Monday, November 08, 2010

“We are the Church” according to Calvin, and it is Rome that needs to repent and return to the truth

There's been a bit of a kerfuffle over Carl Trueman's statement that's been floating around recently:
Every year I tell my Reformation history class that Roman Catholicism is, at least in the West, the default position. Rome has a better claim to historical continuity and institutional unity than any Protestant denomination, let alone the strange hybrid that is evangelicalism; in the light of these facts, therefore, we need good, solid reasons for not being Catholic; not being a Catholic should, in others words, be a positive act of will and commitment, something we need to get out of bed determined to do each and every day.
Bryan Cross has keyed in on this [type of] statement from Trueman to suggest that somehow Trueman has admitted that the Roman Church is "the Church that Christ founded" -- the one to which all Christianity should return.
Some Protestants who know of the Catholic Church’s claim to be the Church that Christ founded are not offended by this claim. They are not offended by it, because they remember Protestantism’s historical origin in the Catholic Church. They remember that in the minds of the first Protestants, the intention was not to separate from the Catholic Church, but to reform the Catholic Church. For these first Protestants, their resulting separation from the Catholic Church was a kind of ‘necessary evil,’ not intended to create one or many schisms from the Church, but to bring needed moral and doctrinal reform to the very same Church that Christ had founded. In the minds of those first Protestants, this separation was to persist only until the Catholic Church was sufficiently reformed, so that they could return to full communion with her. The present-day Protestants who remember this obviously do not believe that the Catholic Church is infallible; that is why they believe that they can justifiably be separated from her. But they do believe that the Catholic Church from which they are visibly separated is (or has the best claim to being the visible continuation of) the Church that Christ founded, and they look to be reunited to her as soon as she is sufficiently reformed.

Carl Trueman is a Protestant of this sort.
But Trueman did not say that the Roman Church is "the Church that Christ Founded." Bryan ignores a couple of things. Just as Bryan has misused Luther, Bryan has also misused Carl Trueman. It's true that at the time of the Reformation, the Church of Rome needed to be "Reformed." But it did not ever change, and in the last 500 years, it has even moved further off in its aberrant direction. But as Steve Hays has noted, Bryan is not interested in saying true things. Bryan is a demagogue.

More recently, Jason Stellman chimed in on this, with puzzlement that seems to be typical from him but not really beyond his ability to think it through (I don't know why he seems puzzled by this). When I suggested that he has misunderstood what Trueman was saying, he responded that Trueman "lists his reasons why he will not do so (ecclesiology and justification), but says that since evangelicals don't share his protestations, that they should end the schism. How have I misrepresented or misunderstood him?"

Well, Trueman also responded, and he did not give any ground at all to Bryan Cross's suggestion:
... those familiar with recent scholarship on the development of Protestant thinking, Lutheran or Reformed, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, know that Protestant theologians were careful readers and appropriators of Catholic theology, exegesis, philosophy, and casuistry. For some years now, I have considered that it would be not only academically nonsensical but also an act of a curmudgeonly ingrate to refuse to acknowledge such debts. This is not to say that there were not -- and are not -- fundamental differences in key areas, not least those of authority, justification, and sacraments; but it is to point to a heritage which both orthodox Catholicism and orthodox Protestantism holds in common. I would not go so far as to say that the Catholic Church is my church, as Bryan argues, but I would say that the true catholic tradition is my tradition -- essentially Calvin's point in his reply to Cardinal Sadoleto.
In his reply to Sadoleto, Calvin did not give any ground. Here is Calvin's response to the suggestion hat the Protestants were somehow responsible for the schism:
... the most serious charge of all is, that we have attempted to dismember the Spouse of Christ. Were that true, both you and the whole world might well regard us as desperate. But I will not admit the charge, unless you can make out that the Spouse of Christ is dismembered by those who desire to present her as a chaste virgin to Christ,—who are animated by a degree of holy zeal to preserve her spotless for Christ,—who, seeing her polluted by base seducers, recall her to conjugal fidelity,—who unhesitatingly wage war against all the adulterers whom they detect laying snares for her chastity. And what but this have we done? Had not your faction of a Church attempted nay, violated her chastity, by strange doctrines? Had she not been violently prostituted by your numberless superstitions? Had she not been defiled by that vilest species of adultery, the worship of images? And because, forsooth, we did not suffer you so to insult the sacred chamber of Christ, we are said to have lacerated his Spouse! But I tell you that that laceration, of which you falsely accuse us, is witnessed not obscurely among yourselves; a laceration not only of the Church, but of Christ himself, who is there beheld miserably mangled. How can the Church adhere to her Spouse, while she has him not in safety? For where is the safety of Christ, while the glory of his justice, and holiness, and wisdom, is transferred elsewhere?
In his commentary on Malachi, Calvin duly notes the process by which, if it were true that God had given the Roman church some place or office of authority, God is well within his rights to "cut them off" as well, to "rub dung in their faces":
But as the Jews flattered themselves on account of their descent, and ever boasted of their fathers, and as that preeminence with which God had favored them proved to them an occasion of haughtiness and pride, the Prophet here ridicules this foolish confidence, I will scatter dung, he says, on your faces: “Ye are a holy nation, ye are the chosen seed of Abraham, ye are a royal priesthood; these are your boastings; but the Lord will render your faces filthy with dung; this will be your nobility and preeminence! there is then no reason for you to think yourselves exempt from punishments because God has adopted you; for as ye have abused his benefits and profaned his name, so ye shall also find in your turn, that he will cover you with everything disgraceful and ignominious, so as to make you wholly filthy: ye shall then be covered all over with dung, and shall not be the holy seed of Abraham.”

“I myself,” he says, “am present, to whom ye think your sacrifices to be acceptable; I then will destroy your seed, and I will also cast dung on your faces; all the dignity which ye pretend shall be abolished, for ye think that ye are defended by a sort of privilege, when ye boast yourselves to be the seed of Abraham: it is dung, it is dung,” he says. He afterwards shows what was especially the dung and the filth: for when they objected and said, “What! have our sacrifices availed nothing?” he answers, “Nay, I will cast that dung upon you, because the chief pollution is in your sacrifices, for ye vitiate and adulterate my service: and what else is your sacrifice but profanation only? ye are sacrilegious in all your empty pomps. Since then all your victims have an ill-savor and displease me, and as I nauseate them, (as it is also said in the first and last chapter of Isaiah,) I will heap the dung on your own heads, because ye think it to be your chief expiation.”

He adds at last, It shall take you to itself; that is, “Ye shall be dung altogether; and thus all your boastings, that ye are descended from the holy Patriarch Abraham, shall be wholly useless; though I made a covenant and promised that you should be to me a royal priesthood, yet the dung shall take you to itself, and thus whatever dignity I have hitherto conferred on you shall be taken away.”
The Roman church, reflexively, would defend itself by saying, "Well, he was saying this to the Jewish priests," but Calvin, as if anticipating that lame response, turns this curse directly upon the Romanists:
For how have arisen so great impieties under the Papacy, except that pastors have exercised tyranny and not just government? For they have not regarded the purpose for which they have been called into their office, but as the name of pastor is in itself honorable, they have dared to raise themselves above the clouds, and to assume to themselves the authority of God himself. Hence it has been, that they have dared to bind consciences by their own laws, to change the whole truth, and to corrupt the whole worship of God: and hence also followed the scandalous sale of justice. How have these things happened? Because priests were counted as angels come down from heaven; and this same danger is ever to be feared by us.

This then is the vice which the Prophet now refers to; and he shows that the priests had no reason to think that they could shake off the yoke, Ye shall know, he says, that to you belongs this command. We indeed see what they objected to Jeremiah,

“The law shall not depart from the priests nor counsel and wisdom from the elders.” (Jeremiah 18:18.)

These are the weapons by which the Papists at this day defend themselves. When we allege against them plain proofs from Scripture, they find themselves clearly reproved and convicted by God’s word; but here is their Ajax’s shield, under which they hide all their wickedness, retailing as it were from the ungodly and wicked priests what is related by Jeremiah, “‘The law shall not depart from the priests;’ we are the Church, can it err? is not the Holy Spirit dwelling in the midst of us? ‘I am with you always to the end of the world,’ (Matthew 28:20;) did Christ intend to deceive his Church when he said this to his Apostles? and we are their successors.” The Prophet now gives the answer, Ye shall know, he says, that to you, belongs this command.

And he adds, not without severity, that my covenant may be with Levi; as though he had said, “On what account are ye thus elated? for God cannot get a hearing for himself, yet ye say that the covenant with Levi is not to be void, as though God had put Levi in his own place, and divested himself of all authority when he appointed that tribe, and made you ministers of the temple and teachers of the people; is he nothing? What was God’s purpose when he honored you with that dignity? He certainly did not mean to reduce himself to nothing, but, on the contrary, his will was, that his own right should remain entire and complete. When therefore I reprove your vices, and show that ye are become vile, and as it were dung, that ye are defiled by everything disgraceful, — when I make these things openly known, I do not violate the covenant made with Levi. God then justly summons you before his tribunal, and strips you of your honor, in order that the covenant he made with Levi may be confirmed and ratified.” This is, as I have said, a severe derision.

Now, I wish that Trueman had been clearer than he has been, and not permitted sophists like Bryan Cross an opening with which to twist his words. I wish he would not use the hyperbole he does.

The Reformation is not over. Trueman identified the "evangelicals" whom he said might as well "do the decent thing and rejoin the Roman Catholic Church." They are those
...who deny justification by faith as understood by the Protestant Reformers, who deny God's comprehensive knowledge of the future, who deny penal substitutionary atonement, who deny the Messianic self-consciousness of Christ, who have problems with the Nicene Creed, who deny the Chalcedonian definition of Christ's person, who cannot be trusted to make clear statements on homosexuality, and who advocate epistemologies and other philosophical viewpoints which are entirely unprecedented in the history of the orthodox Christian church...
These are the people he has suggested should rejoin Rome (and indeed he lumps them all together); but he should more honestly have suggested that they become Occultists, because that religion, too, "has a better claim to historical continuity and institutional unity" than Rome has.

The keys to not going back to the Roman church in the days of the Reformation involve "justification by faith" and "ecclesiology." Those reasons have not changed since the time of the Reformation. In fact, those reasons have been exacerbated in the time since the Reformation. If Bryan thinks that Rome has "reformed" itself to the point that Protestants should "return," it is far more evident that Rome "remains stiff-necked after many rebukes" -- and that, with Calvin, we are more prone to say that any pretense to Roman authority was rather suddenly destroyed—without remedy.

124 comments:

John Bugay said...

By the way, I'll try to respond to comments here throughout the day, but any comments requiring a lengthy response may have to wait until later in the day or early tomorrow morning.

The 27th Comrade said...

But what is certain is that Protestantism is descended from Catholicism, though the latter may be corrupted. Protestants have the claim of being the Church insofar as they say that Catholics veered off the course, and that the one who is on-course is the Church. If it is history people appeal to, the Catholics are the original; if it is orthodoxy—living as though John 3:16 is true—then the Protestants are the original.

I have been saying this in a previous debate at the catholicdefense.blogspot.com blogspot, and it was hard to get accross; perhaps because I am myself hampered by not being a Protestant.

John Bugay said...

I am myself hampered by not being a Protestant.

Are you Anglican?

By the way, the Reformers did not have the historical understanding that we have. So whereas Calvin may have accepted that some form of Roman authority was legitimate, I think that we can safely say that any supposed "authority" that Rome claimed to have was something that was usurped.

Luther probably would have allowed (and did allow, in 1519) that the papacy had some authority merely in the Romans 13 sense.

But we know today that Roman claims to authority are simply false:

http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2010/11/first-church-of-rome.html

The 27th Comrade said...

No, I am not an Anglican. (Is it the British spelling that hinted in that direction?) I am just some guy who believes in Jesus Christ for justifications; I have not been gifted with faith for more than just that. Not even belonging anywhere. (In particular, I have so distant a relationship with Rome and Roman Catholicism that to claim that I am “protesting” anything would be a lie; so I am not a Protestant, but a believer in the Good News I am.)

And I agree that, in light of recent truths (many of which I read on this blog), the Roman Catholic claim to primacy is far too weak to be meaningful, unless (as you say) the Occultists are also allowed their primacy.
Sub-Saharan Africa had the gospel well before Rome did; I think we should be hearing of Axumite Primacy before we hear of Roman Primacy.

John Bugay said...

27th, I am glad to hear of your faith in Christ. I believe it would greatly benefit you if you could find a "Confessional Protestant" church where you could fellowship.

Do you live somewhere where that might be an option?

The 27th Comrade said...

Well, where I live, there are many congregations. But I am very suspicious of congregations where the truths pounded out in the Epistles—our being dead to the Law, on the Grace, on the depravity of man, “by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified before Him”, that the Grace is a free gift, and so on—are not made the centre piece. For one like myself, not belonging—harmful as it is—is far better than going where there is a semblace of truth, but denial of the power of it. Many, though not Catholics, are tacitly taught that they “bring faith to life, that it may save, through their works”.

So, while it is not true of many others, for (one like) me, Belial would win if I “touch anything unclean“. 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 … But with this newfangled Internet, I gather with some faithful “out there”, and I am just as inconspicuous as I would have been standing at the back of a physical meeting anyway. :o)

John Bugay said...

I am just as inconspicuous as I would have been standing at the back of a physical meeting anyway. :o)

I understand what you are saying, but don't give up the hope that you will be able to find a fellowship of believers. It is worth the effort.

Lvka said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
louis said...

Excellent post, John. Thanks for the encouragement. We need more pastors like Calvin today.

John Bugay said...

Thanks Louis. I am sure that we could all benefit from more Calvin.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"In his commentary on Malachi, Calvin duly notes the process by which, if it were true that God had given the Roman church some place or office of authority, God is well within his rights to "cut them off" as well, to "rub dung in their faces":"

I didn't know about this part of Malachi and how Calvin argues its applicability to the Roman Catholic Church.

John Bugay said...

Hi Truth -- Calvin's commentaries are massive. I hope to be able to purchase them some day. I forget where I first heard about this selection in Malachi, and I would not go so far as he did in saying that Rome had legitimate authority to lose. But whatever they had is surely forfeit.

Tim Enloe said...

See, this is what I'm talking about re: the typical Protestant attitude toward historical continuity. A Reformed theologian of the caliber of Trueman actually believes that Rome has the better historical claim, and so we Protestants need to be on the defensive and come up with good reasons not to be Roman. And just look how a convert like Cross capitalizes on this "ethic of discontinuity" in the interpretation of history. This is why many Protestants, ungrounded in history, buy Newman's "to be deep in history..." schtick. Nobody has ever told them any better, because most people don't know any better.

It's what I call the " Cunningham Syndrome" among Protestants - we know next to nothing about the long centuries prior to the Reformation, but we're willing to hand it all over and say, as did William Cunningham, that's it's all "just the story of popery." This is such an outdated attitude. It worked in the 19th century because not much stuff from the Middle Ages was widely available. But that is no longer the case, and there is no longer any excuse for "the Cunningham Syndrome."

We have more going for us than exegesis, and we have more going for us than isolated examples of proto-Protestant behavior like Gottschalk, Wycliffe, and Huss. These Catholics only get away with this because we LET them.

John Bugay said...

Tim, I heartily agree with you. Thanks too for your recommendations on Gansfort. I have purchased the de Kroon book you linked to, and I'm about half way through it. I hope go get into that here, as it will have tons of meaning in this space.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Trueman identified the "evangelicals" whom he said might as well "do the decent thing and rejoin the Roman Catholic Church." They are those

"...who deny justification by faith as understood by the Protestant Reformers, who deny God's comprehensive knowledge of the future, who deny penal substitutionary atonement, who deny the Messianic self-consciousness of Christ, who have problems with the Nicene Creed, who deny the Chalcedonian definition of Christ's person, who cannot be trusted to make clear statements on homosexuality, and who advocate epistemologies and other philosophical viewpoints which are entirely unprecedented in the history of the orthodox Christian church..."

Hi John,

Who said the part in italicized quotes?

John Bugay said...

Truth -- the italicized selection was from Trueman's 2005 review of Noll's "Is the Reformation Over?" -- here's a link to that:

http://www.reformation21.org/shelf-life/is-the-reformation-over.php

I had intended to link from this post to that article, but evidently I've failed to do that. Sorry about that.

natamllc said...

"These are the people he has suggested should rejoin Rome (and indeed he lumps them all together); but he should more honestly have suggested that they become Occultists, because that religion, too, "has a better claim to historical continuity and institutional unity" than Rome has."

I have a better suggestion than that they become occultists.

Why not they just return to the world?

Some have been confused about this verse:

Joh 1:29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!


Nowhere in Scripture does it teach that sin or the world is going anywhere. Sin and the world are destined for God's destruction when Christ returns. Sin, the world, Satan and his devils along with all humans whose names are not found written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world are heading headlong towards eternal damnation. The end of sin and the world is coming!

The True Church are those whom John spoke about earlier in chapter 1 of his Gospel. They are the ones Christ baptizes with the Holy Spirit because they/we are the ones known as the Elect, chosen and adopted by God and given the gift of Faith to believe Jesus is the Messiah. The True Church on earth is "in the world" yet not of it. God takes the True Church "out" of the world by taking the sin of the world away from Her, yet leaving Her in the midst of this sinful world full of sins, who are full of hatred without any expiation. The word "propitiation" means to expiate or to cover.

Your quote from Calvin is important enough for me to reiterate it:

" ...Since then all your victims have an ill-savor and displease me, and as I nauseate them, (as it is also said in the first and last chapter of Isaiah,) I will heap the dung on your own heads, because ye think it to be your chief expiation.”

The question to be asked that becomes a key to being delivered from the flesh, the world and the devils is found here at 1 John 4:10-11

1Jn 4:10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
1Jn 4:11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.


I would take it a bit further because of Mr. Cross's twisted mind. The True Church ought to love those of like common Faith. We don't see that with Mr. Cross or the RCC. What do we see with them? They have added to the work of Christ other works that go beyond the work of Christ and confuse the hearer about the True Salvation that comes from God alone.

In the Gospel of John, John records an interesting thing Jesus said in exchanging ideas with His first disciples, some of whom became the first Apostles sent in the Name Above every name to proclaim in all nations the message of repentance and the forgiveness of sins.

Here is that exchange:

Joh 4:34 Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.
Joh 4:35 Do you not say, 'There are yet four months, then comes the harvest'? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.
Joh 4:36 Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together.
Joh 4:37 For here the saying holds true, 'One sows and another reaps.'

Joh 4:38 I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor."


Certainly there is a "true" reaping by the True Church. True Communion is a sign of true repentance when once the Spirit of Grace sanctifies your soul. True repentance is when you turn to God or return back to God for regeneration and renewal in the power of the Holy Spirit!

Tim Enloe said...

I do like Trueman's point that it is not the Catholic Church but the catholic tradition that we should feel attracted to - where "catholic tradition" is understood in the basic way that the Reformers understood it. (There might be some quibbles here and there that we could make with the Reformers.)

Steve Hay's "immigration" metaphor at Triablogue is also very helpful: most of us these days are quite comfortable in our "new" homeland, so why should we feel attracted to the old one - especially when the old one has in some ways gotten worse than it was in the 16th century? And others of us don't feel like Rome (their euphemism for the whole of Western catholic Christianity) ever was their home, so it's just mystifying to them why they should feel any attraction, even an ephemeral nostalgic one, for her.

That reminds me, in fact, of a point Turretin (the 17th century one) made to the effect that originally the Reformers set up their new ecclesiastical structures as "emergency measures" against the hoped-for time when the schism with Rome would be healed. (My note say 25th Topic, Questions X and XI, but I don't have the volume here to double check that.) Cross is thus correct in his general remark to that effect, but he fails to take into account that Rome has not reformed the critical issues that the Reformers called for, and so it has happened the original "emergency measures" have turned into "ordinary conditions." That's not our fault, but Rome's.

John Bugay said...

Hi Natamllc, I think my suggestion, that they become occultists ["Baal-worshipers"] is a bit more dramatic ;-)

But seriously, I know what you mean about true communion being a sign of true repentance.

John Bugay said...

Tim, I'll have to look up that Turretin reference as well: 25th Topic, Questions X and XI.

Tim Enloe said...

For a while, I admit with shame now, I thought it was actually possible to reach out to Rome. Not in a compromising sort of way, but in a "Hey, we can understand what you're saying and sympathize somewhat with where you got it from, but you still have to deal with what we're saying and can't sweep it under the table."

The funny thing is that it was guys like Bryan Cross and Michael Liccione and Jonathan Prejean who convinced me - by their sorry examples of being unable to really handle intelligent Protestantism in an intelligent manner - that it wasn't possible to make any real overtures to Rome, because Rome has no intention of paying anything more than lip-service to causes such as "Christian unity in truth." It really is, for them and their Magisterium, "Our way or the highway." Once that was forcibly driven home to me, I realized I had to take the highway.

The sad thing is that guys like Cross only get the Evangelicals who know nothing substantial about history and doctrine, who don't or won't commit themselves to finding out substantial history and doctrine, and who don't have a knowledgeable support base to help them work through the complexities of the issues. I'm grateful for my friends Frank Ramirez, Steven Wedgeworth, and Peter Escalante, for being that support base for me.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"For a while, I admit with shame now, I thought it was actually possible to reach out to Rome."

You don't need to be ashamed, Tim. Not at all.

More Catholics become Protestants than visa versa.

They do seem to get the bigger names, though: John Newman, Peter Kreeft, Budzisiewski (sp?), Francis Beckwith, et al.

John Bugay said...

Even so, Truth, the "big names" seem to have extenuating circumstances of some sort -- Beckwith never understood Evangelicalism, some of the others you mentioned converted from liberal Protestant denominations and really didn't understand what they were looking for, etc. I intended to write about this once upon a time -- I was concerned about it too -- but the "big name" guys who are converting, by and large, are starting from some really bad places.

steelikat said...

Trueman is wrong to say that "Rome has a better claim to historical continuity and institutional unity"

Rome and the Reformation are sisters, both arising out of the medieval western church. We have EQUAL claims to historical continuity and there is no reason for defensiveness on our part. Of course we need to have (and do have) good reasons for not being Roman but Romanism is not the historical default position. It is not true that the pre-Reformation catholic church is "their" church, rather it is just as much "our" church and we did the right thing by reforming and improving it (in particular by removing the incrustations that obscured the gospel).

Tim,

"...and so we Protestants need to be on the defensive and come up with good reasons not to be Roman."

Actually he said "we need good reasons not to be CATHOLIC," a rather radical position it seems to me if that's really what he meant. If to be protestant I needed not to be catholic I would not want to be protestant. Many protestants in fact have told me that is so (I know you wouldn't but you know what I'm talking about) which is one of the reasons I don't call myself protestant.

It almost seemed like what Trueman was doing was throwing out an intentionally provocative and controversial statement that made it sound like he was just the sort of knee-deep-in-the-tiber protestant that Bryan Cross has (perhaps innocently) mistook him for, and then in explaining himself taking a very anti-catholic position. If it were really true that rome were the (historically) default position, that would create a genuine problem for the Reformation, and Trueman has a lot more 'splaining to do. I don't think that is true but I also don't think the other extreme position is true: that we must reject historical traditional christianity or that we must join whatever faction of reformers we are identified with in every extreme position that an arrogant roman extablishment drove them to in order to preach the gospel with clarity.

One example: Penal Substitutionary Atonement. If you "anathematize" anyone who holds to an alternate understanding or insist that it is practically impossible for others to hold to alternate understandings and still clearly preach and teach the gospel, you have given up some of the high ground and have descended in a way to one of the errors rome is guilty of. "No doctrine of atonement is as relevant as the fact of the atonement." (I forgot who said that but it is surely true).

steelikat said...

OK I found the Bryan Cross article you mentioned (and finally took a brief look at the "called to communion" website you keep talking about). It does not appear to me that Bryan Cross said or implied that Trueman agreed with him or that he dealt with the Trueman quote dishonestly or unfairly. It should not shock us that Bryan Cross believes what he believes if he's a Roman Catholic, and there is no reason to be offended that he uses material from Protestant theologians to help defend or explain his position.

Sometimes I just want to say "gee whiz don't be so defensive." Of course Bryan Cross believes what he believes. Big deal, there are millions of others who believe the same thing, their very existence isn't an insult against you or your beliefs or the reputations of eminent theologians.

steelikat said...

BTW, Trueman responded to Cross's article. He did not seem to be offended nor did he seem to think that Bryan Cross was treating him dishonestly or unfairly. Here is how he ended his response:

"Bryan's article should be read and reflected upon. He makes an important contribution which offers naught for our Protestant comfort. I am grateful for his kind words and for the provocation to thought and reflection which he has offered with such a generous spirit. I offer these words of response in the same spirit."

John Bugay said...

Sometimes I just want to say "gee whiz don't be so defensive." Of course Bryan Cross believes what he believes. Big deal, there are millions of others who believe the same thing, their very existence isn't an insult against you or your beliefs or the reputations of eminent theologians.

Steelikat, you strike me as one who is young and idealistic, and who has not interacted much with these "Catholic apologists" that we're talking about.

So if you don't mind, I'll give you some homework. Go and chat with them for about a month (I'd really recommend less time than that -- much less, for sanity's sake -- but they moderate their comments and it goes really slowly), and then come back here and let us know if you feel the same way about that.

steelikat said...

John,

I don't know how to tell who are bona fide apologists with credentials and who are just pretenders. :-)

But look, I've already fulfilled the spirit of your assignment. I have acquaintances, and one good friend, who are Roman Catholic. I have a friend who is an atheist, too. While I don't recommend that you become good friends with an atheist, I will tell you that I have learned something very important from these two friendships. I'll explain it to you in regards to my RC friend:

My friend is very knowledgeable about roman catholicism, and is devout. While he doesn't make a career or even a hobby of RC apologetics, he is the very sort of person who could do that if he wasn't so busy with his family and career, he loves Newman and Bellock and Knox and Chesterton, and is the very sort of person you have expressed contempt for.

When my friend explains or describes protestantism, it can sound at times like he is distorting or deliberately misrepresenting protestantism. When I take a mental "step back" and try to be objective, I can see that he is honestly and accurately describing things from his point of view, in the best way he can do while still being verbally true to his own convictions. When I put myself in his shoes (which I am able to because he is my friend and I know him) I can see that my descriptions of RCism, because of the fact that I must phrase things in a way that does not deny my own convictions, must at times seem to him like distortions and caricatures of his beliefs. When I read the (occasional) dialog and (too often) bickering and failure to communicate between you and Roman Catholic apologists I think about my friend and me. Even though neither he nor I are apologists, per se, he is very like the romanist apologists you contemn and I am (and a few years ago was even more so) very like the Christian apologists the RC apologist contemn. When you disparage and contemn (the better of the) RC apologists, you might as well be disparaging and contemning my friend and when they disparage and contemn you they might just as well be disparaging and contemning me.

These ideas don't come from immaturity or idealism, they come from experience. I am a middle-aged man. When I was younger I was more like you. I don't have any particular talents or wisdom, though. You could do a better job of putting yourself in another's shoes if you really wanted to. Of course we can find all kinds of garbage on the internet, but Cross from what I've seen is an intelligent and thoughtful person and hasn't been dishonest. The same goes for Prejean. I've read some of his dialogs and while he has the same undisguised and prideful contempt for his opponents if not more so than is exhibited by them for him, he at least generally does a better job rationally defending his position than they do even though they have the easier position to defend since it's closer to the eternal truth. If you really tried to put yourself in Cross's shoes you would see that at least some of the times you think that he is caricaturing what you believe he is really just stating them as honestly and as fairly as he can while being true to his own convictions and that when you honestly and as fairly as you can state the Roman position it must seem to Cross like you are engaging in caricature as well, and for the same reason.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Lutheran Steelikat,

The word you are looking for is "condemn", not "contemn."

steelikat said...

Truth,

Not really. But now that you mention it there might be a little unnecessary and unwarranted condemning going on as well.

I wouldn't condemn nor contemn anyone for condemning false doctrine. But you can do so respectfully (even when your opponents aren't respecting you, and they almost never will respect you!) You can do so, furthermore, and still put yourself in their shoes in the way I mentioned. When you describe their beliefs you sound to them as if you are caricaturing those beliefs just the same way they do when they describe your beliefs. It's not because you or they are stupid or dishonest it's an inevitable result of your having different points of view.

This isn't naivete or foolish idealism it's the cold hard grimy truth, Truth. It's the sort of thing you teach your children if you have them, it's something I had to teach my children, yet we need to be reminded even as adults.

Tim Enloe said...

Trueman doesn't know Cross. Some of us here do. The last thing Cross is interested in is "In the peace of Christ," as he always signs his posts. He is interested in accentuating division, pretending that Rome is the essential "principium unitatis," and that anyone who disagrees is to be "lovingly" buried beneath a torrent of verbiage that always and only says the same thing: "It's all about authority, and authority only means one thing."

Guys like Trueman don't live in the trenches, so they can hardly be blamed for not understanding what is going on in the trenches - and indeed, for being more friendly to trench warriors than said warriors deserve.

natamllc said...

steelikat,

I agree.

Christ wasn't sent to condemn the world:

Joh 3:17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

Surely He was contemptible though with those faithless Jews all the while they were scheming to condemn Him to death:

Mar 11:15 And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons.
Mar 11:16 And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple.
Mar 11:17 And he was teaching them and saying to them, "Is it not written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations'? But you have made it a den of robbers."
Mar 11:18 And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching.
Mar 11:19 And when evening came they went out of the city.

steelikat said...

Tim,

When Cross says Rome is the principium unitatis is he hypocritically engaging in a dishonest pretense or is being true to his well-considered convictions? When you deny that Rome is the principium unitatis are you engaging in pretense or are you honestly stating your well-thought-out convictions?

Of course I can see how from your point of view anyone who thinks that that the Rome is the principium unitatis must be stupid, ignorant, or dishonest but I can also with some effort put myself in another man's shoes (I know you could do this too if you tried a little harder) and see that Cross may be intelligent and well-educated and yet may have honestly came to a different conclusion.

You say that if I had more interactions with Cross I would contemn him as you do. While that's possible I have seen some of your interactions with apologists like him and have seen them somewhat objectively as someone who didn't have a dog in the fight (that is, while I agreed with you more than them I didn't think that anything was riding on the fight, that you would save or they destroy the Reformation, or our decading culture, or whatever it is you saw yourself in the trenches fighting for or against). What I have seen is RC apologists engaging in what might as well be contempt for me, and to be frank, you engaging in what might as well be contempt for my RC friend--not because my friend and I are objectively more contemptuous compared to you, but because you won't do with yourself what you must surely do with your children--teach them to go outside of themselves and put themselves in anothers' shoes--and remember that that the least of them (and Cross surely sounds like one of the very least as you describe him) is Christ to you.

Has it occured to you, btw, that Cross might think he's in a trench and might hear the bombs exploding and men dying all around him just as loudly or more loudly than you do? If that hasn't occured to you, I submit that you are not trying to put yourself in his shoes and see things from his point of view.

Reformed Veritas said...

Hi John,
Saw your link over at GB.

Steelikat
The real question is, when Bryan is apprized of his historical, theological or logical errors, does he honestly repent, retract, clarify or apologize? Not a chance. He just keeps on ticking like the Energizer Bunny or a brain dead zombie. Or he lays low for a while and comes back later with the same old schtick at Green Baggins or at his site.

For starters, he can't get the doctrine of Scripture right - or should I say, he refuses to get it right - whether regarding its sufficiency, its clarity or the good and necessary consequences thereof, i.e. he’s a fundamentalist when it comes to reading the Bible. Again, whether he agrees with sola scriptura or not is entirely immaterial to the question. Rather he can’t even tell us what the doctrine really is. IOW he is incompetent to the question to begin with and he really needs to shut up and stand down until he gets up to speed on it.

He deifies the Roman church in his Ecclesial Deism charge/article against protestantism, which Cunningham only noted of papists how many years ago? He engages in equivocation and the fallacy of the undistributed middle term when he argues that John 5:39 means we really discover - not Christ - but his body, the Roman church in Scripture in his TuQuoque paper in order to essentially shirk his duty of private judgement which he would rather cede to little papa/Satan. And if in his heart of heart he knows that, despicably he has to talk other people into doing the same to soothe his conscience. Basically he can't stand the simple gospel of faith in Christ alone for salvation as found in Scripture alone. That he has no use for the gospel is of course, sad enough, but when he feels compelled to blather on about the alternative he has surrendered his body, soul, mind and self respect/identity to, the spiritual whore on the Tiber, at that point I draw the line. If there is one thing that Rome doesn't have, it is the catholic gospel. Hence the Gal. 1:8,9 response/attitude by those of us who have been there/done that. Without apology. And with emphasis, if need be. We’re sorry, but we’re not. Really. Even if we get called a “hater”.

Yet if the psalmist says, all who make idols become like them (115:8), it should be no surprise that the arguments, if not the minds, of those who worship a piece of bread - yes, that is exactly what they do and if the mass doesn’t qualify, the monstrance is explicitly used for eucharistic adoration as any good Romanist can tell you - come to resemble either the Pillsbury Doughboy or a half-baked pancake (Hos. 7:8). I don't know what else explains the stiff necked obtuseness and stubbornness of Roman apologists like Bryan of such polished manner and honeyed words, all the while they peddle spiritual poison and wormwood. True, 2 Cor. 11:14 tells us it is no marvel that Satan himself comes as an angel of light, but it is still sad to see so many people sucked in by Bryan’s routine.

Thank you,
Bob S.

Reformed Veritas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Reformed Veritas said...

(Hey, that was pretty cool. Blogger screws up and I can fix it.)

steelikat said...

"The real question is, when Bryan is apprised of his errors, does he honestly repent, clarify, retract, or apologize."

Oh boy, there are all kinds of reasons that cannot be "the real question," the most crucially important being that I wasn't addressing what Bryan generally does or doesn't do on several vaguely alluded to other occasions, I was reacting to john's article which discussed one particular occasion. On that particular occasion Bryan apparently did not say nor imply that Carl Trueman agreed with his conclusions nor did he use the Trueman quote dishonestly or unfairly. Trueman, the very author of the article quoted, did furthermore not take Bryan to be making that implication nor did he seem to think that Bryan was being dishonest or unfair.

"or should I say he refuses to get it right.."

Well, no, of course you shouldn't say that, but if it helps I feel quite confident that many if not most of those who disagree with you have a complementary suspicion that a seemingly intelligent person like you must not really honestly disagree with things they find so obvious but instead must be obstinately refusing to agree with them. That's just human nature, you aren't unique in that regard.

"he really needs to shut up and stand down..."

Others have suggested that he seems to need to bury them in verbiage. Who really knows? Someone who really knows him, I guess. I assume that wouldn't be you, that you haven't even met him in real life?

Look, I understand your frustration with people who haven't come to the same conclusions you have with regarding such important and immediately pressing truths--and I mean that, I think I do understand and sympathize, I have felt the same way, and I do think that the doctrine of scripture and ecclesial doctrines are exceedingly important. I also react emotionally as you do when people reason fallaciously, though i've seen how common it is for people to completely miss the point of of much of what they were taught in Phil 110--Logic, or perhaps they weren't taught well--so I won't take your word for it that Cross erred in the ways you mentioned all those vague times "at Green Baggins" OTHER than the time John discussed in the article we are nominally responding to.

"despicably he has to soothe his conscience.."

I am reminded of the countless times I've drawn others into evil hoping to soothe my conscience. You may condemn me and I won't protest. You may be far more righteous than I am. May I suggest, though, than you condemn this other guy in a way that he will surely see it and can defend himself so that you won't seem to be talking up his utter despicableness behind his back?

Maybe Bryan is Satan, an "angel of light," as you say. Maybe that's why I felt compelled to respond to your comment. I'm Satan. I've committed far worse sins even than the fallacy of the undistributed middle term. But what about you? Are you a man, are you the same species as the apostle Peter and me? Are you a son of Adam?

Other people are always going to disappoint and frustrate you, and you will always find internet people much easier punching bags than real life people. Maybe that's not such a good idea though, because Bryan Cross--you refer to him by what I assume is his real life Christian name, "Bryan," is not just an Internet person or an avatar. Could you meet and befriend him in the real world, the important world, and still talk about him the way you do?

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Steelikat: "I wouldn't condemn nor contemn anyone for condemning false doctrine."

Really?

"But you can do so respectfully (even when your opponents aren't respecting you, and they almost never will respect you!)"

Are you the judge of what is "respectful"?

David Meyer said...

Tim Enloe said:
"This is why many Protestants, ungrounded in history, buy Newman's "to be deep in history..." schtick. Nobody has ever told them any better, because most people don't know any better."

You sound a bit arrogant. Those who say Newman's line have done the digging and found his statement true. My Reformed ears were absolutely shocked at what I read from the early church fathers. Go ahead and call me a rube and say I don't know any better, but the fact is, history looks anything but Protestant... which was Newman's point.

John Bugay: I have a set of Calvin's commentaries if you want them I'll let them go for $20. I live in the Twin Cities.

-David Meyer

John Bugay said...

David Meyer, I know for a fact that Tim has been around and measuring this sort of thing for a long time. He's not arrogant, he knows what he's talking about

I would like those commentaries, though, if you can part with them. I'll pay for shipping. You can email me at "myname" (all run together, no spaces), at gmail.

David Meyer said...

Tim Enloe said:
"The sad thing is that guys like Cross only get the Evangelicals who know nothing substantial about history and doctrine, who don't or won't commit themselves to finding out substantial history and doctrine, and who don't have a knowledgeable support base to help them work through the complexities of the issues."

More of the "they are dumb, that is why they convert." nonsense.

John Bugay said:
"You don't need to be ashamed, Tim. Not at all.

More Catholics become Protestants than visa versa.

They do seem to get the bigger names, though: John Newman, Peter Kreeft, Budzisiewski (sp?), Francis Beckwith, et al."

You are right John. If we were to compare the big names I would dare to bet that of converts one way or the other, FAR MORE itellectuals (big names) go towards Rome than the other way around. Please, I beg you, show me the equivalent of Called to Communion for the Protestants. I mean Protestants that were conservative Priests and men with degrees in theology from conservative Catholic seminaries, that then converted to the "protestant church" because of reasons of conscience.

As Reformed people, I wouldnt be overly excited about millions of new Pentacostals in Latin America who are taken from the Catholic Church. I don't think they meet Tim's criteria for knowing something "substantial about history and doctrine". Seeing Luis Palau in a soccer stadium is not something I would think you should be proud of.

David Meyer said...

Stelikat, you are awsome. Sir, you need to interact online more in these "trench" discussions. Both "sides" need your obvious wisdom! I loved the simple yet true "put yourself in their shoes" comment. We know we should, but it is hard. I feel those shoes slipping off now as I get closer to Rome, but I hope they do not.

Peace,


David Meyer

Turretinfan said...

"John Bugay: I have a set of Calvin's commentaries if you want them I'll let them go for $20. I live in the Twin Cities."

Still in mint condition, I suppose. :) Assuming they are, that's quite a good deal.

David Meyer said...

Nice jab TFan. Touche. And yes, they are in decent condition. Genesis, a few prophets and the epistles have some highlights and scuffs though, i'm not a total slouch. But your funny comment here sort of goes to show my point of how well educated and informed people such as you tend to be dismissive of others who have not had that blessing of learning alot. Do I know as much as you guys? No. Have I studied to show myself approved? Yes. My goal has always been Truth wherever it leads.

Perhaps I will offer them to my Priest if they are so valuble. BTW John B., I got them years ago for $100 from Christian book.com. They dont jump off the shelves at a evangelical site like that (if you know what I mean) I forget what shipping was.

steelikat said...

David, Tim has been studying history for years. He's deep in it.

Don't read handpicked quotes from the early church fathers, edited to prove a point. In particular avoid a book edited by an author named Jurgens. It's worthless. It's slower going but read a particular work from beginning to end. Keep in mind that the translator has, like it or not, put his own spin on it. It can be interesting to compare two different translations.

David Meyer said...

Steelikat, thanks much for that helpful comment.

zipper778 said...

Hi David, I just wanted to bring something up that you said:

" Please, I beg you, show me the equivalent of Called to Communion for the Protestants. I mean Protestants that were conservative Priests and men with degrees in theology from conservative Catholic seminaries, that then converted to the "protestant church" because of reasons of conscience."

I haven't looked deep into this subject, but I know of at least one book that addresses your issue, the book is titled "Far From Rome Near To God". Also, many of the Reformers were former Roman Catholic priests.

In my opinion, it seems that Roman Catholics like to capitalize on a Protestant convert. It almost looks like a trophy that they show off to the world. When it's the other way around (Roman Catholic convert to Protestant), the convert doesn't seem very interested many times in "bashing" their former religion. Instead they seem to want to pronounce the great love that their Savior has for them and His Grace that He gave to them so freely.

Tim Enloe said...

David Meyer:

I didn't say anyone is "dumb" and "that's why they convert." It doesn't have to do with how "smart" one is, but with a variety of factors such as the degree of preparation one has to engage complex issues of historical and theological interpretation, and the level of anxiety one has about wanting to have "Truth" as one is considering conversion.

My remark about the lack of depth in Church history that many converts have - even while they joyously chant Newman's phrase about being "deep in history" - is documentable. I've read scores of convert stories, and nearly all of them demonstrate a manifest lack of serious grounding in historical source materials.

Nearly all of them feature the person becoming "surprised" by a few quotes from ancient Christians that he never knew about, going on to read a few Internet articles or convert stories or books full of isolated quotations from said ancient Christians, converting to Rome, and then swaggering out onto the Internet proclaiming themselves to be "deep in history."

Most often this process takes about 6 months, though rarely it may last as long as a few years. Especially in cases like the former, it is simply ludicrous for a person to imagine that they can go from "0 to 60" interpreting complicated historical matters competently in such a short period of time, especially when they admit that they have no intellectual formation relevant to the discipline of historical interpretation, and especially because their conversion occurred so quickly..

Historical interpretation is not that simple. It takes a great deal of time and effort, and a great deal of preparation in terms of reading - and more importantly REFLECTING UPON - primary sources and reputable secondary commentaries. Again, it doesn't have anything to do with whether someone is "dumb" or "smart," but with how SERIOUS they are as a student of history. You cannot get "deep in history" by reading Wikipedia articles, convert stories, and pop-apologetics magazines. It just doesn't work that way.

Constantine said...

Please, I beg you, show me the equivalent of Called to Communion for the Protestants. I mean Protestants that were conservative Priests and men with degrees in theology from conservative Catholic seminaries, that then converted to the "protestant church" because of reasons of conscience.

No begging needed. Happy to oblige.

http://www.bereanbeacon.org/

Richard Bennett was a Dominican priest for 23 years – and an Irishman to boot! He has several books authored by former priests and nuns and may have written one himself on the conversion of a large number of former Catholic priests.

I'm not sure the standard of “big names” applies. After all, the twelve Jesus chose were no-names and theological flunkies!

Peace.

Tim Enloe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tim Enloe said...

Steelikat,

I have spent about a decade learning to put myself in others’ shoes. I refuse to assume that just because something is “plain” to me, it ought to be plain to others, and since it apparently isn’t plain to others, that means those others don’t like “plain” truth. I think that way of thinking is uncharitable in the extreme and that it encourages a self-righteousness about one’s own grasp of “Truth” relative to that of others.

I do not think that Roman Catholics are hypocritical, stupid, or dishonest. I know that Bryan Cross is intelligent and well-educated. As I have said to David Meyer, it’s not about being “dumb” or being “smart.” I am referring to the relative quality of his arguments, and when I generalize about “Catholic apologists” I am doing the same. In my judgment, the relative quality of their theological and historical arguments is poor.

I find Cross to be a demagogue who regularly picks the lowest form of “Protestant” thought and perpetually sounds a single note argument about it. He regularly refuses to engage with the better varieties of Protestant thought, regularly bows out of discussions due to pressures at work (understandable), but then regularly comes back weeks later and starts all over again from square one, as if nothing had been said in response to him before (not understandable). You may have better luck with him than I have, and if so, great.
rex

Tim Enloe said...

On putting oneself in others’ shoes, well, I wrote a post here a few weeks ago about that very subject that got deleted by James Swan for some reason known only to himself. In that post I tried hard to show both sides of the convert syndrome, and to get others here to consider what it must be like in someone else’s shoes. If you did not see that post, and if you would like to, I will send it to you. It might help you more fairly judge my overall remarks about converts and their struggles.

I do indeed give converts the benefit of the doubt as to their sincerity, and I assume that they are doing the best they can with what they have at hand. But granting them that does not require a relaxation of intellectual standards. A bad argument is a bad argument no matter how sincere the person making it may be, and at the end of the day, after you have put yourself in their shoes, you still have to be willing to tell them that their shoes are worn out and it's time to get some new ones.

Rhology said...

I got them years ago for $100 from Christian book.com

So did I!
The boxes were, um, heavy.

Christine said...

Out of lurkdom to cheer on Steelikat - you rock! Enjoying your commentary very much. David Meyer, you are right on target as well. Called to Communion is my favorite new online discovery. The real exchange (not as represented here) between Carl Trueman and Bryan Cross is exactly what charitable dialogue should be.

steelikat said...

Truth,

Of course. I hope you wouldn't either.

Tim,

I overreacted and generalized. I think I misunderstood some of what you said. In particular I know words like "dishonest" are used in some scholarly circles not as fighting words, as words that in other circles could be expected to invite a punch. Everything I accused you of is something that Internet debate degenerates to, in this blog and elsewhere, but is probably not something you personally deserve.

I think that the "put yourself in the other guys shoes" is something that you and me and all of us ought to be reminded of at times, though.

steelikat said...

John, I went to your second favorite website and politely told Bryan Cross that he was misusing the Luther quote.

I'll get back yo you when Ive finished the homework you assigned.

John Bugay said...

Hey all, I've been watching some of the comments here but have not had a chance to respond.

Welcome to the new folks here.

Steelikat, here's a little bit more on how Bryan Cross does things:

http://turretinfan.blogspot.com/2010/10/fathers-papal-primacy-and-matthew-16.html

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Steelikat: "Truth,

Of course. I hope you wouldn't either."


I'm sorry. What are you talking about?

John Bugay said...

Steelikat:

My friend is very knowledgeable about roman catholicism, and is devout. While he doesn't make a career or even a hobby of RC apologetics, he is the very sort of person who could do that if he wasn't so busy with his family and career, he loves Newman and Bellock and Knox and Chesterton, and is the very sort of person you have expressed contempt for.

I've not ever expressed contempt for any "sort of person." I dislike dishonesty.

When my friend explains or describes protestantism, it can sound at times like he is distorting or deliberately misrepresenting protestantism. When I take a mental "step back" and try to be objective, I can see that he is honestly and accurately describing things from his point of view, in the best way he can do while still being verbally true to his own convictions.

Sometimes things that seem to be "honestly and accurately described from his point of view," yet which "seem to be distorting or deliberately misrepresenting," are precisely that way because there is so much "source material" that distorts and misrepresents.

There was a book written about Martin Luther by a Roman Catholic in the 16th century, for example, that was full of "misinformation," shall we say.

It wasn't until the 20th century that *Roman Catholic* historians decided to try to correct this "misinformation."

The problem, as James Swan has so ably pointed out, is that the "misinformation" had centuries to percolate.

This is why the "misinformation" (a) seems so true sometimes and (b) seems so pervasive.

Yet it is genuinely wrong information, that Roman Catholics continually cite as if it were correct.

This is why Tim can say that Roman Catholics have such a wrongly superficial understanding of "history," in which they think they are "deep," but in reality, they are thoroughly misinformed.

And Bryan Cross is one who is feeding this flow of misinformation.

It's subtle, and it's easy to miss.

Tim Enloe said...

Steelikat,

I agree with you about Internet debate generally speaking. Religion touches the very heart of a man, so it is no surprise that discussions rarely remain entirely "above board." Some kinds of passion for truth are nasty and ungodly, but not all hard words are nasty or ungodly. The trick is to figure out which part of Proverbs 26:4-5 applies in a given situation, and that's not easy for anyone.

Matters are complicated further by the fact that in this country, democracy is not just a political theory, but an epistemological one, too. Many writers have pointed out the severely anti-intellectual tenor of American popular culture, and I believe that that tenor characterizes most of online apologetics, especially as done by converts. "But...but...but...I GOOGLED it! How dare you say I don't know what I'm talking about, you big, arrogant meanie!"

This charge from Catholics is just an emotional reaction. Just as it would not be possible for me to explain, say, why a particular subjunctive use in a particular sentence of Cicero cannot be translated a particular way to someone who knows no Latin (but who pretends he can hold his own with me because he can type Latin words into the Google translator), it is impossible to explain to those with no substantial intellectual formation why it is not possible to go from “0 to 60” in historical interpretation.

These people are not "dumb" because they do not know Latin and have not read the primary sources. They are just unformed, unprepared, and too impatient and lacking in discipline to do the very hard work that is necessary to acquire those qualities.

steelikat said...

John,

OK, I read it. It was very interesting. I do not understand why you assigned it to me as homework, however. You say it tells us "how Bryan Cross does things." Can you elaborate?

What I read was a response by Turretinfan to an argument by Bryan Cross. There was nothing remarkable about it. It is the sort of thing that intellectuals do all the time. Perhaps there were comments by Bryan Cross in the comment box that got deleted? I don't know, you'll have to tell me the point you are trying to make.

Do you want me to comment on the original argument and the refutation? I will:

The original argument (Bryan Cross's) was not too impressive but not worthless either, I suppose. It supports Petrine primacy well, but that isn't something Christians often disagree about. It gives only a little support to the primacy of the Roman See and none at all to the later medieval or especially the modern concept of the Pope, except for the fact that it is a good argument for petrine primacy which is a plank in the papal primacy argument. If I were Bryan Cross, I could have come up with a rebuttal to Turretinfan's rebuttal that would have made a somewhat better case for the recognition of some kind of Roman primacy based on the quotes that he and Turretinfan supplied.

Turretinfan's response was excellent insofar that it gave context and fleshed out Bryan's quotes. It also correctly and aptly chided Bryan for not citing his sources. It was far from perfect, however. Turretinfan failed to understand what Hilary was saying (at least in the English translations Cross and Turretinfan supplied). I think he must have skimmed rather than reading carefully since what he has written on other occasions suggests to me that he does have a good grasp on grammar and logic. Turretinfan did not succesfully or convincingly deal with the Jerome quotes. What he did was unconvincingly try to "explain them away" with DTKing's help. To me, that sort of thing hurts a person's argument. I wish for Turretinfan's sake that he could see that, that he could put himself in the shoes of someone like me who reads more carefully and notices that kind of sloppiness and finds that it detracts from the larger argument.

Given the material they were working with (that is, given their research), I think I could have made a better argument than Bryan Cross and a better rebuttal than Turretinfan, or at least better by my standards of argumentation, which gives no credit to bluster or the piling on of not-so-good argumentation in the hopes that it will add up to something greater than the sum of its parts. I give them credit for their research, though. I'm lazy and I wouldn't have taken the time to do that. The assignment you gave me didn't change but merely reinforced the conclusion I had already reached--the "early church" of the first few centuries had a notion of some kind of Roman primacy, but did not apparently believe in the doctrine of the papacy as it later developed in the medieval western church and the post-reformation Roman Catholic church. Interestingly, based on the quotes that Turretinfan himself supplied, Basil of Caesarea apparently shared in that notion of Roman primacy. I'm surprised that he read the same thing I read and reached a very different conclusion or that he posted lengthy quotes that subverted his own argument.

There's more but I won't elaborate right now. If you really find that exchange and the subject matter interesting I suggest you reread it more carefully. As for me I don't really need that sort of homework, unless you are going to follow up and explain to me the point of assigning it to me--the point that you are trying to make.

Tim Enloe said...

I can meet Steelikat halfway by saying that much of RC misinformation was not arrived at by patent dishonesty on their parts. The line between misinformation and poor interpretation is not always black-and-white.

For instance, papalists claim that it was "always" believed that the pope had supreme power, and only "rebels" against "the constant belief of every age" dissented.

Putting oneself in the papalists' shoes, one can see how this seems an honest evaluation to them. Their opinion is derived not from willful, malicious distortion of the historical records, but from theological first principles that appear (to them) to be self-evident and which are then used to selectively filter the historical records so that it is possible (from their point of view) to honestly say that "all catholics who were orthodox always believed in papal supremacy."

The problem here - at least with the widely-informed papalists - is not (necessarily) base dishonesty, but a failure to allow other first principles a just hearing, and so, to allow other reconstructions of the historical sources a just hearing.

For the most part, however, we don't deal with widely-informed papalists on the Internet. Mostly we deal with extremely underinformed and unprepared laymen. I recently had a talk with a Catholic guy with an M.A. in political theory, but he had never heard of any of the Medieval people I mentioned, and eventually produced a "response" to my claims that was just a summary of an encyclopedia article he hastily ran and dug up from the deep, dark recesses of the library stacks.

Such does not necessarily have to be considered a dishonest response, but it SHOULD be considered an unreasonable response.

John Bugay said...

Steelikat -- You must never forget that Roman "history" about the papacy is almost never "history," but rather, it is "pious romance" that has, however, been accepted and used and passed on as history. I've gone into quite a bit of detail on this; but it's something that needs to be reported more widely:

All the essential claims of the modern papacy, it might seem, are contained in this Gospel saying about the Rock, and in Irenaeus' account of the apostolic pedigree of the early bishops of Rome. Yet matters are not so simple. The popes trace their commission from Christ through Peter, yet for Irenaeus the authority of the Church at Rome came from its foundation by two Apostles, not one, Peter and Paul, not Peter alone. The tradition that Peter and Paul had been put to death at the hands of Nero in Rome about the year ad 64 was universally accepted in the second century, and by the end of that century pilgrims to Rome were being shown the 'trophies' of the Apostles, their tombs or cenotaphs, Peter's on the Vatical Hill, and Paul's on the Via Ostiensis, outside the walls on the road to the coast. Yet on all of this the New Testament is silent. Later legend would fill out the details of Peter's life and death in Rome -- his struggles with the magician and father of heresy, Simon Magus, his miracles, his attempted escape from persecution in Rome, a flight from which he was turned back by a reproachful vision by Christ (the 'Quo Vadis' legend), and finally his crucifixion upside down in the Vatican Circus at the time of the Emperor Nero. These stories were to be accepted [and handed on] as sober history by some of the greatest minds of the early Church -- Origen, Ambrose, Augustine. But they are pious romance, not history, and the fact is that we have no reliable accounts either of Peter's later life or the manner or place of his death. Neither Peter nor Paul founded the Church at Rome, for there were Christians in the city before either of the Apostles set foot there. Nor can we assume, as Irenaeus did, that the Apostles established there a succession of bishops to carry on their work in the city, for all the indications are that there was no single bishop at Rome for almost a century after the deaths of the Apostles. In fact, wherever we turn, the solid outlines of the Petrine succession at Rome seem to blur and dissolve. (Eamon Duffy's history of the papacy, pg 2.)

http://beggarsallreformation.blogspot.com/2010/05/papacy-built-on-pious-fiction-and.html

Turretinfan said...

Mr. Meyer,

Thanks for your compliment, "well educated and informed people such as you," and I apologize that my comment came across as dismissive. I meant for the smiley to be with you, not at you.

ChristianBooks is currently offering the series for $120, which they claim is 90% off the list price of $1200. As excellent as the commentaries are, I don't think anyone would pay $1200 for them these days.

$20 is a real steal, but shipping will probably cost one more than that.

- TurretinFan

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

John,

Excellent point about the pious romance.

I don't know if you saw my very long comment and question before it disappeared. Basically I didn't understand what point you were making about Bryan Cross by sending me to the Turretinfan article, which I read, enjoyed a little, and reacted to. Come to think of it maybe I don't want to know--if you are just going to talk up how despicable you think he is. I have no reason to believe you and I have no interest in that particular type of gossip and personal negativism.

Most of us are sinners and know it. If we are going to start getting specific we should decry and gossip about our own sins rather than decry the sins of other individuals.

John Bugay said...

Steelikat -- if one of your posts disappeared, it may have gone into the "spam filter." I read all of your posts, including the long one.

What the Turretinfan article did was to analyze a long string of ECF "citations" that mentioned Peter -- Bryan used these to "prove" an early belief in some sort of papacy or Roman primacy.

Turretinfan and D.T.King basically provided context for these quotes and in each and every case, not one of them spoke about a "papacy."

Some of the earlier blog posts I've written here deal at length with the history of the early papacy -- what the church knew, and when they knew it.

Rome has dogmatically pronounced that the papacy was divinely instituted by Christ in Matt 16.

But the early church did not seem to realize this until approximately the time of Damasus -- when he "figured out" that he was "in charge" of the whole church.

That was a surprise to everyone else. But after that, with the power and wealth of the empire behind them, the bishops of Rome were able to wield great power, and they held to this story.

My contention has been that the papacy (which did not exist for probably the hardest four centuries of the church's existence) could not have been a "divine institution."

And if is not a "divine institution," then for them to continue to assert that it is, is fundamentally dishonest.

It's not the case that "somebody has to be in charge." Early in the Reformation, Luther was willing to concede that the church should allow the popes to have leadership under something like Romans 13:1. This was not a good enough concession for them at the time.

I believe if Luther had had a clearer understanding of the history of the early papacy, then he would have been much less willing to make concessions than he did.

Tim Enloe said...

And if is not a "divine institution," then for them to continue to assert that it is, is fundamentally dishonest.

Isn't it only "dishonest" if they KNOW it isn't a divine institution but they continue to claim it is?

Steelikat is right about putting oneself in someone else's shoes. I can't see hearts. I am unwilling to claim that any particular Catholic, let alone Catholics as a general class, are being "dishonest." That's beyond my competence to know. What is within my competence to know is that their typical arguments for the divine institution of the papacy are shot through with theological and historical holes, thus making their claims "implausible" at best and "incorrect" at worst. But that's not the same thing as "dishonest."

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Steelikat: "If we are going to start getting specific we should decry and gossip about our own sins rather than decry the sins of other individuals."

Did the NT apostles and Early Church Fathers decry the sins of other individuals?

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Steelikat: "I wouldn't condemn nor contemn anyone for condemning false doctrine."

Really?

"But you can do so respectfully (even when your opponents aren't respecting you, and they almost never will respect you!)"

Are you the judge of what is "respectful"?

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Steelikat: "Given the material they were working with (that is, given their research), I think I could have made a better argument than Bryan Cross and a better rebuttal than Turretinfan"

I highly, highly doubt you could make a better rebuttal than TurretinFan's.

"or at least better by my standards of argumentation,"

Good thing you added this qualification.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Tim Enloe: "I am unwilling to claim that any particular Catholic, let alone Catholics as a general class, are being "dishonest." That's beyond my competence to know. What is within my competence to know is that their typical arguments for the divine institution of the papacy are shot through with theological and historical holes, thus making their claims "implausible" at best and "incorrect" at worst. But that's not the same thing as "dishonest."

Aiming for charity. Usually a good thing.

I have spoken to pro-gay folks who have said that 10% of the population is gay. Some dissenting folks said that these pro-gay folks are being dishonest. When these pro-gay folks are presenting their arguments and one disagrees, is it better to say that they are "making their claims 'implausible' at best and 'incorrect' at worst"? And is it also wrong to say that they are being dishonest?

steelikat said...

I don't know about solid proof but if you include the context that Turretinfan and diking provided there is evidence for a kind of primacy of the bishop of Rome (even from the Basil of Caesarea quotes Turretinfan provided if you read carefully which is interesting since Turretinfan seemed to be presenting thaose quotes as proof that Basil was completely unaware of any kind of Roman priimacy whatsoever) but of course nothing like the later concept of the papacy.

steelikat said...

Truth,

The apostles surely did. What's your point? You surely wouldn't argue that because the apostles decried sin bloggers are justified in whining that other bloggers are despicable when their work is dealt with critically rather than with uncritical adulation, would you?

steelikat said...

Truth,

Of course I wouldn't, woul you?

If you don't know the difference, all on your own, between being respect and disrespect you should avoid communicating with anyone other than kin and close friends. Seriously.

"i highly doubt you could make a better rebuttal than turretinfan did."

Maybe you're right. I could have improved his rebuttal, in the ways I alluded to.

It is wrong to accuse someone of dishonesty if you don't know know for sure they are dishonest. To do so is, well, dishonest.

John Bugay said...

Isn't it only "dishonest" if they KNOW it isn't a divine institution but they continue to claim it is?

I'm saying the whole enterprise of the papacy is fundamentally dishonest. And it has been, from the beginning of those claims. That is, for Stephen to have tried to claim some sort of coup, by being the first bishop of Rome to have claimed Matthew 16 for himself.

What kind of person does that?

Tim Enloe said...

Truth:

Yes, I think it is wrong to say someone is "dishonest" unless one has very solid reasons for believing that they KNOW what they are saying is false, but they are saying it anyway. "Dishonest," after all, means "lying," and that is always a very serious charge to make. If one does not take very serious care making it, one may violate the 9th Commandment, and that is nothing to sneeze at.

Tim Enloe said...

I think I understand why you say it is "dishonest," John. The evidence you have examined seems incontrovertibly to point to the conclusion that the whole institution is founded on frauds, pious romances, and exaggerated principles. You rightly want to know how intelligent people can believe in this thing when there seems to be so much evidence pointing the other direction.

I agree with the gist of your view on that, but I'm trying to point out that just because something seems obvious to us does not mean it is universally obvious, and that in turn means that someone who denies what seems obvious to us is not necessarily "lying."

The papacy is part of a very complex cultural legacy in the West. It results from reading certain passages of the Bible in the context of a vast warp and woof of Latinized culture, and it's not really accurate to call all of Latinized culture "dishonest." Not even the forgeries were meant as "lies" when they were originally written. There was a different concept of truth at work when those things were written, and while it's one thing to vehemently disagree with that concept of truth it's something else entirely to say that concept of truth is just flat wicked and that the people who held it KNEW they were being wicked but they did it anyway.

These are very complicated matters, and they require great care dealing with them. I'm not attacking you, I hope you know - just trying to clarify.

John Bugay said...

Tim - I understand what you are saying, and I don't perceive any "attack."

Nor do I hold it against everyday Catholics who get sucked in.

I purposely don't say "they were lying." I say, "it's a fundamentally dishonest enterprise" to just pick up and "assume" that "we're in charge."

Hermas's point, as I've cited here, is that the early presbyters of Rome "fought among themselves as to who was greatest."

The whole thing was fundamentally dishonest and unChristlike from the beginning.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Steelikat: "If we are going to start getting specific we should decry and gossip about our own sins rather than decry the sins of other individuals."

Me: "Did the NT apostles and Early Church Fathers decry the sins of other individuals?"

Steelikat: "The apostles surely did. What's your point?"

----

Since "the apostles surely did" decry the sins of other individuals, what's your point?

steelikat said...

truth,

No point. You just seemed to be asking me a question, so I felt compelled to answer.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Me: "Since "the apostles surely did" decry the sins of other individuals, what's your point?"

Steelikat: "truth,

No point."


LOL! Thanks for admitting that you've been making pointless statements.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Steelikat,

Are you the judge of what is "respectful"?

Viisaus said...

Here you can find John Calvin's commentaries free online:

http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/calvin/index.htm

John Bugay said...

Hi Viisaus, thanks for your suggestion. I've used the CCEL version.

I'm a guy who likes books. The books seem to be formatted very nicely -- especially Calvin's "Harmony of the Gospels". That sort of thing is very hard to reproduce online, and it makes navigation difficult. I'm very glad that CCEL has done what it's done; maybe some of the newer technologies make it possible just to put pages online that look like the real printed pages. (Catalog companies are doing that sort of thing now).

I'm looking forward to that sort of thing.

steelikat said...

Truth,

You're welcome.

YOU are the one who needs to be able to know the difference between respect and disrespect, if YOU are the one who is going to live and interact with other people. Seriously.

John Bugay said...

Steelikat, one reason why I think you may be getting hung up on TUAD's statements is because you seem to want to advocate a kind of neutrality -- perhaps characterized by a respect for others' positions. But in Reformed circles, we are all well aware that Van Til and others have held that there's no such thing as "neutrality," and that to attempt to be "neutral," or to suggest that some positions may be morally equivalent, when they are not, is in itself to fall prey to a kind of error.

steelikat said...

John,

No,It's just that when someone asks me a question I feel compelled to answer. He could keep me going indefinitely. In fact he could just repeatedly type "why?" to save time. Well, I guess that's essentially what he's doing, but I'll oblige if he finds it entertaining.

steelikat said...

Truth,

I sense that my answer is not helping you. I think you are asking the wrong question. One doesn't approach the question of respect by asking the question "who's the judge of respect?" All that does is give one a way to put off fulfilling the imperative.

Here's how I learned it. I don't think it's unusual, but it cannot happen this way for many people, for various reasons. When I was a child, I would sometimes behave in a certain way towards others, a way that did not grant them the dignity they were due as my elders, or as my peers, or simply as persons made in the image of God. When I would do that often a parent, usually my father, would call me out on it and tell me that I was being disrespectful. He would also model for me what respectful but dignified behavior was simply by living his life the way I guess his father taught him. The question is, what if one is an adult and for whatever reason wasn't raised that way? What does one do? I don't know the answer because that's not my experience. But I can say for sure that one doesn't do it by asking the question "who is the judge of respect?" It's something that a child learns by watching a role model, and by being corrected. I suppose an adult who needed to learn it would have to consciously pick a role model, someone he already thinks he respects, even if he doesn't quite understand what respect is.

They may not be helpful for you, but honestly it's the best I can do. If you still feel your question hasn't been answered please ask someone else--ideally someone you think you might already respect, if there is such a person.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Steelikat,

Not only do you make pointless statements, as you have admitted, but you are not yet able to see that you are a judgmental Pharisee in terms of the issue of "respect."

You are unwilling to state and acknowledge that your standards of "respect" are subjective and that you pharasaically seek to impose your subjective standards onto others and the discussion with your moralizing about "respect."

Stop being such a judgmental Pharisee.

Furthermore, I think you've been disrespectful towards me. So with all your moralizing, I also find you to be a terrible hypocrite as a Pharisee.

Seriously.

John Bugay said...

Steelikat: Rome and the Reformation are sisters, both arising out of the medieval western church. We have EQUAL claims to historical continuity and there is no reason for defensiveness on our part.

This, of course, is wrong. It may have been correct to a point, but Rome took a wrong path and has been, as I've said elsewhere, "derailed ever since."

To suggest that we have EQUAL claims to "historical continuity" or whatever else is to fall, as I mentioned in my previous claim, for the notion of "moral equivalence." I can understand the desire to treat people with respect. I have family and friends who are Roman Catholic, and they get nothing but respect from me.

But when you talk about "Roman Catholicism" generally, as a religion that claims its own superiority (in the face of history that has disproved its claims many times over), and further, seeks to bind your conscience and mine to these claims, that is going way too far.

At Trent, Rome anathematized what we say is "the Gospel." (This was reiterated in the letter from Charles Hodge that I posted this morning.)

Only one side in this can be correct. The choices are mutually exclusive. If you choose one, you have to reject the other one.

Tim Enloe said...

John, it certainly was wrong for the early presbyters of Rome - and for all the later popes - to fight among themselves as to who would be the greatest. Christ said that in the kingdom of heaven it will not be like it is among Gentile rulers. Throughout the later Middle Ages, the popes became increasingly shrill about their "prerogatives" relative to the rest of the Church, and by the time of the Western Schism, they cared more about their own "rights" than they did anything else. This marked them as tyrants on the classical definition of the term, and being tyrants, they were lawfully resisted by what Calvin would later call "lower magistrates."

What I'm trying to tease out here is the complex interaction of the spiritual ideas of the kingdom with the temporal world in which we still have to live until we die. It makes perfect sense without invoking any charges of "dishonesty" why the Bishop of Rome would begin to see himself as the principatus of the Western Church. The Empire in the West was radically transformed from the 3rd to 6th centuries, and he simply, quite naturally, stepped into the power vacuum left by the loss of the emperor in Rome. Thomas F.X. Noble's fascinating book The Republic of St. Peter chronicles how this happened in Italy under Gregory the Great, and his survey doesn't really leave any room for calling the popes "dishonest" in their primacy claims. Not unless, by direct parallel, one wants to call American Christians "dishonest" for adopting democratic / congregationalist polities because that is just the "cultural air" that we breathe in America.

Tim Enloe said...

If we look at the papacy as simply a political organization, it is not fundamentally "dishonest from the beginning.” In its basic assumptions, it was just a natural result of normal human life in the Roman Empire of the Late Antique period. That does not give it carte blanche, for there were other political options possible, including the “Ciceronian” Republican system that had preceded the Augustan principate in 329 B.C.

Nevertheless, as Peter Brown has remarkably shown in his The Rise of Western Christendom, the Christians of the first few centuries so deeply breathed the “cultural air” of the Empire that they did not even realize most of the time how they were adapting – and sometimes even contradicting – statements of the Bible to their native cultural context.

I do agree with you that the primacy claims are drastically wrong biblically, and I'd add that even in terms of temporal politics they have proven themselves incapable of really maintaining unity and peace. The Reformers, in fact, argued not just that the papalist system was unbiblical and a historical accretion, but that it had radically subverted the goodness of the natural and political orders, as well.

Nothing I’m saying is meant to excuse the papacy for its various enormities. I just want to take account of a larger range of criticisms than is typical in Protestant circles. We’ve largely forgotten the classical heritage that the Reformers themselves operated within, and so by recovering it, as I am advocating, we actually strengthen our overall case.

Tim Enloe said...

Ugh, I don't know how that date for the Augustan principate turned from "29 B.C." into "329 B.C." This comments box is out to get me, sometimes, I believe. It should be "29 B.C."

Also, doggone it, I forgot the Turretin volume at home again. Sorry.

John Bugay said...

Tim, in a thread over at Triablogue, where "CathApol" is interacting with some of the guys, someone brought up Pope Alexander VI. And CathApol responded with, "infallibility doesn't mean impeccability."

Of course you realize, the distance is extreme between mere "peccability" and what Alexander VI was. But the papacy is such that a [probably] decent guy like "CathApol" needs to make a statement like that one in order to defend it.

This (as well as my earlier post on Stephen and Firmilian) is the kind of dishonesty that I have in mind when I say that the whole enterprise is dishonest. The way some of the early legend sprung up about Peter, and how those legends became "true history" -- that's dishonest.

I am aware that, up to a point, Luther was *ok with* having someone in charge; and further, that Christians ought to "be subject" to him in the Romans 13 sense. And no doubt I am mixing categories when I suggest that the claim of "divine institution" goes far, far beyond any sense of primacy that the early church attributed to Rome. (Rome and Alexandria being functionally -- and regionally -- equivalent at the time of Nicea, for example. Not to mention the lesser status it had prior to that.)

Lately I tend to think that Jesus may have had the lineage of the papacy in mind when he talked about the one who, being invited to the banquet, took too high of a seat, and was later embarrassed at being asked to take a lower seat.

You must be aware of the backtracking in language about the papacy from Vatican I to Vatican II and later Ut Unum Sint. I can't help but think that a pope like JPII may have thought the popes did that very thing (too high of a seat), and (maybe thanks to the historical research that the Vatican itself did in 1989 but never published) is their effort to maybe slink out of that "too high of a seat.

There is a huge difference, not only in degree but in kind, between being "principatus of the Western Church" (which most Christians in the 4th-6th centuries could agree to) and being "divinely instituted" by Christ at Matt 16. All of these things lead me to continue to see "the whole enterprise" as "fundamentally dishonest."

You are probably more aware than I am of the harm that the over-reaching of the papacy has done to the church universal, in both degree and in kind.

Tim Enloe said...

Yes, the common Catholic response to the argument I am making here is "the popes aren't sinless." That simply misses the point. I'm not speaking of "sin" per se, but of political narcissism.

The point is that within the context of the Western tradition - meaning, from the Greeks, to the Romans, through the Christian Middle Ages, to the Reformation - there is a persistent theme that if a ruler becomes a tyrant (that is, if he cares more about himself than about his subjects), he strips himself of his authority and no longer has to be obeyed. There are Old Testament precedents for this principle, as well, and also Christian Anglo-Saxon precedents, so it is not merely some "pagan Greek" thing.

The Catholic "they aren't sinless" argument illegitimately assumes the opposite premise, that it is OTHERS who illegitimately arrogate to themselves pretend authority in order to strip the sinful pope of his authority. On the contrary, it is the POPE HIMSELF who strips himself of his authority by being a tyrant. Actions taken against a tyrant by lower magistrates are therefore NOT "rebellion," nor are they illegitimate arrogations of self-granted authority above that of the tyrant. Lower magistrates are LAWFUL authorities in their own right. The tyrant literally has NO authority once he is demonstrated to be a tyrant, and so resistance to him is not in any sense "disobedience." You can't "disobey" someone who has no authority to compel your obedience.

Tim Enloe said...

John, just to make things simple, let me say that I think we basically agree on all points except for, apparently, the utility of using the word "dishonesty" to describe the origins and nature of the papalist system. We agree on all the substantive points, I think.

As I said, I'm just trying to take account of a larger array of options (which the Reformers themselves took account of!), and I don't personally believe that the word "dishonesty" is the best one to use. But you can chalk that up, I guess, to just Tim's opinion, and feel no worry about it. :)

John Bugay said...

Tim, maybe "dishonest" isn't precisely the correct word. But I'm not just talking about the individuals who held the office. I'm suggesting that historically, the office of "pope" is an illegitimate one.

I can live with a Catholic like Francis Sullivan, who suggests (following Raymond Brown) that the episcopal office evolved the way that it did, being guided by God for the good of the church.

But such a thing precludes the very idea of "overseers" in NT times being anything like what they have become in the modern RCC; it precludes the notion of a hierarchy in those days, of the very idea that there could be some kind of "visible Church that Christ founded."

Bryan Cross has not evolved these ideas in a vacuum. They exist within "the Church" itself. (See my spoof post on "The Roman Church thinks Highly of Itself"):

http://reformation500.wordpress.com/2010/04/06/the-roman-church-thinks-highly-of-itself/

Sullivan would be rejected by many bishops as well as apologists. If there is any hope at all in the world for the Roman church, it is through the work of people like Sullivan. But I don't think he'll ultimately survive.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

John Bugay,

Do you still stand behind this post that you wrote: Rome's Institutionally Sanctioned Lying?

John Bugay said...

Truth: Yes.

Tim Enloe said...

John, that makes more sense. I would agree that so long as the papacy remains unreformed and stubbornly clings to its tyrannical notions of "power" and "prestige," not to mention its numerous very harmful accretions in the doctrine of salvation, then it is in that sense "illegitimate." IF - that is, IF - it was more or less what Sullivan describes, and IF - that is, IF - the soteriological issues were not what they are, I would also say (and I think the Reformers would have supported this) that for the most part there would be little harm in keeping the episcopal structure, and perhaps in allowing the pope to be the "president" of a council.

But all those things are counter-factual, of course, and what we are having to deal with is the reality of the thing. And that reality is the reality of a tyrant who has persistently refused reasonable attempts at correction, and so has stripped itself (500 years ago, if not earlier than that, even) of any purported "right" it MAY have ONCE had to be obeyed.

John Bugay said...

But all those things are counter-factual, of course, and what we are having to deal with is the reality of the thing.

"Counter-factual" of course is THE key word in dealing with Roman Catholicism.

But as to "the reality of the thing," this is only conjecture, but two years after Lampe's study came out in 1987, the Vatican commissioned its own "historical" study. They have access to far more information than any of us do.

To my knowledge, they never released that information. And yet, in 1995, they came out with Ut Unum Sint. (And a short while later, there was a "theological" study, and Ratzinger affirmed strongly that "only the pope in conjunction with the bishops would have the last word."

Given the speed with which things are happening in the "internet" world, I'm very much inclined to think that we, in our lifetimes, will see some significant changes. (Look at how quickly the Soviet Union fell. I grew up in that era -- thinking that world would never change. But it fell like a house of cards).

I believe Rome may think that it is in a similar position. (Thinking too of Mailer's "Armies of the Night" -- hoping I'm not dissuading anyone from reading that.)

I think the upside could be endless for a Christianity (the real "one true church") if the papacy would be out of the way.

John Bugay said...

Of course, that doesn't mean we take Rome under our wing right away. As you said, soteriology matters in a crucial way.

Ardi said...

Why all this fuss about Trueman's intentions, when he can explain himself and we can take his response to Bryan Cross. And it would be good to focus in one thing, if we grant that the RCC is the continual of the first apostolic church, why like Calvin mantains, has been corrupted, when did it happen and how this can be explained within the promises of Christ for His church, His bride. How many brides there are? I know that it will explained by the Unvisible Church idea or remnant, but let this be the discussion even in the different opinions that exist.
Andy

Ardi said...

Why all this fuss about Trueman's intentions, when he can explain himself and we can take his response to Bryan Cross. And it would be good to focus in one thing, if we grant that the RCC is the continual of the first apostolic church, why like Calvin mantains, has been corrupted, when did it happen and how this can be explained within the promises of Christ for His church, His bride. How many brides there are? I know that it will explained by the Unvisible Church idea or remnant, but let this be the discussion even in the different opinions that exist.
Andy

Tim Enloe said...

I wonder if they DO have access to far more historical information. They do have the Vatican Archives, but those things are HUGE and, at least according to sources I have read, they have never been adequately catalogued. They have only been opened to scholars for about a century, and that's nowhere near enough time for those piles and piles of half-decaying manuscripts to be properly sorted and analyzed. Plus, they lost a lot of it in the sack of Rome in 1527, and then in Napoleon's abortive attempt to transfer the Archives to Paris. One source I read said that portions of records of the Inquisition could be found lining the bottom of birdcages in Paris shortly after Napoleon. So, who really knows what they have or don't have.

Nevertheless, it seems that Oberman (was it Oberman?) is right about the trend toward a "Tradition III" view in Rome, where history doesn't really matter because only the "living voice" of the Church matters. This is, at any rate, what the more educated Catholic apologists such as Liccione and Prejean advocate. There's no arguing with them precisely because their beliefs are not rooted in anything outside of what makes sense to their own heads. It seems that the Magisterium underwrites this view, too. Only the naively evidentialist converts from Evangelicalism still maintain that historical "proof" for Rome's various claims exists and really, really matters.

John Bugay said...

Hi Ardi, welcome to Beggars All.

Why all this fuss about Trueman's intentions, when he can explain himself and we can take his response to Bryan Cross.

I've tried posting my comments over there; they don't seem to make it through the moderators.

John Bugay said...

Tim, I don't think Oberman was the one who posited "Tradition III"; but I can check that when I get home.

Nor do I have any way of knowing what the Vatican might really know. I'm just speculating on what their "historical study" might have involved.

steelikat said...

Truth,

I think you must have misunderstood something I said. I was trying to answer your question. At first I thought you were asking the question over and over even after I'd answered it just to be annoying and because you knew I'd feel compelled to answer every time. Then I wondered whether you were really sincerely trying to get a better answer out of me so I approached it from a different angle and tried to answer the question in a different way.

Let's start over. Do you think you could rephrase the question?

steelikat said...

John,

"But Rome took a wrong path and has been derailed ever since."

I think there is a serious problem with that analysis. It seems to me that the wrong path was taken by the unified Western church long BEFORE the reformation and resulting schism. If that were not the case, there would have been no need for the reformation.

As to whether Rome took a wrong path, I think the more significant problem is that it started out from the wrong place to begin with. As to the path it has taken, it's been a mixed bag. The definition of papal infallibility and the immaculate conception and assumption as dogmas were serious steps backwards. The reforms of indulgences and other abuses, the moving away from dogmatic conceptions of limbo and purgatory and the theological progress that has been made in regards to justification and the movement away from the hardline antiprotestantism of the first couple of centuries after Trent have been steps in the right direction.

The main issue isn't the path Rome has taken, it was the anathematizing of the Reformers and separating itself from Protestants to begin with.

As for "respecting others' positions" surely I've demonstrated to you that I have absolutely no inclination to respect positions I believe to be incorrect. Respecting other persons as persons is a different matter. I am sure we ought to do that and whenever I've failed I've been acting against my convictions rather than in accordance eith them.

steelikat said...

John,

"The choices are mutually exclusive. If you choose one you have to reject the other one."

On the one hand, that goes without saying. On the other hand, You can say that again! :-)

steelikat said...

Truth,

I've thought of another way to answer your question:

Here's the question again, rephrased for rigor and clarity:

Is it true that the person who uses the handle "steelikat" on blogger is the person who is assigned the task of determining for all the other people in the world whether their behavior is respectful?

What assumption necessarily underlies that question? Simply this: That their exists a person who has been assigned the task of determining for all the other people in the world whether their behavior is respectful.

If that assumption is true, it could be the fact that I just happen to be that person, but how likely would that be? About a one in seven billion chance (since their are seven billion people in the world). So if we take the underlying assumption to be true, the answer to your question would be "not likely, there's only a one in seven billion chance of it."

But what if the underlying assumption is false? I submit that obviously it is false, most normal people know how to behave respectfully, they learn that in childhood, and it doesn't even occur to them that they need to seek out some "judge" of behaving respectfully in order to know how to do so. If that is the case, your question is meaningless and unanswerable--the only response is the one I gave you: you have to learn on your own how to behave respectfully, you aren't going to have a "judge" you can call to help you, and until you do that you ought to avoid interacting with other people.

Reformed Veritas said...

What gives, TU&D?
Anonymity for thee, but not for me?

But hey, I was walking on the Internet the other day and I found this piece of paper with the original first paragraph to the post that Blogger blew away.

The thing about Mr. Cross that perhaps even Mr. Trueman doesn't get, is that the nice guy act is either naive or deceitful. (It would also help if Mr. T. would over-emphasize the fact that catholic and Rome are not synonyms. But hey, Bryan said nice things about Carl, put up a nice picture and I dunno, as an academic, CT feels the need to extend the collegial olive branch. As for “Protestant Amnesia”, as a protestant convert from Rome, I could have told you that 30 years ago. Evangelicals pride themselves on having empty heads. Sound doctrine divides and all that.) What's really aggravating about Bryan though, is that he claims to be an ex- protestant, all the while he keeps on making the simplest and stupidest mistakes about protestant doctrine - which same doctrine of course, pushed him over the edge into the embrace of Rome. (Same song, previous verse, Scott Hahn.) He doesn’t know his protestant abc’s, but he keeps promoting himself as a knowledgeable - and others think so too, they tell us that quite readily and repeatedly - and ecumenical kind of nice guy seeking unity in the faith; an ex- protestant who has seen the light, who just wants to dialogue with his separated Christian brothers now. And not only do people buy into it, who can complain or criticize that, other than all the mean spirited and bitter protestants out there who have nothing better to do than to be negative? Like, come on now, let’s share the love, bro. (Everybody will please stand and turn in their hymnals to that old ecumenical favorite, Kumbya. We’ll sing the first three stanzas and the last. . . .)

steelikat, you’re a johnny come lately to the whole Bryan Cross thing. As above, I thought the Trueman column lame, but that’s not what is really under discussion and you really don’t respond to that.

Again Bryan doesn’t have to agree with Protestant doctrine in order to present it fairly and honestly, but he hasn’t, he doesn’t and I am bold to say, he won’t. Because if he does, he’s got to find other reasons for justifying himself, leaving protestantism and glorifying Rome (as well as earning his salvation as evangelist for popery.) But what else is new? Bryan is an intelligent guy and he won’t steer you wrong. If you play his game, you will get along just fine. Have fun.

John Bugay said...

"Reformed Veritatis" has posted something that seems to again have been caught up in the spam filter. I've reposted it here:


What gives, TU&D?
Anonymity for thee, but not for me?

But hey, I was walking on the Internet the other day and I found this piece of paper with the original first paragraph to the post that Blogger blew away.

The thing about Mr. Cross that perhaps even Mr. Trueman doesn't get, is that the nice guy act is either naive or deceitful. (It would also help if Mr. T. would over-emphasize the fact that catholic and Rome are not synonyms. But hey, Bryan said nice things about Carl, put up a nice picture and I dunno, as an academic, CT feels the need to extend the collegial olive branch. As for “Protestant Amnesia”, as a protestant convert from Rome, I could have told you that 30 years ago. Evangelicals pride themselves on having empty heads. Sound doctrine divides and all that.) What's really aggravating about Bryan though, is that he claims to be an ex- protestant, all the while he keeps on making the simplest and stupidest mistakes about protestant doctrine - which same doctrine of course, pushed him over the edge into the embrace of Rome. (Same song, previous verse, Scott Hahn.) He doesn’t know his protestant abc’s, but he keeps promoting himself as a knowledgeable - and others think so too, they tell us that quite readily and repeatedly - and ecumenical kind of nice guy seeking unity in the faith; an ex- protestant who has seen the light, who just wants to dialogue with his separated Christian brothers now. And not only do people buy into it, who can complain or criticize that, other than all the mean spirited and bitter protestants out there who have nothing better to do than to be negative? Like, come on now, let’s share the love, bro. (Everybody will please stand and turn in their hymnals to that old ecumenical favorite, Kumbya. We’ll sing the first three stanzas and the last. . . .)

steelikat, you’re a johnny come lately to the whole Bryan Cross thing. As above, I thought the Trueman column lame, but that’s not what is really under discussion and you really don’t respond to that.

Again Bryan doesn’t have to agree with Protestant doctrine in order to present it fairly and honestly, but he hasn’t, he doesn’t and I am bold to say, he won’t. Because if he does, he’s got to find other reasons for justifying himself, leaving protestantism and glorifying Rome (as well as earning his salvation as evangelist for popery.) But what else is new? Bryan is an intelligent guy and he won’t steer you wrong. If you play his game, you will get along just fine. Have fun.

John Bugay said...

Hi R.V., I wanted to welcome you to Beggars All -- I may have done so elsewhere, I don't remember. Lately I'm doing a lot of running, and commenting while on the run.

Bryan Cross is a smart guy and when he says false (dishonest!) things about Protestantism, he seems to have some authority, and he fools a lot of people.

But the journey into, and out of Rome is a long one, but I'm sure that some of the folks who go there (full of excitement, out of the Reformed world) will I'm sure, like "john," as I have done, and you and others, find out the genuine truth of the Scriptures, all the while being helped through that process by the inner work of the Holy Spirit.

I'm grateful that former Roman Catholics like you and the others are stepping forward to talk about the bitterness of that Roman dive and the true light of forgiveness and freedom that Christ Alone promises and delivers.

Reformed Veritas said...

Hi John, we already know each other from GB (and before that perhaps from Stellman's old site where the CtC got their start). You posted the link to this over there and I am returning the favor to TUAD of pulling his leg a bit since I can only post under Blogger!
Bob S.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"What gives, TU&D?
Anonymity for thee, but not for me?"


I didn't get this at first. Now, I do. Your secret is safe with me, Reformed Veritas.

Pax.

John Bugay said...

Reformed Veritas -- I do see you frequently at G.B., under your disguised name. I very much appreciate your perspective. It seems as if it's those who have never been Catholic who always are the ones who seem to want to give it "a fair hearing." I've tried to emphasize here, there's no such thing as neutrality, or moral equivalence.

I also recall having seen you at De Regnis Duobus, although not so frequently. You are right to point out that the CTC gang "got their start" over there. They all could get together in a virtual "safe haven" that Jason provided, under the guise of "a fair discussion."

John Bugay said...

On the topic of secret identities -- I've just always been able to remember my own name better.

Reformed Veritas said...

Hey, I post over at GB with my real name, not the pseudonym that Blogger makes me here. Hey. Hey. . . .

Yeah, didn't much care for the DRD "safe haven". Figures. It's the PCA.

Signed up for a free copy of the latest issue of Modern Reformation. Horton has a "dialogue" with B. Cross "who" we are told "was raised Pentecostal, became Presbyterian and then Anglican, and in 2006 was received into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church".

Somewhere else I was reading said Bryan was a Cov. Sem. grad.

This was all pretty much news to me, but maybe not to you guys.

Bob S.

Reformed Veritas said...

reading comprehension fail.

The whole blurb from the link above:

For our special issue on Sola Scriptura, Michael Horton, editor-in-chief of Modern Reformation and a co-host of the White Horse Inn, shared in the following exchange with Bryan Cross (M.Div., Covenant Theological Seminary), who was raised Pentecostal, became Presbyterian and then Anglican, and in 2006 was received into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church.

Matt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Meyer said...

Reformed Veritas:
How did you get the free copy? I want to read the article.

Reformed Veritas said...

Sign up now.