Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Justin Martyr didn't get it

Reason dictates that those who are truly pious and philosophers should honor and love only the truth, declining to follow the opinions of the ancients, if they are worthless. For not only does sound reason dictate that one should not follow those who do or teach unjust things, but the lover of truth should choose by all means, and even before his own life, even though death should remove him, to speak and do righteous things. – Justin Martyr, First Apology, #2.

Thirteenth Rule. To be right in everything, we ought always to hold that the white which I see, is black, if the Hierarchical Church so decides it, believing that between Christ our Lord, the Bridegroom, and the Church, His Bride, there is the same Spirit which governs and directs us for the salvation of our souls. Because by the same Spirit and our Lord Who gave the ten Commandments, our holy Mother the Church is directed and governed. – Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, “Spiritual Exercises”.


Tim Enloe said...

This is interesting, because the Medievals also recognized that truth was not always inherent in the decrees of authorities. Gratian of Bologna, in his epoch-making Decretum (a compilation and analysis of all ecclesiastical law from eaerly times to his time), has a fantastic discussion about the difference between truth and custom, and the duty of the Christian to follow the truth rather than custom. Even a papalist like Thomas Becket recognized this, for in his controversy with King Henry II, he reminded the king that "Christ said 'I am the truth,' not 'I am the custom.'" Aquinas, in a similar vein, teaches that we are not bound to obey authorities which err, unless the public scandal that would be caused by disobedience outweighs the particular truth we would be defending.

Viisaus said...

"Aquinas, in a similar vein, teaches that we are not bound to obey authorities which err, UNLESS the public scandal that would be caused by disobedience outweighs the particular truth we would be defending."

It seems that this "UNLESS" unravels the whole position and actually paves the way for Loyola's ideas. For one could argue (from RC perspective) that the Reformation was such a huge "public scandal of disobedience" that any lies or untruths can be used to combat against it, for the greater good of re-unifying Christendom in Catholic unity. The ends sanctify the means.

Viisaus said...

And here's some advocatus diaboli stuff: what Protestant inerrantist would not be ready to say that if our fallen reason would seem to observe a manifest error in the Bible, we must overcome this sinful tendency and believe God rather than our limited reason?

Rhology said...


I've been thinking somewhat about this whole issue and think it'd be better to come down on the God side rather than the human reason side.

So the Loyola quote isn't bad as far as it goes, but of course as it furthers the service of a diabolical church, it's evil enough.

Constantine said...

It seems that this "UNLESS" unravels the whole position and actually paves the way for Loyola's ideas.

Unfortunately, Loyola’s “ideas” are pagan and heretical . The Spiritual Exercises are firmly grounded in Pelagianism. In fact, the very beginning of the Exercises – the First Annotation – is as succinct a summary of Pelagianism as can be found.

Ignatius also had dreams where he believed he received revelation directly from God. These revelations he put above the authority of Scripture. Of course, one of the tenets of Christianity is the cessation of direct revelation after the time of the Apostles.

The only "paving" going on here, is the road to hell for which Loyola's ideas provide ample material.


Matthew D. Schultz said...


A small aside, but I wanted to thank you for your contributions over the past months (and longer). I have always enjoyed what you've added to the conversations here at Beggars All.

John Bugay said...

Constantine, I believe, too, that these "Spiritual Exercises" were not for the whole of the laity, but were rules only for the Jesuits.

Viisaus said...


Indeed, we should not idolize fallen human reason too much. It is well known that Justin was too much influenced by Greek philosophical notions - Van Til for example criticized him for it, even though giving him credit as a martyr.

The way I see it, Christians should approach the challenge of reason the same way they approach other violent challenges in this world.


That is - we should not INTENTIONALLY, provocatively make our faith as irrational and repugnant to reason as possible, but if the worldly reason simply refuses to admit the Scriptural claims, we have fight against it.

Christians should not "start fights with reason", but if the fight becomes inevitable, then they must fight fallen reason and fight it well.

(Skeptical philosophy here becomes a good ally, as purely secular reason has a pathological tendency to refute, deconstruct and undo itself... no person is ultimately more hostile to human reason than a consistent humanist rationalist.)

Viisaus said...

Concerning the use of lies: I believe that Christians have a right to use unruths as a purely "defensive" weapon, to prevent something negative from happening, but never as "offensive" weapon, to achieve something positive. For lies by their very nature cannot be instruments of good, they can only be "preventors of evil" at best.

(Like you can never heal a person with a handgun, but you can still save lives with it, by killing attackers.)

We are allowed to lie, for example (to use a worn-out example) about whether we are hiding Jews in our cellars. Like the the Egyptian midwives lied to Pharaoh (Exodus 1:19-21).

In such cases, we are merely boomeranging the unrighteous intentions of questioners back at themselves, so to speak. There are people who do not entitled to truth about certain matters.

But we must not ever be active INITIATORS in untruths. We must not think that we can accomplish some good "greater purpose" with well-intentioned fibs or legends.

Tim Enloe said...


Of course a Catholic might argue that way from Aquinas. However, the original Protestants would have pointed out (did point out, in fact) that the popes had themselves plunged all of Christendom into such horrifying scandal that the only way to be faithful to Christ was to disobey. I believe the Reformers were right about this, especially as I've spent a great deal of time studying primary sources from the 13th-15th centuries. These sources have convinced me that the popes had become heretics in many ways, and that, on one prominent strain of the accepted canonical and feudal standards of the day, it was legitimate to disobey them. The scandal was the papacy, not the Reformers.

Viisaus said...

And thank you for your kind comments, Matthew. I try my best to be an "iron sharpening iron" (Proverbs 27:17).

John Bugay said...

Tim: These sources have convinced me that the popes had become heretics in many ways,..

I'd be interested in exploring this further. As you are aware, Roman Catholics defend the medieval papacy by using what I call the "Alias Smith and Jones" defense: "for all the trains and banks they robbed, they never taught anyone." That is, they never issued "new teachings."

So if what you're saying is that they were personally heretics, that wouldn't cut it with the "Alias Smith and Jones" defense. But if they taught things that didn't conform to "existing teaching," then that would be another thing.

Tim Enloe said...

John, basically the issue is that the modern definition of "teach" is not in keeping with the Medieval (and earlier) understanding of it. The modern definition artificially restricts "teaching" to statements of propositions, but the bulk of the Western tradition from the Greeks forward (inclusive of the Christians) understood that ACTIONS also "teach." (Paul tells Timothy to watch his LIFE and his doctrine, not just his doctrine.)

Although the Medieval theologians were not unanimous on the point of papal heresy, the consensus view came to be (after much controversy) that that popes could become heretics by leading lives that scandalized the whole Church. The canonists came to the conclusion (again, after much controversy) that when a pope became a heretic because of his scandalous life, he ceased to be worthy of obedience as pope, became "less than any Catholic layman" in his status, and so became liable to deposition by other authorities within the Church (chiefly the General Council).

Modern Catholics get around this necessary connection between life and doctrine by restricting "teaching" to stating propositions. There defenses of papal orthodoxy in that regard are often suspect, of course, but beyond that they are suspect because they exempt the LIVES of the popes from being able to "teach" heresy to others.

Lvka said...

You do realise that the man was talking there to pagans, and was addressing the pagan religion of their ancestors, right?

Ikonophile said...


A.K.A. context, right?

Jae said...

Comments are related to "Where was the Church in the Medieval ages".

Beggars All contributors' are really in desperate mode in trying to "kill" the EVIDENCE of authority and primacy of the bishop of Rome to which I asked, are you guys really dreamin'?

In the NT period, it is clear that the terms "bishop" (overseer) and "presbyter" (“elder”) were still fluent and used interchangeably (Titus 1:5-7, Acts 20:17-28) Yet, while the terms "bishop" and "presbyter" were still interchangeable, that doesn't mean that the NT-period churches did not have monarchical leaders who were the chief shepherds and final authorities in these individual city-churches.
For example, it is clear that James was the monarchical leader of the Jerusalem church after Peter's departure (Acts 21:17-19, Galatians 2:12) It’s also clear that Paul commissioned Timothy to be the monarchical authority in Ephesus (1 Tim 5:19-22).

Yet, were these monarchical leaders (these "arch-presbyters," if you will) exclusively called "bishops" at this time? No. That would come later, via the terminology of Ignatius of Antioch.
For example, we know that Ignatius called Polycarp the monarchical "bishop of Smyrna," and that Polycarp did not deny this. Yet, when writing to the Philippians, Polycarp does not call himself "the bishop of Smyrna," since that terminology was not yet widely used. Rather, he begins his Epistle:

"Polycarp, and THE PRESBYTERS with him, to the Church of God sojourning at Philippi”.

So, Polycarp is a presbyter among other presbyters. Yet, that doesn't mean he's not the bishop. It doesn't mean he didn't hold primacy in the church of Smyrna at this time, since TWOseparate epistles from Ignatius tell us that he did.

Indeed, Ignatius consistently cites the three-fold ministry of "bishop / presbyter / deacon." He writes:

"You must all follow THE BISHOP as Jesus Christ follows the Father, and THE PRESBYTERS as you would the Apostles. Reverence THE DEACONS as you would the command of God. Let no one do anything of concern to the church without THE BISHOP." (To the Smyrnaeans)

"Take care, then who belong to God and to Jesus Christ - they are with the bishop. ...For there is one Flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one Cup in the union of His Blood; one altar, as there is ONE BISHOP with the presbyters and my fellow servants, the deacons." (To the Philadelphians).

Ignatius always used the term “bishop” to refer to the monarchical leader of a church; and Ignatius never “urges their development,” but instead speaks of the monarchical episcopate as an established institution throughout the universal Church.


Jae said...


Indeed Reformed Prots' whole position crumbles when we invoke Chapter III of Ignatius’ Epistle to the Ephesians, which speaks of “BISHOPS SETTLED EVERYWHERE, TO THE UTMOST BOUNDS OF THE EARTH.” This means that ALL CITIES had monarchical bishops presiding over the presbyters and deacons; including the church of Rome. And, OVER A DECADE before Ignatius, Clement of Rome himself testifies to this fact, when he writes:
"He (Jesus) has Himself fixed by His supreme will the places and persons whom He desires for these celebrations ....For to the HIGH PRIEST (i.e., the bishop) his proper ministrations are allotted, and to the priests (i.e., the presbyters) the proper place has been appointed, and on the Levites (i.e., the deacons) their proper services have been imposed. The layman is bound by the ordinances for the laity. ...Our sin will not be small if we eject from the episcopate those who blamelessly and holily have OFFERED ITS SACRIFICES." (1 Clement 44:4)

Irenaeus (2nd century AD – c. 90-202) was Bishop of Lugdunum in Gaul:

" indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known CHURCH FOUNDED AND ORGANIZE AT ROME by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that EVERY CHURCH SHOULD AGREE WITH THIS CHURCH, ON ACCOUNT OF ITS PREEMINENT AUTHORITY ".

St. Cyprian of Carthage asserted “the independence of all bishops.” Not so. Rather, he asserted the local sovereignty of all bishops; and there is nothing unCatholic about that. Indeed, Beggars all contributors' distortions of Cyprian’s ecclesiology before, yet they are still presenting the same empty arguments. However, if Cyprian did not recognize a universal, unifying ministry for the church of Rome, how could he write to Pope Cornelius saying:

"With false bishops appointed for themselves, they (the Novatian heretics) dare set sail carrying letters from schismatics and blasphemers to the Chair of Peter and to the PRINCIPAL CHURCH, in which PRIESTLY UNITY HAS ITS SOURCE; nor do they take thought that these are ROMANS, whose faith was praised by the Apostle." (Cyprian’s Epistle to Pope Cornelius c. 253 A.D.)

If Cyprian did not recognize Rome’s ministry to preserve universal unity and orthodoxy, how could he call it the “principal church”? And what was it about Rome that made it the universal “source” of “priestly unity”????

Indeed, Beggars All contributors' endless irrelevancies, out-of-context quotes and spins should be enough to show anyone that they are not interested in historical fact, but are merely an anti-Catholic propagandists, committed to presenting a Papal “boogie man” to cast suspicions on a hated Catholic Church.

However, it must be admitted that we can never arrive at 100% proof for the Papacy’s legitimacy by citing the historical evidence alone. Yet, THE SAME can be said for the Resurrection of Christ and the Divine inspiration of the Bible. These things are matters of faith; and must be explored as such.

Ikonophile said...


Nice job taking Ireneaus's comment out of context.

Read the entire context and you will find that he sites Rome, not because of the Pope, but because this is the closest apostolic see to his own. He even says that he can't give a list of all apostolic successions for time does not allow for it. He then sites Rome as his example of an apostolic church in succession from the Apostles that still carries their doctrine.

I'm not Reformed either (Orthodox actually), so don't go by that route to attack me.


Constantine said...

Constantine, I believe, too, that these "Spiritual Exercises" were not for the whole of the laity, but were rules only for the Jesuits.

Hi John,

I think you are right. Although now they have certainly grown – through various Jesuit schools, retreat houses, etc – to be commonplace with the laity. In fact, I'm sad to say that our church has been infected.

But to the point of your post, it is amazing how Rome allows this heresy to be promulgated when it could be so easily edited. After all, there is nothing sacred or inspired about Ignatius's writings and if there be good and bad in them, well – out with the bad! It is instructive that this “bad” is allowed to remain and is even promoted.

You cited the famous “thirteenth rule” - the “we only know colors because Rome tells us rule”. But the one that immediately follows it is worthy of inspection, too:

Although there is much truth in the assertion that no one can save himself without being predestined and without having faith and grace; we must be very cautious in the manner of speaking and communicating with others about all these things.

We don't have to be cautious when promoting works righteousness, but we must be “very cautious” when speaking of God's saving grace.

I wonder if Justin Martyr was so timid?

Peace to you, John.

John Bugay said...

Jae, you are guilty of the fallacy of semantic anachronism, reading the later meaning of a word back into its earlier senses.

D.A. Carson calls it "linguistic nonsense."

You and every Catholic we interact with are guilty of this fallacy; you must rely on anachronism to make your case, because an actual study of history doesn't work.