfan said...

"Because I don't hold to such idiotic position where I think that anyone with a Catholic degree is to be assumed to be teaching the Catholic faith, that is why."

Who decides who teaches "the Catholic faith," you - me - or the "Catholic" universities and Roman Catholic hierarchy?

Please enlighten me.

Alexander said...

Turretinfan, how about looking at what these "Catholic" authors are writing compared to promulgated doctrine. Can't be that difficult dude, and the fact that you don't understand this is troubling. It doesn't matter if they are Catholic University graduates, professors, or chaplians - or even bishops - if they are teaching things opposed to promulgated doctrine then we can't say that they are teaching the faith. This isn't protestantism bud.

By the way, is it settled that you are not going to follow thru with your debate on Augustine with Paul Hoffer that you committed to a long time ago? Can't keep your word, can you? More of the Protestant ethos.

Constantine said...

…how about looking at what these "Catholic" authors are writing compared to promulgated doctrine. Can't be that difficult dude

OK, dude. How 'bout it?

I provided one example for Bellisario but haven't seen any response as to what Dr. Wills has written that's outside of "promulgated doctrine."

BTW - who is the chief promulgator so we no how to check your answer?

Lvka said...

I've fixed it! And THIS time it WILL play! And it WILL silence ALL your arguments! ONCE and FOR ALL! :-)

Turretinfan said...

"Turretinfan, how about looking at what these "Catholic" authors are writing compared to promulgated doctrine. Can't be that difficult dude, and the fact that you don't understand this is troubling. It doesn't matter if they are Catholic University graduates, professors, or chaplians - or even bishops - if they are teaching things opposed to promulgated doctrine then we can't say that they are teaching the faith. This isn't protestantism bud."

It's not hard to compare what your church teaches to Scripture. You should do that, and reject what your church teaches because it is contrary to Scripture.

- TurretinFan

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"It's not hard to compare what your church teaches to Scripture. You should do that, and reject what your church teaches because it is contrary to Scripture."

Where in Scripture is the Marian dogmas?

Where in Scripture is the teaching on indulgences?

Alexander said...

I provided one example for Bellisario but haven't seen any response as to what Dr. Wills has written that's outside of "promulgated doctrine."

Wills argues that there was no apostolic succession, and even more heretical, that St. Peter wasn't even a bishop. If you don't understand that as being against promulgated doctrine, then there isn't much use in continuing any further with you on this topic. If you wish to be entirely one-sided by only consulting heretics like Wills and McBrien, then don't expect any of us to take your sewer apologetics seriously.

BTW - who is the chief promulgator so we no how to check your answer?

After all this time going over this, if you still do not know, then my spoon-feeding you the information will not help. You are going to have to think a little bit. It might be hard and uncomfortable in the beginning, but you'll be happy you did it.

It's not hard to compare what your church teaches to Scripture. You should do that, and reject what your church teaches because it is contrary to Scripture.

That's rich coming from someone who's faith community can't even decide whether divorce and remarriage is permissible. If you can give me a definitive answer on that, along with the other ethical issues your faith community can't decide, then I will consider whether your interpretation of Scripture rejects my Church's doctrines.

If there is a contradiction, I have yet to see it. I certainly haven't found it here.

If Paul Hoffer dresses up like Ergun Caner, would you then follow thru with your committed debate with him on Augustine?

Where in Scripture is the Marian dogmas?

Where in Scripture is the teaching on indulgences?


Where in Scripture does it teach that all doctrine must be taught in Scripture? Why should I assume that your presupposition is correct?

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Where in Scripture is the Marian dogmas?

Where in Scripture is the teaching on indulgences?

(Alexander) Where in Scripture does it teach that all doctrine must be taught in Scripture? Why should I assume that your presupposition is correct?


We're getting somewhere. At least you're tacitly conceding that the Marian dogmas and indulgences are not based on Scripture.

natamllc said...

I guess grabbing the dog by his ears is costly?

But, I will put on some thick leather gloves then!

Alex,

you are so funny! I never once thought of dear TurrentinFan as a "dude"!

Hey dude, what's up? :)

I see TUAD focused right away on the very thing I did too! Hmmmmm?

Alex dude, you wrote: "
Where in Scripture does it teach that all doctrine must be taught in Scripture? Why should I assume that your presupposition is correct?


I would put forth a verse and just comment on another where in Scripture the "King" is instructed to have written his own copy of the Scriptures.

Here's the verse:

Act 20:32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.


Now Alex dude, I think you might want to think about what God was thinking about when Luke captured those thoughts of the Apostle Paul thinking about how easy it is for us to be led astray?

It would be thoughtful of you to think it through and then come let us think it through with you? Just a thought I was thinking after thinking about that thought TUAD and I focused on above published by you??

Matthew Bellisario said...

The fact is, Turretin Fan has been too busy with along side his master Dr. White in attacking Caner for the past 6 months he apparently hasn't had time to do much else. I await the debate that he agreed to long ago with Paul Hoffer on St. Augustine. I doubt TF is man enough to follow through with that however.

It is also unfortunate that these guys cannot tell the difference between an individual opinion and that of the Catholic Church. I guess when your whole religion is based on the opinion of men, then this should come as no surprise.

Alexander said...

We're getting somewhere. At least you're tacitly conceding that the Marian dogmas and indulgences are not based on Scripture.

You are reading too far into it. I haven't tacitly conceded anything. What I have done is attack your presupposition that we must find these doctrines, or any doctrine for that matter, taught in Scripture. It is one thing to say that Scripture explicitly teaches against a doctrine. It is another thing entirely to say that Scripture must teach it in order for a doctrine to be held definitively.

Alexander said...

natamllc,

I have no earthly clue as to what you are talking about. I never have a clue as to what you are talking about.

I even have a mentally handicapped brother, and have spent my entire life interacting with him and those in a similar situation...I also have two toddlers...and I still never have a clue as to what you are talking about.

I'm sorry I can't interact with your comments.

natamllc said...

Alex,

well and good, at least you did not bite! :)

Just a thought of yours then. Alex, you wrote:

"You are going to have to think a little bit. It might be hard and uncomfortable in the beginning, but you'll be happy you did it.

So, question?

Why is it we have to do all the thinking and you get a pass?

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Alexander writes:

Where in Scripture does it teach that all doctrine must be taught in Scripture? Why should I assume that your presupposition is correct?

One way to defend this is as follows:

(1) All doctrine must be based on God's Word.

(2) God's Word is only available today in Scripture.

Therefore,

(3) All doctrine must be based on Scripture.

I don't think you'd deny the first premise; that is clearly based on what Scripture teaches about the authority of God's communication with his people. And since the conclusion flows from the first two, you're left with the unenviable task of denying the second.

If Paul Hoffer dresses up like Ergun Caner, would you then follow thru with your committed debate with him on Augustine?

If Turretinfan dressed up like Jesus, would you finally treat him with a modicum of decency? Or are you rude and abrasive to everyone?

Turretinfan said...

"It is also unfortunate that these guys cannot tell the difference between an individual opinion and that of the Catholic Church."

Your inconsistency is amazing. You expect us to use our private judgment to figure out which of your church's scholars (none of whom are under any kind of public, discernible discipline) are in harmony with your church's teaching - and you yourself think yourself capable of this.

On the other hand, you refuse to exercise your judgment to compare your church to the teachings and practices of the prophets and apostles as set forth in Holy Scripture - and you balk at the idea of letting us use our judgment that way either.

"I guess when your whole religion is based on the opinion of men, then this should come as no surprise."

We follow the Word of God as written in the Holy Scriptures. You unintentionally mock God's Word when you describe our religion as you do.

-TurretinFan

John said...

"you're left with the unenviable task of denying the second."

Nothing unenviable about it.

Matthew D. Schultz said...

John writes:

Nothing unenviable about it.

Then it should be a simple matter to show how the second premise is false. As it stands, Roman Catholic lay-apologetics (and scholarship) on this point has been particularly weak. But perhaps the Eastern Orthodox denomination has a better argument or two to offer.

John said...

"you balk at the idea of letting us use our judgment that way either."

You mean... like Calvin?

"Next come Pastors and Teachers, with whom the Church never can dispense, and .. that teachers preside not over discipline, or the administration of the sacraments, or admonitions, or exhortations, but the interpretation of Scripture only, in order that pure and sound doctrine may be maintained among believers." Institutes Book IV.

John said...

"it should be a simple matter to show how the second premise is false."

Its generally the role of the person presenting a premise to defend it.

Premise: 37 angels can dance on the head of a pin. Should be a simple matter for you to show this is false.... RIGHT?

Matthew D. Schultz said...

John writes:

Its generally the role of the person presenting a premise to defend it.

First you imply it's easy to deny the premise, yet now you are asking me to defend it. Why the change? If it's easy to deny, it's easy to deny. Make good on your claim.

But even if you won't, I'll take your objection on its own terms.

The defense is rather simple (unless you are asking me to defend a universal negative); I have no experience of anything outside of Scripture available today that would count as the Word of God. As I became a Christian, I was aware that the Scriptures counted as the Word of God. Nothing since then has been presented to defeat the range of this scope. But if you have something which qualifies as part of the Word of God that is not Scripture, then present it.

Premise: 37 angels can dance on the head of a pin. Should be a simple matter for you to show this is false.... RIGHT?

That's an analogy without any supporting argument. If you think the scenario is analogous to me asking you to disprove that some random number of angels can dance on the head of a pin, then demonstrate as much.

However, in the spirit of unsupported analogies, the scenario is much more like the following:

Suppose a group of historians regularly work with a body of documents they know to be attributed to Ancient Person X (APX). These are all of the documents attributed to APX that have been found through generations of meticulous scholarship, archeological findings, etc. Suppose, also, that this group of historians publishes a volume called The Complete Works of APX. Then suppose someone comes along and says, "Prove that these are the complete body of works that are available today!" Well, it can't be done (at lest in some critical ways) logically, in as much as an air-tight demonstration, as it could always be possible that another document exists which could be added to the APX corpus. But this possibility would be so low as to render this a pointless objection.

But then suppose that this same objector proceeds to actively deny that this new published volume is the complete corpus of APX. He claims that he knows of additional works that should be added. But who would think that the burden of proof in this scenario would be on the historians? Would it not be on the one who claims that he has additional works to add to the APX corpus?

So, John, deny the premise. Otherwise, I think I have good evidence, given the scope of my experience, to say it is very highly probable to be true.

John said...

"I have no experience of anything outside of Scripture available today that would count as the Word of God."

Uh huh. So at the end of the day, you can't at all support your contention, all you can do is say that you only know about, and/or believe in a particular subset of the word of God.

Funnily, most of the cases where this subset refers to "the Word of God", it isn't actually referring to itself or written words.

Other people, like St Basil knew of more:

"Concerning the teachings of the Church, whether publicly proclaimed, the kerygma, or reserved to members of the household of faith, dogmata, we have received some from written sources while others have been given to us secretly through Apostolic Tradition. Both sources have equal force in true religion. No one would deny either source, no one at any rate who is even slightly familiar with the ordinances of the Church. If we attacked unwritten customs claiming them to be of little importance, we would fatally mutilate the gospel, no matter what our intentions or rather we would reduce the gospel teaching to bare words."

or St Cyril:
"I long ago desired trueborn and dearly beloved of the Church to discourse to you these spiritual and heavenly mysterious, but knowing well that seeing is far more persuasive than hearing, I waited until this season that finding you more open to the influence of my words from your experience, I might take and lead you to the brighter and more fragrant meadow of the present paradise, especially as you have been made fit to receive the more sacred mysteries having been counted worthy of divine and life-giving baptism."

In other words, I could’ve explained this to you all beforehand, but it would’ve fallen on deaf ears because until you see it, you’re not going to understand it.

"But then suppose that this same objector proceeds to actively deny that this new published volume is the complete corpus of APX. He claims that he knows of additional works that should be added. But who would think that the burden of proof in this scenario would be on the historians?"

The problem with this analogy, is that the Church is in the position of being the official historians, and then some upstarts (you) are coming along and denying the accepted corpus of works. Now who has the burden?

John said...

"I have no experience of anything outside of Scripture available today that would count as the Word of God."

Uh huh. So at the end of the day, you can't at all support your contention, all you can do is say that you only know about, and/or believe in a particular subset of the word of God.

Funnily, most of the cases where this subset refers to "the Word of God", it isn't actually referring to itself or written words.

Other people, like St Basil knew of more:

"Concerning the teachings of the Church, whether publicly proclaimed, the kerygma, or reserved to members of the household of faith, dogmata, we have received some from written sources while others have been given to us secretly through Apostolic Tradition. Both sources have equal force in true religion. No one would deny either source, no one at any rate who is even slightly familiar with the ordinances of the Church. If we attacked unwritten customs claiming them to be of little importance, we would fatally mutilate the gospel, no matter what our intentions or rather we would reduce the gospel teaching to bare words."

or St Cyril:
"I long ago desired trueborn and dearly beloved of the Church to discourse to you these spiritual and heavenly mysterious, but knowing well that seeing is far more persuasive than hearing, I waited until this season that finding you more open to the influence of my words from your experience, I might take and lead you to the brighter and more fragrant meadow of the present paradise, especially as you have been made fit to receive the more sacred mysteries having been counted worthy of divine and life-giving baptism."

In other words, I could’ve explained this to you all beforehand, but it would’ve fallen on deaf ears because until you see it, you’re not going to understand it.

John said...

"But then suppose that this same objector proceeds to actively deny that this new published volume is the complete corpus of APX. He claims that he knows of additional works that should be added. But who would think that the burden of proof in this scenario would be on the historians?"

The problem with this analogy, is that the Church is in the position of being the official historians, and then some upstarts (you) are coming along and denying the accepted corpus of works. Now who has the burden?

John Bugay said...

Matthew Bellisario -- Turretinfan and Dr. White are providing an extremely valuable service for the church. As you know first-hand from being Roman Catholic, there is a tendency among some who claim to believe in Christ to turn follow myths and legend as if following reality.

Liberty University is a prominent Christian university, and Turretinfan and Dr. White are working to assure that someone like Dr. Caner continues to operate on a factual basis.

Now, one thing you don't seem to understand, being Catholic, is the importance of living our lives and operating our institutions according to the truth. But rest assured, there is a benefit to it.

Matthew D. Schultz said...

John writes:

Uh huh. So at the end of the day, you can't at all support your contention, all you can do is say that you only know about, and/or believe in a particular subset of the word of God.

Was that an argument? I missed where you attached any supporting reasoning to your claim that I cannot support my contention.

And, of course, I know just as you know that the extent of God's Word isn't more than the current extent you believe it to be. We all base these kinds of beliefs on available evidence. It's possible that more evidence could be brought about to expand the content of God's Word we think we have available to us, but you wouldn't think your position indefensible merely because of that possibility. To the contrary, you argue as if your experience justifies you to say that Eastern Orthodoxy has properly set the bounds of God's Word, and that no more is available today than what it has identified.

Funnily, most of the cases where this subset refers to "the Word of God", it isn't actually referring to itself or written words.

Let's take your gratuitous assertion and assume it's true. What then? How does that affect my position? I qualified my statement with the phrase available today. Unless these references can be produced for viewing, you haven't show anything.

Other people, like St Basil knew of more:

1. Then present what they knew. What particular and specific Words of God are available today that Basil and Cyril reference?

2. So your private interpretation of these fathers is that they believed they had access to such Words. How does that translate into positive evidence for your position? You are begging the question with respect to the authority of their testimony.

The problem with this analogy, is that the Church is in the position of being the official historians, and then some upstarts (you) are coming along and denying the accepted corpus of works. Now who has the burden?

Since you're just begging the question with respect to: a) the legitimacy of Protestantism, b) the scope and authority of the Church, c) the identity of the Church, and d) the extent of God's Word the Church believes to have existed, I can say with at least some level of confidence that you've only added to your burden.

Now, down to the practical matter, which you are seemingly avoiding. What are the specific Words of God, outside of Scripture and available today, for us to draw doctrine from? Do you have them? Can I read them? See them? Hear them? What documents are they contained in? And once you've produced these Words, how will you then verify to us Protestants that they are, indeed, the very Words of God, and not false claimants?

If you can't meet this identification requirement, your implied claim that it is easy to deny the second premise is shown to be quite the opposite.

John Bugay said...

Matthew Schultz -- you rock!

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

"I missed where you attached any supporting reasoning to your claim that I cannot support my contention."

You said that XYZ must be true, because that is the only truth you are aware of. That sounds to me like promoting ignorance as a source of knowledge.

"To the contrary, you argue as if your experience justifies you to say that Eastern Orthodoxy has properly set the bounds of God's Word, and that no more is available today than what it has identified."

Where did I say that? Orthodoxy claims to know where the Word of God is. It doesn't claim to have exhaustive knowledge of where it is not. As John 3 says, the Spirit breaths where He desires.

"Let's take your gratuitous assertion and assume it's true. What then? How does that affect my position?"

It highlights how you are promoting ignorance as a source of knowledge.

"Then present what they knew."

Oh boy. Read Cyril again. Do you understand what he is saying?

"What particular and specific Words of God are available today "

The Word of God is not just letters on paper. The Word of God is a person. Tradition is an extension of the life of Christ who is the word of God into the life of the Church. And that message is presented in many ways other than simply words.

This is why your ignorance and your dismissal of how the Word of God is used in scripture is so tragic. Its usually not the words on the page, it is the message of Christ as outpoured IN the church BY the Church. And that message and information is presented in many ways other than just prose.

John said...

"You are begging the question with respect to the authority of their testimony."

Its a matter of consistency. I accept their testimony about what the written word of God is, why would I reject their testimony about the non-written? You accept one, and reject the other.

"Since you're just begging the question with respect to: a) the legitimacy of Protestantism, b) the scope and authority of the Church, c) the identity of the Church, and d) the extent of God's Word the Church believes to have existed, I can say with at least some level of confidence that you've only added to your burden."

You proposed a simplistic analogy, and in that context, Protestantism is clearly a group "protesting" against the status quo, or the "historians" who you presented as the entrenched consensus. That much ought to be obvious. Of course, feel free to now abandon your analogy.

"how will you then verify to us Protestants that they are, indeed, the very Words of God, and not false claimants?"

Still waiting for Protestants to "verify" that their particular authorities are indeed the correct set of God's Word without any reference to the Church. You want to give it a shot?

John said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matthew D. Schultz said...

John writes:

You said that XYZ must be true, because that is the only truth you are aware of. That sounds to me like promoting ignorance as a source of knowledge.

Your use of "must" and "ignorance" is tendentious and question begging, respectively. I've been saying that it's highly likely to be true given the knowledge that I have. If you believe you have more knowledge to offer that could change the belief system I have, go ahead and offer it. But to automatically describe my position as "ignorance" is a bit tedious.

And that's why I invited you to present arguments denying the second premise. What drives me is not an irrevocable commitment to only what is written, but an irrevocable commitment to following God's commands in whatever form they take. As it stands, I have yet to see God's commands be available in any other form today, and given the general and overt direction of Scripture toward using the written Words of God, I feel justified in holding the position I do.

Where did I say that? Orthodoxy claims to know where the Word of God is. It doesn't claim to have exhaustive knowledge of where it is not. As John 3 says, the Spirit breaths where He desires.

Whether or not you claim exhaustive knowledge is rather beside the point I was making. Your boundaries could be more vague and still my point about our held knowledge and possible knowledge that might overturn or modify our conclusions about that knowledge would be applicable.

Oh boy. Read Cyril again. Do you understand what he is saying?

Obviously you don't think I do. And, just for you, I went ahead and reread Cyril. And, just as I expected, there wasn't anything I missed. So why don't you dispense with the usual narrative of how dumb and sad us Protestants are and move to presenting and verifying the Words of God Cyril claims he has access to, or explaining why such a request is unreasonable.

The Word of God is not just letters on paper. The Word of God is a person. Tradition is an extension of the life of Christ who is the word of God into the life of the Church. And that message is presented in many ways other than simply words.

Since I allowed for your presentation and verification of Words of God outside of Scripture to come in a variety of forms in addition to a written form, I don't know what your comment has to do with what I wrote.

And if it exists in such numerous forms, it should be a simple case to present at least some of these forms for verification as truly the Words of God.

(Continued.)

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Its a matter of consistency. I accept their testimony about what the written word of God is, why would I reject their testimony about the non-written? You accept one, and reject the other.

Then you don't seem to be aware of how Protestant scholarship arrives at knowledge of the canon. The testimony of the early church plays one part of many. It does not stand or fall on the words of a few church fathers, if, indeed, your private interpretation of these fathers is correct.

Indeed, it becomes it's just a bit strange to think that we would accept the testimony of the fathers on Scripture if Scripture was only mentioned by them in the abstract and none of the modern Christians who claimed that Scripture existed today was willing to present the Scriptures for other people to read and verify as the Word of God.

So consistency in this case is to see if the other methods, principles, etc. we apply to the canon successfully apply to the additional Words of God you claim your denomination possesses. But since you are unwilling to present anything specific, I can't verify it through the means by which Protestants have verified the canon.

You proposed a simplistic analogy, and in that context, Protestantism is clearly a group "protesting" against the status quo, or the "historians" who you presented as the entrenched consensus. That much ought to be obvious. Of course, feel free to now abandon your analogy.

Then you didn't understand the analogy or you are simply changing it to fit your position and then charging me with abandoning what has become your analogy!

Of course, analogies are explanatory devices used to support arguments. I don't see why I'm under an obligation to defend it when I'm still defending the arguments the analogy was explaining. But you're welcome to try to make this some kind of rhetorical victory, if you think that will sufficiently distract from your unwillingness to present and verify additional Words of God outside of Scripture.

Still waiting for Protestants to "verify" that their particular authorities are indeed the correct set of God's Word without any reference to the Church. You want to give it a shot?

I don't know of anyone who makes such an argument without any reference to the Church. Even if the Church is reduced to a position of merely preserving the physical New Testament documents, it still plays an integral role in the identification and defense of the canon as authoritative.

While I've made such arguments in the past, you're confusing the issue. How I know Scripture to be an authority is a different question entirely than how I know whether something else qualifies as the Words of God in addition to Scripture. You might think I have no justification for believing that Scripture is true, but that's another matter entirely than responding to my request to prove that more than Scripture exists as the Word of God. But perhaps you mean, as all Catholic and Orthodox apologists eventually do, to suggest that we really can't know either the canon or the rest of the Words of God without going to the Church, suggesting that whatever arguments we give for the Words of God are really irrelevant since we need the Church whether or not we can defend additional Words of God on other grounds.

Alexander said...

If Turretinfan dressed up like Jesus, would you finally treat him with a modicum of decency? Or are you rude and abrasive to everyone?

When you and your band of heretics are able to practice what you preach, then come and instruct me. Once again you seem to have higher priorities in correcting me on minor issues while ignoring the larger infractions on your own side. As far as you seem to be concerned, Turretinfan can go back on his word, after promising someone a debate and causing that person to invest his time in preparation (and unlike Turretinfan who doesn't seem to have anything better to do than blog--and specifically blog about Ergun Caner--Paul Hoffer has a job). Once again you consult a sewer mentality for your ethical standards. I know Jesus, and Turretinfan is no Jesus. He is in opposition to Christ.


John is right, it is up to you to prove your premise. To my knowledge, you agree that at least at one time God's Word was not soley confined to Scripture. Now you believe that it is soley confined to Scripture. Since it went from not confined, to confined upon the completion of Scripture in your mind (which Protestants have bastardized other books of Scripture, and bastardized Scripture from the Church), then you must prove that.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Alexander: "Where in Scripture does it teach that all doctrine must be taught in Scripture? Why should I assume that your presupposition is correct?"

Me: "We're getting somewhere. At least you're tacitly conceding that the Marian dogmas and indulgences are not based on Scripture."

Alexander: "I haven't tacitly conceded anything. What I have done is attack your presupposition that we must find these doctrines, or any doctrine for that matter, taught in Scripture."

Yes, you have tacitly conceded it. You have tacitly conceded that the Marian dogmas and indulgences are not based on Scripture. You just don't realize it.

Here's another attempt to show you.

Protestants: "Roman Catholicism has unscriptural doctrines such as the Marian dogmas and indulgences."

Catholics: "Roman Catholicism has unscriptural doctrines such as the Marian dogmas and indulgences because the Church does not believe that all of its doctrines must be based upon or derived from Scripture."

Extract the greatest common factor from both statement:

Roman Catholicism has unscriptural doctrines.

Q.E.D.

You conceded it. Protestants know Catholics do it. Catholics know they do it. So just get over the fact that Catholicism has unscriptural doctrines. Why are you acting like your ashamed of this fact?

P.S. Word Verification: charch.

natamllc said...

"John" responding to Schultz wrote this:

The Word of God is not just letters on paper. The Word of God is a person. Tradition is an extension of the life of Christ who is the word of God into the life of the Church. And that message is presented in many ways other than simply words.

This is why your ignorance and your dismissal of how the Word of God is used in scripture is so tragic. Its usually not the words on the page, it is the message of Christ as outpoured IN the church BY the Church.


Again, "John" referencing Schultz, wrote:

Schultz
"To the contrary, you argue as if your experience justifies you to say that Eastern Orthodoxy has properly set the bounds of God's Word, and that no more is available today than what it has identified."

John
Where did I say that? Orthodoxy claims to know where the Word of God is. It doesn't claim to have exhaustive knowledge of where it is not. As John 3 says, the Spirit breaths where He desires.

"John" then charges Schultz as "ignorant".

Hmmmmmmmmm?

John, you are blinded by traditions and a false belief system.

You betrayed yourself by your reference to 3 John!

In the first citation I reference of yours above, you truly reveal the error deep within your soul that guides you into a blind spiritual ignorance of the Truth and that is the "burden" you need deliverance from!

What you have uncovered about yourself is in fact the very reason the RCC is charged by Reformational thinkers as an anti-Christ organization built upon a sand foundation and not built upon nor continuing to be built upon the Rock of Salvation.

In fact, I will be so bold and say, that spiritual being you refer to in that citation is not the Spirit of the Lord, but a false representative of Him.

Need I explain it further for you?

Matthew D. Schultz said...

The real point being, Alexander, that I don't know why we should spend time answering your objections when it is so decidedly unpleasant to interact with you. Even Jesus spent a great deal of time trying to win over the Pharisees to his love. But perhaps what you really want is to win by being a petty bully. If you think it's a fulfilling and virtuous Christian life and witness to your faith to be known only for your caustic and scathing tenor, and to invoke the (alleged) hypocrisy of opponents when challenged on this behavior, you are welcome to enjoy the inevitable obscurity your methods entail.

And, of course, we've been over whether or not I'm inconsistent in how I treat my fellow Protestants. As usual, you refuse to interact with what I've already said on the subject and merely return to repeat what's already been refuted.

John is right, it is up to you to prove your premise.

And prove a universal negative? No, that's impossible, at least in the sense you seem to think I have to "prove" it. As it stands, your request is confusing. All of us agree that Scripture is the Word of God. Why do you think I have to somehow prove (again, only as you seem to be using the word) that's all there is? Do I need to go out and evaluate every actual and possible candidate that claims to be additional Words of God? Or do you mean some kind of strictly logical demonstration? Either way, you seem to suggest a very high access requirement that would also overturn any ability for your to "prove" your own position.

As it stands, the Holy Spirit, through various means, has shown me that the Protestant canon is the Word of God. Since those means don't entail anything beyond the written Word, I am left only with the possibility that he could show me that something else qualifies. And if you're supposed to be the means by which he is going to do it, I'd kindly suggest you get your act together and start presenting evidence for evaluation.

(Continued.)

Matthew D. Schultz said...

To my knowledge, you agree that at least at one time God's Word was not soley confined to Scripture. Now you believe that it is soley confined to Scripture. Since it went from not confined, to confined upon the completion of Scripture in your mind (which Protestants have bastardized other books of Scripture, and bastardized Scripture from the Church), then you must prove that.

I only believe that other material outside of Scripture was expressed in the past as such because Scripture indicates as much. Without Scripture I wouldn't even have access to the knowledge that such events occurred, let alone what might specifically have been said, written, etc. during those events.

So, no, I don't really know what you want me to prove. I know Scripture exists as God's Word. If you think something else outside of it exists, present that for verification. If you can't, then we are justified in saying that all we have available today is Scripture, even if it's still possible that something might exist outside of it that qualifies as the Word of God.

Btw. Even if you were right and I somehow needed to meet your standard of proof, that wouldn't change the fact that we still need to see what, specifically, you Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox have in mind when you say something outside Scripture exists as the Word of God. If the second premise somehow (completely) fails, then we're only left with the position that we don't know (with any degree of confidence) whether anything exists outside of Scripture. But we are not left with the position that there really does exist something outside of Scripture that qualifies as the Word of God. That carries its own burden of proof, a burden which Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox consistently refuse to meet. The best they can do is refer to some obscure references in the early church fathers or Scripture to the concept existing in the past. But the substance of this concept is never produced. For to merely claim the existence of additional Words of God is hardly a reason to believe that they really do exist somewhere and are binding sources of doctrine.

Pilgrimsarbour said...

Brethren and Friends,

It is not my intention to interfere with the current argument here, but I have a question. And sorry if you've already addressed it--I may have missed it in my reading of the comments.

In quoting from St. Basil, John said...

... we have received some from written sources while others have been given to us secretly through Apostolic Tradition. (emphasis mine)

I would like John to think about how this statement might look to the 21st century Reformed Protestant. We believe it is up to you (that is, the Roman Catholic Church) to provide some sort of documentable, verifiable "proof" that we are conscience-bound by things allegedly received "secretly" by someone, somewhere through a supposed Apostolic Tradition. And how is this any different from the unverifiable visions or secret messages of Muhammad, or Joseph Smith, or any number of "messengers of God" throughout history.

I am assuming this is a reference to "oral" tradition. If so, can you tell us what oral traditions were received and by whom, and how it is that we can know they are true and reliable? And please, anyone here is welcome to respond if you think you can help clear this up for me.

Thank you and blessings in Christ,

Pilgrimsarbour

Lvka said...

Secretly for those outside the Church, not for its members. Everybody (from the outside) had access to the Gospels or the OT (for instance), but only the baptized, who have been innitiated into the mysteries, knew the intimate things of the Church (like the Creed, or what happens to the bread and wine in Holy Communion, etc) by word of mouth from the priest or bishop who illumined them.

Lvka said...

For instance: the hostile masses of pagans understood the agape meals and the Eucharist to mean that Christians indulge in cannibalistic and orgiastic practices..

John Bugay said...

Pilgrim: We believe it is up to you (that is, the Roman Catholic Church) to provide some sort of documentable, verifiable "proof" that we are conscience-bound by things allegedly received "secretly" by someone, somewhere through a supposed Apostolic Tradition.

I believe it's Basil's Letter 66 on the Holy Spirit (or something like that) that gives a list of things that involve baptism by triple immersion (instead of single(?) immersion), facing east when you pray, maybe some rules about fasting, and things like that. There is nothing really doctrinal -- it's all about outward practices.

Also, I've put up a list that Yves Congar published in his "Meaning and Tradition". It's essentially the same types of things that Basil gives. Almost none of it is verifiable prior to the 4th or 5th century.

Also,

John Bugay said...

Alexander, I don't appreciate what you have to say about our guests.

Just so you know.

Alexander said...

M Shultz,

Again, unless you believe that God's Word had always been confined to Scripture alone, even prior to the completion of Scripture, then the burden falls on you to demonstrate that at some point God's Word had been confined to Scripture alone. This is the only way your minor premise would pass. This is not the same as proving that there are no other sources of God's Word today, since we agree that in the beginning at least, prior to the completion of Scripture, there were other sources of God’s Word. What is implicit in your premise is that all of God's Word was then confined strictly in Scripture. This is simply assumed in your premise. You have not demonstrated that it has been. You can reject your obligation to meet this burden, but until you do, your argument fails miserably like the miserable wretch you are.

Since when have you refuted my accusation of hypocrisy? I understand that for Protestants, facts are those nasty little pests which cause trouble for their worldview. The facts are that you have never at this blog demonstrated any intellectual honesty in condemning the vile actions of your fellow Protestors who continuously insult and assault Catholics unjustly on a regular basis. The most you have done is pretend to have followed the Scriptural guide of handling the issue privately, but you seem to have forgotten the idea that if they do not repent, then the issue should be made public, and subsequently the individuals denounced if repentance has still been wanting. I happen to doubt that you have ever, ever reproved any of your fellow Protestors’ actions here. Your credibility is on weak grounds to just take your word for it. Even more ridiculous is that you clowns demand that the Vatican publically denounce all professing Catholics who espouse heresy, but you don’t even publically challenge one of your own who espouses the ‘virtue’ of one playing with themselves. In other words, you sir are a liar, and you should be more concerned with the state of your soul than with my minor infractions of poor etiquette in pointing these issues out. If you pretend that since you are a member of the Elect, and therefore the unrepentant sin of being a habitual liar will not prevent you from reaching Heaven, you’ll surely find yourself spending all eternity with the Father of Lies whom you have made the father of your soul. The pretended self-correcting ethical standards you claim is as laughable as the Pelosi Democratically controlled ethics panel investigating one of their own.

Meanwhile, Turretinfan gets a pass at not keeping his word. Great example of Protestant ethics! This is sort of like the idea that it is acceptable to cheat, lie, and steal from the infidel all you want.

J Bugay,

Just so you know, I don’t approve of how you allow the insults and lies directed at Catholics.

John Bugay said...

Alexander -- you are so lame. Aren't you the one who came here calling me Saddam and Stalin, and then trying to backtrack and cover that with the "mystery-after-the-fact-mustache" lame excuse.

If you had a dignified bone in your body you would come here and interact with the materials, instead of creating all kinds of personality conflicts. As it is, you barely provide any entertainment value at all for the pixels you consume.

Alexander said...

Actually Bugay, if you go back and do some research (like you claim to do) you'll see that I first called you Geraldo and Stossel before I called you Stalin or Saddam. Seems that you are the lame one.

If you weren't the clown you claim to not be, you would read above and see that I challenge M Shultz on the substance of his argument. But I guess with all the crypto-satanism going on in your religion, acknowledging truth is hard to do.

John Bugay said...

Nah, I got called Stalin on June 18 and not till June 28 was Stossel brought into it.

https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=19795707&postID=1994236754020000996

http://beggarsallreformation.blogspot.com/2010/06/when-supressing-heresy-became-crusade.html

Maybe now that you've been caught you can find something else to whine about.

And for the record, saying "Nuh uh, you've got the burden of proof" isn't "interacting with the substance of the argument."

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Lvka: "Secretly for those outside the Church, not for its members. Everybody (from the outside) had access to the Gospels or the OT (for instance), but only the baptized, who have been innitiated into the mysteries, knew the intimate things of the Church (like the Creed, or what happens to the bread and wine in Holy Communion, etc) by word of mouth from the priest or bishop who illumined them."

I don't know if your intent was to produce sounds and facial gestures of incredulous laughter, but let's assume that you're serious.

Despite your description above bearing resemblance to secret Mormon temple and teaching practices, have you ever noted that there are a number of ex-
Catholics and ex-Orthodoxers who have been baptized in those respective Churches and they can't produce or point to or speak to what these "secret" traditions and doctrines are and where they come from and what they're based on. They would know.

I'm starting to think that all this claim of "secret" knowledge is fictional, gnostic, phantom claims to bolster some self-serving man-made traditions.

If you got it, produce it. If not, then don't say you've got it.

It reminds me of the Obama birth certificate. If you got it, produce it. Don't keep saying that you have it and yet not produce it. It hurts your credibility and believability.

John Bugay said...

Hey Alexander. I'll give you one. Using my moderator super-search capabilities, I did find that you used the word "Stossel" prior to calling me Stalin. But you were so un-memorable, though, that it made no impression on me at all.

But that doesn't change the fact that you came in here and starting calling people names before anyone else (with the likely exception of Bellisario, and he's welcomed here for his great comedy value.)

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Okay, Alexander, have it your way and be ignored. You didn't interact with the reasoning I provided in my latest reply and merely repeated yourself, spending the rest (and most) of your words on a slanderous diatribe that ignores most of the reasons I've given in the past for what you allege to be hypocritical behavior and dismisses the ones you did engage with a simple wave of the hand.

I've given you a lot of chances, and I keep hoping that interaction will improve, but you just seem to get worse as time goes on. My time is valuable and limited, and I don't see why I should spend it responding to someone whose arguments are poor and who can't go one post without heaping personal abuse on his opponents.

Pilgrimsarbour said...

Thanks, Lvka, for trying to answer my question. However, it's not a very satisfying response. I am not as much interested in the nature of the secretiveness of these doctrines as I am in the nature of them as binding, authoritative revelation.

I was asking about actually producing (documenting) these "secret" decrees, what they actually are (teach) and why my conscience should be bound to them as a part of my necessary understanding in the salvation process.

In short, what are they, from where did they come, and why do I need to know/believe them in order to be saved?

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Lvka: "Secretly for those outside the Church, not for its members. Everybody (from the outside) had access to the Gospels or the OT (for instance), but only the baptized, who have been innitiated into the mysteries, knew the intimate things of the Church (like the Creed, or what happens to the bread and wine in Holy Communion, etc) by word of mouth from the priest or bishop who illumined them."

Lvka,

Well, at least you're openly admitting that your Church (and the Roman Catholic Church too, I presume) has secrets and secretive doctrines based upon those secrets.

I don't know if it's an evangelism tool for Orthodoxy or Catholicism, but you could say: "We Orthodox have secrets, very important secrets, and these vital secrets are only privy to people who join our Orthodox Church as members. You'll be in the know! No one else knows these secrets except us Orthodox members. Whoo-hoo!"

(Psssst! Wanna know some Masonic secrets? Then first join your local Masonic lodge. Only people initiated in can get to hear the secret oral traditions.)

John said...

"move to presenting and verifying the Words of God Cyril claims he has access to, or explaining why such a request is unreasonable."

(a) Cyril explained why the request is unreasonable, and I gave a brief summary of Cyril in case you didn't understand.

(b) The Word of God is manifest in the Church in ways that transcend a simple document, passing it to you and saying "here it is". That's what scripture is for. If I could do that it would be scripture already. The reason Paul says to hold to that which is written AND that which is not written is that the non-written is most suitably handed on in a non-written fashion. I could pass you other documents that talk about the Orthodox tradition, and that would be of some assistance to you, but the actual Word of God is not those words, but the manifestation of those words, which I can't manifest at the end of a blog article.

"Then you don't seem to be aware of how Protestant scholarship arrives at knowledge of the canon."

Protestant scholarship can't agree on how it arrives at the canon. And when you press a particular scholar on one argument, it dissolves and he moves onto another one. And around and around it goes.

"The testimony of the early church plays one part of many."

If it plays a part, then my point stands. You accept only part of their testimony about where the apostles' message is to be found.

"I can't verify it through the means by which Protestants have verified the canon."

Let me know how you "verify" the canon, and I'll be able to comment on that.

John said...

natamllc: Your post is not rational.

John said...

Pilgrimsarbour: "I would like John to think about how this statement might look to the 21st century Reformed Protestant. We believe it is up to you (that is, the Roman Catholic Church) to provide some sort of documentable, verifiable "proof" that we are conscience-bound by things allegedly received "secretly" by someone, somewhere through a supposed Apostolic Tradition. And how is this any different from the unverifiable visions or secret messages of Muhammad, or Joseph Smith, or any number of "messengers of God" throughout history.

How do you define "unverifiable"? The reason the Protestant reformers have scripture is that they trust the scribes of the Greek Orthodox Churches to provide them with manuscripts, and they trusted their provenance without some kind of absolute proof that say Peter wrote 2 Peter, and that the copy we have is unmolested in the meantime.

"If so, can you tell us what oral traditions were received and by whom, and how it is that we can know they are true and reliable?"

How do you know 2 Peter is true and reliable? Please let us know.

John said...

Bugay: "There is nothing really doctrinal -- it's all about outward practices."

Assuming your awkward distinction between doctrine and practice, so what?

Pilgrimsarbour said...

John,

How do you define "unverifiable"?

Veracity of manuscripts can be determined to a very high degree through significant research and comparison. Granted, the content, that is, the teaching itself, is something that we either accept or not accept by faith. Whether we believe that what has been written is revelation from God is another matter.

But I am asking how secret Catholic or Orthodox "oral tradition" may be subject in a similar way to empirical testing, and if it is not, you must make the case to me that I should be conscience-bound by what I fear may be merely tall tales passed down from one generation to the next.

I have been willing to accommodate you somewhat by answering your question to me partially here. If and when I get an answer to my original question regarding oral tradition above, either from Lvka, Alexander or you, perhaps then I can get into more detail on your questions:

In short, what are they, from where did they come, and why do I need to know/believe them in order to be saved?

Matthew D. Schultz said...

John writes:

(a) Cyril explained why the request is unreasonable, and I gave a brief summary of Cyril in case you didn't understand.

Well, yes you did, but that doesn't help me see why it is unreasonable to still request that you produce evidence of these Words of God (in whatever form it takes). To be explict, I don't see how it helps to appeal to Cyril's sort of "you won't get this anyway" statement, since that doesn't help me see why your position is true. It could be internally consistent to Eastern Orthodoxy, but it seems the kind of reasons you're giving aren't accessible to me as a Protestant. And if they really aren't accessible to me, I don't know of what value it is to have this kind of discussion.

I could pass you other documents that talk about the Orthodox tradition, and that would be of some assistance to you, but the actual Word of God is not those words, but the manifestation of those words, which I can't manifest at the end of a blog article.

Then forgive me, but we have reached an impasse. I am not trying to use the word in a prejudicial manner, but I find this to be a bit too nebulous to verify in any sense or method that comes to mind, let alone by the particular process I have come to know the canon as true.

Protestant scholarship can't agree on how it arrives at the canon.

If this is to serve as an objection of some kind, then I'm not aware of any major denomination or movement which finds complete agreement among its scholars in how to defend that denomination's or movement's sacred texts or sources as authoritative and true. So if your conclusion follows, then it would be applicable to all religious groups, including Eastern Orthodoxy.

And when you press a particular scholar on one argument, it dissolves and he moves onto another one. And around and around it goes.

That's the kind of broad and sweeping generalization that would require, at least to prove to me, a significant amount of documentation.

If it plays a part, then my point stands. You accept only part of their testimony about where the apostles' message is to be found.

Since the original charge was inconsistency, I don't see how this helps. Historical matters like the canon are cumulative cases. The testimony of the fathers can play a role, such as in authorship, but they are not sufficient in of themselves to establish canonicity. If they did, I think we'd all be inconsistent since not all church fathers agree on the same canon. Some testify to smaller canons, some to larger canons.

So I don't think it's helpful to say I only accept part of their testimony. I might very well accept all of their testimony as valid testimony, but not as sufficient to establish the question of what counts as the extent of God's Word.

(Continued.)

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Let me know how you "verify" the canon, and I'll be able to comment on that.

a. begins with viewing the Scriptures as uninspired documents from the ancient world

b. inquires as to the historical reliability of the Gospels, with particular emphasis on the Resurrection and its relationship to Christ's claim to be God

c. establishes the Resurrection as true and Christ as God over and against all plausible naturalistic explanations

d. notes (the now authoritative) promise of Jesus to send the Holy Spirit, which entails additional and specific safe-guards for the Apostles to be led into "all truth" (John 16:5-15)

e. concludes that this promise means that all works written by Apostles or sanctioned by them to be inspired

f. notes that Peter refers to Paul's works as Scripture (2 Peter 3:15-16)

g. notes that Paul refers to Luke's writings as Scripture (1 Timothy 5:18)

h. notes that the author of Hebrews was part of the Pauline circle (Hebrews 13:23)

There are a lot of moving parts and substantial evidence needs to be provided at particular steps, but that's the general methodology I've found successful (this is also just a rough sketch; I didn't fill out every possible step either). Of course, it is completely and wholly dependent on the inner testimony of the Holy Spirit to be truly effective. But this is how I'd make an external case for someone else, if they indeed asked.

As I hope you can infer, I don't see how this leads to any sort of implication or conclusion that there are still other Words of God available for us today. So I need a better methodology from you or some sort of evidence (of which I am currently unaware) that fits into the methodology.

John said...

"Veracity of manuscripts can be determined to a very high degree through significant research and comparison."

I think you need to look up "veracity".

"Granted, the content, that is, the teaching itself, is something that we either accept or not accept by faith."

So you're in no better position then.

" you must make the case to me that I should be conscience-bound by what I fear may be merely tall tales "

Whoa, I thought you just accept it by faith?

John said...

"it seems the kind of reasons you're giving aren't accessible to me as a Protestant."

Lots of things aren't accessible until you step out in faith. Even in your own church, the communion is not accessible until you are baptised. Baptism is not accessible until you believe. Belief is not possible until you listen with a sincere heart. This is the way of the spiritual life. I don't suppose you turn away inquirers asking if they may receive the bread to see what benefits it might avail them, because they are at an impasse, and they should simply stay in their atheism. And I don't suppose you would praise the atheist for throwing their hands up and moving on because it is all "too nebulous", because they want to jump the queue.

" I'm not aware of any major denomination or movement which finds complete agreement among its scholars in how to defend that denomination's or movement's sacred texts or sources "

Then its no use saying "You don't understand the Protestant position" then is it? You're going to have to state which position you are referring to.

"notes that Peter refers to Paul's works as Scripture (2 Peter 3:15-16)"

2 Peter has the most tenuous position in the NT of all, it was never accepted by the Syriac churches, and was considered doubtful by many Fathers. So how can you use a doubtful book to establish half of the New Testament?

"notes that Paul refers to Luke's writings as Scripture (1 Timothy 5:18)"

Assuming that there was not some other inspired writing that is now lost. A fairly big assumption.

"notes that the author of Hebrews was part of the Pauline circle (Hebrews 13:23)"

So Hebrews testifies to its own authenticity? I've got dozens of other documents for you to add to your bible then. In any case, being in the "same circle" does not reach your standard of being "sanctioned", otherwise any friend of an apostle is a candidate for churning out scripture.

It still leaves open the question of Mark, and where the proof is that it is sanctioned. Jude and James, since they are not generally taken to be written by apostles. And in fact leaves open questions about the authorship of all the other books.

But if you're going to say, oh well there isn't really any direct evidence, but that you're satisfied that a certain degree of acceptance in the early church is historical evidence enough, well I would point to even wider acceptance that other doctrines are apostolic, such as the necessity for chrismation, which has both earlier and wider attestation than 2 Peter. So if you're going to make it an historical investigation on that level, you're still not left with scripture alone.

John said...

"it seems the kind of reasons you're giving aren't accessible to me as a Protestant."

Lots of things aren't accessible until you step out in faith. Even in your own church, the communion is not accessible until you are baptised. Baptism is not accessible until you believe. Belief is not possible until you listen with a sincere heart. This is the way of the spiritual life. I don't suppose you turn away inquirers asking if they may receive the bread to see what benefits it might avail them, because they are at an impasse, and they should simply stay in their atheism. And I don't suppose you would praise the atheist for throwing their hands up and moving on because it is all "too nebulous", because they want to jump the queue.

" I'm not aware of any major denomination or movement which finds complete agreement among its scholars in how to defend that denomination's or movement's sacred texts or sources "

Then its no use saying "You don't understand the Protestant position" then is it? You're going to have to state which position you are referring to.

John said...

"notes that Peter refers to Paul's works as Scripture (2 Peter 3:15-16)"

2 Peter has the most tenuous position in the NT of all, it was never accepted by the Syriac churches, and was considered doubtful by many Fathers. So how can you use a doubtful book to establish half of the New Testament?

"notes that Paul refers to Luke's writings as Scripture (1 Timothy 5:18)"

Assuming that there was not some other inspired writing that is now lost. A fairly big assumption.

"notes that the author of Hebrews was part of the Pauline circle (Hebrews 13:23)"

So Hebrews testifies to its own authenticity? I've got dozens of other documents for you to add to your bible then. In any case, being in the "same circle" does not reach your standard of being "sanctioned", otherwise any friend of an apostle is a candidate for churning out scripture.

It still leaves open the question of Mark, and where the proof is that it is sanctioned. Jude and James, since they are not generally taken to be written by apostles. And in fact leaves open questions about the authorship of all the other books.

But if you're going to say, oh well there isn't really any direct evidence, but that you're satisfied that a certain degree of acceptance in the early church is historical evidence enough, well I would point to even wider acceptance that other doctrines are apostolic, such as the necessity for chrismation, which has both earlier and wider attestation than 2 Peter. So if you're going to make it an historical investigation on that level, you're still not left with scripture alone.

Pilgrimsarbour said...

PA: Veracity of manuscripts can be determined to a very high degree through significant research and comparison.

John: I think you need to look up "veracity".

I agree that I stated that awkwardly. I mean to say that the certainty on my part that the Biblical manuscripts are reliable, that is, that we have substantially available to us documents which are very close to the original writings is very high based on the amount of evidential research that has been done. In addition, the manuscripts themselves testify both internally and externally to their authenticity and truthfulness, which conclusions, admittedly, are to be taken by faith.

PA: Granted, the content, that is, the teaching itself, is something that we either accept or not accept by faith.

John: So you're in no better position then.

Yes, I believe I am, for I can point to empirical evidence, something substantive, to support my conclusions and beliefs. It's always better to have the Word of God written, as we do today, acknowledging the different mechanisms through which God worked during the periods of enscripturation, than to have someone merely tell me something and compel me to believe what was unheard of in the days of Our Lord's sojourn here either orally or in the written testimony left for us. At least with the written documents I can compare Scripture with Scripture and see with my own eyes and feel in my own regenerate heart the sweeping beauty of the unfolding mystery that is Christ Jesus.

PA:...you must make the case to me that I should be conscience-bound by what I fear may be merely tall tales...

John: Whoa, I thought you just accept it by faith?

If by faith you mean "wishful thinking," then no. If by faith you mean "an informed belief supported by ample evidence," then yes. I have never believed that God requires of us a "blind" faith, one without purpose or meaning. He has provided us with evidence as a condescension to our weaknesses.

Therefore, I am still asking you to inform my faith in your oral tradition by providing me with ample evidence so that I may have the same or similar high degree of certainty regarding what Christ wants me as a member of His Church to know. "Because we (that is, our faith community) say so" is not a rational argument for your position and is not persuasive.

natamllc said...

I would simply point out that the last several posts by both Alexander and John have had no basis in Christ either as the Son of Man, [historical] or the Son of God, [Eternal Being].

What then is their basis for their claim of truth that guides them?

The reasonings of the writings of men outside the foundation of the Word of God or God.

Again, you will go crazy if you are not careful reasoning with their unsound reasonings that they put forth.

The Word of God is sound. It is the cure for the frailty of the human soul:::>


Psa 23:1 A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
Psa 23:2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.
Psa 23:3 He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.


King Solomon also was keen on the God of his father, too:

Pro 1:23 If you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you.

Pro 16:20 Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the LORD.


The Apostle Paul also wrote similarly and most likely he was aware of and thinking about those citations from Psalms and Proverbs when he wrote this exhortation to his spiritual son, Timothy:

2Ti 1:3 I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day.
2Ti 1:4 As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy.
2Ti 1:5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.
2Ti 1:6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands,
2Ti 1:7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.


To wit I encourage you men of God to stand vigilant and sober minded, endure hardship as good soldiers and keep a faithful thought on these parting words when engaging with those less fortunate as you seeing it is clear you too are being guided by the same Holy Spirit:::>

Psa 143:10 Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground!
Psa 143:11 For your name's sake, O LORD, preserve my life! In your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble!
Psa 143:12 And in your steadfast love you will cut off my enemies, and you will destroy all the adversaries of my soul, for I am your servant.

John said...

Pilgrimsarbour: "I mean to say that the certainty on my part that the Biblical manuscripts are reliable, that is, that we have substantially available to us documents which are very close to the original writings is very high based on the amount of evidential research that has been done."

You may have some confidence that a writing you have today is fairly similar to some exemplar that dates to a fairly early date. You have no way of knowing whether that early exemplar was either authentic or accurate, based purely on historical analysis. Authentic in that it is written by who it purports to be, inspired in that God deigned it to be free of error, or accurate in that you don't know what errors were made prior to widespread distribution, whether by the first scribe, or a scribe early enough in transmission that the distribution of scripts with his errors overwhelmed those without.

But if you're willing to overlook the gap in your knowledge based on history's silence about many details of first century of Christianity, then surely very early and widespread attestation of the apostolicity of practices like christmation surely give me equal right to assume them as apostolic.

"Yes, I believe I am, for I can point to empirical evidence"

Did you really mean empirical? You want to point to your experiences rather than verifiable facts?

"It's always better to have the Word of God written, as we do today, acknowledging the different mechanisms through which God worked during the periods of enscripturation, than to have someone merely tell me something and compel me to believe what was unheard of in the days of Our Lord's sojourn here either orally or in the written testimony left for us."

Well, we know not everything in the NT was taught based on "Our Lord's sojourn". (1Cor. 7:12). If you want to modify it to the apostles' sojourn, then still you beg the question. How do you know 2 Peter was written by Peter and accurately represents his teaching? Again, the earliest testimonies about the universality and apostolicity of christmation and earlier than the earliest attestation that the book of 2 Peter exists. Why would believing that christmation is correct doctrine be "merely compelling you to believe", but believing in 2 Peter imposes no such burden on you?

"At least with the written documents I can compare Scripture with Scripture and see with my own eyes and feel in my own regenerate heart the sweeping beauty of the unfolding mystery that is Christ Jesus. "

That assumes you can't see and experience the sweeping beauty of the wider Orthodox tradition, which clearly isn't true.

John said...

Pilgrimsarbour: "I mean to say that the certainty on my part that the Biblical manuscripts are reliable, that is, that we have substantially available to us documents which are very close to the original writings is very high based on the amount of evidential research that has been done."

You may have some confidence that a writing you have today is fairly similar to some exemplar that dates to a fairly early date. You have no way of knowing whether that early exemplar was either authentic or accurate, based purely on historical analysis. Authentic in that it is written by who it purports to be, inspired in that God deigned it to be free of error, or accurate in that you don't know what errors were made prior to widespread distribution, whether by the first scribe, or a scribe early enough in transmission that the distribution of scripts with his errors overwhelmed those without.

But if you're willing to overlook the gap in your knowledge based on history's silence about many details of first century of Christianity, then surely very early and widespread attestation of the apostolicity of practices like christmation surely give me equal right to assume them as apostolic.

"Yes, I believe I am, for I can point to empirical evidence"

Did you really mean empirical? You want to point to your experiences rather than verifiable facts?

"It's always better to have the Word of God written, as we do today, acknowledging the different mechanisms through which God worked during the periods of enscripturation, than to have someone merely tell me something and compel me to believe what was unheard of in the days of Our Lord's sojourn here either orally or in the written testimony left for us."

Well, we know not everything in the NT was taught based on "Our Lord's sojourn". (1Cor. 7:12). If you want to modify it to the apostles' sojourn, then still you beg the question. How do you know 2 Peter was written by Peter and accurately represents his teaching? Again, the earliest testimonies about the universality and apostolicity of christmation and earlier than the earliest attestation that the book of 2 Peter exists. Why would believing that christmation is correct doctrine be "merely compelling you to believe", but believing in 2 Peter imposes no such burden on you?

John said...

"At least with the written documents I can compare Scripture with Scripture and see with my own eyes and feel in my own regenerate heart the sweeping beauty of the unfolding mystery that is Christ Jesus. "

That assumes you can't see and experience the sweeping beauty of the wider Orthodox tradition, which clearly isn't true.

John said...

natamllc: "Pro 1:23 If you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you."

He's not talking about scripture. God's words didn't come to David in scripture.

The rest of your post is non-rational again.

Matthew D. Schultz said...

John writes:

Lots of things aren't accessible until you step out in faith.

I'm not clear on how your explanation functions. If you think spiritual acts like communion and baptism, mediated as they are through physical means, are analogous to accepting that your denomination has access to Words of God outside of Scripture, then you'd need to explain how, precisely, they are similar. How, exactly, am I to step out in faith, as it were, to receive the Words of God outside of Scripture? And how would partaking of them as a "skeptic" meet the burden to show that they are true? Will some sort of feeling or knowledge occur upon accepting (or trying?) them?

I'm also not sure why you use atheism in your analogies. For example, I think it can be historically demonstrated with a high to very degree of probability (i.e., in historical terms, practically to the highest degree possible) that the Resurrection really did occur. So the atheist can gain access to Christianity thorough particularly demonstrable means. For Eastern Orthodoxy, you don't seem to have similar means available; indeed, you later seem to deny that such historical means are even valid at all. Would you deny that the atheist has access to Christianity through historical demonstrations?

Then its no use saying "You don't understand the Protestant position" then is it? You're going to have to state which position you are referring to.

1. I've explained why the objection is problematic on its own terms. If you think my response fails, I'd need you to explain why before you fall back on the same objection.

2. Related, you can have some level of disagreement within a body of scholarship on a particular method or approach to an issue and still be able to define the general parameters of those positions such that they form a single, identifiable system.

3. I still don't have an obligation to accept your characterization of Protestant scholarship without sufficient proof that it is an appropriate description.

(Continued.)

Matthew D. Schultz said...

So how can you use a doubtful book to establish half of the New Testament?

1. There's a lot that could be said about all the objections you raised. But that wasn't the point of providing my methodology. I'm not accustomed to having arguments with professing Christians that I would expect to have with skeptics of the faith, and I'm not really interested in starting now, unless, of course, you have a particularly compelling reason for me to invest that time and effort. There's a certain asymmetry developing here, with me being tasked to defend various historical propositions and assertions that would require a great deal of time and effort, while you are taking the easy position of leveling short (but packed) objections while providing mystical defenses of your own position.

2. On the one hand, you raise rational, factually based objections to my methodology. Yet, on the other hand, you raise non-rational (not necessarily {anti-rational) arguments to defend your denomination's claims to additional Words of God outside of Scripture. Your approach here suggests that the mind really plays no positive role in coming to understand your denomination's claims and know that they are true. I'd appreciate more elucidation here, since I'm disinclined, as an agent tasked with loving God with all his mind, to check rational deliberation at the door of the evidence for distinctively Eastern Orthodox claims.

3. I'm not really sure your position could survive your level of skepticism either. If you're going to cast doubt on things like authorship and textual integrity, I have to wonder how you'd go about proving even the bare facts of the Resurrection, let alone your particular denomination's expression of Christianity.

4. In any case, the point of telling you the methodology was to show why I don't think it entails Words of God outside of Scripture. It is really just explanatory so that you could provide either evidence that fits with the methodology or to present a better methodology. To simply debate the merits of the methodology on its own terms does neither. Even if you succeeded in your objections, it wouldn't meet the positive burden required to establish the Eastern Orthodox defense of not only Words outside of Scripture, but now, given your approach, the very Scriptures themselves. Until you offer more positive proof, you are simply making the task of establishing Eastern Orthodoxy even more difficult for me to accept.

natamllc said...

John,

I am not God. Rather I am born again by the Power of God, adopted and elected and called and chosen by the Grace of God given to me as His free Gift, a gift of Righteousness, Peace and Joy in the Power of the Holy Spirit absolutely unmerited by me. I am one of His sons of His Life and Resurrection by the gift of His Grace and Mercy and Peace. That is God's business. Am I glad for His Life? Yes!

As it is and such that it is, whether or not what I comment hereon is understood by you is insignificant to me and it should be, well, ah, certainly it is to you as you keep reminding me.

So what's new?

I rather agree with the Apostle Paul and will respond further to your charge and claim with his words regarding yours about mine as you demonstrate clearly to me just how far removed from True Spirituality your thoughts and ideas are:::>

1Co 2:14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
1Co 2:15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one.


Here then is my judgment about you. What is remarkable to me about you and these following verses is the fact that nothing has changed in all these years since those words were penned! The spiritual warfare against the wolves of that day is the same as the spiritual warfare against the wolves of today and " men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.:

Act 20:28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.
Act 20:29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock;
Act 20:30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.
Act 20:31 Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish everyone with tears.


John, I am paying careful attention to you hereon!

Pilgrimsarbour said...

I mean empirical in the sense that we have something we can look at, feel, touch, etc. We can at least observe and test something of substance. The results of those tests persuade me that the Scriptures we have today are worthy of my belief in them as the final arbiter of the Christian's faith and practice.

I agree that there is a faith issue involved always. I merely believe that you are asking me to go one step beyond what is available to me, and I haven't been presented with a persuasive argument yet that would compel me to bind my conscience to your ecclesial community. You're asking for a leap of faith when I don't see that it's necessary, reasonable or safe.

Again, I implore anyone here to address my question about so-called oral traditions:

In short, what are they, from where did they come, and why do I need to know/believe them in order to be saved?

John said...

"How, exactly, am I to step out in faith, as it were, to receive the Words of God outside of Scripture?"

How do you do it before the NT is written? Someone tells you Jesus is the Christ, you can't get all of the information from the OT, so you have to roll up at your local church, which probably does not have its own apostle on-call, and experience the Christian tradition. The principle is “Come and see.” (Jn 1:46).

"For example, I think it can be historically demonstrated with a high to very degree of probability (i.e., in historical terms, practically to the highest degree possible) that the Resurrection really did occur. "


If I dug up some documents in the Egyptian desert from some ancient Egyptian religion that purported with the same kind of testimony as the bible that someone or other was raised from the dead, would you believe it? I don't you think you would. I think the reality of the testimony relies on the experience of the church through the ages. As Augustine famously said, I would not believe apart from the testimony of the catholic church.

"Related, you can have some level of disagreement within a body of scholarship on a particular method or approach to an issue and still be able to define the general parameters of those positions such that they form a single, identifiable system."

I don't see any agreement at all between the extremes of Protestant thought on this subject. So my objection stands.

John said...

"with me being tasked to defend various historical propositions and assertions that would require a great deal of time and effort"

Ahh yes, well a historical defence of these things takes a great deal of time and effort, and even then has a lot of limitations on a purely historical level.

Perhaps you are starting to get the point....

"Yet, on the other hand, you raise non-rational (not necessarily {anti-rational) arguments to defend your denomination's claims to additional Words of God outside of Scripture. "

I could talk about 2Th 2:15 and Paul's admonition to hold the oral traditions. I could talk about the early church's universal attestation that it holds to unenscripturated traditions. I could talk about how this claim is both early and widespread. I could give examples like chrismation. It would take a great deal of time to do a good job, and you would raise objections, just like I can point to problems with the provenance of 2 Peter. The point is to show you the inconsistency of your position rather than spoon feed you an exhaustive historical defense.

"I'm not really sure your position could survive your level of skepticism either."

That's kind of the point. Your position does not withstand its own level of skepticism.

John said...

natamllc: Your postings amount to a juvenile "you're a heretic and I'm not. Nyahhh nyaahhh to you".

John said...

"I mean empirical in the sense that we have something we can look at, feel, touch, etc. We can at least observe and test something of substance."

You can objectively study the beliefs of the early church outside of scripture. You don't have to take my word for it. I encourage you to do so. You may be disturbed to find how many are continued in the Orthodox church and ONLY in the Orthodox church, and thats why a lot of people end up converting. A well known case is the patristic scholar Jaroslav Pelican.

natamllc said...

John:

natamllc: Your postings amount to a juvenile "you're a heretic and I'm not. Nyahhh nyaahhh to you".

How ironic John, huh?

Scorn the messenger and ignore the message.

Like I said, nothing has changed since the time those Words of Scripture were penned!

You can scorn the severity of God as well. Yet, I hasten to point out, the only one changing here is you!

How apropos these Words are:

Psa 120:1 A Song of Ascents. In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me.
Psa 120:2 Deliver me, O LORD, from lying lips, from a deceitful tongue.
Psa 120:3 What shall be given to you, and what more shall be done to you, you deceitful tongue?
Psa 120:4 A warrior's sharp arrows, with glowing coals of the broom tree!
Psa 120:5 Woe to me, that I sojourn in Meshech, that I dwell among the tents of Kedar!
Psa 120:6 Too long have I had my dwelling among those who hate peace.
Psa 120:7 I am for peace, but when I speak, they are for war!

natamllc said...

John:

natamllc: Your postings amount to a juvenile "you're a heretic and I'm not. Nyahhh nyaahhh to you".

How ironic John, huh?

Scorn the messenger and ignore the message.

Like I said, nothing has changed since the time those Words of Scripture were penned!

You can scorn the severity of God as well. Yet, I hasten to point out, the only one changing here is you!

How apropos these Words are:

Psa 120:1 A Song of Ascents. In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me.
Psa 120:2 Deliver me, O LORD, from lying lips, from a deceitful tongue.
Psa 120:3 What shall be given to you, and what more shall be done to you, you deceitful tongue?
Psa 120:4 A warrior's sharp arrows, with glowing coals of the broom tree!
Psa 120:5 Woe to me, that I sojourn in Meshech, that I dwell among the tents of Kedar!
Psa 120:6 Too long have I had my dwelling among those who hate peace.
Psa 120:7 I am for peace, but when I speak, they are for war!

Matthew D. Schultz said...

John writes:

How do you do it before the NT is written? Someone tells you Jesus is the Christ, you can't get all of the information from the OT, so you have to roll up at your local church, which probably does not have its own apostle on-call, and experience the Christian tradition.

Bauckham has done some excellent work in this area. As I draw on some of his conclusions, I am having a difficult time seeing how the pre-NT testimony (which would have been a very short period of time in any case) is equivalent or similar in any real sense to what you have in mind. The earliest Christians would have preferred the testimony of actual eye-witnesses over second-hand testimony, so not just any local church would have been all that convincing. What, exactly, do you have in mind when visiting a local Eastern Orthodox church? What kind of testimony will be given that's not available through speech that could be written down or recorded on other mediums today?

As a practical note, I've also visited Eastern Orthodox services on various occasions, including during a period of my life when I was interested in converting, yet I don't know what in those experiences would qualify as testimony to unwritten Words of God in the same category of testimony the earliest eye-witnesses to the Resurrection of Jesus gave.

If I dug up some documents in the Egyptian desert from some ancient Egyptian religion that purported with the same kind of testimony as the bible that someone or other was raised from the dead, would you believe it? I don't you think you would.

If it did indeed have the same kind and same level (quality, quantity, etc.) of testimony, then I would believe it.

I think it is interesting that you assume I would be inconsistent with my methods. Why that assumption?

I don't see any agreement at all between the extremes of Protestant thought on this subject. So my objection stands.

It might stand to you, but, as I've already said, it is unreasonable on its own terms, and you haven't demonstrated any sort of "extreme" disagreement. How can the objection stand when it presupposes a certain level of disagreement that you've still yet to demonstrate? How does your perception of these disagreements substitute for actually documenting (or presenting documentation of) this alleged high amount of disagreement?

As you can tell, I'm rather conservative in my take on authorship, dating, interpretation, etc. of Scriptural documents. The general conservative approach to these issues does not entail a broad swath of positions. The only way you'd be able to demonstrate a lack of "any agreement at all" (a strong, if not very strong, claim) would be to lump into Protestant scholarship the other main, liberal approach to the canon, which would include a kind of "Protestant" I wouldn't even consider Christian.

(Continued.)

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Ahh yes, well a historical defence of these things takes a great deal of time and effort, and even then has a lot of limitations on a purely historical level.

I already said that this level of commitment is involved, so your comments strike me as redundant. It also does not entail your conclusion, which you assert, but don't argue for, that there are a lot of limitations to the methodology. In my experience, the majority of the hard work is not in making solid historical arguments, but in addressing the unreasonable and inconsistent standards of justification skeptics bring to these historical arguments.

Perhaps you are starting to get the point....

It's this sort of juvenile lecturing posture that turns me off to so much of Eastern Orthodox apologetics. You and your cohorts are the visible defenders and representatives of Eastern Orthodoxy. If you're the best your denomination has to offer, then I have little interest in being part of a denomination that consistently acts without humility, the kind of humility you'd expect from people melted by the unsurpassed grace of Jesus Christ.

It would take a great deal of time to do a good job, and you would raise objections, just like I can point to problems with the provenance of 2 Peter. The point is to show you the inconsistency of your position rather than spoon feed you an exhaustive historical defense.

How can you show me the inconsistency of my position without presenting such arguments? An inconsistent application of my methodology would only be apparent if there was another set of historical facts to which I could attempt to apply it. But since you are reluctant to present your positive case, you are not entitled to suggest any inconsistency on my part.

Even if I was inconsistent, it doesn't, therefore, follow that Eastern Orthodoxy is true. That begs the question as to the kind and type of evidence you'd offer to defend your denomination.

I also think it's fairly safe to say that your implication that it would be "easy" to deny the second premise is shown to be a bit unreasonable by your own admission.

That's kind of the point. Your position does not withstand its own level of skepticism.

As I've mentioned above, since you haven't offered any particulars to critique, I'm not sure how you're in a position to know that. There hasn't really been an opportunity to see my "skepticism" in action to know if my questions, concerns and criticisms are equally applicable to my own position. To be honest, I'm still not even sure what your position is, given your reluctance to be forthcoming with specific evidence.

It also seems to assume that the kind of historical evidence you'd give to define and defend the Words of God outside of Scripture would be of the same quality as the kind I give to defend the historicity (and thus authority) of Scripture. But I wouldn't know that either unless you gave a more detailed case for your position.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Lvka: ""Secretly for those outside the Church, not for its members. Everybody (from the outside) had access to the Gospels or the OT (for instance), but only the baptized, who have been innitiated into the mysteries, knew the intimate things of the Church (like the Creed, or what happens to the bread and wine in Holy Communion, etc) by word of mouth from the priest or bishop who illumined them."

Matthew D. Schultz: "As a practical note, I've also visited Eastern Orthodox services on various occasions, including during a period of my life when I was interested in converting, yet I don't know what in those experiences would qualify as testimony to unwritten Words of God in the same category of testimony the earliest eye-witnesses to the Resurrection of Jesus gave."

Matthew! You were so, so close to hearing and receiving the secrets and secret doctrines and teachings that only members of Eastern Orthodoxy are privy too.

You can still convert! It's not too late. Then tell us all the secret teachings and secret doctrines of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Unless of course, you'd be excommunicated on pain of spiritual death for sharing the vital secrets that only Eastern Orthodox Church members are privy to and sworn to never share.

Lvka said...

Truth Unites...,


1) uhm... not really sure what you find so "funny" in my comment... feel free to read some (basic) things about Christian history, if you don't believe me. (Nothing `fancy` or anything... just some basic information)


2) no, since the legalization of Christianity, those things ceised to be hidden. (everybody can find out the content of the creed, or what we believe about the Holy Eucharist, etc).

Pilgrimsarbour said...

To go along with what I said way up yonder in the combox regarding the bizarre idea of Matthew Bellisario and others that we must agree with everything a theologian says or nothing at all:

The fact that I disagree with Luther on the communication of attributes does not mean that I cannot identify with his teaching on justification as expressed in `The Freedom of the Christian' or The Augsburg Confession. Sure, he may not regard me and my church as Christian; but I do not have to repay the compliment in kind.--Carl Trueman, "On Heroes and the Heroic"