Saturday, July 31, 2010

"We Have Apostolic Tradition"- The Unofficial Catholic Apologist Commentary (Master List)

For all of Rome's protests and her insistence upon the need to submit to the 'unanimous consent' of the fathers, as well as her own official definitive meanings of holy Scripture, there are no specific infallible interpretations to which anyone can point! Dogmatic assertions do not make for proof. At the end of the day, no matter how often the claim is made, it is still nothing more than a claim, because Roman apologists cannot produce the actual rule for which they argue. [David King, Holy Scripture: The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith, Volume I, Battle Creek: Christian Resources, 2001, p. 226]

Roman Catholic apologists often let us know how crucial it is to have an infallible magisterium and church Tradition in order to interpret the Bible and history correctly. With so many Catholic apologists now commenting on sacred scripture, I thought it would be interesting to provide their commentary on the Bible.

It doesn't take all that long to find material for these entries. Since Rome doesn't do all that much in actually infallibly interpreting Bible verses, the material is plentiful. The irony of course is that Rome's apologists actually chastise non-Romanists for interpreting the Bible.

Very few texts have in fact been authoritatively determined and there consequently remain many important matters in the explanation of which sagacity and ingenuity of Catholic interpreters can and should be freely exercised…” [Source: Dom Bernard Orchard, M.A., ed., A Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture (London: Thomas Nelson, 1953), p.60, first column (as cited by David T. King, Holy Scripture: The Ground And Pillar of Our Faith Volume 1 (WA: Christian Resources inc, 2001), 223].

The number of texts infallibly interpreted by the Church is small…It has been estimated indeed that the total of such texts is under twenty, though there are of course many other indirectly determined [Source: Dom Bernard Orchard, M.A., ed., A Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture (London: Thomas Nelson, 1953), p.59, second column ((as cited by David T. King, Holy Scripture: The Ground And Pillar of Our Faith Volume 1 (WA: Christian Resources inc, 2001), 224].

...the Church by no means prevents or restrains the pursuit of Biblical science, but rather protects it from error, and largely assists its real progress. A wide field is still left open to the private student, in which his hermeneutical skill may display itself with signal effect and to the advantage of the Church. On the one hand, in those passages of Holy Scripture which have not as yet received a certain and definitive interpretation, such labors may, in the benignant providence of God, prepare for and bring to maturity the judgment of the Church; on the other, in passages already defined, the private student may do work equally valuable, either by setting them forth more clearly to the flock and more skillfully to scholars, or by defending them more powerfully from hostile attack [PROVIDENTISSIMUS DEUS, On The Study Of Holy Scripture (Encylical Of Pope Leo XIII, November 18, 1893].

But very few indeed are the Scripture texts of which the Church authorities have defined the meaning, and even there, their intervention has generally been to say what Scripture does not mean, otherwise leaving open what it does [Maurice Bévenot, S.J. See his chapter 'Scripture and Tradition in Catholic Theology' in F.F. Bruce and E.G. Rupp, eds., Holy Book and Holy Tradition (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1968), p. 181. He repeats himself on p. 183.]

To the best of my knowledge the Roman Catholic Church has never defined the literal sense of a single passage of the Bible. [Raymond E. Brown, The Critical Meaning of the Bible (New York: Paulist, 1981), p. 40.]


The Unofficial Catholic Apologist Commentary #1: Romans 5:12

The Unofficial Catholic Apologist Commentary #2: Genesis 22

The Unofficial Catholic Apologist Commentary #3: Romans 8:35-39

The Unofficial Catholic Apologist Commentary #4: Luke 10:16

The Unofficial Catholic Apologist Commentary #5: 1 John 5:16-17

The Unofficial Catholic Apologist Commentary #6: Luke 16:19-31

The Unofficial Catholic Apologist Commentary #7: 1 Peter 3:18-20

The Unofficial Catholic Apologist Commentary #8: Romans 3:28

The Unofficial Catholic Apologist Commentary #9: Revelation 12:1-2

The Unofficial Catholic Apologist Commentary #10: Romans 3:28 (TurretinFan)

The Unofficial Catholic Apologist Commentary #11: James 5:16

The Unofficial Catholic Apologist Commentary #12: John 6:53

The Unofficial Catholic Apologist Commentary #13: Galatians 2:11-16


The Unofficial Roman Catholic Apologist Guide to Church History #1: The Apocrypha

Friday, July 30, 2010

Catholic Nick, Meet Cardinal Newman

Nick said something funny in the comments down below, and I thought it would be useful for some of you who weren't reading all the comments.

Nick quoted JB: To try to suggest that there was doctrinal and administrative unity is a far, far stretch.

Then Nick said: This, to me, is where the real issue rests. It's more about our starting assumptions than anything. To you, there is no such thing as "doctrinal and administrative unity" beyond the doors of each local congregation - to you it's a fiction of the Catholic mind. Given that, of course you're not going to even entertain the possibility of it when you read the Fathers or other historic documents.

From the Catholic end, your outlook is a form of deism, and I can see why Matthew said some of the things he did about you not really having faith.


If Nick is correct, then Cardinal Newman was guilty of deism:

[Section 11]

Again, the six great Bishops and Saints of the Ante-nicene Church were St. Irenaeus, St. Hippolytus, St. Cyprian, St. Gregory Thaumaturgus, St. Dionysius of Alexandria, and St. Methodius. Of these, St. Dionysius is accused by St. Basil of having sown the first seeds of Arianism and St. Gregory is allowed by the same learned Father to have used language concerning our Lord, which he only defends on the plea of an economical object in the writer. St. Hippolytus speaks as if he were ignorant of our Lord's Eternal Sonship; St. Methodius speaks incorrectly at least upon the Incarnation; and St. Cyprian does not treat of theology at all. Such is the incompleteness of the extant teaching of these true saints, and, in their day, faithful witnesses of the Eternal Son.

Again, Athenagoras, St. Clement, Tertullian, and the two SS. Dionysii would appear to be the only writers whose language is at any time exact and systematic enough to remind us of the Athanasian Creed. If we limit our view of the teaching of the Fathers by what they expressly state, St. Ignatius may be considered as a Patripassian, St. Justin arianizes, and St. Hippolytus is a Photinian.

Again, there are three great theological authors of the Ante-nicene centuries, Tertullian, Origen, and, we may add, Eusebius, though he lived some way into the fourth. Tertullian is heterodox on the doctrine of our Lord's divinity, and, indeed, ultimately fell altogether into heresy or schism; Origen is, at the very least, suspected, and must be defended and explained rather than cited as a witness of orthodoxy; and Eusebius was a Semi-Arian.

12.

Moreover, It may be questioned whether any Ante-nicene father distinctly affirms either the numerical Unity or the Coequality of the Three Persons; except perhaps the heterodox Tertullian, and that chiefly in a work written after he had become a Montanist: yet to satisfy the Anti-roman use of Quod semper, &c., surely we ought not to be left for these great articles of doctrine to the testimony of a later age.


Of course, as a 19th century writer, Newman goes on at some length like this. These are the "difficulties" that he felt he needed to overcome, in order to justify his assumption that the government of the church then, which Christ and the apostles somehow instituted, is the same as the government that exists in the Roman Catholic church now.

These "heterodox" teachings are the "seeds" that developed into the great and perfect faith of the Roman Catholic Church.

Continuing on with Nick's charge of "deism" -- here are a couple of definitions, along with a couple of responses from a historical Protestant confession:

Deism: the form of theological rationalism that believes in God on the basis of reason without reference to revelation

The WCF: Chapter 1.6: The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men.

Or:

Deism: the belief in a god or gods who set the universe in motion, then ceased to interact with it...

The WCF: Chapter 3.1: Of God’s Eternal Decree: God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Luther: I sit here idle and drunk all day long

I haven't spent much time on the new CARM discussion boards. Recently a friend invited me back to check in on a few things. Here's one I found from one of my fans:

After Luther’s “capture”, he wrote Spalatin on May 14th: I sit here idle and drunk all day long: I am reading the Greek and Hebrew Bible.” Marius pg 297 Now, THAT could explain quite a few things. One has no choice but to imagine a drunken Luther working on his “translation” of the Bible into German, the 17th or 18th version available in that native language. Here we have the possibility, if not the probability, of the Martin Luther, the founder of Protestantism, translating the first Protestant Bible while drunk. But then as I mentioned earlier, it sure would explain a number of things in one fell swoop. Now I understand that this admission by Luther himself to being “drunk all day long” goes directly against the “Legend” that Protestantism has built around Him. It also goes against James Swan, who almost certainly knows of this particular quote. “The historical record nowhere documents Luther ever being drunk.” James Swan, “Ten Martin Luther Myths”, 6/30/2007 I’m sure that James, as usual, has an “alternative interpretation” of Luther’s own words, such as that he was “drunk on love of God” or some such other extremely compelling explanation. I am not charging Luther with drunkenness; I am only accepting him at his word, and am placing that admission of drunkenness in the same period of time and at the same location where he did such a “marvelous” job of producing the First Protestant New Testament. Seriously, one has to wonder how James would explain (away) this Luther quote. I think I can guess a few of the possibilities but honestly, I think I am capable of writing his “stuff” better than he can. Quite honestly, it is these kinds of facts about Luther which make the Luther’s “defenders” look to be so blatantly dishonest.

One wonders about why someone would say "I am not charging Luther with drunkenness" but also argue Luther was drunk while translating the Bible. The logic escapes me.

To my knowledge, the historical record nowhere documents Luther ever being drunk. It does provide evidence that he did regularly drink alcohol, and that he enjoyed drinking. Luther preached and wrote against drunkenness throughout his entire life with vigor and force.

On page 297 of Martin Luther: The Christian Between God and Death, Richard Marius states the following, "Yet amid [Luher's] afflictions, he went to work. By May 14 he was writing to Spalatin, 'I sit here idle and drunk all day long; I am reading the Greek and Hebrew Bible. I am writing a sermon in the vernacular on our liberty from auricular confession."

Is this evidence Luther's admits his drunkenness? If it is, it's somewhat odd evidence. Marius is in the midst of documenting Luther's exile in the caste of the Wartburg (1521). He documents some of Luther's physical afflictions. He then describes Luther's letter to Spalatin (May 14, 1521). Along with "I sit here idle and drunk all day long; I am reading the Greek and Hebrew Bible. I am writing a sermon in the vernacular on our liberty from auricular confession," he notes Luther was working on the Psalms and a collection of German sermons.

This quote is found in LW 48 and in WA, Br 2, 337-338 . It comes from a Latin letter Luther wrote while in hiding at the Wartburg. The quote in question occurs here:

Ego otiosus hic et crapulosus sedeo tota die; Bibliam Graecam et Hebraeam lego. Scribam sermonem vernaculum de confessionis auricularis libertate; Psalterium etiam prosequari, et Postillas, ubi e Wittemberga accepero, quibus opus habeo, inter quae et Magnificat inchoatum expecto.

This is a perfect example of a comment that if taken literally in a context doesn't make much sense. If you actually read the entire letter, it's precise and cogent. Luther comments on the Edict of Worms, on the student riots against some clergy of Erfurt, and other events. He also says he's reading the Bible in Greek and Hebrew.

Marius himself translates the comment as "I sit here all day idle and drunk" (p.517), but then explains it's an example of Luther's hyperbole when describing his ability to drink alcohol. He then adds, "[Luther] may have drunk excessively in these early days in the Wartburg, but he could not have imbibed continually and created the enormous output he produced during his 'captivity.' "

Luther's Works Volume 48 takes a different approach. Like Marius, they see that the comment doesn't make sense literally. They renders this text as follows:

I am sitting here all day, drunk with leisure. I am reading the Bible in Greek and Hebrew. I shall write a German tract on the freedom of auricular confession. I shall also continue working on the Psalms and the Postil as soon as I have received the necessary things from Wittenberg—among which I also expect the unfinished Magnificat. [LW 48:223]

One of the most thorough treatments I've ever read on Luther's drinking comes from Roman Catholic historian Hartmann Grisar. Grisar doesn't even take Luther serious in this context:

The task remains of considering certain further traits in Luther's life with regard to his indulgence in drinking. During the first part of his public career Luther himself speaks of the temptation to excessive eating and drinking and other bad habits to which he was exposed. This he did in 1519 in his remarkably frank confession to his superior Staupitz. Here the expression " crapula " must be taken more seriously than on another occasion when, in a letter to a friend written from the Wartburg in the midst of his arduous labours, he describes himself as "sitting idle, and ' crapulosus.' " [source]

Hartmann Grisar was no fan of Luther. His work is typically classified with the earlier Roman Catholic destructive criticism of Luther, but even he doesn't take Luther literally.

The debate centers around the transaltion of the word "crapulosus." Preserved Smith explains:

Crapulosus properly has this' meaning [drunk], and is so used by Luther himself, Weimar, iii, 559, 596. On the other hand, he also uses it of gluttony: "Sicut ebreitas m1nium bibendo, ita crapula nimium comedendo gravat corda," Weimar, ii, 591. Perhaps "surfeited" comes nearer Luther's meaning in this letter [source].

This source translates the word differently as well:

Prof. A. F. Hoppe, in the St. Louis edition of Dr. Luther's Works, translates them: "I sit here the whole day idle and with a heavy head (schweren Kopfes)." Prof. Dan translates them: "I am sitting idle all day and oppressed with thoughts" [source].

One thing is indeed certain on this topic. For those who wish to vilify Luther, the word must literally mean "drunk." I don't deny Luther drank and enjoyed doing so, but this quote isn't evidence that he translated the Bible drunk.

For more on this topic see, Luther's Drinking (Part One).

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What they knew and when they knew it: the Roman Catholic position on the papacy

In comments below, Matthew Bellisario made the following accusation of me:
Bugay is nothing more than an ex-Catholic with a chip on his shoulder as well as a historical revisionist who places his faith in the historical "scholars" of his choice. Quite simply, he has no faith in God, but only in his own ability to wade through the historians who he thinks agree with him, nothing more. Quite sad indeed.
This really isn't about me personally, but I'm willing to put this up for discussion. But I am most interested in talking about "historical revisionism," especially in the context of the papacy, and especially in the wake of my post below, to the effect that the papacy should be abolished. Especially with knowledgeable Catholics who really know what they believe.

Another commenter, from that same thread, accused me of being "clueless as to what [Roman Catholic] positions actually are."

Well then, in this post and in future posts, I want to state, as clearly as I can, using sources that are as reliably Roman Catholic as I can find, as to what the Roman Catholic position actually is.

I've already started to do that. In a recent post, I introduced Father Adrian Fortescue and listed the four "theses to be proved" from his book "The Early Papacy: to the Synod of Chalcedon in 451." These are:

1. The pope is the chief bishop, primate, and leader of the whole Church of Christ on earth.

2. He has episcopal jurisdiction over all members of the Church.

3. To be a member of the Catholic Church, a man must be in communion with the Pope.

4. The providential guidance of God will see to it that the Pope shall never commit the Church to error in any matter of religion.

According to Fortescue, Catholics don't really have to prove that there was an early papacy, because they believe what they do, really, on the authority of the "living authority" today. But nevertheless, he said, "we have all the evidence we can require that the Catholic Church in the first four and a half centuries did believe what we believe about the papacy" (pg 30).

I'm working on posts that look at of each of these issues, because it is important to understand what the early church believed -- "What they knew and when they knew it," to paraphrase a famous Watergate-era senator.

Fortescue said that these four things are all things that the earliest church believed. And he said also that "development" was simply a matter such that "when a point of faith is disputed, when some heresy arises, the Church makes her mind clear by defining more explicitly what she has always held." (35)

So his assumption is that, not only were there snippets and glimmers of a belief in a papacy, but that the four beliefs above were fairly widespread, and only when one of these "points of faith" was "disputed," then did "the Church make her mind clear by defining more explicitly what she has always held."

But all of this depends on something else, he said. "All of this depends further on three more theses, into which we cannot enter here." (Pg 51)

These three theses that he did not touch are:

1. "That our Lord gave these rights to the Apostle St. Peter."

2. "That St. Peter must have a successor in them."

3. "That his successor is the Bishop of Rome."


He said, "To establish these here would take too much space. We must be content to prove our four points directly as set out at the beginning." And of course, as I related, Fortescue said, for some reason, that Catholics get to presuppose some things about "the Church":
All we suppose, before we come to the Church, is that our Lord Jesus Christ was a man sent by God and whom we must follow if we wish to serve God in the proper way; that he founded one visible Church, to which his followers should belong; that this Church is, as a matter of historic fact, the communion of Rome (not, however, supposing anything about the papacy, but supposing only visible unity and historic continuity). This much must be presupposed and therefore does not rest on the authority of the Church. All else does. (Pgs 26-27, the parenthetical note is Fortescue's).
I will grant part of this presupposition to Catholics. I will grant that "Jesus Christ was a man sent by God whom we must follow if we wish to serve God in the proper way." I also understand that Christ founded a church, but I will contest the statement that "his followers should belong" to it.

But I would rather say, Christ promised to build a church, an "assembly," against which the gates of hell would not prevail, and his true followers de facto belong to this assembly, which is also called "his body". That is, once individuals "repent and believe the good news" (Mark 1:15 NIV) or they "Repent and [are] baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins" [Acts 2:38] or they "Believe in the Lord Jesus" [Acts 16:31] or they "see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and turn" to be healed by God [Acts 28], that Christ himself makes that person "a member of the church" and that this invisible church is the true church.

See John 4:23 for clarification -- "But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth." That is the "one true church" And as Paul said, it is "us who believe" are the church, the body of Christ (Eph 1:18-19). If anyone wants to contest what I've said here, I'm open to it. But if you want to claim for the church anything more than this, you have to argue for it.

And I will strenuously contest that the church is, "as a matter of historic fact, the communion of Rome." It is vital for Roman Catholics to prove that point, and not to simply assume it.

Let me pause here to ask if any Catholics believe that I have (aside from how you might argue with my characterization of the church) stated this improperly, or if I have misrepresented anything?


Given that Fortescue has listed his "four theses to be proved" separately from the "three more theses" he provided, and given that he says "That our Lord gave these rights to the Apostle St. Peter," it seems that the Catholic argument could be stated more succinctly if we state the three theses in the context of the first four, to come up with something like this:

1. Our Lord gave these rights to the Apostle St. Peter:

1a. To be the chief bishop, primate, and leader of the whole Church of Christ on earth.
1b. He has episcopal jurisdiction over all members of the Church.
1c. To be a member of the Catholic Church, a man must be in communion with the Pope.
1d. The providential guidance of God will see to it that the Pope shall never commit the Church to error in any matter of religion.

2. That St. Peter must have a successor in these rights.

3. That St. Peter's successor is the Bishop of Rome.
Now, do any of you Catholics out there disagree that this is what Roman Catholics of 1920 believed about the papacy? I grew up as a child of Catholic parents whose understanding of Catholicism was shaped in the 1950's, "the real Catholic Moment," according to Patrick Buchanan. And I very much believed these things to be true.

Am I mischaracterizing any of this? Do you think that Fortescue is somehow not reliable reporter of what Catholics believed in the 1920's? (or the 1950's? Or ever? Given that he was a prolific writer for The Catholic Encyclopedia.) That he didn't know what he was talking about?

Do any of you thoroughly knowledgeable Catholics, you "Catholic Champions" have anything to add to this. Do you wish to contest anything as I've portrayed it here? The last thing I want is to be "clueless." Have I represented your case properly?

In Islam, the Majority in Hell are Women



Sahih Al Bukhari: Vol. 1:28, 301

This is one of the clearest evidences of the inequality of men and women under Islam.

Mohammed said, "I was shown the Hell-fire and that the majority of its dwellers are women."


Arabic of the Hadith that Majority in Hell are women.



I can see the words, “hell” (النار) (Al-Nar); the word “most” or “majority” اکثر (ak-sar or ak-thar) ; the word “dwellers”/ “inhabitants” – اهلها ( Ahle-ha) and the word for women – النساء . (Al - Nisa) (We have these words or forms of these Arabic words in Farsi.)

The Majority of dwellers in hell are women, according to many of the Hadith traditions of Muhammad:

Hadith, Sahih Al Bukhari volume 1, book 2, number 28http://www.usc.edu/schools/college/crcc/engagement/resources/texts/muslim/hadith/bukhari/002.sbt.html#001.002.028

These Hadiths (Ahadith – احادیث plural in Arabic and Farsi) that say the majority of dwellers in hell are women.

Sahih Bukhari: Vol. 1:28, 301; Vol. 2:161; Vol. 7:124-126.

And “Sahih” means “correct”, “right”, “genuine” – these are some of the strongest traditions of Muhammad, the founder and prophet of Islam.

See more of this documented here, which is also where I got the Arabic of this Hadith:
http://www.answering-islam.org/Women/in-hell.html

The papacy should be abolished.

Patrick Henry Reardon wrote the following opinion piece for Touchstone Magazine some time ago. I used to read Touchstone quite regularly -- until they got a Roman Catholic editor, and Peter Leithart seemingly became the one token "Reformed" voice for that publication. So I'm not sure what editorial positions they are espousing these days.

But I thought this would be a helpful introduction to what some of the current dialogues are saying with regard to the papacy, as well as some of the historical backgrounds and attitudes.
The question was recently put to me: Should the Orthodox Church be dialoguing with the ancient see of Rome with a view to our eventual reconciliation and reunion? In spite of thus disagreeing with certain other Orthodox Christians holier and wiser than myself, I must answer: Yes, most emphatically, the Orthodox Church should be doing exactly that....

I suggest that the proper model for such an Orthodox dialogue with Rome was provided by the example of St. Mark of Ephesus, the most unforgettable of the Eastern delegates to the Council of Florence back in the fifteenth century. St. Mark is best remembered because of his casting the sole dissenting vote against the reunion of the Church of Rome and the Orthodox Church. At the end, he became convinced that the effort for reunion at Florence would be successful only by an infidelity to the ancient Tradition, so he conscientiously voted against it.

Still, St. Mark did not refuse to dialogue and discuss the matter. His fidelity to the true faith did not prevent his taking part in serious theological dialogue with those with whom he disagreed. Even though the Roman Catholic Church was at that time in circumstances indicating great spiritual and moral decline, a decline that would soon lead to its massive dismembering at the Protestant Reformation, St. Mark did not despise Rome or refuse to join his voice to a dialogue summoned to make real that prayer of Christ that we all might be one. Those Orthodox who, like myself, believe that continued dialogue with Rome is a moral imperative, would do well to take St. Mark of Ephesus as their model.

At the same time, nonetheless, we Orthodox should be under no illusions about the difficulties attendant on such dialogue. Because Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism have followed progressively divergent paths for nearly a thousand years, arguably we are right now farther apart than we have ever been.

For example, it should be obvious that the Roman papacy is the major obstacle to our reunion. Make no mistake—we Orthodox do not miss the Roman papal authority, for the simple reason that we were never under it. Not for a minute in antiquity did the pope of Rome ever exercise over the churches of the East the level of centralized authority he has grown, over the past thousand years, to exercise over the Roman Catholic Church. In the East, the pope of Rome was simply the senior among his brother bishops, all of whom taught, pastored, and governed the Church through various common actions, occasional synods, periodic consultations, and other forms of consensual adherence, most of them with only the faintest reference or attention to Rome.

The current Roman teaching that all doctrinal and moral questions can be definitively answered and settled by an appeal to Rome is not, the Orthodox insist, the ancient and traditional teaching and practice of the apostolic and patristic Church. If the ancient Catholic Church really did believe in any doctrine even faintly resembling the current doctrine of papal infallibility, there would never have been any need for those early ecumenical councils, all of them held in the East, which laboriously hammered out the creedal formulations, canons, and policies of the Church. The current papal claims, standard doctrine in the Roman Catholic Church since the defining of papal infallibility in 1870 and repeated most recently by Cardinal Ratzinger’s official Vatican declaration Dominus Jesus (released on September 5, 2000), represent an ecclesiastical development radically at odds with the Orthodox understanding of the very nature of the Christian Church as manifest in her ancient life.

The “solution” to this problem sometimes suggested by ecumenically minded Orthodox would be simply for the pope of Rome to forswear these recent claims and go back to the humbler status he enjoyed for the first thousand years of Christian history, namely, that of being the “first among equals,” the chief and foremost of his brother bishops, within a Church taught and governed by the broad consensual understanding of an authoritative Tradition. That is to say, many Orthodox would be delighted for His Holiness of Rome, repudiating what we regard as the errors attendant on his recent understanding of his ministry, to take once again his rightful place as the ranking spiritual leader of the Orthodox Church (a position that the patriarch of Constantinople has held since the separation of Rome from Orthodoxy in the eleventh century).

One fears, however, that this would be no solution at all. Such a weakening of the Roman papacy would be an utter disaster for the Roman Catholic Church as it is currently constituted. To many of us outside that institution, it appears that the single entity holding the Roman Catholic Church together right now is probably the strong and centralized office of the pope. The Roman Catholic Church for nearly a thousand years has moved toward ever-greater centralized authority, and it is no longer clear that she would thrive, or even survive intact, without that authority maintained at full strength.
Anyone widely familiar with Roman Catholic publications these days is well aware that, aside from a general and somewhat vague agreement about the authority of the pope, there are reasons to doubt that there really is a unity of faith among Roman Catholics right now. Weaken the authority of the pope? I would truly hate to see such a thing. For instance, if Rome did not occasionally censure the heretics in that church, just who in the world would do it? Can anyone really remember the last time a Roman Catholic bishop in the United States or Germany or Holland (or elsewhere, for all I know) called to account a pro-gay activist priest, or a pro-abortion nun, or a professor in a Catholic college who denied the Resurrection? No, take away the centralized doctrinal authority of Rome, and one fears that the Roman Catholic Church today would be without rudder or sail in a raging sea.

If an Orthodox Christian, then, loves his Roman Catholic brothers and sisters, I believe that he will not wish for a diminished papacy...
.
Touchstone also notes that this article, "Dialogue & Papal Strength," first appeared in the October 2001 issue of Touchstone . But it is not available at that link.

On the other hand, I do believe it would be in the best interest of the church for not only "a diminished papacy," but also for some future pope, yes, to "repudiat[e]... the errors attendant on his recent understanding of his ministry," and just step down. True, such an act would be a "blueprint for anarchy," but if Reardon is correct, the papacy today merely functions as a Band-aid® on the anarchy that already exists.

As Steve Hays has said, only truth is normative. The papacy today does not reflect anything of the truth that Christ preached for his people. It does not reflect the ministry that Peter had in his lifetime, either as a disciple of Christ or as a leader in the nascent church (even if, with Cullman, you think he was a foundational leader). No one in the Apostles' lifetimes had any concept "successors of Peter" or of a continuing "Petrine" ministry.

I think the papacy should be abolished. It only harms Christianity. If Protestants of all stripes were to start saying that, and if they start saying why, such conversations are sure to be picked up among the broader Christian culture, and people are sure to start asking "why?"

On the verge of the anniversary of the Reformation, I think that that can only be a good thing. What do you think?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Lutheran pastor on the intercession of the saints: it's okay!

I found this one over on Francis Beckwith's blog: Lutheran pastor on the intercession of the saints: it's okay! Beckwith though is citing this source. Here was a tidbit that caught my eye:

Luther himself was quite devoted to the Virgin Mary, but the abuse of the cult of the saints in his time led him to encourage a new focus on recourse to Christ himself. Once an abuse is corrected, though, it’s okay to stress again the underlying truth that the abuse exaggerated in such a way as to render false — in this case, the truth that it is the proper work of Christians, in heaven and on earth, in time and out of time, to pray for one another.

This reminded me of a person who argues Luther was “extraordinarily devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary.” The key of course, is the word "devoted." What exactly does it mean in the context of Luther and the saints?

Luther didn’t really place a profound emphasis on Mariology. I would deny "Luther himself was quite devoted to the Virgin Mary." This is far too strong when one actually delves into Luther’s Works. Catholic scholar William Cole concurs: “…it would be a mistake to think of Luther as being preoccupied with Mary.” It is striking how little Luther launches into deep theological discussions about the Virgin Mary, and even when he does, they are in most instances, sparse, inconsequential, passing references, or tangential comments. One would think that Luther’s "devotion" would be overly obvious, spelled out in detailed numerous treatises similar to St. Alphonsus Ligouri. Such is not the case. Treatises and passages with the depth of Luther’s early exposition on the Magnificat are few in the totality of Luther’s overall work. The main point of Luther's work on the Magnificat was not even Mariological per se, but rather a treatise to understand God’s work in law and gospel.

True, the reason for this lack of emphasis on Mary is that Luther abandoned the most significant aspect of Roman Catholic Mariology: the intercession of Mary. Truly, this is the doctrine that defines Roman Catholic Mariology. It helps defines the “devotion” Roman Catholics partake in, making Mary crucial to the Romanist layman’s normal Christian life. Catholics invoke Mary for help, protection, and praise her attributes. For them, the invocation of Mary gives deep significance to such things like Theotokos, perpetual virginity, and the Immaculate Conception. These attributes are seen as worthy of praise, and serve to show the great divide that separates a saint from an average mortal.

Luther knew that prayers to, and faith in the saints violated the First Commandment. In his understanding, the role of faith or trust in the First Commandment determines whether one worships the true God, or an idol. To have a God is nothing else than to trust and believe in Him with the whole heart. This trust and the faith of the heart alone make either God or an idol. If faith and trust are “right,” then your god is the true God. If it is wrong, then you do not have the true God. That to which the heart clings is really your God. If your heart clings and entrusts itself to something God has made, then your faith is wrong, and you are caught in your sin, and you stand under the crushing condemnation of God’s law.

Luther said,

No one can deny that by such saint worship we have now come to the point where we have actually made utter idols of the Mother of God and the saints, and that because of the service we have rendered and the works we have performed in their honor we have sought comfort more with them than with Christ Himself. Thereby faith in Christ has been destroyed. [Martin Luther, D.Martin Luthers Werke: Kritische Gesamtausgabe, Abteilung Werke 11:415 quoted in MartinLuther, What Luther Says, Vol. III, ed. Ewald Martin Plass (St Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959), 1254].

The Roman Catholic work, Mariology Vol. 2 notes,

Luther had set the style for Protestants when he attacked the Catholic prayer "Hail Holy Queen" which he regarded as blasphemous. "Your prayers, 0 Christian," he says, "are as dear to me as hers. And why? Because if you believe that Christ lives in you as much as in her, you can help me as much as she." Eventually Luther was led to limit the communion of saints to the Church on earth because of his complete rejection of any intercessory power on the part of the saints in heaven [Juniper B. Carol (ed.) Mariology Volume 2, 195].

If the Lutheran pastor has any historical information that Luther was simply attacking the abuse of "the proper work of Christians" in praying to dead saints, I'd like to see it. That is, if Luther positively affirmed the practice of a correct way to pray to saints for their intercession, I'd like to see it.

In a sermon of August 15, 1516, Luther was to say, “O blessed mother! O most worthy virgin! Remember us, and grant that the Lord do such great things to us too.” In 1519, Luther still could exhort his congregation to “call upon the holy angels, particularly his own angel, the Mother of God, and all the apostles and saints” as a comfort in the hour when each was to face their own death. By 1522 things had changed. Erfurt Evangelists questioning Luther on the intercession of saints received this response,

I beseech in Christ that your preachers forbear entering upon questions concerning the saints in heaven and the deceased, and I ask you to turn the attention of people away from these matters in view of the fact…that they are neither profitable nor necessary for salvation. This is also reason why God decided not to let us know anything about His dealings with the deceased. Surely he is not committing a sin who does not call upon any saint but only clings firmly to the one mediator, Jesus Christ. [Martin Luther, “Letter to Erfurt evangelists July 10, 1522,” What Luther Says, Vol. 1, 1253. ]

In fairness to the Lutheran pastor making these claims about Luther and the saints, I haven't heard the sermon in which he explained his view. I looked around for the sermon on his web page, but didn't see it. If anyone finds it, let me know.

Monday, July 26, 2010

I keep water in my truck

This weekend I made the acquaintance of the most educated and consistent Romanist I've ever met in person, and he's not an academic-type either; he's an electrician. 
In the course of our discussions, I asked him a question I enjoy asking people, ripped straight out of the Way of the Master playbook - "I'm curious, if you were to find me lying on the sidewalk, no one else around, with a knife in my back and I had 3 minutes to live, what would you tell me?"
He started with: "Well, I'd ask you if you've been baptised."
I said: "I tell you 'no, I haven't.'"
Him: "Then the church says that in emergencies if there's no one of authority around, anyone can baptise."
Me: "And if there's no water around?"
Him:  "The church recognises such thing as a 'baptism of desire', but in fact, I carry water around in my truck for just that contingency."
Me:  ". . ."


Greek Grammar points to Sola Scriptura and the doctrine of the Trinity

A Roman Catholic wrote:

“For example, "the Word was God" was interpreted as "the Word was a god," which is possible in Greek.” This was claimed in the context of saying the Jehovah Witnesses follow Sola Scriptura and the claim that we need an infallible council of an infallible church with an infallible church in order to interpret Scripture properly.

Actually, it is not really possible with a sound knowledge of Greek. It is only “possible” for those with a very shallow knowledge of Greek, who don’t understand the intricacies of the definite articles and predicate nominative issues. If one only has a beginning knowledge of Greek, it is very dangerous. The grammar and Greek syntax of John 1:1 determines the right theology. The doctrine of the Deity of Christ and the eternality of the Son is based on Scripture, not the Council of Nicaea. The Council of Nicaea is based on Scripture, and derives secondary authority from the only infallible authority – the Scriptures.

Another Roman Catholic, “Nick the Catholic” also has an article with a title that claims that the Jehovah’s Witnesses were right about John 1:1. “JWs are correct about John 1:1; Jesus is not God” ( !!!)

Then he clarifies later from his controversial, heretical, and inflammatory title. He says they were right if they mean “the Father is not Jesus”; ie the same person; but they are not right in that the JWs deny that Jesus is God or Deity.

The predicate nominative issue is the key interpretive issue, more important than the definite article issue. The Word was God.

καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος.

And God was the Word.

Daniel Wallace has a good word on this issue:

“We know that “the Word” is the subject because it has the definite article, and we translate it accordingly: “and the Word was God.” Two questions, both of them of theological import, should come to mind: 1) Why was θεὸς (Theos) thrown forward? And 2) why does it lack the article? In brief, its emphatic position stresses its essence or quality: “What God was, the Word was” is how one translation brings out this force. Its lack of a definite article keeps us from identifying the person of the Word ( Jesus Christ) with the person of “God” (the Father). That is to say, the word order tells us that Jesus Christ has all the divine attributes that the Father has; lack of the article tells us that Jesus Christ is not the Father. John’s wording here is beautifully compact! It is, in fact, one of the most elegantly terse theological statements one could ever find. As Martin Luther said, the lack of an article is against Sabellianism [Modalism]; the word order is against Arianism.

To state it another way, look at how the different Greek constructions would be rendered:

καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν ὁ θεὸς “and the Word was the God” ( ie, the Father, Sabellianism, [or Modalism])


καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν θεὸς “and the Word was a god” (Arianism) [also Jehovah’s Witness theology]


καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος “and the Word was God” (orthodoxy) [sound, Biblical doctrine)

Jesus Christ is God and has all the attributes that the Father has. But He is not the first person of the Trinity. [the Son is not the Father] All this is concisely affirmed in καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος. “

Basics of Biblical Greek, William D. Mounce, Zondervan, 1993, p. 28-29. (Quoting Daniel Wallace)

So, here we have the principle of Sola Scriptura as the basis for all sound doctrine and theology. The first four Ecumenical councils were right, only because they got the Bible right. We don’t need Popes or any idea of an “infallible church council”. The Scriptures themselves teach us sound doctrine, and the good and right decisions in the Ecumenical councils derive their rightness from Scripture itself. Only Scripture is infallible. Here we see the Greek grammar and syntax teaching us the distinction between nature and person. God revealed the doctrine of the Trinity based on the Scriptures alone; Sola Scriptura stands.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Pseudo Dionysius and Other Orthodox Pseudo Saints

Something has come up in the comments that I have neither the time nor the desire to explore in great detail, but I wanted to bring it up here for the sake of anyone who may be following the conversation, and who might be interested in tracking some of these things down.

The anonymous commenter EBW has taken issue with my portrayal of Ananias, which I derived from Darrell Bock, who, in his Commentary on Acts, refers to him as a "non-apostle." Ananias was the individual who, in Acts 9, laid hands on Saul after his Damascus Road experience, "so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit."

Bock said, "It is significant that here a non-apostle is the mediator of the Spirit. The church's ministry is expanding in ways that mean that non-apostles will do important work."

In retelling the story of his conversion, in Acts 22, Paul describes him as "a devout observer of the law and highly respected by all the Jews living there." That's all the scriptural reference we have to him. It should be noted that Luke does not describe him as "one of the seventy."

Nevertheless, the Orthodox church holds that he is "one of the seventy." EBW wants to say "he was sent" to lay hands on Paul, and therefore, he was an "apostle" (supposedly supporting Bellisario's claim that Paul somehow need to "have hands laid upon him to receive apostolic authority"). There is no "early tradition" on Ananias, only "later tradition." I've provided a link to some of that later "tradition":
Later tradition has much to say regarding Ananias. He is represented as one of the "Seventy," and it is possible he may have been a personal disciple of Jesus. He is also described as bishop of Damascus, and reported to have met a violent death, [either a] slain by the sword of Pol, the general of Aretas, according to one authority, or [b] according to another, stoned to death after undergoing torture at the hand of Lucian, prefect of Damascus. His name stands in the Roman and Armenian Martyrologies, and he is commemorated in the Abyssinian Calendar.
It looks like "earlier tradition" was silent, and "later tradition" can't make up its mind. This is a sure recipe for a phony.

There's a reason why I don't want to track down every Orthodox "Saint" who has a feast day.

When Paul preached at Athens, he was not well received. Nevertheless, "a few men became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus" (Acts 17:34).

In the fifth century, there were some writings that appeared under the name of "Dionysius the Areopagite." These writings were cited as authentic by both Pope Gregory the Great and John of Damascus. Thomas Aquinas quoted large portions of these writings as if they were authentic and passed them along.

Yet he was a fake. He was not the Areopagite from Acts 17, but a 5th or 6th century Neoplatonist. It was only at the time of the Reformation that critical scholarship began to expose this supposed "apostolic father" as a fraud.

Yet the Orthodox Church still reveres him as authentic -- the OCA website says that even though he "piously borrowed an illustrious name, this in no way diminishes the profound theological significance of the works." To be sure, Pseudo-Dionysian characterizations of God [more than Biblical writings about God] still shape Roman Catholic conceptions of God and hierarchy.

We live in a world in which Christianity is locked in a huge number of struggles, and the most important thing it offers is that it is the Truth. Based on this Truth, Christians seek high office. We ask that laws be written, based on Judeo-Christian ethics. We do not need to have non-Christians characterizing Christianity as if it were just one more religion among the cults. It's bad enough that a devout Mormon may be running for President again.

Christianity is "a sure faith." It is based on genuine historical events. Jesus Christ was a real man, who was crucified by Roman authorities who are attested in history. His disciples were eyewitnesses to his life, death, and resurrection. They gave their lives in support of this testimony. Other Christians argue every day that the Biblical account of creation in Genesis coheres with the scientific truth of the creation of the universe. Each day, Christians struggle to bring the Christian account to the world and to the culture in millions of different scenarios.

None of us should be in this struggle for the sake of playing "make-believe." Nothing in Christianity says we need to check our brains at the door. Christianity is "true truth." Nothing about it should come off as false.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

On Being a Theologian of the Cross: Reflections on My Studies in Romanism

About two years ago I loaned the book On Being a Theologian of the Cross: Reflections on Luther's Heidelberg Disputation, 1518 to a good friend. I haven't seen it since. I was pleased to see that Google books now has it available, and it appears to be back in print. This is one of my favorite Luther-related books. It isn't as dull as it sounds. In fact, I'd rather someone read this small book than an in-depth treatment of Reformation history. This book taught me one of the main arteries of Luther's theology: the distinction between glory and the cross, and those "theologians" that espouse one or the other.

The theology of the cross is a theology of foolishness. It denies man’s wisdom and works; it rests totally upon Christ’s work. Indeed, it really does sound silly to think that salvation is found only through faith alone. Shouldn't we have to do something? Hasn't God given us an innate ability to reach out to Him? Or, hasn't God poured out some sort of enabling grace through a sacrament that frees us to make a choice to serve him? The theologian of the cross says no. God doesn't need our help at all. He saves by grace alone through faith alone. God explained it in of all things, a book. Imagine that: God almighty explained Himself for us, not in a majestic show of power and grandeur, but in frail book. In that book, He explained how God himself, the most supreme power and creator of all things became a helpless baby in a crib. He grew up to be hung on a cross, naked, weak, and suffering. God almighty was killed as a common criminal. He then rose from the dead. The book then details that savingly believing in His perfect active and passive work, peace is made between the Holy God of the universe and the sin-burdened human being. This is the foolishness of the theology of the cross.

All the worlds’ religions reason that God can only be appeased by some work on our part. But a theologian of the cross finds it is only in God’s action where we find salvation. On the other hand, the theology of glory is founded on man’s wisdom and works. It is a worldview that seems “sensible and right” by worldly standards. Glory theologians have to "understand" by the use of reason, and they have to “do” by their own moral energy to be right with God. God's a fair guy, they "reason." A fair God would enable us to at least be able to do "something" to save ourselves. Wouldn't a smart God would want an infallible official to lead His people? I mean, simply leaving a book and an fallible person in charge of the church seems.... utterly foolish. People wouldn't be able to know anything certain with just a book and some fallible people running a local church. That's just stupid. A smart God would set something up like a small kingdom, governed by an infallible head. He'd probably send glorious signs and wonders to prove it's His set up. That would be the smart thing to do. In fact, one of those miracles could be something like the body of woman in a glass case that doesn't decay after 100 years, or perhaps a holy woman could appear here and there and give new signs. That would be wise, wouldn't it? Everyone needs more proof than just... what's stated in a book.

The late medieval church that Luther was confronted with was a church filled with “glory.” By “glory,” Luther meant that the emphasis was not on the achievements of Christ, but on the achievement of the Roman Church, and those achievements were accomplished by the churches’ own power. Luther encountered the theology of glory in three different ways (ht: Robert Kolb):

First he encountered the glory of “human reason” expressed in his earlier scholastic training. Scholastic theology had been strongly influenced by Aristotelian metaphysics, and this influence had misshaped the Biblical method. Think of the confusion caused by the Quadriga's fourfold interpretation of Scripture and it's ability to obscure the Gospel.

Secondly, Luther was confronted with the glory of human effort (works). He encountered this in his monastic order. Think of the counsels of the perfect. Imagine people believing that they could perform works to attain a standard of holiness that would allow them to stand before a Holy God, or that some such sacrifice in this life makes one "a saint" in the next.

Thirdly, he also rejected the “glory of the church” and said the church is a suffering church, rather than a church of beauty and splendor. The church is not supposed to be a “glory” of political power and luxury, which it was during Luther's lifetime.

The glory theologians of Rome are still with us. They glory in all three of these things.

Modern-day Romanists still apply their glory of reason to the Scriptures. I recently read a comment from a Romanist who admitted Mary's perpetual virginity isn't explicitly taught in Scripture. "Tradition" has to be hoisted upon the Bible so implicit implications can be drawn from the text. Another Romanist posits the Bible is materially sufficient, in that every true doctrine must be in harmony with it. What makes a doctrine "true"? Why it's none other than what the Roman church says.

There is of course still the Romanist glory of works. But wait, they say those works they do are prompted by Christ, or done with the help of the Holy Spirit. Hogwash. They are a denial of the perfect work of Christ. Only perfect works are those that can be presented before God. There are no works that can be added to Christ's perfect work.

There is also glory in the Romanist church. The multitude of conversion stories "prove" how glorious the "home" of Rome is. The conversion stories glory in their ability to find the promise land here on earth, and how great and wonderful this earthly kingdom is.

Rome's apologists and defenders are still theologians of glory. They stand opposed to the foolishness of the cross, and actively work against God's kingdom. However well-meaning, they are ultimately deniers of the perfect work of Christ. All their websites, blogs, discussion boards, seminars, books, tracts, etc., are examples of the theology of glory. That's a foolish thing to say, I know. Don't we just see thing a bit differently than the Romanists? Consider me a fool. I would rather be thought a fool than to deny Christ's perfect work.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

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

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


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


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


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


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

The Church was Born Into the Scriptures

The email announcing this book just came in today -- selected writings of D.A. Carson on Scripture. Here's a brief description from the blurb:

"A collection of five essays and nine book reviews from a respected scholar’s reflection on the doctrine of Scripture. God’s Word has always had enemies, but in recent years the inspiration and authority of Scripture have been attacked with renewed vigor. Respected scholar D. A. Carson has written widely on the nature of Scripture over the past thirty years, and here presents a timely collection of his work ..." (From the introduction).

Sort of as a tribute to some of the commenters here who may be tempted to think that the Church came before the New Testament, Carson provides an exceptional summary of how the New Testament Canon came into being, and the church's role in that process.

* * *
5. Some have given the entirely false impression that the early church took an inordinately long time to recognize the authority of the New Testament documents. In fact it is vital to distinguish the recognition of the authority of these documents from a universal recognition as to the content of a closed list of New Testament documents. The New Testament books were circulating a long time before the latter happened, most of them accepted everywhere as divinely authoritative, and all of them accepted in at least large parts of the church. Most of the New Testament documents are cited as authorities very early indeed; this includes the four Gospels, Acts, the thirteen Pauline letters, 1 Peter, and 1 John. Most of the rest of the contours of the New Testament canon were well in place by the time of Eusebius, in the early fourth century.

6. The criteria by which the early church agreed that certain books were authoritative were basically three. First, the church Fathers looked for apostolicity, i.e., a document had to be written by an apostle or by someone in immediate contact with the apostles. Thus Mark was understood to have the witness of Peter behind him; Luke was connected with Paul. As soon as the Fathers discussed the possibility, they rejected any document under the suspicion of pseudonymity (written by someone other than the claimed author). Second, a basic requirement for canonicity was conformity to the “rule of faith,” i.e., to basic, orthodox Christianity recognized as normative in the churches. Third, and scarcely less important, the document had to have enjoyed widespread and continuous usage by the churches. Incidentally, this criterion requires the passage of time to be useful, and helps to explain why so much time elapsed before the “closing” of the canon (i.e., before the church had almost universally agreed on the status of all twenty-seven New Testament documents). One of the reasons Hebrews was not accepted in the West as early as some letters was that it was anonymous (not pseudonymous!), and in fact it was more quickly accepted in the East where many (wrongly) thought it to have been written by Paul.

7. Perhaps the most important thing to recognize is that although there was no ecclesiastical machinery or hierarchy, akin to the medieval papacy, to enforce decisions, eventually almost all of the universal church came to recognize the same twenty-seven books. In other words, this was not so much “official” recognition as the people of God in many different places coming to recognize what other believers elsewhere had also found to be true. The point must be constantly emphasized.

The fact that substantially the whole church came to recognize the same twenty-seven books as canonical is remarkable when it is remembered that the result was not contrived. All that the several churches throughout the Empire could do was to witness to their own experience with the documents and share whatever knowledge they might have about their origin and character. When consideration is given to the diversity in cultural backgrounds and in orientation to the essentials of the Christian faith within the churches, their common agreement about which books belonged to the New Testament serves to suggest that this final decision did not originate solely at the human level. (Glenn W. Barker, William L. Lane, and J. Ramsey Michaels, The New Testament Speaks [New York: Harper & Row, 1969], 29)

The church, then, did not confer a certain status on documents that would otherwise have lacked it, as if the church were an institution with authority independent of the Scriptures or in tandem to the Scriptures. Rather, the New Testament documents were Scripture because of what God had revealed; the church, providentially led, came to wide recognition of what God had done in his climactic self-disclosure in his Son and in the documents that bore witness to and gathered up the strands of the Son-revelation.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Relativist, Hodgepodge Soup of Catholicism

In the combox of a recent thread, Jae writes:

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

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


Lets put this into action:


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


...


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


So what happened?


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


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


Jae's comments suffer from a series of problems:

i) All Jae has done is paint a picture of doctrinal chaos on modern, ethical controversies. Yet that hardly establishes his conclusion, that Protestantism is "a relativist mentality erupted- hodgepodge soup" and that "There is NO quarantee to any of your truth." It's not obvious how the mere presence of disagreement entails his conclusion.

ii) Consider this kind of epistemology applied to life as whole. People disagree over how to interpret everything from casual comments to government constitutions, basic sensory information to data from molecular-level lab experiments. When you encounter these disagreements in everyday life, does that lead you to say that there is no guarantee at all to any truth in your life whatsoever? No, we keep living and acting like we can come to reasonably strong, sometimes even certain, conclusions about a whole variety of matters. Would Jae say this intuitive response to disagreement is wrong? If so, is Jae prepared to apply his skeptical reasoning to other fields of knowledge as well?

To narrow the field, Christians in the early church disagreed over what Scripture teaches on the atonement. For example, the Ransom Theory was popular for perhaps even 1,000 years. Yet Jae, a Roman Catholic, would consider these early Christians part of his denomination. If internal disagreements between early generations of Protestants and their modern counter-parts over one theological issue render them unable to be confident in their interpretations of Scripture, the same would apply to internal disagreements between generations of early Catholics and their modern counter-parts.

iii) Presumably Jae is setting the stage for Rome's grand entrance--instead of blindly groping around in the the doctrinal chaos that is Protestantism, turn to the Magisterium of Roman Catholicism and achieve theological and interpretive certainty! However:

a) There's theological disagreement as to the proper interpretation of standard Catholic proof-texts used to prove the authority of the Roman Catholic denomination (e.g. Matthew 16:18, 1 Timothy 3:15). Presumably this theological disagreement would render any appeal to these passages fruitless. But if we can't be sure of our interpretation of these passages of Scripture, how can Catholics use Scripture to prove the authority of Catholicism to Protestants? It seems like any Scriptural case Jae would make for the authority of the Magisterium will not even be able to get off the ground.

b) There's no obvious difference between disagreement over interpreting the documents of Scripture over interpreting the documents produced from a body like the Magisterium.

c) Apropos, Catholics disagree with Catholics over how to interpret various official Catholic documents, including Scripture. For example, at Beggars All we are regularly treated by lay-Catholic apologists to dismissals of the work of Catholic scholars (who sometimes even teach at Catholic universities and have been appointed to the Magisterium as Cardinals and/or to various Pontifical Councils governed by the Magisterium). If lay-Catholic apologists disagree with Magisterium approved Catholic scholars on theological issues, how can any Catholic be sure he has properly interpreted the Magisterium himself?

The traditional fall-back is that the Magisterium corrects itself. But often clarifications of doctrine are disagreed upon as well. Consider Pope Benedict XVI's remarks on postconciliar eras of church history:
Perhaps I would like to begin with a historical observation. A postconciliar period is almost always very difficult. The important Council of Nicaea -- which for us really is the foundation of our faith, in fact, we confess the faith formulated as Nicaea -- did not lead to a situation of reconciliation and unity as Constantine, who organized this great Council, had hoped. It was followed instead by a truly chaotic situation of in-fighting.

In his book on the Holy Spirit, St. Basil compares the situation of the Church subsequent to the Council of Nicea to a naval battle at night in which no one recognizes the other but everyone fights everyone else. It really was a situation of total chaos: Thus, St. Basil painted in strong colors the drama of the postconciliar period, the aftermath of Nicaea.

Fifty years later, for the First council of Constantinople, the Emperor invited St. Gregory of Nazianzus to take part in the Council. St. Gregory answered: "No. I will not come because I know these things, I know that all Councils produce nothing but confusion and fighting so I shall not be coming." And he did not go.1
Benedict then goes on to describe how these postconciliar observations apply to the post-Vatican II landscape as well.

So if we consistently apply Jae's arguments to the Pope's understanding of postconciliar situations we arrive at the unpleasant conclusion that we really can have no guarantee that we've rightly understood Catholic councils--the very councils that are meant to correct and explain and delineate the faith in times of disagreement. As Jae lays the groundwork for the Magisterium to be the happy alternative to the mire of Protestant division, he unwittingly forgets the interpretive divisions within his own denomination, creating an argument that defeats his own position.

The reality is that Protestants are in the same epistemic position as Catholics--we both have to deal with theological division over interpretations of our infallible documents. Pushing the interpretation of Scripture onto a supposedly infallible body does nothing but push the fundamental problem of interpretation onto another set of documents and words (encapsulated as they are in Catholicism in the CCC, ecumenical councils, Papal encyclicals, etc.). All of the doubt Jae has cultivated about interpretation is equally applicable to his own position.

iv) It's instructive to see how Catholics apprehend the same relativistic arguments atheists use to attack Christianity, yet fail to apply those arguments in any consistent matter; it's as if they forget that the intended target of these kinds of arguments is Christianity in general, not just Protestantism. How do Catholics deal with atheists on this point? As far as I can tell, they don't, and it's the kind of intellectual double-standard that gives you a feel for the current state of Catholic apologetics.

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1. Pope Benedict XVI, Questions and Answers (Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor, 2008), 158.

The Historical Papal Claims as of 1920

By his own admission, for Fortescue to allow that he can "prove" the early papacy, is on a bit of dangerous ground. And so with one hand, he puts all his cards on the table, and with the other hand, he takes those cards back again:
If it could be proved that the early Church believed, as part of her faith, the contrary of what we believe now, or anything logically incompatible with our belief, this would be exceedingly serious; it would, indeed, be the refutation of our position, since we maintain that the faith does not change. But it is not at all the same thing, even if it were true, to say that we could not prove that the early Church did believe what we believe now. Suppose, for the sake of argument, that we could find no statement of any kind about some dogma; this would not affect our position. There would then be no proof, either for or against the dogma, in the given period. We should believe it all the same, because of a definition made at another time (29).
In other words, he is saying, "if we don't find anyone supporting our belief, that's ok, because it doesn't actually disprove what we believe, and we can still assume it was there." And those of you who read this blog know that that's a pretty fair summary of how Catholics can tend to argue some things.

Fortescue's "out" here will be the little phrase "as part of her faith." It is extremely difficult to pin down an authoritative doctrinal statement prior to the year 325. He does allow that, "If it could be proved that the early Church believed, as part of her faith, the contrary of what we believe now, or anything logically incompatible with our belief, this would be exceedingly serious; it would, indeed, be the refutation of our position." (29)

As I've studied these issues, I believe there is a whole raft of things that demonstrate beyond a shadow of a doubt that the early church had no idea that there was anything like a pope. But let's just play "make-believe" for a moment and allow Fortescue to outline his claims.

What Are the Papal Claims?

Here is his "thesis to be proved": "What we believe about the rights of the Pope is contained in these four points":

1. The pope is the chief bishop, primate, and leader of the whole Church of Christ on earth. "This is the first, the least claim. To a great extent it is admitted by most High Church Anglicans, at least in the sense that the Bishop of Rome is the first bishop of Christendom. The Eastern churches, not in communion with us, admit this too. (40)

2. He has episcopal jurisdiction over all members of the Church. "This is what the First Vatican Council declares, that the Pope has "immediate power of jurisdiction, which is really episcopal,' over people of every rite and rank in the Church. It is not, so far, our object to prove any of these principles; first we want to establish what the Catholic thesis is." (42)

3. To be a member of the Catholic Church, a man must be in communion with the Pope. "This follows from the Pope's universal jurisdiction. It is the one point that the most advanced Anglican cannot concede. If follows also, and more fundamentally, from the visible unity of the Church; this once more, is the root of all difference between us and Anglicans (not the papacy at all). If the Church is one united, visible society, all Catholics must be in communion with one another." (45)

4. The providential guidance of God will see to it that the Pope shall never commit the Church to error in any matter of religion. "This is the famous 'infallibility' of the First Vatican Council." (47)

These are things that he claims the earliest church (prior to 451) believed. But these are the "theses to be proved." It will be useful to go through each of these four at some point -- the arguments that Fortescue has made, and address his reasoning in each of these cases.

In choosing the year 451 as his stopping point, Fortescue quietly covers over a pivot-point that greatly changed life for the bishop of Rome, and that would, of course, be the conversion of Constantine. At that point, bishops of Rome went from a position of at best, neutrality with the state and at times, from being violently persecuted, to being, cording to Roger Collins, "functionaries of the state."

For his evidence in favor of a papacy prior to Constantine, Fortescue relies heavily on Clement, which I mentioned in an earlier post, and Cyprian. Subsequent scholarship -- even Catholic scholarship -- have greatly tempered any notion that these examples support an early papacy. My hope is to discuss all of these things in the coming days and weeks.

One reason why I am focusing on the papacy at this point, and particularly the earliest papacy, is because it is, I believe, the weak, soft underbelly of the Roman Catholic edifice. And it will be important, in the context of all the talk about the Reformation that we'll be seeing as the 500th anniversary of Luther's 95 Theses comes up. Luther began his work by being a loyal subject of a pope. Very many things crept up on him, and in many ways, he had to develop his theologies about them "on the fly."

But if Luther had had a proper understanding of the papacy going into his efforts, it would have clarified things greatly for him, and for the world around him.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Infidel Delusion

Patrick Chan, Jason Engwer, Steve Hays and Paul Manata of Triablogue have written a critical review of The Christian Delusion (ed. John W. Loftus), aptly titled The Infidel Delusion. I haven't read all of it yet, but so far it's excellent.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Vicious Circle

Roman Catholics will tell us that we need to consult the Magisterium in order to know what Scripture is, to understand it and to settle the various debates over its meaning and interpretation. But when we ask them why we should believe the Magisterium has the authority to establish the canon and produce the correct interpretations of Scripture, we are often treated to a series of Scriptural proofs, which presuppose the Scriptures are clear and authoritative. Whitaker observed this in his own day, and noted how this kind of argumentation is viciously circular (emphasis mine):

For I demand, whence it is that we learn that the church cannot err in consigning the canon of scripture? They answer, that it is governed by the Holy Spirit (for so the council of Trent assumes of itself), and therefore cannot err in its judgments and decrees. I confess indeed that, if it be always governed by the Holy Spirit so as that, in every question, the Spirit affords it the light of truth, it cannot err. But whence do we know that it is always so governed? They answer that Christ hath promised this. Be it so. But where, I pray, hath he promised it? Readily, and without delay, they produce many sentences of scripture which they are always wont to have in their mouths, such as these: "I will be with you always, even to the end of the world." Matth. xxviii. 20. "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I will be in the midst of you." Matth. xviii. 20." I will send to you the Comforter from the Father." John xv. 26. "Who, when he is come, will lead you into all truth." Johnxvi. 13. I recognise here the most lucid and certain testimonies of scripture. But now from hence it follows not that the authority of scripture depends upon the church; but, contrariwise, that the authority of the church depends on scripture. Surely it is a notable circle in which this argument revolves! They say that they give authority to the scripture and canonical books in respect of us; and yet they confess that all their authority is derived from scripture. For if they rely upon the testimonies and sentences of these books, when they require us to believe in them; then it is plain that these books, which lend them credit, had greater authority in themselves, and were of themselves authentic.1

Some Catholics, such as John Salza, have attempted to avoid this vicious circle by countering that such an appeal to Scripture is spiral, not circular:

When Catholics explain that we believe in the Bible on the authority of the Catholic Church, Protestants accuse us of circular reasoning. They say we get this information from the Bible and so the Bible, not the Church, is the final authority. This argument, while clever, is incorrect. The Catholic argument is what we would call spiral, not circular. First, the Catholic approaches the Scriptures as historical books only, but not inspired. Based on the historical evidence, the Catholic establishes the Scriptures are authentic and accurate documents. Second, the historically accurate Scriptures reveal that Jesus established an infallible Church based on texts like Matthew 16:18 and 1 Timothy 3:15. Third, this infallible Church has determined which Scriptures are inspired and which ones are not. Based on the authority of the infallible Church, the Catholic believes in the inspired Scriptures. This is the only logical and rational approach to accepting the inspiration of the Scriptures, and this is John Salza with Relevant Answers.2

As I understand it, Salza wants to move from demonstrating the Scriptures as historically accurate to demonstrating that these Scriptures attest to an infallible Magisterium. We then turn to this Magisterium to know that the Scriptures are inspired:

historically accurate Scriptures --> infallible Magisterium --> inspired Scriptures

Salza's reply is interesting, but there are a number of problems:

i) There's nothing intrinsic to historical cases for the historical accuracy of Scripture that limits such an appeal to Catholics only; Protestants are free to make the same historical case as well.

ii) Apropos, the move from historical accuracy to inspiration is exceptionally short. The difficult components of any external demonstration of inspiration are in establishing the historical accuracy of the New Testament documents. But once that is accomplished, it is a much simpler matter to move from the historical fact of the Resurrection, which establishes Jesus as God, to the ministry of the Holy Spirit, which gives inspiration to the Scriptures. If the Magisterium isn't needed to demonstrate the much harder case of historical accuracy, it's hardly required to demonstrate the much easier case of inspiration.

iii) I don't even know how, in principle, you can divorce historical accuracy from inspiration. A good deal of the data contained in Scripture cannot be both accurate and uninspired, e.g. various prophecies, knowledge impossible to discern in any natural method (what someone or some group was thinking in their hearts at one time or another), what God was doing, thinking or intending, etc. And some data, even if they are knowable through natural methods, carry a certain theological significance that could not be accurately known (as truth) by the authors of Scripture without inspiration.

This is also why there is generally a correlation between denying historical accuracy and denying inspiration. The two go hand-in-hand.

iv) How can Salza establish the Scriptures as authentic and accurate documents if we need the Magisterium to interpret those very documents for us? If the Scriptures are unclear or difficult to understand, as Catholics often assert, this would apply whether or not they were inspired.

v) If we can properly interpret all of the passages required to make a case for the historicity of Scripture (e.g. the Resurrection being supported by 1 Corinthians 15) before we establish the Magisterium as authoritative, why do we need the Magisterium to properly interpret all of Scripture once we learn that it is inspired? If we were competent enough to interpret the Scriptures before we discovered their historical accuracy, we should be competent enough to interpret them afterward.

vi) His appeal to Matthew 16:18 and 1 Timothy 3:15 is dubious (see here for a short, but devastating critique of appealing to 1 Timothy 3:15; the comments section also contains links to discussions of Matthew 16:18).3 So even if the circularity is avoided by this argument, the Scriptures still do not establish an infallible, authoritative Catholic Magisterium.

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1. William Whitaker,
Disputations on Holy Scripture (Cambridge: Parker Society, 1894; reprint, Orlando: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 2005), 334-335.

2. John Salza, "Relevant Answers Transcripts," Scripture Catholic. http://www.scripturecatholic.com/rradiotran.html (accessed July 19, 2010).

3. Steve Hays also writes on Matthew 16:18:
A direct appeal to Mt 16:18 greatly obscures the number of steps that have to be interpolated in order to get us from Peter to the papacy. Let’s jot down just a few of these intervening steps:
a) The promise of Mt 16:18 has reference to “Peter.”
b) The promise of Mt 16:18 has “exclusive” reference to Peter.
c) The promise of Mt 16:18 has reference to a Petrine “office.”
d) This office is “perpetual”
e) Peter resided in “Rome”
f) Peter was the “bishop” of Rome
g) Peter was the “first” bishop of Rome
h) There was only “one” bishop at a time
i) Peter was not a bishop “anywhere else.”
j) Peter “ordained” a successor
k) This ceremony “transferred” his official prerogatives to a successor.
l) The succession has remained “unbroken” up to the present day.

Lets go back and review each of these twelve separate steps:

(a) V18 may not even refer to Peter. “We can see that ‘Petros’ is not the “petra’ on which Jesus will build his church…In accord with 7:24, which Matthew quotes here, the ‘petra’ consists of Jesus’ teaching, i.e., the law of Christ. ‘This rock’ no longer poses the problem that ‘this’ is ill suits an address to Peter in which he is the rock. For that meaning the text would have read more naturally ‘on you.’ Instead, the demonstrative echoes 7:24; i.e., ‘this rock’ echoes ‘these my words.’ Only Matthew put the demonstrative with Jesus words, which the rock stood for in the following parable (7:24-27). His reusing it in 16:18 points away from Peter to those same words as the foundation of the church…Matthew’s Jesus will build only on the firm bedrock of his law (cf. 5:19-20; 28:19), not on the loose stone Peter. Also, we no longer need to explain away the association of the church’s foundation with Christ rather than Peter in Mt 21:42,” R. Gundry, Matthew (Eerdmans 1994), 334.
(b) Is falsified by the power-sharing arrangement in Mt 18:17-18 & Jn 20:23.
(c) The conception of a Petrine office is borrowed from Roman bureaucratic categories (officium) and read back into this verse. The original promise is indexed to the person of Peter. There is no textual assertion or implication whatsoever to the effect that the promise is separable from the person of Peter.
(d) In 16:18, perpetuity is attributed to the Church, and not to a church office.
(e) There is some evidence that Peter paid a visit to Rome (cf. 1 Pet 5:13). There is some evidence that Peter also paid a visit to Corinth (cf. 1 Cor 1:12; 9:5).
(f) This commits a category mistake. An Apostle is not a bishop. Apostleship is a vocation, not an office, analogous to the prophetic calling. Or, if you prefer, it’s an extraordinary rather than ordinary office.
(g) The original Church of Rome was probably organized by Messianic Jews like Priscilla and Aquilla (cf. Acts 18:2; Rom 16:3). It wasn’t founded by Peter. Rather, it consisted of a number of house-churches (e.g. Rom 16; Hebrews) of Jewish or Gentile membership—or mixed company.
(h) NT polity was plural rather than monarchal. The Catholic claim is predicated on a strategic shift from a plurality of bishops (pastors/elders) presiding over a single (local) church—which was the NT model—to a single bishop presiding over a plurality of churches. And even after you go from (i) oligarchic to (ii) monarchal prelacy, you must then continue from monarchal prelacy to (iii) Roman primacy, from Roman primacy to (iv) papal primacy, and from papal primacy to (v) papal infallibility. So step (h) really breaks down into separate steps—none of which enjoys the slightest exegetical support.
(j) Peter also presided over the Diocese of Pontus-Bithynia (1 Pet 1:1). And according to tradition, Antioch was also a Petrine See (Apostolic Constitutions 7:46.).
(j)-(k) This suffers from at least three objections:
i) These assumptions are devoid of exegetical support. There is no internal warrant for the proposition that Peter ordained any successors.
ii) Even if he had, there is no exegetical evidence that the imposition of hands is identical with Holy Orders.
iii) Even if we went along with that identification, Popes are elected to papal office, they are not ordained to papal office. There is no separate or special sacrament of papal orders as over against priestly orders. If Peter ordained a candidate, that would just make him a pastor (or priest, if you prefer), not a Pope.
(l) This cannot be verified. What is more, events like the Great Schism falsify it in practice, if not in principle.

These are not petty objections. In order to get from Peter to the modern papacy you have to establish every exegetical and historical link in the chain. To my knowledge, I haven’t said anything here that a contemporary Catholic scholar or theologian would necessarily deny. They would simply fallback on a Newmanesque principle of dogmatic development to justify their position. But other issues aside, this admits that there is no straight-line deduction from Mt 16:18 to the papacy. What we have is, at best, a chain of possible inferences. It only takes one broken link anywhere up or down the line to destroy the argument. Moreover, only the very first link has any apparent hook in Mt 16:18. Except for (v), all the rest depend on tradition and dogma. Their traditional support is thin and equivocal while the dogmatic appeal is self-serving.
The prerogatives ascribed to Peter in 16:19 (”binding and loosing” are likewise conferred on the Apostles generally in 18:18. The image of the “keys” (v19a) is used for Peter only, but this is a figure of speech—while the power signified by the keys was already unpacked by the “binding and loosing” language, so that no distinctively Petrine prerogative remains in the original promise. In other words, the “keys” do not refer to a separate prerogative that is distinctive to Peter. That confuses the metaphor with its literal referent.

Regarding Isa 22:22—as E.J. Young has noted,
“This office is not made hereditary. God promises the key to Eliakim but not to his descendants. The office continues, but soon loses its exalted character. It was Eliakim the son of Hilkiah who was exalted, and not the office itself. Eliakim had all the power of a “Rabshakeh,” [the chief of drinking], and in him the Assyrian might recognize a man who could act for the theocracy…Whether Eliakim actually was guilty of nepotism or not, we are expressly told that at the time (”in that day” when they hang all the glory of his father’s house upon him he will be removed. Apparently the usefulness of the office itself will have been exhausted…The usefulness of Eliakim’s exalted position was at an end: were it to continue as it was under Eliakim it would not be for the welfare of the kingdom; its end therefore must come,” the Book of Isaiah (Eerdmans 1982), 116-18.

More generally, every argument for Petrine primacy is an argument against papal primacy since the more that Catholicism plays up the unique authority of Peter, as over against the Apostolic college, the less his prerogatives are transferable to a line of successors. There’s a basic tension between the exclusivity of his office vis-à-vis the Apostolate and the inclusivity of his office vis-à-vis the Episcopate.